Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
RESULTS OF THE EXPLORERS, HISTORIC AND LEGENDARY.
RESULTS OF THE THEOLOGIANS.
RESULTS OF NON-THEOLOGICAL SCHOLARS: NATURALISTS, ETHNOLOGISTS, ARCHÆOLOGISTS, etc.
You shall understand that no mortal may approach to that Paradise; for by land no man may go, for wild beasts that are in the deserts, and for the high mountains and great huge rocks that no man may pass by for the dark places that are there; and by the rivers may no man go, for the water runs so roughly and so sharply, because it comes down so outrageously from the high places above, that it runs in so great waves that no ship may row or sail against it; and the water roars so, and makes so huge a noise, and so great a tempest, that no man may hear another in the ship though he cried with all the might he could. Many great lords have assayed with great will many times to pass by those rivers towards Paradise, with full great companies; but they might not speed in their voyage; and many died for weariness of rowing against the strong waves; and many of them became blind, and many deaf, from the noise of the water; and some perished and were lost in the waves; so that no mortal man may approach to that place without the special grace of God.Sir John de Maundeville.
Man lernt die Welt am besten durch Reisen kennen.
K. H. W. VÖLCKER.
One of the most interesting and pathetic passages to be found in all literature is that in which Christopher Columbus announces to his royal patrons his supposed discovery of the ascent to the gate of the long-lost Garden of Eden. With what emotions must his heart have thrilled as, steering up this ascent, he felt his "ships smoothly rising toward the sky," the weather becoming "milder" as he rose! To be so near the Paradise of God's own planting, to be the first discoverer of the way in which the believing world could at length, after so many ages, once more approach its sacred precincts even if forbidden to enter,what an exquisite experience it must have been to the lonely spirit of that great explorer!
It is his third voyage. He is in the Gulf of Paria to the north or north-west of the mouth of the Orinoco. In his loyal epistle to Ferdinand and Isabella thus he writes:
The Holy Scriptures record that our Lord made the earthly Paradise and planted in it the tree of life; and thence springs a fountain from which the four principal rivers of the world take their source; namely, the
[paragraph continues] Ganges in India, the Tigris and Euphrates, and the Nile.
I do not find, nor ever have found, any account by the Romans or Greeks which fixes in a positive manner the site of the terrestrial Paradise, neither have I seen it given in any mappe-monde, laid down from authentic sources. Some placed it in Ethiopia at the sources of the Nile, but others, traversing all these countries, found neither the temperature nor the altitude of the sun correspond with their ideas respecting it; nor did it appear that the overwhelming waters of the deluge had been there. Some pagans pretended to adduce arguments to establish that it was in the Fortunate Islands, now called the Canaries.
St. Isidore, Bede, and Strabo 1 and the Master of scholastic history, 2 with St. Ambrose and Scotus, and all the learned theologians agree that the earthly Paradise is in the East.
I have already described my ideas concerning this hemisphere and its form, 3 and I have no doubt that if I could pass below the equinoctial line after reaching the highest point of which I have spoken, I should find a much milder temperature and a variation in the stars and in the water: not that I suppose that elevated point to be navigable, nor even that there is water there; indeed, I believe it is impossible to ascend thither, because I am convinced that it is the spot of the earthly Paradise, whither no one can go but by God's permission; but this land which your Highnesses have now sent me to explore is very extensive, and I think there are many other countries in the south, of which the world has never had any knowledge.
I do not suppose that the earthly Paradise is in the form of a rugged mountain, as the descriptions of it have made it appear, but that it is on the summit of the spot
which I have described as being in the form of the stalk [or stem end] of a pear; the approach to it from a distance must be by a constant and gradual ascent; but I believe that, as I have already said, no one could ever reach the top; I think also that the water I have described may proceed from it, though it be far off, and that stopping at the place I have just left, it forms this lake.
There are great indications of this being the terrestrial Paradise, for its situation coincides with the opinions of the holy and wise theologians whom I have mentioned; and, moreover, the other evidences agree with the supposition, for I have never either read or heard of fresh water coming in so large a quantity, in close conjunction with the water of the sea; the idea is also corroborated by the blandness of the temperature; and if the water of which I speak does not proceed from the earthly Paradise, it seems to be a still greater wonder, for I do not believe that there is any river in the world so large and deep.
When I left the Dragon's Mouth, which is the northernmost of the two straits which I have described, and which I so named on the day of our lady of August, 1 I found that the sea ran so strongly to the westward that between the hour of mass, 2 when I weighed anchor, and the hour of complines 3 I made sixty-five leagues of four miles each; and not only was the wind not violent, but on the contrary very gentle, which confirmed me in the conclusion that in sailing southward there is a continuous ascent, while there is a corresponding descent towards the north.
I hold it for certain that the waters of the sea move from east to west with the sky, and that in passing this track they hold to a more rapid course, and have thus eaten away large tracts of land, and hence has resulted this great number of islands; indeed, these islands themselves
afford an additional proof of it, for on the one hand, all those which lie west and east, or a little more obliquely north-west and south-east, are broad; while those which lie north and south or north-east and southwest, that is in a directly contrary direction to the said winds, are narrow; furthermore, that these islands should possess the most costly productions is to be accounted for by the mild temperature, which comes to them from heaven, since these are the most elevated parts of the world. It is true that in some parts the waters do not appear to take this course, but this only occurs in certain spots where they are obstructed by land, and hence they appear to take different directions. . . .
I now return to my subject of the land of Gracia, and of the river and lake found there, which latter might more properly be called a sea; for a lake is but a small expanse of water, which, when it becomes great, deserves the name of a sea, just as we speak of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea; and I think that if the river mentioned does not proceed from the terrestrial Paradise, it comes from an immense tract of land situated in the south, of which hitherto no knowledge has been obtained. But the more I reason on the subject the more satisfied I become that the terrestrial Paradise is situated in the spot I have described; and I ground my opinion upon the arguments and authorities already quoted. May it please the Lord to grant your Highnesses a long life, and health and peace, to follow out so noble an investigation; in which I think our Lord will receive great service, Spain considerable increase of its greatness, and all Christians much consolation and pleasure, because by this means the name of our Lord will be published abroad. 1
Alas for the hope of settling the problem of Eden's site by actual exploration! Columbus never
lived to find his Paradise; and geographers have long ago ascertained that the golden summit of the world is not in Venezuela, nor in any of its neighbor states.
Of course Columbus supposed himself to be off the eastern coast, not of a new continent, but of Asia. His idea of the location of the terrestrial Paradise as in, or to the eastward of, Farther India was the prevailing idea of his age. The Hereford map of the world, dating from the thirteenth century, represents the favored spot as a circular island to the East of India, and as separated from the mainland, not only by the sea, but also by a battlemented wall, with its one gate to the West, through which our first parents were supposed to have been expelled. Hugo de St. Victor wrote: "Paradise is a spot in the Orient productive of all kinds of woods and pomiferous trees. It contains the Tree of Life; there is neither cold nor heat there, but perpetually an equable temperature. It contains a fountain which flows forth in four rivers." So Gautier de Metz, in a poem written in the thirteenth century, describes the terrestrial Paradise as situated in an unapproachable region in Asia, surrounded by flames, and guarded at its only gate by an armed angel.
In the year 1322 Sir John de Maundeville made his memorable pilgrimage to the East. In his account of these travels, after describing the marvelous kingdom of Prester John in India, he says: "And beyond the land and isles and deserts of Prester John's lordship, in going straight towards the East men find nothing but mountains and great rocks; and there is the dark region where no man
may see, neither by day nor by night, as they of the country say. And that desert and that place of darkness lasts from this coast unto terrestrial Paradise, where Adam, our first father, and Eve were put, who dwelt there but a little while; and that is towards the East, at the beginning of the earth. . . . Of Paradise I cannot speak properly, for I was not there. It is far beyond; and I repent not going there, but I was not worthy. But as I have heard say of wise men beyond I shall tell you with good will. Terrestrial Paradise, as wise men say, is the highest place of the earth; and it is so high that it nearly touches the circle of the moon there, as the moon makes her turn. For it is so high that the flood of Noah might not come to it, that would have covered all the earth of the world all about and above and beneath except Paradise. And this Paradise is inclosed all about with a wall, and men know not whereof it is; for the wall is covered all over with moss as it seems: and it seems not that the wall is natural stone. And that wall stretches from the South to the North; and it has but one entry, which is closed with burning fire, so that no man that is mortal dare enter. And in the highest place of Paradise, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out four streams, which run by divers lands, of which the first is called Pison, or Ganges, that runs throughout India or Emlak, in which river are many precious stones, and much lignum, aloes, and much sand of gold. And the other river is called Nile, or Gyson, which goes through Ethiopia, and after through Egypt. And the other is called Tigris which runs by Assyria and by Armenia the Great. And the other is called Euphrates, which runs
through Media, Armenia, and Persia. And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world, above and beneath, take their beginning from the well of Paradise; and out of that well all waters come and go." 1
Various writers and map-makers of the same age seem very evidently to have identified the Paradise of Genesis with the island of Ceylon. Even to this day a mount near the centre of the island bears the name of "Adam's Peak." According to Mohammedan tradition, this was only so called because it was the place where Adam alighted when cast out of the true celestial Paradise in heaven. Nevertheless, Christian tradition or legend long lingered about Ceylon as the genuine site of primitive Eden. 2
In entire accord with this view is the remarkable story of Prince Eirek, as told in an Icelandic Saga of the fourteenth century. Mr. Baring-Gould, in a style not very reverent, has summarized the tale as follows:
Eirek was a son of Thrand, king of Drontheim, and having taken upon him a vow to explore the Deathless Land he went to Denmark, where he picked up a friend of the same name as himself. They then went to Constantinople, and called upon the Emperor, who held a long conversation with them, which is duly reported, relative to the truths of Christianity and the site of the Deathless Land, which, he assures them, is nothing more nor less than Paradise.
"The world," said the monarch, who had not forgotten his geography since he left school, "is precisely 180,000 stages round (about 1,000,000 English miles), and it is not propped up on posts,not a bit!it is supported by the power of God; and the distance between earth and heaven is 100,045 miles (another MS. reads 9382 miles; the difference is immaterial); and round about the earth is a big sea called Ocean." "And what's to the south of the earth?" asked Eirek. "Oh! there is the end of the world, and that is India." "And pray where am I to find the Deathless Land?" "That liesParadise, I suppose you meanwell, it lies slightly east of India."
Having obtained this information, the two Eireks started, furnished with letters from the Greek Emperor.
They traversed Syria, and took ship,probably at Balsora; then, reaching India, they proceeded on their journey on horseback, till they came to a dense forest, the gloom of which was so great, through the interlacing of the boughs, that even by day the stars could be observed twinkling, as though they were seen from the bottom of a well.
On emerging from the forest, the two Eireks came upon a strait, separating them from a beautiful land, which was unmistakably Paradise; and the Danish Eirek, intent on displaying his Scriptural knowledge, pronounced the strait to be the river Pison. This was crossed by a stone bridge, guarded by a dragon.
The Danish Eirek, deterred by the prospect of an encounter with this monster, refused to advance, and even endeavored to persuade his friend to give up the attempt to enter Paradise as hopeless, after that they had come within sight of the favored land. But the Norseman deliberately walked, sword in hand, into the maw of the dragon, and the next moment, to his infinite surprise and delight, found himself liberated from the gloom of the monster's interior, and safely placed in Paradise.
The land was most beautiful, and the grass as gorgeous as purple; it was studded with flowers, and was traversed by honey rills. The land was extensive and level, so that there was not to be seen mountain or hill, and the sun shone cloudless, without night and darkness; the calm of the air was great, and there was but a feeble murmur of wind, and that which there was breathed redolent with the odor of blossoms. After a short walk, Eirek observed what certainly must have been a remarkable object, namely, a tower or steeple self-suspended in the air, without any support whatever, though access might be had to it by means of a slender ladder. By this Eirek ascended into a loft of the tower, and found there an excellent cold collation prepared for him. After having partaken of this he went to sleep, and in vision beheld and conversed with his guardian angel, who promised to conduct him back to his fatherland, but to come for him again and fetch him away from it forever at the expiration of the tenth year after his return to Drontheim.
Eirek then retraced his steps to India, unmolested by the dragon, which did not affect any surprise at having to disgorge him, and, indeed, which seems to have been, notwithstanding his looks, but a harmless and passive dragon.
After a tedious journey of seven years, Eirek reached his native land, where he related his adventures, to the confusion of the heathen, and to the delight and edification of the faithful. And in the tenth year, and at
break of day, as Eirek went to prayer, God's Spirit caught him away, and he was never seen again in this world: so here ends all we have to say of him.
Here we get farther than with Columbus, but however beautiful and credible this story of Eden exploration may have been five hundred years ago, we now know that the only Paradise in Ceylon is a symbolical Buddhist one, 1 as far removed from the primitive garden of Genesis as Roman Catholic "Calvarios" in South America are from the primitive Calvary of the crucifixion. Moreover, even the scribes of five hundred years ago, however credulous in other things, seem well to have understood the true character of this story of travel, for "according to the majority of the MSS. the story purports to be nothing more than a religious novel." 2
As the Keltic terrestrial Paradise, Avalon, was a sea-girt island in the waters of the North, it could of course be reached only by ship. The first to accomplish this feat, so far as Christian legend informs us, was St. Brandan, son of Finlogho, a celebrated saint of the Irish Church, who died A.D. 576 or 577. According to the story an angel brought to this good abbot a book from heaven, in which such marvelous things were narrated concerning the then unknown portions of the world that the honest father charged both angel and book with falsehood,
and in his righteous indignation burned the latter. As a punishment for his unbelief God sentenced him to and recover earth an the book. He must search through hell and earth and sea until he finds the heavenly gift. The token given him by the angel is that when he sees two twin fires flame up he shall know that they are the two eyes of a certain ox, and on the tongue of that ox he shall find the book. For seven long years he sails the Western and the Northern Ocean. 1 He here encounters more marvels than were recorded in the original incredible book, and is even permitted to visit the earthly Paradise. The beauty of the soil, of the fountain with four streams, of the magnificent castle and castle halls lighted with self-luminous stones and adorned with all manner of precious jewels, surpassed description. The stay of the party seems, however, to have been short, and unfortunately just where the island was locatedthe commander forgets to mention.
A more elaborate and fanciful picture of the same mediæval Paradise is furnished us in the story of Oger, or Holger, a Danish knight of the age of Charlemagne. In a plain prose rendering, this is the style in which a famous court minstrel of six hundred years ago was accustomed to chant the adventure to admiring audiences.
Caraheu and Gloriande were in a boat with a fair company, and Oger had with him a thousand men-at-arms. When they were a certain way on, there arose so mighty a tempest that they knew not what to do, only to commit their souls to God. So great was the storm that the mast of Oger's ship brake, and he was constrained to
embark in a little vessel with a few of his comrades, and the wind struck them with such fury that they lost sight of Caraheu. Caraheu was so sore troubled that he was like to die, and he began to mourn the noble Oger; for he wist not what was become of the boat. And Oger in like manner lamented Caraheu. Thus grieved Caraheu and the Christians in his company, saying, "Alas! Oger, what is become of thee? This is, I ween, the most sudden departure that I heard of ever." "Nay, but cease, my beloved," said Gloriande; "he will not fail to come again when God wills, for he cannot be far away." "Ah, lady," said Caraheu, "you know not the dangers of the sea; and I pray God to take him into his keeping." . . .
Now I will leave speaking of Caraheu, and return to Oger, who was in peril, yet was ever grieving for his friend, and saying, "Ah, Caraheu, hope of the remaining days of my life, thou whom I loved next to God! How has God allowed me to lose so soon you and your lady?" At that moment the great ship, in which Oger had left his men-at-arms, struck against a rock, and he saw them all perish, at which sight he was like to die of grief. And presently a loadstone rock began to draw towards it the boat in which Oger was. Oger, seeing himself thus taken, recommended his soul to God, saying, "My God, my Father and Creator, who hast made me in Thine image and semblance, have pity on me now, and leave me not here to die; for that I have used my power as was best to the increase of the Catholic faith. But if it must be that Thou take me, I commit to Thy care my brother Guyou, and all my relatives and friends, especially my nephew Gautier, who is minded to serve Thee, and bring the paynim into Thy Holy Church. . . . Ah, my God! had I known the peril of this adventure, I should never have abandoned the beauty, sense, and honor of Clarice, Queen of England. Had I but gone back to her, I should have seen, too, my redoubted sovereign, Charlemagne, with all the princes who surround him."
Meanwhile the boat continued to float upon the water till it reached the loadstone castle, which they call the Château dAvalon, which is but a little way from the earthly Paradise, whither were snatched in a beam of fire Elias and Enoch, and where was Morgue la Fée, who at his birth had given him such great gifts. Then the mariners saw well that they were drawing near to the loadstone rock, and they said to Oger, "My lord, commend thyself to God, for it is certain that at this moment we are come to our voyage's end;" and as they spake the bark with a swing attached itself to the rock, as though it were cemented there.
That night Oger thought over the case in which he was, but he scarce could tell of what sort it might be. And the sailors came and said to Oger, "My lord, we are held here without remedy; wherefore let us look to our stores, for we are here for the remainder of our lives." To which Oger made answer, "If this be so, then will I make consideration of our case, for I would assign to each one his share, to the least as to the greatest." For himself Oger kept a double portion, for it is the law of the sea that the master of the ship has as much as two others. But if that rule had not been, he would still have needed a double quantity, for he ate as much as two common men.
When Oger had apportioned his share to each, he said, "Masters, be sparing, I pray you, of your food as much as you may, for so soon as ye have no more be sure that I myself will throw you into the sea." The skipper answered him, "My lord, thou wilt escape no better than we." Their food failed them all, one after another, and Oger cast them into the sea, and he remained alone. Then he was so troubled that he knew not what to do. "Alas! my God, my Creator," said he, "hast Thou at this hour forsaken me? I have now no one to comfort me in my misfortune." Thereupon, whether it were his fantasy or no, it seemed to him that a voice replied, "God orders
that so soon as it be night thou go to a castle after thou hast come to an island which thou wilt presently find. And when thou art on the island thou wilt find a small path leading to the castle. And whatsoever thing thou seest there, let not that affray thee." And Oger looked, but wist not who had spoken.
Oger waited the return of night, to learn the truth of that which the voice foretold, and he was so amazed that he wist not what to do, but set himself to the trial. And when night came he committed himself to God, praying Him for mercy; and straightway he looked and beheld the Castle of Avalon, which shone wondrously. Many nights before he had seen it, but by day it was not visible. Howbeit, so soon as Oger saw the castle he set about to get there. He saw before him the ships that were fastened to the loadstone rock, and now he walked from ship to ship, and so gained the island; and when there he at once set himself to scale the hill by a path which he found. When he reached the gate of the castle, and sought to enter, there came before him two great lions, who stopped him and cast him to the ground. But Oger sprang up and drew his sword, Curtain, and straightway cleft one of them in twain; then the other sprang and seized Oger by the neck, and Oger turned round and struck off his head.
When Oger had performed this deed, he gave thanks to our Lord, and then he entered the hall of the castle, where he found many viands, and a table set as if one should dine there; but no prince nor lord could he see. Now he was amazed to find no one, save only a horse, which sat at the table as if it had been a human being. This horse, which was called Papillon (Psyche?), waited upon Oger, gave him to drink from a golden goblet, and at length conducted him to his chamber, and to a bed whose fairy-made coverlet of cloth of gold and ermine was la plus mignonne chose qui fut jamais vue.
When Oger awoke he thought to see Papillon again,
but could see neither him, nor man, nor woman, to show him the way from the room. He saw a door, and, having made the sign of the cross, sought to pass out that way; but as he tried to do this he encountered a serpent, so hideous that the like has scarce been seen. It would have thrown itself upon Oger, but that the knight drew his sword and made the creature recoil more than ten feet; but it returned with a bound, for it was very mighty, and the twain fell to fight. And now, as Oger saw that the serpent pressed hard upon him, he struck at it so doughtily with his sword that he severed it in twain. After that Oger went along a path which led him to a garden, so beauteous that it was in truth a little paradise; and within were fair trees, bearing fruit of every kind, of tastes divers, and of such sweet odors that he never smelt trees like them before.
Oger, seeing these fruits so fine, desired to eat some, and presently he lighted upon a fine apple-tree, whose fruit was like gold, and of these apples he took one and ate. But no sooner had he thus eaten than he became so sick and weak that he had no power nor manhood left. And now again he commended his soul to God and prepared to die. . . . But at this moment turning round, he was aware of a fair dame, clothed in white, and so richly adorned that she was a glory to behold. Now as Oger looked upon the lady without moving from his place, he deemed that she was Mary the Virgin, and said, "Ave Maria," and saluted her. But she said, "Oger, think not that I am she whom you fancy; I am she who was at your birth, and my name is Morgue la Fée, and I allotted you a gift which was destined to increase your fame eternally through all lands. But now you have left your deeds of war to take with ladies your solace; for as soon as I have taken you from here I will bring you to Avalon, where you will see the fairest noblesse in the world."
And anon she gave him a ring, which had such virtue
that Oger, who was near a hundred years old, returned to the age of thirty. Then said Oger, "Lady, I am more beholden to thee than to any other in the world. Blessed be the hour of thy birth, for, without having done aught to deserve at your hands, you have given me countless gifts, and this gift of new life above them all. Ah, lady, that I were before Charlemagne, that he might see the condition in which I now stand; for I feel in me greater strength than I have ever known. Dearest, how can I make return for the honor and great good you have done me? But I swear that I am at your service all the days of my life." Then Morgue took him by the hand, and said, "My loyal friend, the goal of all my happiness, I will now lead you to my palace in Avalon, where you will see of noblesse the greatest and of damosels the fairest." And she took Oger by the hand and led him to the Castle of Avalon, where was King Artus, and Auberon, and Malambron, who was a sea fairy.
As Oger approached the castle the fairies came to meet him, dancing and singing marvellous sweetly. And he saw many fairy dames, richly crowned and apparelled. And presently came Arthur, and Morgue called to him, and said, "Come hither, my lord and brother, and salute the fair flower of chivalry, the honor of the French noblesse, him in whom all generosity and honor and every virtue are lodged, Oger le Danois, my loyal love, my only pleasure, in whom lies for me all hope of happiness." Then Morgue gave Oger a crown to wear, which was so rich that none here could count its value; and it had beside a wondrous virtue, for every man who bore it on his brow forgot all sorrow and sadness and melancholy, and he thought no more of his country nor of his kin that he had left behind him in the world.
We leave Oger thus "bien assis et entretenu des dames que cétait merveilles," and return to the earth, where things were not going so well; for while Oger was in Fairie the paynim assembled all their forces and took
[paragraph continues] Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to Babylon (that is, Cairo). Then the most valiant knights who were left on earthMoysant, and Florian, and Caraheu, and Gautier (Oger's nephew)assembled all their powers to defend this place. But they lamented greatly because Oger was no more. And a great battle took place without the walls of Babylon, in which the Saracens, assisted by a renegade, the Admiral Gandice, gained the victory.
Oger had been long in the Castle of Avalon, and had begotten a son by Morgue, when she, having heard of these doings and of the danger to Christendom, deemed it needful to awake Oger from his blissful forgetfulness of all earthly things, and tell him that his presence was needed in this world once more. Thereupon follows an account of Oger's returning to earth, where no one knew him, and all were astonished at his strange garb and bearing. He inquired for Charlemagne, who had been long since dead; the generation below Oger had grown to be old men, yet he still had the habit of a man of thirty. We need not wonder that his talk excited suspicion. But at length he made himself known to the King of France, joined his army, and put the paynim to flight. He had now forgotten his life in Fairie; he was beloved by the Queen of France (the King having been killed), and was about to marry her, when Morgue again appeared and carried him off to Avalon. 1
Looking back over this long story to see just where it locates its Paradise, and how one could get there, we find the data extremely few and discouraging. And the older story in Plutarch respecting
the same isle of blessedness is not less destitute of indications as to exact locality. 1
Going some centuries farther back we find another traveler who claims to have been in the terrestrial Paradise. He says,
As I looked towards the North, over the mountains, I saw seven mountains full of precious balsam and odorous trees and cinnamon and pepper. And from thence I went over the summits of these mountains far towards the East, and passed on still farther over the sea and came far beyond it. And I came into the Garden of Righteousness, and saw a many-colored crowd of trees of every kind; for many and great trees flourish there, very noble and lovely, and the Tree of Wisdom, which gives wisdom to any one who eats of it. It is like the Johannis bread tree; its fruit is like a cluster of grapes, very good; and the fragrance of the tree spreads far around. And I said, "Fair is this tree, and how beautiful and ravishing its look!" And the holy Angel Raphael, who was with me, answered and said to me, "This is the Tree of Wisdom of which thy forefathers, thy hoary first parent and thy aged first mother, ate, and found the knowledge of wisdom, and their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and were driven out of the garden."
This favored explorer, who had the special advantage of being guided by a holy angel, was the unknown author of the Book of Enoch, which writing is believed by some to be as old as the second century before Christ. No one can read many chapters of his production, however, without arriving at the firm conclusion that sacred geography has very little to hope from such a source, however ancient. 2
Coming down to the travelers of our own time, we fare no better, even though they do not tax our credulity with stories of angelic guides or of guardian dragons. One, writing only ten years ago, professedly from the very Garden itself, momentarily raises our expectations when he says, "Discoveries made within the last decade tend to confirm the supposition that the primeval abode of man was near the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris; and it is not too much to anticipate the exhuming of inscribed tablets which will fully establish this belief." But as suddenly as our hopes are excited, so suddenly do they die away in disappointment. Incredulous critics greet the suggestion of "exhuming inscribed tablets" on the subject with a chorus of derisive laughter. The author himself does not venture to give any of the "discoveries made within the last decade" which tend to confirm the notion that Eden was located at the point described. On the contrary, in the immediately following sentence, he takes leave of the subject, and in so doing gives us over to his own admitted uncertainty in the following terms: "And although, after the lapse of so many centuries, exact correspondence of topography is not to be expected, yet guided by the general features of the scene rather than by the minuter ones, the present traditional Garden of Eden may be accepted until another has been discovered and its identity more clearly proved." 1 In such darkness dies out the kindled hope. Meantime, in a letter to Sir Roderick Murchison, published in "The Athenæum"
not far from the same date, the indefatigable Livingstone disclosed the secret of his tireless perambulations through Central Africa,he believed that at the sources of the Nile, could he once discover them, he would stand upon the site of the primeval Paradise! Evidently exploration, wonderful as have been its achievements, has not yet solved the problem of the site of Eden. To this day the word of Pindar, uttered half a thousand years before Christ, has remained true:
4:1 Walafried Strabus of Reichenau, Baden.
4:2 Petrus Comestor, who wrote the Historia Scholastica.
4:3 See Appendix, Sect. I.
5:1 The feast of the Assumption.
5:2 Probably Six A.M.
5:3 Nine P.M.
6:1 Select Letters of Christopher Columbus. Translated by R. H. Major, F. S. A. 2d ed., London, 1860: pp. 140-147.
9:1 Early Travels in Palestine. Edited by Thos. Wright, London, 1848, p. 276.
9:2 Even Maundeville, whose Paradise, as we have seen, was still farther to the East, found here a Fountain of Youth whose headspring was in Paradise: "Toward the head of that forest is the cytee of Polombe [Columbo], and above the cytee is a great mountayne, also clept Polombe. And of that mount the Cytee hathe his name. And at the foot of that Mount is a fayr welle and a gret, that hathe odour and savour of all spices; and at every hour of the day he chaungethe his odour and his savour dyversely. And whoso drynkethe 3 times fasting of that watre of that welle, he is hool of alle maner sykenesse that he hathe. And thei that duellen there and drynken often of that welle, thei nevere have sykenesse and thei semen alle weys yonge. I have dronken there of 3 or 4 sithes; and zit, methinkethe, I fare the better. Some men clepen it the Welle of Youthe; for thei that often drynken thereat semen alle weys youngly and lyven withouten sykenesse. And men seyn, that that welle comethe out of Paradys; and therefore it is so vertuous."
12:1 "The Buddhists of Ceylon have endeavored to transform their central mountain, Dêva-kuta (Peak of the Gods), into Meru, and to find four streams descending from its sides to correspond with the rivers of their Paradise."Obry, Le Berceau de lEspèce Humaine. Amiens, 1858: p. 118 n. Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde. Bonn, 1862: Bd. i., 196.
12:2 Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. London, 1866: p. 236.
13:1 Carl Schroeder, Sanct Brandan. Ein lateinischer and drei deutsche Texte. Erlangen, 1871: pp. xii., xiii. and passim.
19:1 From Keary's Outlines of Primitive Beliefs, pp. 452-458. He remarks, "The account which I here translate is only a sixteenth-century version of the tale, but it is copied directly from the poetic version of the well-known troubadour Adenez, chief minstrel at the court of Henry III. of Bavaria (1248-1261), and for his excellence in his art called Le Roy, or king of all. There can be no doubt that in its chief particulars the story is far older than the days of Adenez."
20:1 "On the Face appearing in the Orb of the Moon," Sect. 26, Plutarch's Morals. Goodwin's ed., vol. v., p. 201.
20:2 Das Buch Henoch. Uebersetzt von Dr. A. Dillmann. Leipsic, p. 21 1853. There is an earlier English translation by R. Lawrence (Oxford, 1821, 33, 38).
21:1 J. P. Newman, D. D., A Thousand Miles on Horseback. New York, 1875: p. 69.