I am most disturbed by your latest work, entitled, “The Progress of the Soul.” In it, I have found verse ten to includes the lines, “She sinned, we bear; part of our pain is, thus, To love them, whose fault to this painful love yoked us.” I cannot begin to tell you how this vexes me. For centuries I have worked to improve upon my good name and sought to overturn the verdict that has been cast upon me. I have continually been charged with the sole responsibility of causing the demise of mankind by eating a piece of fruit. How preposterous! Aside from the serpent who beguiled me, I have long defended this generality with the assertion that it was not just I that ate of the fruit. There were two of us in the garden that day. Moreover, one of us was considered the ‘stronger’ of the two. If Adam was made to be such a pillar of strength, why would he have so easily agreed to the fruit’s tasting? Since he obviously knew that the fruit that I had so innocently savored was taken from the forbidden tree, why would he, in his greater wisdom, so quickly sample as well? The poem that you have written so overtly blames womankind for man’s sin. You state, “Man all at once was there by woman slain.” I say that Adam had a choice and even as I may have persuaded him to accompany me in the sampling of the fruit, he might have declined and thus not have been “yoked.”
I have recently corresponded with Madame Amelia Lanyer regarding this very topic. Her work may serve as an adequate rebuttal of your work, and she has given me full permission to cite a portion of her poem to refute your assumption that I was the singular cause of our fall from grace. She writes:
But surely Adam can not be excusde,
Her fault though great, yet hee was most too blame;
What Weaknesse offerd, Strength might have refusde,
Being Lord of all, the greater was his shame;
Although the Serpents craft had her abusde,
Gods holy word out all his actions frame,
For he was Lord and King of all the earth,
Before poore Eve had either life or breath.
It is an asset to womankind to find such an advocate for my plight. Perhaps her work will serve to change the impression of my liability. In my campaign, I have sought countless supporters to assist in resolving this misunderstanding and have found yet another friend in Sir Thomas Browne. He has bid me to add, “…although the condition of the sex, and posteriority of creation, might somewhat extenuate the error of the woman, yet was it very strange and inexcusable in the man; especially, if, as some affirm, he was the wisest of all men since; or if, as others have conceived, he was not ignorant of the fall of angels, and had thereby example and punishment to deter him.”
It is choice that drives us to act within the parameters of good and evil. We do not choose as one, rather we have been created as individuals that are responsible for our own decisions. I do not deny my role in tasting of the forbidden tree’s fruit. Even the serpent that so easily persuaded me to taste the apple made a choice to use me for his ultimate design. In that moment of weakness, I found the serpent’s offer much too appealing to refuse; I must take responsibility for that grave error. But what of Adam’s decision? While I may have offered the fruit, his knowledge and strength could have steered him from taking it. Was his love for me so great that he would forsake the word of God in order to accompany me in my failure? If so, would that not further illustrate Adam’s individual right to decide? While his reason is most admirable, it does not absolve him from his participation in our subsequent downfall. Why, then, must I bear the ultimate blame?
When God created mankind, He gave us freewill. This self-rule includes the choice to decide what we might desire to try. Why else would he have put a tree so forbidden in our paradise? Was it not to tempt us? If He had truly desired an infallible human, why plant the tree? It seems to me not unlike the rose that so many covet. In order to acquire the beauty and fragrance of the flower, one must first remove the thorns that line its stem. There lies the dilemma: Does one ignore the rose because of its obvious danger or take it from its thorny abode in order to enjoy its company. The temptation has proven far too great; I have long seen the rose fill the vases of many a good household. To err is human, to forgive, divine. Therefore, I beg you to consider a rewrite of your latest publication and hope you might consider my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Thank you.