Letters of Life/IV
FIRST GRIEF AND FIRST JOURNEY.
My fourteenth birthday had scarce added itself like a pearl to the necklace of life, when the shadow of a great grief came upon me. The aged, idolized friend, who had grown dearer to my heart every year, heard the love-call and went home. She had numbered four score and eight, and strength failed as her journey drew near its close. She seldom left her couch, and memory, like a garment long used, seemed worn thin, here and there, in spots. Names, localities, and passing events, gradually faded; but the heart's record grew bright, as the angels drawing nearer breathed upon it.
I could not understand why any should say that patience was tried by the mind's brokenness. To me it was a fresh delight to tell her the same thing many times, if she required it. Sometimes, when restlessness oppressed her, she called me to come within her curtains, and sing the simple melodies that she had early taught me. This I did in low, soothing tones, joining my cheek to hers. Then she was comforted and slept, holding often my hand long in her own. At suddenly waking she was occasionally bewildered. Images that gave her anxiety would take possession of her imagination. They were frequently of a financial, or rather testamentary character, and easily dispelled, though they as readily returned.
"I wonder what my Will is, my dear, can you tell me?"
This I was qualified to recite, with its full list of legacies, donations, and charitable bequests. Then she was satisfied, and as the dimness passed away, pure sunlight streamed in upon her never wearied benevolence. She would ask about this and that individual; if they had warm clothing and shoes to their feet, if her invalid pensioners had proper food, if such a child went to school, if another needed books or encouragement; for I had been honored as her almoner, and she confided freely to me those alms-deeds which she would fain have kept secret.
Amid all this weakness of body and mind the great Christian soul was strong. Faith saw no cloud—heavenly love no shadow. "I know that my Redeemer liveth." Here she rested, as on an anchor in the rock. "In my flesh shall I see God." Tender were her monitions, as a mother-bird hovering over its young—"O my child, my darling-—watch at Wisdom's gates—wait at the posts of her doors."
It was a fair September evening that the intervals between her breathing grew longer and longer. She would fain have impressed one more kiss upon my brow, but her lips were powerless. I saw not when the last change passed, though I knelt beside her, my face buried in her pillow. I only remember that they said, "She is gone!" and that they carried me from the room.
The funeral was to me like a great, terrific dream. Every space and avenue of the dwelling was filled with people wishing to testify respect to her memory. The rich were there, with a proud sadness, for they said, "She belonged to us;" and the poor with tears, for they felt they had belonged to her. I was conscious of a great crowd, but saw nothing. I heard the voice of solemn prayer, but followed not its words. The long procession moved onward to the church. I was lifted to the carriage and taken out, and set in the right place among the mourners, by whose hands I knew not. Between my parents I at length found myself, as the sacred obsequies proceeded. The text of the funeral sermon was appropriate—"A good name is better than precious ointment." It sketched the virtues that appertain to a consistent Christian, and accorded just praise to her who lay lifeless beside us.
"To our city she is a loss, and to the Church of God which she honored. The sick and the sorrowful mourn a benefactor: for she stretched forth her hands to the poor and needy; she comforted the widow and the fatherless. She opened her mouth with wisdom; on her tongue was the law of kindness. Give her of the fruit of her hands; let her own works praise her in the gates."
I was disappointed that the speaker did not add the climax that rose to my heart, "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." Those who draw the character of a deceased friend for grieving love, have but a losing office. What is said may be just, but it falls short either in fulness or warmth.
But the closing hymn, sung in a simple tune which she loved, brought me the healing relief of tears. I quote it from memory, at the distance of half a century, still freshly embalmed:
"When Jesus dwelt in mortal clay,
What were his works from day to day,
But miracles of truth and grace,
That spread salvation through our race.
"The man may breathe, but never lives,
Who much receives, yet nothing gives;
Whom none can love, whom none can thank,
Creation's blot, creation's blank.
"But he who marks, from day to day,
By generous acts his radiant way,
Treads the same path his Saviour trod—
The path to glory and to God."
The emptiness of the mansion, after its presiding spirit had forsaken it, fell heavily upon us all. To me it was a tomb. A pitying clergyman was one of the first who said aught to comfort me. Neither should I have been comforted, when he laid his hand upon my head, and said, "Poor bird! like a sparrow alone upon the housetop," save that he was aged, like her for whom I mourned. But this strong emotion, the first troubler of life's hitherto serene current, did not leave my health unscathed. The suffocating pain with which Grief is wont to seize its victims by the throat, continued to oppress me when I attempted to speak.
My sleep, heretofore unbroken as that of infancy, became a series of tossings; and even now I shudder at the thought of the spasm that used sometimes to seize me, when, at rising in the morning, I first stepped from my bed to the floor. I made no complaint of these symptoms. I thought they were henceforth to be a part of my being, and solaced myself with poetry, that blood of the crushed grape which gushed over me like a flood. But the parental eye was quick to detect the change in its idol. A physician was summoned. I think I see now that cautious, Mentor-like person, so grave and courteous, his countenance marked with deep thought and kindness. Dr. Philemon Tracy—I number him among my benefactors. From his father he inherited medical skill and fame, monopolizing the principal practice of the city. Yet, let the pressure of his business be ever so great, he studied a new case as a faithful clergyman does a sermon. He happily avoided the extremes which my Lord Bacon has designated: "Some physicians are so conformable to the humor of the patient, that they press not the true treatment of the disease, and others so bound by rules, as to respect not sufficiently his condition." But the practise of our venerated Norwich healer was to possess himself of the idiosyncrasy of constitution as well as of the symptoms of disease, to administer as little medicine as possible, and to depend much on regimen, and raising the recuperative powers to their wonted action. His minute questions and long deliberation inspired confidence, while the sententious mode of delivering his prescriptions gave them a sort of oracular force. After a thorough investigation, what do you suppose was the decision in my case? That I should be encased in soft, red flannel, and take a short journey to visit the relatives of my loved, lamented friend. My parents, with their excited apprehensions, might possibly, in the simplicity of this counsel, have shared the disappointment of Naaman the Syrian, who supposed the prophet would do "some great thing," or, clothed in dignity, "strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." But however inadequate might have seemed the verdict, there was no alternative, as his decrees, like those of the Medes and Persians, altered not. In the dialect of an old nurse, who had been accustomed to ply her profession under his eye, "Dr. Philemon is always terrible mad if you don't do just exactly as he says." And who has a better right to be peremptory than a judicious, learned physician, who is held responsible for the life committed to his care? Who, also, has a better chance to gain the love of his race, than he who is ever ready to listen when they talk about themselves, into whose ear they pour more than they impart to their most intimate friend; to whom, if they are not religious, they turn as to a divine Dispenser of healing; and whose name, if they are, mingles with their warmest prayer of gratitude to God for relief from suffering or restoration to health?
So I was obediently enwrapped in the appointed scarlet envelope, which at first I fancied a counterpart to the shirt of Nessus, and put in preparation for an important era—the first absence from father and mother. Let no one imagine that travelling then was what it is now. Steam had not awakened to give it wings. The world, in the language of a philosopher, was "home-bred, and kept at home." I had once walked a long distance with some little friends, to see a lady who had been to New Connecticut, and returned alive. Perchance we looked upon her with as much curiosity, and more amazement, than the people of the present day, trained up in wonders, feel as they gaze on the returned from Kane's expedition to the Arctic, or the saved from the wreck of the Central America, after submersion in the Atlantic.
And I was to take a journey to Hartford, the semicapital of the State! Forty miles was its extent—the weary work of a whole day, with a long stop at noon for dinner, and to rest the horses. Faithful Lucy Calkins was to accompany and take care of me. My journal, which I had commenced two or three years before, noted every variation of scenery and circumstance with becoming minuteness and solemnity. Hear what that quaint journal, from a quire of gray foolscap stitched into a marble-paper cover, utters forth, still spreading its fairly-written pages, half a century old, upon my table:
"This fifteenth day of October was the one appointed for our journey. Weather very fine. Took leave of my dear parents, and entered the stage-coach, where were several passengers already seated. At the distance of four miles we reached the rural township of Franklin, which was formerly called Norwich West-Farms, having been an appendage of my native city. It is composed almost wholly of farmers, whose small and pleasant dwellings exhibit a picture of contentment.
"Six additional miles brought us to Lebanon. This town appears to have been designed for a much larger one than it is ever likely to become. The streets are laid out so wide, that those who live on opposite sides can scarcely be said to be neighbors. To me it had a sort of dreary appearance. It is remarkable as the residence of the two Governor Trumbulls, father and son, true patriots and Christians. The residence of Mr. David Trumbull, a brother of the latter, is one of the most elegant in the place. They are erecting a good brick meeting-house, the expense of which is to be defrayed by a lottery.
"Columbia was the next settlement. There we made a stop, to give the horses water. The bell was just ringing for twelve. The sun beat down upon us with the fierceness of summer. We were glad to cast off some of our superfluous garments. Extremely fatigued we became ere we reached the tavern where we were to dine. I was thankful for assistance in alighting; for so cramped were my limbs by their confined position, I don't think I could have done it, and got into the house alone, for a kingdom. After refreshment and rest, we set off with fresh steeds and a new driver, their predecessors being wearied out by the hard labor of twenty miles. Soon we began to ascend and descend the far-famed hills of Bolton, with surprising rapidity. Sometimes we were entirely shut in; at others enjoyed an extensive and glorious prospect. The trees, in their autumnal robes, were gay with a thousand tints of yellow, red, and brown. Some had hastily thrown off all their attire, others were hourly dropping it. Here and there a sturdy oak bade defiance to the blast, the towering pine looked upward to the cloud, and the unassuming willow bent its head to the earth.
"Approaching our journey's close, we were delighted with the magnificent elms of East Hartford. The soil, growing sandy, redoubled the toil of the horses, by sliding from beneath their hoofs. But it became gradually intermixed with strata of a chocolate color, and finally turned to thick clay, with plenty of adhesive mud. I was almost petrified with horror when we reached the ferry at the Connecticut River. Awful accidents had I heard of drowning and capsizing, and expected to see them repeated. But we quietly drove into a large flat-bottomed boat, with four oarsmen, and, to my astonishment, passed the mighty stream with ease and safety. Hartford made a fine appearance, with its large brick buildings, the masts of its numerous vessels, and its picturesque boats gliding hither and thither over the blue waters. We drove a short distance up the main street to the mansion of the late Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth, the favorite nephew of my deceased benefactress. It is the residence of his widow, and two of his sisters, quite advanced in years; and, though I had seen them in Norwich, my heart beat with painful apprehension, like a stranger, at entering their house as a guest. But when I heard their kind voices, and remembered that her blood was in their veins, I felt easier, though tears kept gushing out so forcibly that I was ashamed to take my seat at the tea-table. After a very agreeable evening, being much fatigued, I begged leave to retire at an early hour. As I lay ruminating, and reviewing the scenes of the day, I heard a pleasant sound—the bells from the steeples of the North and South churches ringing for the hour of nine. They strike alternately two strokes, each waiting for the other, then, joining, tell with one voice the day of the month—in unison. One has a deep, heavy tone, the other a melodious one; and their concord is like that of bass and treble in perfect harmony. I remembered that this had been described to me of old, by my loved and departed friend. I remembered, too, that she had said, in her feebleness, 'I wish I might have taken you to Hartford. Then you would have been received as my child.' My heart said to her, 'See, I have been so received.' Did she not hear me? I comforted myself that she did; and, in that sweet belief, sank into an unbroken slumber."
Madam Wadsworth, the head of the household, was a lady of remarkably dignified manners, high intelligence, and an excellent judgment, derived both from a knowledge of books and observation of mankind. Her mind was habitually well governed, and her equanimity so entire, that all errors arising from impulsiveness of speech or action were avoided; and by those long intimate with her it was said she was never known to be in a hurry. These characteristics must have been of unspeakable value during the trying period of our revolutionary contest, where her husband bore so conspicuous a part. In his long intervals of absence the cares of the family, and the nurture of the children, devolved wholly on herself; and in her perfect housekeeping, as well as her maternal duties, she exhibited a serenity and wisdom competent both to control and to execute. The position of Colonel Wadsworth made his house the centre of hospitality for both the French and American officers of high rank when in this part of the country. Whether La Fayette or De Grasse, Rochambeau or the godlike Washington, was the guest, she was always equally self-possessed and in elegant preparation. So I have been told by contemporaries, for of her own efforts or honors she never spoke. Yet I listened with delighted attention, as in precise and well-chosen language, she sometimes gratified my request for descriptions of the illustrious personages who varied the drama of earlier days. Then would seem to stand before me the Father of his Country, the chivalrous Greene, the fearless Putnam, the ardent Arnold, not then a traitor, the youthful La Fayette, the elegant Marquis de Chastellux, and the cautious Talleyrand, who from under his half-shut eyelids regarding what passed around, seemed ever to have some concealed or sinister purpose. A great privilege was it to hear the conversation of this lady, who, to her fund of recollections, added a fondness for elegant literature, which she could so happily combine with the gravest or minutest duties of her sex, that neither should be overlooked, and nothing neglected. Her portrait, by Sully, which with those of her husband and children hangs in the Gallery of the Wadsworth Athenæum, seems to me, in its striking verisimilitude, to express some of the traits of character I have here delineated.
Two sisters of Colonel Wadsworth resided with his widow—single ladies advanced in years, of the most unassuming and intrinsic excellence. Heartfelt piety, an integrity that never swerved, diligent improvement of time, warm affections for those of kindred blood, and unsealed sympathy for the woes of all humanity, marked their blameless lives. In their own peculiar apartments they preferred the quaint furniture of ancient times, endeared by associations with beloved and departed parents. There were the straight-backed mahogany chairs, which long, careful rubbing, had given almost an ebony complexion, the small dark-framed mirrors of wonderfully rich, clear plates, the huge easy-chairs, capable of enveloping two good sized occupants, and the queer, clumsy cabinet, containing the volumes of Seed, South, and Sherlock, with some pamphlet sermons of their father, the Rev. Daniel Wadsworth, once the pastor of the church whose neighboring steeple, like a tutelary genius, looked in at their chamber window. There they dwelt in peace and honor. Respect for the sacredness of the Sabbath, for the ministers of religion, and for God's holy temple, had been incorporated with their infant training, and remained with them in age. No tale of suffering could be told them but the moistened eye attested their unquenched sensibilities. Methought they were like the sisters of Bethany, whom Jesus loved.
Another member of this household was a native of Cape François.
After the savage massacre, she was brought hither by friends who took refuge in this country. Colonel Wadsworth, whose liberal charities knew no bound of race or clime, in his attentions to those foreigners discovered that the little girl, Pauline, was considered a supernumerary, and suspected that she might be sometimes treated with unkindness. Finding on inquiry that they would consent to part with her, he took the helpless orphan under his protection, and placed her at a boarding-school in an adjacent township. When her education was completed he brought her home to his wife and children, where she was kindly comprehended within the domestic circle. At this period she was somewhat past her prime, but of great activity, and rendered herself extremely useful by superintendence of the more delicate departments of housekeeping, and by various skilful uses of the needle. She had a very dark complexion, a brilliant black eye, and an inextinguishable naiveté, to which her slight foreign accent added humor and force. She, who at her first arrival here, was so slender and slight as to have been compared to a "picked bird," had attained an unwieldy size; but so far from taking offence at any allusion to it, was wont to reply, that it was "her daily hope to reach three hundred." Notwithstanding this great weight of adipose substance her active movements betokened her French origin, and her step in the dance was almost impalpably light. She was a person of good capacity and great shrewdness of observation, and filled in the family an important place, which was affectionately appreciated. Her gratitude for the memory of her benefactor was enthusiastic; and from her eloquent, almost histrionic descriptions, I gathered my most graphic ideas of the nobleness of his domestic habits and feelings, who for bravery as an officer, and wisdom as a financier and statesman, was illustrious on both shores of the Atlantic.
The comfort of this interesting and dignified family was promoted by a band of well-trained and trustworthy servants, a cook, chambermaid, and waiter, gardener, and coachman. Each was at their post with a clock-work precision, so perfect was the system of organization. The house was old-fashioned but commodious. Its late proprietor, notwithstanding his huge wealth, preferred it to a modern and costly mansion, because it was consecrated by filial recollections. To me it seemed a most amiable sentiment that, accustomed as he had been for years to a palace-residence in France, and to all the decorations which the fine arts could give, he should still choose to dwell in comparatively humble apartments which had been hallowed by a father's pious prayers, and a mother's tender love. The building, which was of wood, had a pleasant vine-covered piazza, with a southern exposure, and had been enlarged in the rear by a range of chambers resting on heavy stone columns, which by moonlight had a picturesque effect. Connected with the court was a large garden, filled with luxuriant fruit-trees, a variety of herbs which were thought to have affinity with health, and the largest and most fragrant damask-rose bushes. I speak more particularly of these premises because they are now occupied by the fine edifice of granite known as the "Wadsworth Athenæum," and their original aspect will soon have faded from the memory of the living.
Colonel Wadsworth, who had great influence in the city of Hartford, and did much to encourage the industry of its deserving young men, as well as for its public institutions and edifices, gratified his taste in architecture by erecting two elegant mansions for his children. They were near his own habitation, and that of his son was accessible through their united grounds. There dwelt Daniel Wadsworth, Esq., a name in his native region synonymous with philanthropy, refinement, and every amiable virtue. His wife, a daughter of the second Governor Trumbull, was beautiful in person, and of an angelic goodness. I think none could have been near her without admiring her, or being made in some measure better and happier. Their spacious apartments displayed that exquisite taste, and liberal patronage of the fine arts, that ever distinguished the master of the mansion. There I first enjoyed the luxury of studying fine pictures; and in this abode, and also in that of his mother, revelled in the delights of a large and select library. In which of those volumes was it that I found that magnificent sentence of Milton, which, if I brought nothing else away, were wealth sufficient, and which is worthy of being remembered till we can read no more?
"The end of reading, and of education, is to repair the ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to grow like Him."
The other edifice which I mentioned as having been erected by Colonel Wadsworth, was for his daughter, a lady of fair and sweetly expressive countenance and commanding presence, and who, in many noble traits of character, was said to bear resemblance to him. Her husband, General Nathaniel Terry, stood high in the legal profession, possessed fine talents, a finished education, and was in manners a perfect gentleman of the old school. Surrounded by a large family of uncommonly beautiful and promising children, these three households formed a delightful circle, often meeting in social festivals, and comprising a remarkable range and variety of age, accomplishments, and wisdom.
The kindness received from all was to me a source of wondering gratitude. Whatever of interest could be found in our walks or rides, was carefully shown me. Hartford had then but about five thousand inhabitants, and though unable to boast of the edifices now so imposing, displayed the nucleus of a fair and prosperous city. I was taken to the Museum, where I gazed at coarse pictures and stiff wax figures, and relics without end. I took it upon me vastly to admire the antique State House, and thus endorse my impressions in my unsophisticated journal:
"The State House is a most elegant building of brick, with a lofty portico, commanding from its second story a grand prospect of the town, with its numerous abodes, its fertile back country, and the river with its shipping. The pavement, in diamond-shaped pieces of white and chocolate-colored marble, is fine, and the Council-chamber so large that we were as pigmies in it. There are the seats for the Governor and Council, but what most riveted my attention was a portrait of Washington rather larger than life, in a splendid frame, surrounded with curtains and festoons of crimson satin. The dignity and affability of that countenance I have never seen equalled. I felt as in the presence of a superior being. On retiring at night I was extremely well satisfied with my explorations during the day."
Those citizens who see this edifice as it now is, adorned by ranks of noble trees and a magnificent fountain; and are yet clamoring for another, better worthy to contain the halls of legislation, will be amused at the primitive opinions of an untravelled child.
But Wyllys Hill and the Charter Oak were the objects of my highest enthusiasm. Methought the proud Sir Edmund Andros, with his red-coated minions, stood before me. I heard the heavy tramp of their armed heels as they ascended to the chamber where the care-worn fathers of the colony prolonged their evening session. Methought the closing words of the speech of Governor Treat, his voice hoarse with emotion, met my ear:
"Our colony has not yet recovered from the perils of its infant years. Not only have 'we heard them with our ears, and our fathers have told us,' but some who are in council here remember them. I have myself borne a part therein. But since this blessed Charter has been ours, the gift of Charles II. of glorious memory, we have enjoyed tranquillity and the just rights of free men. Shall it be taken away without cause, and we be made vassals? To me it is like the rending asunder of soul and body, to yield up the defence, the liberty, the life of the State."
A sudden darkness falls—a rushing step passes—the life-blood of our liberties thrills in the heart of the faithful tree.
The ancient mansion at Wyllys Hill was an object also of intense interest. Brought over from England during the infancy of the colony, it gleamed out from its lofty site like a watch-tower in the wilderness. The Wyllys family, who gave their name to this fair domain, was one of wealth and distinction in Warwickshire, and held for several generations high offices in the government of Connecticut. An aged widow was now its sole representative, dwelling almost alone, amid antique portraits, tall, regal chairs, and worn Turkey carpets—herself an affecting relic of faded grandeur. The large house, with its low-browed apartments, has been since renovated, modernized, and removed, but was to me more interesting in its dilapidated condition, as a feudal monument, uttering the voice of other days.
Wert thou the castle of the olden time,
Thou solitary pile?—a beacon-light
To the benighted traveller?
Thy lone brow
Peered in baronial pride o'er pathless wilds,
And waters whitened by no daring sail,
While to the roaming red man's eye thy pomp
Was as a dream of terror. Now thou stand'st
In mournful majesty, as if to mark
The desolation of a lordly race,
Or, like a faithful vassal, share their grave.
A loftier dome may rise,
And prouder columns blot thy time-stain'd walls
From the slight memory of a passing age.
Yet some there are, who deem thy mouldering stones
Dearer than sculpture's boast, where musing thought
Loves silent shades and arbors darkly wreath'd,
And walks dim-lighted by the chequering moon,
While Fancy with the groups of other days
Fills yon deserted halls.
But thou, brave Oak!
Time-honor'd and majestic, who didst lock
Our germ of freedom in thy sacred breast,
Baffling the tyrant's wrath, we will not say
Farewell to thee. For thou dost freshly take
A leafy garland from the hand of Spring,
And bear the autumnal crown as vigorously
As if thou ne'er hadst seen gray Time shred off
Man's branching hopes, age after age, and blast
His root of glory.
Speak, and tell us tales
Of forest chieftains, and their warring tribes,
Who, like the bubble on the waters, fled
Before our sires. Hast thou no record left
Of perish'd generations, o'er whose prime
Thy foliage droop'd?—thou who unchanged hast seen
The wise, the strong, the beautiful go down
To the dark winter of the voiceless tomb?
Oh! flourish on in healthful honor still,
Thou silent Monitor; and should our sons
E'er in the madness of prosperity
Forget the virtues of their patriot-sires,
Be thou a Delphos, warning them to heed
The sumless price of blood-bought liberty.
The same lyre, half a century after, struck its mournful strings in a dirge for the "fallen Oak, the monarch of the plain." A violent storm, on the night of August 21st, 1856, prostrated this idol of the people. At the time of my first visit to Hartford, in October, 1805, its gnarled branches spread wide, though its head was not conspicuously lofty. The extension at the base was large and hollow, and, according to tradition, the cavity had been capable of containing thirteen persons. I should think, if the numeration was accurate, they must have been of the pigmy race. It was doubtless of great antiquity, and seemed then in as vigorous health as when, after the abdication of the fourth Stuart, and the accession of William and Mary, it opened its casket, and restored to the rejoicing colony its well-guarded treasure.
After a fortnight's stay I returned home with heightened happiness and overflowing gratitude. Renovated health and the rose-tint faintly reappearing on the cheek, delighted my doting parents, and uplifted their opinion of the wisdom of our good physician into a sort of homage due to a tutelary being.
Faithful Lucy, my attendant, had been made happy by the condescension extended to her, and the wonders she had seen. "I have been to London," said she, in her attempted narrations. Yes, London undoubtedly to her, who had never before been ten miles from her native place, but in the humble simplicity of household labor,
"Along the cool, sequestered vale of life,
Had kept the noiseless tenor of her way."
Yet this excursion, and the knowledge of her sterling virtues thus given to the relatives of her former mistress, whom she had faithfully served almost twenty years, was to win her a future permanent and most desirable home.
At crossing the Connecticut, on our return, I recollect the honest creature said earnestly how much she should like to live there; not knowing that her lot had even then been thus cast by a Hand that never errs. As she spoke, a silent prayer of gratitude for the blessed kindness that had cheered me in this pleasant spot, was rising from my full heart; and a petition unconsciously mingled, that, if it were the Divine will, I might at some future time be permitted to revisit it. No prescience, as the voiceless orison breathed over these quiet waters, then suggested that there would ever be aught of adaptation to the reminiscence of the patriarch, "With my staff passed I over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands."