This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
BY WILL M. CARLETON.
DRAW up the papers, lawyer, and make 'em good and stout; For things at home are cross-ways, and Betsey and I are out. We who have worked together so long as man and wife, Must pull in single harness the rest of our nat'ral life.
"What is the matter?" say you. I vow! it's hard to tell: Most of the years behind us we've passed by very well; I have no other woman - she has no other man, Only we' ve lived together as long as ever we can.
So I've talked with Betsey, and Betsey has talked with me; And we've agreed together that we can't never agree; Not that we've catched each other in any terrible crime; We've been a gatherin' this for years, a little at a time.
There was a stock of temper we both had for a start; Although we ne'er suspected 'twould take us two apart-I had my various failings, bred in the flesh and bone, And Betsey, like all good women, had a temper of her own.
The first thing I remember whereon we disagreed, Was somethin' concerning heaven - a difference in our creed. We arg'ed the thing at breakfast - we arg'ed the thing at tea - And the more we arg'ed the question, the more we didn't agree.
And the next that I remember was when we lost a cow;
She kicked the bucket, certain - the question was only - How?
I held my own opinion, and Betsey another had;
And when we were done a talkin', we both of us was mad.
And the next that I remember, it started in a joke; But full for a week it lasted, and neither of us spoke. And the next was when I scolded because she broke a bowl; And she said I was mean and stingy, and hadn't any soul.
And so that bowl kept pouring dissensions in our cup; And so that, blamed cow-critter was always a comin' up; And so that heaven we arg'ed no nearer to us got; But it gave us a taste of somethin' a thousand times as hot.
And so the thing kept workin', and all the self-same way; Always somethin' to arg'e, and somethin' sharp to say. And down on us come the neighbors, a couple dozen strong, And lent their kindest sarvice for to help the thing along.
And there has been days together - and many a weary week, We was both of us cross and spunky, and both too proud to speak, And I have been thinkin' and thinkin' the whole of the winter and fall, If I can't live kind with a woman, why, then I won't at all.
And so I have talked with Betsey, and Betsey has talked with me, And we've agreed together that we can't never agree;
And what is hers shall be hers, and what is mine shall be mine; And I'll put it in the agreement, and take it to her to sign.
Write on the paper, lawyer - the very first paragraph - Of all the farm and live stock, that she shall have her half; For she has helped to earn it, through many a dreary day, And it's nothing more than justice that Betsey has her pay.
Give her the house and homestead; a man can thrive and roam, But women are skeery critters, unless they have a home. And I have always determined, and never failed to say, That Betsey never should want a home, if I was taken away.
There's a little hard money that's drawin' tol'rable pay; A couple of hundred dollars laid by for a rainy day; Safe in the hands of good men, and easy to get at; Put in another clause, there, and give her half of that;
Yes, I see you smile, sir, at my givin' her so much; Yes, divorce is cheap, sir, but I take no stock in such. True and fair I married her, when she was blithe and young; And Betsey was al'ays good to me, except with her tongue.
Once, when I was young as you, and not so smart, perhaps, For me she mittened a lawyer, and several other chaps; And all of 'em was flustered and fairly taken down, And I for a time was counted the luckiest man in town.
Once, when I had a fever - I won't forget it soon -
I was hot as a basted turkey and crazy as a loon -
Never an hour went by when she was out of sight;
She nursed me true and tender, and stuck to me day and night.
And if ever a house was tidy, and ever a kitchen clean, Her house and kitchen was as tidy as any I ever seen; And I don't complain of Betsey or any of her acts, Exceptin' when we've quarrelled and told each other facts.
So draw up the paper, lawyer; and I'll go home to-night, And read the agreement to her and see if it's all right. And then in the mornin' I'll sell to a tradin' man I know - And kiss the child that was left to us, and out in the world I'll go.
And one thing put in the paper, that first to me didn't occur - That when I'm dead at last, she shall bring me back to her; And lay me under the maples I planted years ago, When she and I was happy, before we quarrelled so.
And when she dies, I wish that she would be laid by me', And lyin' together in silence, perhaps we will agree; And if ever we meet in heaven, I wouldn't think it queer If we loved each other the better because we quarrelled here.
GIVE US YOUR HAND, MR. LAWYER: HOW DO YOU DO TO-DAY?"