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 PETROLEUM V. NASBY.
HE isn't half so handsome as when, twenty years agone, At her old home in Piketon, Parson Avery made us one; The great house crowded full of guests of every degree, The girls all envying Hannah Jane, the boys all envying me.
Her fingers then were taper, and her skin as white as milk, Her brown hair - what a mess it was! and soft and fine as silk; No wind-moved willow by a brook had ever such a grace, The form of Aphrodite, with a pure Madonna face.
She had but meagre schooling; her little notes, to me, Were full of crooked pot-hooks, and the worst orthography; Her "dear" she spelled with double e, and " kiss" with but ones; But when one's crazed with passion, what's a letter more or less?
She blundered in her writing, and she blundered when she spoke, And every rule of syntax, that old Murray made, she broke; But she was beautiful and fresh, and I - well, I was young; Her form and face o'erbalanced all the blunders of her tongue.
I was but little better. True, I'd longer been at school; My tongue and pen were run, perhaps, a little more by rule; But that was all. The neighbors round, who both of us well knew, Said - which I believed - she was the better of the two.
All's changed: the light of seventeen 's no longer in her eyes; Her wavy hair is gone - that loss the coiffeur's art supplies; Her form is thin and angular; she slightly forward bends; Her fingers, once so shapely, now are stumpy at the ends.
She knows but very little, and in little are we one;
The beauty rare, that more than hid that great defect, is gone.
My parvenu relations now deride my homely wife,
And pity me that I am tied, to such a clod, for life.
I know there is a difference; at reception and levee, The brightest, wittiest, and most famed of women smile on me; And everywhere I hold my place among the greatest men; And sometimes sigh, with Whittier's judge, "Alas! it might have been."
When they all crowd around me, stately dames and brilliant belles, And yield to me the homage that all great success compels, Discussing art and state-craft, and literature as well, From Homer down to Thackeray, and Swedenborg on " Hell,"
I can't forget that from these streams my wife has never quaffed, Has never with Ophelia wept, nor with Jack Falstaff laughed; Of authors, actors, artists - why, she hardly knows the names; She slept while I was speaking on the Alabama claims.
I can't forget - just at this point another form appears - The wife I wedded as she was before my prosperous years; I travel o'er the dreary road we traveled side by side, And wonder what my share would be, if Justice should divide.
She had four hundred dollars left her from the old estate; On that we married, and, thus poorly armored, faced our fate. I wrestled with my books; her task was harder far than mine - 'Twas how to make two hundred dollars do the work of nine.
At last I was admitted; then I had my legal lore, An office with a stove and desk, of books perhaps a score; She had her beauty and her youth, and some housewifely skill, And love for me and faith in me, and back of that a will.
I had no friends behind me - no influence to aid; I worked and fought for every little inch of ground I made. And how she fought beside me! never woman lived on less; In two long years she never spent a single cent for dress.
Ah! how she cried for joy when my first legal fight was won, When our eclipse passed partly by, and we stood in the sun! The fee was fifty dollars - 't was the work of half a year - First captive, lean and scraggy, of my legal bow and spear.
I well remember when my coat (the only one I had) Was seedy grown and threadbare, and, in fact, most shocking bad, The tailor's stern remark when I a modest order made: "Cash is the basis, sir, on which we tailors do our trade."
Her winter cloak was in his shop by noon that very day;
She wrought on hickory shirts at night that tailor's skill to pay;
I got a coat, and wore it; but alas! poor Hannah Jane
Ne'er went to church or lecture till warm weather came again.
Our second season she refused a cloak of any sort, That I might have a decent suit in which t' appear in court; She made her last year's bonnet do, that I might have a hat: Talk of the old-time, flame-enveloped martyrs after that!
No negro ever worked so hard; a servant's pay to save, She made herself most willingly a household drudge and slave. What wonder that she never read a magazine or book, Combining as she did in one, nurse, housemaid, seamstress, cook.
What wonder that the beauty fled, that I once so adored! Her beautiful complexion my fierce kitchen fire devoured; Her plump, soft, rounded arm was once too fair to be concealed; Hard work for me that softness into sinewy strength congealed.
I was her altar, and her love the sacrificial flame:
Ah! with what pure devotion she to that altar came,
And, tearful, flung thereon - alas! I did not know it then -
All that she was, and more than that, all that she might have been!
"the hen with one chicken."
At last I won success. Ah! then our lives were wider parted: I was far up the rising road; she, poor girl! where we started. I had tried my speed and mettle, and gained strength in every race; I was far up the heights of life - she drudging at the base.
She made me take each fall the stump; she said 't was my career; The wild applause of list'ning crowds was music to my ear. What stimulus had she to cheer her dreary solitude? For me she lived on gladly, in unnatural widowhood.
She couldn't read my speech, but when the papers all agreed 'T was the best one of the session, those comments she could read; And with a gush of pride thereat, which I had never felt, She sent them to me in a note, with half the words misspelt.
I to the legislature went, and said that she should go To see the world with me, and, what the world was doing, know. With tearful smile she answered, "No! four dollars is the pay; The Bates House rates for board for one is just that sum per day."
At twenty-eight the State-house; on the bench at thirty-three; At forty every gate in life was opened wide to me.
I nursed my powers, and grew, and made my point in life; but she - Bearing such pack-horse weary loads, what could a woman be?
What could she be? Oh, shame! I blush to think what she has been, The most unselfish of all wives to the selfishest of men. Yes. plain and homely now she is; she's ignorant, 't is true; For me she rubbed herself quite out; I represent the two.
Well, I suppose that I might do as other men have done - First break her heart with cold neglect, then shove her out alone. The world would say 't was well, and more, would give great praise to me, For having borne with " such a wife " so uncomplainingly.
And shall I? No! The contract 'twixt Hannah, God and me, Was not for one or twenty years, but for eternity. No matter what the world may think; I know, down in my heart, That, if either, I'm delinquent; she has bravely done her part.
There's another world beyond this; and, on the final day, Will intellect and learning 'gainst such devotion weigh? When the great one, made of us two, is torn apart again, I'll fare the worst, for God is just, and He knows Hannah Jane.
BY MARIAN DOUGLASS.
THE white turkey was dead! The white turkey was dead 1 How the news through the barn-yard went flying! Of a mother bereft, four small turkeys were left, And their case for assistance was crying. E'en the peacock respectfully folded his tail, As a suitable symbol of sorrow, And his plainer wife said, " now the old bird is dead,
Who will tend her poor chicks on the morrow? And when evening around them comes dreary and chill, Who above them will watchfully hover?" " Two each night I will tuck 'neath my wings," said the Duck,
" Though I have eight of my own I must cover! " " I have so much to do! For the bugs and the worms, In the garden, 't is tiresome pickin'; I've nothing to spare - for my own I must care," Said then the Hen with one chicken.
How I wish," said the Goose, "I could be of some use, For my heart is with love over-brimming;
The next morning that's fine, they shall go with my nine
Little yellow-backed goslings, out swimming! " "I will do what I can," the old Dorking put in, " And for help they may call upon me too, Though I've ten of my own that are only half grown.
And a great deal of trouble to see to; But these poor little things, they are all head and wings,
And their bones through their feathers are stickin'! " " Very hard it may be, but, Oh, don't come to me! "
Said the Hen with one chicken.
half my care, I suppose, there is nobody knows,
I'm the most over-burdened of mothers! They must learn, little elves! how to scratch for themselves,
And not seek to depend upon others." She went by with a cluck, and the Goose to the Duck
Exclaimed with surprise, "Well, I never!" Said the Duck, "I declare, those who have the least care,
You will find are complaining forever! And when all things appear to look threatening and drear,
And when troubles your pathway are thick in, For some aid in your woe, Oh, beware how you go
To a Hen with que chicken. "