arley was dead: to begin
with. There is no doubt whatever about
that. The register of his burial was signed
by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and
the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and
Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for
anything he chose to put his hand to. Old
Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
don't mean to say that I know, of my own
knowledge, what there is particularly dead about
a door-nail. I might have been inclined,
myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest
piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the
wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my
unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the
Country's done for. You will therefore
permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley
was as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge knew he
was dead? Of course he did. How could it be
otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for
I don't know how many years. Scrooge was
his sole executor, his sole administrator, his
sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole
friend and sole mourner. And even Scrooge
was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event,
but that he was an excellent man of business on
the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it
with an undoubted bargain.
The mention of
Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I
started from. There is no doubt that Marley
was dead. This must be distinctly
understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the
story I am going to relate. If we were not
perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died
before the play began, there would be nothing
more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night,
in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than
there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman
rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot --
say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance --
literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
painted out Old Marley's name. There it stood,
years afterwards, above the warehouse door:
Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as
Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to
the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and
sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names:
it was all the same to him.
he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone,
Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping,
scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!
Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had
ever struck out generous fire; secret, and
self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
The cold within him froze his old features,
nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek,
stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin
lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating
voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and
on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He
carried his own low temperature always about with
him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
and cold had little influence on Scrooge.
No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill
him. No wind that blew was bitterer than
he, no falling snow was more intent upon its
purpose, no pelting rain less open to
entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to
have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and
hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage
over him in only one respect. They often
"came down" handsomely, and Scrooge
stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome
looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you?
When will you come to see me?" No
beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no
children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or
woman ever once in all his life inquired the way
to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even
the blind men's dogs appeared to know him; and
when they saw him coming on, would tug their
owners into doorways and up courts; and then
would wag their tails as though they said,
"No eye at all is better than an evil eye,
But what did
Scrooge care? It was the very thing he
liked. To edge his way along the crowded
paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep
its distance, was what the knowing ones call
"nuts" to Scrooge.
upon a time -- of all the good days in the year,
on Christmas Eve -- old Scrooge sat busy in his
counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting
weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the
people in the court outside go wheezing up and
down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and
stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to
warm them. The city clocks had only just
gone three, but it was quite dark already -- it
had not been light all day: and candles were
flaring in the windows of the neighbouring
offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable
brown air. The fog came pouring in at every
chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that
although the court was of the narrowest, the
houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see
the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring
everything, one might have thought that Nature
lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.
The door of
Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might
keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal
little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying
letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but
the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it
looked like one coal. But he couldn't
replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in
his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in
with the shovel, the master predicted that it
would be necessary for them to part.
Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter,
and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which
effort, not being a man of a strong imagination,
Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried
a cheerful voice. It was the voice of
Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly
that this was the first intimation he had of his
said Scrooge, "Humbug!"
He had so
heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and
frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all
in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his
eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's
nephew. "You don't mean that, I am
do," said Scrooge. "Merry
Christmas! What right have you to be
merry? What reason have you to be
merry? You're poor enough."
then," returned the nephew gaily.
"What right have you to be dismal?
What reason have you to be morose? You're
no better answer ready on the spur of the moment,
said "Bah!" again; and followed it up
cross, uncle!" said the nephew.
can I be," returned the uncle, "when I
live in such a world of fools as this?
Merry Christmas! Out upon merry
Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but
a time for paying bills without money; a time for
finding yourself a year older, but not an hour
richer; a time for balancing your books and
having every item in 'em through a round dozen of
months presented dead against you? If I
could work my will," said Scrooge
indignantly, "every idiot who goes about
with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be
boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a
stake of holly through his heart. He
pleaded the nephew.
returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas
in your own way, and let me keep it in
it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew.
"But you don't keep it."
leave it alone, then," said Scrooge.
"Much good may it do you! Much good it
has ever done you!"
many things from which I might have derived good,
by which I have not profited, I dare say,"
returned the nephew. "Christmas among
the rest. But I am sure I have always
thought of Christmas time, when it has come round
-- apart from the veneration due to its sacred
name and origin, if anything belonging to it can
be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind,
forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only
time I know of, in the long calendar of the year,
when men and women seem by one consent to open
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of
people below them as if they really were
fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another
race of creatures bound on other journeys.
And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a
scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe
that it has done me good,
and will do me good; and I
say, God bless it!"
The clerk in
the tank involuntarily applauded: becoming
immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked
the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark
hear another sound from you,"
said Scrooge, "and you'll keep your
Christmas by losing your situation. You're
quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added,
turning to his nephew. "I wonder you
don't go into Parliament."
angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us
that he would see him -- yes, indeed he
did. He went the whole length of the
expression, and said that he would see him in
that extremity first.
why?" cried Scrooge's nephew.
you get married?" said Scrooge.
fell in love."
you fell in love!" growled Scrooge, as if
that were the only one thing in the world more
ridiculous than a merry Christmas.
uncle, but you never came to see me before that
happened. Why give it as a reason for not
afternoon," said Scrooge.
nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why
cannot we be friends?"
afternoon," said Scrooge.
sorry, with all my heart, to find you so
resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to
which I have been a party. But I have made
the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep
my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry
afternoon," said Scrooge.
Happy New Year!"
afternoon!" said Scrooge.
His nephew left
the room without an angry word,
notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer
door to bestow the greetings of the season on the
clerk, who cold as he was, was warmer than
Scrooge; for he returned them cordially.
another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who
overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen
shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to
in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two
other people in. They were portly
gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood,
with their hats off, in Scrooge's office.
They had books and papers in their hands, and
bowed to him.
and Marley's, I believe," said one of the
gentlemen, referring to his list.
"Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr.
Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?"
Marley has been dead these seven years,"
Scrooge replied. "He died seven years
ago, this very night."
no doubt his liberality is well represented by
his surviving partner," said the gentleman,
presenting his credentials.
was; for they had been two kindred spirits.
At the ominous word "liberality,"
Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed
the credentials back.
festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,"
said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is
more than usually desirable that we should make
some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute,
who suffer greatly at the present time.
Many thousands are in want of common necessaries;
hundreds of thousands are in want of common
no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
prisons," said the gentleman, laying down
the pen again.
Union workhouses?" demanded
Scrooge. "Are they still in
are. Still," returned the gentleman,
"I wish I could say they were not."
Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour,
then?" said Scrooge.
I was afraid, from what you said at first, that
something had occurred to stop them in their
useful course," said Scrooge.
"I'm very glad to hear it."
impression that they scarcely furnish Christian
cheer of mind or body to the multitude,"
returned the gentleman, "a few of us are
endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some
meat and drink and means of warmth. We
choose this time, because it is a time, of all
others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance
rejoices. What shall I put you down
to be anonymous?"
"I wish to
be left alone," said Scrooge.
"Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen,
that is my answer. I don't make merry
myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make
idle people merry. I help to support the
establishments I have mentioned -- they cost
enough; and those who are badly off must go
can't go there; and many would rather die."
would rather die," said Scrooge, "they
had better do it, and decrease the surplus
population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't
might know it," observed the gentleman.
my business," Scrooge returned.
"It's enough for a man to understand his own
business, and not to interfere with other
people's. Mine occupies me
constantly. Good afternoon,
that it would be useless to pursue their point,
the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge returned
his labours with an improved opinion of himself,
and in a more facetious temper than was usual