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|Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1923) Feature|
"This lunatic, 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.
'Scrooge 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?'
'Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,'
Scrooge replied. 'He died seven years ago, this very
'We have no doubt his liberality is well represented
by his surviving partner,' said the gentleman, presenting
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred
spirits. At the ominous word 'liberality,' Scrooge
frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials
'At this 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 comforts, sir.'
'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.
'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down
the pen again.
'And the Union workhouses?' demanded Scrooge.
'Are they still in operation?'
'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman, 'I wish
I could say they were not.'
'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour,
then?' said Scrooge.
'Both very busy, sir.'
'Oh! 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
'Under the 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 for?'
'Nothing!' Scrooge replied.
'You wish 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 there.'
'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'
If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had
better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
- A Christmas Carol, Stave 1: Marley's Ghost