- ‘He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil‘ is a quotation from A Christmas Carol (Stave 2).
- A Christmas Carol is a novella, or short story, written by Charles Dickens and first published in the Christmas of 1843. The allegorical tale tells the story of the transformation of the mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge through the visits of the spirit of his former business partner and three ghosts over the course of a Christmas Eve night. It remains a much-loved traditional Christmas tale.
The Ghost has taken Scrooge to watch a merry party thrown by Fezziwig, a merchant with whom Scrooge was apprenticed to as a young man, at a Christmas from the past. Scrooge can see how much joy Fezziwig brings to others through his party. The Ghost points out to Scrooge how it doesn’t take much effort to make the people appreciative, Fezziwig only needing to have ‘spent but a few pounds of your mortal money‘.
Earlier that night, Scrooge was visited by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge that, due to his greedy life, he is doomed to wander the Earth clad in chains of guilt, with “no rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”. Marley tells Scrooge that three spirits will visit him that night to try to change his ways and prevent him from sharing his eternity of pain and suffering. The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first of these spirits, who transports Scrooge to scenes from his childhood, including Fezziwig’s Christmas ball.
Mr. Fezziwig is a tradesman to whom Ebenezer Scrooge was apprenticed as a young man. As a character he is the very antithesis of the person that Scrooge becomes. He is jovial and care-free and although he is a business-man he still is generous with his time and money. This is best illustrated by the Christmas ball we see Fezziwig has put on for others, in which Scrooge is transported to by the Ghost of Christmas Past, showing him how many people can be made happy by his actions. Fezziwig represents a set of communal values and a way of life which was being swept away in the economic turmoil of the early nineteenth century.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two ’prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop.
During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation. It was not until now, when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while the light upon its head burnt very clear.
“Small!” echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,
“Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”
“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”
He felt the Spirit’s glance, and stopped.
“What is the matter?” asked the Ghost.
“Nothing particular,” said Scrooge.
“Something, I think?” the Ghost insisted.
“No,” said Scrooge, “No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That’s all.”
His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air.
“My time grows short,” observed the Spirit. “Quick!”
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