Wisdom from Industrial age London
In the 1800’s the British Empire was at it’s zenith. Her navy ruled the seven seas, the Union Jack symbolized the over 25% of the world that were subjects of his majesty. The sun never set on the empire during the 24 hour day. It was also the industrial age – things were changing fast, urbanization was taking a new meaning to life and work in new ways for a “boss” was being redefined in large urban factories and mills.
Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol in 1843. The ghost of Scruge’s old partner, Bob Marely, Esquire, in money came to visit him. He spoke of how he missed the point of life, the posture he had towards money, “mine”, and what really mattered was missed. I do believe there is much to learn yet today 164 years later from this passage. Have a gander at the spirit’s visit with Scruge…. It’s English doesn’t flow for our ears – yet a mature reader will ponder the words carefully and hear much.
‘You might have got over a great quantity of ground in
seven years,’ said Scrooge.
The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and
clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the
night, that the Ward would have been justified in
indicting it for a nuisance.
‘Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,’ cried the
phantom, ‘not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by
immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity
before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed.
Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in
its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life
too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that
no space of regret can make amends for one life’s
opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!’
‘But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’
faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.
‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my
business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence,
were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but
a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my
It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the
cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon
the ground again.
‘At this time of the rolling year,’ the spectre said ‘I
suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellowbeings
with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to
that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode!
Were there no poor homes to which its light would have
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre
going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.
‘Hear me!’ cried the Ghost. ‘My time is nearly gone.’
‘I will,’ said Scrooge. ‘But don’t be hard upon me!
Don’t be flowery, Jacob! Pray!’ ‘How it is that I appear
before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I
have sat invisible beside you many and many a day.’
It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and
wiped the perspiration from his brow.
‘That is no light part of my penance,’ pursued the
Ghost. ‘I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet
a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and
hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.’
‘You were always a good friend to me,’ said Scrooge.
Scruge finally did hear, as we all know. Take a moment and read the end of the story – for it is fortuitous.
“Let him in. It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, wonderful happiness.
But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late. That was the thing he had set his heart upon.
And he did it; yes, he did. The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.
His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.
`Hallo.’ growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. `What do you mean by coming here at this time of day.’
`I am very sorry, sir,’ said Bob. `I am behind my time.’
`You are.’ repeated Scrooge. `Yes. I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please.’
`It’s only once a year, sir,’ pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. `It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.’
`Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,’ said Scrooge,’ I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,’ he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again;’ and therefore I am about to raise your salary.’
Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.
`A merry Christmas, Bob,’ said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. `A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit.’
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”