Posts Tagged ‘the Ghost of Christmas Present’

Dickens December: Where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing

December 23, 2010


Port-au-Prince, Haitian children in costumes for a Christmas pageant.

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich.


Hathaway House orphanage. Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA. Dec. 23, 1948.

In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.

(Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol. The Second Stave: The Ghost of Christmas Present.)

I hope that wherever we are, no matter our faith or circumstance, we do not in our little brief authority leave an embodiment of love for our fellow man out in the cold. Don’t bar the door. Let him come in and know you better.

Dickens December: If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population

December 22, 2010


“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”


“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.”

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? ‘If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population’.”


Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

“Man — ” said the Ghost, ” — if man you be in heart, not adamant — forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is.”


“Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh, God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

(Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol.)

I believe that last quote to be one of the finest things Dickens ever wrote.

All photographs by William Gedney, taken in Kentucky in 1964. Special thanks to the fantastic Selvedge Yard, right here on the wordpress, for making me aware of this set’s existence.

Dickens December: We should be the Freds who walk this earth

December 10, 2010


“Laura.” Ryan McGinley, 2010.

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.

(Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Stave Three: “The Second of the Three Spirits.” The narrator is describing Ebenezer’s nephew Fred enjoying the company of his friends.)

I adore Fred. There should be more Freds walking this earth. We should be those Freds.