A Christmas Carol Manuscript

The Morgan Library and Museum, MA 97. Photography by Graham S. Haber.


Christmas Carol 19 recto

Christmas Carol 19 recto


a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again: distinct and clear as ever.

“Are you the Spirit, Sir, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Scrooge.

“I am!”

The voice was soft and gentle—singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

“Who and what are you?” Scrooge demanded.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Long past?” inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.

“No. Your past.”

Perhaps Scrooge couldn’t have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.

“What!” exclaimed the Ghost, “would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give! Is it not enough that you are one of those whose ruthless passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow!”

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend, or any knowledge of having wilfully “bonneted” the Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.

“Your welfare!” said the Ghost.

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:

“Your reclamation then. Take heed!”

It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently, by the arm.

“Rise! and walk with me!”

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers,

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Christmas Carol 20 recto

Christmas Carol 20 recto


dressing-gown, and nightcap; stuck and that he had a cold upon him at that time. The grasp though gentle as[????]wife a woman’s hand, was not to be resisted. He rose; but finding that the Spirit made towards the window, [???????]clasped hisclasped its robe in supplication. “I am a mortal,” said Scrooge remonstrated, “and liable to fall.” “Bear but a touch of my hand me there,” said the Spirit, laying its handit upon his heart, “and you shall be upheld in more [????? ???????] more than this!” As the words were spoken, they passedpassed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either sidehand. The city and the [???? ???? ?? ? ???????] it was [??? ????????], had a [??? ????]had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the fog mist had vanished with it, for it was aclear clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground. “Good HeavenGod!” said Scrooge, clasping his hands together as he looked about him. “ I was born [at] bred ofin this place. I was a boy here!” The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. and Scrooge seemed[???? ]The [???????] of Its hand [???????]gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, [??????]appeared to Scroogestill present to the old man’s sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand [????????]odours in floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand [???? ???????]thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares[????]—oh! how long, long, long!— forgotten! His [????]the harsh cold “Your lip is trembling,” said the Ghost. “And what is that upon your cheek?” Scrooge mutteredanswered with a strangean unusual catching in his speechvoice that it was a pimplepimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. “You recollect the way?” ????? inquired the Spirit. “Remember it!”"[??? ?????]"said cried Scrooge, with fervor. "Why [????]foot of [??????]“I could walk it, blindfold.” “Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!” [??????]observed the Ghost. “Let us go on!” These [???? ??? ??????? ]of the [????? ?? ??]have been [????]thrill [??? ?? ????? ]for f[????]They walked along the road; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a marketlittle market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, and its church [??]leand winding river. Some shaggy ponies [??????]from a [??????]now were seen advancingtrotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. They held [??? ????????]All these boys were in great spirits, and whooped and shouted to each other, until the broad fields [?????] [????? ?????? ]looked[???????]were so full of merry music that the crisp air laughed[???????] to hear it. “These are but shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us.” TheyThe jocund boystravellersthey came on; gailyand as they came, Scrooge knew and named them every one.[????]with his [?????? ?????] Why was he [?????]rejoiced [???? ?????]beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his [????? ??????? ????]cold eye glisten, and his heart

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Christmas Carol 21 recto

Christmas Carol 21 recto


leap up, as they went past! Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas as they parted at cross roads and bye-ways for their several homes! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas. What good had it ever done to him?

“The School is not quite deserted,” said the Ghost. “A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.”

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.

They left the high road by a well-remembered lane, and soon approached a man¬sion of dull red brick, with a little weather-cock-surmounted cupola on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of broken fortunes; for the spacious offices were little used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables; and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state, within; for entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated it-self somehow with too much getting up by candlelight, and not too much to eat.

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these, a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the pannelling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard be¬hind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and gave a freer passage to the tears that dropped down through his fingers as he spread his hands before his face.

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man in foreign garments—wonderfully real and distinct to look at—stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading an ass, laden with wood, by the bridle.

“Why, it’s Ali Baba!” Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. “It’s dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes yes—I know! One Christmas time when I—when he—when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first

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Christmas Carol 22 recto

Christmas Carol 22 recto


time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine,” said Scrooge, “and his wild brother, Orson—there they go! And what’s his name who was put down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus—don’t you see him! And the Sultan’s Groom, turned upside-down by the Genie—there he is upon his head! Serve him right. I’m glad of it. What business had he to be married to the Princess, d—n him!”

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his height¬ened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business-friends in the city, indeed!

“There’s the Parrot!” cried Scrooge. “Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head—there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again after sailing round the Island. “Poor Robin Crusoe. Where have you been, Robin Crusoe?’ The man thought he was dream¬ing, but he wasn’t. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday—running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloa!”

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, “Poor boy!” and cried again.

“I wish,” Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff, “but it’s too late now.”

“What is the matter?” asked the Spirit.

“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something; that’s all.”

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying as it did so, “Let us see another Christmas!”

His former self grew larger at the words, and the room became a little darker and more dirty. The pannels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were shewn instead; but how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew that it was quite correct; that everything had happened so; that there he was, alone again, when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.

He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door.

It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her “Dear Dear brother.”

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Christmas Carol 23 recto

Christmas Carol 23 recto


“I have come to bring you home, dear brother!” said the child, clapping her tiny hands and bending down to laugh. “To bring you home, home, home!”

“Home, little Fan!” returned the boy.

“Yes!” said the child, brimfull of glee. “Home for good and all. Home for ever, and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, that Home’s like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home; and he said yes you should and sent me in a coach to bring you. And you’re to be a man!” said the child, opening her eyes, “and are never to come back here; but first we’re to be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in the world.”

“You’re quite a woman, little Fan!” exclaimed the boy.

She clapped her hands, and laughed, and tried to touch his head, but being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth to go, ac¬companied her.

A terrible voice in the hall cried, “Bring down Master Scrooge’s box there!”; and in the hall appeared the Schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best parlor that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of curiously heavy cake, and administered instalments of those dainties to the young people: at the same time, sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of “something” to the postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he had rather not. Master Scrooge’s trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good bye right will¬ingly: and getting into it, drove gaily down the garden-sweep: the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.

“Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,” said the Ghost. “But she had a large heart!”

“So she had,” cried Scrooge. “You’re right. I’ll not gainsay it, Spirit. God for¬bid!”

“She died a woman,” said the Ghost, “and had, as I

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