Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Good evening and welcome to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum. My name is Tom

  • Schwartz, I'm the Director. And tonight you're invited to sit back, relax, andenjoy a great

  • holiday favorite, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

  • Charles Dickens actually created this piece for readers theater, which is what you'll

  • hear tonight. Readers theater has very few props. It's not acting per se, but it's just

  • using the voice in order to create a sense of the character.

  • Given this holiday season is a time for family and friends to reconnect to old memories and

  • create new ones. We know that Christmas Past is a great tradition in this town, and we

  • hope that this will become a new addition to that.

  • We also know that this is a time to think of others less fortunate. And we provide a

  • box out front for collecting can goods for those in need. There will be opportunities

  • for those of you coming tomorrow for other actvities that will bring an end to this weekend

  • of celebration.

  • so, if you'll turn off your cell phones, we'd appreciate that. And we'd also like to welcome

  • you afterwards, if you'd like to meet the cast and enjoy some treats we have some in

  • the reading room. Those of you who don't plan to do that, the Library will be closing around

  • 8 o'clock.

  • So please, sit back, welcome, thank you for coming, and enjoy.

  • Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of

  • his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.

  • Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he

  • chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

  • Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he

  • were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator,

  • his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner.

  • Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name however. There it yet stood, years afterwards,

  • above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as

  • Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes

  • Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.

  • Oh! But he was a tight-fisted at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping,

  • scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!

  • External heat and cold had little influence on him. No warmth could warm, no cold could

  • chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon

  • its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't

  • know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast

  • of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often "came down" handsomely, and Scrooge

  • never did.

  • Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how

  • are you? When will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no

  • children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in his

  • his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's

  • dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into

  • doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "No

  • eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!"

  • But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the

  • crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing

  • ones call "nuts" to Scrooge.

  • Once upon a time--of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve--old Scrooge sat

  • busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting foggy weather. And the city clocks

  • had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already.

  • The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk,

  • who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had

  • a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one

  • coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so

  • surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary

  • for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm

  • himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

  • "A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!"

  • "Bah! Humbug!"

  • "Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don't mean that, I am sure?

  • I do. Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without

  • money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for

  • balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen

  • of months presented dead against you? If I had my will every idiot who goes about with

  • 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried

  • with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"

  • "Uncle!" pleaded the nephew.

  • "Oh Nephew! Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."

  • "Keep it! But you don't keep it."

  • "Let me leave it alone, then. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"

  • "There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited,

  • I dare say. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought

  • of Christmas time, when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred origin,

  • if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable,

  • pleasant time; the only time I know, in the long calendar

  • of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely,

  • and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-travelers to the grave,

  • and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore,

  • uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that

  • it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

  • "Let me hear another sound from you Bob Cratchitt, and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your

  • situation! Nephew, you're quite a powerful speaker, sir," I wonder you don't go into

  • Parliament."

  • "Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow."

  • "Good afternoon,"

  • "I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. But We have never had any quarrel,

  • to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll

  • keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!

  • Good afternoon! And A Happy New Year!

  • "Good afternoon!"

  • His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. The clerk, in letting

  • Scroges's newpew 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. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr.

  • Marley?"

  • "Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. "He died seven years ago, this very night."

  • "At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, 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 necessities; hundreds

  • of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

  • "Are there no prisons?"

  • "Plenty of prisons. But under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer

  • of mind or body to the unauthentic multitude, 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!"

  • "You wish to remain anonymous?"

  • "I wish to be left alone, 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 prisons and the work houses--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, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

  • At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted

  • from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly

  • snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.

  • "You'll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?" said Scrooge.

  • "If quite convenient, sir."

  • "It is not convenient,and it's not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you'd

  • think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound?"

  • "Yes sir."

  • "And yet, you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no work."

  • "It's only once a year, sir."

  • "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose

  • you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning."

  • The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge walked out with a growl.

  • Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all

  • the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's-book, went home

  • to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. The building

  • was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other

  • rooms being all let out as offices.

  • Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the

  • door of hsi house, except that it was very large. Also that Scrooge had seen it, night

  • and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little

  • of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London. And yet , Scrooge,

  • having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any

  • intermediate process of change--not a knocker, but Marley's face.

  • Marley's face, with a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was

  • not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly

  • spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead.

  • As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

  • To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation

  • to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon

  • the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

  • He said "Pooh, pooh!" and closed the door with a bang.

  • The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask

  • in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own.

  • Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, walked across

  • the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.

  • Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for its being very dark. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge

  • liked that. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms

  • to see that all was all right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire

  • to do that.

  • Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody

  • under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan

  • of gruel upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown,

  • which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old

  • fire-guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.

  • Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which

  • was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown

  • and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the very low fire to take his gruel.

  • As he threw his head bak in the chair his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused

  • bell, that hung in the room, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten.

  • With a chamber in the highest story of the building. It was with great astonishment,

  • and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing.

  • [Bell ringing]

  • Soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house.

  • [Bells ringing]

  • And that was succeeded by a clanking noise.

  • [Clanking noise]

  • Deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the

  • wine-merchant's cellar.

  • [Clanking noise]

  • He heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming

  • straight towards the door.

  • [Clanking noise]

  • It came on through the heavy door, and a spectre passed into the room before his eyes. Upon

  • its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, "I know him; Marley's

  • Ghost!"

  • The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots.

  • His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat,

  • could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

  • Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he

  • felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and noticed the very

  • texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, he was still incredulous.

  • "How now! What do you want with me?"

  • "Much!"

  • "Who are you?"

  • "Ask me who I was."

  • "Who were you then?"

  • "In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley. You don't believe in me."

  • "I don't,"

  • "What evidence would you have of my reality beyond your senses?"

  • "Because, a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats.

  • You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment

  • of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

  • Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any

  • means waggish then. The truth is, he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his

  • own attention, and keeping down his horror.

  • But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its

  • head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!

  • "Mercy! Oh dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me? Why do spirits walk the earth,

  • and why do they come to me?"

  • "It is required of every man,that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen,

  • and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to

  • do so after death.

  • "I cannont tell you all. A very little more is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot

  • stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house--mark

  • me!--in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our

  • money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!"

  • "But you were always a good man of business."

  • "Business! 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 ocean of my business! Hear me! My time is nearly gone."

  • "I will. But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery, Jacob! Pray!"

  • "I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my

  • fate."

  • "You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge. "Thank'ee!"