And so it was today with myself and the delightful G.K. Chesterton, whose "God in the Cave" chapter from The Everlasting Man I thought would make for wonderful Christmas reading. Alas, it was not to be -- but I was happily reminded, given my Yuletide Dickens kick, that Chesterton was something of a Dickens scholar himself.
Here, then, is the ever-so-timely "Dickens and Christmas," celebrating "that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, for the holy day which is really a holiday."
And here, of course, is Chesterton on Scrooge. No question he would have loved the Muppets:
Scrooge is not really inhuman at the beginning any more than he is at the end. There is a heartiness in his inhospitable sentiments that is akin to humour and therefore to humanity; he is only a crusty old bachelor, and had (I strongly suspect) given away turkeys secretly all his life. The beauty and the real blessing of the story do not lie in the mechanical plot of it, the repentance of Scrooge, probable or improbable; they lie in the great furnace of real happiness that glows through Scrooge and everything around him; that great furnace, the heart of Dickens. Whether the Christmas visions would or would not convert Scrooge, they convert us. Whether or no the visions were evoked by real Spirits of the Past, Present, and Future, they were evoked by that truly exalted order of angels who are correctly called High Spirits. They are impelled and sustained by a quality which our contemporary artists ignore or almost deny, but which in a life decently lived is as normal and attainable as sleep, positive, passionate, conscious joy. The story sings from end to end like a happy man going home; and, like a happy and good man, when it cannot sing it yells. It is lyric and exclamatory, from the first exclamatory words of it. It is strictly a Christmas carol.