As for the Christmas Carol, or any other book of a like nature which the public takes upon itself to criticise, the individual critic had quite best hold his peace. One remembers what Buonaparte replied to some Austrian critics, of much correctness and acumen, who doubted about acknowledging the French republic. I do not mean that the Christmas Carol is quite as brilliant or self-evident as the sun at noonday; but it is so spread over England by this time, that no sceptic, no Fraser’s Magazine,—no, not even the godlike and ancient Quarterly itself (venerable, Saturnian, big-wigged dynasty!) could review it down. “Unhappy people! deluded race!” One hears the cauliflowered god exclaim, mournfully shaking the powder out of his ambrosial curls, “What strange new folly is this? What new deity do you worship? Know ye what ye do? Know ye that your new idol hath little Latin and less Greek? Know ye that he has never tasted the birch at Eton, nor trodden the flags of Carfax, nor paced the academic flats of Trumpington? Know ye that in mathematics, or logic, this wretched ignoramus is not fit to hold a candle to a wooden spoon? See ye not how, from describing law humours, he now, forsooth, will attempt the sublime? Discern ye not his faults of taste, his deplorable propensity to write blank verse? Come back to your ancient, venerable, and natural instructors. Leave this new, low and intoxicating draught at which ye rush, and let us lead you back to the old wells of classic lore. Come and repose with us there. We are your gods; we are the ancient oracles, and no mistake. Come listen to us once more, and we will sing to you the mystic numbers of as in presenti under the arches of the Pons asinorum.” But the children of the present generation hear not; for they reply, “Rush to the Strand, and purchase five thousand more copies of the Christmas Carol.”
In fact, one might as well detail the plot of the Merry Wives of Windsor or Robinson Crusoe, as recapitulate here the adventures of Scrooge the miser, and his Christmas conversion. I am not sure that the allegory is a very complete one, and protest, with the classics, against the use of blank verse in prose; but here all objections stop. Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness. The last two people I heard speak of it were women; neither knew the other, or the author, and both said, by way of criticism, “God bless him!” A Scotch philosopher, who nationally does not keep Christmas, on reading the book, sent out for a turkey, and asked two friends to dine—this is a fact! Many men were known to sit down after perusing it, and write off letters to their friends, not about business, but out of their fulness of heart, and to wish old acquaintances a happy Christmas. Had the book appeared a fortnight earlier, all the prize cattle would have been gobbled up in pure love and friendship, Epping denuded of sausages, and not a turkey left in Norfolk. His royal highness’s fat stock would have fetched unheard of prices, and Alderman Bannister would have been tired of slaying. But there is a Christmas for 1844 too; the book will be as early then as now, and so let speculators look out.