TREASURES FROM THE BELHAVEN MUSEUM

The holiday season is upon us in earnest now, with Halloween running swiftly into Thanksgiving and then hitting Christmas at a full gallop, only to be brought to a crashing halt by the beginning of the new year. For the next month, you will be able to count down to the holidays by the number of times that Jimmy Stewart learns "It's A Wonderful Life" on your television screen.

Eva Blount Way was born in 1869 on the day after Christmas and had, as she put it, "Christmas in her bones ever since." She grew up in the age of Charles Dickens, author of "A Christmas Carol," and was a member of the local Dickens literary society. Featured in her library is a multivolume collection of his works including, of course, what is arguably his most well known work.

"A Christmas Carol" is a rather pointed commentary on the social consciousness of the era. It speaks to the welfare of those citizens who had not benefited quite as much as others had from the industry of the Nineteenth Century. Scrooge, when asked for his assistance for the poor, coldly suggests, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" He felt that he had no responsibility to society to perform.

Later, the spirit showed him the two children named "Ignorance" and "Want" and coldly retorted with Scrooge's own words. He told him to beware of both children, especially "Ignorance," for "on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased." Scrooge could expect to see in them the fruits of his own industry.

Today the words of Scrooge's partner, Jacob Marley, apply to us equally well. "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 comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Belhaven Treasure #28

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998