Jacob T. Marley

by R. William Bennett

Finishing Jacob T. Marley for at least the third time again left me wistful and contemplative. The lengths this author, R. William Bennett, went to in order to sound Dickensonian, are to be commended. The research and wordcrafting are excellent.

The story of Marley’s life is not a large part of A Christmas Carol except in how he helped mold Ebenezer Scrooge into an unpleasant person. Here, we get to learn what transpired in Marley’s life leading him to Scrooge as well as what happens to him in death.

So much of this book is beautiful, but I noted three different parts to share:

Chapter 7: “When one waits up all night to see a sunrise, in the last moments, it seems it will never come, even though one knows the inevitability of it. If we find we lack faith in ourselves or in others, we can at least have faith in the trustworthiness of nature, that at the appointed time, the horizon will lighten in grand prelude to the sun throwing its morning shafts into our lives. But in Marley’s case, other than his visits with Scrooge, he would experience one interminable night. When the hope of dawn felt inevitable, it would not come.”

Chapter 8: “If we do nothing but to remove a rock upon which someone might have tripped, though they may never know we did it, is this not our cause, our reason for life?”

Chapter 13: “It seems to be true among all who are given the blessing of a gradual death that there is, in their final months or weeks, an instinct that drives them to tie up loose ends relative to worldly possessions. For the greedy, it is to hoard, for what purpose nobody knows, and for good reason they cannot tell for there is none. But for the generous, such as good old Scrooge had become, it is a chance to leave in the world those things of the world, to do good in the world after they are gone.”

Without the least amount of sermonizing, this book is very much about how we walk through life, the impact we have on those around us, and what legacy we want to live. For all of us, it is a lesson in thinking about the greater good and how we can impact it while we’re here—and after we’ve gone. For those people stuck in places of pettiness and power games, of shortsighted selfishness, this book may be just the one to see you adjust your course.