The Ghosts of Departed Usurers, or, The Phantoms—

John Leech


Wood engraving dropped into letterpress

9.5 x 6.3 cm vignetted

Dickens's A Christmas Carol, first edition (1843), page 37.

Leech's illustration reveals to Scrooge what he will become after death, a mere spectre, unable to intervene for good in the lives of people less fortunate than himself. A woman, whom he would have ignored prior to this night of ghostly visitations, attempts to find shelter in a building opposite. The ghosts of the departed usurers are agitated because their insubstantial condition prohibits them from alleviating the poor woman's suffering; hence, Leech includes area-railings between the spirits and the pauper to draw the line between the visible and the "invisible" world.

[Click on image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.] Image courtesy of Toronto bibliophile and Dickens collector Dan Callinescu.