(/~dap1955/dickens/, Dickens' Christmas Page). Dickens' describes the holiday as, "A good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open the shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys," (Levisohn) And that quote, I believe, is the very essence of Christmas today, not at the greedy commercialized level, but in one's heart and one's home.
Nicholas Nickleby got underway in 1838, and continued through October 1839, in which year Dickens resigned as editor of Bentley's Miscellany. The first number of Master Humphrey's Clock appeared in 1840, and The Old Curiosity Shop, begun in Master Humphrey, continued through February 1841, when Dickens commenced Barnaby Rudge, which continued through November of that year. In 1842 he embarked on a visit to Canada and the United States in which he advocated international copyright (unscrupulous American publishers, in particular, were pirating his works) and the abolition of slavery. His American Notes, which created a furor in America (he commented unfavorably, for one thing, on the apparently universal -- and, so far as Dickens was concerned, highly distasteful -- American predilection for chewing tobacco and spitting the juice), appeared in October of that year. Martin Chuzzlewit, part of which was set in a not very flatteringly portrayed America, was begun in 1843, and ran through July 1844. A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens's enormously successful Christmas books -- each, though they grew progressively darker, intended as "a whimsical