As the blackbirds pick seeds from between the budding daffodils, which bravely cleave their verdant folds through the frozen earth, unquiet heralds of an ending winter – we are reminded of things that last, things that endure – and renew. That beauty in its many forms can be found in many places, and even the hard crust of frozen bleakness can be cracked to reveal the soft beauty within.
So it is with Charles Dickens, one of our nation’s most beloved writers. When we think of the Victorian age, there is nothing so apt to switch our vision into a mind of grey: a world of smoke, of stone, of shadow, from which orphaned eyes gaze hungrily at the passing silk pillars of top hats. But from this cold, austere exterior, our minds scour the dark streets, filling them with colourful, lovable, loathable characters. We see an Artful Dodger on every corner, A David Copperfield in every rakish smile. We cannot imagine Christmas without the carol, no orphans without Oliver.
This is part of the legacy of Dickens. Dickens painted Victorian life into our national psyche in vivid colour. And Dickens, a champion of the downtrodden, did not limit his palette to cheerful hues. He told tales of hardship, of hubris, of hamartia and just plain bad luck. All things were not bright and beautiful in Victorian Britain, and Dickens knew from bitter family experience, that a hard-working soul from a comfortable station could slip through the cracks as easily as any pauper. Not everyone can rely on the dramatic intervention of a secret inheritance in the final act.
Dickens brought these hard, frozen stories to life, by peering into the bleakness and seeking the bright colour within. He drew forth the beauty, the laughter and life of his bygone age, with his inimitable wit and humour wrapped like fragrant petals around the precious moral lessons within. As his ink stained those first manuscripts, so his words and wisdom are stained indelibly upon our national psyche.
To see all men as equals, and work tirelessly for the betterment of all, is to channel the spirit of Charles Dickens. And so, 150 years after the great author’s death, we continue to celebrate. We celebrate the beauty that Charles saw in his own age, and the enduring power of words, with our Charles Dickens collection of pens.
When you write, dear reader, even in times of bleakness, may you draw the beauty from all things around you.