The following excerpt was read by Dickens's literary rival, William Makepeace Thackeray, in New York City in 1852 and repeated by enterprising Chicago Fellowship member Jim Forsell in February 1996 at a Fellowship meeting honoring the birth of the Inimitable. This generous tribute to Dickens, at the time of the greatest rivalry between him and Thackeray, has been much admired and often quoted to Thackeray's credit.
"There are creations of Mr. Dickens which seem to me to rank as personal benefits, figures so delightful, that one feels happier and better for knowing them, as one does for being brought into the society of very good men and women. The atmosphere in which these people live is wholesome to breathe in; you feel that to be allowed to speak to them is a personal kindness; you come away better for your contact with them; your hands seem cleaner from having the privilege of shaking theirs.
"Was there ever a better charity sermon preached in the world than Dickens's Christmas Carol? I believe it occasioned immense hospitality throughout England; was the means of lighting up hundreds of kind fires at Christmas time; caused a wonderful outpouring of Christmas good feeling, of Christmas punch-brewing; an awful slaughter of Christmas turkeys, and roasting and basting of Christmas beef.
"As for the man's love of children, that amiable organ at the back of his honest head must be perfectly monstrous. All children ought to love him. I know two that do, and read his books ten times for once that they peruse the dismal preachments of their father. I know one who when she is happy...reads Nicholas Nickleby, when she is unhappy...read Nicholas Nickleby, when she is tired...reads Nicholas Nickleby,when she is in bed...read Nicholas Nickleby,when she has nothing to do...reads Nicholas Nickleby,and when she has finished the book...reads Nicholas Nickleby ALL OVER AGAIN. This candid critic said," I like Mr. Dickens's books much better than yours, papa," and frequently expressed her desire that the latter author should write a book like one of Mr. Dickens's books. WHO CAN?"