Before Charles Dickens wrote his much-adored masterpiece, A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (1843), he had composed 'A Christmas Carol' in verse and included it The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, otherwise known as The Pickwick Papers (1836).
In Chapter XXVII of that book – titled 'A good-humored chapter' – the Pickwickians visit Dingley Dell and spend the Christmas holiday with Mr Wardle and his family. During the ensuing jovialities, their host – "a merry old gentleman" – sings 'A Christmas Carol' in praise of the season in, the author reports, a good, round, sturdy voice".
In 1890, many years after Dickens had written those verses and had gone on to use the phrase 'A Christmas Carol' as a title for his story about the reformation of the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, publishers Marcus Ward & Co. Ltd., extracted Mr Wardle's song from its context within the setting of the Dingley Dell celebrations and issued it as a slim book in its own right, with illustrations by the Irish painter, Frank Bindley.
Here it is: one Dickens' rare poems, but significant in that it was written in celebration of that time of the year of which the author was such a passionate advocate...