Charles Dickens in the Old West

I can’t believe it.  Ben Cartwright, Little Joe, Hoss and…wait for it….Charles Dickens, all on the same show!  I was so surprised by this mixture of classic tv western and classic English author that I really had no choice but to write to you about it.  My father is an avid old west television and movie fan, so he has handed that love down to me in these past 40 years.  Bonanza remains a singular favorite and its rich story-telling is among its greatest assets.

Because of the literary angle, the particular show we wanted to share with you is from season five, episode two of the series and originally aired on September 29, 1963 on NBC.  It was titled “A Passion for Justice.”

Here is an especially good summary written by Charles Delacroix at IMDb.com about this fascinating episode:  “At Ben’s invitation, Charles Dickens comes to Virginia City to give a reading from ‘Oliver Twist’ while on a reading / lecture tour in America. While there, he stays at the Ponderosa. He becomes enraged by the townsfolk’s casual attitude toward distribution of copies of his stories published without protection of copyright laws. After confronting the local newspaper publisher, the newspaper’s office is destroyed. Already having lost the esteem of the townsfolk, Dickens now finds that the townsfolk blame him for the violence.”

If you have some time, I hope you’ll enjoy watching the episode as much as we did.  Thanks to youtube you can click below and enjoy it right away!

 

I Hear the Bells on Christmas Day

Bells 2

I am overwhelmed by the peace and joy that this Christmas season brings to so many in  our world today.  Beyond the Bible, there are few stories or songs or poems that truly grasp the meaning of this wonderful day.  However, there is one piece of classic literature that means a great deal to me and to my wife and children at this particular time of year.  It is a poem, originally titled ‘Christmas Bells’ when it was written in 1863 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and now most well-known (with only a few changes) as the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  It is our prayer for you on this Christmas day that you will see beyond the lights and the trees and the gifts and the food to the heart and soul of it all.  I am grateful that Longfellow once saw it, too.

Christmas Bells (1863)

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Longfellow                           Bells