I have made reference to this story a number of times before, but seems appropriate to raise it again.
On the 9th February 1858, Charles Dickens gave a speech before one of his readings of A Christmas Carol. He described an incident that he had witnessed during one of his night time roams through the city - where he had "pounded the streets of London, looking at nothing but seeing everything. "
… There lay, in an old egg-box, which the mother had begged from a shop, a feeble, wasted, wan, sick child. With his little wasted face, and his little hot worn hands folded over his breast, and his little bright attentive eyes, I can see him now, as I have seen him for several years, looking steadily at us. There he lay in his little frail box, which was not at all a bad emblem of the little body from which he was slowly parting - there he lay quite quiet, quite patient, saying never a word. He seldom cried, the mother said, he seldom complained. He lay there, seeming to wonder what it was all about. God knows, I thought, as I stood looking at him, he had his reasons for wondering - and why, in the name of a gracious God, such things should be.
It was also the year Charles Dickens became president of the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Appeal.