It was a land that had forgotten the season of good will. In 1843, in Britain, the iron hearts of the Industrial Revolution had no time for such fripperies as Christmas. This was an age of near-unbridled capitalism, where, officially, it was acceptable for nine-year-olds to work nine-hour days, and, unofficially, inspection was so lax you could get away with making them labour for much longer. Government departments had cut their Christmas “holiday” from a week in 1797 to a single day in the 1840s.
In St James’s, members of the Carlton Club, then a key component of the Tory Party’s organisational machinery, had a few years earlier thought nothing of arranging a committee meeting on December 25 itself.
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