I was reading Sir Alec Guinness's delightful memoir Blessings in Disguise, and this passage about his younger days caught my eye:
". . . It would never have crossed my mind even to step inside a Roman Catholic Church. Tolerance of Catholics, unless one personally knew them, was limited to the sympathetic, although condescending, pages of Barnaby Rudge."
I thought that was rather remarkable. It's well-known that Dickens was not a big fan of Catholics (Pictures from Italy, in particular, makes this very clear). And yet his voice, speaking through the pages of that novel, was the only voice in this young boy's life to call for fairness towards a group that he (Dickens) didn't even like. The word tolerance is too often used to signify "tolerance of everyone who agrees with me about everything." I wish more of us had a little of Dickens's brand of tolerance.
By the way, Guinness eventually became a Catholic. I wonder how Dickens would have felt about the role he played in that conversion.