Well, industry has its reward! On page 502 of Slater's biography of Dickens I came upon a nugget that made the entire slog worthwhile. Apparently in 1862, the young Fyodor Dostoevsky came to London and interviewed Dickens in his office. [Who knew?] Dostoevsky wrote the following in a letter to a friend. I think the last five words are an immortal gem:
"He [i.e., Dickens] told me that all the good simple people in his novels, Little Nell, even the holy simpletons like Barnaby Rudge [Slater comments parenthetically that this must have been Dostoevsky's description, not Dickens' -- indeed] are what he wanted to have been, and his villains were what he was (or rather, what he found in himself), his cruelty, his attacks of causeless enmity towards those who were helpless and looked to him for comfort, his shrinking from those whom he ought to love, being used up in what he wrote. There were two people in him, he told me: one who feels as he ought to feel and one who feels the opposite. From the one who feels the opposite I make my evil characters, from the one who feels as a man ought to feel I try to live my life. Only two people? I asked."