This is from ‘Old Oak. It does seem there were more ‘characters’ in our distant past than t=in more recent times, so this does make sense, and it makes me wonder if Shakesepeare and other writers were using with as much imagination, rather than drawing from real life. :
There seems to be a tendency to day to decry Dickens on the ground that his characters are “Exaggerated.” Possibly they are a little so in some cases, but before the days of compulsory education, with the inevitable standardisation of its products, a man was an individual and rejoiced in his individuality – often, indeed, developing it to the extent of eccentricity. Thus the old village character was infinitely more entertaining than is his grandson, despite all the pains and expense that have been lavished on the later to ensure his elevation from the depths of degradation in which his “uneducated” grandsire is believed to have wallowed.