Charles Dickens visited America for the first time in 1842. Now famous, he was wined and dined by celebrities wherever he went. When he visited Boston he was given a dinner by local dignitaries on February 1st. This event included two songs represented by these pieces of sheet music. The first piece is The wery last observations of Weller, Senior to Boz, on his departure from London. The song was written and sung by J. M. Field. The lyrics consist of seven verses. Verses five and six comment on the copyright laws and how they have been violated in America by piracies of Dickens’s novels. The second piece of sheet music, entitled The Stars Their Early Vigils Keep was written and sung by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes at the same dinner on February 1st. Holmes was a Boston Brahmin and considered Boston to be “The intellectual hub of the Universe.” His most famous poem is Old Ironsides. In addition to being a man of letters, Holmes was Dean of the Harvard Medical School and author of several important medical works. Coincidentally Holmes, in common with Dickens, was a social reformer and held Unitarian beliefs.
During his visit to America, Dickens and his entourage ventured as far west as St. Louis. There, Dickens wished to be taken west to see the prairie. The group traveled on for a few more miles, and had dinner on the prairie where one of the dishes served was buffalo tongues (repellant to conservationists and vegetarians today). Dickens was impressed by the seemingly endless horizon, which contrasted so starkly with Britain’s landscape.