Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May 11, 1887 --- Buffalo Bill

Queen Victoria and entourage are treated to a private viewing of Buffalo Bill's American Exhibition at Earl's Court. According to the official Court reporter, "the members of the Wild West Show went through several of their peculiar performances, finishing with the spectacle of the attack on the Deadwood coach."

The Queen has a chance to speak briefly with several of the participants, including the famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The Prince of Wales, as always less reserved than his mother, when he saw Annie's act, shouted, "What a pity there are not more women in the world like that little one!" The Queen also meets Red Shirt, leader of the 150 Indians from the American plains who had been the object of such intense curiosity since they pitched their teepee's in South Kensington two weeks before. At her request, the Queen is shown two papooses; "She was pleased to shake their hands and pat their painted cheeks." Buffalo Bill Cody presents himself to Victoria, asking solicitously if the show had been too long for the 68 year old Queen. "Not at all," comes the regal reply.

Returning to Windsor that evening, the Queen describes the event as "very extraordinary and interesting." The show, part of the Jubilee celebration, runs through October. With London jammed with royalty, perhaps Buffalo Bill's greatest moment came the night he managed somehow to pack the Kings of Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Saxony into one stagecoach, along with the portly Prince of Wales. The buckskinned showman called it "my Royal flush."

While some in the press were critical of the brash Cody - one scribe wrote him off as merely "an adroit scalper" - the majority of the reviews were favorable. The Daily Telegraph exulted: "Buffalo Bill, mounted on a beautiful white horse, and looking like a veritable King of men, as fine as figure as he is an admirable and elegant horseman." The Times, bowing to the two sold out shows nightly, crowned Buffalo Bill "the hero of the Season."

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