Title: At The Yankeeries

Periodical: The Evening News and Telephone

Date: May 10, 1887

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AT THE YANKEERIES.

In spite of his intense Republicanism, Brother Jonathan was favoured with "Queen's weather" yesterday for the opening of his exhibition; and, as a natural consequence, all the world and his wife were there. Now if anybody travelled to Earl's Court in the delusive hope of seeing an exhibition of American arts, products, and discoveries, disappointment awaited that person at the end of his journey. The main building in which the exhibition is to be held was a mass of chaotic confusion. Stalls half erected, others built but empty, with here and there a meagre exhibit, were the order of the day. But this is a matter that will be remedied before the end of the week, and as nearly every one went yesterday to have a look at the Wild West Show, this delay in fixing up the more serious parts of the business didn't so very much matter.

The crush, and fight, and struggle amongst both quadrupeds and bipeds to reach the gates of the Yankeeries, was, for some hours, something terrific. The block in the vehicular traffic actually commenced at South Kensington Railway Station, and all along the Old Brompton-road was a mass of crawling carriages of every description. Indeed, the side-walk (to use an expression consistent with the day) was just as bad for pedestrians. How and when I got there, I should not like to have to state on oath; but, once there, I felt amply repaid for all my heroic struggles.

The opening ceremony was about as lacking in liveliness as such events invariably are. I am afraid there was precious little attention paid to the addresses, or to the consecration prayer; but Madame Nordica's singing of "The Star-spangled Banner" and "Rule Britannia," brought down the house. Then there was a rush for the amphitheatre overlooking the Wild West Show. I had a quiet chuckle to myself that I should be among the first to arrive at this spot for which every one was making. But, to my astonishment, I found that some eight or ten thousand people had been smart enough to secure some of the best seats fully an hour before.

By the time that Mr. Frank Richmond, the orator of the show, had mounted his rostrum, the vast amphitheatre, capable of seating 20,000 people, was as tightly packed as a sardine-box or the dormitory of a Doncaster lodging-house in Leger week. I must say that Mr. Richmond, describing the various events in the show, is the right man in the right place. He has a voice of marvellous resonance and distinctness, and a very copious command of language.

The Wild West Show, in my humble opinion, is a big success from beginning to end. Of course there are some people who will decline to subscribe to this dictum. One of them sat near me yesterday. He knew much better than the performers how everything ought to have been done, and was as prolific of suggestion as he was void of modesty. He was one of those individuals who would cheerfully undertake to rearrange the whole scheme of creation, and to find room for improvement in everything but himself.

The most notable of the many clever and interesting items in Buffalo Bill's programme, were the splendid marksmanship of Miss Annie Oakley, Miss Lilian Smith, and Bill himself, the first-mentioned lady being far and away the best of the three; the skilful feats of the cowboys with bucking horses and cattle; and the skirmishes between the "noble red-men," and their pale-faced enemies. In the "show," of course, the poor Indian always gets the worst of the scrimmage, which, by the way, is a healthy and pleasant change (for the white man) from what generally used to happen in real life.

I must confess that I should not care to be pounced upon by the red-skin in his native wilds. He looks very picturesque at Earl's Court, and is most affable in his wigwam. I hope, if Providence should ever ordain that I meet him "nearer home," he will retain those amiable qualities. But if he is on the war-path I solemnly promise not to intrude, knowingly, upon the sanctity of his martial enthusiasm. I can't say more than that.

I must congratulate the Hon. W. F. Cody upon his scenic arrangements, which are wonderfully effective. I am afraid that even the mighty-of-resource, Augustus Druriolanus, would be hard pushed to beat Buffalo Bill on these lines. I do not know the name of the artist who fixed up the scenery yesterday, but he certainly imparts a remarkably good idea of wildness and distance to the surroundings.

At the termination of the programme I had a nice cosy chat with Red Shirt in his wigwam. This grand specimen of an Indian chief was good enough to assure me through his interpreter that whenever I chose to visit the village, I was to consider his wigwam my home. I was not a little surprised to learn from another source that two of the tribes now at Earl's Court are bitterly hostile to each other when "at home," and that they are bound by a stringent treaty of peace to live amicably whilst they are with Buffalo Bill. They will probably make up for the time lost in enforced politeness directly they set foot upon their native soil again, and will do their level best to make things lively for each other.

I was also honoured with a long and pleasant conversation with Miss Annie Oakley in her tent. This champion shot is as amiable as she is clever, and I don't think I can pay her a higher compliment than that. Her shooting record is quite phenomenal, and her countrymen are justly proud of her; but all their petting and enthusiasm have failed to spoil her. She is as popular with the other members of the company, of all colours, as her performances have made her with the general public.

I waited to see the extensive grounds of the Exhibition lighted up, and the effect was most charming. The grounds are tastefully laid out, and, when illuminated, look like a choice bit cut out of a fairy scene. The band of the Grenadier Guards discoursed sweet sounds until nearly ten o'clock, when I left, heartily pleased with my first experience of the Yankeeries.

Title: At The Yankeeries

Periodical: The Evening News and Telephone

Source: Buffalo Bill Center of the West; MS6, William F. Cody collection, MS6.3681.006.01 (Oakley scrapbook)

Date: May 10, 1887

Keywords: American Indians American woman Band of the Grenadier Guards (Great Britain) Cowboys Exhibition buildings Exhibitions Firearms Historical reenactments Indians of North America Orators Sharpshooters Stage lighting Stage management Star-spangled banner (Song) Theaters--Stage setting and scenery Traveling exhibitions Wild horses

People: Oakley, Annie, 1860-1926 Red Shirt, 1845?-1925 Smith, Lillian Frances, 1871-1930

Place: Earl's Court (London, England)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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