Title: The Wild-West Show

Periodical: Daily News

Date: April 16, 1887

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THE WILD-WEST SHOW.


A visit to the State of Nebraska, steamship, [1] early yesterday morning convinced us that the thing promised us is very real, and that in Buffalo Bill's Wild-West Show the public have a unique treat in store. On Thursday such difficulties were put in our way in an innocent attempt to board the ship on her arrival at Gravesend that we feared something wrong. It almost looked as if the inquisitive eye of the newspaper fellow was to be hooded until the Indians could be redded up to correct hue after the washing out of a trying voyage. But we had forgotten the native modesty of our American cousin, and discovered yesterday morning the real state of the case, which was that the promoters of the undertaking desired that their interesting company of men and beasts should not be seen at what might be its worst. Ever so little a touch of west in the wind brings softness of atmosphere. That was no doubt why the Red Indians yesterday sunned themselves so contentedly on the larboard rail of the big ship in the Albert Docks. Out of the holds fore and aft were swung at rapid intervals either bales of cargo, or horseboxes containing buffalos, horses, or other live stock. The whirr of the steam winch, the shout of the men engaged in landing cargo, and the miscellaneous bustle around were exciting enough to the spectators railed off from the wharf; but the noble red men kept firm. Nothing disturbed their placidity now that the voyage was over, any more than on the voyage. No sentiment of home-coming fluttered their bosoms when English land hove in sight; and only two very young braves grunted as the low-lying shores of the Thames appeared on the upward run to the docks. It is rumoured that they did not think much of the scenery. The English, however, who looked at them yesterday thought a good deal of their picturesqueness. As they topped the larboard rail, ablaze with the scarlet and blue of their blankets, they were exceedingly striking. So were the scouts and cow-boys in their wide-brimmed hats, high boots, and comely stature. But on the Nebraska’s decks one came to closer quarters with the Indians. The eye welcomed it; the nose knew it; though the unencumbered stalls of the live stock had not a little—perhaps everything—to do with the last-mentioned item. Looking upon the chiefs, braves, and squaws, one could not help recalling the delightful sensations of youth—the first acquaintance with the last of the Mohicans, the Great Spirit, Firewater, Laughing Water, and the dark Huron warrior. Here were their counterparts—moccassins, feathers, beaver skins, beads, and a fine show of war paint; ugly faces made uglier by rude art; dignified countenances which retained a stamp of high-breeding through ochre and vermillion; free, springy strides, even when the journey was from the hatchway to the lee scuppers. Not a glance was wasted upon a stranger. All that came to the Indians was taken for granted; an archbishop in all his finery would have fallen short of their mark.

Some of the men in Buffalo Bill’s company—both red and white—are fine samples of humanity, alike as to stature, carriage, and features. As to the squaws, in the absence of a distinctive label it was not easy to distinguish them from their masters. There could be no mistake, however, about the plump, laughing, round-faced woman whose teeth should make her a treasure for any honest dentist; nor about the less favoured squaw with the papoose bundled behind in a shawl, as per illustrated literature on the races of mankind. And the jolly little youngsters, fat with the liberal rations of the Nebraska, rolled merrily about the deck, playing with the tackle blocks in the necessary absence of prairie dogs and rattlesnakes. The buffaloes seemed to us in need of a course of pick-me-ups; and the horses had not, to all outward appearance, much buck left in them. A few days rest, feeding, and exercise at Earl’s-court will no doubt put them all right again, and it is really proof of good management that the voyage has been so successfully made. Special trains from Galleon’s Station were brought down opposite the vessel, and the live stock, with Indians to follow, were taken by the roundabout route via Junction road, on the Midland, to their corrals, stables, and encampments at Earl’s Court. Hundreds of people looked on in wonder at the Mexican saddles, harness, weapons, and prairie gear strewn upon the wharf, and never ceased to gaze at the picturesque Indians, half-breeds, and whites who moved here and there or surveyed the surroundings with statuesque composure. It is the wish of the management that their troupe should, for the present, remain unbadgered by visitors, and a sensible strictness will be observed as to admission at the Exhibition grounds. The most attractive half of the Exhibition being thus safely housed, all efforts are being made to complete the industrial half, and astonishing progress is made from day to day.

Note 1: The steamship State of Nebraska carried the entire cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West from New York on March 31, 1887, arriving in Gravesend, England, on April 16, 1887. [back]

Title: The Wild-West Show

Periodical: Daily News

Date: April 16, 1887

Topic: European Tours

Keywords: American bison American Indians Atlantic crossings Cowboys Exhibitions Horses Indians of North America--Clothing Livestock Saddlery Scouts Steamboats

Places: 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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