Title: The Latest London Gossip | American-English Styles of Riding | The Cowboys as Pioneers of a Better System | Ignorance of London Policemen—Proportions of the Fame of Buffalo Bill

Periodical: Dallas Morning News

Date: June 4, 1887

Author: Crawford, Theron Clark

More metadata



The Cowboys as Pioneers of a Better System. Ignorance of London Policemen—Proportions of the Fame of Buffalo Bill.

LONDON, May 18.—The English people are more impressed by the magnificent riding at the Wild West Show than they are by any other feature of the exhibition. The sporting papers devote a great deal of space to a study of the American school of equestrianism. Nearly all of the professional critics agree that the American style of sitting firmly in the saddle, as if the rider were a part of the horse, instead of rising in the English way, is greatly to be preferred. I should not be at all surprised if the advent of the Wild West should not produce a marked change in the English school of riding. Recently an old army officer had a long card in the Times showing the superior points of the cowboy style of riding and calling upon the English horsemen to study that style of riding to learn grace, security and how to best save the strength of the horse. The style of riding taught in the fashionable English riding schools is the reverse of graceful. The stirrups of the rider are drawn up so short that the rider's knees are brought up nearly to his face. This shortening of the stirrups curls the rider forward so that he looks as if laboring under an exaggerated curvature of the spine. Take this ungraceful looking position and then give the figure occupying it a regular jumping-jack motion, six inches up and down at every step of the horse, and you have a correct idea of the grace and poetry of motion taught in the English riding schools. The rising in the saddle may be easy for the rider, but it is very hard on the horse for a long-distance ride. It is a style that may do for the parks and short country rides, but it cannot be compared for a moment with the Western border style of sitting firmly in the saddle, holding on by the knees, so that the rider moves only as if he were a part of the horse. The cowboy riders sit perfectly erect, and are so graceful in their bearing, even when they are riding the hardest, that they demonstrate the correctness of the style. For off their horses they are not particularly graceful or interesting.

No American who has ever visited Europe has attracted more attention than Buffalo Bill. Gen. Grant [1] , when he came here, did not occupy a larger place in the minds of the British public than Buffalo Bill. Although Mr. Cody has not been in London over a month he is to-day as well known to the masses of this great city of 5,000,000 as is the queen. You could not pick up in the most obscure quarter of London any one so ignorant as to not know who and what he is. His name is on every wall. His picture is in nearly every window. The wonder of this lies in the fact that the London public is strangely dull and unimaginative. The people of one quarter are often as ignorant of a neighborhood within a stone's throw of them as if it were in Central America. You find constantly the proof of this in inquiring your way about town. The policemen never know where particular streets or buildings outside of their beats are located. An Englishman who has lived in London for a quarter of a century tells me that no one but an American would think of asking a London policeman for anything in the way of information. London policemen are often placed on guard in front of English officials' houses where they are absolutely ignorant of the name of the occupant. It is a genuine and not an affected ignorance. I have asked higher police officials about this and they say that the men very often do not know and do not care. I saw some twenty policemen guarding one day the house of the Prime Minister. I asked several of the men on guard if they knew whose house they were guarding. They all replied in the most courteous negative. Finally, one of them referred me to an older constable who had been on the beat in that neighborhood for some years, and he was able to give me the information. Imagine a set of New York policemen guarding any prominent official's house in New York without their knowing just what they were doing, and particularly if it were the house of the chief officer of our government. In order to get a full idea of this ignorance of the London policemen you will have to make a comparison. Suppose the average tourist in New York should ask a Madison Square policeman where the Gilsey House was or where the Fifth Avenue Hotel was and be met with the positive statement that he did not know? I can hardly imagine any policeman in New York of any experience who does not know every street and point of public interest on Manhattan Island. But even the London policemen know who Buffalo Bill is! I use this fact merely to illustrate how his notoriety and fame have permeated down to the densest stratum of public indifference and ignorance.

Another peculiar feature of Cody's London fame is that he is equally popular in the lowest and highest walks of society. He really is a great London lion. He is as much in demand at all kinds of high society gatherings as if he were a visiting prince. Indeed few visiting princes could have as many invitations thrust upon them as he has had since his arrival here. He is obliged to refuse the majority of the invitations which pursue him. He tried to go out to the London dinners when he first came here, but he soon found that they were too much for him. Latterly he finds it much more agreeable to entertain people in his own quarters, where there is nearly always a crowd when there is no performance on.

Lord Charles Beresford [2] was fortunate enough to secure Cody's presence on the top of his coach at the last meeting of the Coaching Club. The Prince and Princess of Wales [3] were present among the spectators. They attracted no more attention than did Mr. Cody. Wherever the coach went which carried his stalwart, picturesque figure there the crowd would follow. And whenever it would stop the crowd would mass as if they were about a royal carriage. The papers all speak of the stoical indifference of Cody under all this fire of admiring glances. The truth is that he is bored by it. He is surfeited by admiration and attention. He would like a little more freedom from notice. But the penalty of greatness is now upon him, and wherever he goes he is immediately the centre of a great, gaping crowd. The secret of his success with the higher classes is in his modesty and in his graceful, gentle manners. He has none of the swaggering conceit of Joaquin Miller [4] , and under all the fire of compliments and adulation he remains simple and unaffected. All of the Wild West people appear to good advantage when brought in contact with the royal or titled personages to whom they have been presented. They are all easy, self-possessed and show none of the cringing humility exhibited by the average toady when presented to somebody he imagines to be his superior. That is the real secret of the popularity of these Wild West people with the high-class English people. There is no one who despises servile attention more than the best English people. All of the Americans in London are proud of the effect produced by the Wild West part of the American Exhibition.

Note 1. General Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885). [back]

Note 2: Charles William De la Poer Beresford (1846-1919), the first Baron Beresford. [back]

Note 3: The Princess of Wales was Alexandra, Queen, consort of Edward VII, King of Great Britian (1844-1925). [back]

Note 4: Joaquin Miller (1837-1913), American poet whose full name was Cincinnatus Heine (or Hiner) Miller, also known as the "Poet of the Sierras." [back]

Note 5: Theron C. Crawford (1849-1925), an American author and Washington political journalist and newspaper correspondent who reported on Buffalo Bill's Wild West during 1887. [back]

Title: The Latest London Gossip | American-English Styles of Riding | The Cowboys as Pioneers of a Better System | Ignorance of London Policemen—Proportions of the Fame of Buffalo Bill

Periodical: Dallas Morning News

Date: June 4, 1887

Author: Crawford, Theron Clark

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: Buffalo Bill's Wild West Company Cowboys Horsemanship Horses Saddle seat equitation

People: Alexandra, Queen, consort of Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1844-1925 Beresford, Charles William De la Poer Beresford, Baron, 1846-1919 Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1841-1910 Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913 Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901 Crawford, Theron Clark, 1860-

Place: 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.

Editorial Statement | Conditions of Use

TEI encoded XML: View wfc.nsp00800.xml

Back to top