Title: Buffalo Bill at Windsor

Periodical: Life

Date: May 26, 1887

Author: Bangs, John Kendrick, 1862-1922

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from foreign fields

Buffalo Bill at Windsor.

The Queen having expressed her wish to the Chum to Potentates [1] that the Wild West Show should appear before Her Majesty at Windsor Castle, your correspondent escorted that body into the royal presence on Tuesday last.

A large audience of Nobles had assembled to do honor to the aristocratic redmen of the far West, and the Royal Maroon Band played "Lo, the Conquering Hero Comes," as the tribes bowed their respects to Her Majesty. The braves in honor of the occasion wore a new coat of paint and the regulation three feathers in their back hair--a costume which was at once effective and gentlemanly, if, as an old authority on dress has said, "A gentleman's dress is never conspicuous."

A large space in front of the castle had been cleared for the performance, and after a light luncheon Mr. Nate Salsbury mounted a pedestal from which the statue of William the Conqueror [2] had been temporarily removed, and explained to Her Majesty that the Comanche tribe from the suburbs of Boston, would now see how near they could come to running over Prince Battenberg [3] without really hurting him.



This was followed by an exhibition at shooting, when Buffalo Bill shot the Koh-i-noor [4] out of the Queen's Spring crown seven times running, much to the delight of her Majesty and the wonder of the assembled Nobles.

Several cow-ladies were then introduced, giving British aristocracy a fair imitation of high life in New York city. The Queen was much surprised at the refined way in which American ladies do their shopping on bucking ponies, and when one of the young ladies with auburn hair showed with what facility American girls use their firearms when their young gentleman friends decline to take them to the opera, the royal family was nearly carried away with delight.

At the request of the Chum Mr. Buffalo Bill gave a graphic representation of New York's first families on their way to church. The old camp-wagon was brought out and Mr. Cody disguised as Mr. Vanastorbilt, stepped up on the box and started the horses off. Grace Church was represented by a canvas tent, and Fourteenth Street was shown by a pole stuck in the ground. The Queen could hardly restrain herself when the team ran away, and the nimble Buffalo Bill, tying a lasso around his waist, stopped them by casting the noose over a stump on which were growing some wistaria vines and which was supposed to represent a lamp-post. Her Majesty had heard of Mr. Vanastorbilt, but never supposed he was so clever a man.

Then, as the carriage neared Fourteenth Street, the low, ominous war-cry of the Sioux Indians was heard, and the faithful picture of New York life that then followed, with its awful butchery and bellowing of buffaloes on Union Square, needs no description for your readers who have grown so familiar with it in the daily round of life. Suffice it to say that the British aristocracy fairly yelled with joy as Mr. Vanastorbilt slew file after file of the attacking party, losing only his scalp and four children in the melee.

The exhibition was closed by a pastoral scene showing how the Indians and whites live peacefully together in Philadelphia, with an allegorical tableau at the end, showing a six-foot Comanche labeled William Penn, standing beside a small four-inch stage sword, the significance of which Her Majesty immediately perceived, for as she left the grounds she spoke of the pathetic rendering of the old proverb, "The Comanche is mightier than the dagger."

In return for the pleasure he had given her, Buffalo Bill and "Potato-Faced-Charley" [5] were invested with the Order of   the Bath [6] --which the Indian declined from natural scruples, not understanding the idiomatic significance of the decoration.

On the whole the day passed off pleasantly, and there were no disturbances other than a slight misunderstanding between the Prince of Wales and a young Sioux brave, in which the Prince's baldness served him in good stead.

It is rumored that the National Gallery of London has offered one of the Indians a large salary if he will annex himself to the Turner Gallery, [7] and exhibit the sunset that he wears on the small of his back when he goes to war. The trustees of the Gallery claim to have internal evidence that the painting is by the hand of the master, and that it must be had at any cost.

It seems to me that this affords the United States a chance to settle the fishery question by swapping off the artistic brave for justice--and the only way to get justice from the English Government is to pay for it.

Her Majesty's desire to see these untutored savages in their native lair may induce her to visit New York next season, in which case she will probably be under the management of D'Oyly Carte. [8]

Carlyle Smith. [9]

Note 1: The pen name "Chum" belongs to Carlyle Smith whose real name was John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922), a foreign correspondent who wrote an occasional special feature commenting on the activities of the Royals of Britain and Europe as well as their circle of friends. The column, "from foreign fields," appeared in Life magazine from 1884 to 1888 [Note 9]. [back]

Note 2: William the Conqueror is William I (1028-1087), King of England from 1066 until his death in 1087. [back]

Note 3: Prince Battenberg is Colonel Prince Henry Maurice (1858-1896), a descendant of the Grand Ducal House of Hesse who became a member of the British Royal Family in 1885 through his marriage to Princess Beatrice. [back]

Note 4: The Koh-i-Noor diamond was originally 793 carats when uncut; it is believed to have originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. In 1850 the diamond was confiscated from the Sikh Empire by the British East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. [back]

Note 5: "Potato-Faced-Charley" appears to be an Indian with the show, but he is not further identified. [back]

Note 6: Founded by George I in 1725, the Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry. [back]

Note 7: The National Gallery, an art museum founded in 1824 and located in London's Trafalgar Square, which held an exhibit of paintings by English Romantic artist Joseph Mallord William Turner during 1887. [back]

Note 8: Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), an English talent agent, theatrical impresario, composer, and hotelier during the latter half of the Victorian era who founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, and in 1881 built the state-of-the-art Savoy Theatre to host Gilbert and Sullivan operas. [back]

Note 9: Carlyle Smith is a pseudonym used by the American writer John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922), a popular author of satire and humorous fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bangs was a correspondent and editor for such magazines as Life, Harper's Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Munsey's Weekly and Puck. [back]