Title: The Lion of London | A Morning with Buffalo Bill and His Daughter in the English Metropolis

Periodical: Ogdensburg Daily Journal

Date: August 11, 1887

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A Morning with Buffalo Bill and His Daughter [1] in the English Metropolis.

London, July 29.—There is no doubt about it, Buffalo Bill is the great lion of the season. Mr. John Sartain, [2] the affable Philadelphia artist and the manager of the Art Department of the American Exhibition, said to me yesterday: "Without Buffalo Bill this whole enterprise would have been a dead failure. He draws the immense crowds, after the show they flock into the picture galleries, and find often to their astonishment that we have some fine paintings here. However, without the 'Wild West' attractions we should never have got our crowds at all."

A lady who was present at a reception given some time since by the Marchioness of Ely, [3] told me that Mr. Cody stood in the centre of the room, under the great chandelier, his long hair streaming down over his broad, stout shoulders, literally surrounded by a circle of titled admirers, and at the supper table he sat at the right hand of the Princess of Wales. [4] The fact is, he is a very handsome man, and he has succeeded, by honest enterprise, in giving the Londoners an exhibition which certainly has the unaccustomed charm of absolute novelty. Naturally, they are grateful, and for the moment he is their hero.

Hardly less amusing than his extraordinary social success are the heated discussions as to his real merit. The following is a good illustration of this. It happened at a recent ball in this city. Buffalo Bill was parading grandly through the rooms, with Mrs. Bigelow [5] on his arm. Hon. James G. Blaine [6] was there, too, and so was Minister Phelps, [7] as well as a host of other distinguished Americans, but Buffalo Bill was, nevertheless, the centre of attractions, and as he advanced slowly, he was kept bowing without intermission to the dozens of pretty faces which happened to be in his path—quite by accident, of course. He bows, by the way, with the grace and dignity of a king. It was during this grand ovation that I overheard the following conversation between a titled English lady and an independent American damsel:

"Isn't he a splendid man?" said the Duchess with enthusiasm.

"Hum," replied the other, "I don't see anything very splendid about him. He is only a cowboy anyway and no one would recognize him at home. I think you English are too ridiculous for anything."

"Nothing but a cowboy," responded the other indignantly; "do you know him?"

"No, I don't, nor do I wish to either. It's bad enough to have to be in the same room with such a fellow."

"Well, now, I do like that. You pretend to judge the Hon. Mr. Cody without having met him or spoken to him. Let me tell you then, from my own knowledge, that he is a most refined and cultivated gentleman. Why, do you suppose that English ladies would receive him here as they do if he were anything else? Beside that, you know very well that he is one of your statesmen. He was a member of one of your Legislatures, wasn't he?"

"Yes, in some barbarous far Western state, where there are nothing but cut-throats and Indians. No doubt he was, but I do not see how you can wish to invite to your houses a man who has spent all his life in the elevating society of buffalo hunters, cowboys and squaws."

This last word was too much for the English duchess, and she went off with a sarcastic: "Thank you for the insinuation against us."

To return now to the encampment. After my young guide had, with the utmost reverence, disclosed to me the marvellous secrets of his master's tent, he led me through the entrance, over which a massive buffalo's head—a fitting emblem—seems to keep guard. I found Col. Cody and his black-haired daughter in his tent. He was dressed in a dark blue military jacket, which fitted him like a glove and showed off to perfection a splendid pair of shoulders. Under this he had a black silk shirt, beautifully embroidered in the rich Russian style, and at the waist a heavy cord in twisted massive gold, which made you reflect on the pecuniary advantages of his position.

"What do you think, sir, of England?" I asked him.

"Well," said he earnestly, "after the magnificent welcome Londoners have given me, there is not much doubt as to my answer to that question. I think this is a lovely country and grand nation. I have been much surprised at the appearance of London. It is so clean, so orderly and so substantial. I had expected to find much poverty and suffering, but I am very agreeably disappointed."

"Perhaps you have not been looking for it in the right place," I suggested.

"You're right there," said he, smiling, "I have been at the other end of the social scale. By the way, here is a magnificent thing which the Prince of Wales gave me the other day. You see it is a large horseshoe in solid gold, set with diamonds and rubies, and here on the inside are the three royal feathers of his family."

"How are you impressed with the Prince of Wales?"

"He is a splendid man and immensely fond of Americans. Since his visit to our country he has taken the warmest interest in our doings and prospects."

"And the Princess?"

"Well, she is prettier than her daughters, and ----"

Here my distinguished interlocutor was interrupted by a party of celebrities—bishops, statesmen, pretty women, etc. —who had come to pay their respects. So I devoted myself to Miss Cody.

Miss Buffalo Bill is a young lady of 19 or thereabouts, inclined to be pretty, but rather conveying the impression that she revels in sucking oranges, chewing gum, etc. She had a little piece of black court plaster stuck artistically at the side of her nose, and seemed to be trying tremendously to make you think that she had been accustomed to "this sort of thing" all her life.

"In about three weeks," she said, "I shall take a run to the Continent. I may go down into Africa for awhile, too (admiring her patent leather boots). I don't speak much French, you know. I tell folks that I can only parlez-vouz English (giggling and playing with her diamonds), but I guess I can get on somehow. I think Europe is immense, don't you? and I don't care how long pa stays here."

I withdrew, and on my way home pondered on the destinies of man.

Note 1: Arta Lucille Cody (1866-1904), the eldest daughter of William F. and Louisa Cody, visited her father in London during the 1887 American Exhibition. [back]

Note 2: John Sartain (1808-1897), pioneer of mezzotint engraving in the United States, served with the art departments for both the 1876 Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia and the 1887 American Exhibition in London. [back]

Note 3: The "Marchioness of Ely" was Jane Loftus (1821-1890), an English lady of the bedchamber and a close friend of Queen Victoria. [back]

Note 4: The Princess of Wales was Princess Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, 1844-1925) and later Queen Alexandra, consort to Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1844-1925. [back]

Note 5: Mrs. Bigelow was Mary Dallam Bigelow (1858-1941). [back]

Note 6: Hon. James G. Blaine is James Gillespie Blaine (1830-1893), a teacher, newspaper editor, author, and politician who served ten terms as a U. S. Congressman and as a Senator from Maine, and as Secretary of State for Presidents Garfield and Harrison. Blaine helped to organize and was named the first president of the Pan American Congress. [back]

Note 7: William Walter Phelps (1839-1894), a successful merchant and financier in New York City, held a seat in U. S. House of Representatives in 1872; was United States Minister to Austria-Hungary from 1881 to 1882; re-elected to Congress in 1883, 1885, and 1887; and was United States Minister to Germany from 1889 to 1893. [back]

Note 8: Cleveland L. Moffett (1863-1926), an American journalist, author and playwright. [back]

Title: The Lion of London | A Morning with Buffalo Bill and His Daughter in the English Metropolis

Periodical: Ogdensburg Daily Journal

Date: August 11, 1887

Also appeared as:


  Periodical: Daily Inter Ocean

  Date: July 31, 1887

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: American bison hunting American Indians Aristocracy (Social class) Cowboys French language Hunters Kings, queens, rulers, etc. Nobility--England

People: Alexandra, Queen, consort of Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1844-1925 Blaine, James Gillespie, 1830-1893 Moffett, Cleveland, 1863-1926 Phelps, William Walter, 1839-1894 Sartain, John, 1808-1897

Places: England 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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