Title: Rambles about Europe | From England to Egypt Especially for the Eagle | No. VIII

Periodical: Wichita Eagle

Date: July 6, 1887

Author: Stewart, M.

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From England to Egypt Especially for the Eagle.


In company with the correspondent of the New York World and a capitalist from Chicago we paid a visit to the American exhibition. At considerable of an outlay buildings covering several acres of ground have been constructed to accommodate not only a display of American manufacture but Buffalo Bill's mammoth Wild West show, and institution greater than the exhibition itself, of which it is an appendage. From the opening day of this wonderful show up to the present time vast crowds have been attracted thither. On one day, with the best seats selling at five dollars each, no less than sixty-four thousand people witnessed the performance which is held twice a day rain or shine. Buffalo Bill (Hon. W.F. Cody of Nebraska) has taken the English people by storm. I think I am perfectly safe in saying that no American has met with the same favor in the eyes of Londoners as he. The entertainment he gives dwarfs anything in the show line I have ever witnessed. He portrays to the life, as I have seen it myself on our frontier, almost every phase of frontier life. Indian war fare, elk and buffalo hunting, prairie schooners, stage coaching in the Rockies, cow boy life, racing, riding vicious mustangs and many other things too numerous to mention. As has with him over 100 Indians of different tribes, a number of cow boys and Mexicans, besides some female riders and shootists that would put Dr. Carver on his mettle to beat them. His horses, ponies and mules were all brought from the United States and are first class. There is not a commonplace act performed in the whole entertainment. I have seen expert riding in my day, but nothing that could compare with the equestrian feats of these cow boys and Mexicans. Cody himself is no slouch of a rider, and his feat of breaking two glass balls in the air with his rifle, mounted and in a full gallop has never yet been surpassed. He gave a special performance one day for the royal family and the queen was so delighted that she came down from her box and gave him her hand. The amphither of this portion of the exhibition is under cover, but the arena is all open and affording a circular race course of about one third of a mile. Some accidents have been caused by vicious, bucking ponies Two of the best riders are laid up with a broken leg. Among the celebrities that are with him is Sergeant Bates, [1] who, on a wager of two thousand dollars, carried the news of Mr. Lincoln's election by pony express to San Francisco in a given time, and won the bet. Outside of the ampitheater is the camp composed of Sibley tents, where Colonel Cody has his headquarters. Here is also located other especial American features—the log cabin with a dirt roof, where mixed American drinks are dispensed to drouthy Englishmen. Under a canvas cover pop-corn balls are made and sold as fast as moulded, and the crowd guffaws loudly at the witticisms of the faker—the ugliest negro that Buffalo Bill could find from Maine to Texas. You can scarcely edge your way through this portion of the grounds. It beats big Thursday at a county fair, and it is this way every day in the week. By devious ways we at last find ourselves in the exhibition building devoted to machinery in motion, and manufactures. The building is immense—too great it appeared to me for the number of exhibits. One of the knowing ones   told me that were it not for the Buffalo Bill show, it would be a flat failure. However, there is one part of the exhibition located in an adjoining set of apartments to which Bill's show adds no lustre—I refer to the art gallery. All that money and energy combined with taste and national pride is here set forth in such prolixity and with such master pieces by the genius' of our own land, as to invite unstinted praise. There are a dozen large paintings, Rocky Mountain and California scenes by Bierstadt, so true to nature as to leave no room for the imagination to play; there is a battle scene illustrating our late struggle that takes up nearly the entire side of one room. There are paintings, crayons and water colors of American landscape, mountian scenery, men and animals which a regard for your feelings obliges me to pass over without further specification. There is one entire room given up to a display of American birds and wild animals in the preparation of which the taxidermists have shown unusual skill. I suppose there was much more I failed to see

Sightseeing is tedious work, and the cravings of the innman admonished me that it was about time to repair to the depot of the underground railway through which channel nine tenths of the visitors to this delightful resort are borne hither or homeward.

Col. W. F. Cody is certainly, if not the lion of the day in London—where lions at this particular time are more numerous than any spot on earth—the greatest outside of the royal family. In company with his amiable daughter he is banqueted and feasted daily by the nobility. Henry Irving, the actor, is a big gun here, but the London society journals are poking fun at him on the result of a little affair at one of the parks on last Sunday whither he had invited Cody as his guest. The moment Cody arrived on the ground, where the usual London crowd was in attendance, he was recognized and the crowd straightway made him their property. Poor Irving was left like the small boy at the husking—no one seemed to notice him.

Leaving this subject which has been elaborated more than I intended, I want to give you a brief detail of another show I attended held at the Agricultural Hall of the Smithfield stock show. It was no less an occurrence that claimed three hours of our time, than the Royal Military Tournament, at which was present the prince and princess of Wales, and minor prince and princess till you can't rest. Queen Kappiolina of the Hawaii Islands, the Grand Duke Michael of Russia, and others of the blood royal with whom I am not personally acquainted. There was probably 8,000 to 10,000 persons present   and the prices of seats ranged all the way from 62 1-2 cents up to $5.25. The exercises were of a semi military character, all the participants being officers and soldiers of her majesties army. There was "lemon cutting" by officers mounted and at full speed with drawn sabre, and "taking the ring" with long handled spears, "pulling the stake" with the same weapon, leaping hurdles and passing barriers with artillery, flidette practicing, firing from mounted concealment and the best exhibition of cavalry drill by the "Queen's Life Guard" I have ever seen. The horses were all black and drilled as well as their riders. They seemed to keep step to the music of the band as I have seen a trained horse in a circus perform. Of course they were all picked men and the uniform they wore was simply stunning. These exercises continued a whole week, and reliable prizes were awarded the lucky contestants. They are held annually. The crowd still increases for the coming jubilee. After the day's exercises on the 21st, the illuminated and display of fireworks will take place, continuing until 2 o'clock in the morning. Of course all places of public amusements are running chock full. I applied today at the ticket office of the Lyceum Theatre for tickets for the play of Faust tomorrow night by Henry Irving and Ellen Ferry as principals. I was informed that the seats were all taken except one box which I could have for $10 a seat. As I am no longer in the show business and don't care to invest in any more theatres, I kindly thanked him. These high prices will, I fear, eventually drive me into the pit.


Note 1: Sergeant Gilbert H. Bates was a Civil War veteran who presented the American flag at the American Exhibition of 1887 in London; Sergeant Bates appeared with Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1886 and 1887. [back]

Note 2: M. Stewart is unidentified. [back]

Title: Rambles about Europe | From England to Egypt Especially for the Eagle | No. VIII

Periodical: Wichita Eagle

Date: July 6, 1887

Author: Stewart, M.

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: American bison Aristocracy (Social class) Buffalo Bill's Wild West Company Cowboys Elk Frontier and pioneer life Horses Landscape painting Lyceum Theatre (London, England) Mexicans Military ceremonies, honors, and salutes Taxidermy Wit and humor

People: Bierstadt, Albert, 1830-1902 Irving, Henry, Sir, 1838-1905 Kapiolani, Queen of Hawaii, 1834-1899 Mikhail Aleksandrovich, Grand Duke of Russia, 1878-1918

Place: London.

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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