Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Victorian Moment of the Day

From Kathleen Burk's Old World, New World: Great Britain and America from the Beginning (2008) at 362:
[There was] another great influence during the late nineteenth century, one which gave the British a different view of American civilisation: Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show. Already a great success in the US, the show traveled to London in 1887. As the ship carrying the 220 performers, including 97 Indians, 180 horses, 10 elk, 5 steers, 4 donkeys and 2 deer steamed across the Atlantic, Cody's publicity team was plastering London with posters and using the press to create anticipation and even excitement. For several weeks prior to the show's opening, the upper classes visited the encampment and wandered amongst the Indians and animals. Then the Prince of Wales accepted Cody's invitation to bring his wife and daughters for a special preview performance on 5 May; delighted with it, he urged his mother, Queen Victoria, to attend a performance. On 11 May 1887 the Queen appeared at a public performance for the first time since her husband's death a quarter of a century earlier. Naturally, her attendance made news everywhere in the English-speaking world, particularly because it was her Golden Jubilee year. The occasion was spectacular: when the show began and a rider entered the arena carrying an American flag, the Queen stood and bowed. The rest of the audience then stood as well, and British soldiers and officers saluted. For Cody and his comrades, it was unforgettable.

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