Development of Species under Civilisation — spectators at the American Exhibition of 1887, at Earl's Court, London. George du Maurier (1834-1896). Punch. 16 July 1887. The question here is which of the species is the more developed. The further line of caption ("'Arriet. 'Ow, 'Arry! I s'y! H'yn't 'e a ugly cowve!'") is written in imitation of a cockney accent, and means, "Harriet. 'Oh I say! Isn't he an ugly cove!'" — "cove" being old-fashioned slang for "fellow." The irony is, of course, that the American Indians seen here have more dignity than "'Arriet" and "'Arry." Harry's features have something simian about them, and Harriet grins unabashedly. Du Maurier is not just being disparaging about East Enders. Other spectators, especially the top-hatted gentleman on the far right, seem no better.

The Wild West spectacular, for which these native Americans had been brought over, was immensely popular, and was enjoyed by the Queen herself. She gave her impressions of it in her journal of 11 May that year:

Col: Cody "Buffalo Bill", as he is called, from having killed 300 buffaloes, with his own hand, is a splendid man, handsome, & gentlemanlike in manner. He has had many encounters & hand to hand fights with the Red Indians. Their War Dance, to a wild drum & pipe, was quite fearful, with all their contortions & shrieks, & they came so close. "Red Shirt" the Chief of the Sioux tribe, was presented to me & so were the Squaws, with their papooses (children), who shook hands with me... [218]

Despite her evident alarm at the war dance, which came "so close" to her, there is no feeling here that the Queen saw the visitors as lower down the evolutionary scale. As often noted, Queen Victoria regularly showed "the most even-handed clear-sightedness when it came to areas where rampant Victorian prejudices prevailed: in matters of religious practice, class, and racial prejudice" (Rappaport xiii).

Scanned image and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Related Materials

Bibliography

Punch. Vol. 93 (July-Dec. 1887): 18. Project Gutenberg. Web. 15 May 2019.

Queen Victoria's Journals. Web. 15 May 2019.

Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2003.


Created 15 May 2019