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The Progress of the Prince—How Shall he be Received in St. Louis?


September/October 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, September 8, 1860.

The Progress of the Prince—How Shall he be Received in St. Louis?

We acknowledge our backwardness in discussing these, the supreme questions of the day, but our devotion to the Republican party, and the commercial and manufacturing interests of St. Louis, including the erection of elevators must be our apology.  We take it for granted the Prince will come here.  St. Louis, the largest inland city in the United States, will be the Ultima Thule of his Western wanderings; the banks of the Mississippi at this point, his Pillars of Hercules.  The only difficulty he has encountered thus far—the only ripple on the smooth stream of pleasure and popularity on which he has floated since his advent to the Western continent—has been created by the Orangemen of Toronto and other Canadian lake cities.  They have insisted, it seems, on receiving and of being recognized by him in their organized capacity, and he, like a prudent Heir Apparent—a very Telemachus of a Prince with mentor in the shape of a bald-headed Duke—refuses to listen to their Syren voices, and bears away from their shores.

Orangeism, so called after the Prince of Orange, William the Third, it may be as well to state, is an oath-bound politeo-Church of England, anti-Papal organization, transplanted from Ireland to Canada and other British colonies, where it seems to flourish, while it is decaying in its native land.  The situation of the English settlers in Ireland after the last conquest of the country by William the Third, rendered an organization of the kind a necessity to them.  They had established themselves in their new possessions by conquest, confiscation and rapine, and consequently had to carry their lives in their hands, and hold their ill gotten spoils as they best might.  For several generations they were merely encamped in the country constituting a military organization, which was ready to muster at the first signal of alarm and hang up at any time, on the slightest provocation, a few hundred of the Irishry by way of preserving a wholesome terror among the conquered but rebellious races.  To uphold the Hanoverian dynasty and the church as by law established, were the ostensible objects of the Orange societies, but to maintain their own rule in the land was always the real object.  Time, however, works changes.  Orangeism has fallen under the ban of English Governments, both Whig and Tory, and under the ban of public opinion, Protestant as well of Catholic.  Its history is written in blood, but the disrepute with which it has been regarded of late years in England is to be attributed mainly to the fact that Ireland could be no longer governed through its instrumentality.  Among surviving anachronism, it may be said, there is none more thoroughly out of date.  The propriety of the conduct of Edward Albert and of the counsel of the Duke of Newcastle must, therefore, be recognized.  Whether the interruption will retard or accelerate the progress of the Prince to this goal we are not yet advised.

The question whether his Royal Highness should be tendered a public reception here, has been discussed by our contemporaries, and the conclusion reached seems to be an answer in the negative.  We are happy to find ourselves agreeing with them for once, though the phenomenon is calculated to inspire us with some distrust of our own judgment.  There is no reason in the world why he should receive a public reception nor any good reason why those who may choose to do so, may not give him a ball or something of the kind, if he should be willing to accept it.  Had he done famous deeds we should like to see him the recipient of municipal courtesies were he ten times a Prince, for then we should be honoring the man and not the accident of his birth, but he is a mere youth, distinguished for nothing so far as the American public know, except dancing and skylarking—accomplishments in which our own youths can vie with him we venture to say.  There would, therefore, be no propriety in giving him a civic triumph.  One of our contemporaries argued against a public reception, on the ground that our municipal authorities are not capable of doing the honors appropriate to such a ceremony.  Now this is absurd.  The Prince of Wales, or the Baron Renfrew, is but a gentleman, and under either name, or in any sense could expect to be received in no style but that which the usages of the country prescribes for the reception of gentlemen; and to the performance of this simple ceremony our municipal officers we take it are fully adequate.  The etiquette of courts, even if it were understood amongst us, would be misapplied if the hypothetical reception should be conducted in conformity with it.  The law of international etiquette recognizes the equality of the forms of politeness, however dissimilar, in all countries.  No one supposes that Mayor Fill[e]y, for instance, is not capable of receiving the President if that functionary should choose to visit us during the Fair.  The reception, we are ready to admit, might not be very cordial, because our worthy Mayor, probably, suspects the President of being something of a rascal, but otherwise, we undertake to say, it would be unexceptionable.

Well, if we are capable of receiving the President we are capable of receiving the Prince of Wales, the Czar of Russia and the Tycoon of Japan; for they should all be received in the same way, and the simpler the better.  The rule is to receive royal personages as we would be the Chief Magistrate of the Republic.  No individual, however powerful, insists on carrying with him, on his travels the lex loci, with the occasional exception of a slave holding Democrat in his progress westward.  When the Prince of Wales’s mother consented to receive Gov. Seward, that grave Senator was compelled to induct himself precipitately into a court suit—a relic of barbarism—including knee breeches, and a caudal appendage in the shape of a sword.  Other Americans who solicit the same honor, must do the same thing, notwithstanding Gov. Marcy’s celebrated edition of Sartor Resartus in his letter to the American Ministers.

But as we have pronounced against the reception, it would seem unprofitable to discuss at greater length how it should be given.  The question of adopting some plan by which womanly curiosity, in relation to the royal party, shall be gratified, is still an open one.  The aristocracy of St. Louis, though disparaged by Willis—democratic reader, there is an aristocracy amongst us, notwithstanding all our efforts to suppress it—may dispute the palm of high breeding and refined manners with that of any other city on the continent, because it is largely composed of old families in which the qualities are hereditary.  Then our belles are unrivalled, whether for beauty, style, spirit or accomplishments, and in costume they have a right queenly taste, especially in the non-essential particular of costliness, we are told.  In that respect, as well as in others, every one of them, we are assured, is fit to be the wife of a prince.  Now, why should no they have a sight of his Royal Highness as well as the ladies of New York?  The young whelp of England would be a great lion for one evening.  It would be too bad that he should go away without their seeing him, and how can they see him unless our bon ton put forth their energies and organize a grand dance?  The Prince cannot resist that temptation.  Dancing is his weakness.  Let that trap be laid for him, and, our word for it, he will be captured.  And when he goes back to Windsor Castle, he will say that the ladies of St. Louis have the brightest eyes and fairest bosoms of any in the world, and that they dance like sunshine reflected from the water.