My Country by Marie Queen of Rumania

Twenty-three years have I now spent in this country, each day bringing its joy or its sorrow, its light or its shade; with each year my interests widened, my understanding deepened; I knew where I was needed to help.

I am not going to talk of my country's institutions, of its politics, of names known to the world. Others have done this more cleverly than I ever could. I want only to speak of its soul, of its atmosphere, of its peasants and soldiers, of things that made me love this country, that made my heart beat with its heart.

I have moved amongst the most humble. I have entered their cottages, asked them questions, taken their new-born in my arms.

I talked their language awkwardly, making many a mistake; but, although a stranger, nowhere amongst the peasants did I meet with distrust or suspicion. They were ready to converse with me, ready to let me enter their cottages, and especially ready to speak of their woes. It is always of their woes that the poor have to relate, but these did it with singular dignity, speaking of death and misery with stoic resignation, counting the graves of their children as another would count the trees planted round his house.

They are poor, they are ignorant, these peasants. They are neglected and superstitious, but there is a grand nobility in their race. They are frugal and sober, their wants are few, their desires limited; but one great dream each man cherishes in the depth of his heart: he wishes to be a landowner, to possess the ground that he tills; he wishes to call it his own. This they one and all told me; it was the monotonous refrain of all their talk.