On Tour with Queen Marie

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

Au Revoir

TO QUOTE from the papers, "When Her Majesty stepped off American soil and on to the deck of the Cunarder 'Berengaria' she unofficially brought her forty-four days' tour of the United States to an end. A farewell message, one of love and gratitude to 'big, great, wonderful, stupendous America,' she broadcasted from the home of Mr. Cromwell. In it she promised to return. When, she did not say. The context of the speech is of peculiar significance because it is her last public message before her departure from America. 'It is with a real feeling of sadness in my heart that I leave,' she said. 'I would like to let you know, every one of you, whom I have met in this splendid country, that I thank you, every one of you, high and low, big and small, man, woman and child, for the way you have received me and made me feel at home.' She then went on to say that she had never felt that she was a stranger, that love had been shown her everywhere. She spoke about her deep regret in having to give up the last three weeks which had been so carefully planned, and which she longed so to experience. She begged those who had been disappointed on account of her sudden departure not to think unkindly of her. It was inevitable. She said that the journey had not been tiring because it had been a journey of good will, of love and affection. She spoke of the stupendous progress and marvelous achievements of the United States which had impressed her so greatly. She hoped for a day of bigger and greater understanding between her country and ours and referred to the beneficial results of the work of the Friends of Roumania. She said that there were so many pictures in her mind which she had derived from her journey that it all seemed like a dream; that she often thought of the many faces she had seen and that all were the faces of friends. She begged that the memory she might leave behind her might be one of love and affection. She spoke about her children's great interest in America, and she said they all hoped that they might return some day. Her voice trembled with emotion as she tried to ex press how hard it was for her to say good-by; that she had many regrets in doing so. She ended by saying, 'Do not let any thought come into your minds that perhaps I came here for anything else than what I said, and that was to know you all, to tell you of my gratitude for all that you have done, for all that America has done for Roumania in the time of the War, and after the War. I wanted to come and say "Thank you" to you all. I wanted to see all the glorious things you had to show me. I did not come on business. I did not come for politics. I came to carry your friendship back to my country and to help America understand that Roumania also has her rights under the sun. Will you remember,' she said, 'when you light your Christmas trees that my thought will be with you, every one of you? Good-by, dear people of America, blessed child, of which progress and understanding will come. Do not shut your heart away from the Old World, for the Old World and the New must live together and help each other and understand each other. So good-by, America, dear beautiful America.'"

One especially appealing feature of Queen Marie's visit was that she confined her attentions to no one class of society, but was determined that the grasp she got of American ideas and institutions should be broad and rounded. The foreign criticisms that she was so extremely democratic in her conversations with all manner of people I feel can only redound to her credit. She was democratic. She was in a democratic country and had come with an enlightened mind to learn something as well as to teach. A keen intelligence and an alert spirit made her desire to become acquainted with the psychology of every class, with the laborer in the street and the leader of society, and implies no lack of dignity on her part. Her position in America was extremely difficult. The overhanging cloud of the King's illness, the complicated political situation which faced Roumania, besides many other family worries, would have been enough to discourage any woman. That she kept her head in the midst of all these trials and never said or did an indiscreet thing during her entire journey, commands every admiration. Numberless requests harried her wherever she went, asking her to intercede for the oppressed and destitute of her own country, and criticisms were made when she did not respond. It seems to me most inconsistent that we should in one breath say, "The Queen while in America is not official," and in the next expect her to act like an absolute monarch. I know full well the intense desire she has to share the burdens of the unfortunate. She will never be silent from lack of interest. Every Roumanian is justly proud of this great woman.

The Queen had been often asked to express her opinion on our national life. She had been very frank to say, along with all the hearty praise she gave, that in our hurry and rush of efficiency we were leaving out much that makes life's struggle worth while. The critics of all nations have found that same fault with us, and many Americans know it and strive to subdue it, but so far theirs is the still small voice crying in the wilderness of industrialism. The Queen's honest and pertinent words surely carried extra force from her position in the public eye, and are to be, one hopes sincerely, heeded and listened to by people who would not otherwise credit them. Religion, Poetry, Tradition, Poise, these four. Her Majesty said, should be added as courses in the vast mills of learning that educate our youth. "Poise most of all has its point and its value in life, and I think we could teach that, if you won't consider my advice critical." Again she said, "You go in for practical things and leave out religion. You tolerate thirty or forty Churches and go to none. In my country we have but one Church and all go there." Surely these words do touch a sore spot in our life. The land of religious freedom, yes, and the land of freedom to do without it entirely—a false hypothesis in the light of human needs. The Queen, so deep a lover of poetry as a softening veil over the harsher realities of life, a mitigator of disillusion, a counselor of spring where winter is, found little enough of that aspect in our practicality. This is an age of prose, they say, and certainly ours is the country of it. Tradition; there Her Majesty was lost indeed, looking for it in our hurly-burly of each man for himself, our rewards at the minute for the minute's work, our memory that does not last beyond to-morrow. In her allotted life, as she said, regimes have been handed down with royalty, strictures as well as openings have been entailed along with pedigree; here each man is the founder of his family and when he dies he is dead indeed. No wonder these four subjects were recommended by the Queen of Roumania, departing from a visit among us, as additions to the many fine things in American life.

Along with this parting I am again irresistibly reminded of Queen Elizabeth's royal visit in the days of Kenilworth. There too the revels at length were over, duties called a queen home, au revoirs were said and the scenes shifted. No doubt that virgin Majesty, too, was glad to rest her head on her own bed again, to hang up her crown on its own hook once more, to have her meals served when she pleased and not hear a committee tell her that her palfrey must make seven miles by dark. No doubt she was glad of a little common leisure to correlate her new impressions in, to pick up dropped reins, to look to the ways of her household. And among the hosts and hostesses left behind here, as there, were exactly the same feelings and sentiments, the same sighs of relief at the normal again and, at the same time, the enduring sense of honor they feel at participation in an event of history.

THE END