Where crags the ancient forest crown,
Where mountain streams dance wild adown,
And countless blossoms spread,
And odours sweet are shed,
There lies the land, all glad and green,
Where I am Queen !
The upbringing and early surroundings of the Queen of Roumania would seem to have been designed to make her a poet rather than a queen. The great god Pan, not Jupiter, presided over her cradle, and Orpheus whispered melody into her baby ears. She is described by those who knew her as "a genius from birth - a beautiful, wayward, but lovable child, full of poetry and full of a passionate love of nature." Her mother called her Waldroschen, the little Wild Rose.
Nassau, and was born December 29, 1843, at Mon Repos, a castle on the Rhine. Many pretty things are related of her childhood. She was loth to gather the flowers for fear of hurting them; she flung her arms about the forest trees and kissed them in ecstatic joy at their beauty; when she placed the tiny glowworms to sparkle in her hair, she quickly put them back in the cool, damp grass if she saw their light begin to wane. A great St. Bernard dog was her companion in the forest, and she was eager to make friends with the village children whom she met in her rambles. At home, life was saddened for the dreamy, sensitive child by the long, tragic illness and death of her brother Otto, to whom she was devotedly attached, and by the delicate health of her father, from whom she inherited her lofty ideals and poetic mind. She writes of him: " The image of my father stands in the memory of every hour. When I think of my girlhood, I cling to him yet. My dreamy, delicate father came from an ancient race, who thus completed in a being rich in thought and dreams its long lineage of those who had won distinction through great action and gallant deeds. His blue eyes and his movements, graceful and flexible as a reed, revealed that he came
Photo, F. Naudy One of the most interesting of the Royal ladies of Europe, this daughter of Prince Hermann of Wied is perhaps even more famous as Carmen Sylva, the writer, than she is as Queen of Roumania from those old border families who embody in their members all the strength and charm of their native Rhine."
The young, eager girl had an opportunity to enlarge her vision when she was sent to continue her education, and to make an entry into the world of Royal courts under the guidance of her maternal aunt, the Grand Duchess Helena, at St. Petersburg. The " wild rose " was now transplanted to the luxury and grandeur of a great lady's house and the splendours of the Russian court. The Duchess Helena, though she perforce maintained outward show and magnificence, had a heart which knew the futility of such things, and she taught her young niece much of the philosophy of life, and disclosed the heartaches which often lie behind the purple. "Had I heard then," the Queen has said, referring to this period, that I should be a queen, I should have wept and trembled in despair."
Several princes sought her hand in vain, and she has confessed that the only parti whom she was inclined to marry was a widower whom she had never seen, " with many children." She loved children, and felt that she might find with this family interesting companionship and occupation.
A Modern Desdemona
However, fate did not assign her to the widower with his quiverful, but to the valiant Prince Charles of Hohenzollern, whom she had first, met at the court of Prussia, and who had been chosen since then as the reigning Prince of Roumania.
Elizabeth met him for the second time when travelling with her mother at Cologne. Prince Charles, as did Othello, enlisted the sympathy of his Desdemona by the dangers he had passed. He spoke, too, of the romantic land of which he had become ruler - its wide plains and rugged mountains; its white-clad peasantry, with their strange gifts of untutored poetry and art.
How delightful it all sounded to the ear of the imaginative girl. She began to envy Prince Charles his position. "Just imagine," she exclaimed to her mother, "he rules a territory quite new to the world, but at the same time ancient in blood and history. He has to learn to understand these people and to make them happy. Oh, what a splendid mission !"
Then the mother laid her hand on the girl's hair, and whispered, "Elizabeth, that mission may be yours also - the Prince of Roumania desires to marry you."
The compact between the young couple was sealed that evening, and their marriage took place a few weeks later, November 15, 1869.
The young bride entered enthusiastically upon what she felt to be her vocation.
Roumania was to her a land of enchantment, and when she reached the banks of the Danube and saw the white-clad peasants - the men with peacocks' feathers in their high fur caps, and the women in the picturesque national costumes - come out to greet their ruler, she took them to her heart This country was to be her country; these people her people.
A Second Florence Nightingale
The birth of a child, the sweet Princess Marie, filled her heart with joy, though, unhappily, a joy destined to be Short-lived. Then came the Russo-roumano-turkish War of 1877-78, which brought bloodshed, sorrow, and distress to the land. During that period Elizabeth of Roumania became a second Florence Nightingale in organising relief for the sick and wounded soldiers. Dressed as a Sister of Mercy in the uniform of the Red Cross, she tended the suffering and dying, and often held the hand of some reluctant patient while the surgeon (lid his work. A Roumanian has such a horror of disfigurement that he prefers death to the loss of a limb.
After peace was restored, Roumania was recognised by the Treaty of Berlin, July 13, 1878, as an independent State, and on March 26, 1881, it was raised to a kingdom: The coronation of King Charles and Queen Elizabeth took place on May 22, 1881. The population of the little kingdom is not larger than that of London, and the people are engaged chiefly in pastoral pursuits.
King Charles had a natural desire to bring his country into line with European civilisation, and make Bucharest an up-to-date capital. The old traditions appealed to the Queen's temperament, and she continued to foster the national life of the people.
Like our own leaders of the renaissance of Celtic art and literature, she sought to save the glorious traditions of the Roumanian people from their threatened extinction by modernity. Her poetic and artistic soul was more concerned with the preservation of costumes and folk-lore than with the introduction of electric tramways into the capital. She herself wore the picturesque national dress, with the long white veil falling at the back of her graceful figure to the floor. The ladies of the court were also attired in various styles of national dress, and it was the Queen's delight to group them around her in picturesque attitudes, while she read to them the legends and poetry of Roumania, or listened to the singing of Roumanian songs in the temple-like study and music room which she had consecrated to the fine arts and literature in her favourite home, the Castle Pelesch, romantically situated amidst the grand, rugged scenery of the Carpathians. To be continued.
Wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who, to relieve the people of Coventry from the burden of harsh taxation, accepted her husband's hard conditions, and rode naked through the streets of the city. Her heroic ride is still commemorated in the city's annual procession