Mother's Favourite Quotation - What Her Majesty Says About Real Charitable Work - The Needlework Guild - A Scheme of Great Utility - The Royal Children as Workers in the Cause of Charity Interesting Incidents and Amusing Stories - Queen Mary's Great Field of Work
To those acquainted with the life and work of the late Duchess of Teck; who have learned of the many beneficent schemes for the masses in which she was the prime mover ; who know that she spared no effort to lighten the burdens of the poor ; that her purse, her time, and her remarkable powers of organisation were dedicated to their service, it is scarcely surprising that her daughter, Queen Mary, who was her mother's constant companion and associate in charitable work, has become a leader among practical Christians. Quite recently (I9I I) we have had a striking illustration of her Majesty's thought for others. It may be remembered that a cheque for nearly ĢI4,000 was presented to the Queen as a Coronation gift from the nation's Marys.
After carefully considering what she should do with the gift, her Majesty decided to devote the whole of the proceeds of the fund to charity. Yielding, however, to the wish of the committee, she decided to accept a personal gift of garter jewels and portraits, by an eminent artist, of the King and Prince of Wales, but stipulated that the balance of the money - ĢI2,500 - should be devoted to the establishment of a holiday home for working girls in connection with the London Girls' Club Union, of which Her Majesty is the Patroness.
It was during her early days at Kensington Palace that Queen Mary was trained to take an interest in the sick and suffering. Her mother, among other things, did a great deal of good among the poor in the back streets near the palace. On one occasion, she intended to send a dinner to a destitute family, and, calling her young daughter to her, she said : " May, dear, I wish you to go with your governess to the house of these unfortunate but respectable people, so that you may learn what it means to have a meal when one has been starving." Many were the object lessons of this kind that Queen Mary learned in her childhood, and there are hundreds to-day who have cause to bless the names of the Duchess of Teck and her daughter for their kindly thoughts and gracious deeds.
And many are the stories told at Richmond of the Queen's kindness of heart when a young girl to the people about White Lodge, Richmond Park. A poor lad dying of consumption in one of the cottages, found Princess May a daily visitor. She gave time and trouble to her self-imposed task, and frequently sat by the bed of the sick lad and talked to him. On the Sunday morning on which he died, she stooped and kissed him, and mingled her tears with those of the family around the bed.
These, of course, are but small incidents in the life of her Majesty, but they tend to illustrate the training of the mind of the girl who was afterwards to become our Queen, and who, since her mother died, in I894, has neglected no efforts to further the objects of the charitable movements in which the Duchess was so keenly interested. And her Majesty's success in this direction is due to the fact that she is a woman who takes a keen, practical interest in any movement with which her name is associated. "To take up charitable work, as some ladies do," she once remarked somewhat severely, " because they feel that they would like some new pastime and experience, is worse than giving charity indiscriminately. Charitable work is a very great and noble thing when done in a whole-hearted manner." And then her Majesty proceeded to quote her mother's favourite lines :
If each man in his measure,
Would do a brother's part, To cast a ray of sunlight
Into a brother's heart: How changed would be our country !
How changed would be our poor ! And then might Merrie England
Deserve her name once more.
Many a ray of sunlight has penetrated the drab existence of the poor through the kindly efforts of Queen Mary. To quote from Sir Clement Kinloch-cooke's book on the life of her Majesty :
" The poor of this country never had a truer friend than Queen Mary, or one more desirous of doing all in her power to brighten their lives and help them in their difficulties. Her whole life speaks of kindly thoughts and kindly deeds ; it affords her pleasure to give pleasure to others."
Reference has already been made to the fact that her Majesty has worked energetically on behalf of the charities in which her mother was so deeply interested, and to-day we find Queen Mary sparing no efforts to increase the usefulness of such movements as the London Needlework Guild, the Royal Cambridge Asylum for the Widows of Soldiers, the Princess Mary Adelaide Home for the Training of Young Servants, the Princess Mary Memorial Home for Working Women, the Richmond Royal Hospital, and the Village Homes at Addlestone, where children whose parents are in prison are kept. With regard to the latter institution, by the way, it might be mentioned that it was owing to her Majesty's business capabilities that these homes were placed on a sound financial basis. They were a dying concern when she resuscitated them a few years ago, and placed in charge a matron who is regarded as the most able in this kind of work in the country.
These, however, are but a few of the charitable movements in which her Majesty is interested. As a matter of fact, the public will never know how much time Queen Mary devotes to charity in various forms ; for she prefers to work quietly and unostentatiously.
One of the most important charities with which Queen Mary is connected is the Needlework Guild, in which her mother took the deepest interest. It was the late Lady Wolverton, one of the Duchess's most intimate friends, who founded the guild in I882. The guild is formed of "groups" of ladies, each group having a president, who in turn finds five vice-presidents, and these again must each have at least ten associates. Every one of these ladies undertakes to make or provide two useful items of wear for a man, woman, or child. The Queen herself is president of one group, which last year (I9I0) furnished no fewer than I5,333 articles of attire. The total number of garments sent in and exhibited at the Imperial Institute in November of that year was 54,070, which were duly distributed among not only institutions and hospitals, but also the poor of parishes throughout the country. The King himself gave fully a thousand things in warm flannel.