Queen Mary's Good Work-the Personal Touch - Her Intimate Knowledge of Charitable Organisations - How a Great Work was Begun - The Navvy Mission Society and the Christian Excavators' Union - The Story of Mrs. Charles Garnett and Her Lady Helpers - "Heathen Navvies " - Treated as Pariahs - What Women Did for Them - Splendid Work of the Pioneers
Queen Mary's thoughtful care for the old may be illustrated by a single example. While still at White Lodge she concerned herself with the welfare of a number of old women in the East End of London. There was, on the Duke of Cambridge's estate at Coombe, a keeper's cottage of which the Duchess of Teck obained the loan. It was just large enough to accommodate two persons, and it was the Princess's practice to invite certain deserving old women to stay at the cottage for a fortnight at a time during the summer months. She used constantly to go over to the cottage to visit them, to minister to their simple needs, and to cheer them with her bright and sympathetic nature.
Mention of the East End reminds one that Queen Mary, who has always been interested in measures of social reform which had for their object the destruction of rookeries and the substitution of cheerful and whole-
Mrs. Charles Garnett, the pioneer of Christian work among navvies, and founder of the Chris' tian Excavators' Union
Photo, W. Clark, Bristol some dwellings, and the providing of playgrounds for the children in congested areas, was a frequent visitor to the poorer quarters of London, her guide, on several occasions, being the Bishop of London. Shortly after Queen Victoria's death she went over a factory in the East End of London, and at the dinner-hour went into a room where the factory girls had their meals. With her guide she talked to a number of the girls, none of whom, of course, had the slightest idea of the real identity of their visitor. One bright, pleasant-looking young girl informed the Princess that she was shortly going to be married. "I hope you will be very happy," said her Royal Highness,smiling pleasantly. " Oh, we'll get along all right," said the girl. "I know how to keep Bill in order." A few days afterwards the lady who had taken her Majesty over the factory called at the house where the girl lived, and handed her an envelope, which she said the lady who had recently visited the factory asked her to give to the girl who had told her she was shortly going to be married. The envelope contained a very welcome present and a sheet of notepaper on which was written :
"Please accept the enclosed little present and my best wishes. - Mary."
It is by such practical experiences as these that her Majesty has endeavoured to get an insight into the lives and surroundings of those who live in poor places, in order that she may utilise her exalted position for their benefit. Indeed, a clergyman who has worked for many years in the East End remarked a short time ago that there were few district visitors who knew the poor quarters of London better than Queen Mary.
We get another illustration of Queen Mary's practical Christianity in her work on behalf of the Royal Cambridge Asylum for the Widows of Soldiers at Kingston. This, too, was one of the Duchess of Teck's pet charities, and each year she gave the aged women of the institution a supply of fresh vegetables from the gardens of White Lodge, Princess May invariably helping in the distribution. The old women would stand holding their aprons, while the future Queen of England filled them with the vegetables her mother handed to her.
"Now, May," the Duchess would say, " give that dear old soul that cauliflower, and then come back for the potatoes. Be quick, or else I shall not recommend you for a stall at Co vent Garden." Whereupon the Princess would run to and fro as if for all the world the stall at Covent Garden were a reality. If she slackened her speed, the Duchess would recall her with: "Attend to business, May, and bring me those onions. You don't like the smell of onions ? Then you won't do for a greengrocer's wife." And so on, until each old lady had her apron filled.
Mention must also be made of Queen Mary's hospital work. It was she who was mainly instrumental in raising 5,000 for the endowment of a special ward at the Richmond Royal Hospital, which has proved such a boon to hundreds of little sufferers; and by every means in her power she has assisted in the campaign against consumption. Quite recently her Majesty heard that an improved form of shelter for a consumptive had been provided at Crathie. She promptly made an inspection, and was so impressed with the shelter that she authorised the provision, at her own expense, of a similar shelter for use on the Balmoral estates. The following is an extract from the letter in which this intimation was conveyed by Dr. Hendry of Balmoral to the medical officer :
"The Queen has visited the patient at Crathie for whom you recently erected a shelter. Her Majesty, who was much interested, thoroughly examined the shelter, and was very much pleased with it. The Queen wishes me to say that when you have decided on the best method of heating for the colder winter nights, she would be obliged if you will supply, at her Majesty's expense, a similar shelter for the use of the patients connected with the Balmoral estates. The Queen wishes in this way to help you in your valuable work in the county."
Whenever an important hospital appeals for funds it will "invariably be found that Queen Mary is among the most liberal subscribers and the most ardent workers in raising the money required. She has a very extensive knowledge of hospital work, and has often visited such institutions accompanied only by her lady-in-waiting. Homes for crippled children appeal specially to her, while charities very dear to her heart are the Distressed Gentlefolks' Aid Society, and the Holiday Homes for Governesses.
Her Majesty's fondness for British-made goods, and her efforts at all times to support home industries, provide a striking illustration of her patriotic philanthropy. For instance, for many years Queen Mary has taken a very practical interest in the cottage industries in County Donegal by making extensive purchases at the annual exhibitions in London, and in November, 1911, she gave an order for a hand-knitted golf-coat, which she took with her on the Royal voyage to India. The coat, which was knitted by the cottagers in their own homes, is made of high-grade wool and silk thread.
An instance may be given which furnishes another example of Queen Mary's thought for others. One day at Buckingham Palace she came upon a young housemaid whom she noticed had been crying. She inquired the reason, and the girl explained that her mother was in a London hospital about to undergo a serious operation that day. Her Majesty gave instructions that the girl was to be allowed to visit the invalid as often as the rules of the hospital permitted, and she telephoned to one of the surgeons in charge of the case, asking for special consideration to be shown the patient.
Then, again, we find her Majesty taking the deepest interest in the work of the Church Army, and one may fittingly conclude this article on our benevolent Queen by quoting the reply she sent to Prebendary Carlile, after he had forwarded her a special report, prepared at her own request, on the condition of London's homeless people.
"My sympathy," she writes, "goes out to all the poor and distressed people whom you are helping, and to the great work you are doing for comforting them in their distress. Give a message of encouragement from me to all your workers, and tell them that I sympathise with them in their arduous and difficult work. May God bless you and them, and all the suffering men, women, and little children who are looking to you for help!'