A Dinner Party and the Philadelphia Trip
OUR EARLY ARRIVAL in New York was none too early for me with the thousand and one details of my entertainment looming larger. My only view of the Queen's activities during the day was a later motion picture showing the Queen arriving at the Naval Academy at Annapolis and being escorted by Admiral Nulton to the reviewing stand, also the beautiful massed formation of Annapolis midshipmen taking the pouring rain without the bat of an eyelash while they drilled and maneuvered like automatic machines for Her Majesty's eye . . . and, I dare say, more expressly for that of a Princess!
In Baltimore she was greeted with as elaborate a spectacle as this country has ever shown for a royal visitor. The clouds parted for the entrancing scene of girl children bordering a long path for the Queen to walk through over the flowers that they scattered. In much of the Queen's entertainment an opulent display was made, which, while flattering, seemed to many entirely out of place and unnecessary to express a simple friendliness; but in this instance the old-world formality of the scene had in it all the charm of an earlier day.
The Friends of Roumania, an organization of loyal supporters of that country and always in close touch with the Queen, were to entertain her at a huge reception on this evening, and excitement and interest were high. The Queen dined quietly in her Ambassador Hotel suite beforehand. I had inspected the apartment before her arrival, a most attractive place, specially done for her and occupying nearly all of the fourth floor. Mr. William Nelson Cromwell is President of The Friends of Roumania, and his fine taste was evidenced in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton which positively glowed in the ornate decorations of oak leaves, chrysanthemums and flags. We had a queen from a medieval legend that night. As she did for her own coronation ceremonies, she emphasized the barbaric splendors of the Middle Ages of Roumania to-night. She was startling. Her gown was black with diamante sequins. From her shoulders hung a brocaded green and gold shawl shifting in iridescent light as she moved in stately splendor under a crown of diamonds studded with sapphires, set above a medieval cap effect of pearls fitted close to the face and finished with hanging bands of pearls. Strings of them hung to her waist. There was a heavy chain of diamonds also, broken at intervals with squares of massive design. From this chain was suspended an unbelievable egg-shaped sapphire, one of the largest, it is said, in the world. This stiff Gothic figure moved with the creak and swing of jewels to an erected throne and received for more than an hour with all the aplomb and finesse that only a modern woman can assemble. The Princess, a girlish figure in white and silver beside her mother's effulgence, and Prince Nicholas received with her. There was a gay ball later and a supper later still. The Queen retired from it at one o'clock, but the ball had too much momentum to stop until the early hours. Home for me, very tired but pleasantly so.
Thursday, October 21.
In spite of the fatiguing reception of the night before, Queen Marie awoke before seven o'clock and drank tea with her children in the royal suite at the Ambassador. At eight o'clock breakfast was served, consisting of fresh assorted fruits, mushroom omelet, cold ham, tea and hot rolls. When she descended to enter her car at 10:15 she was dressed in a moleskin coat trimmed with fox and brightened with a huge yellow orchid. She wore a tight-fitting beige felt hat and snake skin pumps. Her dress was a beige velvet embroidered with delicate gold lace. Around her neck she wore three brilliant ropes of pearls. Her vivid coloring and fine features were very striking. This morning the Queen was busy with sightseeing. She was front page material, the Morning Star of the moment to fickle reporters, who must say enough to be spread, however thin, over reams of virgin paper.
Accompanied by Mr. Cromwell, she left the Ambassador for the Library at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, and incidentally had her first glimpse of Fifth Avenue aflutter with American and Roumanian flags in the sunshine of a crisp autumn day. Eager crowds waiting in front of the Library and on the sidewalks across the Avenue greeted her with cheers and hand-clapping as she entered and left the building. She was accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting, Mr. and Mrs. Tileston Wells, the Roumanian consul-general in New York, and Colonel George C. Treadwell, of the New York National Guard, specially designated by Governor Smith as the Queen's aide.
At the Library building the Queen was met by Lewis Cass Ledyard, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Frank L. Polk, Secretary of the Board, and E. H. Andrews, Director of the Library.
The Queen was especially interested in the unique Library for the Blind comprising fifteen thousand volumes. She found several texts in Roumanian, and was much interested in the five thousand musical scores in raised print which are included in this library. She stopped to chat with a young man who, although blind, is a graduate of Columbia University and a frequent visitor here. Mr. Cromwell responded to her interest in this branch, having done so much work for the blind during the War. The royal visitor later proceeded through the reading-rooms where a hundred men and women rose as she came in; she nodded and smiled right and left. The visit caused more excitement than the Public Library has known for years. As she reached the top of the Fifth Avenue steps, she faced more than a thousand persons crowded below her. Some had perched precariously on the granite lions. Others stood on the railings. Her Majesty smiled with pleasure and walked down slowly to her automobile.
Her Majesty was greatly impressed by her inspection of the building, with its imposing facade on Fifth Avenue, along which the royal procession advanced with great rapidity and most unceremoniously after leaving the Library. The progress of the royal party in these days surely lacks the dignity of the progress of Elizabeth referred to before. Then followed a luncheon at the Chamber of Commerce. It was the first time in the one hundred and fifty-eight years of the existence of this distinguished organization that a woman had been so honored. The Queen confessed in a clever speech to a feeling of great awe in being the sole recipient of that honor. A tremendous demonstration was given her by the gathering which was attended by many of the leading business men, lawyers and financiers of New York. The attendance was larger than at any meeting ever held by the Chamber except its reception to the Prince of Wales. The Queen was picturesquely garbed. She wore a picture hat of black and light brown velvet with a brim of modest width. From one side trailed an abundance of long tan willow plumes, an effect wholly different from the prevailing mode. "Critics, however, conceded the Queen the prerogative of making fashions instead of borrowing them." The picture hat, it was alleged, went out when the bob came in. The Queen's dress was tan and gold brocaded velvet. Fashion experts also noted with alarm that Her Majesty carried a large sable muff and walked with both hands thrust in it. The muff has been passé for some years, but to-day its return to favor was predicted. The Princess wore a small scarlet high-crowned hat with a dress of dark blue crêpe. Prince Nicholas wore afternoon dress. The Queen's speech was broadcasted and was her second radio effort. She said she was overwhelmed at this reception by men who are the backbone of the country and who had given up their busy hours to receive her, a woman, in their midst. "It almost seems to me," she said, "that it is too much honor to confer on one who after all is not a man. But I cannot help expressing the extreme honor I feel and the degree of emotion which fills me at the thought that such a reception is being given." She then went on to say that the King himself, as well as her whole country, trusted her to come over the seas to see America, knowing that the link of friendship and of the personal touch is stronger than any other link. She alluded to the reputation of honor on which our commerce is based. "The basis of all civilizations," she said, "is exchange. Countries can only live if they are in close touch with each other. . . . It is, therefore," she continued, "looking at you all, that I hope you will really feel, also, when I am gone, the sympathy for my country which I have come to try to create. I am afraid that facing so many men makes me feel how very much of a woman I am, and how really nothing, to stand before you representing a country which really the King would love to come and represent. . . . I hope," she concluded, "that I will be allowed to tell my people how I have been able to make you love my country through me." The President of the Chamber of Commerce, introducing the Queen, stated in a very friendly speech that the relations between the United States and Roumania are on a most cordial basis and that Her Majesty's visit, he felt, would help to bind that friendship and surely must lead to a closer industrial and financial relationship. He hoped that in her travels she would study the American people and be able to make a favorable report on them to her people upon her return to Roumania. All of the royal guests seemed to relish the delicious viands, and at the end of the luncheon the Queen and Prince Nicholas lighted cigarettes.
After the luncheon at the Chamber of Commerce the Queen and her suite went at once to the B. & O. station to leave for Philadelphia. Not being with them at the lunch, I became involved at home in the myriad inquiries of the girls looking after the details of my entertainment in honor of Princess Ileana; the telephone calls of friends and tradesmen about it, and the poor neglected guests in my apartment at the time. People kept telling me that I had at least time enough to swallow a cup of coffee, and that cup of coffee, taken standing, was my undoing. I reached the station only to find that I had committed an irreparable faux pas. I had missed a Royal Train! There it steamed ahead of me out of sight without a backward glance, while I stood and wrung my hands and tried to blame it on everybody else in the world. My bags were on, I knew (as well as my frantic husband), and there was nothing to do but follow as soon as possible and at least get there to explain. I took the next train and found, as often happens, that I had saved my own day. There was a speech that had to be prepared for my entertainment, between then and Saturday morning. This was Thursday, and Friday from morning till night was full! In my rush I had not before faced the fact; then it occurred to me that it was now or never. I got hold of pencil and paper and to the lulling of wheel squeaks I composed my speech which would never on earth have been written had I not made my fatal mistake.
But on my arrival in Philadelphia I began to think that it might prove fatal after all. There was not a sign of the royal party about the station, duties and activities going on exactly as usual, so I could tell that they had got in some time before me. I had not even an idea what the plans were for the day, or at least, no idea of their arrangement, as I did know that the Sesqui-Centennial was to be the main feature. I rushed up to a porter. "Do you know where the Queen is?" I demanded breathlessly. He dropped my bags to scratch his head, gazed phlegmatically around the rotunda and finally got out, "How should I know?"
This was terrible. The bystanders looked as blank as he did, so there was nothing to do but get in a cab and make for what I considered my best bet, the Exposition grounds. It was far out there and I sat on the edge of the seat and tried to hurry things up by being perfectly miserable. I sprang out when we reached the entrance. "Where is the Queen?" I demanded of a big broad-looking individual guarding the gate. "The Queen? . . ." He stared. "What Queen? . . ."
I flew past him to a policeman. "Oh," I wailed, "will you tell me where the Queen is?" He straightened up righteously in his blue and brass buttons. "How should I know?" he asked judiciously and stared past his nose.
Some one volunteered that she was not to be there until midnight. And then I knew that everybody was crazy. "Well," I said helplessly, "I guess I'd better go to the hotel" The big policeman sniffed at me suspiciously. "Yes," he said, "I think you better had."
I got into a cab, started to speak to the waiting driver, and caught myself up in midair. I had no earthly idea what hotel! I was leaving all that to my husband who dotes on schedules and I had not even thought to inquire. Now I was lost. My maid volunteered to the driver, "Ze best hotel in town," and with that to go on he started off. And every second the skies were getting darker! I had no idea what I was expected to attend, nor, for that matter, where I was to attend it!
A confused mob of people, policemen and men in extraordinary Revolutionary costumes, pushing, hustling, peering, outside the Bellevue-Stratford, stopped me there. Anybody that wanted to could get in, it seemed, and at last I discovered people who had at least heard of Her Majesty, which did a great deal toward making me feel a bit more stable. She was on the seventh floor, I was told, and no one stopped my going up. If I had been bent on some nefarious mission I might have had a good opportunity that day to do my worst. I found the seventh floor looking as excited and lost as I felt. The Committee and the suite were flying around in confusion, trying to locate quarters and luggage. My husband, "poor wretch," fell back at the sight of me. Since I hadn't appeared at the train, he thought I had decided not to come and had left my bags on the special train at the station! I fell into a chair, gasping weakly.
Somehow, someway, in the few moments that were left me, I managed to furbish up the one extra gown I had into doing evening duty, but poor Prince Nicholas was not so fortunate. Like Tresillion, in Kenilworth, who infuriated Queen Elizabeth by appearing before her in his undress clothes because in the hurry and confusion of her arrival his things had been misplaced, he too was luggageless, but he didn't brave his royal mother's displeasure by appearing at all. I suspect, on the whole, he was charmed with the rest. It was the Committee's first experience in transporting the baggage, and I trust things will be better handled in the future.
I learned later that upon the arrival of the royal party they had proceeded at once to the Roumanian church for an impressive religious ceremony. This is a small wooden edifice in the heart of the poorer section but the ardor of the priests and congregation makes up for all. Always it is the intention of the Roumanian Queen to pay this first attention to the people of her own country.
That evening, just as I dashed into my clothes, the dinner of the Mayor of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Committee began. It was given in the hotel, fortunately for me, and all the social set of the old city were there in their finery. The Queen evidently delighted them in cerise velvet and an ermine cape hanging from her shoulders. My friend, former Ambassador Moore, was quite active in arranging everything. I saw Mrs. Edward Stotesbury looking resplendent as usual. The Mayor, Mr. W. Freeland Kendrick, at the Queen's right, is a dapper young man who enunciated his speech, sentence by sentence, with the greatest precision. But since we were scheduled to go from there to the Exposition grounds, he left only time for Her Majesty to respond with thanks.
We then proceeded rather unceremoniously through the crowds in the hall of the hotel. We found the same Revolutionary costumes worn by the cavalry outside that cleared our path with difficulty, for there was the greatest confusion in the streets. By slow stages, despite vigilant police and siren whistles with their ungodly menace, we sped on to the Exposition, the scene of my afternoon fiasco. We entered the grounds, passing under the huge Liberty Bell brilliantly illuminated, and arrived at the enormous auditorium where we were ushered to a royal box hung in gold brocade and spreading flags very honorably but most unfortunately placed at a spot in the enormous stadium where absolutely nothing could be seen. This had to be remedied and more time was lost. The players, the Philadelphia Symphony, were in fine form. Their classical numbers alternated with dances in which Loie Fuller's school of girls entertained us. The Queen, with that generosity which I have mentioned and tried to explain, had expressed a wish to the committee in Philadelphia that she might show in this form her approval of Miss Fuller's work and art. The dancers seemed rather quaint and old-fashioned in this day of jazz and I could not help but wonder what Miss Fuller and the Queen would think of "Black Bottom." I was rather glad to be spared a sight of them faced with it!
At the program's ending, midnight found us dashing belatedly around the bare, unfinished splendor of Philadelphia's costly "Folly." Judging from the outside it looked extremely interesting. We stood huddled in wraps and yawns inside the Art Building and all agreed that it was an exhibition of which any city might be proud. After this hasty survey we sped to the station at breakneck speed through the muffled, silent streets. It was my first experience in following in the train of royalty, or on the royal train (and missing it!), and if this is to continue I shall have to take a course in nerve training or end in a sanitarium when the visit is over. We reached the station alive and as the train pulled out at one o'clock I sat down to collect my thoughts and record the day.
Friday, October 22.
Upon our arrival at Jersey City at the terminal of the B. & O., we were taken across on the ferry. The royal party went direct to the Ambassador Hotel where numerous conferences were awaiting the Queen. Later she attended a luncheon at the Bankers' Club of New York. The business men of New York, hearing of her avowed intention of learning from us our methods and plans for use in the rehabilitation of her own war-ridden country, have been, it seems to me, extremely kind about showing her every attention. Several men of prominence in business circles spoke to me afterward about the impression of brilliance the Queen made on the men there assembled. Beauty like hers adds, of course, to the fascination.
This luncheon was tendered the Queen by Major Radu Irimescu, New York representative of the Banque Chrissoveloni. It took more than one hundred policemen to handle the crowd gathered around the Equitable Building for a glimpse of the Queen as she entered. Her speech on that occasion was so convincing that the hard-headed business men of New York, who previously had doubts as to the purpose of her visit, became her abject admirers and went away sincerely convinced that her purpose was not to raise money but to further the cause of her own country. She spoke first about the great honors which the people of America were conferring upon her in so many ways; that she had always been placed in a position where she had to do a great deal; that when she started out in life she had the idea that she wanted to be happy; but as she grew older she realized that happiness consists in "doing what we can and doing it with all our hearts." She spoke about her experiences as a young woman in being taught to do the things that she did not want to do, and then went on to relate her experiences during the Great War and why she believed in the Allies' cause. She said the King was a man of great sympathy and understanding; that during the War he had to make many sacrifices; that they made many mistakes, but mistakes are stepping-stones to something better. For years she had dreamed of coming to this country as she felt a sympathy with America, the sympathy which lies at the root of the Anglo-Saxon race, and that, therefore, she asked the consent of the King for three months' holiday. "Many," she said, "will ask the reason why I have come. I have come to ask for your love, your friendship, and your understanding. Other than that I have not come to ask for anything from America. And one day when I am no longer here with that personal touch, I wish that you will say that I came to ask for nothing but friendship and understanding."
The Queen's speech was followed by that of Major Irimescu who spoke of the great wealth of the United States and our tremendous resources, and that the gentlemen assembled at that luncheon, members of the leading banking institutions of New York, represented a fund amounting to over seven billion dollars. He said the debt of Roumania, as at present defined, amounts to about three hundred and forty-two million dollars, which, he said, equaled one-fourth of the resources of one out standing national bank of New York, a distinguished officer of which was present that day; and he expressed a wish for the continuous prosperity and progress of the United States of America for its own welfare and that of the entire civilized world. After this luncheon the Queen was escorted on to the roof of this gigantic building, the Equitable, and the view which met her eye is best described in her own reactions which I quote from her journal.
"Stupendous, over-big, over-noisy, over-busy; no time to think, confusing, stimulating, disconcerting; no poetry, no peace, no atmosphere—but yes, stimulating—astonishingly, pricklingly, vigorously stimulating—overwhelming—and then, always again the expression of STUPENDOUS, for those who liked it least conceded that New York is stupendous. . . . The skyscrapers, which we had seen from afar, growing up toward the skies like fantastic monuments from the time of the Pharaohs, were infinitely more gigantic when seen near at hand. Certainly New York was surprising, although I had heard many descriptions of it; it was larger than I had imagined, darker, more imposing, more mighty, and I may say, sterner, but certainly not disappointing. . . . From the fortieth story . . . I had my first look down upon New York from a height. It certainly was an astonishing sight and someone there, I can not remember who, told me that every sort of bird, even birds with beautiful plumages, nestled among these colossal brick and stone monsters, seeming to find them entirely to their taste—birds which came God knows whence and God knows why. The people beneath looked like moving ants and I realized that I was looking down upon a picture that I would certainly never see in Europe. . . . It is all bewildering to the European mind—that strange mixture of freedom and order. The people have curious rights, yet they respect authority."
In the afternoon there were exercises at Columbia University. A formal reception took place in the rotunda of the University Library, and later the Queen inspected parts of the campus.
That afternoon also the Queen and the Princess attended a reception in their honor at the Young Women's Christian Association on Lexington Avenue, and at seven o'clock in the evening Her Majesty was the guest of the Iron and Steel Institute at the Hotel Commodore. She was to have spoken over the radio that evening, but owing to some misunderstanding this speech did not take place.
At the Iron and Steel Institute dinner one thousand guests, among them the kings of industry, fêted Queen Marie to-night. Most of those present were men. The Queen won their complete admiration. Her Majesty, accepting the invitation of Judge Gary, reminisced about herself. Later she talked of Roumania. Among other things she said: "Remember, Roumania is a country that contains a great deal of wealth on the ground and in the ground." She talked about peace and how the world could be kept out of war. "What we need," she exclaimed, "is a real feeling for peace and friendship in the world. Come over," she said, "and teach us efficiency and help us recover from the ravages of war. We hold an important position on the map and will grow in industry and in other ways too." In simple and slightly accented English, she drew a picture of her life and talked of her country, its destined progress and hopes. In introducing the Queen, Judge Gary said it was the first time in the history of the Steel Institute that it has honored a woman at its annual banquet. He declared, "We love Queen Marie because she is herself, although one of the greatest woman figures in the world. She is greatly respected all over the world, largely, if not principally, because of her splendid qualities of brain and heart."
Between the speeches Mme. Frances Alda sang and the brilliant affair was concluded by her chanting the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The dinner was followed by a supper at Judge Gary's house when the Queen sat between Mr. William Randolph Hearst and Mr. Arthur Brisbane and evidently enjoyed the evening.
Again the Queen spoke with such tact and brilliance that all were amazed. It is that exceptional combination of personality and beauty which stands out. She is an exceedingly feminine person with none of the assertiveness one so often finds among American women in public life. True, she is no intensely modern feminist, not so open and above-board, one might say, for her methods of charming are as old as Eve, but she is a woman who knows, in spite of the high place she has long occupied, how to listen and learn from people with greater experience than hers. To quote a remark I heard her make:
"It would be so wonderful to stop long enough in all these places to get acquainted with the many interesting people I meet, who represent some of the best brains of this great country. To be among able statesmen and not be able to ask them any questions is most disappointing." I very honestly found it her whole attitude throughout, to try to learn from each person something to broaden her own outlook. I noticed frequently she was willing to put herself into the hands of others and let them use what she considered superior judgment in controlling her affairs for her, and even if it was not done perfectly I never heard her complain. She has perfect confidence in each person she meets and, frankly, I think it is the explanation of her hold on people; she makes them live up to the best she believes of them. We are called a practical people, but the romance in us cannot be dead when a woman of charm, like Queen Marie, can attract the multitudes that I have seen in the last few days, and can hold spellbound the level-headed business men of New York as she did at the Steel Institute dinner and the business men's luncheons in New York.
Mr. Morris arranged with the governors of nearly all of the states to send their most representative ladies to meet the Queen in New York. He promised they should be well taken care of as regards lodging and entertainment, and he has had his hands full with that enormous order. One state in its enthusiasm telegraphed it was sending forty-three delegates. I can realize heartburnings and feuds that would impede a governor's discriminations but . . . forty-three!