On Tour with Queen Marie


The Union League Club Speech and Jane Addams

I THANKED HEAVEN that we found ourselves only half an hour late to a meeting of the Red Cross in the parlors of the hotel, where the Queen was decorated and speeches were made complimenting her war work, for we still had time to get ready for the luncheon scheduled for the Union League Club, one of the most interesting events of her Chicago visit.

It was here the Queen told of her war-scarred little Roumania; how she, an English Princess, had been called to be its Queen and had borne for her country six children; of how that country stood fast when the Germans were conquering it, and how her soldiers had stood firm when a million Russians in the trenches beside them had turned Bolshevik. She told of how she had gone to Paris after the War to fight for her country's interests; and now she had come to America, she frankly said, "to put Roumania on the map." "When I went down to the Peace Conference," she said, "they asked me why I had come, and I told them this, 'Every country needs a face. I am here to be Roumanians face, to make it more personal than statistics and a map.'" She went on to tell her country's history, that it had been for centuries a battleground, a tortured country without peace or rest, and so, in a manner of speaking, an impoverished country. Roumania, she said, was used to being overrun just as people become used to horrors. It was like that when Charles, the uncle of the present King, had been called to establish a dynasty and give them a stable government. King Charles gave them hospitals, schools and a government. She said, "You must not consider us as possessing that Western energy of yours, that love for work which my son calls efficiency. We are a slow-going, an ill-treated, persecuted people, and so progress has not been as rapid as it might have been. Our people are excusably suspicious, but Charles and his wonderfully intelligent wife were able to gain their confidence. After them, my husband and I have carried on. When the Great War came we suffered every hardship that war can bring to a country. In March, 1917, the Russians went Bolshevik. For twelve months the Roumanian soldiers fought starving in the trenches with no relief." Her words rang with pride, "Not one of the Roumanians went Bolshevik." She ended by saying, "Remember when you belittle Roumania you are treading on the heart of a woman."

As she turned and bowed to the President of the Club, those near her saw that she was weeping. Her address on this occasion was so overwhelmingly sincere that every one present responded to her emotion with an emotion equally sincere. Next to the speech at Maryhill, this was one of the most moving events of the whole journey and made for her many friends.

That afternoon I was requested to go about with the Princess, and our first stop was at Marshall Field's where she did some Christmas shopping. She was especially interested in the department of religious literature where she purchased a number of New Testaments and Bibles to distribute among her friends, for the Princess with the sweet seriousness of youth is inclined to be devout. The Prince too is much interested in the same literature, both have been taking a very thorough course of Bible reading during the past year.

As I had the responsibility of the Princess that afternoon I remained close beside her in spite of the pleadings of a young Chicagoan, who was accompanying us and who begged me to let him chaperon her "since he knew I had so much to attend to about my entertainment for that night." But I was compelled absolutely to refuse. He was one of the many who showed a visible hit in the heart from the Princess's charm. I, for one, would never blame them. I do not know any more delightful young people than Ileana and her brother.

As I had promised Miss Jane Addams to be at Hull House at four o'clock exactly, and as I wanted the Princess too to have the privilege of meeting this great woman, we flew across the city at our usual breakneck speed. Even faster, I might say, as the Prince was driving. On our arrival, Miss Addams greeted us. She has always been, to me, one of the great women of the world. I am proud that my country has produced such an enlightened personality, such a worker for humanity. Her wide mournful eyes, the eyes of a saint and a sufferer, seem to have looked into the depth of human misery and found something worth salvaging there. With all my heart I was anxious to have these two women meet. They were complements of one another. The Queen in her beauty and with her large experience has been mellowed by the trials she has had to meet and conquer all her life. All this has made her a magnetic personality, one that stands out in the eye of the world where it has been placed by circumstances. This other woman also has had to stand the blows and vicissitudes of her own fortunes and others' too, making her character almost sublime. I knew that such a meeting should, with the Queen's sensitiveness to impression, give her a new outlook on life, such as comes to all from a knowledge of Jane Addams. When I brought them together I felt that in some way I had accomplished a lasting benefit. Jane Addams's greatness is not only that she has helped her own neighborhood and city and country, but that she has taught other willing souls to help theirs.

The Queen arrived a little after we did, and as she moved through the motley crowd around Hull House my heart fluttered with anxiety for her safety. But as she stood on the top step of the house, looking like a vision from another world, in her queenly costume of velvet and gold, and waved to them radiantly they all welcomed her with a loud, "Hurrah!" Miss Addams and Mrs. Bowen, her dear friend, met her at the door and led the Queen within. Then I came up and, putting my arms around both, I said, "At last I have accomplished a long-planned purpose! Miss Addams is a saint, your Majesty, the finest woman in America. I wanted you two fine women to meet. I wish you could find a secluded place for a little talk." They did so, and later the Queen told me she was much impressed and would carry back this memory to Roumania. She spoke of Roumania's need and said that anything American women could do to help their Red Cross would be more than appreciated in her country.

She was shown the Crane Day Nursery and the different Hull House Activities, and went on to the Juvenile Court which she found very impressive. It is one of the greatest achievements of Chicago to have started this court where the cases of children may be tried separately from those of hardened criminals.

The reception at the Field Museum that same afternoon also pleased the Queen. Its magnificent building on the shores of Lake Michigan recalls the glories of Rome in its prime. What has been built on the mud bank of that lake is surely one of the marvels of man. The Queen could hardly believe in this twentieth-century miracle. Like so many others who have visited the city, she was amazed at the chain of interlinking boulevards, broad and spacious, spreading like great flat ribbons to bind the different sections. Following the lake front, where it edges along Lake Michigan's shores, stretches this wonderful street which has been constructed in the last five years on reclaimed land, once a marshy fringe of the lake. We passed the immense and newly erected stadium rising like a white marble ghost of ancient days. Already in its short span of life it has seated hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people.

Back at the hotel, the vivacious and clever Mrs. J. Hamilton Lewis, wife of the former Illinois Senator and once a guest of the Queen in Roumania, vastly amused Her Majesty and her children in a call during which she told them their "fortunes." The Queen has always been greatly interested in any form of clairvoyance, and Mrs. Lewis has a gift.

That evening a gala performance of Aďda was given by the Chicago Opera Company. Four boxes to the right of the stage were devoted to the royal party. Entering, the Queen looked a fairy queen indeed in her straight cut golden gown with long pink chiffon sleeves, wearing her most magnificent crown of diamonds and sapphires and her long diamond chain from which hung the famous egg-shaped sapphire like a flame of blue fire. With a sapphire-blue feather fan the ensemble made an un forgettable picture. Chicago rose to the occasion to honor the Queen. Rosa Raisa sang as I had never heard her sing before. Five gentlemen surrounded the Queen. One was Mr. Insull who, as president of the opera company, has done so much for the city. I had to leave my place in the Prince's box to be ready to receive the Queen at a midnight feast we had prepared for her in the Crystal Room of the Blackstone Hotel, and at which I was to give a toast.

Realizing my inability to prepare for it, some of my good friends in Chicago had made all the arrangements for this affair in my absence, and I felt exceedingly grateful to them for such kindness—the thought and attention I knew they had put on it. But I really was not prepared for such loveliness as greeted my eyes when we entered that night. Cloth of gold shimmered blindingly everywhere, from balconies, over tables on which massive gold candelabra rose and candles winked alluringly. It was a setting for the fairy queen, a magic moment, almost breath-taking.

After the day's exertions my poor brain was on strike, and it was Colonel Carroll sitting next me who proved a friend in need. My audience too was lenient and, buoyed up by their encouragement, I managed to get through what I had to say—an acknowledgment to the Queen of the debt we all owed her for this visit with its great cost of energy and time, the love that we all felt for her, from the newsboy on the street to the highest, and the interest we would always take in her welfare. Also, I added, she had stood the bombardment of fire since her arrival like a good soldier; the motto of Chicago, "I Will," had been taken over entirely by the city's photographers. The chameleon who suffered a sad accident when he was put on a piece of tartan plaid, trying to turn all colors at once, was precisely similar to ourselves on this trip. I said that, if one more impression is put upon a certain chameleon, I could guarantee that she at least would burst!

The Queen responded to my toast by saying that she had to take sides against me in favor of the photographers. She was not at all opposed to them; on the contrary, she admired them for their great perseverance; many times she had seen them risk their lives on telegraph poles and in spots even more inaccessible to take a picture. The evening was a delightful occasion, and later on we saw the results of the many movies taken on the trip, highly amused at seeing ourselves as others saw us.

All Chicago lay glittering in electricity before us as we emerged into the night to take our way home. The car sped along the boulevards giving us a view of the city under midnight stars. Through the intersection of streets the high buildings on Michigan Boulevard loomed up, prodigious and imposing seen from the lake drive, lit up to incandescence by the beautiful bronze lamp posts bearing clusters of lights bordering the avenue. Going north on Michigan Avenue, and approaching the new cantilever bridge, we had, across the sleeping city, a glorious, unimpeded view of two magnificent buildings, the Tribune Building, like a Gothic cathedral, and the Wrigley Building, a massive shimmer of white tile, which stood out blindingly in the high lights thrown upon them, illumined against the darkness as the Capitol at Washington is. We crossed over the great bridge leading to the North Side, firm and solid enough when we got to it, although in the unreal light it had looked like a span of lace across the waters. Less than seventy-five years ago Chicago citizens had to be ferried across what was then one of the muddiest and dirtiest of rivers. Now through expert engineering it has been reclaimed into an impressive body of water, carrying many steamers as an aid to commerce. So Chicago goes on, making the worth while and useful, the dynamic and beautiful, out of what others would call waste.