"Carmen Sylva," Rumania's Dowager Queen, Favors Allies
THE death of King Carol of Rumania on Oct. 10 last parted a couple that were almost on the eve of their golden wedding. Nearly fifty years of unclouded happiness had been theirs, save for the loss of their only child, a daughter, in 1874. Still, the war, as in less conspicuous households, offered the occasion for marital discord, for King Carol favored Germany and Austria, and Queen Elizabeth the Allies. Hence the Rumanians, being a Latin people, are more likely to cherish the memory of their Queen, whose moral support cheers them on toward war, than that of their King, even though he saved their country at Plevna.
When, in 1869, the Prussian Prince who was later to become King of Rumania married Princess Elizabeth of Wied, he was an out and out Hohenzollern, and she, both by education and temperament, more French than German. She had lived in London and Paris and was just beginning to be known as the author of verse and fairy tales under the pseudonym of "Carmen Sylva."
On the very day in 1870 when the Rumanian Chamber unanimously declared its sympathy with the French in their struggle with Prussia and the allied German States, the Queen had joined in their sentiment by a similar message to the Empress Eugenie. The King, on the contrary, had telegraphed the aged King of Prussia, the grandfather of the present German Kaiser:
"My sentiments will always be where the black and white banner waves."
That was the beginning. Forty-five years later we find the King striving to have Rumania side with his Fatherland and "Carmen Sylva," in spite of the fact that she is the aunt of the Kaiser's protégé, the ill-fated king of Albania, forbidding the German language to be spoken in her presence. Even in 1910, according to Pierre Loti, who visited her at her summer home in Sinaia, she had insisted on translating into French any German book she desired to read. The French writer thus describes "Carmen Sylva" at work:
"As soon as each sheet was finished it was torn off. Poems and spontaneous thoughts, novels and dramas were conceived and feverishly transferred to paper in the exhausting effort to lay hold as rapidly as possible of one of those unexpressed ideas to which her fertile imagination gave birth."