AN EXAMPLE FOR GIRLS.
Now that Princess Alix of Hesse is about to become Czarina of Russia curiosity is awakening about her life as a girl, and gossipers are writing books and magazine articles to gratify it. At an age when most young ladies conceal their idiosyncrasies as carefully as their elbows this little Princess is becoming as well known as her predecessor, Catherine, or Louise of Prussia.
She was left motherless at 6 years of age and she was not in her teens when her father contracted a morganatic alliance. But her mother, Alice of England, who was as bright as her sister, the present dowager Empress of Germany, and as strong willed, laid down rules for the education of her children which were faithfully adhered to after her death. She ordered that they should carefully avoid the morgue and hauteur, which are observed in the daughters of most noble families in Germany. It was her will that they should be brought up as girls in the middle class, but rather more strictly. Her mother expressed the guiding principle of her system in the sentence, "I desire that my daughters shall be unassuming and perfectly frank and natural. They must understand they should have nothing to conceal."
Under the direction of competent governesses Alix and her sisters rose early and before breakfast prepared their lessons, which they recited until the beginning of the afternoon. Then they walked, played croquet and tennis, rode, rowed in summer and skated in winter. Their studies embraced the usual branches of a complete education, including English and French, likewise an exhaustive course in cookery, sewing and dressmaking. Until their confirmation their clothing was all made at home, and they took turns to furnish the pastry for the family dinner. When they entertained their young friends they were required to make the cakes which were served, and they were encouraged to supply the children of the neighboring orphan asylum with bonbons of their own manufacture. They were also taught music and painting. In the latter accomplishment Alix is said to excel.
After their confirmation their pocket money, which had been 25 cents a week, was raised to 50 cents, and they were allowed to wear long skirts and go to a few parties and theaters. Queen Victoria obtained as a personal favor permission for them to drive with her and her court when they visited England. On that occasion, for the first time in their lives, they were allowed to pay visits to grown people. The fruit of this training is exhibited in the character of the Grand Duchess Ella, the eldest of the three Princesses of Hesse, who married Sergius of Russia. She is the active patroness of the institute for training nurses at St. Petersburg, and is never ceasing in her works of charity and kindness. It was she who chose the nurses who watched the late Czars deathbed.
It is quite on the cards that the legacy of Alice of England may enure to the benefit of peace and civilization. In the ruling class in Europe, as in the class that is ruled, women are potential, and the sway of policies is sometimes in their hands. Common rumor accuses the Empress Eugenie of having boasted -- when the French started on their mad race, "A Berlin!" -- that the war then beginning was "her war." Whether she was so indiscreet or not, there is no doubt that she used her influence with her husband to egg him on to a war from which he instinctively shrank, and she must have her share of the blame. It is pleasant to think that if a good training can make a good woman the world may be a gainer by the accession of Alix of Hesse to the throne of the Russias.
The Morning Call [San Francisco], Sunday, November 18, 1894, p. 14:2.