Reference to Carmen Sylva in


by Mark Twain

The following two paragraphs are a lovely reference to Carmen Sylva's special relationship with the wild animals of her homelands when she was a youth. They were taken from a story entitled Does the Race of Man Love a Lord? It is a great example of Mark Twain's humor and commonsense philosophy that appears in his book The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories published in 1906.

Emperors, kings, artisans, peasants, big people, little peopleat the bottom we are all alike and all the same; all just alike on the inside, and when our clothes are off, nobody can tell which of us is which. We are unanimous in the pride we take in good and genuine compliments paid us, and distinctions conferred upon us, in attentions shown. There is not one of us, from the emperor down, but is made like that. Do I mean attentions shown us by the guest? No, I mean simply flattering attentions, let them come whence they may. We despise no source that can pay us a pleasing attentionthere is no source that is humble enough for that. You have heard a dear little girl say to a frowzy and disreputable dog: "He came right to me and let me pat him on the head, and he wouldn't let the others touch him!" and you have seen her eyes dance with pride in that high distinction. You have often seen that. If the child were a princess, would that random dog be able to confer the like glory upon her with his pretty compliment? Yes; and even in her mature life and seated upon a throne, she would still remember it, still recall it, still speak of it with frank satisfaction. That charming and lovable German princess and poet, Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania, remembers yet that the flowers of the woods and fields "talked to her" when she was a girl, and she sets it down in her latest book; and that the squirrels conferred upon her and her father the valued compliment of not being afraid of them; and "once one of them, holding a nut between its sharp little teeth, ran right up against my father"it has the very note of "He came right to me and let me pat him on the head""and when it saw itself reflected in his boot it was very much surprised, and stopped for a long time to contemplate itself in the polished leather"then it went its way. And the birds! She still remembers with pride that "they came boldly into my room," when she had neglected her "duty" and put no food on the window-sill for them; she knew all the wild birds, and forgets the royal crown on her head to remember with pride that they knew her; also that the wasp and the bee were personal friends of hers, and never forgot that gracious relationship to her injury: "never have I been stung by a wasp or a bee." And here is that proud note again that sings in that little child's elation in being singled out, among all the company of children, for the random dog's honor-conferring attentions. "Even in the very worst summer for wasps, when, in lunching out of doors, our table was covered with them and every one else was stung, they never hurt me."

When a queen whose qualities of mind and heart and character are able to add distinction to so distinguished a place as a throne, remembers with grateful exultation, after thirty years, honors and distinctions conferred upon her by the humble, wild creatures of the forest, we are helped to realize that complimentary attentions, homage, distinctions, are of no caste, but are above all castthat they are a nobility-conferring power apart.