Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/574

This page needs to be proofread.

Belgium for the rapid provisioning of Paris after the capitulation. The British government and other neutral powers were approached, but Bismarck stepped in to foil the plan (Memoirs and Letters of Sir Robert Merrier, ii. 211).

The crown princess welcomed the proclamation of the German Emperor at Versailles on 18 Jan. 1871, and took part in the festivities at Berlin on the return of the victorious German army. In Sept. 1871 she and her husband visited London, and were received with cordiality by Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Their reception did much to dissipate the atmosphere of tension which had prejudiced the relations of England and Germany during the war.

The princess's public interests extended far beyond politics, and embraced philanthropy, education, art, and literature. Indeed enlightened progress in all branches of effort powerfully appealed to her. She cultivated the society of leaders of thought, art, and science. As a hostess she ignored the conventions of etiquette which restricted her guests to members of the aristocracy. Her receptions were invariably attended by the historians Mommsen and Dove, by Zeller the philosopher, by the scientist Virchow, and by Gustav Freytag the writer, who dedicated to her 'Die Ahnen' (six parts, 1872-80). With especial eagerness the princess encouraged intercourse with German painters and sculptors. Art was one of her main recreations. Elected a member of the Berlin Academy in 1860, she studied in her leisure hours sculpture under Begas and painting under Prof. Hagen. She drew correctly, but showed little power of imagination (for examples of her work cf. Magazine of Art, May and Sept. 1886). Her favourite artists were Werner and von Angeli, and with the latter she was long on intimate terms.

Prussia was almost the last state in Germany to assimilate the artistic development of the nineteenth century, and it was the crown princess who gave a first impulse towards the improvement of applied art. She carefully followed the progress of industrial art in England, and in 1865 she commissioned Dr. Schwabe to draw up a report, entitled 'Die Forderung der Kmst-Industrie in England and der Stand dieser Frage in Deutschland.' Her efforts to stimulate the interest of the Prussian government bore fruit. Schools of applied art were established in Prussia, and on 15 Sept. 1872 she had the satisfaction of witnessing the opening of an industrial art exhibition at Berlin. Subsequently she and her husband set to work to form a permanent public collection of 'objets d'art,' and the Berlin Industrial Art Museum (Kunst-Gewerbe Museum); which was opened on 20 Nov. 1881, was mainly due to her personal initiative. In the structural evolution of the modern city of Berlin the princess's interest was always keen and her active influence consistently supported the civic effort to give the new city artistic dignity.

Her early endeavours in philanthropy were mainly confined to hospitals. The experiences of the wars of 1866 and 1870 had shown the inadequacy of existing hospital organisations in Germany. A more scientific training for nurses was a first necessity. The crown princess was well acquainted with the reforms effected in England by Florence Nightingale [q. v. Suppl. II], and in 1872 she drafted an exhaustive report on hospital organisation. At her instigation the Victoria House and Nursing School (Viktoria-Haus für Krankenpflege), which was named after her, was established at Berlin in 1881, and soon the Victoria sisters, mainly women of education, undertook the nursing in the municipal hospital at Friedrichshain. Out of the public gift to her and her husband on their silver wedding in 1883 she applied 118,000 marks to the 'endowment of the Victoria House. The success of the school led to the establishment of similar institutions throughout Germany. The value of her work for hospitals was recognised beyond Germany. In 1876 she received a gold medal at the Brussels exhibition for her designs for a barrack hospital, and on 26 May 1883 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria on the institution of that order.

From hospitals the crown princess soon passed to schemes for ameliorating the social conditions of the working classes. On her initiative the society for the promotion of health in the home (Gesellschaft für hausliche Gesundheit) was started in 1875 ; it undertook regular house to house visits for the purposes of sanitary inspection. Both at Bornstedt, her husband's country seat, and later at Cronberg, whither she retired after his death, she founded hospitals, workhouses, schools, and libraries.

The cause of popular education, especially for women, was meanwhile one of her chief concerns. In the development in Germany of women's higher education, the crown princess was a pioneer whose labour