Eminent Men and Women."]
One of the most interesting places in the whole of London, is St.
Thomas' Hospital, an immense four-story structure of brick with
stone trimmings. Here is the Nightingale Training School for nurses,
established through the gift to Miss Nightingale of $250,000 by the
government, for her wonderful work in the Crimean War. She would not
take a cent for herself, but was glad to have this institution opened,
that girls through her training might become valuable to the world as
nurses, as she has been.
Here is the "Nightingale Home." The dining-room, with its three long
tables, is an inviting apartment. The colors of wall and ceiling are
in red and light shades. Here is a Swiss clock presented by the Grand
Duchess of Baden; here a harpsichord, also a gift. Here is the marble
face and figure I have come especially to see, that of lovely Florence
Nightingale. It is a face full of sweetness and refinement, having
withal an earnest look, as though life were well worth living.
What better work than to direct these girls how to be useful? Some
are here from the highest social circles. The "probationers," or nurse
pupils, must remain three years before they can become Protestant
"sisters." Each ward is in charge of a sister; now it is Leopold,
because the ward bears that name; and now Victoria in respect to the
Queen, who opened the institution.
The sisters look sunny and healthy, though they work hard. They have
regular hours for being off duty, and exercise in the open air. The
patients tell me how "homelike it seems to have women in the wards,
and what a comfort it is in their agony, to be handled by their
careful hands." Here are four hundred persons in all phases of
suffering, in neat, cheerful wards, brightened by pots of flowers, and
the faces of kind, devoted women.
And who is this woman to whom the government of Great Britain felt
that it owed so much, and whom the whole world delights to honor?
Florence Nightingale, born in 1820, in the beautiful Italian city
of that name, is the younger of two daughters of William Shore
Nightingale, a wealthy land-owner, who inherited both the name and
fortune of his granduncle, Peter Nightingale. The mother was the
daughter of the eminent philanthropist and member of Parliament,
Most of Miss Nightingale's life has been spent on their beautiful
estate, Lea Hurst, in Derbyshire, a lovely home in the midst of
picturesque scenery. In her youth her father instructed her carefully
in the classics and higher mathematics; a few years later, partly
through extensive travel, she became proficient in French, German, and
Rich, pretty, and well-educated, what was there more that she could
wish for? Her heart, however, did not turn toward a fashionable life.
Very early she began to visit the poor and the sick near Lea Hurst,
and her father's other estate at Embly Park, Hampshire. Perhaps the
mantle of the mother's father had fallen upon the young girl.
She had also the greatest tenderness toward dumb animals, and never
could bear to see them injured. Miss Alldridge, in an interesting
sketch of Miss Nightingale, quotes the following story from _Little
"Some years ago, when the celebrated Florence Nightingale was a little
girl, living at her father's home, a large, old Elizabethan house,
with great woods about it, in Hampshire, there was one thing that
struck everybody who knew her. It was that she seemed to be always
thinking what she could do to please or help any one who needed either
help or comfort. She was very fond, too, of animals, and she was so
gentle in her way, that even the shyest of them would come quite close
to her, and pick up whatever she flung down for them to eat.
"There was, in the garden behind the house, a long walk with trees on
each side, the abode of many squirrels; and when Florence came down
the walk, dropping nuts as she went along, the squirrels would run
down the trunks of their trees, and, hardly waiting until she passed
by, would pick up the prize and dart away, with their little bushy
tails curled over their backs, and their black eyes looking about as
if terrified at the least noise, though they did not seem to be afraid
"Then there was an old gray pony named Peggy, past work, living in
a paddock, with nothing to do all day long but to amuse herself.
Whenever Florence appeared at the gate, Peggy would come trotting up
and put her nose into the dress pocket of her little mistress, and
pick it of the apple or the roll of bread that she knew she would
always find there, for this was a trick Florence had taught the
pony. Florence was fond of riding, and her father's old friend, the
clergyman of the parish, used often to come and take her for a ride
with him when he went to the farm cottages at a distance. He was a
good man and very kind to the poor.
"As he had studied medicine when a young man, he was able to tell the
people what would do them good when they were ill, or had met with an
accident. Little Florence took great delight in helping to nurse those
who were ill; and whenever she went on these long rides, she had a
small basket fastened to her saddle, filled with something nice which
she saved from her breakfast or dinner, or carried for her mother, who
was very good to the poor.
"There lived in one of two or three solitary cottages in the wood
an old shepherd of her father's, named Roger, who had a favorite
sheep-dog called Cap. Roger had neither wife nor child, and Cap lived
with him and kept him, and kept him company at night after he had
penned his flock. Cap was a very sensible dog; indeed, people used to
say he could do everything but speak. He kept the sheep in wonderfully
good order, and thus saved his master a great deal of trouble. One
day, as Florence and her old friend were out for a ride, they came
to a field where they found the shepherd giving his sheep their night
feed; but he was without the dog, and the sheep knew it, for they were
scampering in every direction. Florence and her friend noticed that
the old shepherd looked very sad, and they stopped to ask what was the
matter, and what had become of his dog.
"'Oh,' said Roger, 'Cap will never be of any more use to me; I'll have
to hang him, poor fellow, as soon as I go home to-night.'
"'Hang him!' said Florence. 'Oh, Roger, how wicked of you! What has
dear old Cap done?'
"'He has done nothing,' replied Roger; 'but he will never be of any
more use to me, and I cannot afford to keep him for nothing; one of
the mischievous school-boys throwed a stone at him yesterday, and
broke one of his legs.' And the old shepherd's eyes filled with tears,
which he wiped away with his shirt-sleeve; then he drove his spade
deep in the ground to hide what he felt, for he did not like to be
"'Poor Cap!' he sighed; 'he was as knowing almost as a human being.'
"'But are you sure his leg is broken?' asked Florence.
"'Oh, yes, miss, it is broken safe enough; he has not put his foot to
the ground since.'
"Florence and her friend rode on without saying anything more to
"'We will go and see poor Cap,' said the vicar; 'I don't believe the
leg is really broken. It would take a big stone and a hard blow to
break the leg of a big dog like Cap.'
"'Oh, if you could but cure him, how glad Roger would be!' replied
"They soon reached the shepherd's cottage, but the door was fastened;
and when they moved the latch, such a furious barking was heard that
they drew back, startled. However, a little boy came out of the next
cottage, and asked if they wanted to go in, as Roger had left the key
with his mother. So the key was got, and the door opened; and there on
the bare brick floor lay the dog, his hair dishevelled, and his eyes
sparkling with anger at the intruders. But when he saw the little boy
he grew peaceful, and when he looked at Florence, and heard her call
him 'poor Cap,' he began to wag his short tail; and then crept from
under the table, and lay down at her feet. She took hold of one of his
paws, patted his old rough head, and talked to him, whilst her friend
examined the injured leg. It was dreadfully swollen, and hurt very
much to have it examined; but the dog knew it was meant kindly, and
though he moaned and winced with pain, he licked the hands that were
"'It's only a bad bruise; no bones are broken,' said her old friend;
'rest is all Cap needs; he will soon be well again.'
"'I am so glad,' said Florence; 'but can we do nothing for him? he
seems in such pain.'
"'There is one thing that would ease the pain and heal the leg all the
sooner, and that is plenty of hot water to foment the part.'
"Florence struck a light with the tinder-box, and lighted the fire,
which was already laid. She then set off to the other cottage to get
something to bathe the leg with. She found an old flannel petticoat
hanging up to dry, and this she carried off, and tore up into slips,
which she wrung out in warm water, and laid them tenderly on Cap's
swollen leg. It was not long before the poor dog felt the benefit of
the application, and he looked grateful, wagging his little stump of a
tail in thanks. On their way home they met the shepherd coming slowly
along, with a piece of rope in his hand.
"'Oh, Roger,' cried Florence, 'you are not to hang poor old Cap; his
leg is not broken at all.'
"'No, he will serve you yet,' said the vicar.
"'Well, I be main glad to hear it,' said the shepherd, 'and many
thanks to you for going to see him.'
"On the next morning Florence was up early, and the first thing she
did was to take two flannel petticoats to give to the poor woman whose
skirt she had torn up to bathe Cap. Then she went to the dog, and was
delighted to find the swelling of his leg much less. She bathed it
again, and Cap was as grateful as before.
"Two or three days afterwards Florence and her friend were riding
together, when they came up to Roger and his sheep. This time Cap was
watching the sheep, though he was lying quite still, and pretending to
be asleep. When he heard the voice of Florence speaking to his master,
who was portioning out the usual food, his tail wagged and his eyes
sparkled, but he did not get up, for he was on duty. The shepherd
stopped his work, and as he glanced at the dog with a merry laugh,
said, 'Do look at the dog, Miss; he be so pleased to hear your voice.'
Cap's tail went faster and faster. 'I be glad,' continued the old man,
'I did not hang him. I be greatly obliged to you, Miss, and the vicar,
for what you did. But for you I would have hanged the best dog I ever
had in my life.'"
A girl who was made so happy in saving the life of an animal would
naturally be interested to save human beings. Occasionally her family
passed a season in London, and here, instead of giving much time
to concerts or parties, she would visit hospitals and benevolent
institutions. When the family travelled in Egypt, she attended several
sick Arabs, who recovered under her hands. They doubtless thought the
English girl was a saint sent down from heaven.
The more she felt drawn toward the sick, the more she felt the need
of study, and the more she saw the work that refined women could do in
the hospitals. The Sisters of Charity were standing by sick-beds; why
could there not be Protestant sisters? When they travelled in Germany,
France, and Italy, she visited infirmaries, asylums, and hospitals,
carefully noting the treatment given in each.
Finally she determined to spend some months at Kaiserwerth, near
Dusseldorf, on the Rhine, in Pastor Fliedner's great Lutheran
hospital. He had been a poor clergyman, the leader of a scanty flock,
whose church was badly in debt. A man of much enterprise and warm
heart, he could not see his work fail for lack of means; so he set
out among the provinces, to tell the needs of his little parish.
He collected funds, learned much about the poverty and ignorance
of cities, preached in some of the prisons, because interested in
criminals, and went back to his loyal people.
But so poor were they that they could not meet the yearly expenses, so
he determined to raise an endowment fund. He visited Holland and Great
Britain, and secured the needed money.
In England, in 1832, he became acquainted with Elizabeth Fry. How one
good life influences another to the end of time! When he went back to
Germany his heart was aglow with a desire to help humanity.
He at once opened an asylum for discharged prison-women. He saw how
almost impossible it was for those who had been in prison to obtain
situations. Then he opened a school for the children of such as worked
in factories, for he realized how unfit for citizenship are those who
grow up in ignorance. He did not have much money, but he seemed able
to obtain what he really needed. Then he opened a hospital; a home for
insane women; a home of rest for his nurses, or for those who needed
a place to live after their work was done. Soon the "Deaconesses" at
Kaiserwerth became known the country over. Among the wildest Norwegian
mountains we met some of these Kaiserwerth nurses, refined, educated
ladies, getting in summer a new lease of life for their noble labors.
This Protestant sisterhood consists now of about seven hundred
sisters, at about two hundred stations, the annual expense being about
$150,000. What a grand work for one man, with no money, the pastor of
a very humble church!
Into this work of Pastor Fliedner, Florence Nightingale heartily
entered. Was it strange taste for a pretty and wealthy young woman,
whose life had been one of sunshine and happiness? It was a saintlike
taste, and the world is rendered a little like Paradise by the
presence of such women. Back in London the papers were full of
the great exhibition of 1851, but she was more interested in her
Kaiserwerth work than to be at home. When she had finished her course
of instruction, Pastor Fliedner said, since he had been director
of that institution no one had ever passed so distinguished an
examination, or shown herself so thoroughly mistress of all she had
On her return to Lea Hurst, she could not rest very long, while there
was so much work to be done in the world. In London, a hospital
for sick governesses was about to fail, from lack of means and poor
management. Nobody seemed very deeply interested for these overworked
teachers. But Miss Nightingale was interested, and leaving her lovely
home, she came to the dreary house in Harley Street, where she gave
her time and her fortune for several years. Her own frail health
sank for a time from the close confinement, but she had seen the
institution placed on a sure foundation, and prosperous.
The Crimean War had begun. England had sent out ship-loads of men to
the Black Sea, to engage in war with Russia. Little thought seemed to
have been taken, in the hurry and enthusiasm of war, to provide proper
clothing or food for the men in that changing climate. In the desolate
country there was almost no means of transportation, and men and
animals suffered from hunger. After the first winter cholera broke
out, and in one camp twenty men died in twenty-four hours.
Matters grew from bad to worse. William Howard Russell, the _Times_
correspondent, wrote home to England: "It is now pouring rain,--the
skies are black as ink,--the wind is howling over the staggering
tents,--the trenches are turned into dykes,--in the tents the water
is sometimes a foot deep,--our men have not either warm or
waterproof clothing,--they are out for twelve hours at a time in the
trenches,--they are plunged into the inevitable miseries of a winter
campaign,--and not a soul seems to care for their comfort, or even
for their lives. These are hard truths, but the people of England must
hear them. They must know that the wretched beggar who wanders
about the streets of London in the rain, leads the life of a prince,
compared with the British soldiers who are fighting out here for their
"The commonest accessories of a hospital are wanting; there is not
the least attention paid to decency or cleanliness; the stench
is appalling; the fetid air can barely struggle out to taint the
atmosphere, save through the chinks in the walls and roofs; and, for
all I can observe, these men die without the least effort being made
to save them. There they lie, just as they were let gently down on the
ground by the poor fellows, their comrades, who brought them on their
backs from the camp with the greatest tenderness, but who are not
allowed to remain with them. The sick appear to be tended by the sick,
and the dying by the dying."
During the rigorous winter of 1854, with snow three feet thick, many
were frozen in their tents. Out of nearly forty-five thousand, over
eighteen thousand were reported in the hospitals. The English nation
became aroused at this state of things, and in less than two weeks
seventy-five thousand dollars poured into the Times office for the
suffering soldiers. A special commissioner, Mr. Macdonald, was sent to
the Crimea with shirts, sheets, flannels, and necessary food.
But one of the greatest of all needs was woman's hand and brain, in
the dreadful suffering and the confusion. The testimony of the world
thus far has been that men everywhere need the help of women, and
women everywhere need the help of men. Right Honorable Sydney Herbert,
the Secretary of War, knew of but one woman who could bring order
and comfort to those far-away hospitals, and that woman was Miss
Nightingale. She had made herself ready at Kaiserwerth for a great
work, and now a great work was ready for her.
But she was frail in health, and was it probable that a rich and
refined lady would go thousands of miles from her kindred, to live
in feverish wards where there were only men? A true woman dares do
anything that helps the world.
Mr. Herbert wrote her, Oct. 15: "There is, as far as I know, only one
person in England capable of organizing and directing such a plan, and
I have been several times on the point of asking you if you would
be disposed to make the attempt. That it will be difficult to form
a corps of nurses, no one knows better than yourself.... I have this
simple question to put to you: Could you go out yourself, and take
charge of everything? It is, of course, understood that you will have
absolute authority over all the nurses, unlimited power to draw on the
government for all you judge necessary to the success of your mission;
and I think I may assure you of the co-operation of the medical
staff. Your personal qualities, your knowledge, and your authority in
administrative affairs, all fit you for this position."
It was a strange coincidence that on that same day, Oct. 15, Miss
Nightingale, her heart stirred for the suffering soldiers, had written
a letter to Mr. Herbert, offering her services to the government. A
few days later the world read, with moistened eyes, this letter from
the war office: "Miss Nightingale, accompanied by thirty-four nurses,
will leave this evening. Miss Nightingale, who has, I believe, greater
practical experience of hospital administration and treatment than any
other lady in this country, has, with a self-devotion for which I have
no words to express my gratitude, undertaken this noble but arduous
The heart of the English nation followed the heroic woman. Mrs.
Jameson wrote: "It is an undertaking wholly new to our English
customs, much at variance with the usual education given to women in
this country. If it succeeds, it will be the true, the lasting glory
of Florence Nightingale and her band of devoted assistants, that they
have broken down a Chinese wall of prejudices,--religious, social,
professional,--and have established a precedent which will, indeed,
multiply the good to all time." She did succeed, and the results can
scarcely be overestimated.
As the band of nurses passed through France, hotel-keepers would take
no pay for their accommodation; poor fisherwomen at Boulogne struggled
for the honor of carrying their baggage to the railway station. They
sailed in the _Vectis_ across the Mediterranean, reaching Scutari,
Nov. 5, the day of the battle of Inkerman.
They found in the great Barrack Hospital, which had been lent to the
British by the Turkish government, and in another large hospital near
by, about four thousand men. The corridors were filled with two rows
of mattresses, so close that two persons could scarcely walk between
them. There was work to be done at once.
One of the nurses wrote home, "The whole of yesterday one could only
forget one's own existence, for it was spent, first in sewing the
men's mattresses together, and then in washing them, and assisting the
surgeons, when we could, in dressing their ghastly wounds after their
five days' confinement on board ship, during which space their wounds
had not been dressed. Hundreds of men with fever, dysentery, and
cholera (the wounded were the smaller portion) filled the wards in
succession from the overcrowded transports."
Miss Nightingale, calm and unobtrusive, went quietly among the men,
always with a smile of sympathy for the suffering. The soldiers often
wept, as for the first time in months, even years, a woman's hand
adjusted their pillows, and a woman's voice soothed their sorrows.
Miss Nightingale's pathway was not an easy one. Her coming did not
meet the general approval of military or medical officials. Some
thought women would be in the way; others felt that their coming was
an interference. Possibly some did not like to have persons about who
would be apt to tell the truth on their return to England. But with
good sense and much tact she was able to overcome the disaffection,
using her almost unlimited power with discretion.
As soon as the wounded were attended to, she established an invalid's
kitchen, where appetizing food could be prepared,--one of the
essentials in convalescence. Here she overlooked the proper cooking
for eight hundred men who could not eat ordinary food. Then she
established a laundry. The beds and shirts of the men were in a filthy
condition, some wearing the ragged clothing in which they were brought
down from the Crimea. It was difficult to obtain either food or
clothing, partly from the immense amount of "red tape" in official
Miss Nightingale seemed to be everywhere. Dr. Pincoffs said: "I
believe that there never was a severe case of any kind that escaped
her notice; and sometimes it was wonderful to see her at the bedside
of a patient who had been admitted perhaps but an hour before, and
of whose arrival one would hardly have supposed it possible she could
already be cognizant."
She aided the senior chaplain in establishing a library and
school-room, and in getting up evening lectures for the men. She
supplied books and games, wrote letters for the sick, and forwarded
their little savings to their home-friends.
For a year and a half, till the close of the war, she did a wonderful
work, reducing the death-rate in the Barrack Hospital from sixty per
cent to a little above one per cent. Said the _Times_ correspondent:
"Wherever there is disease in its most dangerous form, and the hand of
the spoiler distressingly nigh, there is that incomparable woman sure
to be seen; her benignant presence is an influence for good comfort
even amid the struggles of expiring nature. She is a 'ministering
angel,' without any exaggeration, in these hospitals, and as her
slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's
face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical
officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have
settled down upon these miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed,
alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.
"With the heart of a true woman and the manner of a lady, accomplished
and refined beyond most of her sex, she combines a surprising calmness
of judgment and promptitude and decision of character. The popular
instinct was not mistaken, which, when she set out from England on her
mission of mercy, hailed her as a heroine; I trust she may not earn
her title to a higher, though sadder, appellation. No one who has
observed her fragile figure and delicate health can avoid misgivings
lest these should fail."
One of the soldiers wrote home: "She would speak to one and another,
and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it to all, you
know, for we lay there by hundreds; but we could kiss her shadow as it
fell, and lay our heads on our pillows again content." Another wrote
home: "Before she came there was such cussin' and swearin', and after
that it was as holy as a church." No wonder she was called the "Angel
of the Crimea." Once she was prostrated with fever, but recovered
after a few weeks.
Finally the war came to an end. London was preparing to give Miss
Nightingale a royal welcome, when, lo! she took passage by design on a
French steamer, and reached Lea Hurst, Aug. 15, 1856, unbeknown to
any one. There was a murmur of disappointment at first, but the
people could only honor all the more the woman who wished no blare of
trumpets for her humane acts.
Queen Victoria sent for her to visit her at Balmoral, and presented
her with a valuable jewel; a ruby-red enamel cross on a white field,
encircled by a black band with the words, "Blessed are the merciful."
The letters V. R., surmounted by a crown in diamonds, are impressed
upon the centre of the cross. Green enamel branches of palm, tipped
with gold, form the framework of the shield, while around their stems
is a riband of the blue enamel with the single word "Crimea." On
the top are three brilliant stars of diamonds. On the back is an
inscription written by the Queen. The Sultan sent her a magnificent
bracelet, and the government, $250,000, to found the school for nurses
at St. Thomas' Hospital.
Since the war, Miss Nightingale has never been in strong health,
but she has written several valuable books. Her _Hospital Notes_,
published in 1859, have furnished plans for scores of new hospitals.
Her _Notes on Nursing_, published in 1860, of which over one hundred
thousand have been sold, deserve to be in every home. She is the most
earnest advocate of sunlight and fresh air.
She says: "An extraordinary fallacy is the dread of night air. What
air can we breathe at night but night air? The choice is between pure
night air from without, and foul night air from within. Most people
prefer the latter,--an unaccountable choice. What will they say if it
be proved true that fully _one-half of all the disease we suffer from,
is occasioned by people sleeping with their windows shut?_ An open
window most nights of the year can never hurt any one. In great cities
night air is often the best and purest to be had in the twenty-four
"The five essentials, for healthy houses," she says, are "pure air,
pure water, efficient drainage, cleanliness, and light.... I have
known whole houses and hospitals smell of the sink. I have met just as
strong a stream of sewer air coming up the back staircase of a grand
London house, from the sink, as I have ever met at Scutari; and I have
seen the rooms in that house all ventilated by the open doors, and
the passages all _un_ventilated by the close windows, in order that as
much of the sewer air as possible might be conducted into and retained
in the bed-rooms. It is wonderful!"
Miss Nightingale has much humor, and she shows it in her writings. She
is opposed to dark houses; says they promote scrofula; to old papered
walls, and to carpets full of dust. An uninhabited room becomes full
of foul air soon, and needs to have the windows opened often. She
would keep sick people, or well, forever in the sunlight if possible,
for sunlight is the greatest possible purifier of the atmosphere.
"In the unsunned sides of narrow streets, there is degeneracy and
weakliness of the human race,--mind and body equally degenerating."
Of the ruin wrought by bad air, she says: "Oh, the crowded national
school, where so many children's epidemics have their origin, what
a tale its air-test would tell! We should have parents saying, and
saying rightly, 'I will not send my child to that school; the
air-test stands at "horrid."' And the dormitories of our great
boarding-schools! Scarlet fever would be no more ascribed to
contagion, but to its right cause, the air-test standing at 'Foul.' We
should hear no longer of 'Mysterious Dispensations' and of 'Plague and
Pestilence' being in 'God's hands,' when, so far as we know, He has
put them into our own." She urges much rubbing of the body, washing
with warm water and soap. "The only way I know to _remove_ dust, is to
wipe everything with a damp cloth.... If you must have a carpet, the
only safety is to take it up two or three times a year, instead of
once.... The best wall now extant is oil paint."
"Nursing is an art; and if it is to be made an art, requires as
exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter's or
sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or cold
marble compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of
God's Spirit? Nursing is one of the fine arts; I had almost said, the
finest of the fine arts."
Miss Nightingale has also written _Observations on the Sanitary State
of the Army in India,_ 1863; _Life or Death in India_, read before the
National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, 1873, with
an appendix on _Life or Death by Irrigation_, 1874.
She is constantly doing deeds of kindness. With a subscription sent
recently by her to the Gordon Memorial Fund, she said: "Might but the
example of this great and pure hero be made to tell, in that self no
longer existed to him, but only God and duty, on the soldiers who have
died to save him, and on boys who should live to follow him."
Miss Nightingale has helped to dignify labor and to elevate humanity,
and has thus made her name immortal.
Florence Nightingale died August 13, 1910, at 2 P.M., of heart
failure, at the age of ninety. She had received many distinguished
honors: the freedom of the city of London in 1908, and from King
Edward VII, a year previously, a membership in the Order of Merit,
given only to a select few men; such as Field Marshal Roberts, Lord
Kitchener, Alma Tadema, James Bryce, George Meredith, Lords Kelvin and
Lister, and Admiral Togo.
Her funeral was a quiet one, according to her wishes.