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Miss Nightingale with Her Tame Owl Athena, circa 1850 
After a drawing by Parthenope Lady Verney 


1820 1910 





Copyright, 195 1, by Cecil Woodham-Smith. AH rights in 
this book are reserved. It may not be used for dramatic, mo- 
tion-, or talking-picture purposes without written authoriza- 
tion from the holder of these rights. Nor may the book or parts 
thereof be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without 
permission in writing, except in the case of brief quotations 
embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, 
address the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., Trade De- 
partment, 330 West 42d Street, New York 18, New York. 


Published by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 
Printed in the United States of America 



To G. I. W.-S. 


In writing this biography I have been given the opportunity of pre- 
senting what I believe to be a complete picture of Miss Nightingale for 
the first time. 

When Sir Edward Cook wrote his admirable official life immediately 
after Miss Nightingale's death, there was a large body of material which, 
for family and personal reasons, was either not available to him or he 
was asked not to use. He did not, for instance, see the Verney Night- 
ingale papers; he saw only part of the collection I have described as the 
Herbert papers; and there was a great deal of other correspondence of 
which he was asked to make only a limited use. I have been fortunate 
enough to be given access to this material. 

My thanks are due, first and foremost, to Sir Harry Verney, Bart., 
who most generously placed at my disposal the very important Verney 
Nightingale papers comprising the domestic correspondence and private 
papers of Aliss Nightingale's mother, Frances, her sister Parthenope, 
Lady Verney, and the Nightingale family circle. I am deeply indebted 
to Lord Herbert for allowing me to use unpublished material from the 
Herbert papers, establishing, among other important points, the true 
nature of the relationship between Miss Nightingale and Lord and Lady 
Herbert of Lea. I should like to thank the late Mrs. Salmon, Sir Harry 
Verney's sister, for unpublished letters and private information, and I 
owe very much to the late Lady Stephen, not only for unpublished let- 
ters and reminiscences, but for her kindness, too, in procuring me access 
to family papers. 

I am indebted to Sir Ralph Verney, Bart., for the correspondence of 
his father, Mr. Frederick Verney, with Miss Nightingale; to Sir Maurice 
Bonham-Carter for permission to make use of family papers; and to 
Mr. Leigh Smith for information of importance from the Leigh Smith 
papers. Sir Shane Leslie has allowed me to use two letters from his 
biography of Cardinal Manning, and Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton 
have kindly given me permission to quote extracts from letters pub- 
lished in Miss Elizabeth Haldane's Mrs. Gaskell a?id Her Friends. I 

should like also to thank Mr. James Pope-Hennessy and Mrs. Vaughan 
Nash. I owe, as every biographer of Miss Nightingale must owe, a debt 
to Sir Edward Cook, who in his official life performed the task of 
tracing a path through the mass of the Nightingale papers — the enor- 
mous collection of private and official letters and documents left by 
Miss Nightingale at her death and deposited at the British Museum in 
1940. 1 should Hke to thank the Museum authorities, through whose co- 
operation I was enabled to examine the Nightingale papers at the Na- 
tional Library of Wales when, during the war, it was not possible to 
see manuscripts in London. Finally I should like to record my obliga- 
tion to Mr. Michael Sadleir, without whose support, criticism, and con- 
stant assistance this book could not have been written. 

Cecil Woodham-Smith 

List of Illustrations 

Miss Nightingale with her Tame Owl Athena, 

circa 1850. 

After a drawing by Parthenope Lady Verney. 


Miss Nightingale and Mr. Bracebridge Surveying 

Sebastopol from Cathcart's Heights, May, 1855. 

After a drawing by Parthenope Lady Verney. 

Facing page 1^4. 

Miss Nightingale, 1859. 

From the bust by Sir John Steell. 

Facifig page 13s 

Sir Harry Verney, Bart., and Miss Nightingale 
on the Lawn of Claydon House, 1889. 
Facing page 166 

The Claydon photograph and the pen and ink 
drawing reproduced on page 7 are included by 
kind permission of Sir Harry Verney, Bart. 



to call a girl Florence. Within fifty years there would be thousands 
of girls all over the world christened Florence in honor of this baby, but 
in the summer of 1820, when Fanny Nightingale fixed on the name for 
her daughter, it was new. 

Novelty was the fashion in 1820. Europe was still rejoicing in the 
liberty which followed the end of the Napoleonic wars. Years of re- 
striction had bred a longing for change, and now that freedom to travel 
had returned the roads and cities of Europe were thronged with travelers. 
Fanny and William Nightingale had been traveling in Europe since 
their marriage in 1 8 1 8. They already had one daughter, bom in Naples 
in 1 8 1 9 and christened by the Greek name for her birthplace, Parthenope. 
For her second confinement Fanny chose Florence. She loved gaiety, 
and Florence had the reputation of being the gayest city in Europe. The 
Nightingales took a large furnished villa, the Villa Colombaia near the 
Porta Romana, where a second girl was bom on May 12, 1820. Fanny 
decided she too should be named after her birthplace, and on July 4, 
1820, she was christened Florence in the drawing-room of the villa. 

It would have been better if Florence had been a boy. Though Wil- 
liam Edward Nightingale, or as he was always called W. E. N., was rich, 
there were complications attached to his property. He had inherited 
from an uncle, and, under his uncle's Will, if W. E. N. should have no 
son, the property passed on his death to his sister and next to her eldest 
son. However, the Nightingales felt no anxiety. Not all W. E. N.'s for- 
tune was involved. He had inherited when a minor; a lead mine dis- 
covered on the property had greatly increased its value, and during his 
minority a large sum had been invested on his behalf which was ab- 
solutely his. The Nightingales had been married for two years, and 

Fanny had already had two healthy children. The next baby would be a 

Though they were both handsome, agreeable, and intelligent, they 
were not a well-matched couple. Only a few months before their en- 
gagement Fanny had been anxious to marry another man; and she was 
six years older than W. E. N. In 1820 she was thirty-two, extremely 
beautiful, generous, and extravagant. She had great vitality, was inde- 
fatigable in the pursuit of pleasure, never tired unless bored, always good 
natured unless thwarted, always kind unless her obstinacy were aroused. 
In the art of making people comfortable, in the arrangement of a house, 
the production of good dinners, she possessed genius. She intended, 
when she returned to England, to make herself a position as a hostess. 

She came from a remarkable family. Her grandfather, Samuel Smith, 
had been a well-known character, celebrated for the riches he had 
amassed as a London merchant and for his humanitarian principles. He 
had come to the assistance of Flora Macdonald when she was a penniless 
prisoner in the Tower in spite of the fact that he was a strong Hanove- 
rian. To show his sympathy with the struggle of the American colonists 
for freedom in the War of Independence he had relinquished his title 
to a large part of the city of Savannah. His son William Smith, Fanny's 
father, devoted his wealth to collecting pictures and fighting lost causes. 
For forty-six years he sat in the House of Commons fighting for the 
weak, the unpopular, and the oppressed. He was a leading Abolitionist; 
he championed the sweated factory workers; he did battle for the rights 
of Dissenters and Jews. 

His children did not inherit his altruism. At Parndon Hall in Essex, 
in his London house in Park Street, his political and humanitarian ac- 
tivities were carried on against a background of ceaseless junketings. 
With tireless energy the young Smiths danced, went on pleasure parties 
and picnics, played parlor games, got up amateur theatricals. There 
were ten children, five sons and five daughters, all good looking, all 
with immense zest for living and amazing health. William Smith him- 
self at eighty wrote that he had "no recollection whatever of any bodily 
pain or illness." None of his ten children died before the age of sixty- 
nine, six lived to be over eighty, and Fanny lived to be ninety-two. 
Looking back on her youth fifty years later, Fanny described family 
life as a "hurly burly." "We Smiths never thought of anything all day 
long but our own ease and pleasure," she wrote. 

Fanny was the beauty of the family; yet Fanny did not marry. Her 
sister, Anne, married an immensely rich Mr. Nicholson of Waverley 
Abbey near Farnham, the house which gave Scott the title for the 

Waverley novels; her sister, Joanna, married Mr. Bonham Carter, eldest 
son of a well-known Hampshire family, and settled near Winchester. 
Fanny remained at home with Patty and Julia who held "advanced" 
views and suffered from nerves. Association with her father's friends 
had left its mark on Fanny; she had acquired a passion for good con- 
versation, "had a preference for clever elderly gentlemen, and was com- 
paratively indifferent to gay young ones", and despised the junketings 
of Parndon. She had already "arrived at the age when the world acquits 
those parents who suffer their daughters to act for themselves," when, 
in 1816, she fell in love with the Honorable James Sinclair, a younger 
son of the Earl of Caithness. His character was allowed to be good and 
his intentions disinterested, but he possessed no income beyond the pay 
of a captain in the Ross-shire Militia, and no expectations. In immense 
letters, full of worldly wisdom, kindness, and unanswerable common 
sense, William Smith pointed out the absurdity of a woman of Fanny's 
habits contemplating life on an income of scarcely four hundred pounds 
sterling a year and declined, in justice to his other children, to assume 
the support of her future family. Fanny pleaded in vain that her affec- 
tions were entirely given away and that losing James would quite break 
her down. By 1 8 1 7 the affair was at an end. 

Fanny was now nearly thirty, and William Edward Nightingale was 
nearly twenty-four. She had known him since he was a boy; he had 
been at school with her younger brother Octavius and had been coming 
to the house for years, an awkward lanky schoolboy, immensely tall, im- 
mensely thin, with a habit of always standing upright propped against 
mantelpieces and doors because he disliked folding himself into a chair. 

Originally his name had been Shore, but at twenty-one, when he 
came into the fortune left him by his uncle, he changed his name to 
Nightingale. He went up to Cambridge with an income of between seven 
and eight thousand pounds sterling a year, and Cambridge transformed 
him. He proved, though lazy, to be clever. He gained a reputation for 
wit. His looks improved; his height and a remote and gentle manner gave 
him distinction. He developed into a dilettante, rich, appreciative, in- 
dolent, charming. 

It was an unexpected result. Wild blood ran in W. E. N.'s veins. The 
uncle, his mother's brother, from whom he inherited, had been an ec- 
centric sporting squire, known throughout Derbyshire as mad Peter 
Nightingale. Peter Nightingale had been a dare-devil horseman, a rider 
in midnight steeplechases, a layer of wagers, given to hard drinking and 
low company. 

In 1 81 7 W. E. N. became engaged to Fanny. He was very much in 


love. Fanny's rich beauty warmed his reserved temperament, and for a 
short time he thawed. The period was brief. Normally, as Fanny wrote 
later, "Mr. Nightingale is seldom in the melting mood." 

Fanny's family did not approve. They were fond of W. E. N., but 
they had no faith in his character. He was clever but he was indolent, 
hated making up his mind, hated taking action — he was not the hus- 
band for Fanny. Within six months they were married and had gone 

Fanny believed she would be able to mold W. E. N. She intended 
him to become one of the prosperous, cultivated, and liberal-minded 
country gentlemen who played an important part in English public life. 
They would have a beautiful house, a fine library, maintain an interest 
in the arts, and entertain. 

After nearly three years in Italy Fanny began to feel it was time 
they came home. W. E. N., she wrote, would have been content to idle 
in Italy for the rest of his life. As long as he had books and conversation 
he was indifferent to other pleasures. However, Fanny prevailed, and 
in 1 82 1, when Florence was a year old, the Nightingales returned to 

The first necessity was to house themselves. The Nightingales had no 
family place. Peter Nightingale had inhabited a tumbledown building, 
half manor, half farm, totally inadequate for the needs of Fanny, 
W. E. N., and two babies accompanied by maids, footmen, valet, coach- 
man, and cook. 

Before they left Italy, W. E. N. had decided to abandon the old house 
and had made a flying trip to England to have work started on a new 
house on higher ground. He was an amateur architect and himself pro- 
duced the designs from which the plans were drawn. He gave his 
house mullions, a steep pitched roof, a vaguely Gothic air. The effect 
is not unpleasing, and the situation of the house is unrivalled. Lea Hurst 
stands high above a rolling country, terraced gardens fall steeply away 
on every side, and the view from the windows is immensely wide, so 
that the house, as Mrs. Gaskell wrote, seems to be floating in air. 

But no sooner was Lea Hurst finished than Fanny realized she had 
made a mistake. As a family place Lea Hurst was inadequate; as a house 
in which to entertain it was impossible. The only attraction was a won- 
derful view. The situation was inaccessible, the house cold. The Night- 
ingales attempted one winter there, and both children got bronchitis. 
Above all. Lea Hurst was much too small. 

Fanny's standards of accommodation descended to her daughter. 
Twenty years later at a dinner-party Florence denied that Lea Hurst 

was anything but a small house. "Why," she said, "it has only fifteen 

By 1823 Fanny had convinced W. E. N. that Lea Hurst, except in 
summer, was impossible. Certainly they would keep up a property 
where the Nightingales had been rooted for generations, but they must 
also have another house, a larger house, and in a warmer part of the 
country than Derbyshire. 

In 1825 W. E. N. bought Embley Park, near Romsey, in Hampshire, 
on the borders of the New Forest. It was a good-sized plain square 
house of the late Georgian period, London was reasonably near, and 
Fanny's two married sisters, Mrs. Nicholson at Waverley Abbey near 
Farnham, and Mrs. Bonham Carter at Fair Oak near Winchester, were 
within easy reach. Above all, in contrast to the uncivilized remoteness 
of Lea Hurst, Embley was in the center of a "good neighborhood." 

By the time Florence was five, the pattern of the Nightingales's life 
was fixed. The summer was passed at Lea Hurst, the remainder of the 
year at Embley Park, and twice a year during the spring and autumn 
seasons a visit was paid to London. Fanny would have liked a house in 
London, but W. E. N. refused. 

He did, however, proceed to turn himself into an English country 
gentleman. He shot, he fished, he hunted, did a great deal for his tenants, 
supported a free school at great expense near Lea Hurst, and in Hamp- 
shire took an active part in local politics. Fanny looked forward to the 
day when he would stand for Parliament. W. E. N. was a Whig and in 
favor of Parliamentary Reform. "How I hate Tories, all Beer and 
Money," he wrote to Fanny in 1830. 

Fanny's life ran smoothly. If she fretted after the son who failed to 
appear, she did not record it. The only shadow was cast by Florence. 
Florence was not an easy child. 

The two little girls were not called by their full names. Florence was 
shortened to Flo, Parthenope to Parthe or Pop. Flo was much the pret- 
tier. Neither of the girls inherited their mother's outstanding beauty, 
but Flo promised to grow up more than ordinarily good looking. She 
was lightly built, singularly graceful, with thick bright chestnut hair 
and a delicate complexion. 

Both Fanny and W, E. N. loved children. All the closely related 
families of the Nightingale circle — Smiths, Shores, Nicholsons, Bonham 
Carters — delighted in children. A stream of cousins spent their holidays 
at Embley and Lea Hurst, and almost invariably Fanny had a couple of 
family babies in the house, enjoying a change of air and being fed up on 
country butter and eggs and cream. "Kiss all babies for me" is a frequent 

ending to the first letters Flo wrote home. Her childhood was filled 
with gardens to play in, ponies to ride, and a succession of dogs, cats, 
and birds to be looked after. 

And yet Flo was not happy. If she had been an ordinary naughty child, 
Fanny would have understood her, but she was not naughty. She was 
strange, passionate, wrong-headed, obstinate, and miserable. 

In an autobiographical note Miss Nightingale records that as a very 
young child she had an obsession that she was not like other people. She 
was a monster. That was her secret which might at any moment be 
found out. Strangers must be avoided, especially children. She worked 
herself into an agony at the prospect of seeing a new face, and to be 
looked at was torture. She doubted her capacity to behave like other 
people and refused to dine downstairs, convinced she would betray 
herself by doing something extraordinary with her knife and fork. 

Realization of the gulf which separated her from everyone round her 
came hand in hand with the dawnings of conscious thought. At first she 
was overwhelmed with terror and guilt. Surely she ought to be like 
everyone else? What might not people do to her if they found out the 
truth? But almost before she had grown out of babyhood, guilt and 
terror were succeeded by discontent. She wrote that as early as the age 
of six she was aware that the rich smooth life of Embley and Lea Hurst 
was utterly distasteful to her. She ceased to be terrified; she resisted, 
disliked, and despised it. 

She began, like many imaginative children, to escape into dreams. 
She told herself stories in which she played a heroine's part, and for 
hours at a time transferred herself completely to a dream world. 

Though she shrank from meeting people, she was not self-sufficient. 
She was a child who craved for sympathy and attached herself with 
embarrassing vehemence to anyone whom she felt to be sympathetic. 
Her childhood was a series of passions — for her governess Miss Christie, 
for W. E. N.'s younger sister "Aunt Mai," for a beautiful older cousin. 
When Miss Christie left, when Aunt Mai married, when the beautiful 
cousin got tired of her devotion, the violence of her feelings made 
her physically ill. 

She did not attach herself to her mother. The companion of her 
childhood was W. E. N. Among the Verney Nightingale papers is pre- 
served a sketch by Julia Smith, Fanny's unmarried younger sister, of 
W. E. N. and the two little girls. The trio have their backs to the artist. 
W. E. N., in frock-coat and top-hat, is in the middle, tall and thin as a 
hop pole; the two children, one on each side, wear pantalettes and broad 
brimmed hats. Parthe, as Aunt Julia points out in a note scribbled below 


the sketch, clings to her father's coat-tail while Flo "independently 
stumps along by herself." 

W. E. N. was a man to enchant a child. He loved the curious and the 
odd, and he loved jokes; he had a mind stored with information and 
the leisure to impart it. He had great patience and he was never patron- 
izing. Partly as a result of marrying Fanny, partly by temperament, he 
was a lonely man, and it was with intense pleasure he discovered intel- 
lectual companionship in his daughters. Both were quick; both were un- 
usually responsive; both learned easily, but the more intelligent, just as 
she was the prettier, was Flo. 

It was a difficult situation for Parthe. She was the elder, the plainer, 
the less intelligent, the less remarkable. Flo, strange, passionate, uncom- 
fortable little thing, had something about her which struck people as 
exceptional. Flo dominated. Flo led, and Parthe followed, but Parthe 
followed resentfully. She was possessive toward Flo, she adored Flo, 
but she was bitterly envious of Flo. Fanny made a practice of sending 
the children to stay with their relatives separately. In 1830 Flo wrote 
to Parthe from Fair Oaks: "Pray dear Pop, let us love each other better 

than we have done. It is the will of God and Mamma particularly de- 
sires it." 

W. E. N.'s plan for their education brought about the final division 
between the girls. To find a governess proved impossible. The world 
did not contain a woman who united the intellectual equipment re- 
quired by W. E. N. with the standard of elegance and breeding de- 
manded by Fanny. In 1832 he determined to teach the girls himself. A 
governess was engaged for music and drawing, and the girls learned 
Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, history, and philosophy from 
their father. The time-table was formidable and W. E. N. exacting; the 
girls were required to work long hours, and Parthe rebelled. She left 
her sister struggling with Greek verbs and joined her mother or escaped 
into the garden. 

Miss Nightingale and her father were deeply in sympathy. Both had 
the same regard for accuracy, the same cast of mind at once humorous 
and gloomy, the same passion for abstract speculation. 

Parthe did not want to toil at Greek, but she resented the companion- 
ship between her father and sister, and in the summer of 1834 she wrote 
him a protest. He replied in a characteristic letter — involved, vague, and 
curiously reminiscent of a soliloquy in a poetic drama. "My dear Pop — 
not one word . . . among my waking dreams I sometimes fancy that 
you and I have not made half as much of each other's society as we 
might have done. ... I have more subjects than one in hand, or in 
mind, which are likely enough to lend themselves to our future inter- 
course. In the meantime I feel that you are satiating yourself (perhaps 
usefully) with many matters which suit your infantine and merry days 
of 15 — or is it 16? — and, thro' a nervousness of interfering with them, I 
curtail my letter to a simple expression of my rejoicing at your merri- 
ments and your happiness. — W. E. N." 

Change of subject did not produce power to concentrate in Parthe. 
She continued to be bored, resentful, and cross, and W. E. N. became 
angry with her. In 1835 Parthe wrote to him when he Avas in London. 
"Flo in bed, coughing, told me all. ... I am properly punished, if you 
knew how very bitterly I feel your messages through her and your ac- 
knowledgment in your own letter, that you have ceased to care enough 
for my society, to be sorry I behave so ill." 

To send messages of reproof to an elder sister through a younger did 
not make the elder less jealous, but it made the younger self-righteous. 
At fifteen Florence could be sanctimonious. "I hope our matutinal mo- 
ments may not have been quite unprofitably spent, though we may not 
have improved our minds as we ought," she wrote to Fanny from the 

Isle of Wight in 1835. Her correspondence tended to be a record of her 
own good deeds. She had learned to eat sandwiches, which was an effort; 
she had practised curling her hair, as her mother desired; she had been 
devoting most of her spare time to looking after a baby cousin — "Dear 
little Robert I am sure I never love him the less for being ugly." By 
the time Florence was sixteen, the family had divided. She was 
W. E. N.'s companion in the library; Parthe was Fanny's companion in 
the drawing-room. Fanny was always busy; there were flowers to ar- 
range, an increasing number of friends to be entertained, and innumer- 
able letters to be written to the vast circle of the Nightingale family's 

On Florence's fourteenth birthday W. E. N. calculated she had al- 
ready twenty-seven first cousins and nearly two dozen aunts and uncles 
by blood and marriage. In the center of this circle were the energetic 
handsome Smiths, who had the strongest possible family feelings. As 
each married, the circle was enlarged by the addition of a whole new 
family. Husbands of aunts, wives of uncles brought in their brothers 
and sisters and their wives and husbands; even the brothers and sisters of 
grandmothers with their train of children and grandchildren were cor- 
responded with, visited, kept informed, consulted. With the single ex- 
ception of Fanny's eldest brother, who maintained domestic arrange- 
ments which were described as decidedly improper, not one of the huge 
clan was anything but respectable and prosperous. Enormous numbers 
of letters were written. Not only major events, weddings, births, deaths, 
but the choice of a place for a holiday, the advisability of taking a holi- 
day at all, the dismissal of a coachman or cook, the selection of a dress or 
a carpet provoked correspondence and consultations with aunts, uncles, 
cousins, and grandmothers. 

To Miss Nightingale letters and consultations were an intolerable 
waste of time. "I craved," she wrote, "for some regular occupation, for 
something worth doing instead of frittering time away on useless trifles." 
Parthe had a large correspondence and numerous intimate friends among 
her cousins; but to Florence only three families were of importance — 
the Nicholsons of Waverley Abbey, the Bonham Carters of Fair Oak, 
and the family of Aunt Mai, now Mrs. Sam Smith of Combe Hurst, 

Aunt Mai was a person of importance to the Nightingales. She was 
W. E. N.'s sister; and, should he have no son, the property would pass 
to her. In 1827 she married Fanny's younger brother, Sam Smith. It 
was then seven years since the birth of Florence, Fanny was nearly 
forty, and there was no sign of another child. It was almost certain that, 

if Aunt Mai had a son, he would eventually inherit Embley and Lea 
Hurst, and the marriage which linked the two families more closely to- 
gether was welcomed. In 1831 a son was bom, and Fanny, in whom all 
hope of another child must now have died, behaved admirably. The 
situation was not easy for her. Not only was Aunt Mai mother of the 
heir Fanny had failed to produce, she was also the object of the ex- 
travagant devotion of Fanny's difficult little daughter Flo. Nevertheless, 
Fanny's affectionate relations with Aunt Mai were unclouded. Aunt 
Mai's son was accepted as the heir and given a privileged position in the 
Nightingale family. Florence was known to have a special gift with 
babies, and when he was a few days old he was laid in her arms: "My 
boy Shore," the eleven-year-old Flo proudly called him. Shore was 
recognized as being her special property, and devotion to Shore, pride 
in him, and Shore's devotion to her became one of the most important 
relationships in her life. 

So Florence grew into girlhood in a life that seemed all smoothness 
and peace. At Embley and Lea Hurst there were comfort, security, and 
affection; there were intelligence and companionship. And yet beneath 
the surface there was no peace; Florence was brought up in a hot-house 
of emotion. 

It was the result of a literary fashion. The wave of romanticism which 
had swept Europe had penetrated English domestic life, and ordinary 
wives and mothers were reproducing the behavior of the heroines of 
Byron and Chateaubriand. Since a rigid respectability governed their 
behavior, their emotions had to be expended on the commonplace events 
of everyday life. Thenaughtiness of a child, a misunderstanding between 
friends, the non-arrival of a letter necessitated smelling salts, a darkened 
room, a soothing draught. Women prided themselves on being martyrs 
to their excessive sensibility, and "delicacy" was universal. Fanny, Parthe, 
and Florence were all considered "delicate," though Fanny lived to be 
ninety-two, Florence ninety, and Parthe seventy-five. 

Miss Nightingale grew up in this age and was indelibly impressed 
by it. Though her extraordinary mind owed its quality to uncom- 
promising clarity and realism, her character contained the contradiction 
that she was also emotional, prone to exaggeration, and abnormally 
sensitive. The atmosphere in which she was brought up prevented her 
from achieving balance; throughout her life, when feelings were in 
question, she entered another world — violent, exaggerated, and un- 

In the summer of 1834 she and Parthe were at Cowes with their 
governess, and W. E. N. wrote to tell them he had been invited to 


stand for Parliament as candidate for the Andover division. The girls' 
emotion approached hysteria. "What extraordinary news you have 
sent us," wrote the young Flo. "It quite convulsed our quiet Uttle 
world. . . . Parthe, after a deep reading of the letter in which she 
neither saw nor heard anything which passed around, screamed out 
'Papa is going to be M.P. for Andover!' Miss White and I stood aghast! 
... I could not sleep after it. I slept so lightly that I had the feeling 
on my mind that something very extraordinary, or dreadful, had hap- 
pened and kept starting up to find out what it was." 

W. E. N.'s candidature for Andover proved a turning-point in the 
Nightingales' Uves. He was a fervent supporter of the Reform Bill of 
1832, and had refused to enter political hfe until the Bill became law, 
when he believed a new age of political integrity would dawn. The 
election, in 1835, was the first to be held at Andover under the new 
franchise, and he entered the contest full of enthusiasm and hope. Fanny 
saw her plans maturing. They were to have a house in London. 

He was not only defeated but profoundly disillusioned. The seat 
was lost because he refused to bribe the voters. A main object of the 
Reform Bill had been to end the purchase of votes, but the newly en- 
franchised electors of Andover took the view that the possession of a 
vote had always meant hard cash and that the extended franchise merely 
brought what had been the perquisite of a few within reach of the 
many. W. E. N.'s first contact with practical politics left him disgusted, 
and he resolved never to be persuaded to attempt an entry into political 
life again. 

Fanny was defeated. W. E. N. ceased to adapt himself to the character 
she had planned. He gave up hunting and took long ambling rides in 
the New Forest; avoided political meetings and attended congresses of 
learned societies; spent more time teaching Florence and took to passing 
the greater part of each day in his library. An immensely tall desk was 
made for him, and he read standing up, he wrote standing up, he 
meditated standing up, contemplating for hours at a stretch such abstract 
subjects as the nature of moral impulses, the relation of ethics to aes- 
thetics, and the proofs of the existence of an immortal soul in mortal 

He would have been content to pass his life in tranquility, allowing 
day after day to sHde gently by. His natural home, he was fond of 
saying, was in "the quiet and the shadows." But life in the quiet and the 
shadows was unbearable to Fanny. She had been forced to give up her 
plans for W. E. N., but she did not resign herself. She transferred her 
plans and her ambitions to her daughters. 


They were sixteen and seventeen. Next year, or the year after at 
latest, the girls must be launched in society. Since there was to be no 
house in London, everything must be done from Embley. The history 
of Lea Hurst repeated itself. The house was discovered to be entirely 
inadequate. Six more bedrooms must be added, new kitchens built, the 
exterior remodeled, the interior completely redecorated. 

W. E. N. was tempted. He had made a certain reputation with Lea 
Hurst and contemplated with pleasure the task of getting out designs 
to convert the Georgian plainness of Embley to a fashionable Gothic 
outline. The expense was bound to be considerable, and Fanny pro- 
posed that, while the alterations were carried out, they should make an 
extended tour abroad. It would do the girls good to see something of 
the world. They could hear music, practise their languages, go to a 
few parties, buy clothes in Paris. Europe was so cheap that the tour 
would be an economy. W. E. N. agreed. He loved traveling, loved 
Europe, had many friends in Italy and France. He got out his own 
design for a traveling carriage, the alterations to Embley were started 
at once, and the Nightingales fixed a date to leave in September, 1837. 

At this moment, in the midst of bustle, plans, discussions, Miss Night- 
ingale received a call from God. 

It is possible to know a very great deal about Miss Nightingale's inner 
life and feelings because she had the habit of writing what she called 
"private notes." She was unhappy in her environment, she had no one 
to confide in, and she poured herself out on paper. She hoarded paper 
(every odd scrap, every half sheet was preserved), and a very large 
number of her private notes exists. She wrote them on anything that 
came to her hand — on odd pieces of blotting-paper, on the backs of 
calendars, the margins of letters; sometimes she dated them, sometimes 
not. Sometimes they cover several foolscap pages, sometimes consist of 
one sentence. Occasionally she used a private note as the basis of a letter. 
Frequently she repeated a note several times at different dates with only 
a slight variation in wording. From time to time she also kept diaries; 
but it was in her private notes, written from girlhood to old age, that 
she recorded her true feelings, her secret experiences, and her uncensored 

Her experience was similar to that which came to Joan of Arc. In a 
private note she wrote: "On February 7th, 1837, God spoke to me and 
called me to His service." It was not an inward revelation. She heard, as 
Joan of Arc heard, an objective voice, a voice outside herself, speaking 
to her in human words. 


She was not quite seventeen, and she was already living largely in a 
dream world, which was often more actual to her than the real world. 
But the voices which spoke to her were not a phenomenon of adoles- 
cence. Nearly forty years later, in a private note of 1874, she wrote that 
during her life her "voices" had spoken to her four times. Once on 
February 7, 1837, the date of her call; once in 1853 before going to her 
first post at the Hospital for Poor Gentlewomen in Harley Street; once 
before the Crimea in 1854; and once after Sidney Herbert's death in 

Her path was not made clear. The voices which spoke to Joan told 
her to take a definite course of action; Miss Nightingale was told noth- 

' DO 

ing definite. God had called her to His service, but what form that serv- 
ice was to take she did not know. The idea of nursing did not enter her 
mind. She doctored her dolls; she nursed sick pets; she was especially 
fond of babies. Her protective instincts were strong, but they had not 
yet led her to the knowledge that God had called her to the service of 
the sick. 

Meanwhile she knew herself to be God's, and she was at peace. Her 
call had filled her with confidence and faith. God had spoken to her 
once; presently He would speak to her again. 

On September 8, 1837, the Nightingales crossed from Southampton 
to Le Havre. They took with them Fanny's maid, a courier, and the girls' 
devoted disapproving old nurse, Mrs. Gale. W. E. N. refused to take 
his valet. 




W. E. N. had designed was enormous. Five years later, when he 
lent it to Fanny's sister, it held Mrs. Bonham Carter and six of her 
daughters, besides a tutor and a maid. On the roof were seats for servants 
and for the family to enjoy the air and admire the scenery in fine weather. 
Six horses drew the carriage, ridden by postillions. 

On the morning of September 9 the Nightingales left Le Havre to 
travel through France to Italy. The weather was brilliant; the girls 
sat on the roof; the postillions laughed, sang, and cracked their long 
whips as the carriage lumbered down the straight roads of France. 

Florence was in transports of delight. She kept a diary of the tour 
and recorded that at Chartres she sat all night at her window enchanted 
by the beauty of moonlight on the cathedral. Her head was full of 
legends, and she turned romantic landscapes into the background for 
imaginary dramas. As they approached Narbonne, a lurid sunset 
flamed in the sky, and the city, half hidden by strangely shaped rocks, 
seemed sinister. She shuddered and imagined herself a traveler entering 
a city stricken by plague. 

Yet for all her rhapsodies she remained precise. Each day she noted 
in her diary the exact hours of departure and arrival and the exact dis- 
tance covered. Her letters to her favorite girl cousin, Hilary Bonham 
Carter, were not merely transports, for she was capable of mature 
observation. When they went over the castle at Blaye, she was struck 
by the fact that the custodian, a Napoleonic veteran, "seemed to have 
fought everyone but to feel rancune against none." At Bosuste, a village 
on the French-Spanish border which had had the misfortune to become 
a battleground in the Carlist war, she was impressed not by the horrors 
of war but by "the indifference which misery brings." 

On December 15, 1837, the Nightingales drove into the gay and pretty 
town of Nice. There was a large English colony at Nice, balls, and con- 
certs. With startling suddenness cathedrals, moonlight, and scenery 
vanished from Florence's diary and letters. She developed a passion for 
dancing and wrote to Hilary Bonham Carter that at the biggest ball of the 
season she danced every quadrille. Her letters took on a new tone; she 
began to attempt witticisms and to coin phrases. 

When the time came to leave Nice, on January 8, 1838, she was 
heartbroken. As they climbed up the Corniche, she would not look at 
the famous view or admire the gold and silver lights over the sea. 
She sat inside the carriage shedding tears. "The worst of travelling is that 
you leave people as soon as you have become intimate with them, often 
never to see them again," she wrote in her diary. 

Her tears dried themselves with remarkable speed. The Nightingales 
reached Genoa on January 13, 1838, and on the 17 Florence wrote to 
Hilary Bonham Carter that of all towns in the world Genoa was the 
one she liked best. It was "like an Arabian Nights dream come true." 
In 1838 Genoa was still one of the richest and most splendid cities in 
Europe. Its palaces and gardens, its opera and theatres, its fountains 
and statues, had earned it the name of "Genova la Superba." 

Florence went to more balls, and at "the most splendid ball of the 
season" she had so many partners that she became confused. An officer 
came up and challenged her "in a rage" because, after refusing to dance 
with him, she sat out with someone else and there was an "embrouille- 

On February 14, after giving a large evening party, the Nightingales 
left Genoa for Florence. They halted at Nervi (described by Florence 
in one of her phrases as "a town of palaces inhabited by washerwomen"), 
and again at Pisa, where they went to a ball given by the Grand Duke 
of Tuscany and a morning entertainment which included luncheon and 
an inspection of the Grand Duke's camels. On February 27 they 
reached Florence. 

In 1838, thanks to the liberal policy of the Grand Duke, Florence 
was the intellectual capital of Italy. Fashion and learning united. There 
were parties for Fanny, learned conversaziones for W. E. N., educa- 
tional opportunities for the girls. The Nightingales settled in a hand- 
some suite at the Albergo del Arno, near the Ponte Vecchio. They had 
a salon fifty feet long, a dining-room with a terrace overlooking the 
Arno, and bedrooms which were magnificently (Mrs. Gale, the girls' 
old nurse, said indecently) frescoed. Fanny wrote in March, 1838 to 
her sister Julia Smith that the Grand Duke was "exceedingly dis- 


tinguishing and polite," the balls at the Grand Ducal Palace "exceedingly- 
fine," cards had been sent by the Grand Duke not only for public 
functions but for private entertainments, and Florence had been "much 

Florence became (as she told Hilary Bonham Carter) "music mad." 
The opera in Florence was one of the best in Europe. Grisi and Lablache, 
the two most famous singers of the day, performed there. Florence 
lived for opera, persuaded Fanny to take her three times a week, and 
declared she would like to go every night. But she did more than go into 
transports. With laborious patience she kept a book in which she made 
a detailed comparison, in the form of a table, of the score, libretto, and 
performance of every opera she heard. Instinctively she reached out for 
facts. Transports, ecstasies, were not enough. Her mind demanded 
something hard to bite on, and the romantic extravagance of her emo- 
tion crystallized surprisingly into figures. 

Italy not only gave her music: in Florence she learned an enthusiasm 
for the cause of Italian freedom. Italy had been handed over to Austria, 
the military despot of Europe, by the Congress of Vienna and was being 
crushed into subjection. Like thousands of her contemporaries, Florence 
Nightingale was seized with a passion for Italy and Italian freedom as 
violent as falling in love. To her, as to the Brownings and to George 
Meredith, the cause of Italian freedom was more than a political con- 
viction; it was a religion, a faith, the embodiment of the struggle of 
good against the powers of darkness. W. E. N. and Fanny had friends 
in England intimately connected with the inner circle of Italian patriots. 
Through these friends the Nightingales were brought into the heart 
of the movement to set Italy free. 

Since childhood Fanny had known a remarkable family, the Aliens 
of Cresselly, in Pembrokeshire. Fanny Allen was one of the intellectual 
women who were the advance guard of the feminist movement. Her 
niece Emma married Charles Darwin. Her sister Jessie married the 
Italian historian Sismondi. W. E. N. and Sismondi were introduced by 
the Aliens. A friendship sprang up, and it was agreed that, after leaving 
Florence and making a tour of the Italian lakes in July and August, the 
Nightingales would visit Geneva, where, for reasons of prudence, Sis- 
mondi was living as an exile. 

They reached Geneva in the first week of September, 1838 and found 
the city overflowing with political refugees. The Austrian Government 
was determined to crush independent thought in Italy; every man of 
talent felt himself in danger, and a horde of doctors, scientists, educa- 
tionists, scholars, writers, and poets poured across the frontier to safety 
in Geneva. 


The change was startling. The world which the Nightingales entered 
was a world of poverty, learning, and sacrifice. Florence instantly re- 
sponded, and balls and palaces passed from her mind. She became the 
disciple of Sismondi. He was very short, almost a dwarf, and extremely 
ugly — so ugly that his wife had hesitated before marrying him — but 
his nature was charming and his conversation enchanting. He could not 
bear to see unhappiness or to cause pain to any living creature, fed 
the mice in his study while he worked, and in Italy had a crowd of 300 
beggars permanently encamped outside his door. Through Sismondi 
she met well-known figures of the Italian movement: Ugoni and Madame 
Calandrini, who had been ruined and exiled for opening progressive 
schools; Ricciardi, a young nobleman whom the Austrians had shut up 
among lunatics with the object of destroying his mind; Confalioneri, who 
had been practically buried alive for fifteen years — "he still walks as if 
he had chains on his legs," wrote Florence. 

W. E. N. would have stayed indefinitely in Geneva. He had found 
society which suited him among the professors of the University of 
Geneva and had struck up a friendship with de Candolles, the celebrated 
botanist. But, without warning, a crisis arose. Louis Napoleon Bona- 
parte, afterwards Napoleon III, after being expelled from Europe by 
the French, returned to Switzerland to see his dying mother. The 
French Government demanded his surrender. The Swiss, maintaining 
their right of asylum, refused. The French issued an ultimatum; the 
Swiss refused to give way, and French troops began to march on 
the Swiss. War seemed onlv a few days distant, and the Nightingales 
hastily prepared to leave for Paris. As they packed, every man and 
woman in Geneva was toiling at erecting barricades in the streets. 

To leave Geneva was not easy. There were no horses. The vast car- 
riage stood loaded, but every horse in Geneva had been requisitioned 
for artillery. W. E. N. scoured the town for horses while Fanny and 
the girls sat in the salon forbidden to go out, listening to the sound of 
barricades being erected in the street. Next day he managed to obtain 
inferior horses at an exorbitant price, and the Nightingales left. Sis- 
mondi saw them off, bursting into tears when he said farewell. 

A few days later the crisis ended. The English Government mediated, 
Louis Napoleon voluntarily left Switzerland, and the French Govern- 
ment accepted the suggestion that he should be allowed to live in 
England. By the time the Nightingales reached Paris, the Genevese, 
hysterical with relief, were singing, dancing, and embracing each other 
in the streets. The experience made a deep impression on Florence. There 
were realities in Europe to which England, safely entrenched behind 
the Channel, was indifferent and blind. "At home in England changes 


and revolutions are like storms one only hears," she wrote to Hilary 
Bonham Carter in November, 1838. 

W. E. N. proposed to spend four months in Paris and had taken an 
apartment in the Place Vendome. It was, wrote Fanny, "extremely 
splendid." The rooms were vast and richly decorated; the dining-room 
had gilt mirrors, velvet draperies and carved chairs, the salon crimson 
satin and ebony cabinets. The windows framed a view of Napoleon's 
statue on the Vendome column. 

Fanny intended if possible to enter intellectual society and had an 
introduction, given her by her sister Patty, of which she had great 
hopes; it was to one of the most celebrated women in Paris — Miss Mary 

Without money, influence, or beauty, Mary Clarke had made herself a 
major figure in the political and Hterary world of Paris. In her hands the 
salon was revived, and every Friday night Cabinet Ministers, Dukes of 
France, English peers, bishops, scholars, and writers of international 
reputation crowded the drawing-room of her apartment in the former 
hotel of the Clermont-Tonnerre family, 120 rue du Bac. 

Mary Clarke was not a Bohemian. She loved society, the great world, 
great houses, and great people. Her family connections were excellent. 
The Clarkes were an old Scottish Jacobite family. Lord Dalrymple was 
her cousin, and her sister married Mr. Frewen Turner, a Member of 
Parliament and owner of the famous Elizabethan mansion of Cold 
Overton in Leicestershire. Her personal appearance was odd. She was 
very small, with the figure and height of a child; her eyes were startlingly 
large and bright, and at a period when women brushed their hair 
smoothly she wore hers over her forehead in a tangle of curls. Guizot, 
who was devoted to her, said that she and his Yorkshire terrier patronized 
the same coiffeur. Yet though she had no ordinary feminine attractions, 
men were devoted to her, and many men wished to marry her. Ampere, 
son of the celebrated electrician and her intimate friend, wrote: "Her 
great charm lay in the absence of it. I never knew a woman so devoid of 
charm in the ordinary sense of the word and yet so fascinating. She was 
hardly a woman at all." Her effect on her friends was very great. No 
one, wrote Miss Nightingale, ever had so much influence in forming 
character, but her candor sometimes took her friends aback. "She had 
never a breath of posing or of 'edifying' in her presentation of herself," 
added Miss Nightingale, "even when it would have been almost desirable. 
. . . She was always undressed — naked in full view. A little clothing 
would have been decent." 

Mary was launched on her career by Madame Recamier. About 1830, 


her mother, who suffered from bronchitis, was forbidden ever to go into 
fresh air again; the whole of Airs. Clarke's life must be spent indoors, and 
Madame Recamier who admired her character and attainments invited 
her to come and Hve in her house, the Abbaye-aux-Bois. (Mrs. Clarke 
obeyed these instructions and lived to be ninet)'-two.) Madame Recamier 
was now fifty-four and her life had narrow'ed to a single object — the 
diversion of Chateaubriand, upon whom ennui had seized with the 
frightful effect of an incurable disease. Mary was invited to meet him. 
Her freshness amused him; she was invited again and conquered him 
completely. He declared he "delighted in her." "L^ jewie Anglaise is 
like no one else in the world. Boredom is impossible where she is." 

Mary became Madame Recamier's close friend, visited her daily, was 
always present at her evenings; and when in 1838 the Clarkcs moved 
to 120 rue du Bac, the intimacy continued. 

She entered another distinguished circle through her close friend- 
ship with Claude Fauriel, the mediaeval scholar to whom the preserva- 
tion of old French and Provencal literature is largely due. In 1837 Mary 
and Fauriel had been on terms of closest intimacy for more than fifteen 
years. They met daily; they traveled together; he dined with her almost 
every night, was invariably present at her parties, and behaved as master 
of the house; he had great respect for her mind, always read her his 
poems to criticize, and had left her his manuscripts in his will. Their 
intimacy \\as unconcealed and accepted; yet /Mary's reputation was 
unblemished; she was the friend of bishops and deans, her salon was 
"serious," and she refused to receive George Sand on account of her 
irregular life. 

There was in fact no cause for scandal. They were friends, not 
lovers. But friendship was Fauriel's choice, not Mary's. He was devoted 
to her, but he had never fallen in love with her. He could have married 
her, but he had never asked her to marry him. She was in love with him, 
and jealousy tormented her. 

While Mary Clarke was in love with Fauriel, who had only devoted 
friendship to give her, Fauriel's great friend Julius Mohl was hopelessly 
in love with A4ary, who felt only friendship for him. M. Mohl was as 
much at home in the rue du Bac as Fauriel and, like him, dined with 
Mary almost every night. The younger son of a well-known German 
aristocratic family, he had become a naturalized Frenchman because 
he loved Mary Clarke and wished to live near her in Paris. When Queen 
Victoria asked him why he had given up his native country for France, 
"Ma foi, madame, j'etais amoureux," he told her. He was an Oriental 
scholar of very great distinction. "M. Mohl," wrote Miss Nightingale, 


"was . . . consulted, though a staunch Protestant, by the Jesuit Mis- 
sions Etrangeres in Paris as an authority superior to their own." In 
addition to collecting material for a history of religion, he was engaged 
on a translation of the Persian epic Shah Nameh by Firdausi, for which 
he received a yearly grant from the French Academy. His character 
was charming, and he was a celebrated conversationalist. Nassau Senior, 
the American scholar, selected his conversation to record in one of 
Semor''s Conversatio?is. He spoke and wrote English perfectly and 
passionately admired English political principles. 

The Nightingales were not the kind of connection which appealed 
to Mary Clarke. She did not care for young ladies; in fact, she did not 
care for women at all. "I don't like young ladies," she wrote to a friend 
who had asked permission to make an introduction to her, "I can't 
abide women. Why don't they talk about interesting things? Why don't 
they use their brains? My dear, they have no manners. I can't abide 
them in my drawing-room. What with their shyness and their inability 
to hold their tongues, they ain't fit for decent company. If your friend 
is a man, bring him without thinking twice about it, but if she is a 
woman — think well." She was, however, "absurdly fond" of children 
and regularly gave children's parties, and she acknowledged Fanny's 
letter of introduction by inviting the Nightingales to a "children's 

One afternoon near Christmas they drove up to 120 rue du Bac. 
No servants were visible, but a clamor came from above. They walked 
up into a front drawing-room crowded with dancing, singing children; 
no one took any notice of them, and they went through to the back 
drawing-room, where two impressive and eminent-looking gentlemen 
were boiling a large black kettle over a log fire. One was Claude Fauriel, 
the other Julius IVIohl. 

In the midst of the children, dancing, singing, and clapping her hands, 
was a strange little figure no bigger than a child herself, whom Florence 
realized must be the celebrated A-Iiss Mary Clarke. The children began 
to play blind man's bluff, and without further ado Florence picked up her 
skirts and joined in. It was the happiest possible introduction. She was 
never so unself-consciously gay as with children — indeed, all the Night- 
ingales were past-masters in the art of amusing the young. 

Immediately after the children's soiree Mary Clarke invited the Night- 
ingales to one of her celebrated Friday evenings. She had fallen in love 
with the whole family, most of all with Florence, but also with W. E. N.'s 
remote charm, Fanny's rich beauty and overflowing kindness, and 
Parthe's elegance. They christened her "Clarkey," and she turned their 


stay in Paris into a carnival. They met almost every day and, as Florence 
wrote to Hilary Bonham Carter, "tore about" together. Clarkey went 
everywhere and knew ever^'one. She took the girls to private parties, to 
studios, to galleries and concerts, to the opera, to the theatre, to recep- 
tions and balls. She introduced them to Madame Recamier. They were 
asked several times to the Abbaye-aux-Bois, met Chateaubriand, and were 
paid the very great compliment of being invited to hear Chateaubriand 
read his memoirs. And so when the famous readings from the Mhiioires 
d'outre-tombe were given by Chateaubriand at the Abbaye-aux-Bois in 
January, 1839, Florence Nightingale was in the audience. 

She was wildly happy. She had a "passion" for Clarkey, she was be- 
ginning an important friendship with Julius Mohl, and for the first time 
in her life she was brcathinfj the air of freedom. 

Fanny smiled on her infatuation. She wanted Clarkey to be the family's 
intimate friend. Clarkey was to be the source from which she intended to 
collect "notabilities" to add luster to her parties at Embley. Clarkey was 
unconventional, but Clarkey was accepted by the best society, and Fanny 
was satisfied. But the young Florence was receiving impressions of which 
Fanny never dreamed. One of the deepest was the impression made by 
Clarkey's friendship with Claude Fauriel. She observed that Clarkey and 
Fauriel met daily, that they were devoted and made no secret of their 
devotion, that Fauriel had the greatest possible respect for Clarkey's 
mental powers and treated her as an equal, above all, that this close in- 
timacy was accepted without disapproval by everyone, even by so con- 
ventional a woman as her mother. 

She acquired a belief in the possibility of a daily intimacy, a close 
friendship between a man and a woman on terms which did not include 
passion, and which did not provoke scandal. It was a belief she never lost 
and one which regulated her conduct throughout her life. 

The Nightingales had now been abroad for eighteen months, and the 
alterations to Embley were due to be finished by June. Before they 
went down to the country, Fanny wished to spend part of the season in 
London and have the girls presented at Court. 

In April, 1839 the family left for London. Fanny was well satisfied. 
The tour had shown her that in Florence she possessed a daughter who 
promised to be exceptional. She began to concentrate on Florence. Her 
pride in her was immense, her hopes for her brilliant. 

They were doomed. Florence's conscience was awake, and the brief 
halcyon period was over. It was two years since God had spoken to her. 
Why had He not spoken again? The answer was evident — she was not 


worthy. She had forgotten God in the pleasure of balls and operas, in the 
vanity of being admired. She loved pleasure too much; she loved society 
too much; she must school herself to turn her back on it. In March, 1839, 
before she left Paris, she wrote in a private note that, to make herself 
worthy to be God's servant, the first temptation to be overcome was 
"the desire to shine in society." 




the Nightingales to London the first great struggle of Miss Nightingale's 
life began. It was divided into two stages and lasted fourteen years. First 
she groped within herself for five years before she reached the certainty 
that her "call" was to nurse the sick; next a bitter conflict with her 
family followed, and nine more years passed before she was able to 

In April, 1839 Fanny and William Nightingale had no inkling of 
Florence's secret life of agony, aspiration, and despair. They congratu- 
lated themselves on the possession of a charming and gifted young 
daughter destined for a brilliant social success. She was graceful, witty, 
vividly good-looking. Among the Verney Nightingale papers are two 
small oblong packets, carefully wrapped in several thicknesses of black 
paper, which contain two tresses of hair tied with silk and labeled in 
Fanny's writing "Flo 1 839" and "Parthe 1 839." The hair has been so well 
protected that it might have been cut yesterday. Florence's hair is of un- 
usual beauty, bright chestnut in color, thick, glossy, and wavy. In middle 
age her hair became dark, but at nineteen it was golden-red. Parthe's hair 
has less life and color; it is light brown, almost blonde, fine, soft, and 

The Nightingales reached London on April 6. W. E. N. went down 
to Embley and found the alterations would not be finished by June; 
Fanny then decided to spend the whole season in London. Her sister, 
Mrs. Nicholson, was bringing out her two elder girls, and the families 
united to take a floor of the Carlton Hotel. On May 24 Florence and 
Parthe were presented at the Queen's birthday Drawing Room. Florence, 
wearing a white dress bought in Paris, looked, wrote Fanny, "very nice," 
and "was not nearly as nervous as she expected." 

The girls were caught up in a whirl of gaiety. Wherever the Nichol- 


sons went, they met hosts of friends; carpets were rolled up for dancing; 
the air rang with screams of laughter; servants ran about; impromptu 
meals appeared. W. E. N. called it the "Waverley Saturnalia." "The 
piano,'' he remarked, "is not their forte." 

Once more her "call" vanished from Florence's mind; once more she 
became absorbed in parties and dresses and partners and balls. The 
summer was hot, the hotel noisy; she was exhausted, deliriously happy, 
perpetually excited. 

She had been seized by a "passion" for her cousin, Marianne Nichol- 
son. "I never loved but one person with passion in my life and that was 
her," she wrote in 1846. Marianne was dazzlingly beautiful — "that bril- 
liant face is almost as the face of an angel." She had exceptional musical 
gifts, an exquisite soprano voice, and possessed a confidence in her own 
charm which enabled her to dare anything. She would even take hold of 
W. E. N. and shake him. "I was internally screaming with laughter," 
wrote Florence to Hilary Bonham Carter. "I should think no one ever 
shook my Papa's sacred person before." 

But to love Marianne was dangerous. Her moods were unpredictable; 
she was angel and devil, pointlessly cruel, pointlessly kind, generous or 
mean, malicious or good-natured, truthful or a liar without reason or 

Marianne's capacity to love was reserved for her family. She adored 
her brothers and sisters. All the Nicholsons adored each other and stood 
by each other through thick and thin, and of all her family the one Mari- 
anne loved best was her brother Henry. 

By an unhappy chance Henry fell in love with Florence. She did not 
love him, but she encouraged him because he brought her closer to 

In September, W. E. N. decided that, finished or not, Embley must be 
occupied. The move was a series of disasters. They arrived to find men 
still working in the house and retreated to one of the lodges. Several days 
passed in discomfort. At last the move was fixed. That day a hurricane 
broke, the worst storm of a stormy autumn. The Nightingales waited all 
the morning, but not a soul appeared. W. E. N. went up to the house to 
"do housemaid," and late in the afternoon Fanny and Florence deter- 
mined to follow. The drive was under water, and they waded to the 
house. It was deserted; the servants had failed to arrive. W. E. N. lighted 
a fire in the servants' hall, and hungry and shivering they peered into the 
larder. It contained nothing but joints of raw meat. Darkness fell, and 
still no one came. At last the sound of wheels was heard. Florence rushed 
out. It was a cart containing "a man in a cloak carrying a looking glass." 
W. E. N. took a candle from a carriage lamp and stuck it on a spike, and 


they sat by its glimmering light. W. E. N. was in excellent spirits — he 
found their situation diverting. When the servants at last appeared, 
their explanations were unsatisfactory. The steward spoke "with tears 
in his eyes," but the truth was that the servants refused to start until they 
had had their tea, and there was a further difficulty because Mrs. Gale 
thought it beneath her dignity to be conveyed in a cart. 

Embley was now a handsome house, "able to receive five able bodied 
females with their husbands and belongings," wrote Florence to Clarkey 
in October, 1839, Fanny's descriptions of the drawing-room mention 
fawn-colored walls "pale and cool with gold mouldings," a blue ceiling 
"as skiey as possible," "purple silk cushions ornamented with gold fleur 
de lys," and a set of chairs in tapestry "with a blue and white ground 
but worked in a variety of colours with red predominating in the groups 
of flowers or figures." The sofas were covered in red silk damask. The 
carpet was "green of a yellowish tint" and considered "a great prize." 
Fanny had fallen in love with the "veloutcs" she had seen in Paris and 
had had a carpet specially woven at Axminster in the same design; this 
carpet is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. W. E. N. had 
the library enlarged and put in new shelves of oak elaborately carved in a 
Gothic style with each section divided by a caryatid. On top of the 
shelves stood antique busts, and the windows were hung with heavy 
crimson curtains intricately draped and looped. 

Straightening the house and settling the servants filled the next two 
months. It was not until the New Year that Florence could draw breath. 
She was deeply, furiously discontented, with life and with herself. Her 
infatuation for Marianne was perpetual torture. She had let Henry fall 
more in love with her than ever. Toward making herself worthy, toward 
justifying her "call" she had done nothing. Her life at home was hateful; 
impossible that God should have bestowed the gift of time on His female 
creatures to be used as Fanny wished her to use it. "Faddling twaddling 
and the endless tweedling of nosegays in jugs," Clarkey called it. 

Miserable, irritable, bored, she became unwell. She was rescued by 
Aunt Mai, whose visit at Christmas had transformed their relationship. 
They were now devoted friends, no longer fond aunt and adoring little 
niece but equals reveling in closest intimacy. Aunt Mai was W. E. N.'s 
^ sister and possessed many of his qualities — intellectual curiosity, humor, 
interest in abstract speculation. She, too, had a leaning toward the meta- 
physical and the transcendental, and her love for Florence had a mystical 
quality. In spite of their difference in age she worshiped Florence with 
the worship of a disciple for a master. She placed Florence above ordinary 
humanity, above the claims even of her husband and her children, and 
became her protector, interpreter, and consoler. Aunt Mai's tact, her 


energy, her flow of words were inexhaustible, and in innumerable let- 
ters, almost always undated, written on flimsy paper with a thin pen, 
criss-crossed on every page, she endeavored in a flood of apologies, 
explanations, excuses, to make Hfe easier for Florence. In January, 1 840 
she persuaded Fanny that "Flo would be all the better for a little change," 
and, at the end of the month, Florence was allowed to pay a visit to Combe 

At once her spirits soared. London was buzzing with gossip of Queen 
Victoria's wedding, and she wrote a lively account of the ceremony on 
February 10. "There were but 3 Tories there. Ld Melbourne pressed 
the Queen to ask more, told her how obnoxious it was. Queen said 'It is 
MY marriage and I will only have those who can sympathise with me.' 
Mr. Harcourt told Lord Colchester that there was a great levee to receive 
the Prince and they were all standing with the Queen ready to receive 
him. When his carriage was announced, she walked out of the room. 
Nobody could conceive what she was going to do, and before anyone 
could stop her, she had run downstairs and was in his arms." 

Florence went to several dinners and to the opera, received a flattering 
number of Valentines, and spent a great deal of her time with Aunt Mai's 
children. On the surface she was happy enough, charming enough, gay 
enough, but beneath the surface was agony and despair. It was three years 
since she had been "called," and she still did not know to what. That was 
the frightful dilemma — what had she been called to do? The first neces- 
sity was to improve herself, to become worthy. God was waiting for 
her to become worthy before He could give her instructions. But how 
was she to make herself worthy? 

She had written to Clarkey that mathematics gave her certainty: 
mathematics required hard work, and perhaps she would find life more 
satisfactory, be more satisfactory herself, if she studied mathematics. She 
confided in Aunt Mai, and they began to work together, getting up be- 
fore it was light to avoid disturbing the routine of the house. She became 
wildly happy. If only her parents would let her have lessons, if only 
they could be persuaded to let her study mathematics instead of doing 
worsted work and practising quadrilles. 

In March, 1840, Aunt Mai wrote Fanny a cautious letter. "Flo and I 
have a good deal of talk about the employment of time and so forth. I 
am much impressed with the idea that hard work is necessary to give zest 
to life in a character like hers, where there is great power of mind and a 
more than common inclination to apply. So I write to ask you if you in 
any way object to a mathematical master, if one can find a clean middle 


aged respectable person ... of course shall not do anything without 
your permit. . . ." 

Fanny did not approve; home duties were not to be neglected for 
mathematics. x\unt Alai hastened to assure her there was no neglect: 
"Flo and I have begun getting up at 6, lighting our fire and sitting very 
comfortably at our work, and I think if she had a subject which re- 
quired all her powers and which she pursued regularly and vigorously 
for a couple of hours she would be happier all day for it . . . she is dis- 
appointed at her want of success in music. ... I allow her quadrille 
playing is bad." 

Her daughter's destiny, Fanny answered, was, she sincerely hoped, to 
marry, and what use were mathematics to a married woman? "If she 
throws up her mathematics," Aunt Mai replied, "in the more active 
and interesting pursuits of future Ufe in which I hope I may live to see 
her powers engaged, whatever she may have done in that line will have 
benefited her character." In a burst of sincerity she added a postscript: "I 
don't think you have any idea of half that is in her." 

Fanny would not give way. Letters flew backward and forward. 
Where were Florence's lessons to be given? If at her grandmother's in 
Bedford Square there would be a problem about Aunt Patty. Patty was 
getting peculiar. There were "outbreaks," and it would not be suitable 
for Florence to meet her. Fanny's brother, Mr. Octavius Smith, offered 
the use of his library. Fanny raised difficulties about the master. Would 
it not be more suitable to have a clergyman; was the master proposed 
a married man; was there not a class; who would be present during the 
lessons? Aunt Mai persevered, soothing, reassuring, producing a mar- 
ried man, a clergyman, one accustomed to teaching young ladies, a 
chaperon. W. E. N. then entered the correspondence with an entirely 
new consideration. "Why Mathematics? I cannot see that Mathematics 
would do great service. History or Philosophy, natural or moral, I should 
like best." In reply Aunt Mai reported a dialogue. "I told Flo this pref- 
erence." "I don't think I shall succeed so well in anything that requires 
quickness as in what requires only work." "Then you prefer mathe- 
matics?" "Yes." 

All Aunt Mai could obtain was a compromise. She enlisted the aid 
of the Octavius Smiths. Mrs. Octavius Smith had been ill and asked that 
Florence, whose gift for managing children was well known, should be 
allowed to come and stay with her and help with the children. Fanny 
agreed that she might go for a month, and during part of April and May, 
1 840 she stayed with the Octavius Smiths and had a lesson in mathematics 


twice a week in their library. In the middle of May she went back to 
Embley, and the mathematics lessons came to an end. 

In the summer of 1 840 Fanny had a series of house-parties at Embley. 
Clarkey came for a long visit, and Fauriel and Julius Mohl. Fanny's 
circle had lately been extended by a friendship with the Palmerstons. In 
1839 Lord Palmerston married Lady Cowper, widow of Earl Cowper 
and sister of Lord Melbourne, and settled at Broadlands, near Romsey, 
a few miles from Embley. The Palmerstons took a fancy to the Night- 
ingales, and a friendship sprang up. "The Palmerstons ask us to dine 
en famille, I mention this merely to show how friendly they are," 
W. E. N. had written to Florence in April. During the summer the 
Palmerstons were constantly at Embley, bringing with them their son- 
in-law Lord Ashley, better known by his subsequent title of Lord 
Shaftesbury, the reformer and philanthropist, founder of the Ragged 
School Union. 

And still Florence was not satisfied. The previous autumn she had 
complained that she had no one to talk to; now she complained she had 
too many people to talk to. She had said she must have intelligent con- 
versation and exchange of ideas; now she said she must have time for 

Among her cousins her most intimate friend was Hilary Bonham 
Carter, eldest of the six daughters of Fanny's sister Joanna. Hilary, who 
was a year younger than Florence, had been devoted to her from child- 
hood. She was unusually pretty and had a talent for painting; a self- 
portrait shows a charming little pointed face framed in heavy bands of 
soft hair, a wide forehead, large eyes under delicate brows, a sensitive 
mouth, and an expression of intelligence and sweetness. When in 1838 
her father had died, she had become the support of her mother, a nervous 
unpractical woman overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing up a 
large family unaided. Florence made Hilary the confidant of her diffi- 
culties, pouring out her soul in enormous letters, telling almost all — but 
not all. The story of her "call" on February 7, 1837, she confided to 
no one. 

She had a feeling of oppression, she felt herself pursued by servants, 
guests, relations in a clutching, demanding horde. "There are hundreds 
of human beings always crying after ladies," she wrote to Hilary Bon- 
ham Carter in 1 841. "Ladies' work has always to be fitted in, where a man 
is, his business is the law." She wrote the phrase again in a private note: 
"Hundreds of human beings always crying after ladies," and added, "I 
must have some leisure to find out a few things." 

She had no leisure. Christmas, 1841 was spent at Waverley. Fanny 


described the festivities in a letter to W. E. N., who had refused to leave 
home, as "awesome." Eighty people slept in the house. There was a huge 
masked ball which went on until five o'clock in the morning, succeeded 
the following night by an amateur performance of The Mercharit of 
Venice. Henry played Shylock, rushed up to London where Macready 
was performing the part, interviewed him in his dressing-room, and 
secured directions for the interpretation of the part. He had come down 
from Cambridge, was preparing to be called to the Bar, and was still des- 
perately in love with Florence. In March the Nightingales went to Lon- 
don for the season and took rooms at the Burlington Hotel, Old Burling- 
ton Street. 

Florence was very gay. Though she was only twenty-two, she was 
becoming a figure in intellectual society. Her demure exterior concealed 
wit. She danced beautifully, yet possessed a surprising degree of learning, 
had great vitality and was an excellent mimic. She was "very much 
noticed," Fanny wrote, by the new Prussian Ambassador, the Chevalier 
Bunsen, and his wife. The Bunsens united intellect, good breeding, and 
wealth. The Chevalier (he was created Baron in 1857) was a Biblical 
scholar of European reputation who shared with his friend Lepsius the 
credit of being the world's leading Egyptologist; he had married an 
Englishwoman of good family, was extremely rich, and had a house in 
Carlton House Terrace besides a place in Sussex. The Bunsens were close 
friends of the Queen and Prince Albert and were liberal Evangelicals. 
Florence, who went constantly to their house, was addressed by the 
Chevalier as "My favourite and admired Miss Nightingale"; he lent her 
books and discussed archaeology and religion with her. 

She had achieved a success and could not help feeling satisfaction; yet 
she reproached herself bitterly. "All I do is done to win admiration," 
she wrote in a private note. She cared too much for lights, pretty clothes, 
glitter, the allurements she called in her private notes "the pride of life." 
Over and over again she told herself that before she could hope to be 
worthy enough for God to reveal the path of service the temptation to 
shine in society must be conquered. 

In the summer of 1 842 the temptation to shine was greatly increased. 
In May at a dinner-party given by the Palmerstons at Broadlands, Flor- 
ence was introduced to Richard Monckton Milnes. In 1842, Richard 
Monckton Milnes was thirty-three. He was the only son of Mr. Richard 
Pemberton Milnes and heir to the estate of Fryston in Yorkshire. He had 
achieved a brilliant success in London society and was predicted an 
important political career. 

He wrote talented poetry himself but had an even greater talent 


for discerning poetic genius. In 1 848 he M^as responsible for the collection 
and publication of the first collected edition of the poems of Keats. The 
breakfasts he gave in his rooms in Pall Mall were famous. He invited 
everyone in the public eye whether famous or notorious, whether known 
to him or not. Carlyle, when asked what he thought would be the first 
thing to happen if Christ came to earth again, said: "Monckton Milnes 
would ask him to breakfast." 

He diffused amiability. "He always put you in a good humour with 
yourself," said Thackeray; and his wit was never malicious — life was his 
target, not humanity. Life, he was fond of saying, is a jest not witty but 
humorous. His kindness and generosity m' ere based on love for his fellow 
men. "No one who knew Richard ever hesitated to ask him a favour," 
wrote one of his friends. He was "a good man to go to in distress," wrote 
another. "He treated all his fellow mortals as if they were his brothers 
and sisters," said Florence. 

His humanity expressed itself in philanthropic work. He loved chil- 
dren and worked for many years, against ceaseless opposition, to im- 
prove the treatment of young criminals. It was largely owing to his efforts 
that juvenile offenders ceased to be sent to jail with adult criminals and 
were sent to reformatories instead. 

But he had another side to his character. The humane lover of children, 
the connoisseur of literature was also the man who introduced Swin- 
burne to the works of the Marquis de Sade. 

During the summer Richard Monckton Milnes came several times to 
Embley. He was falling in love with Florence, and he made himself the 
friend of Fanny, Parthe, and W. E. N. By the end of July, when as usual 
the Nightingales went north to Lea Hurst, he was treated as one of the 

Fanny had connections in northern society; earlier in the year she had 
met the Duke of Devonshire and been asked to dine. Now she, W. E. N., 
and the two girls were invited to stay at Chatsworth to meet H.R.H. the 
Duke of Sussex. All the society of the north assembled, and in honor of 
the Royal guest the huge house was crammed with "Howards, Caven- 
dishes, Percys, Greys, all in gala dress with stars, garters, diamonds and 
velvets," wrote Fanny to Clarkey in August, 1842. The entertainment 
was planned on an enormous scale. Mr. Joseph Paxton, later designer of 
the Crystal Palace, was head gardener at Chatsworth, and he had erected 
a vast glasshouse in the Park. "An omnibus," wrote Fanny, "plied at the 
gates of Chatsworth every evening to take those who could not walk 
so far to the monster conservatory, which covers an acre of ground, and 


where groves of palms and bananas are making all haste to grow to their 
natural size." One evening the huge glasshouse was brilliantly lit for a 
"promenade." Another evening there was a magnificent ball to open a 
new banqueting hall. 

Florence was indifferent to the splendors of Chatsworth; the devotion 

of Richard Monckton Milnes left her unmoved. Some time in the summer 

of 1 842 she had taken the first step toward the fulfillment of her destiny. 

^' She had become conscious of the world of misery, sufltering, and despair 

which lay outside her little world of ease and comfort. 

Eighteen forty-two was a terrible year for the people of England. 
The country was in the grip of what has passed into history as "the 
hungry forties." In villages, as in towns, there were starvation, sweated 
labor, ignorance, and dirt. Diseased scarecrows swarmed not only in the 
airless undrained courts of London, but in the "black filth" of rural 
cottages; workhouses, hospitals, and prisons were overflowing. In the 
summer of 1842, Florence wrote in a private note: "My mind is absorbed 
with the idea of the sufferings of man, it besets me behind and before . . . 
all that poets sing of the glories of this world seems to me untrue. All 
the people I see are eaten up with care or poverty or disease." 

She had progressed. She knew now that her destiny lay among the 
miserable of the world, but what form that destiny was to take she still 
had no idea. 

In the autumn of 1842 she called on the Bunsens, and Baroness Bunsen, 
in her Memoir of her husband, records that she asked him a question 
couched more or less in these words. "What can an individual do towards 
lifting the load of suffering from the helpless and miserable?" In reply, 
he mentioned the work of Pastor Fhedner and his wife at Kaiserswerth, 
on the Rhine, where Protestant Deaconesses were trained in the hospital 
of the Institution to nurse the sick poor. Florence's attention was not 
arrested; she had not yet begun to think of nursing. 

Meanwhile her mother steadily progressed to social success, and at 
Embley part\' followed party. "Pray send him a sly line that he will find 
notabilities here on the 24th," wrote W. E. N. to Clarkey in October, 
1843, arranging a visit from Ranke the historian, " — to wit the Speaker 
[Shaw Lefevre], the Foreign Secretary [Palmerston], the Catholic Weld 
[future owner of Lulworth and nephew of the Cardinal of that Ilk] 
and mayhap a Queen's Equerry or two, a Baron of the Exchequer . . . 
and a couple of Baronets. He should think well on this. Yours quizzically 
but faithfully, W. E. N." Florence scribbled a postscript: "Papa is 
quizzing the baronets who are not wise ones. Provided yoii come I care 


for nobody, no not I, and shall be quite satisfied. As M. de Something 
said to the Stael 'Nous aurons a nous deux de I'esprit pour quarante; 
vous pour quatre et moi pour zero.' " 

She had formed her own circle. She saw Richard Monckton Milnes 
constantly and had become interested in his philanthropic work. She 
had a new friend, Miss Louisa Stewart Mackenzie, later the second wife 
of Lord Ashburton. The Palmerstons were devoted to her, and she was 
very friendly with Lord Ashley. 

But when, at the end of July, 1843, the Nightingales once more went 
north to Lea Hurst, her whole being was concentrated on the poor and 
sick. She began to spend the greater part of her day in the cottages, began 
to badger her mother in and out of season for medicines, food, bedding, 
clothes. Fanny, who was generous in distributing charity, felt Florence 
was unreasonable. "Perhaps if we got a Sceur de Charite Flo would let 
us rest in some peace," she wrote to W. E. N. during the summer of 

When the time came to go to Embley, Florence wanted to stay behind 
at Lea Hurst. Fanny would not hear of her remaining, and she had to 
come south. "It breaks my heart to leave Lea Hurst," she wrote to Aunt 
Mai in September, 1843. 

When her mother had succeeded in getting Florence away, fresh 
difficulties arose. One of her friends died in childbirth, leaving a daugh- 
ter. Florence demanded permission to cancel her engagements, give up 
London for the autumn season, and look after the baby. When Fanny 
refused, she fretted herself into an illness. Forced to give way, Fanny 
compromised by allowing her to go and look after the baby for a few 
weeks — at the height of the season when she should have been in Lon- 
don going to parties. Fanny was bitterly disappointed, and misery re- 
sulted on both sides. 

Florence's misery was a thousand times increased by a terrifying dis- 
covery. She records in a private note that in the autumn of 1843 she 
suddenly realized the extent to which the habit she called "dreaming" 
had enslaved her. She fell into "trance-like" states in the midst of ordi- 
nary hfe, while, for instance, she was making conversation with the 
Ashburtons at Sir William Heathcote's dinner. She could not control 
herself, and she gave way with the shameful ecstasy of the drugtaker. 

The whole world went wrong for her in the winter of 1843. Henry 
Nicholson was pressing her to become engaged to him, Marianne was 
beginning to be angry with her for not accepting him. When Christmas 
came and she found herself at Waverley with Henry and Marianne — 
the strain became too great, and she broke down. As she lay in bed 


listening to the sounds of revelry floating up from downstairs, she 
despaired. Was there nothing for her but dreaming? Had she better close 
her eyes and find what satisfaction she could in a false paradise of con- 
soling visions? And then, she wrote in a private note, "an acquaintance 
with a woman to whom all unseen things seemed real and eternal things 
near, awakened me." 

Miss Hannah Nicholson, sister of Mr. Nicholson of Waverley, called 
Aunt Hannah by the Nightingales, was a deeply religious woman with 
the gentleness, purity, and hmited vision of a nun. She did not under- 
stand Florence; there were depths, violences, capacities in her she was 
unable to grasp, but she knew Florence was ill, not on good terms with 
her family, and unhappy. She believed she could provide the solution. 
Union with God would bring reconciliation with earthly life. A close 
intimacy sprang up. Days were spent discussing the life of the soul and 
the way of the soul to God. Florence had an enormous amount of unex- 
pended affection. In a private note, written at this time, she speaks of 
"those I love — and no-one knows how I love." She adored Aunt Hannah, 
and became her disciple. 

There was, however, an essential difference between them which 
Miss Nicholson did not appreciate. Though Florence sought union with 
God, she did not seek that state as an end in itself. Union with God was 
a necessary qualification for the performance of God's work, a prepara- 
tion for action, not submission. Aunt Hannah believed that once Flor- 
ence's soul was one with God she would be reconciled to the state of life 
to which it had pleased Him to call her. 

In January, 1 844, Florence went back to Embley and began to write 
Aunt Hannah letters of enormous length. "When I write the floodgates 
of my egotism are opened by your sympathy." She called her letters 
"my outpourings." But she did not write either of her "call" or of her 
dreams, and at the very moment when she seemed to be most thoroughly 
under Aunt Hannah's influence she took a secret decision of the great- 
est importance entirely opposed to everything Miss Nicholson hoped. 

Sometime in the spring of 1844 the knowledge came to her that her 
vocation lay in hospitals among the sick. At last, seven years after her 
"call," her destiny was clear. "Since I was twenty-four," she wrote in a 
private note thirteen years later, ". . . there never was any vagueness in 
my plans or ideas as to what God's work was for me." 

In June Dr. Ward Howe, the American philanthropist, and his wife 
Julia Ward Howe, later to became celebrated as the author of the 
"Battle Hymn of the American Republic," came to stay at Embley. 
Dr. Howe's daughter describes in a book of reminiscences how after 


dinner on the night of his arrival Florence came up to him in the 
drawing-room. Would he meet her privately in the library for a few 
moments before breakfast? Dr. Howe consented. When husband and 
wife were alone, Mrs. Ward Howe reminded him that they had heard 
the younger Miss Nightingale described as an exceptional girl likely to 
make an exceptional career for herself, though her mother would prefer 
her to lead a more conventional life. In the library next morning Flor- 
ence went straight to the point: "Dr. Howe, do you think it would be 
unsuitable and unbecoming for a young Englishwoman to devote herself 
to works of charity in hospitals and elsewhere as Catholic sisters do? 
Do you think it would be a dreadful thing?" He gave a sincere answer: 
"My dear Miss Florence, it would be unusual, and in England whatever 
is unusual is thought to be unsuitable; but I say to you 'go forward,' if 
you have a vocation for that way of life, act up to your inspiration and 
you will find there is never anything unbecoming or unladylike in doing 
your duty for the good of others. Choose, go on with it, wherever it may 
lead you and God be with you." 

She had reached the turning-point of her Hfe, but she confided in no 
one. The word "hospital" had not yet been uttered to her family; she was 
well advised to hesitate before introducing it; it was a dread word. She 
must think out some method by which her parents might be brought to 
consent to their daughter entering a hospital. Throughout the summer 
she meditated in secret. "I dug after my little plan in silence," she wrote. 

It was an unsatisfactory summer. Marianne and Henry Nicholson 
came to stay; Marianne was cold, and the visit was not a success. Claude 
Fauriel died in July, and Clarkey did not feel equal to paying her usual 
visit to Embley, to Florence's deep disappointment. The illness of the 
previous winter, misery over Marianne, the weight of the shameful 
secret of her "dreams," the perpetual frustration of her life at home, 
brought her low, and she wrote Clarkey an unhappy letter. "Oh do not 
say that 'you will not cloud young people's spirits.' Do you think young 
people are so afraid of sorrow, or that if they have lively spirits, which 
I often doubt, they think these are worth anything, except in so far as 
they can be put at the service of sorrow? . . . When one thinks there 
are hundreds and thousands of people suffering . . . when one sees in 
every cottage some trouble which defies sympathy — and there is all the 
world putting on its shoes and stockings every morning all the same — 
and the wandering earth going its inexorable treadmill through those 
cold hearted stars, in the eternal silence, as if nothing were the matter; 
death seems less dreary than life at that rate." 

That summer when she went north to Lea Hurst there was scarlet 


fever in the cottages, and she was forbidden to go near them. All through 
the autumn she was ailing, and when, at Christmas, Fanny and Parthe 
went to Waverley she was too ill to go. She stayed in bed at Embley 
pouring out letters, notes, analyses, plans; striving to find a way to get 
away from home to a hospital; striving to find a solution to her relations 
with Marianne; striving to achieve the state of union with God in which 
Aunt Hannah assured her all difficulties would vanish. 

On New Year's Eve, 1 844, she was unable to leave her room and sat 
writing late at night with "a little black tea pot on the hob." Outside it 
was freezing hard with a brilliant moon. She watched three hares playing 
on the whitened grass of the lawn; in the stillness the world seemed to be 
dead except for those three hares. At Waverley at this moment there was 
a ball. She sighed after the ball and the dress she had been going to wear, 
a pink dress with black lace flounces, ruefully aware that the "pride of 
life" was by no means dead. "I am convinced of it when I think of my 
black lace flounces," she wrote to Aunt Hannah. 

In a fortnight or so she was convalescent, and Hilary Bonham Carter 
came to stay. She was another victim of family life. In the previous year 
Hilary had met Clarkey. With Clarkey she had attended an atelier and 
was pronounced to have genuine talent. Clarkey had implored Mrs. Bon- 
ham Carter to let Hilary work seriously. But Hilary could not be 
"spared." Now she was spending her life housekeeping, teaching her 
younger sisters, doing the flowers, and, as a concession, attending a 
"ladies' atelier" in London where so little was expected that lessons were 
taken "when social engagements permitted." 

The girls were alone for two days; the weather was fine and still, and 
they made long expeditions into the New Forest, walking from breakfast 
until sunset, and talking all day. Florence poured out her heart on the 
subject of Marianne, but she spoke neither of her determination to work 
in hospitals nor of the shameful secret of her "dreams" — that ever- 
growing terror. During the forced inaction of her illness and the idle- 
ness of her convalescence she had found herself more enslaved than ever 
before, and she was beginning to fear for her mental balance. 

That February Aunt Mai's son Shore, "my boy Shore," the heir to 
Embley, now aged fourteen, came to convalesce at Embley after measles. 
She looked after Shore entirely and had a month of freedom from shame- 
ful visions. "While he is with me all that is mine is his," she wrote to 
Aunt Hannah in February, 1 845, "my head and hands and time." With 
Shore she took little walks on the gravel paths, hunted for snowdrops, 
read aloud and had "a great deal of conversation about dogs." At night, 
when she had put him to bed and given him his medicine, they had serious 


talks. She "warned him against lying long in bed, and the temptations of 
the world, liking to be praised and admired and a general favourite more 
than anything else and we were both very much affected." 

In March, Shore went home, and the Nightingales started once more 
on their round, up to London, back to Embley for parties in June, up to 
the North for July and August, back to Embley again for the shooting, 
up to London in November, back again to Embley at Christmas time. 
And as week followed week, Florence became more wretchedly un- 
happy. Nearly a year had passed since her interview with Dr. Howe, 
and she was no farther forward; eight years had passed since her "call," 
and not merely had she accomplished nothing, she had slipped back- 
wards — she had lost the sense of walking with God. In private notes, 
in enormous letters to Aunt Hannah, she reproached herself with frantic 
bitterness. Again the strain was too great. Though she went with her 
family to London in February, as soon as she arrived she was ill. On 
March i, 1845, ^^^ ^^^ i^ t)ed in the Burhngton Hotel, suffering from 
bronchitis, unable to go anywhere and writing to Clarkey in deep de- 
pression. Outside was thick yellow fog; candles were Ughted though it 
was only two in the afternoon, but in spite of them and a large fire the 
fog hung in the room. Clarkey had suggested that she should express 
herself through writing, but she had no desire to write. She wanted to 
act, to work, to perform deeds. "You ask me why I do not write some- 
thing. ... I had so much rather live than write — writing is only 
a substitute for living. ... I think one's feelings waste themselves in 
words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which 
bring results." 

Before she left London in the spring of this year, she received a shat- 
tering blow: Henry Nicholson proposed and insisted on a definite an- 
swer. She refused him. Henry was heartbroken, and the Nicholsons 
were furious. Florence had, they said with justice, encouraged Henry; 
Aiarianne ended her friendship with Florence, and the Nightingales and 
the Nicholsons ceased to be intimate. To Florence the loss of Marianne 
was a catastrophe; through the summer she suffered tortures. "I have 
walked up and down all these long summer evenings in the garden," she 
wrote to Hilary in July, "and could find no words but 'My God, my 
God, why hast Thou forsaken me.' " She did not blame Marianne; she 
wrote no recriminations; she blamed only herself. "I was not a worthy 
friend for her. I was not true either to her or to myself in our friendship. 
I was afraid of her: that is the truth." 

Embley was especially full of visitors during the summer. At Whit- 
suntide Fanny had had a large party, "the picked and chosen of society 


assembled," she wrote triumphantly to Clarkey. Florence, heartbroken 
and miserable, moved in a dream. Richard A4onckton Milnes, stayed both 
at Embley and at Broadlands with the Palmerstons during the summer, 
but she was hardly conscious of him. Nothing was real to her but her suf- 
fering over Marianne. 

She was approaching a mental collapse when two serious illnesses in the 
family saved her. 

In August she went with her father to visit her grandmother, Mrs. 
Shore, found her seriously ill, and was allowed to stay and nurse her. 
Hardly was Mrs. Shore convalescent when Mrs. Gale, the girls' old nurse, 
was taken ill at Lea Hurst. Again Florence was allowed to nurse Gale, and 
when she seemed too ill to be moved to Embley at the end of the summer 
Fanny prepared to give up her winter gaieties and stay at Lea Hurst in 
order that the old nurse might not be separated from "her children." Gale 
insisted, however, on being taken to Embley, and there, a week or so 
later, she died, sitting upright in her chair with Florence beside her hold- 
ing her hand. 

For a short time Florence and her mother drew closer; her heart was 
melted by Fanny's kindness, and one of the few intimate letters she ever 
wrote to her mother described Gale's death: "Did I tell you one night 
she was very suffering and I was doubting whether I should speak to 
her, something good about the weary and heavy laden, when she said 
quite distinctly 'Oh I was so well, quite well till now, but I've been sadly 
off my teas and breakfasts of late.' Oh my dear Mum, life is nothing so 
much as profoundly ridiculous after all. Is that what the eternal spirit 
is talking about, when it is . . . with the other invisible spirits on the 
eve of becoming like them?" The old nurse's last words, Florence wrote 
to Hilary, were to say sharply, "Hannah, get to your work." The details 
of her funeral had been discussed fully by Gale during her illness. She 
was to be carried across the common, "wo? over the stiles"; everyone on 
the estate came in a clean smock, and Mr. Hogg, the steward, said he was 
sure Mrs. Gale would have enjoyed it very much. 

These two episodes brought a certain amount of emancipation. Since 
Florence had proved herself entirely capable in nursing her grandmother 
and Gale, it was difficult to forbid her to continue to nurse. In the 
autumn there was an unusual amount of sickness in the village of Wel- 
low, and she took an active part. She mentions being present at two death- 
beds and a difficult birth. 

And now she moved forward another step — she realized the necessity 
of training in nursing. The discovery came as a shock. Neither she herself 
nor anyone else she had ever met had been taught how to nurse. It was 


universally assumed that the only qualification needed for taking care 
of the sick was to be a woman. Ignorance was complete, and its conse- 
quences disastrous. "I saw a poor woman die before my eyes this summer 
because there was nothing but fools to sit up with her, who poisoned her 
as much as if they had given her arsenic," she wrote to Hilary Bonham 
Carter in December, 1845. 

In 1844, when she first knew with certainty that her vocation lay 
among the sick in hospitals, she had not had the actual practice of nursing 
in her mind. She had spoken to Dr. Howe of "devoting herself to works 
of charity in hospitals." She too had thought that the qualities needed 
to relieve the misery of the sick were tenderness, sympathy, goodness, 
and patience. Now her short experience had already shown her that only 
knowledge and expert skill brought relief; and her destiny, which was 
to lighten the load of suffering, could be fulfilled only if she were armed 
with knowledge. She must learn how to nurse. How could she learn? 
There was perhaps one avenue by which she might succeed. 

The idea was bold, but since she had achieved a little independence, 
she had been becoming bolder. Her plan was to persuade her parents to 
allow her to go for three months to Salisbury Infirmary to learn nursing: 
Salisbury was only a few miles from Embley, the Infirmary was a well- 
known hospital, and the head physician, Dr. Fowler, was an old friend. 
He held advanced views, and she thought he might support her. 

In December, 1 845, the Fowlers came to stay at Embley, and Florence 
proposed her plan. A storm blirst. "iMama was terrified," she wrote to 
Hilary. The reason was "not the physically revolting parts of a hospital 
but things about the surgeons and nurses which you may guess." Parthe 
had hysterics. Florence persisted, and her mother's terror passed into 
furious anger. Writing twenty years later. Miss Nightingale described a 
series of scenes. Fanny accused her of having "an attachment of which 
she was ashamed," a secret love affair with some "low vulgar surgeon." 
In floods of tears Fanny wept that Florence wanted to "disgrace herself." 

The Fowlers, embarrassed, "threw cold water." W. E. N., coldly 
disgusted, went away to London. Was it for this he had educated a charm- 
ing daughter? Was this to be the end of the Latin and the Greek, the 
poetry and the philosophy, the Italian tour and the Paris frocks? Hilary 
described meeting him at a dinner-party a few days later. It had been 
hoped he would give them inside political news — there was a Cabinet 
crisis and he was known to have seen Palmerston. But he was morose and 
would talk of nothing but spoiled and ungrateful daughters and forecast 
the very worst future for a race at the mercy of the modem girl. Florence 
was left defeated, helpless, hopelessly depressed. "No advantage that I can 


see comes of my living on, excepting that one becomes less and less of a 
young lady every year," she wrote to Hilary Bonham Carter. "You will 
laugh, dear, at the whole plan I daresay; but no one but the mother of it 
knows how precious an infant idea becomes; nor hoM^ the soul dies, be- 
tween the destruction of one and the taking up of another. I shall never 
do anything and am worse than dust and nothing. . . . Oh for some 
strong thing to sweep this loathsome Ufe into the past." 




that the Nightingales were horror struck. In 1845 hospitals were 
places of wretchedness, degradation, and squalor. "Hospital smell," the 
result of dirt and lack of sanitation, was accepted as unavoidable and was 
commonly so overpowering that persons entering the wards for the 
first time were seized with nausea. Wards were usually large, bare, and 
gloomy. Beds were crammed in, fifty or sixty, less than two feet apart. 
Even decency was impossible. Fifteen years later, when some improve- 
ment had been made. Miss Nightingale wrote in Notes on Hospitals: 
"The floors were made of ordinary wood which, owing to lack of clean- 
ing and lack of sanitary conveniences for the patients' use, had become 
saturated with organic matter, which when washed gave off the smell of 
something quite other than soap and water." Walls and ceilings were "of 
common plaster" also "saturated with impurity." Heating was supplied 
by a single fire at the end of each ward, and in winter, windows were 
kept closed for warmth, sometimes for months at a time. In some hos- 
pitals half the windows were boarded up in winter. After a time the 
smell became "sickening," walls streamed with moisture, and "a minute 
vegetation appeared." The remedy for this was "frequent lime washing 
with scraping," but the workmen engaged in the task "frequently be- 
come seriously ill." 

The patients came from the slum tenements called "rookeries," from 
hovels, from cellars where cholera lurked. Gin and brandy were smug- 
gled into the wards, and fearful scenes took place, ending by half-dying 
creatures attacking each other in frenzy or writhing in fits of the 
"screaming horrors." In certain hospitals it was not unknown for the 
police to be called in to restore order. 

The sick came into hospital filthy and remained filthy. In 1854 Miss 


Nightingale wrote: "The nurses did not as a general rule wash patients, 
they could never wash their feet — and it was with difficulty and only in 
great haste that they could have a drop of water, just to dab their hands 
and face. The beds on which the patients lay were dirty. It was common 
practice to put a new patient into the same sheets used by the last oc- 
cupant of the bed, and mattresses were generally of flock sodden and 
seldom if ever cleaned." 

, Yet physically disgusting conditions were not the real obstacle to her 
scheme; the insuperable objection was the notorious immorality of 
hospital nurses. "It was preferred^'' wrote Miss Nightingale, "that the 
nurses should be women who had lost their characters, i.e. should have 
had one child." It was common for nurses to sleep in the wards they 
nursed, and not unknown for nurses of male wards to sleep in the wards 
with the men. In a letter written on May 29, 1854, she described the 
sleeping accommodation provided for nurses in one of London's most 
famous hospitals. "The nurses . . . slept in wooden cages on the landing 
places outside the doors of the wards, where it was impossible for any 
woman of character to sleep, where it was impossible for the Night 
Nurse taking her rest in the day to sleep at all owing to the noise, where 
there was not light or air." The nurse had no other home than the ward; 
there she lived, slept, and frequently cooked her meals. Discipline and 
supervision were almost non-existent. A very large number of patients 
were under the charge of one nurse — in one case a single night nurse had 
charge of four wards. The level of decency among the patients was 
almost unbelievably low. 

Drink was the curse of the hospital nurse, as of the patients. "The 
nurses are all drunkards, sisters and all," said the physician of a large 
London Hospital in 1851, "and there are but two nurses whom the 
surgeons can trust to give the patients their medicine." In 1854 the head 
nurse of a London hospital told Miss Nightingale that "in the course of 
her large experience she had never known a nurse who was not drunken, 
and there was immoral conduct practised in the very wards, of which she 
gave me some awful examples." 

Miss Nightingale herself nursed a nurse who alternated nursing with 
prostitution. Mrs. Gaskell, writing to Catherine Winkworth on Octo- 
ber 20th, 1854, repeated the story. "F. N. undressed the woman, who was 
half tipsy and kept saying, 'You would not think it Ma'am but a week 
ago I was in silk and satins dancing at Woolwich. Yes Ma'am for all 
I am so dirty I am draped in silk and satins sometimes. Real French silk 
and satins.' This woman was a nurse earning her five guineas a week 
nursing ladies." 


One of the extraordinary features of Miss Nightingale's life is the 
passage of time. She starts with a "call" in 1837. But what has she been 
called to do? What is her vocation to be? Eight years pass before, in 1 845, 
she finds out. Even then she is only half-way. Eight more years pass 
before she gains freedom in 1853 to pursue her vocation. Sixteen years in 
all, sixteen years during which the eager susceptible girl was slowly 
hammered into the steely powerful woman of genius. The last eight 
years, the years after her failure in 1 845, were years in which suffering 
piled on suffering, frustration followed frustration, until she was brought 
to the verge of madness. 

Yet she endured year after year. She had the capacity to assert herself, 
but she did not. The bonds which bound her were only of straw, but 
she did not break them. Her temperament held her a prisoner. She could 
act only when she felt moral justification, and she felt no moral justifica- 
tion. Her sense of guilt trapped her. She was convinced that the difficul- 
ties which confronted her were God's punishment for her sinfulness; 
she was unworthy, and by being unworthy she had brought her sufferings 
on her own head. "Bless me, too, as poor Esau said," she wrote to Aunt 
Hannah on Christmas Eve, 1845. "I have so felt with him and cried with 
an exceeding bitter cry 'Bless me, even me also. Oh my father,' but he 
never has yet and I have not deserved that He should." 

At the end of 1845, she "went down into the depths. My misery and 
vacuity were indescribable." Humiliated, snubbed, lonely, she found re- 
lief in writing private notes. On page after page, in tens of thousands of 
words, she poured out her wretchedness, her fear, and her frustration. 
"This morning I felt as if my soul would pass away in tears, in utter 
loneliness in a bitter passion of tears and agony of solitude." "I cannot 
live — forgive me, oh Lord, and let me die, this day let me die." "The day 
of personal hopes and fears is over for me, now I dread and desire no 
more." "The sorrows of Hell compass me about, pray God He will not 
leave my soul in Hell." "The plough goes over the soul." 

She spent her nights sleepless, wrestling with her soul, seeking with tears 
and prayers to make herself worthy to receive the kindness of God; she 
spent her days performing the duties of the daughter at home. 

"My life was not painful, but tiresome," she wrote in a reminiscence 
thirty years later. W. E, N. liked his two daughters to sit with him in 
the library after breakfast while he went through The Times, reading 
aloud anything that struck him as good. "To hear little disjointed bits 
read out to us out of book or newspaper! Now for Parthe the morning's 
reading did not matter; she went on with her drawing; but for me, who 


had no such cover, the thing was boring to desperation." "What is my 
business in this world and what have I done this fortnight?" she wrote on 
July 7, 1846. "I have read the 'Daughter at Home' to Father and two 
chapters of Mackintosh; a volume of Sybil to Mamma. Learnt seven tunes 
by heart. Written various letters. Ridden with Papa. Paid eight visits. 
Done Company. And that is all." 

"Dreaming" enslaved her more and more. While W. E. N. was read- 
ing The Times, while she was making conversation with visitors or 
taking "a little drive" with Fanny, she escaped into a dream world. Her 
dreams centered upon Richard Monckton Milnes. She imagined herself 
married to him, performing heroic deeds with him. 

Yet, in spite of her wretchedness, she was making progress. The 
philosophy which told her to submit did not tell her to rehnquish her 
determination; indeed, it gave her strength to persist, since she believed 
that as soon as she had attained a worthy state she would be released from 
submission. She began to equip herself with knowledge against that day. 

At Lord Ashley's suggestion she started to study Blue Books and hos- 
pital reports — during the past few years the first Blue Books dealing 
with public health had been published. In 1838, Dr. Southwood Smith, 
Dr. Amott, and Dr. Kay presented their report on the condition of the 
poor in East London to the Poor Law Commissioners. Two years later 
the Select Committee presented its first report on the Health of Towns. 
In 1842, the first report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring 
Classes was published, and in 1 844 the first report of the Health of Towns 

She worked in secret. She got up before dawn and wrote by candle- 
light, wrapped in a shawl. Notebook after notebook was filled with a 
mass of facts, compared, indexed, and tabulated. She wrote privately 
for reports to M. Mohl in Paris; she procured information on hospitals 
in Berlin from the Bunsens. In the cold dark mornings she laid the 
foundation of the vast and detailed knowledge of sanitary conditions 
which was to make her the first expert in Europe. Then the breakfast- 
bell rang, and she came down to be the Daughter at Home. 

Fanny had put her in charge of still-room, pantry, and linen-room. 
"I am up to my chin in linen, glass and china," she wrote to Clarkey 
in December, 1846, "and I am very fond of housekeeping. In this too 
highly educated, too-little-active age, it is at least a practical application 
of our theories to something — and yet in the middle of my lists, my green 
lists, brown lists, red lists, of all my instruments of the ornamental in 
culinary accomplishments, which I cannot even divine the use of, I 


cannot help asking in my head, 'Can reasonable people want all this?' 
. . . 'And a proper stupid answer you'll get,' says the best Versailles 
service, 'so go and do your accounts; there is one of us cracked.' " 

Twice a year she went through linen-room, plate-chest, china and 
glass cupboard, and storeroom, checking, hsting damage, replacements, 
and repairs. In the still-room she supervised preserving, and she wrote 
to Hilary Bonham Carter in September, 1 846 that after a hard day's work 
she was "surveying fifty-six jam pots with the eye of an artist." 

So month followed month — it seemed without progress or event, but 
in her character a profound change was taking place. "I feel," she wrote 
in a private note of 1846, "as if all my being were gradually drawing 
together to one point." She decided that her longing for affection, her 
susceptibility were too powerful for safety and she began deliberately to 
detach herself from human relationships. Love, marriage, even friend- 
ship, must be renounced. So in September, 1 846 she wrote to Hilary Bon- 
ham Carter: "Are not one's earthly friends too often Atalanta's apple, 
thrown in each other's M'ay to hinder that course, at the end of which is 
laid up the crown of righteousness? So, dearest, it is well that we should 
not see too much of each other. . . . Farewell my beloved one." In a 
private note she wrote: "Oh God, no more love. No more marriage O 

In July the Nightingales had gone north to Lea Hurst, and in the cot- 
tages she found peace. In a private note written on July 16 she wrote: 
"Rubbed Mrs. Spence for the 2nd time. I am such a creeping worm that 
if I have anything of the kind to do I can do without marriage or intellect 
or social intercourse or any of the things people sigh after. ... I want 
nothing else, my heart is filled. I am at home." 

In October the Chevalier Bunsen sent her the Year Book of the In- 
stitution of Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth. Four years earlier he had 
mentioned Kaiserswerth, but she had not then reached the knowledge 
that nursing was her vocation. Now with overwhelming joy she realized 
that Kaiserswerth was what she had been seeking. There she could have 
training in nursing, and the objections raised against English hospitals 
did not apply. The religious atmosphere, the ascetic discipline placed 
the nurses above suspicion. On October 7 she wrote in a private note: 
"There is my home, there are my brothers and sisters all at work. There 
my heart is and there, I trust, will one day be my body." 

The Year Book became her treasure, but she did not dare mention 
Kaiserswerth to her mother. Fanny was busier, more successful than ever, 
and Embley was filled for autumn parties; and so, she wrote in a private 
note, whenever she wanted "refreshment in the midst of this table 


d'hote of people at Embley" she went upstairs and secretly read the 
Year Book of the Deaconesses of Kaiserswerth. 

In June, 1847, the Nightingales went to Oxford for the meeting of 
the British Association, and Richard Monckton JVlilnes went with them. 
The weather was perfect, the flowering acacias out everywhere, and 
Florence told Clarkey tliat she had "never imagined so much loveliness 
and learning." She strolled through college gardens and cloisters with 
Richard, and in New College cloister she picked a white rose to press 
"for a remembrance." They went to lunch at Christ Church with Pro- 
fessor Buckland, the famous naturalist, who kept animals at liberty in 
his rooms. Florence "invited a Bear of 3 months old in to lunch, who 
climbed like a squirrel for the butter on the table . . . which went to 
his head and he became obstreperous. Mr. Buckland put on his cap and 
gown and rebuked it, at which it became violent and was carried out in 
disgrace. . . . When we came out it was still walking and storming and 
howling on its hind legs — gesticulating and remonstrating. I spoke to it 
but Papa pulled me away, fearing it would bite. I said 'Let alone, I'm 
going to mesmerise it.' Mr. Milnes followed the suggestion and in % 
minute the little bear began to yawn, in less than 3 min. was stretched 
fast asleep on the gravel." 

From Oxford VV. E. N. and Florence went on to pay visits to Lord and 
Lady Sherborne and Lord and Lady Lovelace. Lady Lovelace, who 
was Byron's daughter, had a "passion" for Florence and handed round 
a set of verses she had written in praise of her "soft and silver voice," 
her "grave and lucid eye." 

And Florence persisted in being steadily more miserable. The old 
story repeated itself: she feared success because she enjoyed it too much; 
"vanity, love of display, love of glory" were still her besetting sins. 
"Everything I do is poisoned by the fear that I am not doing it in sim- 
plicity and godly sincerity," she wrote. 

In September Clarkey married Julius Mohl, and Florence wrote her a 
long confused letter on the subject of marriage: ". . . VVe must all take 
Sappho's leap, one way or other, before we attain to her repose — though 
some take it to death and some to marriage and some again to a new 
hf e even in this world. Which of them is the better part, God only knows. 
Popular prejudice gives it in favour of marriage. ... In single life, the 
stage of the Present and the Outward World is so filled with phantoms, 
the phantoms, not unreal tho' intangible, of Vague Remorse, Tears, 
dwelling on the threshold of every thing we undertake alone. Dissatisfac- 
tion with what is, and Restless Yearnings for what is not . . . love 
laying to sleep those phantoms (by assuring us of a love so great that 


we may lay aside all care for our own happiness . . . because it is of 
so much consequence to another) gives that leisure frame to our mind, 
which opens it at once to joy." 

Her destiny may have demanded that marriage should be put behind 
her, but the desire to be loved died hard. She could not rid her heart 
of longing for "a love so great that we may lay aside all care for our own 
happiness . . . because it is of so much consequence to another." Nor 
could she bring herself to face losing Richard Monckton Milnes. Month 
after month she temporized, evading the moment when she must give 
him a definite answer. Fanny passed from impatience to anger, accusing 
her of godless ingratitude, perversity, and conceit. 

At this point Florence found consolation in a new friend. The previous 
autumn, through Clarkey, she had met Selina Bracebridge, wife of 
Charles Holte Bracebridge, of Atherstone Hall, near Coventry. SeUna 
understood her. In a retrospect Miss Nightingale wrote: "She never told 
me life was fair and my share of its blessings great and that I ought to be 
happy. She did not know that I was miserable but she felt it; and to me, 
young, strong and blooming as I then was, to me, the idol of the man I 
adored, the spoilt child of fortune, she had the heart and the instinct to 
say — 'Earth, my child, has a grave and in heaven there is rest.' " Selina 
and her husband became family friends, and she was given a pet name 
by the Nightingales, the Greek character "sigma" — 2 — partly in com- 
pliment to the Hellenic traits of her character, partly in reference to her 
love for Greece. 

Through the spring of 1 847 Florence had a new dream. She imagined 2 
was always with her, always waiting for her, beautiful, kind, and loving. 
She wrote imaginary dialogues in which she put down 2's part in the 
conversation as well as her own. The dialogues were never sent; they 
were too private to be read even by 2. She feared again for her mental 
balance. All round her she could see the effects of enforced idleness and 
frustration — "I see so many of my kind who have gone mad for want 
of something to do. People who might have been so happy. Aunt Evans, 
Aunt Patty," she wrote. Would she wake up one day to find she was 
elderly and mad and subject, like Aunt Patty, to "outbursts".' 

In the autumn of 1847 she broke down completely. She wrote to 
Clarkey that she could not face "the prospect of three winter months 
of perpetual row." She collapsed, took to her bed, coughed. 

She was rescued by the Bracebridges, who were going to spend the 
winter in Rome; 2 persuaded Fanny to let them take Florence. The fuss 
was enormous: the clothes she was to take, the books she was to read, 
the sights she was to see, were separately the subject of consideration, 



reconsideration, letters, interviews, advice from uncles, aunts, grand- 
mothers, and cousins. Solemn farewells were said. Parthe was overcome 
at the idea of separation, and for the last few days Fanny and W. E. N. 
withdrew from Embley and left the tw^o sisters alone. Florence was 
apathetic. "Dreaming" had enslaved her even further during her illness, 
and she was terrified. In a private note she wrote: "I see nothing desirable 
but death." 

On October 27 the party left England, going overland to Marseilles 
and thence by sea to Civita Vecchia, the port for Rome. 

"Oh how happy I was! I never enjoyed any time in my life as much 
as my time in Rome," Miss Nightingale wrote. Fifty years later she 
could still describe every street, every turning, every building in minute 
detail. One of the great moments of her life was her first sight of the 
Michelangelo ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. "I did not think I was looking 
at pictures but straight into Heaven itself," she wrote to Parthe on De- 
cember 17, 1847. She remained alone in the Sistine for the whole of one 
day and for the rest of her life had prints of the Sistine frescoes hanging 
in her room. 

She danced out the old year of 1 847 into 1 848, and it was "the happiest 
New Year I have ever spent." In January she wrote: "This is the most 
entire and unbroken freedom from dreaming that I ever had." Her health 
recovered, and she was well all the six months she was in Rome. 

And in Rome, during the winter of 1847, she met Sidney Herbert. 
Their strange and fatal intimacy began in picture galleries and churches, 
during strolls in the Borghese gardens and sightseeing expeditions to 
Tivoli. Each was destined to exercise an extraordinary influence on the 
other; each in meeting the other had met his and her fate; but no 
portent indicated that this was the most important moment of their lives. 
The acquaintance opened with Florence's introduction by 2 to Sidney 
Herbert's wife, a remarkably beautiful girl who was a close friend, 
"almost like a daughter," to 2. She had recently married Sidney Herbert, 
half-brother and heir presumptive of the Earl of Pembroke, and they 
were now wintering in Rome in the course of a postponed wedding tour. 
She was immediately attracted by Florence, and they became intimate 

Liz was a woman of great charm. She was beautiful, with brilliant 
dark eyes and a glowing olive skin. She had a childlike eagerness, a simple 
power of enjoyment which made her a delightful companion. After 
knowing her for a few weeks, Miss Nightingale wrote in a private note 


of "the great kindness, the desire of love, the magnanimous generosity" 
which distinguished her character. 

Fate had heaped blessing upon blessing on Sidney Herbert's head. 
He was astonishingly good-looking — "a tall and graceful figure sur- 
mounted by a face of such singular sweetness as to be unforgettable," 
wrote Gladstone. His hair was thick, waving and dark chestnut in color, 
his eyes dark and shaded with long lashes. Tall, broad-shouldered yet 
graceful, he was a superb shot, a remarkably good horseman, and an 
ardent rider to hounds. He had great wealth; he lived at Wilton, one 
of the most beautiful houses in England which he would eventually 
inherit; he had a house in Belgrave Square and vast estates in Ireland 
and Scotland. He was brilliantly clever; his wit and social talents were 
famous; yet he secretly belonged to an association the members of which 
were pledged to give away a large part of their incomes in private charity. 

And yet — with so much goodness, brilliance, and beauty he was with- 
out zest for life. Parliamentary success and philanthropic achievements 
were dust and ashes in his mouth, and in spite of his gifts, his capacity for 
bestowing happiness, and his good fortune, he would have preferred 
never to have lived at all. He longed only for quiet — the peace of Wilton. 
"There is not a spot about Wilton which I do not love as if it were a 
person," he wrote. "If one had nothing to do but consult one's own 
taste and one's own ease I should be too glad to live down here a domes- 
tic Hfe." 

It was impossible. Fate heaped on him glittering prize after glittering 
prize. Riches, high office, power, responsibility, descended on him. He 
found the burden almost intolerable and turned for consolation to re- 
ligion — both Sidney Herbert and his wife were devout Christians who 
consecrated their lives to philanthropic works. He built a new church 
at Wilton, he worked to improve the condition of the poor, he was in 
process of building and endowing a convalescent home, he was in- 
terested in a plan for emigrating sweated workers, and into these and 
other plans l.iz threw herself heart and soul, worshiping her husband 
and desiring to share his every activity and thought. 

In Rome the Herberts had a small circle of friends who met almost 
daily. One was Doctor Manning, Archdeacon of Chichester, who was 
wintering in Rome to improve his health, which had broken down under 
the stress of religious doubts; another was Mary Stanley, sister of Doc- 
tor Stanley, then Canon of Canterbury, later famous as Dean Stanley 
of Westminster. It was the time when the Oxford Movement was shaking 
the Church of England to its foundations, and the Herberts and their 
friends belonged to the reforming High Church party, popularly called 


Puseyites. Would the path which they were following lead them to the 
Roman Catholic Church? To help them decide this point, they had 
come to Rome. Miss Nightingale, however, was indifferent. She formed 
a friendship with iMary Stanley because Mary Stanley was interested 
in nursing and had visited hospitals in England and Europe, and Mary 
Stanley developed a "passion" for her. With Manning and with Sidney 
Herbert she discussed social work and schemes of philanthropy. Re- 
ligious doctrines or the claims of one church against another meant 
nothing to her. 

In April, 1848 she left Rome. The city was in arms again, and 
Garibaldi was riding into Rome to defend the city against the Aus- 
trians. She heard with indignation the suggestion that Rome should be 
surrendered without a blow in order that its monuments might be pre- 
served. "They must carry out their defence to the last," she wrote to 
Clarkey. "I should like to see them fight the streets, inch by inch, till 
the last man dies at his barricade, till St. Peter's is level with the ground, 
till the \^atican is blown into the air. ... If I were in Rome I should 
be the first to fire the Sistine . . . and Michael Angelo would cry 'Well 
done' as he saw his work destroyed." 

She reached home to find Fanny and Parthe occupied by the excite- 
ment and fuss of a family wedding: Laura Nicholson, Marianne's young- 
est sister, married Jack Bonham Carter, Hilary's eldest brother. The 
celebrations, in the Waverley manner, were colossal. Goodwill was in 
the air, differences were forgotten, and Florence and Parthe were 

Her friendship with the Herberts, a source of profound satisfaction 
to Fanny, grew closer. As soon as they returned to London in May, 
she dined with them. The next month she went with them to the open- 
ing of their convalescent home at Charmouth, staying at Wilton on her 
way back. She met a circle of intelligent, socially impeccable, extremely 
influential people intensely interested in hospital reform. Public opinion 
was awakening; the Herberts and their friends were eager for informa- 
tion, and Miss Nightingale, who had now been working for more than 
five years collecting facts on public health and hospitals, had an enormous 
mass of detailed information at her finger tips. She gradually became 
known as an expert on hospitals. 

The Herberts knew of her plan to go to Kaiserswerth and approved, 
and the Bunsens were thinking of sending their daughter there. Once 
more the fulfillment of her desires seemed within the range of possibility. 
Who could disapprove of what the Herberts and the Bunsens ap- 
proved? Surely her mother must allow herself to be convinced. But 


it was necessary to proceed cautiously — the very word "hospital" might 
be fatal. 

In September, 1848, a heaven-sent opportunity offered. Parthe was 
ordered to take a cure at Carlsbad, and the Nightingales planned to go on 
to Frankfurt, where Clarkey and her husband Al. Mohl were staying. 
Kaiserswerth being near Frankfurt, Florence's plan was to leave her 
family for a week or two to "visit the deaconnesses and perhaps fit in 
a little training." 

But 1 848 was the year of revolution in Europe. When disorders broke 
out in Frankfurt, W. E. N. thought it wiser to stay in England; and the 
Nightingales went to Malvern instead of Carlsbad. "All that I most 
wanted to do at Kaiserswerth lay for the first time within reach of my 
mouth, and the ripe plum has dropped." Miss Nightingale wrote to 
Clarkey in October. 

Her reaction was violent. Her mother was not concerned, for Fanny 
knew nothing of the scheme. It was God Himself who had prevented 
her. God who had cut her off from Kaiserswerth, perhaps for years. The 
old reasoning tortured her. This misfortune had come upon her because 
she was sinful. God wanted her to go to Kaiserswerth, but He could 
not let her go until she had reached a greater state of worthiness. She 
went down into the depths of depression; the short period of compara- 
tive happiness was over. She "hated God to hear her laugh as if she 
had not repented of her sin." The winter season at Embley lay before 
her. "My God what am I to do," she wrote in a private note of October, 
1848. "Teach me, tell me. I cannot go on any longer waiting till my 
situation should change, dreaming what the change should be." 

She dreamed of fame, of Richard Monckton Milnes. To escape from 
"dreaming," she sought relief in nursing the poor of Wellow, the village 
near Embley, and Fanny and Parthe became irritated. W. E. N., who 
hated dirt, disease, and ugliness, was disgusted. He told Florence she 
was being theatrical; if she wanted something to do, let her work in 
the school at Wellow. She did for a time, but she failed. "I was disgusted 
with my utter impotence," she wrote in a private note. "I made no im- 
provement. I obtained no influence. . . . Why should I? . . . Educa- 
tion I know is not my genius." 

Aunt Hannah wrote soothingly that anything, even a house-party 
or a dinner, can be done to the glory of God. "How can it be to the glory 
of God," answered Florence, "when there is so much misery in the 
world which we might be curing instead of living in luxury." Aunt 
Hannah, who did not pay her usual visit to Embley in 1848, did not 
answer: Florence was becoming known as a rebel daughter, and Aunt 


Hannah could not countenance that. The following year she wrote 
that she found it necessary with "advancing years and delicate health" 
to "confine herself to visits to near relatives," and her correspondence 
with Florence ceased. 

In March, 1849, the Nightingales went to London for the season. 
Miss Nightingale was in a mounting delirium of misery and frustration. 
"DreaminCT" became uncontrollable. She fell into trances in which 
hours were blotted out; she lost sense of time and place against her 
will. In daily Hfe she moved like an automaton, could not remember 
what had been said or even where she had been. Agonies of guilt and 
self-reproach were intensified by the conviction that her worst fears 
were being realized and that she was going insane. 

Again and again she made resolutions to end dreaming, to "tear the 
sin out," to "stamp it out" — but they were always broken. She turned 
on herself with savagery, hating herself, despising her weakness. She 
would have killed herself if she had not thought it mortal sin. On June 
7, 1849, she determined at whatever cost to herself to "crucify" her sin. 
The 7th of each month was devoted to self-examination because she 
had received her "call" on February 7. In this wretched state another 
blow fell on her. Richard Monckton Milnes would be put off no longer. 
He insisted on a definite answer — would she marry him or not? She 
refused him. 

It was an act which required extraordinary courage. She was deeply 
stirred by him; she called him "the man I adored"; and she renounced 
him for the sake of a destiny which it seemed impossible she would ever 

In a private note she analyzed her reasons. She wrote several versions; 
she began it, broke off, returned to it again before she could clarify her 
emotions. "I have an intellectual nature which requires satisfaction and 
that would find it in him. I have a passionate nature which requires satis- 
faction and that would find it in him. I have a moral, an active, nature 
which requires satisfaction and that would not find it in his life. Some- 
times I think I will satisfy my passional nature at all events, because that 
will at least secure me from the evil of dreaming. But would it? I could be 
satisfied to spend a life with him in combining our different powers in 
some great object. I could not satisfy this nature by spending a Ufe 
with him in making society and arranging domestic things." 

But she could not always be rational. She wrote again with a pencil 
that trembled, hesitated, and dug itself into the paper. "I do not under- 
stand it. ... I am ashamed to understand it. ... I know that if I were 
to see him again . . . the very thought of doing so quite overcomes me. 


1 know that since I refused him not one day has passed without my 
thinking of him, that life is desolate without his sympathy." At night 
she dreamed of him. He came and told her that he had arranged for her 
to go to Kaiserswerth. And yet desperately as she longed for him, she 
would not give way. "I know I could not bear his life," she wrote, "that 
to be nailed to a continuation, an exaggeration of my present Ufe without 
hope of another would be intolerable to me — that voluntarily to put 
it out of my power ever to be able to seize the chance of forming for 
myself a true and rich life would seem to me like suicide." 

Fanny was severely disappointed and furiously resentful. Her ob- 
stinacy hardened; she determined that Florence should not have her 
own ungrateful way, and what had begun as genuine maternal solicitude 
for her daughter's welfare turned into a contest of wills in which love 
and kindness were forgotten. 

By the autumn Miss Nightingale's mental and physical state was piti- 
able. She was far from well and fainted on several occasions; sometimes 
her mind became a blank and she looked at people wildly and vaguely, not 
hearing what was said to her. 2 once more intervened. The Bracebridges 
were going to Egypt and then to Greece, and they persuaded Fanny to 
let them take Florence. But the Nightingale circle disapproved. "I think 
you are all martyrs for having consented," wrote Ellen Toilet, Parthe's 
favorite cousin. "I suppose really large minded people think less of space 
and distance than we do," commented another. Aunt Patty Smith wrote 
acidly that "it was to be hoped that change of air and the satisfaction 
of doing her duty would do Flo good." 

Miss Nightingale herself commented to Hilary Bonham Carter that 
as Rome had done her some good the family were going to send her 
farther afield in the hopes that that would be even better. 

A journey to Egypt was an adventure in 1849. But she was in a state 
when Egypt, the desert, even the brilliant landscapes of the Nile itself 
meant as little as scenes painted on a backcloth. She was on the verge 
of mental collapse. 

In a small black notebook she recorded her secret agonies; the entries 
are scribbled in pencil, in phrases which repeat themselves, in writing 
which wavers and becomes all but indecipherable. The weight of guilt 
laid on her conscience by "dreaming" was driving her insane. 

Jan. 26. Went with party to Jenab . . . but I spoiled it all with 
dreaming. Disappointed with myself and the effect of 
Egypt on me. Rome was better. 


Feb. 1 6, Where was I all the while — dreaming. Karnak itself 
cannot save me now. 

Feb. 2 2. God spoke to me again, sitting on the steps of the 
portico at Karnak. 

March 3. III. Did not get up in the morning. 

March 7. God called me in the morning and asked me would I 
do good for Him, for Him alone without the reputa- 

March 9. During half an hour I had by myself in my cabin, set- 
tled the question with God. 

March 15. God has delivered me from the great offence and the 
constant murderer of all my thoughts. 

March 21. Undisturbed by my great enemy. 

April I. Not able to go out but wished God to have it all His 
own way. I like Him to do exactly as He likes without 
even telling me the reason. 

May 7. (In Athens) I have felt here the suspension of all my 
faculties, I could not write, could not read. . . . 

May 9. I cannot even draw a pattern for a few minutes with- 
out turning faint. 

May 12. To-day I am 30 — the age Christ began his mission. 
Now no more childish things. No more love. No more 
marriage. Now Lord let me think only of Thy Will, 
what Thou wiliest me to do. Oh Lord Thy Will, Thy 

May 18. To-morrow is Sacrament Sunday; I have read over all 
my history, a history of miserable woe, mistake, and 
blinding vanit)% of seeking great things for myself. 

May 19. Whit Sunday. Oh how happy I am to be away from 
the scene of temptation on this day. I thank Thee 
Father, three Whitsuntides have I spent torn with 
temptation and overcome. Here I am not safe. God I 
place myself in Thy Hands . . . if it be Thy Will that 
I should go on suffering let it be so. 

May 21. (Ill) Now I am 30, the year when I thought I should 
have accomplished my Kaiserswerth mission ... let 
me only accomplish the Will of God, let me not desire 
great things for myself. 

June 7. I thought I would go up the Eumenides cave and ask 
God there to explain to me what were these Eumenides 
which pursued me. I would not ask to be released from 


them — Welcome Eumenides — but to be delivered from 
doing further wrong. . . . This day twelve months ago 
June yth 1 849 I made that desperate effort, that cruci- 
fixion of the sin, in faith that it would cure me. Oh 
what is crucifixion — would I not joyfully submit to 
crucifixion, Father, to be rid of this. But this long 
moral death, this failure of all attempts to cure. What 
does it signify to me now whether I see this or do that? 
I never can be sure of seeing it. I may see nothing but 
my own self practicing an attitude. 

June 10. The Lord spoke to me; he said "Give five minutes 
every hour to the thought of me. Couldst thou but 
love Me as Lizzie loves her husband, how happy 
wouldst thou be." But Lizzie does not give five minutes 
every hour to the thought of her husband, she thinks 
of him every minute, spontaneously. 

June 12. To Megara. Alas it little matters where I go — sold as I 
am to the enemy — whether in Athens or in London, it 
is all one to me. 

June 17. After a sleepless night physically and morally ill and 
broken down, a slave — glad to leave Athens. I had no 
wish on earth but to sleep. . . . 

June 1 8. I had no wish to be on deck. I let all the glorious sun- 
rises, the gorgeous sunsets, the lovely moonlights pass 
by. I had no wish, no energy, I longed but for sleep. 
. . . My enemy is too strong for me, everything has 
been tried. . . . All, all is in vain. 
Began to sleep. 

Here too (Trieste) I was free. 
Four long days of absolute slavery. 
[Written faintly and shakily] I cannot write a letter, 
can do nothing. 

July I. I lay in bed and called on God to save me. 

Again 2 saved her. If Florence continued to be thwarted, she would 
go out of her mind. 2 acted on her own responsibility. They were to 
travel home from Greece by land; she chose a route through Prague and 
Berlin and suggested that she and her husband should spend a fortnight 
at Diisseldorf while Florence visited Kaiserswerth. 

Miss Nightingale was too exhausted, too wretched to be grateful. "On 
the brink of my accomplishing my greatest wish," she wrote, "with 2 










positively planning it for me, I seemed to be unfit, unmanned for it, it 
seemed to be not the calling for me. ... I did not feel the spirit, the 
energy, to do anything at Kaiserswerth." As they traveled from Trieste 
to Prague and on to Berlin, she wrote that she was "lost and past re- 
demption, a slave that could not be set free." 

She found relief in the companionship of animals. On the Nile she 
had had two little chameleons which slept on her bed and had been "so 
sorry to part with them, they were such company." She was traveHng 
now with two tortoises, called Mr. and Mrs. Hill in honor of two mis- 
sionaries at Athens, a cicada named Plato, and Athena, a baby owl, 
which she had rescued from some Greek boys at the Parthenon. Athena 
was fierce, and Miss Nightingale had had to mesmerize her according to 
Richard Monckton Milne's method before she could be persuaded to 
enter a cage, but she became devoted to her mistress and traveled every- 
where in her pocket. At Prague Athena ate Plato. 

When Miss Nightingale reached Berlin, she \\'as still miserably de- 
pressed. "I had 3 paths among which to choose,". she wrote on July lo, 
1850. "I might have been a married woman, or a literary woman, or a 
hospital sister. And now it seemed to me as if quiet with somebody to 
look for my coming back were all I wanted." 

But in Berlin she began visiting hospitals and charitable institutions, 
and her spirits instantly revived. "All at once I felt how rich life was," 
she wrote on July 15. On July 31 she reached Kaiserswerth. "With the 
feehng with which a pilgrim first looks on the Kedron I saw the Rhine 
dearer to me than the Nile." 

She stayed a fortnight. It was a visit of inspection, and she did not 
nurse but was shown the work of the Institution and helped with the 

On August 13 she left Kaiserswerth "feeling so brave as if nothing 
could ever vex me again." She was well, brimming with vitality, her 
powers of concentration had returned, and she performed the feat of 
dashing off a pamphlet of thirty-two pages in less than a week; telling 
the unwanted women kept in "busy idleness" in England, the women she 
saw on all sides "going mad for the want of something to do," of work, 
happiness, and comradeship waiting for them at Kaiserswerth. It was 
printed in 1851 "by the inmates of the Ragged Colonial School at 
Westminster" and issued anonymously under the title The Institution 
of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine for the Practical Training of Deaco?iesses, 
under the direction of the Rev. Pastor Fliedner, embracing the support 
and care of a Hospital, bifant and Industrial Schools, and a Female Peni- 


On August 2 1 she reached Lea Hurst and "surprised my dear people, 
sitting in the drawing-room, with the owl in my pocket. Sat with Mama 
and Parthe in the nursery. Rode with Papa." Happiness lasted only a few 
hours. Fanny was furiously angry; the visit to Kaisers werth was not to be 
spoken of, was shameful, a disgrace. The old resentments broke out; 
the old accusations were repeated. Parthe had hysterics; Fanny raged 
and wept. Florence must be forced to do her duty, made to stay at home, 
and engage in the pursuits proper to her upbringing and station. 

Five years had passed since her attempt to enter Salisbury Infirmary; 
she was no longer a girl but a woman of thirty, and she had accom- 
plished nothing. Only her determination persisted. "Resignation!" she 
had written in 1847, "I never understood that word!" A new struggle 
began, more bitter, more unhappy than ever before. 




its character for the worse. Fanny had begun by sincerely wishing for 
Florence's happiness, sincerely believing what she wished to do would 
ruin her life. That point was passed. There was justification for Miss 
Nightingale's sense of guilt: she did evoke the worst from each one of 
her family; normally kind, normally generous, they behaved to her as 
to no one else. The most furious opposition came from Parthe. Parthe 
was thirty-one, and the truth was that she had achieved only moderate 
success; the successes, the lovers, the popularity were Florence's, not 

She cast herself for the part of the adoring indispensable sister who 
could not be left out. "Her sense of existence is lost in Florence," wrote 
Mrs. Gaskell. "I never saw such adoring love." "Your own Flo," wrote 
W. E. N. to Parthe in 1849. "Your idolatrised wondrous Flo. . . ." 
Florence's growing celebrity and success were to be shared, but what 
if, instead of creating a brilliant, interesting life for Parthe, she went off 
to lead a sordid existence of her own? The possibility drove Parthe 

Fanny and W. E. N. accused Florence of heartlessness: for nearly 
a year she had been away, at great expense, doing exactly what she 
pleased; Parthe had been left behind to mope, and her health had suf- 
fered. They demanded that she should devote herself entirely to Parthe 
for the next six months. "To this," wrote Miss NightinCTale in a retro- 

. ' DO 

spect, "I acceded. And when I committed this act of insanity had there 
been any sane person in the house he should have sent for Connolly to 
me." Dr. Connolly specialized in diseases of the brain. 

Until the spring of 1 85 1 she was to be Parthe's slave. Parthe triumphed. 
She made little scenes and was coaxed out of them; she sketched with 
Florence, sang with Florence, wandered with her in the garden, chat- 


tered of poetry and art. The effect on Miss Nightingale was devastating. 
She had left Kaiserswerth feeling "so brave as if nothing could ever 
vex me again"; within a few weeks she was sunk in the old miseries. 
"Dreaming" returned, and never had she been so hopelessly enslaved. 
Once more nights were spent in agonized self-reproach; once more 
stupid with misery and frustration she was carried on Fanny's merry-go- 
round from Lea Hurst to Embley, Embley to London and back to 
Embley again. 

In October the Nightingales received tragic news. Henry Nicholson 
had been drowned in Spain. It was with "deepest rehef" that Miss Night- 
ingale received a summons to Waverley; Henry's mother wished for 
the presence of the girl Henry had loved. The house was in a hubbub, 
and she took charge, accompanying Mrs. Nicholson to Henry's cham- 
bers in London and packing his possessions. The Nicholsons besought 
her to stay on, but Parthe insisted she should return. She wrote asking 
for "an extension of leave," but was allowed only a week-end. "Thank 
you, thank you dear Mum for letting me stay until Tuesday," she 

After three months she was in despair. "My present life is suicide," 
she wrote on December 31, 1850. "Slowly I have opened my eyes to 
the fact that I cannot now deliver myself from the habit of dreaming 
which, like gin drinking, is eating out my vital strength. Now I have 
let myself go entirely. Temporary respite only I have. Henry's death 
and Waverley was one. . . . My God what will become of me? . . . 
I have no desire but to die. There is not a night that I do not lie down 
on my bed, wishing that I may leave it no more. Unconsciousness is all 
I desire. I remain in bed as long as I can, for what have I to wake for? " 
Three months of subjection to Parthe had still to run. "Oh, how am I to 
get through this day, to talk all through this day, is the thought of every 
morninCT," she wrote in January, 1851. ". . . This is the sting of death. 
In my thirty-first year I see nothing desirable but death." She did not 
reproach Parthe — "she is a child playing in God's garden," she wrote 
on January 7, 1851, "and delighting in the happiness of all his works, 
knowing nothing of life but the English drawing-room, nothing of 
struggle in her own unselfish nature." The reproaches were heaped 
on her own head. "What is to become of me," she wrote. "I can hardly 
open my mouth without giving dear Parthe vexation — everything I say 
or do is a subject of annoyance to her." "Oh dear good woman," she 
wrote of Fanny, "when I feel her disappointment in me it is as if I were 
going insane .... what a murderer am I to disturb their happiness. 
. . . What am I that their life is not good enough for me? Oh God what 


am I? The thoughts and feelings that I have now I can remember since 
I was six years old. It was not I that made them. Oh God how did they 
come? . . . But why, oh my God cannot I be satisfied with the life 
that satisfies so many people? I am told that the conversation of all these 
good clever men ought to be enough for me. Why am I starving, des- 
perate, diseased on it? . . . What is the cause of it. . . . Oh what do 
books know of the real troubles of life. Death, why it's a happiness. . . . 
My God what am I to do?" 

In the spring of 1851 she unexpectedly met Richard Monckton Milnes 
at a party given in London by Lady Palmerston. She had not seen him 
since the day she refused him, and she was shaken. He came across to 
her and said lightly: "The noise of this room is like a cotton mill." She 
was deeply wounded — how could he speak as if she were an ordinary 
acquaintance? On March 16, 1851, she met him again. "Last night I 
saw him again for the second time," she wrote in a private note; "he 
would hardly speak. ... I was miserable. ... I wanted to find him 
longing to talk to me, willing to give me another opportunity, to keep 
open another decision." 

She did not want to recognize the fact that her refusal of Richard 
was final. But he had waited for her decision for nine years, and he 
would not reopen the subject. Some weeks later he became engaged to 
the Honorable Annabel Crewe. 

In April the six months of slavery to Parthe ended, and Florence went 
immediately to Wilton to stay with Liz Herbert. When she returned to 
Embley she brought with her Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the first 
women to become a doctor. Dr. Elizabeth was the dausfhter of a Bristol 
merchant who had emigrated and become a citizen of the United States. 
She had contrived to get herself accepted as a medical student at the 
University of Geneva in the State of New York, had taken a medical 
degree, and was now studying medicine in Europe. Her experiences 
confirmed Fanny's worst fears. She had been training at "La Maternite," 
the State School of Midwifery in Paris, where life was "infernal." It 
seemed that the female pupils were "pretty generally the mistresses of the 
students," and Dr. Blackwell's younger sister was going to Paris in "male 
attire" to "avoid improper advances." Finally, Dr. Blackwell had con- 
tracted purulent ophthalmia at "La Maternite" and lost an eye. 

One afternoon Dr. Elizabeth admired the facade of Embley. "Do you 
know what I always think when I look at that row of windows?" said 
Miss Nightingale. "I think how I should turn it into a hospital and just 
where I should place the beds." 

That summer her attitude to life began to change. The absurdity of 


her six months' slavery to Parthe, Richard Monckton Milne's decisive 
action, the encouragement of the Herberts forced her eyes open. In a 
private note she wrote: "There are knots which are Gordian and can only 
be cut." Her sense of guilt lessened, and at long last she saw herself as 
the victim not the criminal. On June 8, 1851, she wrote a private note 
on her family in a new vein. "I must expect no sympathy or help from 
them. I must take some things, as few as I can, to enable me to live. I 
must take them, they will not be given to me. . . ." 

A fortnight later she had arranged to go to Kaiserswerth. 

Opinion had changed since her attempt to enter Salisbury Infirmary 
in 1845. Interest in hospitals was in the air; Fanny could no longer assert 
that a plan approved by the Herberts, the Bunsens, and the Bracebridges 
was shameful. Forced to yield, she gave way with the worst grace. 
Everything was to be done in secret. Parthe was ailing — Fanny declared 
that worry over Florence was making her ill — and had been ordered a 
three months' cure at Carlsbad. Florence was to leave England with 
Fanny and Parthe, go on to Kaiserswerth, and join them again to come 
home. Fanny forbade her to tell anyone where she was going or to 
write any letters from Kaiserswerth — she was not to tell Shore on any 
account, because young men were so carelessly indiscreet. 

W. E. N. stayed at home. He was beginning to find the perpetual 
conflict in his family unbearable, and he "retreated into the shadows." 
Parthe was transported with fury. Scene followed scene, reaching a cli- 
max in the hotel at Carlsbad the night before Miss Nightingale left. 
"My sister," wrote Miss Nightingale in a retrospect, "threw my bracelets 
which I offered her to wear, in my face and the scene which followed 
was so violent that I fainted." The following evening she reached 

In 1833 a young pastor named Theodore Fliedner and his wife placed 
a bed and a chair in a summerhouse in their back garden and converted 
it into a refuge for a single destitute discharged prisoner. From this 
beginning grew the Kaiserswerth Institution. In 1851 it included a hos- 
pital with a hundred beds, an infant school, a penitentiary, an orphan 
asylum, and a normal school for training school mistresses. 

Life was Spartan, work rigorously hard, the food such as was eaten 
by peasants. "Until yesterday," wrote Miss Nightingale to Fanny in 
July, 1 85 1, "I never had time even to send my things to the wash. We 
have ten minutes for each of our meals, of which we have four. We get 
up at 5; breakfast ^ before 6. The patients dine at 1 1; the Sisters at 12. 
We drink tea (i.e. a drink made of ground rye) between 2 and 3, broths 
at 12 and 7; bread at the two former, vegetables at 12. Several evenings 


in the week we collect in the Great Hall for a bible lesson. ... I find 
the deepest interest in everything here and am so well in body and mind. 
This is life. Now I know what it is to live and to love life, and really I 
should be sorry now to leave life. ... I wish for no other earth, no other 
world than this." 

She slept in the orphan asylum and worked with the children and in 
the hospital. She was present at operations, which was considered al- 
most indecent. "The operation to which Mrs. Bracebridge alludes," she 
told Fanny, "was an amputation at which I was present, but which I did 
not mention to Parthe, knowing that she would see no more in my 
interest in it than the pleasure dirty boys have in playing in the puddles 
round a butcher's shop." 

Prayer accompanied every incident at Kaiserswerth. Twenty years 
later Aliss Nightingale told Sir Harry Verney: "We were all taught to 
pray aloud extempore before the whole community whenever it was 
called for. And, at all the little fetes or whenever he appeared Fliedner 
and his wife did this themselves about everything. It was all prayed out 
loud to God before everybody. If a child did wrong it was recommended 
to God before all the others. . . . We should all have thought it wrong 
not only to allege shyness but to feel shyness. . . . For the children 
there were perpetual birthdays . . . every birthday was feted, there 
was dressing up, with flowers, telling stories, singing, every birthday 
child asked its own guests and I was always asked. My bad German 
and foreign stories amused them. . . . There was of course popping 
down on knees and praying in the fete." 

Miss Nightingale always denied she had been "trained" at Kaisers- 
werth. "The nursing there was nil," she wrote in 1897, "the hygiene 
horrible. The hospital was certainly the worst part of Kaiserswerth. 
But never have I met with a higher tone, a purer devotion than there. 
There was no neglect. It was the more remarkable because many of the 
Deaconesses had been only peasants — none were gentlewomen (when 
I was there)." 

Toward the end of her stay the Herberts visited her, and Herr 
Fliedner told them that "no person had ever passed so distinguished 
an examination, or shown herself so thoroughly mistress of all she had 
to learn as Miss Nightingale." She was completely satisfied, completely 
happy; her heart overflowed, and she made one last effort to be recon- 
ciled with her mother and Parthe. On August 31, 1851, she wrote a long 
humble beseeching letter setting out her point of view once again. She 
repeated what she had tried to explain a hundred times before but never 
so gently, so affectionately. "Give me time, give me faith. Trust me, 


help me. Say to me 'Follow the dictates of that spirit within thee'. . . . 
My beloved people I cannot bear to grieve you. Give me your blessing," 
she wrote. 

Neither Fanny nor Parthe responded — she never appealed to them 

On October 8, 1851, Miss Nightingale joined her mother and sister at 
Cologne. They were furiously resentful — "They would hardly speak 
to me," wrote Miss Nightingale in a retrospect. "I was treated as if I 
had come from committing a crime." A miserable party traveled toward 
England. Parthe's health had not improved: the cure had failed, because, 
she said, she had been so anxious while her sister was at Kaiserswerth. 
Fanny made light of Parthe's condition but fussed herself into a state of 
nervous exhaustion over bandboxes. For her part, Miss Nightingale was 
seething with plans. Kaiserswerth had whetted her appetite. She was wild 
to train in earnest. She wanted a larger hospital, one of the great London 

Once more her plans were doomed. She arrived at Embley to find 
W. E. N. in pain from inflamed eyes. An oculist ordered him at once to 
Umberslade, in Warwickshire, for a course of cold-water treatment, 
but he would not go unless Florence went with him. 

She could not escape. Parthe was better because her sister was at home. 
W. E. N. would only undergo his treatment if she were with him; her 
sense of obligation was enormous, and if the claims of family affection 
were strong the claims of suffering were stronger. She entered the cage, 
gave up all she had gained, and submitted once more. 

"O weary days — oh evenings that seem never to end — for how many 
years have I watched that drawing-room clock and thought it never 
would reach the ten! and for twenty, thirty years more to do this!" 
she wrote in a private note of 1851. In a long private note headed 
"Butchered to make a Roman Holiday," she wrote a furious indictment 
of family life. "Women don't consider themselves as human beings at all. 
There is absolutely no God, no country, no duxry to them at all, except 
family. ... I have known a good deal of convents. And of course every- 
one has talked of the petty grinding tyrannies supposed to be exercised 
there. But I know nothing like the petty grinding tyranny of a good 
English family. And the only alleviation is that the tyrannized submits 
with a heart full of affection." 

She was not only furious for herself: Hilary Bonham Carter was being 
sacrificed, betrayed by her unselfishness, gentleness, and sweetness. In 
1850, Hilary had spent almost a year in Paris living with Clarkey and 
working in a studio; though her talents were pronounced remarkable, 


she had never returned. Her mother "could not be left alone," she was 
"needed at home." 

In 1852, under the title Cassandra, Miss Nightingale wrote a descrip- 
tion of the life of a girl in a prosperous comfortable home. Cassandra 
is herself, Cassandra's family the Nightingales. Cassandra was not pub- 
lished, but a number of copies were printed privately. She takes Cas- 
sandra through a day. The morning is spent "sitting round a table in 
the drawing-room, looking at prints, doing worsted work and reading 
little books." The afternoon is passed "taking a little drive." When night 
comes, Cassandra declares, women "suffer — even physically . . . the 
accumulation of nervous energy, which has had nothing to do during 
the day, makes them feel every night, when they go to bed, as if they 
were going mad. The vacuity and boredom of this existence are sugared 
over by false sentiment. "Women go about maudling to each other and 
preaching to their daughters that 'women have no passions' ... if the 
young girls of the 'higher classes' who never commit a false step, . . . 
were to speak and say what are their thoughts employed on, their 
thoughts which alone are free, what would they say? . . . 

"Is not one fancying herself the nurse of some new friend in sickness, 
another ensra^insr in romantic dangers with him . . . another under- 
going unheard of trials under the observation of one whom she has chosen 
as the companion of her dream?" Finally, Cassandra, "who can neither 
find happiness in life nor alter it, dies," slain by her family. 'Free — free — 
oh! divine freedom, art thou come at last? Welcome beautiful death!' " 

Miss Nightingale never suffered more acutely than at the period when 
she wrote Cassandra, but her suffering was no longer despair; it was 
rebellion. In herself she was free. "Dreaming" tortured her no longer. 
"I have come into possession of myself," she wrote in a private note 
of 1852. On her thirty-second birthday she wrote to W. E. N.: "I am 
glad to think that my youth is past and it never never can return — that 
time of disappointed inexperience when a man possesses nothing, not 
even himself." She possessed herself now, and she was at peace. Fanny 
and Parthe frantically prolonged the struggle for another year, but 
victory had in fact been won when she went to Kaiserswerth. 

W. E. N. became uneasy, for it was borne in on him that his wife and 
daughter were treating Florence badly. In the early spring of the fol- 
lowing year Florence went with him to Umberslade for his eye treat- 
ment. When they returned he was secretly her ally. During the summer 
of 1852, he indicated that as Fanny required all letters to be handed 
round it might "avoid enquiry" if Florence wrote to him at the Athe- 
naeum Club instead of at home. 


March of this year brought the Nightingales to London for the season 
once more, and the restrictions imposed on Miss Nightingale reached 
absurdity. She was treated as a schoolgirl, her movements controlled, 
her letters read, her invitations supervised; yet she was a woman of over 
thirty with a distinguished circle of her own. Among her friends in 
1852 were Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, Lord Shaftesbury, 
Lord Palmerston, Arthur Stanley, later Dean Stanley, and his sister Mary 
Stanley, and the poet Arthur Hugh Clough. She was held prisoner by 
her belief in Parthe, by her affection for W. E. N., by her sense of duty. 
Where was there an outlet for her? Where in all England was there 
an opportunity for a woman of her class with her vocation? 

In the summer of 1852 it seemed as if she might find what she sought 
in the Roman Catholic Church. At this time Manning was a priest of the 
Roman Church remarkable for his devoted work in the poorest districts 
of the East End. In the course of a charitable investigation Miss Night- 
ingale came on a child of fourteen who was being forced into prostitu- 
tion, tried to rescue the girl, but found no organization in the Church 
of England would receive her. The child was Irish and, as far as she had 
any religion. Catholic. Miss Nightingale applied to A4anning, who acted 
instantly, taking the child under his protection and placing her in the 
Convent of the Good Shepherd. 

She was deeply impressed, and a friendship sprang up which pro- 
duced a vast correspondence. She confided her family difficulties to 
Manning; he consoled and advised her, "writing endlessly." She avowed 
freely that she had "Catholic yearnings," she signed her letters "your 
weary penitent." 

She was fascinated by the organization of the Church of Rome. 
"If you knew what a home the Catholic Church would be to me!" 
she wrote "All that I want I should find in her. All my difficulties would 
be removed. I have laboriously to pick up, here and there, crumbs by 
which to live. She would give me daily bread. The daughters of St. 
Vincent would open their arms to me. They have already done so, and 
what should I find there. My work already laid out for me instead of 
seeking it to and fro and finding none; my home, sympathy, human and 
divine." . . . "Why cannot I enter the Catholic Church at once" she 
asked "as the best form of truth I have ever known, and as cutting the 
Gordian knot I cannot untie?" 

But though she seemed on the brink of conversion to Catholicism, 
she was engaged on a line of thought totally at variance with Catholic 
teaching. During the summer of this year she began an attempt to 
formulate "a new religion for the Artizans of England," aiming at 


demonstrating that free thought is not incompatible with belief in God. 
She described God as the Absolute, the Perfect, the Spirit of Truth. The 
moral world, she contended, was ruled by laws as fixed in their operation 
as those which science had recently discovered ruled the physical world. 
She did not touch on the Christian doctrines of salvation, redemption, 
and the incarnation of Christ. She was not drawn to the figure of Jesus. 
Her God was God the Father, not God the Son. 

When Manning read her manuscript, he decided that she was not in 
the requisite state of mind for admission into the Church of Rome. 
She craved an opportunity to exercise her powers, but she was very 
far from submission; indeed, she had no conception of submission in the 
Catholic sense — it was an idea utterly foreign to her. Submission to her 
meant endurance, not yielding. In the essence of her character she was 
a chooser, a heretic, and he refused to accept her as a convert. 

Nevertheless, he continued to be her friend, and his friendship proved 
of enormous importance. In spite of the fact that she was a Protestant, 
he arranged for her to enter a Catholic hospital where the nurses were 
nuns, and therefore "moral danger" did not exist. In the summer of 
1852, he told her she could be received either by the Sisters of Mercy 
in Dublin or by the Sisters of Charity in the rue Oudinot, Paris. She 
wished to do both, to go first for a short time to Dublin, later for a longer 
time to Paris. 

Once again there was a storm. Fanny and Parthe had hysterics. All the 
old arguments and reproaches were revived: Parthe 's health, Florence's 
heartlessness, Parthe's devotion, Florence's ingratitude. Once more she 
was forced to abandon her plans. 

Her friends became alarmed. Fanny's treatment of her younger 
daughter was beginning to look like mania. Was Florence's life to be 
ruined, her remarkable talents wasted because Fanny had an obsession? 
Aunt Mai and Mrs. Bracebridge thought it their duty to interfere, in- 
terviewing Fanny separately and together. Fanny, with her world against 
her, bombarded with \v hat the Herberts thought, the Bunsens thought, 
the Shaftesburys thought, took refuge in a new policy. She vacillated; 
she "could not make up her mind to a definite step." She would discuss 
the question of Florence's future, agree to a plan, and next day behave 
as if she had never heard of any such suggestion in her Hfe before. During 
the summer of that year Miss Nightingale wrote an imaginary speech to 
her mother. She wrote gaily, she was not suffering as she had suffered 
in the past. "Well, my dear, you don't imagine that with my 'talents,' 
and my 'European reputation,' and my 'beautiful letters,' and all that, 
I'm going to stay dangling about my mother's drawing-room all my 


life! . . . You must look at me as your vagabond son, ... I shan't 
cost you nearly as much as a son would have done. I haven't cost you 
much yet, except for my visits to Egypt and Rome. Remember, I should 
have cost you a great deal more if I had been married or a son. . . . 
Well, you must now consider me married or a son. You were willing 
enough to part with me to be married." 

Parthe was growing steadily worse: in almost daily scenes she at- 
tacked Florence with violent reproaches. She declared she was dying — 
Florence's behavior was killing her. She complained of suffering agonies 
from mysterious pains. She was taken to see the Queen's physician. Sir 
James Clark, who was a personal friend of the Nightingales, and he 
diagnosed "rheumatic headaches," adding that she was "nervous, fanciful 
and unstable," but that he could find "no physical disease." She did not 
improve, and in August, 1852 he arranged to have her for some weeks 
under observation at his house in Scotland, Birk Hall, near Ballater. 

Miss Nightingale managed to get "permission for absence" from 
Fanny and went with Dr. and Mrs. Fowler, who in 1 845 had been con- 
cerned in her attempt to enter Salisbury Infirmary, to Dubhn, where 
she intended to use Manning's introduction and enter the hospital of the 
Sisters of Mercy. 

But she was disappointed. "The hospital has got a whole holiday and 
is being repaired so there's nothing to be seen," wrote Hilary Bonham 
Carter to Clarkey. Nevertheless, while in Dublin she had, in some hos- 
pital, an experience of great importance. She speaks in a "Memorandum 
of 1852" of a "terrible lesson learned in Dublin," and her inclination 
toward Roman Catholicism vanished. 

She was called from Dublin by Sir James Clark. Parthe had had a 
mental breakdown. There were "delusions," "some degree of chronic 
delirium," and "extreme irritability." Sir James, a friend of the Bun- 
sens and the Herberts, admired Miss Nightingale, and he told her that 
she must separate herself from her sister. Parthe's only chance of re- 
gaining normal health and balance was to learn to live without her; 
for Parthe's sake she must, at any rate for a time, leave home. 

Ten years later Miss Nightingale wrote: "A very successful and 
justly successful physician once seriously told a sister who was being 
Devoured that she must leave home in order that the Devouree might 
recover health and balance which had been lost in the process of de- 
vouring. This person was myself." In a private note she described Sir 
James Clark's talk to her as "a terrible lesson which tore open my eyes 
as nothing less could have done. My life has been decided thereby." On 
September 20 Sir James wrote W. E. N. a letter of grave warning. 


Parthe showed "alarming indications" of "extreme irritability, total 
absorption in self, some degree of chronic delirium . . . nervous feelings 
have been, I venture to say, fostered by overindulgence." He recom- 
mended that Parthe should be separated from her family and placed in the 
care of "some judicious kind relative in the family connection with whom 
she could reside for some time." 

Fanny's reply was to declare that Sir James was making a fuss about 
nothing. On October 1 2 Hilary Bonham Carter wrote to Clarkey from 
Embley: "Aunt Fanny does not like Parthe's illness made much of. 
She says 'One need not talk much about a little bilious attack.' " None 
of Sir James's recommendations were followed, and Hilary wrote that 
Embley was filled with "an immense amount of company!" 

After Miss Nightingale had brought Parthe back from Scotland, she 
stayed only a few days at Embley. The burden of her responsibility 
for Parthe had been removed, the last chain which held her had been 
broken, and she began quietly to separate herself from home. By the 
end of October she had obtained an authorization from the Council of 
the Sisters of Charity in Paris allowing her to work in their hospitals 
and institutions. 

Manning wrote to his friend the Abbe des Genettes in Paris announcing 
her arrival; Miss Nightingale, who was in London staying with the 
Herberts, began to pack her trunks. 

At this stage Fannv^ suddenly spoke as if the visit to Paris was an 
entirely new idea. "Flo is thinking of some new expedition perhaps 
to Paris," she wrote to Aunt Mai. "I cannot make up my mind to it." 
One evening W. E. N. unexpectedly appeared in the Herberts' drawing- 
room. He was distraught, saying that life at Embley was unendurable. 
Parthe was ill and in hysterics and Fanny at her wits' end. A large party 
of visitors was expected — how could Fanny manage all alone? Florence 
must leave London and come home. 

Before Miss Nightingale could make a decision. Great Aunt Evans 
was taken ill. The journey to Paris was canceled and she went to 
Cromford Bridge House to nurse Great Aunt Evans through her last 
illness. On New Year's Eve she was back at Embley writing 
her "Memorandum for 1852." "I am so glad this year is over; never- 
theless it has not been wasted I trust. ... I have re-modelled my whole 
religious belief. ... I have re-cast my social belief. ... I have learnt 
to know Manning. . . . Have been disappointed in my Dublin Hospital 
plan. Formed my Paris one. . . . Lastly all my admirers are married 
. . . and I stand with all the world before me. ... It has been a bap- 
tism of fire this year." 


She determined to go to Paris in February. But Fanny and Parthe 
were not yet defeated; Fanny discovered she could not bear the idea 
that Florence was going abroad and suggested a new scheme. Florence 
had once said she wanted to found a sisterhood. Very well, let her found 
a sisterhood now, in Aunt Evans's empty house at Cromford Bridge. 
Everything should be provided — money, furniture, equipment. She de- 
clined. Parthe then suggested Forest Lodge, a vacant house on the 
Embley estate, which Miss Nightingale described as the only place on 
earth more unsuitable for the purpose than Cromford Bridge House. 
She declined again. 

She had now been at home for some weeks, and Fanny must have seen 
for herself how her presence exasperated Parthe. She gave way — par- 
tially. Florence might go to Paris for a short time on a visit to Clarkey, 
but the horrid name of the Sisters of Charity was not to be mentioned. 
Fanny spoke of dressmakers and wrote to Clarkey enjoining her to make 
sure that while Florence was in Paris she bought clothes for the coming 
season. Parthe was furious, possessiveness and jealousy consuming her 
with a twin flame. On January 29, 1853, she wrote angrily to Clarkey: 
"Truth is a good thing and the history of the last year (the others much 
like it) is one month with the Fowlers in Ireland, three ... in London, 
three ... at Harrogate and Cromford Bridge, three at the water cure 
and Grandmamma's ... so that I hope she has passed a very pleasant 
year, but meantime these eternal poor have been left to the mercies of 
Mamma and me, both very unwell and whose talkey talkey broth and 
pudding she holds in very great contempt. ... I believe she has little 
or none of what is called charity or philanthropy, she is ambitious — 
very and would like well enough to regenerate the world with a grand 
coup de main or some fine institution, which is a very different thing. 
Here she has a circle of admirers who cry up everything she does or says 
as gospel and I think it will do her much good to be with you, who, 
though you love and admire her, do not believe in the wisdom of all she 
says because she says it. I wish she could be brought to see it is the 
intellectual part which interests her, not the manual. She has no esprit 
de condiiite in the practical sense. When she nursed me everything which 
intellect and kind intention could do was done but she was a shocking 
nurse. Whereas her influence on people's minds and her curiosity in 
getting into varieties of minds is insatiable. After she has got inside they 
generally cease to have any interest for her." 

Yes there was, in spite of the gentleness, the sympathy, the charming 
intelligence, something about Florence which chilled. Impossible to 
move her, or to influence her by a personal appeal. She did not know 


what personal feelings were; in a private note she wrote that never in 
her life did she recollect being swayed by a personal consideration. She 
lived on a different plane, out of reach, frighteningly, but also infuriat- 
ingly, remote. 

On February 4 iMiss Nightingale arrived at 120 rue du Bac. She was 
like a child out of school. Anna von Mohl, a young niece of M. Mohl, 
described her as being "so thankful to drop being ladyHke." She would 
not take cabs but went everywhere in omnibuses. Anna, fascinated, wrote 
she was "on the point of falling in love with Florence." Her plan was to 
stay for a month with Clarkey and make a survey of all the hospitals in 
Paris. She then intended, thanks to Manning, to enter the Alaison de la 
Providence, the hospital of the Sisters of Charity in the rue Oudinot, as 
a postulante to undergo a training in nursing. She was to wear the 
convent dress, "the dress of a nun," and "render all necessary service to 
the sick" under the direction of the sisters, but she was to eat and sleep 
in a separate cell and not enter the dormitories or the refectory of the 

The day of her entry into the Alaison de la Providence approached and 
final arrangements were made. She presented herself to the Reverend 
Mother, was approved, and an hour was fixed for her admission. She had 
almost come to her last day in the rue du Bac — when Fate struck again. 
Her grandmother was taken ill, and she was recalled to England. Once 
more the arrangements with the Sisters of Charity were canceled, and 
she hurried to Tapton, arriving in time to nurse her grandmother 
through her last days. "I can never be thankful enough that I came," 
she wrote to Hilary Bonham Carter on March 26. "I was able to make 
her be moved and changed and to do other little things which perhaps 
soothed the awful passage and which perhaps would not have been done 
as well without me." 

After Tapton she went alone to Lea Hurst. She intended the separa- 
tion from her family to be final, and before she went to Paris she had de- 
cided to take a post when her training was completed. Early in April, 1 853 
Liz Herbert wrote that through Lady Canning she had heard of what 
might prove a suitable opening. The Institution for the care of Sick 
Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances had got itself into difEculties. 
It was to be reorganized and moved from its present premises. The 
committee, of which Lady Canning was chairman, were looking for a 
Superintendent to undertake the reorganization. Liz Herbert suggested 
Florence, and Lady Canning, after consulting her committee, wrote 
describing the post and its requirements. On April 8 A4iss Nightingale 
wrote to Clarkey: ". . . It is no use my telling you the history of the 


negotiations which are enough to make a comedy in 50 acts. ... I am 
afraid I vmst live at the place. If I don't, it will be a half and half measure 
which will satisfy no one. ... I can give you no particulars, dearest 
friend, because I don't know any. I can only say that, unless I am left 
a free agent and am to organise the thing myself, and not they, I will 
have nothing to do wdth it. . . . But there are no Surgeon Students or 
Improper Patients there at all, which is, of course, a great recommenda- 
tion in the eyes of the Proper." 

Clarkey advised her to be sure to "trample on the Committee and 
ride the Fashionable Asses rough shod round Grosvenor Square." 

On April 18 there was an interview, and Lady Canning wrote the 
same day to Mrs. Herbert: "I write a line in great haste to say that I was 
delighted with Miss N's quiet sensible manner. In one short acquaintance 
I am sure she must be a most remarkable person. It is true that Miss 
Nightingale looks very young but that need not matter and I hope the 
old matron or housekeeper will in point of outward appearance supply 
the young Miss N's deficiencies in years." Miss Nightingale had suggested 
she should bring, as her personal attendant, a "superior elderly respect- 
able person" at her own expense. 

When the news was broken to Fanny and Parthe, sickeningly familiar 
scenes took place. Parthe wept, raged, worked herself into frenzy, col- 
lapsed, and had to be put to bed. Fanny stormed, lamented, and had to 
be given sal volatile. Meals were sent away untouched. Ordinary life 
was at an end. W. E. N. took refuge in the Athenaeum Club. Among the 
Verney Nightingale papers are two sheets of Athenaeum Club notepaper 
scribbled back and front in W. E. N.'s strange difficult hand — he always 
used a quill and abhorred "great Iron Spikes": 

Meviorandmn April 20th 

I have this day reached the conclusion that Parthe can no more 
control or moderate the intensity of her interest in Flo's doings 
than she can change her physical form, and that her life will be 
sacrificed to the activity of her thoughts, unless she removes herself 
from the scene immediately — the only question being where to 
go . . . 

Having come to the resolution that it is entirely beyond your 
mental strength to give up interference in your sister's affairs and 
being equally sure that your health cannot stand the strain we ad- 
vise you to retire from London and take to your books and country 
occupations till her proceedings are settled. 


2^rd April 

I doubt my own thoughts. 

24th April 

Retirement might do more harm than good — what then? 


Matters might be worse if I were alone in mediation — Query then, 
is the case hopeless? 

He did nothing. Parthe was not sent to the country but remained in 
London, passing from fit to fit of hysterics, while Miss Nightingale 
conducted her negotiations with the committee. W. E. N. did, however, 
take one vital step — he decided to allow Miss Nightingale £ 500 a year. 
Fanny w^as extremely angry and insisted that since Florence was inde- 
pendent she should pay her share of the bill at the BurHngton. She paid 
and subsequently discovered that Fanny had charged her more than her 
fair share. 

Negotiations with the committee, "those Fashionable Asses with their 
'off^s' and 'ons' poor fools!" were trying. Their hesitations centered upon 
her social position. She was a young lady in society — was it not peculiar 
for a young lady to wish for such a post; could a lady take orders, even 
from a committee of other ladies; should a lady, even in these days of 
strange mingling of ranks, nurse one who was not a lady; was it nice 
for a lady to be present at medical examinations and, worse still, at 

The deciding factor in the situation was a family quarrel. The 
Nicholsons disapproved of Florence. "Very unkind things" were now 
said. She was described as "going into service"; her conduct "could not 
be looked on in a charitable light." It happened that one of the com- 
mittee knew Marianne, and asked her if Miss Nightingale's parents 
approved the step she proposed to take. Marianne drew a dramatic 
picture of Florence in opposition to her family: Parthe prostrated, 
Fanny in tears. The Committee, horrified, decided to have nothing more 
to do with Miss Nightingale and a letter was written informing her that 
negotiations were broken off^. 

However, Fanny and Parthe now completely changed front. Though 
they might disapprove, they w^ere not going to have Florence attacked 
by Marianne, and Parthe rushed to her defense. She said unpleasant 
things about Marianne. Some of them were repeated to her brother 
Lothian Nicholson, who lost his temper, wrote angrily to Parthe, and 


finally wrote to Miss Nightingale suggesting with some justice that 
Fanny and Parthe had provoked gossip by their own conduct, but 
because poor Marianne had the reputation of talking, everything was 
laid at her door. 

Miss Nightingale replied with a masterpiece of tact. "Dear friend," 
she began, and apologized for an "overwhelming quantity of work" 
which prevented her from replying sooner. She praised Lothian's at- 
tachment to his sister; he was quite right to defend her; but she preferred 
"not to go into the matter with you. I hope you will come and see me 'in 
service' when you have a day to spare in London. Finally, dear Lothian, 
one word, our old — and I hope real — friendship encourages me to say it. 
Do not engage in any paper wars. You will convince nobody and arrive 
at no satisfaction yourself." They remained friends and fifteen years 
later were still meeting. 

Despite everything, by the end of April she had successfully com- 
pleted her negotiations. She was to receive no lemuneration, and she 
was to bear all the expenses of the Matron she brought with her to 
compensate for her youthful appearance, but she was to be in complete 
control not only of the management of the Institution but of its finances. 
Her duties were to begin as soon as new premises could be found. In the 
interval she proposed to go back to Paris and at last accomplish her 
training with the Sisters of Charity. 

There was an explosion from Fanny and Parthe. What, when 
Florence was preparing to leave home, would she not devote the few 
weeks that were left to her mother and sister.^ She would not, and she 
went to Paris on May 30th. 

For the third time she attempted to train at the Maison de la Provi- 
dence, and for the third time she was defeated, for after a fortnight in 
the convent she developed measles, "une rougeole intense." "And, of all 
my adventures of which I have had many and queer, as will be (never) 
recorded in the Book of my Wanderings, the dirtiest and queerest I have 
ever had has been a measles in the cell of a Soeur de la Charite," she wrote 
to Clarkey on June 28. "It is like the Mariage de Mademoiselle; who 
could have foreseen it? . . . For me to come to Paris, to have the measles 
a second time, is like going to the Grand Desert to die of getting one's 
feet wet. ..." 

Clarkey was in England, but as soon as Miss Nightingale was convales- 
cent M. Mohl, "in his kind paternity," brought her to the rue du Bac 
and put her to bed in the back drawing-room, the same room in which 
she had seen M. Mohl and Fauriel boil the kettle for tea on a January 
afternoon sixteen years ago. Her convalescence was spent in conversation 


with him. "Her gentle manner," he wrote to W. E. N., "covers such a 
depth and strength of mind and thought." Before she came home, she 
went to the dressmakers and was fitted for a "great panjandrum of 
black velvet." On July 13 she reached London, but she would not join 
Fanny and Parthe. She took rooms in Pall Alall. 

These rooms caused fresh lamentations. Even Clarkey, who was stay- 
ing at Embley, was moved to suggest that she might spend her free time 
at least with her family. "I have not taken this step Clarkey dear," wrote 
Miss Nightingale in August, 1853, "without years of anxious considera- 
tion. I mean the step of leaving them. I do not wish to talk about it — 
and this is the last time I shall ever do so. ... I have talked matters over 
('made a clean breast' as you express it) with Parthe, not once but 
thousands of ti?ne. Years and years have been spent in doing so. It has 
been, therefore, with the deepest consideration and with the fullest ad- 
vice that I have taken the step of leaving home, and it is a fait accompli. 
... So farewell, Clarkey dear, don't let us talk any more about this. 
It is, as I said before, a fait accompli." 

From July 1 3 to August 1 2 she was in London with Aunt Mai super- 
vising the alterations to the new premises chosen for the Institution. 
Fanny refused to give her blessing — "it would be useless upon what I 
consider as being an impossible undertaking." On August 12, 1853, she 
went into residence in the new premises, number I Harley Street. 



ideal world of lifts, gas, baths and double and single wards," wrote Miss 
Nightingale to Hilary Bonham Carter in the summer of 1853. She was 
moving in her natural element. From Paris, first from her cell at the 
Maison de la Providence, then from her convalescent couch at 120 rue 
du Bac, she had kept a firm hand on her committee, issuing precise in- 
structions to them in long, enormously detailed letters. 
5jr Her requirements were not merely exacting; they were revolutionary. 
She had a scheme for saving work by having hot water "piped up to 
every floor." She wanted a "windlass installation," a lift to bring up the 
patients' food. On June 5, 1853, she wrote to Lady Canning: ". . . The 
nurse should never be obliged to quit her floor, except for her own 
dinner and supper, and her patients' dinner and supper (and even the 
latter might be avoided by the windlass we have talked about). Without 
a system of this kind, the nurse is converted into a pair of legs. Secondly, 
that the bells of the patients should all ring in the passage outside the 
nurse's door on that story and should have a valve which flies open when 
its bell rings, and remains open in order that the nurse may see who has 

Her committee became dazed. Forced to answer the innumerable 
questions raised in her letters, sent out on expeditions to unknown parts 
of London to view "windlass installations," and new systems of bells 
with valves, they had the sensation of having unknowingly released a 
genie from a bottle. They were, she said, "children in administration." 
In fact, they had never been called on to administer anything before. 
The Institution had been managed by two committees, a Ladies' Com- 
mittee and a Gentlemen's Committee. The Gentlemen had transacted 
all the business and paid the bills. Miss Nightingale returned from Paris 
to find nothing had been accomplished. On August 20 she wrote to 


Clarkey: "I have had to prepare this immense house for patients in ten 
days — without a bit of help but only hindrance from my committee. I 
have been 'in service' ten days and have had to furnish an entirely empty 
house in that time. We take in patients this Monday and have not got 
our workmen out yet. From Committees, Charity and Schism, from tlie 
Church of England, from philanthropy and all deceits of the devil, Good 
Lord deliver us." 

The accounts of the Institution were in confusion. "I am seriously 
uneasy about our funds," she had written to Hilary Bonham Carter on 
July 24. ". . . The Committee are wholly regardless of money. ;^i2oo 
we had in the funds they have taken out for the alteration and furniture 
of this house, and spent every penny of it." The administration of the 
Institution was also in confusion. The two committees quarreled with 
each other, and, among themselves, the doctors did the same. "There is as 
much jealousy in the Committees of one another and among the medical 
men of one another as ever what's his name had of Marlborough," she 
wrote to W. E. N. on December 3, 1853. 

During the first week of her appointment Miss Nightingale and her 
committee had a serious difference. She was determined the Institution 
should be non-sectarian; the committee was determined it should be 
Church of England. On August 20 she wrote to Clarkey: "My Committee 
refused me to take in Catholic patients, whereupon I wished them good 
morning, unless I might take in Jews and their Rabbis to attend them. 
So now it is settled, and in print that we are to take in all denominations 
whatever, and allow them to be visited by their respective priests and 
Muftis, provided / will receive (in any case whatsoever that is not of the 
Church of England) the obnoxious animal at the door, take him upstairs 
myself, remain while he is conferring with his patient, make myself 
responsible that he does not speak to, or look at, anyone else, and bring 
him downstairs again in a noose, and out into the street. And to this I have 
agreed! And this is in print! Amen." 

She gained her point, but there was disapproval. Some members of 
the committee were shocked, and an opposition formed against her. In 
October Liz wrote offering to come up from Wilton for a committee 
meeting: "I thought some wicked cats might be there who would set up 
their backs and if so I would like to set mine up too." 

Miss Nightingale was not what her committee had expected. Her 
genius was of an unromantic character. She perceived that unorganized 
devotion, unorganized self-sacrifice were useless. To bring about the 
installation of a row of bells "with valves that flew open" when the patient 
called was more effectual than to turn oneself into a devoted nurse, toiling 


endlessly up and down stairs because no such bells existed. To put in the 
best possible kitchen stove, to descend into the coal cellar and rake over 
the coal to ensure the coal merchant had not delivered an undue propor- 
tion of dust, to check stores and hnen and provide patients with clean 
beds and good food were more effectual than to sit through the watches 
of the night cheering the dying moments of the patient expiring from 
scurvy and bed sores. But it was not so picturesque. 

She gave devotion generously, and she did an immense amount of 
practical nursing in the Institution herself, but she was always aware that 
its success was impossible without a balanced expenditure and a proper 
system of keeping accounts. 

She set herself to manage the committee. By December she had 
learned how to get her own way. "When I entered 'into service' here," she 
wrote to W. E. N., "I determined that, happen what would, I never 
would intrigue among the Committee. Now I perceive that I do all my 
business by intrigue. I propose, in private, to A, B, or C, the resolution I 
think A, B, or C, most capable of carrying in Committee, and then leave 
it to them, and I always win." 

She went down into the kitchen and herself turned out cupboards and 
store-rooms, finding, she wrote to Clarkey in August, 1853, that while 
there were no brooms, brushes, or dusters, jam at is. a pot had been 
ordered in "^^2 worth at a time." She had 52 pots of jam made in the 
kitchen of the Institution at a cost of 3^d. a pound. The grocer's boy had 
been calling "two or three times a day and bringing everything by the 
ounce." She gave out contracts to the best firms — one of her contracts 
was with Fortnum and Mason — and secured wholesale prices. 

The bed linen and furniture of the Institution, she told Clarkey, were 
"dirty and neglected. Table linen and kitchen linen ragged and filthy. 
. . . Chairs with covers, not washable, but put on with nails and soaked 
with dirt. . . . Saucepans deficient." As the committee had already 
spent more money than the Institution possessed, she had to make the 
best of what was at her disposal. She enhsted Fanny's help and "had 
odd pieces of linen washed at home and patched together . . . pieced out 
carpets, contrived bed covers out of old curtains." 

The original staff from Chandos Street did not long survive. The 
housekeeper left after a single interview; the house surgeon resigned 
after a month. She secured a successor who "dispensed the medicines 
in the house, saving our bill at the druggist's of £iso per annum." 

She was in tremendous spirits. On October 20 she wrote Fanny a 
letter, which was bursting with gaiety, asking for a pair of comfortable 
old boots — she was spending all day and most of the night on her feet: 


"Oh my boots! Where are ye, my boots. I never shall see your pretty 
faces more. Aly dear I must have them boots. . . . More flowers, more 
game, more grapes." 

Within six months opposition had collapsed. On December 3 she wrote 

to W. E. N.: "I am now in the heyday of rpy power. . . . Lady 

who was my greatest enemy is now, I understand, trumpeting my fame 
through London." 

It was not an easy life. She had disappointments. She had to struggle 
with suspicion and inefficiency. "The chemists," she had told W. E. N. 
in December, 1853, "sent me a bottle of ether labelled Spirits of Nitre, 
which, if I had not smelt it, I should certainly have administered, and 
should have an inquiry into poisoning." The builders did not carry out 
her orders properly. "The whole flue of a new gas stove came down the 
second time of using it, which, if I had not caught in mv arms would 
certainly have killed a patient." Medically there were heartbreaking 
failures. "We have had an awful disappointment," she wrote to W. E. N. 
in the spring of 1854, "in a couching for a cataract, which has failed. The 
eye is lost . . . and I am left, after a most anxious watching, with a poor 
blind woman on my hands, whom we have blinded, and a prospect of 
insanity. I had rather ten times have killed her." 

Fanny and Parthe continued to disapprove, though Fanny with 
ineradicable generosity sent regular weekly hampers of flowers, vege- 
tables, game, and fruit from Enibley for the patients. Miss Nightingale 
had her own sitting-room at Harley Street where she gave her friends 
tea out of special blue cups. Parthe was persuaded to accept an invitation 
but collapsed in hysterics as she crossed the threshold of the Institution. 
She nevertheless could write in a private note of January i, 1854: "I have 
never repented nor looked back, not for one moment. And I begin the 
New Year with more true feeling of a happy New Year than I ever had in 
my hfe." 

Yet she found time to go to parties, and in the season of 1854 received 
invitations from Lady Beresford, Lady Canning, Lady Cranworth, Lady 
Palmerston. Gav Httle notes went round by hand to Harley Street from 
frivolous friends. "Lock up your young ladies, leave someone else to 
stir the gruel and cab round to me." "Dearest do come to an evening 
party, it will be rather a squeeze." "Don't get too radical, sceptical and 
querical my Flo." With the Herberts she was on a footing of closest 
intimacy. "Dearest," "My dearest," "Dearest old Flo," Liz Herbert 

Her patients worshiped her, writing innumerable adoring letters: "My 
dearest kind Miss Nightingale. I send you a few lines of love." "I felt 


so lonely when I saw you going away from me." "All your afFec- 
tionate kindness to me comes before me now and causes me many tears." 
"I am your affectionate, attached and grateful." "Thank you, thank you 
darling Miss Nightingale." "You are our sunshine . . . were you to give 
up all would soon fade away and the whole thing would cease to be." 

Her sympathy with impoverished struggling women penetrated into 
every detail of their Uves. She understood their loneliness, their per- 
petual financial difficulties, the burden of other relatives even poorer than 
they. She sent a poor governess to Eastbourne at her own expense and 
arranged that she should be visited and taken for drives. "I know not 
how to thank you my dear dear Miss Nightingale. I cannot even express 
how much indebted I am to you," wrote the patient. Often she sent finan- 
cial help. "How gratefully I accept your offer of defraying my poor 
aunt's expenses. My mother has unfortunately no means of settling it 
herself." She saved women whose resources had been exhausted from 
going straight from a bed of sickness to a new post. Again and again a 
letter runs: "I cannot thank you enough for this extra rest." At Harley 
Street her correspondence was very large. The patients wrote; their rela- 
tives wrote; poor friendless women who were complete strangers were 
"emboldened by your very great kindness to my afflicted friend" to 
confide their fears of dreaded secret ailments. 

In December, 1853 Richard Monckton Milnes, after staying at Em- 
bley, wrote to his wife: "They talk quite easily about Florence, but 
her position does not seem to be very suitable." She had enjoyed the 
period of reorganization, but as soon as the Institution was running 
smoothly she became restless. By January, 1854 she was speaking of "this 
Uttle mole hill." 

In the spring of that year she began to visit hospitals and collect facts 
to establish a case for reforming conditions for hospital nurses. On 
May 29 Liz Herbert wrote: "Sidney has begged me to write and ask you 
whether you can give him any facts in writing as to abuses which exist 

in Hospital. Sidney says if he could get some authentic information 

on the subject of the nurses, their bad pay and worse lodging he could 
get the evil more or less remedied and public attention at any rate turned 
that way." 

Soon letters were passing almost daily. Miss Nightingale submitting 
reports and Sidney Herbert asking for "additional information ... as 
soon as possible." Reform was difficult. Within the hospitals there was 
jobbery. Hospital appointments were often held as the result of bribery 
or nepotism, and the official who supported reform found his appoint- 
ment in danger. Outside the hospitals there was indifference; their con- 


ditions were accepted as a necessary horror. The number of the enlight- 
ened who, like the Herberts, pressed for improved conditions and a better 
type of nurse was very small. iV'Iost people agreed with Lady Palmerston. 
"Lady Pam thinks ... the nurses are very good now; perhaps they do 
drink a little, but . . . poor people it must be so tiresome sitting up all 
night," wrote Lord Granville. 

In any case, where was a better type of nurse to come from? Superior 
nurses did not exist. In June, 1854, a doctor who had met Miss Night- 
ingale in Paris wrote asking her to recommend two reliable skillful 
nurses to act as matrons in colonial hospitals. She had to reply that she 
knew none: "Alas I have no fish of that kind." It was absurd to create a 
demand which could not be suppHed. Before any scheme of nursing 
reform was embarked upon, a training school capable of producing a 
supply of respectable, reliable, qualified nurses must be brought into 
existence. Her first task must be to produce a new type of nurse. 

She confided in Dr. Bowman, one of the best-known surgeons of his 
day, surgeon to the Institution, and her devoted admirer. King's College 
Hospital, where he held a senior appointment, was being reorganized 
and rebuilt, and his influence would be sufficient to obtain her the post 
of Superintendent of Nurses, where she would have scope for training 
a new type of nurse. Rumors reached Embley, and Fanny and Parthe 
broke into lamentations: the suggestion of a hospital post struck them 
with horror as fresh as if it had been a new idea. 

But iMiss Nightingale was not at home to be reproached in person; she 
would not go home, she remained in Harley Street. The eager, suscepti- 
ble, over-affectionate girl had become the elegant, composed, independ- 
ent woman of genius. It was now beyond anyone to stop Miss Nightingale 
in her course. She continued her negotiations with Dr. Bowman, and, 
down at Emblev, Fanny's reproaches and Parthe's hysterics sank to in- 
effectual fluttcrings. They wrote her letters imploring her to nurse 
babies, to found a penitentiary; she ignored them, and their voices 
trailed into silence and were heard no more. 

In the summer of 1854, cholera broke out in London, particularly in 
the miserable, undrained slums round St. Giles, to the west of Drury 
Lane. The hospitals were overcrowded; many nurses died; many, afraid 
of infection, ran away. In August Miss Nightingale went as a volunteer 
to the Aliddlesex Hospital to "superintend the nursing of cholera pa- 
tients." From the Middlesex Hospital she went to Lea Hurst, where Mrs. 
Gaskell was staying. In a long letter to Emily Winkworth Mrs. Gaskell 
repeated Miss Nightingale's account of the epidemic. The authorities at 
the Middlesex Hospital were "obliged to send out their usual patients 


in order to take in the patients brought in every half hour from the Soho 
district, Broad Street, etc., . . . chiefly fallen women of the district. 
. . . The prostitutes came in perpetually — poor creatures staggering off 
their beat! It took worse hold of them than of any." Miss Nightingale 
was "up day and night, undressing them . . . putting on turpentine 
stupes, etc., herself to as many as she could manage." The women were 
filthy and drunken, crazed with terror and pain, and the rate of mortality 
was very high. All through the night wretched shrieking creatures were 
being carried in. From Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon she was 
never off her feet. 

Mr. Sam Gaskell, a relative of Mrs. Gaskell's, had been prejudiced by 
what he had heard of Miss Nightingale; he had spoken very contemptu- 
ously of her and called her "your enthusiastic young friend," but when 
they did meet he was "carried off his feet." And Mrs. Gaskell herself 
continued in a letter to Catherine Winkworth dated October 20th: "Oh 
Katie! I wish you could see her. . . . She is tall; very slight and willowy 
in figure; thick shortish rich brown hair; very delicate coloring; grey 
eyes which are generally pensive and drooping, but which when they 
choose can be the merriest eyes I ever saw; and perfect teeth, making her 
smile the sweetest I ever saw. Put a long piece of soft net, say 1 34 yards 
long and half a yard wide, and tie it round this beautifully shaped head, 
so as to form a soft white framework for the full oval of her face (for she 
had the toothache and so wore this little piece of drapery) and dress her 
up in black silk high up to the long white round throat, and a black shawl 
on and you may get near an idea of her perfect grace and lovely appear- 
ance. . , . She has a great deal of fun and is carried along by that I think. 
She mimics most capitally, mimics for instance the way of talking of 
some of the poor Governesses in the Establishment, with their delight at 
having a man servant, and at having Lady Canning and Lady Mount- 
eagle to do this and that for them." 

And yet a week later Mrs. Gaskell was chilled. She too had discovered 
that Florence was intimidating. Beneath the fascination, the sense of 
fun, the gentle hesitating manner, the demure wit, there was the hard 
coldness of steel. On October 27 Mrs. Gaskell wrote: "She has no friend 
— and she wants none. She stands perfectly alone, half-way between God 
and his creatures. She used to go a great deal among the villagers here, 
who dote upon her. One poor woman lost a boy seven years ago of white 
swelling in his knee, and F. N. went twice a day to dress it. . . . The 
mother speaks of F. N. — did so to me only yesterday — as of a heavenly 
angel. Yet the father of this dead child — the husband of this poor woman 
— died last 5th of September and I was witness to the extreme difficulty 


with which Parthe induced Florence to go and see this childless widow 
ONCE whilst she was here; and, though this woman entreated her to come 
again, she never did. She will not go among the villagers now because 
her heart and soul are absorbed by her hospital plans, and, as she says, she 
can only attend to one thing at once. She is so excessively gentle in voice, 
manner, and movement, that one never feels the unbendableness of her 
character when one is near her. Her powers are astonishing. . . . She and 
I had a grand quarrel one day , . . she said if she had influence enough 
not a mother should bring up a child herself; there should be creches for 
the rich as well as the poor. If she had tsventy children she would send 
them all to a creche, seeing, of course, that it was a well managed creche. 
That exactly tells of what seems to me the want — but then this want of 
love for individuals becomes a gift and a very rare one, if one takes it in 
conjunction with her intense love for the race; her utter unselfishness in 
serving and ministering . . . but she is really so extraordinary a creature 
that anything like a judgment of her must be presumptuous." 

One day Fanny and Mrs. Gaskell were alone. Fanny spoke of Flor- 
ence "with tears in her eyes," telling Mrs. Gaskell, "We are ducks who 
have hatched a wild swan." But it was not a swan they had hatched: in 
the famous phrase of Lytton Strachey's essay — it was an eagle. 

The summer of 1 854 marked the end of a chapter. The long agonizing 
apprenticeship was over, and the instrument uniquely fitted for its 
purpose was forged. In the world outside Harley Street a catastrophe was 
taking shape. In March, 1854 England and France had declared war on 
Russia. In September the Allied armies landed in the Crimea. Harley 
Street, with its unreasonable committee, its "deficient" saucepans, its 
ragged linen, had been a dress rehearsal. Now the curtain was about to 
go up on the play. 




the invincibility of the British Army was an article of faith. Waterloo 
was a recent memory, and it was taken for granted that the nation which 
had beaten Napoleon could not be defeated. But since Waterloo forty 
years of economy had run their course, and the army which had won 
Wellington's victories had ceased to exist. In 1852 the artillery of the 
British Army consisted of forty field-pieces, many officially described as 
defective. In 1 854, when the army was mobilizing for the Crimea, volun- 
teers had to be drafted into the battalions selected for active service to 
raise their numbers to the regulation 850. The staff of the supply de- 
partments had been reduced to a few clerks, who were overwhelmed by 
the demands of mobilization. Before the Army sailed, the processes by 
which the troops were to receive food and clothing, to be maintained in 
health and cared for when wounded or sick, had already fallen into 

An enormous amount of information exists on the Crimean War. 
While it was in progress, four Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry 
investigated its disasters. Three of them went to the Crimea; the fourth, 
which sat in London, examined civil servants and officials in Government 
service as well as witnesses from the seat of war. The resulting mass of 
evidence fills a shelf of Blue Books in whose innumerable pages, from 
which the stench of misery and filth and despair seems palpably to rise, 
the Crimean War hes embalmed. 

But in the spring of 1854, confidence was complete. The Guards were 
a magnificent body of fighting men as they marched through London to 
embark. The crowds which cheered them did not know that behind these 
splendid troops, the flower of the British Army, were no reserves. They 
were doomed to perish, and when they perished, their ranks were filled 
with raw recruits made "pretty perfect in drill in sixty days." 


The first operation was not to be in the Crimea. The British Army- 
was to relieve Silistria, in Roumania, then a Turkish province, where the 
Russians were besieging the Turks. A base was established at Scutari, 
a large village on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, and in June, 1854 
the British Army disembarked at Varna, in Bulgaria. Nothing was 
accomplished. A cholera epidemic broke out; the army became an 
army of invalids, and the Turks raised the siege of Silistria on their own 
account. The Allies then proceeded to the true objective of the war, the 
destruction of the great naval base recently constructed by the Russians 
at Sebastopol. 

Though the plan of a descent on Sebastopol was an open secret and 
had been discussed in the Press, it had never been officially intimated to 
the supply departments; consequently no preparations had been made. 
When the British Army embarked at \^arna for the Crimea, there were 
not enough transports to take both the army and its equipment across 
the Black Sea. Thirty thousand men were crammed in, but pack animals, 
tents, cooking equipment, hospital marquees, regimental medicine chests, 
bedding, and stores had all to be left behind. Twenty-one wagons only 
were brought for 30,000 men going into action. On September 14 the 
army disembarked at a cove with the sinister name of Calamita Bay. 
"My God," exclaimed Dr. Alexander, ist class Staff Surgeon of the 
Light Division, "they have landed this army without any kind of hospital 
transport, Htters or carts or anything." Cholera still raged, and over 
1000 cholera cases were sent back to Scutari. 

A week later, the British and the French won the hard-fought battle 
of the Alma, and the wounded paid the price of the abandonment of the 
army's hospital equipment. There were no bandages, no splints, no chlo- 
roform, no morphia. The wounded lay on the ground or on straw mixed 
with manure in a farmyard. Amputations were performed without 
anesthetics; the victims sat on tubs or lay on old doors; the surgeons 
worked by moonlight because there were no candles or lamps. And 
another 1000 cholera cases were sent back to Scutari. 

Of this the British public knew nothing. Nor did they know what 
awaited the wounded and the sick when they reached the base at Scutari. 
At Scutari were enormous barracks, the headquarters of the Turkish 
artillery. These barracks and the hospital attached had been handed over 
to the British, and the British authorities assumed that the hospital, known 
as the General Hospital, would be adequate. The unexpected disaster 
of the cholera epidemic produced total disorganization. The first 1000 
cholera cases sent back after the landing at Calamita Bay filled the hos- 
pital to overflowing; drugs, sanitary conveniences, bedding, doctors were 


insufficient. While Dr. Menzies, senior Medical Officer, was struggling 
with the crisis, he was notified that many hundreds of battle casualties 
from the Alma and another i coo cholera cases were on their way. Since 
the General Hospital was filled, he was ordered to convert the artillery 
barracks into a hospital. It was an impossible task. The vast building 
was bare, filthy, and dilapidated. There was no labor to clean it; there was 
no hospital equipment to put in it. 

Meanwhile the sick and wounded were enduring a ghastly journey 
across the Black Sea. They were conveyed in "hospital ships" which 
figured well on paper but in fact were ordinary transports equipped 
"with some medicines and medical appliances." They were packed far 
beyond their capacity. One, the Kmigaroo, fitted to receive 250 sick, 
received between 1200 and 1500. Cholera cases, battle casualties, were 
crammed in together. Too weak to move, too weak to reach the sanitary 
conveniences, they fell on each other as the ship rolled and were soon 
lying in heaps of filth. Men with amputations were flung about the deck 
screaming with pain. 

When the men arrived at the Barrack Hospital, there were no beds. 
They lay on the floor wrapped in the blankets saturated with blood and 
ordure in which they had been lying since they left the battlefield. No 
food could be given them because there was no kitchen. No one could 
attend to them because there were not sufficient doctors. Some of them 
lay without even a drink of water all that night and through the next 
day. There were no cups or buckets to bring water in. There were no 
chairs or tables. There was not an operating table. The men, half naked, 
lay in long lines on the bare filthy floors of the huge dilapidated rooms. 

Such scenes of horror were nothing new in Britain's military annals: 
similar miseries had been endured by the British Army many times be- 
fore. During the winter of 1759, outside Quebec, outside Havana in 1762, 
during the retreat to the Ems in 1797, worse miseries were endured than 
in the Crimea. In the disastrous Walcheren expedition of 1809 a whole 
army was lost through sickness. Men died in thousands in the general 
hospitals of the Peninsula; the Guards were so reduced by sickness that 
they had had to fall out of the campaign from November, 1 8 1 2 to June, 

But these horrors had remained unknown. England rang with the story 
of Scutari because with the British Army was the first war correspond- 
ent, William Howard Russell of The Times. 

"By God, Sir, I'd as soon see the devil," said General Pennefather to 
Russell when they met in the Crimea; but Pennefather did not order 
Russell home. The Crimea was a casual war. Numbers of tourists, known 


to the army as "T.G.'s," "Travelling Gentlemen," camped with the 
troops. Private philanthropists came out at their own expense. Though 
Russell and his paper were abominated by the army authorities — The 
Ti77ies under the editorship of Delane was a Radical newspaper — he 
was never obstructed. The military aristocrats of the high command 
were content to ignore him. "Lord Raglan," wrote Russell, "never spoke 
to me in his life. ... I was regarded as a mere camp follower, whom 
it would be impossible to take more notice of than you would of a cross- 
ing sweeper, without the gratuitous penny." 

Russell was an Irishman with an Irishman's capacity for indignation, 
and in dispatches published on October 9, 12, and 13 he furiously de- 
scribed the sufferings of the sick and wounded, "It is with feelings of 
surprise and anger that the public will learn that no sufficient prepara- 
tions have been made for the care of the wounded. Not only are there 
not sufficient surgeons . . . not only are there no dressers and nurses 
. . . there is not even linen to make bandages. . . . Can it be said that 
the battle of the Alma has been an event to take the world by surprise? 
Yet . . . there is no preparation for the commonest surgical operations! 
Not only are the men kept, in some cases for a week, without the hand of 
a medical man coming near their wounds, . . . but now ... it is found 
that the commonest appliances of a workhouse sick ward are wanting, 
and that the men must die through the medical staff of the British Army 
having forgotten that old rags are necessary for the dressing of wounds." 

The revelation burst on the nation like a thunderclap, and on October 
1 3 Sir Robert Peel, the third baronet, opened '^The Ti?J7es Fund" for 
supplying the sick and wounded with comforts. The same day The 
Times published another dispatch from Russell. "The manner in which 
the sick and wounded are treated is worthy only of the savages of Da- 
homey. . . . There are no dressers or nurses to carry out the surgeons' 
directions, and to attend on the sick during the intervals between his 
visits. Here the French are greatly our superiors. Their medical ar- 
rangements are extremely good, their surgeons more numerous and 
they have also the help of the Sisters of Charity . . . these devoted 
women are excellent nurses." 

The country seethed with rage. Russell's statement that British arrange- 
ments compared unfavorably with those of the French was intolerable, 
and the next day a letter in The Times demanded angrily, "Why have we 
no Sisters of Charity?" 

It was read by Sidney Herbert, who in December, 1852 had been ap- 
pointed Secretary at War, and was now responsible for the treatment of 
the sick and wounded. The administration of the British Army was 


then divided beru'een two Ministers, the Secretary for War and the Sec- 
retary at War. The Secretary at War was responsible for the financial 
administration of the army, and since the cheese-paring, the callous 
economies, the criminally inadequate arrangements had been executed 
in his name, the blame must lie at the door of Sidney Herbert. His politi- 
cal position was now extremely delicate. His mother had been Russian, 
daughter of the Russian Ambassador, and the famous Woronzoff road 
which was to be of such overwhelming importance to the British Army 
in the Crimea led to the Woronzoff palace at Yalta which belonged to his 
uncle. Suspicion was inevitable; and a storm of national fury burst on 
his head. The military authorities, enraged by the interference of The 
TbneSy refused to admit that anything was wrong. Sidney Herbert was 
not convinced and acted on his own responsibility. He wrote to the 
British Ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe giv- 
ing him carte blanche to purchase anything he considered necessary 
for the hospitals, and on October 1 5 he wrote to Miss Nightingale in- 
viting her to go to Scutari in command of a party of nurses. She would 
go with the Government's sanction and at the Government's ex- 

She had already acted on her own account and, without consulting 
the Herberts, had arranged to sail for Constantinople with a party of 
nurses in three days' time. She had hesitated to approach them, em- 
barrassed by the attacks being made on Sidney Herbert; but when her 
plans were completed, she called at 49 Belgrave Square on the morning 
of Saturday, October 14. The Herberts had gone to Bournemouth for the 

On Saturday afternoon Miss Nightingale wrote to Liz Herbert: "My 
dearest I went to Belgrave Square this morning for the chance of catching 
you, or Mr. Herbert even, had he been in Town. A small private expedi- 
tion of nurses has been organized for Scutari and I have been asked to 
command it. I take myself out and one nurse. ... I do not mean that I 
believe the Times accounts, but I do believe we may be of use to the 
poor wounded wretches." She asked Liz to negotiate her release from 
her engagement with the Harley Street committee — unless the com- 
mittee thoroughly approved she could not honorably break her engage- 
ment; and, would Sidney approve? "What does Mr. Herbert say to the 
scheme itself.' Does he think it would be objected to by the authorities? 
Would he give us any advice or letters of recommendation? And are 
there any stores for the Hospital he would advise us to take out." Finally, 
would Liz write to the Ambassadress, Lady Stratford de Redcliffe, and 


say: "This is not a Lady but a real Hospital Nurse . . . and she has 
had experience." 

This letter crossed one written by Sidney Herbert at Bournemouth 
on the Sunday, in which he formally asked her to take charge of an official 
scheme for introducing female nurses into the hospitals of the British 

Dear Miss Nightingale, 

You will have seen in the papers that there is a great deficiency 
of nurses at the Hospital at Scutari, 

The other alleged deficiencies, namely of medical men, lint, 
sheets, etc., must, if they have really ever existed, have been remedied 
ere this, as the number of medical officers with the Army amounted 
to one to every 95 men in the whole force, being nearly double what 
we have ever had before, and 30 more surgeons went out 3 weeks 
ago, and would by this time, therefore, be at Constantinople. A fur- 
ther supply went on Thursday, and a fresh batch sail next week. 

As to medical stores, they have been sent out in profusion; lint 
by the ton weight, 1 5,000 pairs of sheets, medicine, wine, arrowroot 
in the same proportion; and the only way of accounting for the de- 
ficiency at Scutari, if it exists, is that the mass of stores went to Varna, 
and was not sent back when the Army left for the Crimea; but four 
days would have remedied this. In the meanwhile fresh stores are 

But the deficiency of female nurses is undoubted, none but male 
nurses having ever been admitted to military hospitals. 

It would be impossible to carry about a large staff of female nurses 
with the Army in the field. But at Scutari, having now a fixed hos- 
pital, no military reason exists against their introduction, and I am 
confident they might be introduced with great benefit, for hospital 
orderlies must be very rough hands, and most of them, on such an 
occasion as this, very inexperienced ones. 

I receive numbers of offers from ladies to go out, but they are 
ladies who have no conception of what an hospital is, nor of the 
nature of its duties; and they would, when the time came, either 
recoil from the work or be entirely useless, and consequently — what 
is worse — entirely in the way. Nor would these ladies probably ever 
understand the necessity, especially in a military hospital, of strict 
obedience to rule. . . . 

There is but one person in England that I know of who would 


be capable of organising and superintending such a scheme; and 
I have been several times on the point of asking you hypothetically 
if, supposing the attempt were made, you would undertake to di- 
rect it. 

The selection of the rank and file of nurses will be very difficult: 
no one knows it better than yourself. The difficulty of finding 
women equal to a task, after all, full of horrors, and requiring, besides 
knowledge and goodwill, great energy and great courage, will be 
great. The task of ruling them and introducing system among them, 
great; and not the least will be the difficulty of making the whole 
work smoothly with the medical and military authorities out there. 
This it is which makes it so important that the experiment should be 
carried out by one with a capacity for administration and experience. 
A number of sentimental enthusiastic ladies turned loose into the 
Hospital at Scutari would probably, after a few days, be 7?iises a la 
porte by those whose business they would interrupt, and whose 
authority they would dispute. 

My question simply is. Would you listen to the request to go 
and superintend the whole thing? You would of course have plenary 
authority over all the nurses, and I think I could secure you the 
fullest assistance and co-operation from the medical staff, and you 
would also have an unlimited power of drawing on the Government 
for whatever you thought requisite for the success of your mission. 
On this part of the subject the details are too many for a letter, and I 
reserve it for our meeting; for whatever decision you take, I know 
you will give me every assistance and advice. 

I do not say one word to press you. You are the only person 
who can judge for yourself which of conflicting or incompatible 
duties is the first, or the highest; but I must not conceal from you 
that I think upon your decision will depend the ultimate success or 
failure of the plan. Your own personal qualities, your knowledge 
and your power of administration, and among greater things your 
rank and position in Society give you advantages in such a work 
which no other person possesses. 

If this succeeds, an enormous amount of good will be done now, 
and to persons deserving everything at our hands; and a prejudice 
will have been broken through, and a precedent established, which 
will multiply the good to all time. 

I hardly Hke to be sanguine as to your answer. If it were "yes," 
I am certain the Bracebridges would go with you and give you all 
the comfort you would require, and which their society and sym- 


pathy only could give you. I have written very long, for the subject 
is very near to my heart. Liz is w riting to Mrs. Bracebridge to tell 
her what I am doing. I go back to town tomorrow morning. Shall 
I come to you bet\\'een 3 and 5? Will you let me have a line at the 
War Office to let me know? 

There is one point which I have hardly a right to touch upon, but 
I know you will pardon me. If you were inclined to undertake this 
great work, would Air. and Mrs. Nightingale give their consent? 
The work would be so national, and the request made to you pro- 
ceeding from the Government who represent the nation comes at 
such a moment, that I do not despair of their consent. Deriving 
your authority from the Government, your position would secure 
the respect and consideration of every one, especially in a service 
where official rank carries so much weight. This would secure to you 
every attention and comfort on your way and there, together with 
a complete submission to your orders. I know these things are a 
matter of indifference to you except so far as they may further the 
great objects you have in view; but they are of importance in them- 
selves, and of every importance to those who have a right to take an 
interest in your personal position and comfort. 

I know you will come to a wise decision. God grant it may be 
in accordance with my hopes! 

Believe me, dear Miss Nightingale, 

ever yours, 

Sidney Herbert. 

The terms of this letter were accepted by Miss Nightingale and consid- 
ered by her to be her charter. They make it clear that from the inception 
of her mission she was to be an administrator. 

It was not as an angel of mercy that she was asked to go to Scutari — 
relieving the sufferings of the troops was scarcely mentioned. The con- 
sideration of overwhelming importance was the opportunity offered to 
advance the cause of nursing. Were nurses capable of being employed 
with success to nurse men under such conditions? The eyes of the nation 
were fixed on Scutari. If the nurses acquitted themselves creditably, 
never again would they be despised. "If this succeeds," Sidney Herbert 
had written, "an enormous amount of good will have been done now 
... a prejudice will have been broken through and a precedent estab- 
lished which will multiply the good to all time." 

Before she had time to write a reply, he had received her letter, and on 
the Monday afternoon he called on her at Harley Street, bringing a 


letter from Liz: "My own dearest noblest Flo. I kneiv you would do 
it. . . . God be thanked. Sid longed to go to you last week ... I will 
write a 'cut and dry' letter to the committee in Harley Street and bear 
all the blame if any can possibly attach itself to such a work! Go 
then at once, and God prosper it and you. Your own loving E. H. 
Would that I could come to town to you at once. But my nurse is ill and 
away and I cannot leave my children. . . ." 

Sidney Herbert warned Miss Nightingale that he was by no means 
satisfied with the assurances he was receiving from the army authori- 
ties, and that he was sending out immediately a "Commission of Enquiry 
into the State of the Hospitals and the Condition of the Sick and 
Wounded." The Commission had three members, a well-known barrister, 
Mr. Benson Maxwell, and two doctors. Dr. Gumming and Dr. Spence. Its 
purpose was to establish the facts, but it was not empowered to take 
action and could not alter existing arrangements. She was to work with 
the Hospitals Commission, send in official reports, and in addition write 
privately to him telling him confidentially what she could not write 

The number of nurses in the party was fixed at forty. She was doubt- 
ful of her ability to control more than twenty, but Sidney Herbert in- 
sisted that twenty would not be a sufficiently large number to make the 
experiment impressive. He would have preferred an even larger number 
than forty. On Wednesday, October 1 8, Sidney Herbert, supported by 
the Duke of Newcastle, placed Miss Nightingale's appointment before 
the Cabinet. The appointment was unanimously approved, and next 
day she received a formal confirmation written and signed by Sidney 
,Herbert as Secretary at War. She was appointed "Superintendent of the 
Female Nursing Establishment of the English General Hospitals in 
Turkey," and her authority was defined: "Everything relating to the dis- 
tribution of the nurses, the hours of their attendance, their allotment to 
particular duties is placed in your hands, subject of course to the sanc- 
tion and approval of the chief medical officer; but the selection of the 
nurses in the first instance is placed solely under your control." Precise 
as these instructions appeared, they contained a flaw. The words "Super- 
intendent of the Female Nursing Establishment of the English General 
Military Hospitals in Turkey''^ were subsequently contended to limit 
her authority to Turkey and to exclude her from the Crimea. 

Her appointment caused a sensation. The story of the Cabinet meeting, 
the official instructions, the letter to the Commander-in-Chief flew from 
mouth to mouth. No woman had ever been so distinguished before, and 
Fanny and Parthe were ecstatic. Forgetting they had brought her to the 


verge of insanity by their opposition, they congratulated themselves 
on the scope of the experience which qualified her for her mission. "It 
is a great and noble work," wrote Parthe to a favorite cousin. "One can- 
not but believe she was intended for it. None of her previous life has 
been wasted, her experience all tells, all the gathered stores of so many 
years, her Kaiserswerth, her sympathy with the R. Catholic system of 
work, her travels, her search into the hospital question, her knowledge 
of so many different minds and classes. . . ." 

Parthe and Fanny hastened from Embley to London to share in the 
excitement, and, in the haste of packing, the owl Athena was left shut 
in an attic, where she was found later dead; she required constant 
attention and was subject to fits. When the lifeless body was put into 
Miss Nightingale's hands, she burst into tears. "Poor little beastie," she 
said, "it was odd how much I loved you." It was the only sign of emo- 
tion she showed on the eve of departure. Otherwise she was, wrote Parthe, 
"as calm and composed as if she was going for a walk." 

She had made up her mind to start on Saturday, October 21, four 
clear days only after she had received Sidney Herbert's letter. Nurses 
had to be engaged; she was determined they should wear uniform, 
which must be made; tickets and berths must be reserved. 2 and her hus- 
band had agreed to accompany her, and Mr. Bracebridge took over the 
finances of the expedition and made the traveling arrangements, adding 
to the prevailing excitement by hiring one of the new fast hansom cabs 
and driving about London at ten miles an hour. 

The headquarters of the expedition were at the Herberts' London 
house, 49 Belgrave Square. Mary Stanley, Mrs. Bracebridge, Lady Can- 
ning, and Lady Cranworth sat all day in the dining-room prepared to 
receive a rush of applicants — but few came. It had been intended to en- 
gage forty, but in the end only thirty-eight w-omen who could conceiva- 
bly be considered suitable presented themselves. "I wish people who may 
hereafter complain of the women selected could have seen the set we 
had to choose from," wrote Mary Stanley to Liz Herbert in October 
1854. "All London was scoured for them. . . . We felt ashamed to 
have in the house such women as came. One alone expressed a wish to 
go from a good motive. A-Ioney was the only inducement." "As to that 
stuff about the 'enthusiasm' of the nursing in the Crimean campaign — 
that is all bosh," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sir John McNeill in 1867; 
"we had, unfortunately for us, scarcely one woman sent out who was 
even up to the level of a head nurse." The nurses were to receive izs. to 
14s. a week with board, lodging, and uniform. After three months' good 
conduct they received i6s. to i8s., and after a year's good conduct i8s. 


to 2 OS. The average wage of a nurse in a London hospital was 7s. to los. 
Each nurse signed an agreement submitting herself absolutely to Miss 
Nightingale's orders. Misconduct with the troops was to be punished 
by instant dismissal. A nurse invalided home was to have her expenses 
paid first class, but one sent home for misconduct must travel third class 
on salt rations. No young women were accepted, the majority being stout 
elderly old bodies. Miss Nightingale wrote later from Scutari that in 
future "fat drunken old dames of fourteen stone and over must be barred, 
the provision of bedsteads is not strong enough." A uniform dress was 
provided, but each nurse brought with her underclothing, four cotton 
night-caps, one cotton umbrella and a carpet-bag. No colored ribbons or 
flowers were allowed. No nurse in any circumstances was to go out alone 
or with only one other nurse. She must either be with the housekeeper 
from Harley Street, Mrs. Clark, or with three other nurses. In no circum- 
stances was any nurse to go out without leave. Strong liquor was per- 
mitted in moderate quantities. At dinner each nurse was to be allowed 
one pint of porter or one pint of ale, at supper half a pint of porter, or 
half a pint of ale, or one glass of Marsala or one ounce of brandy. 

Lady Canning and Lady Cranworth kept a "large and melancholy" 
book in which they recorded the particulars of each applicant. Candi- 
dates came from the humblest class — "Maid-of-all work," "Very poor," 
"Has been for a few days in St. George's Hospital." Subordinate clerks 
in Government service signed testimonials recklessly. "Many," wrote 
Miss Nightingale, "were (undisguisedly) sent out as paupers to be 
provided for, who could not otherwise gain their living." 

Fourteen professional nurses who had experience of serving in hos- 
pitals were engaged; the remaining twenty-four were all members of 
religious institutions. The party was non-sectarian; nurses, insisted Miss 
Nightingale, were to be selected "with a view to fitness and without 
any reference to religious creed whether Roman Catholic nuns, Dissent- 
ing Deaconesses, Protestant Hospital nurses or Anglican sisters." 

With the assistance of Manning it was arranged that ten Roman 
Catholic nuns, five from a convent in Bermondsey and five from an 
orphanage in Norwood, should join the party, and it was conceded that 
they should be completely under Miss Nightingale's control. If she 
were to weld this heterogenous, undisciplined collection of women into 
an efficient instrument, she must have absolute and unquestioned au- 
thority; her word must be law; a nun or a sister nursing for Miss Night- 
ingale must take her nursing orders from Miss Nightingale and not from 
her mother superior; and the mother superior must take her nursing 
orders from Miss Nightingale and not from the bishop. 


It was an extraordinary concession for Manning to have obtained, 
and, as far as the original nuns were concerned, it worked with perfect 
smoothness. The five Norwood nuns, though amiable, proved inexperi- 
enced, but the five from Bermondsey were very nearly the most valuable 
members of the parrv\ Their superior, known as Rev. Mother Bermond- 
sey, became one of Miss Nightingale's dearest friends. 

Three other religious bodies were approached for nurses. St. John's 
House, a High Church sisterhood in Blandford Square, Miss Sellon's 
Anglican sisterhood, known as the Sellonites, in Devonport, and an 
Evangelical body, the Protestant Institution for Nurses, in Devonshire 

The Sellonites agreed to accept A4iss Nightingale's authority and sent 
eight sisters who were especially valuable as they had had experience 
in nursing cholera in the slums of Plymouth and Devonport during the 
cholera epidemic of 1853. The authorities of St. John's House demurred, 
but after being visited first by Sidney Herbert and then by the Chaplain- 
General of the Forces allowed themselves to be persuaded and sent six 
sisters. The Protestant Institution flatly refused — their nurses were to be 
controlled only by their own committee. The refusal was unfortunate. 
As a result, the party contained a preponderance of Roman Catholics and 
members of die High Church. Out of the thirty-eight nurses, twenty- 
four were either professed nuns or Anglican sisters. The remaining four- 
teen, the hospital nurses, were, as Clarkey observed, of no particular re- 
ligion unless the worship of Bacchus should be revived. 

But religious differences were not the only difficulty. Amongst women 
who were prepared to devote themselves to the sick, there were two 
totally different conceptions of the functions of a nurse. The hospital 
nurse, drunken, promiscuous, and troublesome, considered that her 
function was to tend her patient's sick body and restore him to physical 
health by carrying out the doctor's orders. The religious orders, sisters 
and nuns, were neither drunken nor promiscuous, but were apt to be 
more concerned with the souls of their patients than with their bodies. 
Since the middle of the eighteenth century the great medieval tradition 
of nursing among religious orders had decayed. Physical and spiritual 
were thought incompatible; at one point the sisters of St. Vincent de 
Paul had been forbidden to put diapers on boy babies. Lofty sentiments 
were encouraged but cleanliness was ignored. "Excellent self devoted 
women," wrote Miss Nightingale of certain nuns, "fit more for heaven 
than a hospital, they flit about like angels without hands among the 
patients and soothe their souls while they leave their bodies dirty and 
neglected." This conception was not held only by religious orders. It 


was shared by a number of educated women who spent much of their 
time among the sick, but described themselves not as nurses but "ladies." 

Miss Nightingale refused to admit "ladies," as such, into her party. All 
must be nurses; all must eat the same food, have the same accommoda- 
tion, wear the same uniform, except the nuns and sisters, who were al- 
lowed to wear their habits. And the uniform was extremely ugly. It 
consisted of a gray tweed dress, called a "wrapper," a gray worsted 
jacket, a plain white cap, and a short woollen cloak. Over the shoulders 
was worn a holland scarf described as "frightful," on which was em- 
broidered in red the words "Scutari Hospital." There was no time to fit 
individual wearers; various sizes were made up and issued as they came 
in, with unhappy results. Small women got large sizes; tall women got 
small. That a "lady" could be induced to appear in such a get-up was 
certainly a triumph of grace over nature, wrote one of the nuns. The 
uniform had not been designed to make the wearer look attractive. 
Scutari was a disorderly camp, teeming with drink-shops, prostitutes, 
and idle troops, and a distinguishing dress was necessary for the nurses' 
protection. A Crimean veteran told Sir Edward Cook that he saw a 
nurse seized by a soldier in the street of Scutari, but the man's mate recog- 
nized the uniform. "Let her alone," he said, "don't you see she's one of 
Miss Nightingale's women." 

Before Miss Nightingale left England, she called again on Dr. Andrew 
Smith. He was jocose. The ladies, he assured her, would undoubtedly be 
a comfort to the men. Ladies had finer instincts; they might, for instance, 
see a spot on a sheet where a mere man might easily overlook it. 
As for medical duties — well, he did not think Miss Nightingale and her 
nurses could possibly go wrong in administering a nice soothing drink of 
capillary syrup to any man who seemed uncomfortable. She contem- 
plated taking a quantity of stores, but he assured her stores were unneces- 
sary. There was now a positive profusion of every kind of medical 
comfort at Scutari. 

On Saturday morning, October 21, 1854, the party left London Bridge 
to travel via Boulogne to Paris. One night was to be spent in Paris and 
four nights in Marseilles, where in spite of the assurances of Sidney Her- 
bert and Dr. Andrew Smith A4iss Nightingale intended to buy a large 
quantity of miscellaneous provisions and stores. Uncle Sam was to go as 
far as Marseilles to assist her. From Marseilles the party were to proceed 
to Constantinople in a fast mail boat, the Vectis. 

Among the Nightingale papers is preserved a small oblong black 
notebook, fastened with an elastic band and covered with American 


cloth. It contains three letters, the only personal papers Aliss Nightingale 
took with her to Scutari. One from Fanny bestowed on her the maternal 
blessing she had so long sought in vain; one from Manning commended 
her to the Protection, Worship and Imitation of the Sacred Heart; the 
third was from Richard Alonckton Alilnes — "I hear you are going to the 
East," he wrote ". . . you can undertake that, when you could not 
undertake me." 

The party reached Boulogne at dinner-time and were given an ovation. 
A4any of the fisherwives of Boulogne had sons and brothers in the French 
Army, and they seized and shouldered the baggage and carried it in 
triumph to the hotel, refusing to accept payment. The landlord placed 
his establishment at the disposal of the party, desired them to order what 
they would for dinner, and refused to be paid. 

The ladies would not sit with the nurses at dinner, though the nurses 
were in difficulty, as they knew no French. Miss Nightingale waited 
on the nurses and ate with them herself. "We never had so much care 
taken of our comforts before," one of them said to her. "It is not people's 
way with us." 

The party arrived at the Gare du Nord, Paris, at lo p.m., and was wel- 
comed by an enthusiastic crowd and cheered on the way to the hotel 
where M. Mohl had arranged rooms and supper. Uncle Sam, writing to 
Emblcy, described Florence and Mrs. Bracebridge going from room to 
room trying to fit the party in, followed by Mr. Bracebridge, who, 
carrying a large box with all the cash in it under his arm, was highly 
excited, constantly interrupting Florence with exclamations and irrele- 
vant reminiscences, and reproaching her for being so confoundedly 
silent. Mr. Bracebridge was followed in turn by M. Mohl, who implored 
him to come downstairs and eat his supper like a good boy. 

Miss Nightingale had hoped to add to her party some Sisters of Charity 
of British nationality from the convent of St. Vincent de Paul, but per- 
mission was refused. 

The next day the party left for Marseilles. In Marseilles Miss Nightin- 
gale set about purchasing stores. In her bedroom, but not, explained 
Uncle Sam, at bedtime, she received a motley crowd of merchants, 
shopkeepers, dealers, officials from the French Government and the 
British Consulate, army officers, The Times correspondent, and a Queen's 
Messenger "with the same serenity as in a drawing-room." She was 
looking handsomer than ever, he noted, and the impression she created 
was extraordinary. 

On October 27 the party sailed in the Vectis. She was a horrible ship, 


built for carrying fast mails from Marseilles to Malta, infested with huge 
cockroaches and so notorious for her discomfort that the Government 
had difficulty in manning her. Miss Nightingale, a wretchedly bad sailor, 
was prostrated by sea sickness. On the second day out the Vectis ran into 
a gale. The guns with which she was armed had to be jettisoned; the 
stewards' cabin and the galley were washed overboard. Miss Nightingale 
suffered so severely that when Malta was reached she was too weak to 
go ashore. 

The rest of the party went sightseeing in the charge of a major of 
mihtia. The party was made up partly of Anglican sisters in black serge 
habits, partly of Roman Catholic nuns in white habits, and partly of 
hospital nurses. The hospital nurses were placed in the middle where 
they would have no chance to misbehave, and the major marched the 
party from point to point in military formation. The major would shout, 
"Forward black sisters," and the Anglican sisters in their black serge 
habits got into motion; but the white nuns would straggle, and there came 
a shout, "Halt! Those damned white sisters have gone again." Malta 
was full of idle troops, and soon the party was followed by a crowd of 
soldiers. One of the Anglican sisters heard a sergeant remark that he 
should think "them ancient Amazons we read about took a deal of 

On November 3, still in atrocious weather, the Vectis, "blustering, 
storming, shrieking," wrote Miss Nightingale, rushed up the Bosphorus, 
and anchored off Seraglio Point next day. Constantinople, in the pouring 
rain, looked like a washed-out daguerreotype. On the opposite shore 
stood the enormous Barrack Hospital. Everyone was on deck eager to 
see their goal. "Oh, Miss Nightingale," said one of the party, "when we 
land don't let there be any red tape delays, let us get straight to nursing 
the poor fellows!" Miss Nightingale, gazing at the gigantic pile, replied: 
"The strongest will be wanted at the wash tub." 

At breakfast-time the Vectis anchored, and during the morning Lord 
Stratford, the British Ambassador at Constantinople, sent across Lord 
Napier, the Secretary of the Embassy. Lord Napier found Miss Nightin- 
gale, exhausted from the effects of prolonged sea sickness, stretched 
on a sofa. Fourteen years later he recalled their first meeting: "... I 
was sent by Lord Stratford to salute and welcome you on your first ar- 
rival at Scutari . . . and found you stretched on the sofa where I believe 
you never lay down again. I thought then that it would be a great hap- 
piness to serve you." 

The nurses were to go to the hospital at once, for wounded were ex- 
pected from the battle of Balaclava, fought on October 25. Painted 


caiques, the gondola-like boats of the Bosphorus, were procured, the 
nurses were lowered into them with their carpet-bags and umbrellas, 
and the party was rowed across to Scutari. 

The rain having ceased, a few fitful gleams of sunshine lit up the 
Asian shore, which, as it grew clearer, lost its beauty. The steep slopes 
to the Barrack Hospital were a sea of mud littered with refuse; there was 
no firm road, merely a rutted, neglected track. As the caiques approached 
a rickety landing-stage, the nurses shrank at the sight of the bloated 
carcass of a large gray horse, washing backward and forward on the tide 
and pursued bv a pack of starving dogs, who howled and fought among 
themselves. A few men, limping and ragged, were helping each other 
up the steep slope to the hospital, and groups of soldiers stood listlessly 
watching the dead horse and the starving dogs. A cold wind blew. Some 
wretched-looking women shivered in tawdry finery. 

The nurses disembarked, climbed the slope, and passed through the 
enormous gateway of the Barrack Hospital, that gateway over which 
Miss Nightingale said should have been written "Abandon hope all ye 
who enter here." Dr. Alenzies and Major Sillery, the Military Com- 
mandant, were waiting to receive them. That night Lord Stratford wrote 
to the Duke of Newcastle: "Miss Nightingale and her brigade of nurses 
are actually established at Scutari under the same roof with the gallant 
and suffering objects of their compassion." 




shore of the Bosphorus, from the magnificent house where the British 
Ambassador lived, the great quadrangle of the Turkish Barracks glim- 
mered golden, magnificent as a giant's palace, but at close quarters 
romance vanished. Vast echoing corridors with floors of broken tiles 
and walls streaming damp, empty of any kind of furniture, stretched 
for miles. Later Miss Nightingale calculated there were four miles of 
beds. Everything was filthy; everything was dilapidated. The form of 
the building was a hollow square with towers at each corner. One side 
had been gutted in a fire and could not be used. The courtyard in the 
center was a sea of mud littered with refuse. Within the vast ramifications 
of the barracks were a depot for troops, a canteen where spirits were 
sold, and a stable for cavalry horses. Deep in the cellars were dark and 
noisome dens where more than 200 women, who had been allowed by 
an oversight to accompany the army, drank, starved, gave birth to infants, 
carried on their trade as prostitutes, and died of cholera. "But it is not a 
buildiuCT, it's a town!" exclaimed a new arrival. 

To reach the Barrack Hospital meant martyrdom for wounded men. 
There was no pier, and the rickety landing-stage could only be used by 
small boats. The men were taken out of the sick transports and lowered 
into caiques or rowing-boats; after landing they were jolted on stretchers 
over rough ground up a precipitous slope. 

Although so near Constantinople the situation was isolated. The only 
communication with Constantinople was by boat, and the Bosphorus 
was swept by sudden storms which cut off all communication for three 
or four days at a time. At Scutari were the principal cemeteries of Con- 
stantinople, but no markets or shops, only a "profusion of tombs, foun- 
tains and weeping willows" — and ample opportunities for drunkenness 
and vice. As soon as the British Army occupied Scutari, a horde of Jews, 


Greeks, and Armenians descended. Tents, booths, ramshackle sheds 
used as drinking-shops and brothels sprang up round the barracks, and 
spirits of the worst quality were drunk by the troops in enormous quanti- 
ties. Regiments sent to Scutari rapidly deteriorated, and on one night, 
out of 2400 troops stationed in the barracks, 1400 were reported drunk. 

These were obvious drawbacks, but the vast building hid a more fatal 
secret. Sanitary defects made it a pest house, and the majority of the 
men who died there died not of the wounds or sickness with which they 
arrived but of disease they contracted as a result of being in the hospital. 

The catastrophe which destroyed the British Army was a catastrophe 
of sickness, not of losses in battle. There were two different sicknesses. 
The troops on the heights before Sebastopol fell sick of diseases resulting 
from starvation and exposure. When they were brought down to Scutari 
and entered the Barrack Hospital, they died of fevers resulting from 
the unsanitary construction of the Barrack Hospital assisted by insuf- 
ficient food, filth, and overcrowding. The second sickness was the more 
fatal. When the war was over, it was found that the mortality in each 
regiment depended on the number of men which that regiment had 
been able to send to Scutari. 

When iMiss Nightingale entered the Barrack Hospital on November 
5, 1854, there were ominous signs of approaching disaster, but the catas- 
trophe had not yet occurred. Food, drugs, medical necessities had already 
run short, the Barrack Hospital was without equipment, and in the 
Crimea supply was breaking down. Winter was swiftly advancing, and 
each week the number of sick sent to Scutari steadily increased. 

There were men in the Crimea, there were men in Scutari, there were 
men at home in England who saw the tragedy approach. They were 
powerless. The system under which the health of the British Army was 
administered defeated them. The exactions, the imbecilities of the system 
killed energy and efficiency, crushed initiative, removed responsibility, 
and were the death of common sense. 

Three departments were responsible for maintaining the health of the 
British Army and for the organization of its hospitals. The Commissariat, 
the Purveyor's Department, and the Medical Department. They were 
departments which during forty years of economy had been cut down 
nearer and still nearer the bone. In 1 853, Dr. Andrew Smith, the Director- 
General of the British Army Medical Service, received 1200 pounds 
sterling a year and had only twelve clerks to execute the entire admin- 
istration of his department. The Purveyor's Department had been re- 
duced to a staff of four, and at the outbreak of war it was extremely 
difficult to find anyone with sufficient experience to send out as a 


Purveyor-in-Chief. Mr. Ward, "poor old Ward," the Purveyor at Scu- 
tari, was over seventy years of age, a veteran not only of the Peninsula 
but of Walcheren. His staff consisted of two inexperienced clerks and 
three boys who also acted as messengers. Mr. Filder, the Commissary- 
General, a Peninsula veteran, complained in 1855 that he was expected 
with three incompetent clerks to conduct and record the whole business 
of supplying the British Army in the Crimea. 

These departments had no standing. Dr. Andrew Smith told the Roe- 
buck Committee that it would have been considered impertinence on 
his part to approach the Commander-in-Chief with suggestions as to 
the health of the army. A commissary officer did not rank as a gentle- 
man, while the purveyor was despised even by the commissary. Ill paid, 
despised, not highly qualified and painfully anxious for promotion, their 
fear of their superior officers, especially of the military authorities, was 
abject. It was something, wrote Miss Nightingale, which no one outside 
the army had any idea of; it was absolutely Chinese. Men of courage, of 
determination, and of character might have risen above the system, 
as Dr. Alexander, the ablest man in the medical service rose above it, 
but such men did not usually choose to become commissariat officers, 
purveyors, or army surgeons. 

The method by which the hospitals were supplied was confused. The 
Commissariat were the caterers, bankers, carriers, and store-keepers 
of the army. They bought and and delivered the standard daily rations 
of the men whether they were on duty or in hospital. The bread and 
the meat used in the hospitals, the fuel burned there were supplied by 
the Commissariat. But the Commissariat did not supply food for men too 
ill to eat their normal rations. At this point the Purveyor stepped in. All 
invalid foods, known as "medical comforts," sago, rice, milk, arrowroot, 
port wine, were supplied by the Purveyor. But though these comforts 
were supplied to the hospital by the Purveyor, he did not obtain them: all 
the Purveyor's contracts were made by the Commissariat. The Purveyor 
never dealt directly with his merchant and had no power over him. If 
goods were unsatisfactory, the Purveyor could only complain to the 
Commissariat. Though the standard daily rations of the men in hospital 
were bought and delivered by the Commissariat, it was the Purveyor 
who cooked and distributed them. Yet he had no authority over their 
price, suitability, or quality, having to accept what the Commissariat 
sent unless he could claim the consignment was unfit for human con- 
sumption. Mr. Filder, the Commissary-General, cross-examined by the 
Roebuck Committee, said with heat that for his part he never had 
understood where the duties of the Commissariat ended and the duties 


of the Purveyor began. Mr. Benson Maxwell, an eminent lawyer and a 
member of the Hospitals Commission, declared that though he had 
spent some weeks in the hospitals he was perfectly unable to disentangle 
the respective duties of Commissariat and Purveyor. 

Relations between the doctors and the Purveyor were even more 
obscure. A doctor might order a man a special diet, but it depended on 
the Purveyor whether the patient received it or not. Having made a 
requisition on the Purveyor, the doctor was powerless. Dr. Andrew 
Smith stated before the Roebuck Committee that he could not say what 
his position was with regard to the Purveying Department. If he made 
a complaint, the Purveyor told him it was not his province. "Then," 
said Dr. Smith, "I must go to the War Office and get them to carry out 
what I ought to have the power to carry out." He was asked: "Has 
this uncertainty with regard to the power of providing necessaries and 
comforts in the hospitals been in existence ever since you have been at the 
Medical Board?" "Yes, and long before that." 

Though the system placed executive power in the hands of the Com- 
missariat and the Purveyor, it was only a limited power. Certain goods 
only might be supplied. Each department had a series of "warrants" 
naming definite articles. "The Purveyor," wrote Miss Nightingale, "only 
gives such amounts of articles as are justifiable under his 'warrants,' by 
which he is governed, and is not responsible for those wants of the soldier 
in hospital which are in excess of the warrants, whatever may be the 
evidence before him, either in the requisition of the medical officer or 
the personal observation which, it would appear, he was bound to make 
of what was close under his eyes." 

The result was the extraordinary shortages. When the sick and 
wounded came down to Scutari from the Crimea, they were in the ma- 
jority of cases without forks, spoons, knives, or shirts. The regulations of 
the British Army laid down that each soldier should bring his pack into 
hospital with him, and his pack contained a change of clothing and uten- 
sils for eating. These articles were consequently not on the Purveyor's 
warrant. But most of the men who came down to Scutari had abandoned 
their packs after Calamita Bay, or on the march from the Alma to Bala- 
clava, at the orders of their officers. Nevertheless, the Purveyor refused 
to consider any requisitions on him for these articles. 

Officials were trained not to make trouble, not to spend money, never 
to risk responsibility; and at Scutari, grossly overworked as they were, 
they were placed in a situation which demanded courage and resource. 
The system, while it discouraged action, was enormously prolific of 
forms, requisitions, dockets, cross-checks, authorizations, and reports. 


In the hospitals at Scutari every requisition, however trifling, had to be 
checked and counter-signed by two doctors, one of them a senior officer. 
No medical officer was permitted to use his discretion. The surgeon on 
duty had to make as many as six different daily records of the "Diet 
Roll," the particulars of food and comforts to be consumed by each pa- 
tient. As soon as a man attained proficiency in his profession and became 
a first-class surgeon, he spent so much time filling in forms and drawing 
up reports that the care of the patients was left to inexperienced juniors. 
Dr. Menzies, Senior Medical Officer at the Barrack Hospital, stated that 
he was so inundated with office work that he had no time to go into 
the wards. "It must be admitted," the Roebuck Committee agreed, "that 
he had no time left for what should have been his principal duty, the 
proper superintendence of these hospitals." 

The Barrack Hospital was the fatal fruit of the system. When the Gen- 
eral Hospital was unexpectedly filled with cholera cases and Dr. Menzies 
was abruptly notified that the casualties from the Alma and a further 
large number of cholera cases were on their way, he was instructed to 
turn the Turkish Barracks into a hospital. The preparation and equip- 
ment of a hospital formed no part of his duties, his task being to instruct 
the Purveyor. He sent for "poor old Ward" and told him to prepare 
the Turkish Barracks for the reception of wounded. He had then, in 
accordance with the rules of the service, performed his duty. How 
Mr. Ward was to conjure hospital equipment at a moment's notice out 
of the drink-shops, brothels, and tombs of Scutari, how he was to collect 
labor to clean the vast filthy building when no labor existed nearer than 
Constantinople, was not Dr. Menzies's concern. Mr. Ward also knew 
the correct procedure. He had no authority to expend sums of money 
in purchasing goods in the open market, and in any case many of the 
articles required were not on his warrant. He requisitioned the Com- 
missariat on the proper forms, the Commissariat wrote on the forms 
"None in store," and the matter was closed. The wounded arrived and 
were placed in the building without food, bedding, or medical attention. 
At a later date Dr. Menzies instmcted the Purveyor to issue the men 
shirts. This was not done, and the men continued to lie naked. Dr. Menzies 
was asked by the Roebuck Committee why he had not seen to it that 
his order was carried out. He replied that it was no part of his duty to 
see that an order was executed. Having issued the instruction correctly 
and placed it on record, his duty was done. "Their heads," wrote Miss 
Nightingale in 1855, "are so flattened between the boards of Army dis- 
cipline that they remain old children all their lives." 

The destruction of the British Army in the Crimean campaign was 


materially assisted by the attitude of his officer to the private soldier. 
Savage physical suffering was endured by officers and men alike, and 
the officers were courageous, stoical, physically tough — Sir George 
Brown, who commanded the Light Division, had had his arm cut 
off in the Peninsula and had been thrown on some straw in the bottom 
of a cart; Lord Raglan had had his arm amputated without an anesthetic 
after Waterloo and had called out: "Here, bring that arm back, there 
is a ring my wife gave me on the finger." But officers regarded the men 
they commanded as denizens of a different world. 

The private soldier of 1854 did not bear a good character. The 
young man who was the disgrace of his village, the black sheep of the 
family, enlisted. The Duke of Wellington described his army, the army 
which won the victories of the Peninsula and Waterloo, as "the scum 
of the earth enlisted for drink." Officers had no feeling of responsibility 
toward their men. "During the time I have been in the Crimea, that is 
since the landing ... no general officer has visited my hospital nor, to 
mv knowledge, in any way interested himself about the sick," Dr. 
Brush of the Scots Greys wrote to the Hospitals Commission, When 
it became evident that the army would have to winter before Sebasto- 
pol under conditions of appalling severity, a large number of officers 
threw up their commissions and went home. Many of these, like Lord 
George Paget, who had taken part in the Charge of the Light Brigade, 
were men of unquestioned personal courage. They were astounded when 
they were cut in their clubs. 

Miss Nightingale was told: "You will spoil the brutes"; she heard 
the troops described by their officers as "animals," "blackguards," 
"scum." And the medical authorities were enraged by what they con- 
sidered unreasonable demands — clean bedding, soup, hospital clothing 
were "preposterous luxuries." "Poor old Ward," cross-examined as to 
the state of the Barrack Hospital by the Hospitals Commission in De- 
cember, 1854, said: "I served through the whole of the Peninsula War. 
The patients never were nearly so comfortable as they are here. . . . 
In general the men were without bedsteads. Even when we returned to 
our own country from Walcheren and Corunna the comforts they got 
were by no means equal to what they have here." 

The doctors at Scutari received the news of Miss Nightingale's 
appointment with disgust. They were understaffed, overworked; it 
was the last straw that a youngish Society lady should be foisted on 
them with a pack of nurses. Of all Government follies, this was the 
worst. However, they had no choice but to submit; open opposition 
would be dangerous, for Miss Nightingale was known to have powerful 


backing, to be the intimate friend of Sidney Herbert and on friendly 
terms with half the Cabinet. Opinion was divided as to whether she 
would turn out a well-meaning, well-bred nuisance or a Government 
spy. For their part, regimental officers received the news with an 
indulgent smile. Colonel Anthony Sterling, attached to the Highland 
Brigade, wrote in November, 1854: "The ladies seem to be on a new 
scheme, bless their hearts. ... I do not wish to see, neither do I ap- 
prove of, ladies doing the drudgery of nursing." 

However, on November 5 Miss Nightingale and her party were 
welcomed into the Barrack Hospital with every appearance of flattering 
attention and escorted into the hospital with compliments and expres- 
sions of goodwill. When they saw their quarters, the picture abruptly 
changed. Six rooms, one of which was a kitchen and another a closet 
ten feet square, had been allotted to a party of forty persons. The same 
space had previously been allotted to three doctors and, in another 
part of the hospital, was occupied solely by a major. The rooms were 
damp, filthy and unfurnished except for a few chairs. There were no 
tables; there was no food. Miss Nightingale made no comment, and the 
officials withdrew. It was a warning, a caution against placing reliance 
on the flowery promises, the resounding compHments of Stratford 
Canning, first Viscount Stratford de RedcliflFe. 

Lord Stratford had been British Ambassador to Constantinople three 
times and associated with Turkey since 1807. His influence was im- 
mense; he was virtually a dictator; his latest "reign" at Constantinople 
had lasted, with a two years' intermission, for sixteen years. The Turks 
called him "the great Elchi," the great ambassador. Physically he was 
extremely handsome, and he prided himself on his presence — "the thin 
rigid lips, the majesty of brow of a Canning." He lived magnificently 
and traveled with twenty-five servants and seventy tons of plate. 

Miss Nightingale described Lord Stratford as bad-tempered, heart- 
less, pompous, and lazy. He loved to consort with kings and emperors; 
he loved to write bad poems in majestic rhythms and keep his attaches 
up until the small hours while he read them aloud. He was jealous of 
his inferiors. "The Elchi," wrote Lord Napier, "would never employ 
anyone on serious work who was at all near himself, so I spent the best 
years of my life at a momentous crisis doing nothing." He was not the 
man to interest himself in a hospital for common soldiers. In his mag- 
nificent palace on the Bosphorus he lived for two years with, said Miss 
Nightingale, "the British Army perishing within sight of his windows," 
and during those two years he visited the hospitals only once, when she 
"dragged" him there for a visit of only one and a half hours. 


After receiving Sidney Herbert's letter, Lord Stratford informed 
Dr. iMenzies that if anything was required for the hospitals both The 
Tmies fund and public money were available. Dr. Menzies was thor- 
oughly alarmed; the suggestion that civilian funds should be used to 
make good deficiencies in army administration struck him with horror. 
He refused to admit anything was wrong: as far as present wants ex- 
tended, the hospitals were satisfactorily supplied, and as for future needs 
he referred once more to the stores expected from Varna. The Ambas- 
sador accepted this assurance. He did not go across and see the hospitals 
for himself, nor did he send anyone else to inspect them or ask for de- 
tails. He wrote to Sidney Herbert that there did not appear to be any- 
thing required and passed on to a project very near his heart: the 
subscriptions to The Times fund would be difficult to return, and he 
pressed that they should be devoted to the building of a Protestant 
Church in Constantinople. Though he was strongly Protestant in sym- 
pathies, the project was by no means a religious one. It would be a 
diplomatic triumph. To have procured permission from the Sultan 
to build a church of a rival religion in Constantinople, a Mohammedan 
city, was a mark of extraordinary favor, and the building of the church 
would immensely increase British prestige. 

That night, as Miss Nightingale was calculating how she could cram 
her party of forty into five small rooms and a kitchen, Lord Stratford 
wrote a flowery letter to the Duke of Newcastle comphmenting her 
on the "accomplishments" she brought into the field of charity and 
venturing to hope that "much comfort may be derived by the sick and 
wounded from that attractive source." 

Fourteen nurses were to sleep in one room, ten nuns in another; 
Miss Nightingale and Mrs. Bracebridge shared the closet; Mr. Brace- 
bridge and the courier-interpreter slept in the office; Mrs. Clark, who was 
to be cook, and her assistant must go to bed in the kitchen. There was one 
more room upstairs, and the eight Sellonites must sleep there. They 
went upstairs, and hurried back. The room was still occupied — by the 
dead body of a Russian general. Mr. Bracebridge fetched two men to 
remove the corpse while the sisters waited. The room was not cleaned, 
and there was nothing to clean it with; it was days before they could 
get a broom, and meanwhile the deceased general's white hairs littered 
the floor. There was no furniture, no food, no means of cooking food, 
no beds. Most of the party prepared to sleep on so-called Turkish 
"divans," raised wooden platforms running round the rooms on which 
the Turks placed bedding; there was, however, no bedding. While 
the nurses and sisters unpacked, Miss Nightingale went down into the 


hospital and managed to procure tin basins of milkless tea. As the party- 
drank it, she told them what she had discovered. 

The hospital was totally lacking in equipment. It was hopeless to ask 
for furniture. There was no furniture. There was not even an operating 
table. There were no medical supplies. There were not even the ordi- 
nary necessities of life. For the present the nurses must use their tin 
basins for everything, washing, eating, and drinking. 

They must be prepared to go short of water. The allowance was 
limited to a pint a head a day for washing and drinking, including tea, 
and it was necessary to line up in one of the corridors where there was 
a fountain to obtain it. Tomorrow the situation would become worse; a 
battle at Balaclava had been fought on October 25, and transports loaded 
with sick and wounded were expected. 

The party had to go to bed in darkness, for the shortage of lamps 
and candles was acute. Sisters and nurses lying on the hard divans tried 
to console themselves by thinking how much greater were the sufferings 
of the wounded in the sick transports. The rooms were alive with fleas, 
and rats scurried beneath the divans all night long. The spirits of all, 
wrote Sister Margaret Goodman, one of the Sellonites, sank. 

The doctors ignored Miss Nightingale. She was to be frozen out, and 
only one doctor would use her nurses and her supplies. Mr. Macdonald 
told the Hospitals Commission: "Nurses were offered by Miss Night- 
ingale and not accepted"; and he experienced similar difficulty himself. 
He had The Tmtes fund to spend; the urgency of the need for supplies 
was tragically evident, but he had the greatest difficulty in "squeezing 
out" of the doctors an admission of what was needed. The medical 
authorities drew together in a close defensive phalanx. Admit failure! 
Accept help for the army from civilians, from The Times under whose 
attacks the army authorities were smarting! From a high Society miss 
who happened to be on dining terms with the Cabinet! Their experi- 
ence of army methods, of confidential reports, told them that the man 
who consorted with Miss Nightingale or who supplied his wards through 
The Ti?7ies fund would be a marked man. 

She realized that before she could accomplish anything she must 
win the confidence of the doctors. She determined not to offer her 
nurses and her stores again, but to wait until the doctors asked her for 
help. She would demonstrate that she and her party wished neither to 
interfere nor attract attention, that they were prepared to be completely 
subservient to the authority of the doctors. 

It was a policy which demanded self-control; the party were to stand 


by, see troops suffer, and do nothing until officially instructed. Though 
Miss Nightingale could accept the hard fact that the experiment on 
which she had embarked could never succeed against official opposition, 
yet she inevitably came into conflict with her nurses. 

A day passed, and some stores arrived. She made them sort old linen, 
count packages of provisions. The hardships of life continued. They 
stood in the corridor to get their pint of water. They ate out of the 
tin bowls, wiped them with paper, washed their faces and hands in them, 
wiped them again and drank tea from them. Discomfort would have been 
ignored if the sufferings of the wounded had been relieved, but they 
were not relieved. The cries of the men were unanswered while old 
linen was counted and mended — this was not what they had left Eng- 
land to accomplish. They blamed Miss Nightingale. 

On Sunday, November 6, the ships bringing the wounded from 
Balaclava began to unload at Scutari. As on other occasions the ar- 
angements were inadequate, and the men suffered frightfully; they 
were brought up to the hospital on stretchers carried by Turks, who 
rolled their bleeding burdens about, put the stretchers down with a 
bump when they needed a rest, and on several occasions threw the 
patient off. Screams of pain were the accompaniment to the unhappy 
procession, and Sister Margaret Goodman recorded the case of a soldier 
who died as a result. 

Still Miss Nightingale would not allow her nurses to throw them- 
selves into the work of attending on these miserable victims. She allo- 
cated twenty-eight nurses to the Barrack Hospital and ten to the Gen- 
eral Hospital a quarter of a mile away. All were to sleep in the Barrack 
Hospital, and all were to wait. No nurse was to enter a ward except at 
the invitation of a doctor. However piteous the state of the wounded, 
the doctor must grive the order for attention. She sent her nurses to 
church to sit through an admirable sermon by the chief Chaplain, Mr. 
Sabin. If the doctors did not choose to employ the nurses, then the 
nurses must remain idle. 

She was also determined to send no nurse into the wards until she 
knew that nurse could be relied on. The reliability of the nurse was as 
important to the success of the experiment as the cooperation of the 
doctors, and for nearly a week the party were kept shut up in their 
detestable quarters making shirts, pillows, stump-rests, and slings and 
being observed by her penetrating eye. The time, sighed one of the 
English Sisters of Mercy, seemed extremely long. 

In any case, no directions had been issued governing the employment 


of nurses. They were entirely in the hands of the doctors. "No general 
order," wrote Miss Nightingale in 1856, "ever existed defining the duties 
of the nurses in the various hospitals to which they were respectively 
attached. . . . The number admitted into each division depended on 
the medical officer of that Division, who sometimes accepted them, 
sometimes refused them, sometimes accepted them after they had been 

Miss Nightingale herself rigidly obeyed regulations. On a later oc- 
casion she was sitting by the bedside of a man critically ill and found 
his feet stone cold. She told an orderly to fetch a hot-water bottle. The 
man refused, saying he had been told to do nothing for a patient with- 
out directions from a medical officer. She accepted the correction, found 
a doctor, and obtained a requisition in proper form. For weeks she stood 
by in silence while the skill of highly efficient nurses was wasted. 

"Our senior medical officer here," she wrote to Sidney Herbert in 
January, 1855, "volunteered to say that my best nurse, Mrs. Roberts, 
dressed wounds and fractures more skillfully than any of the dressers 
or assistant surgeons. But that it was not a question of efficiency, nor 
of the comfort of the patients, but of the 'regulations of the service.' " 

She was first able to get a footing in the hospital through the kitchen. 
A state of starvation existed in the Barrack Hospital. According to 
regulations a private soldier in hospital was placed on what was known 
as a whole diet, a half-diet, or a spoon diet, the first representing the 
man's ordinary rations cooked for him by the hospital, the second about 
half his rations, and the third liquid food. In addition he was supposed 
to receive "extra diet," wine, milk, butter, arrowroot, jelly, milk pud- 
dings, eggs, etc., as prescribed by the surgeon attending him and pro- 
cured through the Purveyor. 

But to cook anything at the Barrack Hospital was practically im- 
possible. The sole provision for cooking was thirteen Turkish coppers 
each holding about 450 pints. There was only one kitchen. There were 
no kettles, no saucepans; the only fuel was green wood. The tea was made 
in the coppers in which the meat had just been boiled, water was short, 
the coppers were not cleaned, and the tea was undrinkable. The meat 
for each ward was issued to the orderly for the ward, who stood in line 
to receive it from the Purveyor's Department. The Purveyor was under- 
staffed, and when the hospital had 2500 patients one clerk did all the 
issues, and the orderlies had to wait an hour or more. When the orderly 
had the meat, he tied it up, put some distinguishing marks on it, and 
dropped it into the pot. Some of the articles used by the orderlies to dis- 


tinguish their meat included red rags, buttons, old nails, reeking pairs 
of surgical scissors, and odd bits of uniform. The water did not generally 
boil; the fires smoked abominably. When the cook considered that 
sufficient time had been taken up in cooking, the orderlies threw buckets 
of water on the fires to put them out, and the contents of the coppers 
were distributed, the cook standing by to see that each man got his own 
joint; the joints which had been dropped in last were sometimes almost 
raw. The orderly then carried the meat into the ward and divided it up, 
usually on his bed, and never less than twenty minutes could elapse 
between taking it out of the pot and serving it. Not only were the dinners 
always cold, but the meat was issued with bone and gristle weighed in, 
and some men got portions which were all bone. Those who could eat 
meat usually tore it with their fingers — there were almost no forks, 
spoons, or knives. Men on a spoon diet got the water in which the 
meat had been cooked, as soup. There were no vegetables only, some- 
times, dried peas. 

Orderlies cooked extras over fires of sticks in the wards and the 
courtyard. One of them, Edward Jennings, told the Hospitals Commis- 
sions on December 14, 1854: "I boil chickens in an old tin in the ward. I 
also cook the sago and other things as well as I can . . . the doctor does 
not give me any directions. I cook all the extras and give them to the 
man at once and he can do what he likes with them. ... I never did 
anything in the way of cooking until I became an orderly." The ad- 
ministration of medicines was left to the orderlies, and it was their 
practice to give the day's medicine in one draught. When wine was 
ordered, the orderlies drank it themselves. They also ate the rations of 
men who were ill or asleep. One of the Sellonite sisters saw a young 
orderly eat up eight dinners. 

The food was almost uneatable by men in rude health; as a diet for 
cholera and dysentery cases it produced agonies. The torture endured 
by the men when the pangs of hunger were superimposed on diarrhea 
was frightful. "I have never seen suffering greater," wrote one observer. 

The day after Miss Nightingale arrived she began to cook "extras." 
She had bought arrowroot, wine and beef essences, and portable stoves 
in Marseilles. On the 6 of November, with the doctors' permission, she 
provided pails of hot arrowroot and port wine for the Balaclava sur- 
vivors, and within a week the kitchen belonging to her quarters had 
become an extra diet kitchen, where food from her own stores was 
cooked. For five months this kitchen was the only means of supplying in- 
valid food in the Barrack Hospital. She strictly observed official routine,7 


nothing being supplied from the kitchen without a requisition signed by 
a doctor. No nurse was permitted to give a patient any nourishment 
without a doctor's written directions. 

Cooking was all she had managed to accomplish when, on November 
9, the situation completely changed. A flood of sick poured into Scutari 
on such a scale that a crisis of terrible urgency arose, and prejudices 
and resentments were for the moment forgotten. 




of the catastrophe. The destruction of the British Army had begun. 
These were the first of the stream of men suffering from dysentery, from 
scurvy, from starvation and exposure who were to pour down on 
Scutari all through the terrible winter. Over in the Crimea on the 
heights above Sebastopol the army was marooned, as completely as if 
on a lighthouse. Thousands of men possessed only what they stood up 
in. After the landing at Calamita Bay and after the battle of the Alma, 
when the troops were riddled with cholera and the heat was intense, 
the men had, by their officers' orders, abandoned their packs. 

Seven miles below the heights lay Balaclava, the British base. There 
had been one good road, the Woronzoff road, but the Russians had 
gained possession of it in the battle of Balaclava on October 25. There 
remained a rough track. The weather was still moderately good, but the 
track was not metaled and put into order before the winter. Men to 
carry out the work were non-existent. There was no native labor to be 
hired in this deserted spot. There were no tools. Above all, there was no 
transport. The army was still without wagons or pack animals. 

Balaclava had become a nightmare of filth. Lord Raglan had been 
attracted by its extraordinary harbor, a land-locked lagoon, calm, clear, 
and almost tideless, so deep that a large vessel could anchor close inshore. 
But Balaclava was a fishing village of only 500 inhabitants, a single 
street of white vine-wreathed houses clinging to a precipitous ravine. 
No steps were taken to inspect Balaclava before it was occupie.d or to 
keep it in a sanitary condition. The army which marched in was 
stricken with cholera, and within a few days the narrow street had be- 
come a disgusting quagmire. Piles of arms and legs amputated after the 
battle of Balaclava, with the sleeves and trousers still on them, had 
been thrown into the harbor and could be seen dimly through the water. 


Bodies of dead men rose suddenly and horribly out of the mud to the 
surface. Anchor chains and cables were fouled by limbs and trunks. 
The surface of the once translucent water was covered with brightly 
colored scum, and the whole village smelled of sulphuretted hydrogen. 

On November 5 the Russians had attacked at Inkerman, on the heights 
above Sebastopol. In a grim battle fought in swirling fog the British 
were victorious. But victory was not reassuring. The British troops were 
exhausted; their commanders were shaken by the revelation of Russian 
strength. It was evident that Sebastopol would not fall until the spring. 

And now an ominous incident occurred. A Mr. Cattley was attached to 
the British Army as chief interpreter. Mr. Cattley knew the Crimea 
well, and he sent in his resignation. He saw a great disaster ahead. The 
British Army was going to winter on the heights before Sebastopol, and 
the British Army was not only totally destitute of suppUes but without 
the means of being able to transport supplies should they ultimately ar- 
rive. Moistened by the dews of autumn, and churned by the wheels of 
heavy guns, the rough track from Balaclava to the camp had become im- 
passable. Mr. Cattley wrote to Lord Raglan warning him that winter was 
near, that the climate of the Crimea was subject to sudden and terrify- 
ing changes, and tendering his resignation. Lord Raglan made light of 
the warning and besought Mr. Cattley to withdraw his resignation. He 
did so and stayed to die in 1855. 

The weather changed rapidly, icy winds blew — and the troops on the 
heights above Sebastopol had no fuel. Every bush, every stunted tree 
was consumed, and the men clawed roots out of the sodden earth to gain 
a little warmth. As it grew colder, they had to live without shelter, with- 
out clothing, drenched by incessant driving rain, to sleep in mud, to 
eat hard dried peas and raw salt meat. The percentage of sickness rose 
and rose, and the miserable victims began to pour down on Scutari. 
The authorities were overwhelmed. The first transports were not even 
expected. Through an oversight, notification that they had sailed was 
received only half an hour before the sick and wounded began to land. 
Utter confusion resulted, official barriers were swept away, and every- 
one was pressed into service. The Hon. and Rev. Sidney Godolphin 
Osborne, a personal friend of Sidney Herbert, had come out as a volun- 
teer to. act as chaplain to the troops in hospital, and had been cold- 
shouldered by the authorities; now he found himself assisting at opera- 
tions. Mr. Augustus Stafford, M.P., who had come to Scutari to 
investigate the hospitals privately, and had had difficulty even in 
obtaining admission, had a saucepan thrust into his hand and was asked 
to go down to the wretched pier to pour some kind of warm stimulant 


down the throats of men writhing in agony. "Everyone helped," he told 
the Roebuck Committee, "the official people were assisting as much as 
possible but the number of official people was too small and the arrival 
was so great, a flood of sick came upon them, bursting in so suddenly 
that the means of the hospital were not able to meet it." 

It was Aliss Nightingale's opportunity — at last the doctors turned to 
her. Her nurses dropped their sorting of linen and began with desperate 
haste to seam up great bags and stuff them with straw. These were laid 
down not only in the wards but in the corridors, a line of stuffed sacks on 
each side with just room to pass between them. 

Day after day the sick poured in until the enormous building was 
entirely filled. The wards were full; the corridors were lined with men 
lying on the bare boards because the supply of bags stuffed with straw 
had given out. Chaos reigned. The doctors were unable even to examine 
each man. Mr. Sabin, the head Chaplain, was told that men were a 
fortnight in the Barrack Hospital without seeing a surgeon. Yet the 
doctors, especially the older men, worked "like lions" and were fre- 
quently on their feet for twenty-four hours at a time. "We are lucky 
in our Medical Heads," Miss Nightingale wrote to Dr. Bowman on 
November 14. "Two of them are brutes and four are angels — for this is 
a work which makes angels or devils of men. ... As for the Assistants, 
they are all cubs and will, while a man is breathing his last under the 
knife, lament the 'annoyance of being called up from their dinners by 
such a fresh influx of wounded.' But unlicked cubs grow up into good 
old Bears, tho' I don't know how, for certain it is the old Bears are good." 

The filth became indescribable. The men in the corridors lay on 
unwashed rotten floors crawling with vermin. As the Rev. Sidney 
Godolphin Osborne knelt to take down dying messages, his paper be- 
came covered thickly with lice. There were no pillows, no blankets; 
the men lay, with their heads on their boots, wrapped in the blanket or 
greatcoat stiff with blood and filth which had been their sole covering 
perhaps for more than a week. There were no screens or operating tables. 
Amputations had to be performed in the wards in full sight of the 
patients. Mr. Osborne describes the amputation of a thigh "done upon 
boards put on two trestles. I assisted . . . during the latter part of the 
operation the man's position became such from want of a table he was 
supported by my arm underneath, a surgeon on the other side grasping 
my wrist." One of Miss Nightingale's first acts was to procure a screen 
from Constantinople so that men might be spared the sight of the suffer- 
ing they themselves were doomed to undergo. 

She estimated that in the hospital at this time there were more than 


looo men suffering from acute diarrhea and only twenty chamber pots. 
The privies in the towers of the Barrack Hospital had been allowed to 
become useless; the water pipes which flushed them had been stopped 
up when the Barracks were used for troops, and when the building was 
converted into a hospital they had never been unstopped. Mr. Augustus 
StaflFord said there was liquid filth which floated over the floor an inch 
deep and came out of the privy itself into the ante-room. He told the 
Roebuck Committee: "The majority of the cases at the Barrack Hospital 
were suffering from diarrhea, they had no slippers and no shoes, and 
they had to go into this filth so that gradually they did not trouble to 
go into the lavatory chamber itself." Huge wooden tubs stood in the 
wards and corridors for the men to use. The orderlies disliked the un- 
pleasant task of emptying these, and they were left unemptied for 
twent}"-four hours on end. In this filth lay the men's food — Miss Night- 
ingale saw the skinned carcase of a sheep lie in a ward all night. "We 
have Erysipelas, fever and gangrene," she wrote ". , . the dysentery 
cases have died at the rate of one in two . . . the mortality of the 
operations is frightful. . . . This is only the beginning of things." By 
the end of the second week in November the atmosphere in the Barrack 
Hospital was so frightful that it gave Mr. Stafford the prevailing disease 
of diarrhea in five minutes. The stench from the hospital could be smelled 
outside the walls. 

A change came over the men, said Mr. Macdonald. The classification 
between wounded and sick was broken down. The wounded who had 
been well before began to catch fevers, "gradually all signs of cheerful- 
ness disappeared, they drew their blankets over their heads and were 
buried in silence." 

Fate had worse in store. On the night of November 14 it was noticed 
that the sea in the Bosphorus was running abnormally high, and there 
was a strange thrumming wind. Within a few days news came that the 
Crimea had been devastated by the worst hurricane within the memory 
of man. Tents were reduced to shreds, horses blown helplessly for miles, 
buildings destroyed, trees uprooted. The marquees which formed the 
regimental field hospitals vanished, and men were left half buried in 
mud without coverings of any kind. Most serious of all, every vessel 
in Balaclava harbor was destroyed, amongst them a large ship, the 
Frince, which had entered the harbor the previous day loaded with 
warm winter clothing and stores for the troops. 

The hurricane rendered the situation of the army desperate. Such 
few stores and such httle forage as it possessed were destroyed. Winter 
began in earnest with storms of sleet and winds that cut like a knife as 


they howled across the bleak plateau. Dysentery, diarrhea, rheumatic 
fever increased by leaps and bounds. More and more shiploads of sick 
inundated Scutari. The men came down starved and in rags. "They 
were without their shoes and their shirts had been thrown away in utter 
disgust at their filthiness or torn in shreds . . . they were swarming 
with vermin; their trousers were all torn; their coats ragged . . . 
sometimes they came down without any coats at all," said Mr. Mac- 
donald in his evidence before the Roebuck Committee. The men told the 
nurses to keep away because they were so filthy. "My own mother 
could not touch me," said one man to Sister Margaret Goodman. By 
the end of November the administration of the hospital had collapsed. 

"In the confusion at Scutari," Mr. Augustus Stafford told the Roe- 
buck Committee, "I was never able to distinguish where one depart- 
ment began and the other ended. . . . Whenever I had anything to 
do with the authorities at Scutari, I never met with anything but per- 
sonal courtesy and a wish to reform the evils . . . but through all the 
departments there was a kind of paralysis, a fear of incurring any re- 
sponsibility, and a fear of going beyond their instructions." 

For instance, Mr. Stafford determined to get the lavatories cleaned. 
He approached Dr. Menzies, who said it was none of his business. "If 
he had got in 12 or 13 men to clean out the lavatories he would imme- 
diately have been pounced on by another department and told that it 
belonged to that department." Mr. Stafford then went to Major Sillery, 
Military Commandant of the Hospital, who freely admitted the urgent 
necessity of the work, but asked where the money was to come from. 
He was "very nervous and anxious, very much distressed and per- 
plexed." He had no instructions to execute the work, the money would 
have to be advanced, and he had no security for repayment. Mr. Stafford 
offered to pay himself. Major Sillery was horror-struck and refused. Mr. 
Stafford declared that if the lavatories were not cleaned he would write 
a letter and have it read aloud in the House of Commons. He then retired 
to bed with diarrhea. 

In his evidence before the Roebuck Committee Mr. Stafford made it 
clear that he did not blame Major Sillery. "He was most anxious to do 
all he could for the improvement and amelioration of the hospitals, but 
he had no money. He did not consider, neither did I, that he was called 
on to risk the money which he, as a man deriving his support from his 
profession would have had to do, if he had advanced this money for the 
payment of 16 Turks to cleanse the lavatories." 

And then in the misery, the confusion, a light began to break. Grad- 
ually it dawned on harassed doctors and overworked officials that there 


was one person in Scutari who could take action — who had money and 
the authority to spend it — Miss Nightingale. 

She had a very large sum at her disposal derived from various sources 
and amounting to over ^30,000, of which /7000 had been collected by 
her personally; and Constantinople was one of the great markets of the 
world. During the first horrors of November, the gathering catastrophe 
of December, it became known that whatever was wanted, from a milk 
pudding to a water-bed, the thing to do was to "go to Miss Nightingale." 

Each day she ascertained what comforts were lacking in the Purveyor's 
Store, what articles supply was short of, what requisitions had been 
made which had not been met. Mr. Macdonald then went into Con- 
stantinople and bought the goods, which were placed in her store and 
issued by her upon requisition in the official form by a medical officer. 
Nothing, with the exception of letter-paper and pencils, was ever given 
out without an official requisition duly signed. Gradually, Mr. Macdon- 
ald told the Roebuck Committee, the doctors ceased to be suspicious and 
their jealousy disappeared. 

In one urgent work she met no opposition. Just as it was no one's 
business to clean the lavatories, so it was no one's business to clean the 
wards. The first commission Mr. Macdonald executed for Miss Night- 
ingale was the purchase of 200 hard scrubbing-brushes and sacking for 
washing the floors. She insisted on the huge wooden tubs in the wards 
being emptied, standing quietly and obstinately by the side of each one, 
sometimes for an hour at a time, never scolding or raising her voice, until 
the orderlies gave way and the tub was emptied. 

Her next step was to wash the men's clothes. Mr. Macdonald stated 
that for five weeks after he arrived at Scutari no washing was done at 
all. The Purveyor had been instructed to make a laundry contract and 
had done so with a Greek, who was quite unable to fulfill his obliga- 
tions; he either failed to wash at all or washed in cold water, and shirts 
came back as filthy as they were sent, still crawling with lice. The men 
said they preferred their own lice to other people's and refused to part 
with their shirts, stuffing them, filthy and vermin-ridden, under their 
blankets. The total amount of washing satisfactorily accomplished for 
the vast hospital was seven shirts. Miss Nightingale made arrangements to 
rent a house outside the barracks and have the washing done by soldiers' 
wives. She consulted Dr. Menzies, telling him she wished to have boilers 
put in by the Engineers Corps. "Oh, but that is putting you to a great 
deal of trouble," said Dr. Menzies. "I should think the Purveyor would 
be able to make arrangements." The boilers were installed and the cost 
paid out of The Times fund. 


Within the hospital her principal ally was Dr. AlcGrigor, ist class 
Staff Surgeon, a young, energetic, man not, she said, wedded in every- 
thing to what had been done in the Peninsula. He accepted her nurses 
and made full use of them. 

For a time she tried to work with Lady Stratford. On November 
7, two days after her arrival, she wrote to Lord Stratford asking for 
sheets, shirts, and portable stoves for cooking "extras." He sent her Lady 
Stratford instead. Lady Stratford would not come across to Scutari 
(she had been in the Barrack Hospital once and the stench had made 
her sick), nor did she send linen and stoves, but she offered to get any- 
thing that was required in Constantinople. Miss Nightingale asked her 
to obtain twelve wagons to bring heavy goods up to the Barrack Hos- 
pital. Next day she looked out and saw drawn up before her quarters 
seven glass and gilt coaches and five other vehicles, which she had to 
pay off out of her own private funds. "This lark of the Ambassadress's," 
she wrote, "cost Miss Nightingale 500 piastres." 

By the end of December Miss Nightingale was in fact purveying the 
hospital. During a period of two months she supplied, on requisition of 
Medical Officers, about 6000 shirts, 2000 socks, and 500 pairs of drawers. 
She supplied nightcaps, slippers, plates, tin cups, knives, forks, spoons "in 
proportion." She procured trays, tables, forms, clocks, operating tables, 
scrubbers, towels, soap, and screens. She caused an entire regiment which 
had only tropical clothing to be re-fitted with warm clothing purchased 
by A4r. Macdonald in the markets of Constantinople when Supply had 
declared such clothing unprocurable in the time — Supply was com- 
pelled to get all its goods from England. "I am a kind of General Dealer," 
she wrote to Sidney Herbert on January 4, 1855, "in socks, shirts, knives 
and forks, wooden spoons, tin baths, tables and forms, cabbages and car- 
rots, operating tables, towels and soap, small tooth combs, precipitate 
for destroying lice, scissors, bed pans, and stump pillows." 

Before Sebastopol conditions grew steadily worse. The stores lost in 
the hurricane were not replaced. Men, sick or well, lay in a foot of water 
in the mud covered only by a single blanket. Every root had been burned, 
and the men had to eat their food raw: meat stiff with salt and dried 
peas. Tea was withdrawn and green coffee, needing roasting and pound- 
ing, was issued instead, because good results had been obtained from 
the use of green coffee in the Caffre War. There was no bread. As the 
percentage of sick climbed and climbed, double turns of duty were 
thrown on the survivors. Men were in the trenches before Sebastopol 
for thirty-six hours at a stretch, never dry, never warmed, never fed. 
The sick were brought down to Balaclava strapped to mule-litters lent 


by the French — there was no British transport of any kind — naked, 
emaciated, and filthy. They were universally suffering from diarrhea, and 
strapped to the mules they could not relieve themselves. After waiting 
hours without food or shelter in the icy wind or driving sleet at Bala- 
clava, they were piled on to the decks of the sick transports and brought 
down to Scutari. And the catastrophe had not yet reached its height. 

At the beginning of December, when the Barrack Hospital was 
filled to overflowing, a letter from Lord Raglan announced the arrival 
of a further 500 sick and wounded. It was impossible to cram any ad- 
ditional cases into the existing wards and corridors, and Miss Nightingale, 
supported by Dr. McGrigor, pressed to have put in order the wing of 
the hospital which had been damaged by fire before the British occupa- 
tion; it consisted of two wards and a corridor and would accommodate 
nearly 1000 extra cases. But the cost would be considerable, and no 
one in the hospital had the necessary authority to put the work in hand. 
She had been repeatedly assured by Sidney Herbert that Lord Stratford 
had carte blajiche; now she applied to him, and Lady Stratford came 
across to Scutari escorted by a couple of attaches. Preferring not to come 
inside the hospital, she held conferences with the Purveyor and Major 
Sillery in the courtyard, and 125 Turkish workmen were engaged to 
repair the wards. After a few days a dispute about the rate of wages 
arose, and the Turkish workmen struck. Miss Nightingale wrote to 
Lord Stratford, who denied the slightest knowledge of the business; 
Lady Stratford withdrew; worried Major Sillery had neither money nor 
authority. On this Miss Nightingale took matters into her own hands. 
She engaged on her own responsibility not 125 but 200 workmen, and 
paid for them partly out of her own pocket and partly out of The Times 
fund. The wards were repaired and cleaned in time to receive the 

Not only did she repair the wards; she equipped them. The Purveyor 
could provide nothing. "Orderlies were wanting, utensils were wanting, 
even water was wanting," she wrote to Sidney Herbert on December 12, 
1854. "I suppHed all the utensils, including knives and forks, spoons, 
cans, towels, etc. . . . and was able to send on the instant arrowroot in 
huge milk pails (two bottles of port wine in each) for 500 men." The 
number of sick and wounded finally received was 800. One of the men 
described his sensations when he at last got off the filthy sick transport 
and was received by Miss Nightingale and her nurses with clean bedding 
and warm food — "we felt we were in heaven," he said. 

The affair caused a sensation. Its fame reached the Crimea and was 
discussed in Colonel Sterling's mess. He was outraged. "Miss Night- 


ingale coolly draws a cheque. Is this the way to manage the finances of 
a great nation? Vox popiili? A divine afflatus. Priestess Miss N. Magnetic 
impetus drawing cash out of my pocket." It was the first important 
demonstration of what men at Scutari called the "Nightingale power." 
Respect for the "Nightingale power" was increased when it became 
known that her action had been officially approved by the War Depart- 
ment and the money she had spent refunded to her. 

But to Miss Nightingale these victories were only incidental; she 
never for a moment lost sight of the fact that the object of her mission 
was to prove the value of women as nurses. But, unhappily, no difficulties 
with doctors or purveyors were as wearing or as discouraging as her 
difficulties with her nurses. 

"I came out. Ma'am, prepared to submit to everything, to be put on 
in every way. But there are some things, Ma'am, one can't submit to. 
There is the Caps, Ma'am, that suits one face and some that suits another. 
And if I'd known. Ma'am, about the caps, great as was my desire to 
come out to nurse at Scutari, I wouldn't have come, Ma'am." This, Miss 
Nightingale wrote to Dr. Bowman on November 14, 1854, was a speci- 
men of the kind of question which had to be adjusted in the midst of ap- 
palling horror. "We are," she wrote, "steeped up to our necks in blood." 
Mrs. Roberts from St. Thomas's was worth her weight in gold, Mrs. 
Drake from St. John's House was a treasure, but most of the other hos- 
pital nurses were not fit to take care of themselves. Nurses had to be 
forbidden to enter any ward which contained men even moderately well, 
to be forbidden to be in the wards on any pretext after 8 p.m. To con- 
vince any of them, nurses or sisters, of the necessity for discipline was 
almost impossible. Why should a man who desperately needed stimu- 
lating food have to go without because the nurse who had the food could 
not eive it to him until she had been authorized by a doctor? It was felt 
that Miss Niijhtingale was callous. It was said that she was determined to 
increase her own power and cared nothing for the sick. 

These difficulties came to a head in December in the case of Sister 
Elizabeth Wheeler, one of the Sellonites. Sister Elizabeth, who was 
nursing wards of men suffering from diarrhea and dysentery, saw the 
men brought in emaciated and in agony from the fearful pangs of hunger 
superimposed on diarrhea, and her heart bled for them. She was a nurse 
of experience, and in her opinion the amount of food given to the men 
was inadequate: she was not allowed sufficient milk, eggs, or port wine. 
A passionate and emotional woman, she had on several occasions forced 
her way in to Miss Nightingale and made a scene, demanding larger 
quantities. Miss Nightingale refused to supply anything except what 


was ordered by the doctor and written and confirmed on the diet roll. 
Sister Elizabeth was furiously angry. She wrote letters home describing 
the fearful state of the wards and accusing the doctors of callousness and 
inhumanity. Unhappily one of her relatives passed on a letter to The 
Ti?nes. It was published on December 8, 1854, as a letter from a heroic 
Scutari nurse, and was made full use of in the campaign The Times was 
conducting against the Government. Miss Nightingale was horrified; 
nothing more unfortunate could have occurred. She was trying to 
convince the doctors of the complete loyalty of her nurses; here was 
a complete contradiction; she was trying to weld the nurses into a 
disciplined band by means of her authority, and here her authority was 
directly attacked. An investigation took place before the Hospitals Com- 
mission in December, 1854, Miss Nightingale and Sister Elizabeth both 
giving evidence. Sister Elizabeth's letter was not correct in its facts, for 
she had represented herself as nursing the wounded, but she had never 
nursed surgical cases. She had given a very high number of deaths and 
conveyed the impression that the deaths had occurred in a single ward 
when in reality they were the deaths for an entire division of the hos- 
pital. Her assertions were held to be inaccurate, and she was asked to 

Sister Elizabeth's attitude was common to a large number of Miss 
Nightingale's nurses. Reluctance to accept her authority and obey her 
instructions was constant from the beginning to the end of her mission, 
and many of her nurses heartily disliked her. 

However, she had managed to establish herself, and now her nurses 
were fully occupied. She had also acquired two new and loyal workers 
in Dr. and Lady Alicia Blackwood, who had come out at their own 
expense after the battle of Inkerman. Dr. Blackwood obtained an ap- 
pointment as Military Chaplain; Lady Alicia applied to Miss Nightingale 
to know where she could be most useful. After a few seconds of silence, 
and with a peculiar expression of countenance. Miss Nightingale said: 
"Do you mean what you say?" Lady Alicia was rather surprised. "Yes, 
certainly, why do you ask me that?" "Oh! because I have had several 
such applications before, and when I have suggested work, I found it 
could not be done, or some excuse was made; it was not exactly the 
sort of thing that was intended, it required special suitability, etc." "Well, 
I am in earnest," said Lady Alicia. On this Miss Nightingale asked her 
to be responsible for the wretched women who had been allowed to 
accompany the army and had been sent down from Varna. More than 
260 women and infants were living in dark cellars beneath the Barrack 


Hospital; soldiers' wives, widows and prostitutes were crowded to- 
gether, men from the Depot were forced to live with their wives in a 
room containing fifty or sixty other persons, a soil pipe drained into 
the corner of one cellar, drinking was incessant and the place was a 
pandemonium of drunkenness, cursing, and swearing. Lady Alicia re- 
moved the more respectable among the women, setting them to work 
in the laundry, and began a lying-in hospital. The children were 
separated from the adults, and a system of doling out food through Mr. 
Bracebridge was adopted which. Miss Nightingale said, became the curse 
of the hospital. Thirty -six women and thirty-six infants under the age of 
three months howled together daily outside Mr. Bracebridge's door — 
the Turks called them his thirty-six wives. 
On December 14 she wrote Sidney Herbert a cheerful letter: 

What we may be considered as having effected: — 
(i) The kitchen for extra diets now in full action. 

(2) A great deal more cleaning of wards, mops, scrubbing brushes, 
brooms and combs given out by ourselves. 

(3) 2000 shirts, cotton and flannel, given out and washing or- 

(4) Lying-in hospital begun. 

(5) Widows and soldiers' wives relieved and attended to. 

(6) A great amount of daily dressing and attention to compound 
fractures by the most competent of us. 

(7) The supervision and stirring-up of the whole machinery gen- 
erally with the concurrence of the chief medical authority. 

(8) The repairing of wards for 800 wounded which would other- 
wise have been left uninhabitable. (And this I regard as the most 

She never wrote quite so cheerfully again. On December 14 she sud- 
denly discovered, through being shown a letter written by Liz Herbert 
to Mrs. Bracebridge, that a party of nurses numbering no fewer than 
forty had left London under the leadership of Mary Stanley and were 
actually due to arrive at Scutari the next day. 

She had not been consulted or informed, and the despatch of the 
party was in direct contravention of her agreement with Sidney Her- 
bert. There was an even more serious aspect; at this critical moment, 
when she was struggling with difficulties caused by Sister Elizabeth 
and her authority was being questioned, the party was consigned not to 
her but to Dr. Gumming; she had been publicly passed over. The signifi- 


cance of this action was not lost on either her friends or her enemies at 
Scutari, and Sidney Godolphin Osborne wrote that he feared the 
Nightingale ministry seemed to be coming to an end. 

She was furiously angry, and on December 15 she wrote Sidney 
Herbert a scathing letter: 

Dear Mr. Herbert, 

When I came out here as your Supt. it was with the distinct 
understanding (expressed both in your own hand writing and in the 
printed announcement which you put in the Morning Chronicle 
which is here in everyone's hands) that nurses were to be sent 
out at my requisition only, which was to be made only with the ap- 
probation of the Medical Officers here. You came to me in great 
distress and told me you were unable for the moment to find any 
other person for the office and that, if I failed you, the scheme would 

I sacrificed my own judgment and went out with forty females, 
well knowing that half that number would be more efficient and 
less trouble, and that the difficulty of inducing forty untrained 
women, in so extraordinary a position as this (turned loose among 
3000 men) to observe any order or even any of the directions of the 
medical men, would be Herculean. 

Experience has justified my foreboding. But I have toiled my way 
into the confidence of the medical men. I have, by incessant vigi- 
lance, day and night, introduced something like order into the 
disorderly operations of these women. And the plan may be said to 
have succeeded in some measure, as it stands. . . . 

At this point of affairs arrives at no one's requisition, a fresh batch 
of women, raising our number to eighty-four. 

You have sacrificed the cause, so near my heart. You have sac- 
rificed me — a matter of small importance now — you have sacrificed 
your own written word to a popular cry. . . . 

The quartering them here is a physical impossibility, the employ- 
ing them a moral impossibility. 

You must feel I ought to resign, where conditions are imposed 
on me which render the object for which I am employed unattain- 
able — and I only remain at my post until I have provided in some 
measure for these poor wanderers. You will have to consider where 
they are to be employed, at Malta, Therapia or elsewhere or whether 
they are to return to England — and you will appoint a Superin- 


tendent in my place until which time I will continue to discharge its 
duties as well as I can. 
Believe me, dear Mr. Herbert, 

yours very truly, 

Florence Nightingale. 

She had not done with him. She added a stinging postscript. 

P.S. Had I had the enormous folly to write at the end of eleven 
days experience to require more women, would it not seem that you, 
as a Statesman, should have said "Wait until you can see your way 
better." But I made no such request. The proportion of Roman 
Catholics which is already making an outcry you have raised to 25 
in 84. Dr. Menzies has declared that he will have two only in the 
General Hospital — and I cannot place them here in a greater pro- 
portion than I have done without exciting the suspicion of the 
Medical Men and others. 

In order that Sidney Herbert should not imagine she had written 
hastily, she completed the letter by a statement at the foot: "Written 
15 December. Posted 18 December." 

On Sidney Herbert's part there was honest misunderstanding. He 
was harried, in poor health, and almost worked to death. In the confused, 
unbalanced mind of Mary Stanley there was a mixture of religious fer- 
vor — she had secretly determined to become a Roman Catholic before 
she started for Scutari — and jealousy. The third person concerned, Liz 
Herbert, was prone to act emotionally and incalculably, to be easily 
swept into indiscretions; and she, like Mary Stanley, was blinded by 
religious fervor; though Liz Herbert did not become a Roman Catholic 
in her husband's lifetime, she was received into the Roman Church after 
his death. 

Mr. Bracebridge spoke angrily of "Popish plots," and that. Miss 
Nightingale said, was ridiculous. Yet behind the unreliable fervors of 
Mary Stanley and the easily persuaded emotionalism of Mrs. Herbert 
was the formidable figure of Manning, who wished to focus on the nuns 
of his church the fame and the glory which surrounded the Scutari 
nurses. He had no animus against Miss Nightingale; they remained 
friends, and she said on several occasions that he had treated her fairly; 
but the arrival of Alary Stanley's party dealt her mission a blow from 
which it never completely recovered. Before the arrival of the new- 
comers on December 1 5, she was well on the way to complete success. 


After it, though she achieved personal triumphs, her authority was not 
established until her mission was almost ended. Her orders were con- 
stantly disobeyed, her right to command questioned, and the original 
purpose of the undertaking became obscured by a fog of sectarian 

The high percentage of Catholics and High Church Anglicans in her 
original party had already provoked an outcry. Before she arrived at 
Scutari, a letter published in the Daily News on October 28, signed 
"Anti-Puseyite," attacked her for recruiting her nurses from the Sel- 
lonites and a "Romanist establishment." He quoted Sidney Herbert's 
letter, which he declared to be animated by party spirit. (Parthe and 
Fanny had indiscreetly passed the letter round among their friends, and 
it had been copied.) Liz Herbert had written to the Daily News saying 
that Miss Nightingale was a member of the established Church of Eng- 
land, having been originally brought up a Unitarian. But the storm con- 

"Protestant Churchman" and "Bible Reader" wrote to the Standard 
to denounce her as an "Anglican Papist." Dark references were made 
to "Anglo-Catholic ladies at the War Office," "Jesuit conspiracies," and 
the activities of "the pervert Manning." One parson went so far as to 
caution his parishioners against sending any help to Scutari through a 
party composed of female ecclesiastics and Romish nuns instead of 
common-sense nurses. 

If Mary Stanley had publicly announced her intention of joining the 
Roman Catholic Church, Sidney Herbert would not have allowed her 
to go to Scutari. But she kept it a secret and took with her Mother 
Frances Bridgeman of Kinsale, an Irish nun of ardent and rebelHous 
temperament who openly avowed she intended to execute a spiritual as 
well as a medical mission. 

It was Miss Nightingale's fate to be attacked by both sides, to have 
to endure what she called the "Protestant Howl" and the "Roman 
Catholic Storm." She belonged to a sect which, as the Dean of Elphin 
phrased it, is unfortunately a very rare one, the sect of the Good Samari- 

Mary Stanley had been instrumental in collecting the first party and 
could not have organized the second in good faith. Its constitution was 
contrary to A4iss Nightingale's rules. The fifteen Irish nuns considered 
they were under no obligation to obey anyone but their Superior, 
Mother Bridgeman, and Another Bridgeman acknowledged only the 
authority of her Bishop. The fact that the party was consigned to Dr. 
Cumming proved a clear intention to evade Miss Nightingale's authority. 


The party consisted of 9 ladies, 15 nuns, and 22 nurses, 46 in all. It had 
been hastily collected. Many of the "hired nurses" were ludicrously 
without experience, one old woman, Jane Evans, having spent her life 
looking after pigs and cows. Out of the whole 46 no fewer than 20 had 
come out with the intention not of nursing but of being "assistant ec- 
clesiastics." Miss Stanley led the party, which was escorted by Dr. 
Meyer, a physician, and the Honorable Jocelyn Percy, M.P., who had 
conceived a passionate admiration for Miss Nightingale, and left a life 
of ease and luxury with the object of becoming her fag and her footman. 
They traveled, like the first party, via Paris and Marseilles, but Mary 
Stanley had large ideas. A courier went ahead and took rooms for them 
in the dearest hotel in Paris, and Clarkey was asked to procure a dozen 
bottles of the best vinegar aromatique in case the nurses and ladies en- 
countered bad smells. 

The journey was discouraging. The "hired nurses" got drunk in the 
train and horrified the ladies by the vulgar peals of laughter which came 
from their carriage; one or two were drunk at dinner, several collapsed 
and revealed they suffered from delicate health, and one appeared in an 
array of rings and brooches. Mary Stanley's spirits sank. Writing a 
character of each of her party to Liz Herbert, Mary Stanley admitted 
that the women chosen were too old; perhaps a closer inquiry should 
have been made into their antecedents and characters. Among the few 
"quiet sensible" women was Miss Polidori, the aunt of Dante Gabriel 

On December 15, betAveen three and four in the afternoon, the 
Egypt anchored outside Constantinople. Mr. Bracebridge went on board 
and advised the party not to disembark. There literally was not a vacant 
corner in Scutari: Miss Nightingale's quarters were already accom- 
modating forty in space adequate for three, and food, water, and fuel 
were seriously short; nurses required the strictest supervision, and Miss 
Nightingale could not deal with any more. Dr. Meyer and A'Ir. Percy 
were taken aback, and it was agreed that the nurses and ladies should 
remain on the boat while the gentlemen went to report the arrival 
of the party to Dr. Gumming. He rebuffed them, declining flatly to 
employ the nurses and ladies in the hospitals. He could not, even if he 
had been willing, find them any accommodations at Scutari, which was 
crammed to overflowing. Lord Stratford had agreed to lend them 
temporarily a house at Therapia belonging to the Embassy, and there 
they must go until arrangements could be made to send them home. 
Next, Dr. Meyer and Mr. Percy went to Miss Nightingale, who sum- 
moned Mr. Bracebridge as a witness. The interview was sadly different 


from anything the romantic Mr. Percy had anticipated. She was in a 
cold fury. She refused to take any responsibihty for the party — she had 
never asked for them, they had come without her consent. Mr. Brace- 
bridge took down notes of what passed and later called on the two 
gentlemen with a memorandum of the conversation which they were 
requested to sign. 

One fact in particular was weighing very heavily on both gentlemen's 
minds. Owing to the style in which the party had traveled, they had spent 
the whole of the 1 500 pounds sterling with which they had started and 
were penniless. 

Off they hurried to see the new Military Commandant, Lord William 
Paulet — Major Sillery had been recalled that week. The Military Com- 
mandant of a hospital was all-powerful, and Lord William was implored 
to assist them. But he could no nothing. It was a physical impossibility 
to find accommodations for the party in Scutari, and he certainly could 
not force nurses on doctors who did not want them. There was nothing 
for it but to retire. Dr. Meyer and Mr. Percy remained behind in Con- 
stantinople trying to find employment and accommodations for the 
party. A-lary Stanley and the other women went to the Embassy house 
at Therapia, where squabbles immediately broke out between the nurses 
and ladies. 

By the end of December the need for money had become urgent. Dr. 
Meyer and Mr. Percy had failed to make any arrangements for the 
nurses in Constantinople, and Lord and Lady Stratford, though "kindness 
itself," did not advance any money. Dr. Cumming was applied to, but 
he refused to make any advance except from his own private funds. On 
the 21 the two gentlemen brought Mary Stanley to interview Miss 
Nightingale; Dr. Cumming and Mr. Bracebridge were present, and 
notes of the conversation were taken down. Mary Stanley explained 
her plan: ten of the Protestants were to be appropriated as assistants 
by the chaplains and ten of the nuns by the priests, "not as nurses but as 
female ecclesiastics." Miss Nightingale absolutely refused to countenance 
the scheme; it was directly contrary to the instructions she had received 
from the War Office. She denied any responsibility for the party; it 
had not been consigned to her, and its direction, maintenance and em- 
ployment were not her affair. 

She then offered to lend Mary Stanley 90 pounds sterling from her 
own private income for the immediate necessities of the party, and it 
was unwillingly accepted. Later she lent another 300. That evening 
Mary Stanley wrote to Liz Herbert that it needed "all her love for Flo" 
not to feel hurt at being treated so officially and being made to discuss 


all arrangements before witnesses. She added that she did not think the 
Herberts need be anxious about Florence; as far as looks and power went 
she had never seen her in greater force. 

And before Sebastopol the catastrophe steadily grew, and more and 
still more sick poured down. Four thousand were received in seventeen 
days between December 17 and January 3, and the death-rate steadily 
rose. Mr. Bracebridge wrote to Sidney Herbert on December 14: "Flo 
has been working herself to death, never sits down to breakfast or dinner 
without interruption: often never dines . . . the attempt to do more 
will kill her . . . today 200 sick landed looking worse than any others 

Yet, harassed and distracted as she was, when her first anger was over 
she saw that it would be disastrous to send the party back. Racial and 
religious issues were involved, and Lord Napier had gone so far as to 
say that in his opinion there would be almost a rebellion in Ireland if the 
Irish nuns under Mother Bridgeman were sent home. A scandal would 
do the cause she had at heart irreparable harm. She must swallow her 

On December 24 she saw Mary Stanley, Mr. Percy, and Dr. Meyer 
again, and suggested a compromise. Some of the Irish nuns should be 
taken at once into Barrack Hospital, and to make room for them the 
white sisters from Norwood, who were not experienced in hospital 
nursing, should be sent home. She would write to Manning and make 
it clear that no blame attached to the Norwood nuns. This arrangement 
would not increase the number of Roman Catholic nuns in the hospital, 
which was something Dr. Gumming refused to contemplate. She would 
also endeavor to get some nurses accepted at the new Convalescent 
Hospitals which were to open in a few weeks. She refused absolutely 
to have anything to do with the scheme for religious visiting. 

Miss Nightingale was, wrote Mary Stanley to Liz Herbert, "very low. 
She feels that to employ the women herself is impossible — to send them 
back to England is to incur universal odium and perhaps mar for ever 
her future powers of usefulness." 

On Christmas Day she wrote to Sidney Herbert: "You have not 
stood by me but I have stood by you. . . . All that I said in my letter to 
you I say still more strongly. Please do read it. . . . My heart bleeds 
for you, that you the centre of the Parliamentary row should have to 
attend to these miseries, tho' you have betrayed me. ... I believe it 
may be proved as a logical proposition that it is impossible for me to 


ride through all these difficulties. My caique is upset . . . but I am 
sticking on the bottom still. But there will be a storm will brush me off." 

The storm burst immediately. Fine weather was never to return. The 
sisters from Norwood, bathed in tears, bitterly resented being sent home, 
and Father Michael Cuffe, the Roman Catholic chaplain, told Miss 
Nightingale in an angry interview that she was like Herod driving the 
Blessed Virgin across the desert. "Pray confirm Father Michael Cuffe 
in his position here," she wrote to Sidney Herbert; "it is the only agree- 
able incident that I have had." Mother Bridgeman refused to allow her 
nuns to enter the Barrack Hospital without her — it would be "uncanoni- 
cal." She declared they must have their own Jesuit chaplain and refused 
the ministrations of Father Michael Cuffe, who was the official Roman 
Catholic chaplain. Miss Nightingale was on her feet for twenty hours 
at a time and dressing wounds and sores for eight hours at a stretch; 
but instead of rest she had arguments with Mary Stanley and Mother 
Bridgeman. Loud-voiced, assertive, voluble. Mother Bridgeman, chris- 
tened by Miss Nightingale "Rev. Brickbat," was determined to force an 
entry into the Barrack Hospital with all her fifteen nuns vi et armis. 
Between them. Miss Nightingale wrote to Sidney Herbert on December 
27, they were leading her "the devil of a life." 

If Roman Catholic anger was aroused, so was Protestant suspicion. 
"I grieve to say," wrote Mrs. Bracebridge to Liz Herbert on December 
she is acting a very double part and is in league with the Revd. Mother 
Bridgeman of Kinsale to jorce Flo, if she can, to give way and appoint 
them together to the General Hospital where they will work their 
proselytizing unmolested." 

Next a Miss Tebbut at the General Hospital was accused by the 
Evangelicals of circulating improper books in the wards: she had lent 
a patient a copy of the Christian Year. Miss Nightingale herself w^as once 
more denounced by both sides. There had been Father Michael Cuffe's 
denunciation, and now a Protestant writer, getting information of her 
close friendship with Rev. Mother Bermondsey, gave the alarm of 
"Catholic Nuns transferring their allegiance from the Pope to a 
Protestant Lady." When the paper containing this article reached Scu- 
tari, Sister Mary Gonzaga, a Bermondsey nun and a most efficient 
nurse, laughingly called Miss Nightingale "Your Holiness" and she in 
turn called Sister Mary "My Cardinal." She was heard to say, "I do so 
want my Cardinal," and a Protestant scandal ran through the hospital. 

Protestants and Catholics not only quarreled with each other but 
among themselves. Mother Bridgeman refused to meet the Bermondsey 
nuns, and her Jesuit Chaplain refused the sacrament to them. A Protestant 


chaplain wrote to the Secretary of State for War denouncing one of 
the Protestant nurses as a "Socinian" — a follower of Socinus, who de- 
nied the divinity of Christ — and demanded her instant removal. Dr. 
Blackwood, who had strong Evangelical views, was alleged to have 
preached against the nuns. One of the Irish nuns converted and re- 
baptized a soldier on his deathbed, and was promptly sent away by Miss 
Nightingale. "I do not intend to let our society become a hot bed of 
R.C. intriCTuettes," she wrote to Sidney Herbert. 

Charges and counter-charges from clergymen, priests, private persons, 
doctors, and nurses flew backward and forward between Whitehall and 
Scutari. Documents were actually placed before the Secretary of 
State for War, and The Tunes, in an article published on January 9, 1855, 
commenting on the progress of Miss Nightingale's mission, stated: "The 
success of the experiment as a feature of the medical department of the 
army cannot be considered as decisively established until certain re- 
ligious dissensions which have arisen are set at rest. . . . There is some 
danger of the whole undertaking coming to an abrupt conclusion." 
r" The very practice she had stipulated in her interview with Sidney 
Herbert as one that must at all costs be avoided — the selection of nurses 
for sectarian reasons and not for their efficiency as nurses — was thrust 
on her bv the composition of the second party. Presbyterians now wrote 
demanding that "some Presbyterian nurses" be sent out, and she felt she 
must acquiesce. When the nurses arrived, two immediately went out 
with a pair of orderlies and were brought back hopelessly intoxicated. 
She had to send them home, but she knew there would be a storm not 
because she was sending home two nurses but because she was returning 
two Presbyterians. 

"Meanwhile," she wrote to Lady Canning, ". . . the second party of 
Nuns who came out now wander over the whole Hospital out of nursing 
hours, not confining themselves to their own wards, or even to patients 
but 'instructing' (it is their own word) groups of Orderlies and Con- 
valescents in the corridors, doing the work each of ten chaplains." 

However, by January 2 something had been arranged. Dr. Cumming 
had been persuaded to raise the number of nurses to fifty, "for which," 
wrote Miss Nightingale," we owe him eternal gratitude." Mother Bridge- 
man still refused to allow her nuns into the Barrack Hospital, but some 
of the best "hired" nurses had been sent for and some of the "ladies" 
had gone to the General Hospital, where one of them, Miss Tebbut, 
finally became Superintendent. Mr. Percy had "sneaked home like a 
commander who has set so many Robinson Crusoes on a desert island," 
and Dr. Meyer had obtained a. post at a convalescent hospital in Smyrna. 


"Enough of this subject, of which among these realities of life and death 
I am thoroughly sick," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sidney Herbert. 

In the second week of January, 1855 she received his answer to her 
letter of December 18. He accepted full blame, confirmed her authority, 
implored her not to resign, left everything to her discretion, and, finally, 
authorized her, if she thought fit, to send the second party home at his 
personal expense. Liz wrote equally penitent. Miss Nightingale was 
moved; the letters were "most Generous and I deeply feel it. At the same 
time I do not regret what I said." 

She then ceased recriminations and throughout the misfortunes caused 
by Mary Stanley's party never again reminded Sidney Herbert that he 
was responsible for their ever having arrived at all. 

After two months of hospital life Mary Stanley found herself utterly 
disillusioned. She no longer wished to go to the Barrack Hospital — it 
was filthy, vermin-infested; she had found fleas on her dress; and Florence 
expected far too much in the way of discipline. Her consolations were 
the frequent visits she paid Lady Stratford at the Embassy and her in- 
timacy with the Irish nuns and their private chaplain. Father Ronan who 
was preparing her for reception into the Roman Church; she was actually 
received some time during the spring. At the end of January it was 
suggested that the Turkish Cavalry Barracks at Koulali should be turned 
into a hospital, and Mary Stanley, encouraged by Lady Stratford, deter- 
mined to take it over with her nuns, nurses, and ladies and run it in her 
own way. At the same time Lord Raglan suggested that eleven nurses 
should be sent to the General Hospital at Balaclava. Miss Nightingale did 
not wish nurses to go, for the Hospitals Commission had reported ad- 
versely on the hospital there: it was filthy, inefficient, the orderlies were 
undisciplined, and Balaclava was even more crammed with troops than 
Scutari. However, certain nurses, led by an elderly Welsh woman, 
Elizabeth Davis, from Mary Stanley's party, were determined to escape 
Miss Nightingale's discipline, and she herself was unwilling to refuse 
Lord Raglan. She gave way, and eleven volunteers under the control of 
the Superior of the Sellonite sisters went to Balaclava. Mary Stanley her- 
self, with Mother Bridgeman and ten of her nuns, went off to Koulali, 
refusing to ask Dr. Cumming's permission and declaring she would 
arrange the purveying of the hospital herself. Five or six "hired nurses," 
who were first class, preferred to stay at Scutari, and the remaining five of 
Mother Bridgeman's nuns were accepted by the General Hospital at 
Scutari, whence Miss Nightingale received constant complaints of their 
religious activities. Thus Mary Stanley's party was dissolved. 

But Mary Stanley's own reign at Koulali was short. It was to be run 


on the "lady" plan. There were to be maids of all work to do the menial 
tasks. The ladies were not to wear uniform. Liz Herbert sent "white 
furred coats" and was asked for straw bonnets. Miss Nightingale was 
understandably annoyed. "I have," she wrote to Sidney Herbert on Feb- 
ruary 12, ". . . by strict subordination to the authorities and by avoid- 
ing all individual action, introduced a number of arrangements, within 
the regulations of the service, useful on a large scale but not interesting to 
p4ndividual ladies; e.g. four extra diet kitchens of which two, which I 
\ administer, feed above seven hundred of the worst cases, furniture and 
' clothing, washing, bath-house, lock-up cupboards, etc. etc. This is not so 
' amusing as pottering and messing about with little cookeries of individual 
j beef teas for the poor sufferers personally, and my ladies do not like it. I 
" acknowledge it, at the same time it is obvious that what I have done could 
not have been done had I not worked with the medical authorities and not 
in rivalry with them. . . . Gumming and I work hand in hand, and I 
have carried through him almost all that was possible under these awful 
difficulties. And he comes to me every evening. I protest emphatically 
rnow, before it is too late against the Koulali plan, i.e. the lady plan. It 
ends in nothing but spiritual flirtation between the ladies and the soldiers. 
I saw enough of that here; it pets the particular man, it gets nothing done 
in the general. . . . The ladies all quarrel among themselves. The medi- 
cal men laugh at their helplessness, but like to have them about for the 
sake of a little female society, which is natural but not our object." 

Koulali was not ready when Mary Stanley arrived. The second day 
two steamers suddenly anchored before the hospital, and 300 sick were 
carried in. There were no beds, no food. Sacks were hastily stuffed with 
straw; ladies made lemonade. That night Mary Stanley went round the 
wards and discovered her health would not stand the strain. More sick 
poured in, and she became hysterical. "I cannot stay," she wrote to Liz 
Herbert. "I am not strong enough for the work. I have long been forced 
to give up special ward work." When she applied to Miss Nightingale 
for more ladies, the letter was referred to Dr. Gumming, who visited 
Koulali and was not pleased. He found that the ladies did little but stroll 
about with notebooks in their hands and refused to send any more. 
Gonfusion increased. Stores vanished. It was impossible to keep the 
hospital even decently clean. Mortality steadily rose until Koulali had 
the highest mortality rate of any hospital, higher even than the Barrack 
Hospital. Mary Stanley's letters became desperate. "I feel anxious to 
come home before the strain has quite worn me out. For my mother's 
sake I dare not do more. . . . She even appealed to Miss Nightingale; in 
the name of their old aflFection, she must be allowed to explain. In her 



reply, just, implacable, chilling, Miss Nightingale ended their friend- 
ship. "I have nothing further to say. And for 'explanation,' I refer you 
to yourself. I have nothing to forgive. For I have never felt anger. I have 
never known you. There has been no 'difference' betv^een us — except a 
slight one of opinion as to the distribution of Articles and the manner of 
doing so to Patients. The pain you have given has not been by differing 
nor by anything for which forgiveness can be asked, but by not being 
yourself, or at least what I thought yourself. You say truly how I have 
loved you. No one will ever love you more. — Florence Nightingale." 

In March Lady Stratford sent for the Head Chaplain, Mr. Sabin, and 
attacked him on the subject of Mary Stanley's grievances. It was mon- 
strous to accuse her of Romanist propaganda; the truth was Miss Night- 
ingale was jealous of Miss Stanley. Mr. Sabin lost his temper and told 
Lady Stratford that she had been "grossly imposed on": the rumors of 
Roman Catholic propaganda at Koulali were true, and Mary Stanley was 
actively assisting Mother Bridgeman. He himself had received trust- 
worthy information from home that Miss Stanley had in fact been 
received into the Roman Church, and was only waiting to declare her- 
self. Lady Stratford was horrified — her husband's Protestant views were 
well known. "Don't tell Lord Stratford!" she cried. Immediately after- 
ward Mary Stanley went home. 

Miss Nightingale had known the truth all along, but her sense of 
honor would not allow her to make use of it. "Now observe, dear Mr. 
Herbert," she wrote on March 5, 1855, "this bother is none of my mak- 
ing. I have kept strict honour with Lady Stratford and also with Dr. 
Cumming about Mary Stanley's religious opinions. I could so easily have 
defeated her representations by 'telling of her' as the children say, and 
Mrs. Herbert will think that I have. . . . Koulali has excited suspicion 
without me, or in spite of me. Cumming asked the question one day 
in my room whether A4iss Stanley were not an R.C. and I put it off in 
order that he might not say he heard it from me." It was a minor consola- 
tion that Lady Stratford sent in a bill for 8200 pounds sterling for pur- 
veying Koulali which the authorities had to pay. 

At this difficult juncture Miss Nightingale's position was strengthened 
by Queen Victoria. On December 6 the Queen wrote to Sidney Herbert: 
"Would you tell Mrs. Herbert that I beg she would let me see frequently 
the accounts she receives from Miss Nightingale and Mrs. Bracebridge, 
as I hear 720 details of the ivoimded though I see so many from officers 
etc., about the battlefield and naturally the former must interest ?ne 
more than anyone. Let Mrs. Herbert also know that I wish Miss Nightin- 
gale and the ladies would tell these poor noble wounded and sick men 

that no-one takes a warmer interest or feels more for their sufferings or 
admires their courage and heroism more than their Queen. Day and night 
she thinks of her beloved troops. So does the Prince. Beg Mrs. Herbert to 
communicate these my words to those ladies, as I know that our sym- 
pathy is valued by these noble fellows." 

"The men were touched," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sidney Herbert 
on December 25. " 'It is a very feeling letter' they said. 'She thinks of us' 
(said with tears). 'Queen Victoria is a Queen that is very ]ond of her 
soldiers.' " The message was read aloud by the chaplains in the wards, 
posted up in the hospitals, and published in the newspapers. On Decem- 
ber 14 the Queen had sent gifts to the men and a personal message to 
Miss Nightingale, who was entrusted with the distribution of the gifts. 
The Queen wished her to "be made aware that your goodness and self 
devotion in giving yourself up to the soothing attendance upon these 
wounded and sick soldiers had been observed by the Queen with senti- 
ments of the highest approval and admiration." Would she suggest some- 
thing the Queen could do "to testify her sense of the courage and en- 
durance so abundantly shown by her sick soldiers?" 

Miss Nightingale was already pressing Sidney Herbert to change a 
regulation affecting the sick soldier's pay; Qd. a day was stopped from 
the pay of the sick soldier in hospital, even though his sickness was the 
direct result of active service, while the wounded man was stopped 
only 4^d. a day. Now she wrote directly to the Queen asking her to 
have the stoppage made the same for sickness as for wounds provided the 
sickness was incurred as the result of duty before the enemy. She also 
asked that a Firman might be requested from the Sultan making over the 
military cemeteries at Scutari to the British. The Queen acted immedi- 
ately on both suggestions. On February i it was announced that the 
men's pay would be rectified as from the battle of the Alma, and in the 
same month Lord Clarendon, the Foreign Secretary, successfully applied 
to the Sultan for a Firman transferring the ownership of the cemeteries 
to the British. 

Officials engaged in opposing Miss Nightingale were thus reminded 
that her influence was very great. If the arrival and conduct of A/Iary 
Stanley and her party had shaken Miss Nightingale's prestige, Queen Vic- 
toria assisted materially to restore it. "It did very much having as our 
friends the great men," wrote Miss Nightingale to Mrs. Herbert in 1855. 

In January, 1855 the sufferings of the British Army before Sebastopol 
beoran to reach a fearful climax. WilUam Howard Russell described the 
wounded arriving at Balaclava, strapped to the mules lent by the French: 
"They formed one of the most ghastly processions that ever poet imag- 


ined. . . . With closed eyes, open mouths and ghastly attenuated faces, 
they were borne along two by two, the thin steam of breath visible in 
the frosty air alone showing that they were alive. One figure was a horror, 
a corpse, stone dead, strapped upright in its seat ... no doubt the man 
had died on his way down to the harbour. . . . Another man I saw with 
raw flesh and skin hanging from his fingers, the raw bones of which 
protruded into the cold, undressed and uncovered." 

Still no stores had reached the army. What had happened to them, 
the Roebuck Committee demanded later? Huge quantities of warm 
clothing, of preserved foods, of medical comforts and surgical supplies 
had been sent out — where did they all go? It was never discovered. The 
Roebuck Committee found it impossible not to suspect dishonesty, but 
Miss Nightingale reached a different conclusion. Large quantities un- 
questionably vanished in the Turkish Customs House, a "bottomless pit 
whence nothing ever issues of all that is thrown in," but she declared 
all the same that stores were available all the time the men were suffer- 
ing, never reaching them through the "regulations of the service." She 
cites a number of instances in her Notes oji Matters affecting the Health, 
lEfficiency and Hospital Adininistration of the British Army. In Janu- 
ary, 1855, when the army before Sebastopol was being ravaged by scurvy, 
a shipload of cabbages was thrown into the harbor at Balaclava on the 
ground that it was not consigned to anyone. This happened not once 
but several times. During November, December, and January 1854-55, 
when green coffee was being issued to the men, there were 173,000 rations 
of tea in store at Balaclava; 20,000 lb. of Hme juice arrived for the troops 
on December 10, 1854, but none was issued until February. Why? Be- 
cause no order existed for the inclusion of tea and lime juice in the daily 

Again, at the end of December there were blankets enough in store, 
says Miss Nightingale, to have given a third one to every man. But the 
men lay on the muddy ground with nothing under them and nothing 
over them since their blankets had been lost in battle or destroyed in 
the hurricane, because the regulations did not entitle them to replace- 
ment. At Scutari the Hospitals Commission recorded in January, 1855: 
"Goods have been refused although they were, to our personal knowl- 
edge, lying in abundance in the store of the Purveyor. This was done 
because they had not been examined by the Board of Survey." Miss 
Nightingale wrote to Sidney Herbert in March of that year. "The Eagle 
has now been arrived three weeks, and no use whatever has been made of 
her stores. Cumming says they have not yet been 'sat on.' " In February 
when the men were lying naked in the bitter cold Mr. Wreford, the 





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Miss Nightingale, 1859 
From the bust by Sir John Steell 

Purveyor, admitted to the Hospitals Commission that he had received 
a large quantity of shirts a fortnight ago, but he had done nothing with 
them, did not even know the quantity as he had not yet had a 'board.' " 
On February 15 Miss Nightingale wrote to Sidney Herbert: "I received a 
requisition from the Medical Officers at Balaclava for shirts. ... I went 
to the Purveyor, as I always do, to give him a chance. The Purveyor 
answered ist that he had no shirts. 'Yes,' I said, 'you have received 
27,000 landed four days ago.' 2nd that he could not unpack them without 
a board — :to which I answered that on every bale I had seen the number 
within marked, and he could send one or two bales making a memo- 
randum for the Board — 3rd that they were at the General Hospital and 
he could not get an order in time. It ended by his accepting my offer to 
send a bale of my shirts which he might replace to me afterwards." 

On January 2, 1200 sick men arrived in one consignment at Scutari. 
Eighty-five per cent of these, wrote Miss Nightingale, were cases of acute 
scurvy. For want of lime juice and vegetables the men's teeth were 
dropping out; in some cases they were losing toes. On January 4 she 
wrote to Sidney Herbert enclosing copies of requisitions on the Pur- 
veyor, "properly signed by a ist class staff surgeon, Dr. O'Flaherty," 
for supplies required for Barrack Hospital: 

Flannel shirts Answer None in store 

Socks " None in store 

Drawers " None in store 

N.B. There are some tea-pots 
and coffee-pots. 

Required for Barrack Hospital 

Plates None in store 

Tin drinking cups None in store 

Earthenware urine cups Metal plenty 

Bedpans Some 

Close stools Plenty but frames missing 

Pails for tea None at present 

In January, 1855 there were 12,000 men in hospital and only 11,000 
in the camp before Sebastopol; and still the shiploads came pouring down. 
It was. Miss Nightingale wrote, "calamity unparalleled in the history 
of calamity." 

In this emergency she became supreme. She was the rock to which 
everyone clung, even the Purveyors. She described "Messrs. Wreford, 
Ward and Reade, veterans of the Spanish War, coming to me for a 
moment's solace, trembling under responsibility and afraid of inf ormal- 


ity." "Nursing," she wrote on January 4 to Sidney Herbert, "is the least 
of the functions into which I have been forced." 

Her calmness, her resource, her power to take action raised her to 
the position of a goddess. The men adored her. "If she were at our 
head," they said, "we should be in Sebastopol next week." The doctors 
came to be absolutely dependent on her, and Colonel Sterling wrote 
home: "Miss Nightingale now queens it with absolute power." 

Sidney Herbert had asked her to write to him privately in addition to 
her official reports, and during her time in Scutari and the Crimea she 
wrote him a series of over thirt)^' letters of enormous length, crammed 
with detailed and practical suggestions for the reform of the present 
system. It is almost incredible that in addition to the unceasing labor she 
was performing, when she was living in the foul atmosphere of the Bar- 
rack Hospital incessantly harried by disputes, callers, complaints and 
overwhelmed with official correspondence which had to be written in 
her own hand, she should have found time and energy to write this long 
series of vast, carefully thought out letters, many as long as a pamphlet. 
She never lost sight of the main issue. At the time of the arrival of the 
Mary Stanley party she wrote: "There is a far greater question to be 
agitated before the country than that of these eighty-four miserable 
women — eighty-five including me. This is whether the system or no 
system which is found adequate in time of peace but wholly inadequate 
to meet the exigencies of a time of war is to be left as it is — or patched up 
temporarily, as you give a beggar half pence — or made equal to the wants 
not diminishing but increasing of a time of awful pressure." 

On January 8, at the height of the calamity she wrote: "I have written 
a plan for the systematic organisation of these Hospitals upon a principle 
of centralisation under which the component parts might be worked in 
unison. But on consideration deeming so great a change impracticable 
during the present heavy pressure of calamities here, I refrain from 
forwarding it, and substitute a sketch of a plan, by which great improve- 
ment might be made from within without abandoning the forms under 
which the service is carried on. . . ." Page after page of practical de- 
tailed suggestions follow, deahng with the reorganization of the Pur- 
veyor's department, the establishment of a corps of medical orderlies, 
the rearrangement and improvement of the cooking and service of the 
men's food, the establishment of a medical school at Scutari, where at 
present there was "no operating room, no dissecting room; post-mortem 
examinations are seldom made, and then in the dead house (the ablest 
, Staff surgeon here told me that he considered he had killed hundreds of 
men owing to the absence of these)." Finally, she made an urgent plea 


for medical statistics. "No statistics are kept as to between what ages 
most deaths occur, as to modes of treatment, appearances of the body- 
after death, etc., etc., etc., . . . Our registration is so lamentably defec- 
tive that often the only record kept is — a man died on such and such a 

In another immense letter of January 2 8 she elaborated her scheme for 
reorganizing the interior administration of the hospitals. The Purveyor 
was to be abolished, the hospital to have its own storekeeper, the Com- 
missariat to supply all the food under the direction of a "kind of Hotel- 
keeper" in the hospital. Each bed in the hospital was to have its own furni- 
ture and bedding supplied with it. The hospital was to be an entity in 
itself, not an appendage produced by the union of several departments. 

She asked nothing for herself, nor did she use her influence to make 
life easier for herself by securing advancement for her friends. The 
only record of her having solicited promotion was on behalf of Dr. Mc- 
Grigor. She asked Sidney Herbert to promote him a Deputy Inspector- 
General two years before the proper time and thus do "a service to 
humanity at the expense of the Regulations of the Service." If Dr. Mc- 
Grigor were not promoted, the work he was doing could be stopped by 
the simple process of the authorities bringing into the hospital someone 
senior to himself, in which case he would no longer be entitled to give 
orders. Dr. McGrigor was promoted. 

Her facts and figures were freely used by Sidney Herbert and other 
members of the Cabinet, and important changes made in British Army 
organization during the course of the Crimean War were based on her 
suggestions. A Medical School was founded during the campaign, and 
the suggestions respecting the Purveyor, though not carried out imme- 
diately, formed the basis of reforms executed at a later date. 

In spite of the improvements in the Barrack Hospital, something was 
horribly wrong. The wards were cleaner, the lavatories unstopped, the 
food adequate, but still the mortality climbed. The disaster was about 
to enter its second phase. At the end of December an epidemic broke out 
described variously as "Asiatic cholera" or "famine fever," similar to 
cholera brought over by starving Irish immigrants after the Irish potato 
famine, and by Miss Nightingale simply as "gaol fever." By the middle 
of January the epidemic was serious — four surgeons died in three weeks, 
and three nurses and poor old Ward, the Purveyor, and his wife died. 
The officers on their rounds began to be afraid to go into the wards; 
they could do nothing for the unfortunates perishing within; they 
knocked on the door and an orderly shouted "All right, sir" from inside. 


The snow ceased, and faint warmth came to the bleak plateau before 
Sebastopol on which the British Army was encamped. The number of 
men sent down by sick transports stopped rising. The percentage of 
sick was still disastrously, tragically high, but it was stationary. 

But in the Barrack Hospital the mortality figures continued to rise. 
Sister Margaret Goodman saw an araba, a rough Turkish tumbril, 
heaped with what she took to be the carcasses of beasts. They were the 
naked, emaciated bodies of dead British soldiers. A large square hole 
of no great depth was dug by Turks, the bodies were tossed into this until 
they came level with the top; then a layer of earth was shoveled over all, 
and the Turks stamped it down. They then drove off. The British were 
unable to bury their dead. A fatigue party could not be mustered whose 
strength was equal to the task of digging a pit. 

In England fury succeeded fury. A great storm of rage, humiliation, 
and despair had been gathering through the terrible winter of 1854-55. 
For the first time in history, through reading the despatches of Russell, 
the public had realized "with what majesty the British soldier fights." 
And these heroes were dead. The men who had stormed the heights at 
Alma, charged with the Light Brigade at Balaclava, fought the grim 
battle against overwhelming odds in the fog at Inkerman had perished 
of hunger and neglect. Even the horses which had taken part in the Charge 
of the Light Brigade had starved to death. 

On January 26 Mr. Roebuck, Radical member for Sheffield, brought 
forward a motion for the appointment of a committee "to inquire into 
the condition of the Army before Sebastopol and the conduct of those 
departments of the Government whose duty it has been to minister to 
the wants of that Army." It was a vote of censure on the Gov- 
ernment, and it was carried in an uproar by a majority of 157. 
The Government fell, and Sidney Herbert went out of office, but Miss 
Nightingale's position was not weakened. The new Prime Minister was 
her old friend and supporter, Lord Palmerston. The two offices of Secre- 
tary for War and Secretary at War were combined and held by Lord 
Panmure, who was instructed to show consideration for her wishes and 
opinions. Her reports were regularly forwarded to the Queen and studied 
by her. Sidney Herbert wrote to assure her that he had no intention of 
giving up his work for the army because he was out of office. She was 
still to write to him, and he would see that her reports and suggestions 
were forvvarded to the proper quarters. He would continue to be, she 
wrote, "our protector in this terrible great work." 

At the end of February, Lord Panmure sent out a Sanitary Commis- 
sion to investigate the sanitary state of the buildings used as hospitals and 


of the camps both at Scutari and in the Crimea. The Commission was 
formed at the suggestion of Lord Shaftesbury, Lady Pahnerston's son-in- 
law and Miss Nightingale's old friend. Her name did not appear, but the 
urgency, the clarity, the f orcef ulness of the instructions are unmistakably 
hers. "The utmost expedition must be used in starting your journey. . . . 
On your arrival you will instantly put yourselves into communication 
with Lord William Paulet. ... It is important that you be deeply im- 
pressed with the necessity of not resting content with an order but that 
you see instantly, by yourselves or your agents, to the commencement 
of the work and to its superintendence day by day until it is finished." 

This Commission, said Miss Nightingale, "saved the British Army." It 
consisted of Dr. John Sutherland, an official of well-known ability and 
advanced views from the Board of Health, Mr., later Sir, Robert Rawlin- 
son, a civil engineer of eminence, and Dr. Gavin. With the ill luck which 
seemed to dog all Crimean undertakings. Dr. Gavin was accidentally 
killed by his brother letting off a pistol shortly after his arrival, and his 
place was filled by Dr. Milroy. In addition the three Commissioners took 
with them the Borough Engineer and three sanitary inspectors from 
Liverpool, where a sanitary act had been in operation longer than any- 
where else in the country, and shipped out a large quantity of building 

They were followed by another Commission, the McNeill and TuUoch 
Commission of Inquiry into the Supplies for the British Army in the 
Crimea. This Commission of Inquiry went direct to the Crimea and did 
not call at Scutari. It consisted of Colonel Alexander Tulloch, R.E., and 
Sir John McNeill, who had had many years' experience first as a doctor 
and then as an administrator in India and Persia. He had been Poor Law 
Commissioner in Scotland, and thanks to his energy and initiative the 
Highland peasants, though almost as dependent as the Irish on potatoes, 
had escaped the worst consequences of the failure of the potato crop in 

The Sanitary Commission landed at Constantinople at the beginning of 
March and began work instantly. Their discoveries were hair-raising. 
They described the sanitary defects of the Barrack Hospital as "mur- 
derous." Beneath the magnificent structure were sewers of the worst 
possible construction, mere cess-pools, choked, inefficient, and grossly 
over-loaded. The whole vast building stood in a sea of decaying filth. 
The very walls, constructed of porous plaster, were soaked in it. Every 
breeze, every puff of air, blew poisonous gas through the pipes of 
numerous open privies into the corridors and wards where the sick were 
lying. "It is impossible," Miss Nightingale told the Royal Commission of 


18575 "to describe the state of the atmosphere of the Barrack Hospital at 
night. I have been well acquainted with the dwellings of the worst parts 
of most of the great cities of Europe, but have never been in any at- 
mosphere which I could compare with it." Nurses had noticed that 
certain beds were fatal. Every man put in these beds quickly died. They 
proved to be near the doors of the privies, where the poisonous gases 
were worst. The water supply was contaminated and totally insufficient. 
The Commissioners had the channel opened through which the water 
flowed, and the water supply for the greater part of the hospital was 
found to be passing through the decaying carcass of a dead horse. The 
storage of water was in tanks in the courtyard, and these had been built 
next temporary privies, erected to cope with the needs of men suffering 
from the prevalent diarrhea. The privies were open and without any 
means of flushing or cleaning. The courtyard and precincts of the hospital 
were filthy. The Commissioners ordered them to be cleared, and during 
the first fortnight of this work 556 handcarts and large baskets full of 
rubbish were removed and 24 dead animals and 2 dead horses buried. The 
Commission began to flush and cleanse the sewers, to limewash the 
walls and free them from vermin, to tear out the wooden shelves known 
as Turkish divans which ran round the wards and harbored the rats for 
which the Barrack Hospital was notorious. The effect was instant. At last 
the rate of mortality began to fall. In the Crimea spring came with a rush; 
the bleak plateau before Sebastopol was bathed in sunlight and carpeted 
with crocuses and hyacinths. The road to Balaclava became passable, 
the men's rations improved, and the survivors of the fearful winter 
lost their unnatural silence and began once more to curse and swear. 
The emergency was passing, and as it passed opposition to Miss Night- 
ingale awoke again. 




mission falls into two periods. There is first the period of frightful 
emergency during the winter of 1 854-55. In Sidney Godolphin Osborne's 
opinion, if at that time Miss Nightingale had not been present, the hos- 
pitals must have collapsed. Every consideration but that of averting utter 
catastrophe went by the board, opposition died away, and she became 

But as soon as things had slightly improved, official jealousy re-awoke. 
In the second period, from the spring of 1855 until her return to Eng- 
land in the summer of 1 856, gratitude — except the gratitude of the troops 
— and admiration disappeared, and she was victimized by petty jealousies, 
treacheries, and misrepresentations. Throughout this second period she 
was miserably depressed. At the end of it she was obsessed by a sense of 

By the spring of 1855 she was physically exhausted. She was a slight 
woman who had never been robust, who was accustomed to luxury, and 
was now living in almost unendurable hardship. When it rained, water 
poured through the roof of her quarters and dripped through the floor 
on an officer beneath, who complained that "Aiiss Nightingale was pour- 
ing water on his head." The food was uneatable; the allowance of water 
was still one pint a head a day; the building was vermin-infested, the at- 
mosphere in the hospital so foul that to visit the wards produced diar- 
rhea. She never went out except to hurry over the quarter of a mile of 
refuse-strewn mud which separated the Barrack from the General Hos- 

When a flood of sick came in, she was on her feet for twenty-four 
hours at a stretch. She was known to pass eight hours on her knees 
dressing wounds. "She had an utter disregard of contagion," wrote 
Sidney Godolphin Osborne. ". . . The more awful to every sense any 


particular case, especially if it was that of a dying man, the more certainly 
might her slight form be seen bending over him, administering to his 
ease by every means in her power and seldom quitting his side until 
death released him." It was her rule never to let any man who came 
-under her observation die alone. If he were conscious, she herself stayed 
beside him; if he were unconscious she sometimes allowed Mrs. Brace- 
bridge to take her place. She estimated that during that winter she wit- 
nessed 2000 deathbeds. The worst cases she nursed herself. "I beheve," 
wrote Dr. Pincoffs, a civilian doctor who worked in the Barrack Hospi- 
tal, "that there was never a severe case of any kind that escaped her 
notice." One of the nurses described accompanying her on her night 
rounds. "It seemed an endless walk. ... As we slowly passed along the 
silence was profound; very seldom did a moan or cry from those deeply 
suffering fall on our ears. A dim light burned here and there. Miss Night- 
ingale carried her lantern which she would set down before she bent over 
any of the patients. I much admired her manner to the men — it was so 
tender and kind." 

Her influence was extraordinary. She could make the men stop drink- 
ing, write home to their wives, submit to pain. "She was wonderful," 
said a veteran, "at cheering up anyone who was a bit low." The surgeons 
were amazed at her ability to strengthen men doomed to an operation. 
"The magic of her power over men was felt," writes Kinglake, "in the 
room — the dreaded, the bloodstained room — where operations took 
place. There perhaps the maimed soldier if not yet resigned to his fate, 
might be craving death rather than meet the knife of the surgeon, but 
when such a one looked and saw that the honoured Lady in Chief was 
patiently standing beside him — and with lips closely set and hands 
folded — decreeing herself to go through the pain of witnessing pain, he 
used to fall into the mood of obeying her silent command and — finding 
strange support in her presence — bring himself to submit and endure." 

The troops worshiped her. "What a comfort it was to see her pass 
even," wrote a soldier. "She would speak to one, and nod and smile to as 
many more; but she could not do it all you know. We lay there by 
hundreds; but we could kiss her shadow as it fell and lay our heads on 
the pillow again content." 

For her sake the troops gave up the bad language which has always 
been the privilege of the British private soldier. "Before she came," ran 
another letter, "there was cussing and swearing but after that it was as 
holy as a church." 

When the war was over Miss Nightingale wrote: ". . . The tears come 


into my eyes as I think how, amidst scenes of loathsome disease and 
death, there rose above it all the innate dignity, gentleness and chivalry 
of the men (for never surely was chivalry so strikingly exemplified) 
shining in the midst of what must be considered the lowest sinks of hu- 
man misery, and preventing instinctively the use of one expression which 
could distress a gentlewoman." 

It was work hard enough to have crushed any ordinary woman; yet, 
she wrote, it was the least of her functions. The crushing burden was 
the administrative work. Her quarters were called the Tower of Babel. 
All day long a stream of callers thronged her stairs, captains of sick 
transports, officers of Royal Engineers, nurses, merchants, doctors, chap- 
lains, asking for everything from writing-paper to advice on a sick man's 
diet, demanding shirts, splints, bandages, port wine, stoves, and butter. 

She slept in the storeroom in a bed behind a screen; in the daytime 
she saw callers sitting and writing at a little unpainted deal table in front 
of it. She wore a black woollen dress, white linen collar and cuffs and 
apron, and a white cap under a black silk handkerchief. Every time 
there was a pause she snatched her pen and went on writing. 

No one in the party was capable of acting as her secretary. The 
requisitions, the orders, the records, the immense correspondence en- 
tailed by the acknowledgment and recording of the "Free Gifts" (the 
voluntary contributions sent out from home), the reports, the letters, 
must* all be written by herself. Mrs. Bracebridge had superintendence 
of the "Free Gift Store"; otherwise she had no assistance of any kind. 

It was terribly cold, and she hated cold. There was no satisfactory 
stove in her quarters — one had been sent out from England, but it would 
not draw and she used it as a table and it was piled with papers. Her 
breath congealed on the air; the ink froze in the well; rats scampered in 
the walls and peered out from the wainscoting. Hour after hour she 
wrote on; the staff of the hospital declared that the light in her room was 
never put out. She wrote for the men, described their last hours and 
sent home their dying messages; she told wives of their husband's con- 
tinued affection, and mothers that their sons had died holding her hand. 
She wrote for the nurses, many of whom had left children behind. She 
wrote her enormous letters to Sidney Herbert; she wrote official reports, 
official letters; she kept lists, filled in innumerable requisitions. Papers 
were piled round her in heaps; they lay on the floor, on her bed, on 
the chairs. Often in the morning Mrs. Bracebridge found her still in 
her clothes on her bed, where she had flung herself down in a stupor of 


She spared herself nothing^but the joy had gone out of the work. 
The high spirit, the faith which had sustained her through the first 
months faded as she learned the power of official intrigue. 

"Alas among all the men here," she wrote to Sidney Herbert in Febru- 
ary, 1855, "is there one really anxious for the good of these hospitals? 
One who is not an insincere animal at the bottom, who is not thinking of 
going in with the winning side whichever that is? I do believe that of all 
those who have been concerned in the fate of these miserable sick you 
and I are the only ones who really cared for them." A month later she 
wrote: "A great deal has been said of our self sacrifice, heroism and 
so forth. The real humihation, the real hardship of this place, dear Mr. 
Herbert, is that we have to do with men who are neither gentlemen nor 
men of education nor even men of business, nor men of feeling, whose 
only object is to keep themselves out of blame." 

She had crossed the path of such a man, and the great conflict of her 
mission was about to begin. 

Dr. John Hall, Chief of Medical Staff of the British Expeditionary 
Army, had been kept occupied in the Crimea, but the hospitals of Scutari 
were under his control and he had no intention of allowing them to get 
out of hand. His name had been associated with an unsavory case in which 
a private stationed at Hounslow Barracks had died after receiving a 
flogging of 150 lashes, and he was known throughout the army as a strict 
disciplinarian averse to pampering the troops. He did not believe in 
chloroform, and in his letter of instructions to his officers at the open- 
ing of the campaign on August 3 he warned them against its use. "The 
smart use of the knife is a powerful stimulant and it is much better to 
hear a man bawl lustily than to see him sink silently into the grave." He 
was revengeful, powerful, a master of the confidential report. Miss Night- 
ingale wrote to Lady Cranworth that a doctor's promotion depended 
"upon a trick, a caprice of the Inspector General (i.e. Dr. Hall) . . . and 
may be lost for an offensive word reported perhaps by an orderly and of 
which he never hears and which he may never have said." In May, 1856 
she wrote: "In the last two months at this hospital alone, two medical 
officers have been superseded upon evidence collected in the above 

Dr. Hall entered upon his duties in the Crimea with a sense of in- 
justice. He had been in Bombay, he had been due for promotion, and 
he thought he deserved a post at home. He had solicited such a post 
and heard with disgust that he had been appointed Chief of Medical 
Staff of the British Expeditionary Army. In October, 1854 he was sent 
by Lord Raglan to inspect the hospitals at Scutari. The hospitals were 


then filthy and destitute. However, Dr. Hall wrote on October 20 to 
Dr. Andrew Smith stating he had "much satisfaction in being able to 
inform him that the whole hospital establishment here (i.e. at Scutari), 
has now been put on a very creditable footing and that nothing is 

It was a fatal statement. He had committed himself. Henceforward he 
had to stand by what he had said, and his subordinates had to back him 
up. Dr. Alenzies dared not contradict Dr. Hall's specific statement. He 
repeated it parrot-like to Lord Stratford, to Dr. Andrew Smith. It was 
not until Sidney Herbert received Miss Nightingale's first report that 
the truth was known. In December, 1854 he told Lord Raglan: "I cannot 
help feeling that Dr. Hall resents offers of assistance as being slurs on 
his preparations." 

In the spring of 1855 Dr. Hall was boiling with rage. The Hospitals 
Commission had reported unfavorably on his hospitals and, worse, he 
had been censured by Lord Raglan. 

The most notorious of the sick transport scandals was the case of the 
Avon. The first man had been put on board the Avon at Balaclava on 
November 19, 1854, the last man on December 3. The men were laid on 
the bare deck without any covering but greatcoat or blanket. One young 
assistant surgeon was instructed to attend to several hundred men, and 
so they were left for a fortnight. The state of the ship and the condition 
of the men was then indescribable. A regimental officer was induced 
to visit the ship and, horrified by what he saw, galloped at once to Lord 
Raglan. Though it was midnight Lord Raglan sent at once to Dr. Hall 
demanding immediate action. An inquiry was held. Dr. Lawson, the 
Principal Medical Officer at Balaclava, was held responsible and severely 
censured for "apathy and lack of interest in the welfare of the sick," and 
Dr. Hall was recommended to relieve him of his duties. Further, in a 
General Order of December 13, 1854, Lord Raglan stated he could not 
acquit Dr. Hall himself of blame in this matter. Dr. Hall judged the time 
had come to assert himself. He was by no means beaten. He knew his 
powers, he had his friends, and within his own department he was in- 
vincible. Dr. Menzies the Senior Medical Officer at the Barrack Hospi- 
tal had been succeeded by Dr. Forrest. After a few weeks Dr. Forrest 
resigned and went home in despair, and Dr. Hall then appointed Dr. 
Lawson to take his place. The man responsible for the Avon was to be 
Senior Medical Officer at the Barrack Hospital. 

Miss Nightingale received the news with horror. "Before destroying 
our work Dr. Hall begins to caress us with his paws," she wrote, and she 
warned Sidney Herbert: "The people here will try the strength of the old 


system against Government reforms with a strength of purpose and a 
cohesion of individuals which you are not Hkely to give them credit for." 

Dr. Lawson was a walking reminder of what the medical department 
could do. He had been censured and was to be relieved of his duties; 
he had been relieved of his duties — to assume them in a different place. 
Dr. Hall knew how to protect his own, and he knew how to punish the 
disloyal. Dr. Smith and Dr. Hall were absolute masters of the Army 
Medical Department, and no Nightingale power, no Sidney Herbert 
could save those unhappy slaves who offended their masters. 

A wave of terror swept over the medical staff at Scutari. Dr. Gum- 
ming continued to call on Miss Nightingale every day, but he became 
nervous. He had been a member of the Hospitals Commission, but pres- 
ently he was refusing to carry out his own recommendations. For exam- 
ple, the Hospitals Commission had stressed the urgent necessity of equip- 
ing the wards with bedding and utensils, and in March, 1855 a large 
quantity of hospital stores arrived with which Dr. McGrigor had the 
wards equipped. Dr. Cumming ordered the new equipment to be re- 

Another broken reed was Lord William Paulet, who frankly detested 
his job. He had been sent out because he had wealth, position, and pres- 
tige, and Major Sillery had failed because he had none of these. "Lord 
Wm. Paulet is appalled at the view of evils he has no idea what to do 
with," wrote Miss Nightingale; ". . . and then he shuts his eyes and 
hopes when he opens them he shall see something else." As things became 
more difficult, he withdrew — he put his head, she said, under his wing, 
spending his time with Lady Stratford picnicking along the picturesque 
shores of the Bosphorus, accompanied by hampers of the delicacies for 
which the Embassy chef was famous, ostensibly for the purpose of 
inspecting possible sites for convalescent hospitals. Nothing was to be 
expected from Lord William Paulet. 

Dr. McGrigor began to succumb to Lawson's influence. He avoided 
Miss Nightingale; he ceased to be urgent in pressing the fulfillment of 
the recommendations of the Hospitals Commission. He was, she wrote, 
"the one of all others who really wished to help — but he was weak." She 
felt betrayed, though she still had her triumphs. A whole corridor which 
the Purveyor had declared himself before witnesses unable to equip was 
fitted out by her and Mr. Macdonald from Constantinople by nightfall. 
"What I have done I shall continue doing," she wrote, ". . . but I am 
weary of this hopeless work." 

Within the hospital the work of the Sanitary Commission was having 
rapid effect. The fearful mortality rate of February had fallen in the 


three weeks ending April 7 to 14^ per cent, by April 28 to 10.7 per 
cent, and by May 19 to 5.2 per cent. 

Thanks to iMiss Nightingale's purveying — the Purveyor's stores were 
still empty, and the authorities were slipping back into a state of mind 
when equipment was thought an unnecessary extravagance for a hos- 
pital — there were plenty of drugs, surgical instruments, baths, hot-water 
bottles, and medical comforts. Dr. Pincoffs noted that these were pres- 
ent in satisfactory quantities when he joined the hospital in the spring. 
There were also operating tables, supplied by her for the second time: 
the first set had been burned as firewood in the great cold of January, 

Food had been miraculously improved by Alexis Soyer, the famous 
chef of the Reform Club, who arrived in March, 1855 with full authority 
from Lord Panmure. Soyer came out at his o\\ n expense attended by a 
"gentleman of color" as his secretary. In manner and appearance he 
was a comic opera Frenchman, but Miss Nightingale recognized his 
genius and became his friend. "Others," she wrote, "have studied cookery 
for the purpose of gormandizing, some for show. But none but he for the 
purpose of cooking large quantities of food in the most nutritive and 
economical manner for great quantities of people." Though the au- 
thorities received him "very coolly," Soyer was armed with authority and 
he proceeded to attack the kitchens of the Barrack Hospital. He com- 
posed recipes for using the army rations to make excellent soup and 
stews. He put an end to the frightful system of boiling. He insisted on 
having permanently allocated to the kitchens soldiers who could be 
trained as cooks. He invented ovens to bake bread and biscuits and a 
Scutari teapot which made and kept tea hot for fifty men. As he walked 
the wards with his tureens of soup, the men cheered him with three times 
three. Finally, he gave a luncheon attended by Lord and Lady Stratford 
and their suite, at which he served delicious dishes made from army 

In one thing Soyer failed. Like Miss Nightingale, he strongly objected 
to the way the meat was divided; since weight was the only criterion 
one man might get all bone; why should not the meat be boned, and 
each man receive a boneless portion, with the bones being used for broth? 
The answer from Dr. Gumming was that it would need a new Regula- 
tion of the Service to bone the meat. 

In May, 1855 Miss Nightingale wrote to Sidney Herbert to describe 
"the first really satisfactory reception of sick." Two hundred men from 
the Severn transport were received, bathed, and their hair cut and 
cleansed. Their filthy clothes and blankets were taken from them, they 


were given clean hospital gowns, put into decent beds and given well- 
cooked nourishing food. In spite of obstacles, disappointments, opposi- 
tion, she had, to this degree, succeeded. 

And now that the Barrack Hospital was reasonably satisfactory, she 
determined to go to the Crimea. There were tw^o large hospitals at Bala- 
clava. One, the General Hospital, had been established at the time of the 
British occupation in September, 1854 and, like the General Hospital at 
Scutari, had been intended to be the only hospital. This was the hospital 
in Dr. John Hall's personal charge on which the Hospitals Commission 
had reported adversely. The enormous numbers of sick had neces- 
sitated further accommodation, and a hospital of huts called the Castle 
Hospital had been erected on the heights above Balaclava harbor. Both 
had a staff of female nurses, and disquieting news had reached Miss 
Nightingale of the nurses' conduct, particularly at the General Hos- 

And now the fatal flaw in her instructions appeared, and her authority 
in the Crimea proved to be by no means established. Precise informa- 
tion as to her standing, her instructions, and the assistance to be af- 
forded to her had been sent to Lord Raglan, Lord Stratford, and Dr. 
John Hall. But Lord Raglan was occupied with the problems of a 
disastrous campaign; Lord Stratford was indifferent; Dr. John Hall 
was malicious. He asserted that, as her instructions named her "Super- 
intendent of the Female Nursing Establishment in the English Military 
General Hospitals in Turkey^'' she had no jurisdiction over the Crimea. 

The seriousness of the situation was not appreciated at home. Mr. 
Augustus Stafford wrote: "The nature of her difficulties is not under- 
stood and perhaps never will be." Supported by Dr. Hall, nurses in 
the Crimea were defying her authority. One of them, Miss Clough, a 
"lady" of Miss Stanley's party, had broken away and gone to join Sir 
CoHn Campbell's Hospital above Balaclava, inspired by romantic en- 
thusiasm for the Highland Brigade. "She must be a funny fellow, she 
of the Highland Heights," commented Miss Nightingale. A constant 
rebel was Mrs. Elizabeth Davis, the Welshwonran brought out by Mary 
Stanley. She had begun to dislike Miss Nightingale before she saw her. 
"I did not like the name of Nightingale. When I first hear a name I am 
very apt to know by my feelings whether I shall like the person who 
bears it," she wrote. She had had experience in nursing and was selected 
for the Barrack Hospital. Once there she proved a storm center. She 
refused to obey orders or to conform to the system for the distribution 
of the "Free Gifts." She accused Miss Nightingale of using these for 
her own comfort and alleged that, while the nurses were fed on filaments 


of the meat which had been stewed down for the patients' soup, Miss 
Nightingale had a French cook and three courses served up every day. 
Finally, she joined the party of eleven volunteers who went, against 
Miss Nightingale's wishes, to Balaclava in January, 1855. 

Once there she made an alliance with Dr. John Hall, and another im- 
portant personage in the Crimea, Mr. David Fitz-Gerald, the Purveyor- 
in-Chief. Mr. FitzGerald was as angrily opposed to Miss Nightingale 
as Mas Dr. Hall, and as equally determined to keep her out of the 

Elizabeth Davis, an excellent cook, had assumed command of the 
kitchen in Balaclava General Hospital, which she conducted with rol- 
licking extravagance, rejoicing in feeding up the handsome young offi- 
cers who were her special pets. It was Miss Nightingale's rule that none of 
her nurses should attend on or cook for officers except by special ar- 
rangement. At one issue Mrs. Davis received "6 dozen port wine, 6 
dozen sherry, 6 dozen brandy, a cask of rice, a cask of arrowroot, a 
cask of sago and a box of sugar"; and her requisitions for the General 
Hospital were filled at once by Mr. FitzGerald without being counter- 
signed by Dr. Hall. The situation became too much for the Superin- 
tendent, the Superior of the Sellonites, who, Miss Nightingale said, "lost 
her head and her health," collapsed, and went home. In her place another 
of Mary Stanley's party was appointed, A-Iiss Weare, a fussy, gentle old 
spinster who swiftly became dominated by Mrs. Davis and Dr. Hall. 
Miss Weare confided to Dr. Hall how much more natural she found 
it to obey a gentleman. Miss Nightingale was very wonderful, of 
course, but she could not get used to taking orders from a lady. 

With the "Free Gifts" Mrs. Davis and her allies were even more 
open-handed. In an orgy of distribution ninety bales and boxes were 
given away without any record of who had received them. 

The "Free Gifts" — "these frightful contributions," Miss Nightingale 
called them, together with the labor of acknowledging them, storing 
them in safety, and distributing them satisfactorily, were becoming 
the bane of her life. Ever since November, 1854, parcels had been sent 
from England for the troops. "There is not a small town, not a parish 
in England from which we have not received contributions," she wrote 
in May, 1855, "not one of these is worth its freight, but the smaller 
the value, of course, the greater the importance the contributors attach 
to it. If you knew the trouble of landing, of unpacking, of acknowl- 
edging! The good that has been done here has been done by money, 
money purchasing articles in Constantinople." 

Among the "Free Gifts" were articles of value. Queen Victoria had 


sent a number of water-beds; there were also provisions, groceries, wine, 
brandy, soup, and clothing. To keep a check was difficult; the store, like 
every other place in Scutari, was overrun by rats, and the Maltese, Greek, 
and Turkish laborers who worked round the hospital were dishonest al- 
most without exception. After her arrival on November 5, 1854, Miss 
Nightingale kept an exact record of every article received and issued 
by her. After February 15, 1855 Mrs. Bracebridge was left in sole 

On May 2, 1855, she sailed from Scutari for Balaclava in the Robert 
Loive. "Poor old Flo," she wrote to her mother, "steaming up the 
Bosphorus and across the Black Sea with four nurses, two cooks, and a 
boy to Crim Tartary ... in the Robert Lowe or Robert Slow (for an 
exceedingly slow boat she is), . . . taking back 420 of her patients, a 
draught of convalescents returning to their regiments to be shot at 
again. 'A Mother in Israel,' Pastor Fliedner called me; a Mother in the 
Coldstreams, is the more appropriate appellation." 

Besides Soyer and a French chef, the party included Soyer's sec- 
retary, the "gentleman of color," Mr. Bracebridge and a boy named 
Robert Robinson, an invalided drummer from the 68th Light Infantry. 
He described himself as Miss Nightingale's "man" — Soyer could not 
resist asking him whether he was twelve years old yet — and was ac- 
customed to explain that he had "forsaken his instruments in order to 
devote his civil and military career to Miss Nightingale." He carried her 
letters and messages, escorted her when she went from the Barrack 
Hospital to the General Hospital, and had charge of the lamp which she 
carried at night. Among the Nightingale papers is a manuscript account 
of his experiences during the campaign, entitled "Robert Robinson's 
Memoir." He was, said Soyer, "a regular enjant de troupe, full of wit 
and glee." 

On May 5, six months after her arrival at Constantinople — "and what 
the disappointments of those six months have been no one could tell," 
she wrote, "but still I am not dead but alive" — the Robert Lowe anchored 
in Balaclava harbor. Balaclava was crammed to overflowing, and she 
was invited by the Captain to make her quarters on board the ship, 
which soon, wrote Soyer, resembled a floating drawing-room, as doctors, 
senior officers, and officials, including Sir John McNeill of the Tulloch 
and McNeill Commission and Dr. Sutherland of the Sanitary Commis- 
sion, came to pay their respects. In the afternoon, escorted by a number 
of gentlemen, she went ashore to report herself to Lord Raglan. She 
appeared, says Soyer, in a "genteel Amazone," and rode a "very pretty 
mare which by its gambols and caracoling seemed proud to carry its 


noble charge." Lord Raglan being away for the day, she decided to 
visit the mortar battery outside Sebastopol. The astonishing sight of a 
lady in Balaclava accompanied by a crowd of gentlemen, many of 
them in glittering uniforms, produced "an extraordinary effect." The 
news spread like wildfire that the lady was Miss Nightingale, and the 
soldiers rushed from their tents and "cheered her to the echo with three 
times three." At the Mortar Battery Soyer requested her to ascend the 
rampart and seat herself on the center mortar, "to which she very 
gracefully acceded." He then "boldly exclaimed, 'Gentlemen, behold 
this amiable lady sitting fearlessly upon the terrible instrument of war! 
Behold the heroic daughter of England, the soldiers' friend!" Three 
cheers were given by all. Meanwhile five or six of her escort had picked 
bouquets of the wild lilies and orchids which carpeted the plateau. She 
was requested to choose the one she liked best and responded by gather- 
ing them all in her arms. 

The party then cantered home. Miss Nightingale looking strangely 
exhausted. It was, she said, the unaccustomed fresh air. 

The next morning, accompanied by Soyer, she began her inspection. 
It was a depressing task. The hospitals were dirty and extravagantly 
run, the nurses inefficient and undisciplined. She was received with hos- 
tility and, at the General Hospital, with insolence. "I should have as soon 
expected to see the Queen here as you," said Mrs. Davis. 

She ignored hostility and rudeness. She got out plans with Soyer's 
assistance for new extra diet kitchens at the General Hospital. She 
decided Miss Weare must be replaced — the General Hospital was evi- 
dently out of hand. She then went up to the Castle Hospital, the new 
hospital of huts where Mrs. Shaw Stewart (the "Mrs." was a courtesy 
title), a difficult woman herself, was having a difficult time. Mrs. Shaw 
Stewart, one of Mary Stanley's party, was one of the few women of 
social position who had any real experience in nursing. She was the 
sister of Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, M.P., and had undergone training 
in Germany and nursed in a London hospital. She was skillful, kind, a 
magnificent worker, but she would be a martyr. Do what her friends 
would, conciliate her, defer to her, coax her, she maintained she was 
being ill-treated. At the Castle Hospital she had no need to imagine 
persecution, for Dr. Hall was making her work as difficult as possible. 
He caused immense inconvenience by insisting that all her requisitions 
must be sent to him personally. Work which the Sanitary Commission 
had directed was not even started, her kitchens were inadequate, the 
Purveyor habitually held up her supplies, and, finally, Dr. Hall made 
a practice of sending her messages of criticism through her staff. 

Miss Nightingale gathered herself together to do battle, but before 
anything could be accomplished she collapsed. After seeing Mrs. Shaw 
Stewart, she had admitted great weakness and fatigue, and the next day, 
while interviewing Miss Weare, she fainted. The Senior Aiedical Of- 
ficer from the Balaclava General Hospital was hastily summoned; after 
he had called two other doctors into consultation, a statement was issued 
that Miss Nightingale was suffering from Crimean fever. 

All Balaclava, says Soyer, was in an uproar. It was decided that she 
must be removed from the ship. The harbor was being cleansed by the 
Sanitary Commission, and the men working to remove the ghastly debris 
found the stench so horrible that they constantly fainted and had to 
receive an official issue of brandy. She must be taken to the pure air of 
the Castle Hospital on the heights. A solemn cortege transported her 
from the ship, four soldiers carrying her on a stretcher and Dr. Ander- 
son and Mrs. Roberts walking by her side; Soyer's secretary — Soyer him- 
self was away — held an umbrella over her head, and Robert Robinson 
walked behind in tears, being, in his own words, "not strong enough to 
help carry or tall enough to hold the umbrella." By this time she was 
deUrious and very ill. At Balaclava the troops seemed in mourning, and 
at Scutari the men when they heard the news, "turned their faces to 
the wall and cried. All their trust was in her," a Sergeant wrote home. 

For more than two weeks, nursed by Mrs. Roberts, she hovered be- 
tween life and death. In her delirium she was constantly writing. It 
was found impossible to keep her quiet unless she wrote, so she was 
given pen and paper; among the Nightingale papers are sheets covered 
with feverish notes. She thought her room was full of people demanding 
supplies, that an engine was inside her head, that a Persian adventurer 
came and stood beside her bed and told her that Mr. Bracebridge had 
given him a draft for 300,000 pounds sterling, and she wrote to Sir John 
McNeill asking him to deal with the man because he had been in Persia. 
In the height of the fever all her hair was cut off. The news went round 
the camp, and Colonel Sterling wrote that he heard the Bird had had 
to have her head shaved — would she wear a wig or a helmet! 

At home the tidings were received with consternation, and when it 
was known that she was recovering strangers passed on the good news 
to each other in the streets. 

On May 24 a horseman wrapped in a cloak rode up to her hut and 
knocked. Mrs. Roberts sprang out — "Hist, hist, don't make such a 
horrible noise as that, my man." He asked if this were Miss Nightingale's 
hut. Mrs. Roberts said it was, and he tried to walk in. Mrs. Roberts 


pushed him back. "And pray who are you?" she asked. "Oh, only a 
soldier, but I must see her, I have come a long way, my name is Raglan, 
she knows me very well." "Oh, Mrs. Roberts, it is Lord Raglan," called 
Miss Nightingale. He came in and, drawing up a stool to her bedside, 
talked to her at length. That night he telegraphed home that Miss Night- 
ingale was out of danger, and on May 28 Queen Victoria was "truly 
thankful to learn that that excellent and valuable person Miss Nightingale 
is safe." 

She was frantic to settle the urgent problems at Balaclava, but her 
weakness was so extreme that she could not feed herself or raise her 
voice above a whisper. The doctors advised her to go to England, or 
failing that to Switzerland. She refused, and Mrs. Bracebridge, who had 
hastened from Scutari to look after her, pointed out that she was such 
an execrable sailor that a long sea voyage in her present state might 
well kill her. It was arranged that she should be taken to Scutari on a 
transport and occupy a house belonging to Mr. Sabin, who had gone 
home on sick leave. 

A curious incident followed. Dr. Hadley, the Senior Medical Officer 
at the Castle Hospital, had attended her. Dr. Hadley was a friend of Dr. 
John Hall, and the two doctors selected the transport, the Jura, on 
which she was to go to Scutari. She was actually on board when Mr. 
Bracebridge discovered that the Jura was not calling at Scutari but 
going direct to England. iMiss Nightingale was hurried off the transport 
in a fainting condition by A4r. Bracebridge and Lord Ward, and crossed 
to Scutari on Lord Ward's steam yacht. On October 19, 1855, she 
wrote to Sidney Herbert: "It was quite true that Doctors Hall and 
Hadley sent for a list of vessels going home, and chose one, the Jura, 
which was not going to stop at Scutari because it was not going to stop 
at Scutari, and put me on board her for England." 

The voyage was rough, the yacht was kept at sea an extra day, and 
Miss Nightingale was dreadfully ill. At Scutari her weakness and 
exhaustion were such that she was unable to speak. She was terribly 
changed, emaciated, white-faced under the handkerchief *tied closely 
round her head to conceal her shorn hair. Two relays of guardsmen 
carried her to Mr. Sabin's house on a stretcher. Twelve private soldiers 
divided the honor of carrying her baggage. The stretcher was followed 
by a large number of men, absolutely silent and many openly in tears. 
"I do not remember anything so gratifying to the feelings," wrote 
Soyer, "as that simple though grand procession." 

Mr. Sabin's house had windows opening on to the Bosphorus — the 


most famous view in the world which, she said, she had never had time 
to look at — and a green tree in a garden behind. Here she began slowly 
to recover. 

For the next few weeks she lived in the world of the convalescent, 
a world filled with small things. Sidney Herbert had sent her a terrier 
from England, and she had an owl, given her by the troops to take the 
place of Athena, and a baby. The baby belonged to a Sergeant Brown- 
low, and while its mother was washing for the hospital used to spend its 
day in a sort of Turkish wooden pen which she could see from her bed. 
Its merits, she wrote afterwards, were commemorated in the chapter on 
"Minding Baby" in Notes on Nursing. Parthe composed and illustrated 
and sent her "The Life and Death of Athena, an Owlet." Mrs. Brace- 
bridge read it aloud while Miss Nightingale alternately laughed and 
cried and noticed how the terrier kept fidgeting about and drawing 
attention to himself, "knowing by instinct we were reading about some- 
thing we loved very much and being jealous." By July she was better 
and had decided she was not going away anywhere. "If I go, all this 
will go to pieces," she wrote to Parthe on July 9. Dr. Sutherland told 
her the fever had saved her hfe by forcing her to rest and implored her 
to spare herself. She dared not. She had been compelled to leave the 
Crimea before she had settled anything, and she was receiving reports 
that the situation was going from bad to worse. Every day her authority 
was being more flagrantly disregarded. As soon as was humanly possible, 
she must go back to Balaclava and fight it out. 

She spent a few days at Therapia with Mrs. Bracebridge, then returned 
to Mr. Sabin's house and resumed ordinary life. She contrived to give 
an impression of complete recovery. Lothian Nicholson visited her on 
his way up to the Crimea and was "quite enthusiastic about her good 
looks." Her cropped hair was growing in little curls which gave her a 
curiously touching and childish appearance. 

But as she recovered the stormclouds gathered. She was about to 
enter the most difficult and exhausting phase of her mission. During her 
illness Lord Raglan died and was succeeded by General Simpson, a 
soldier of many years seniority who had barely seen active service. 

General Simpson's intelligence was not great, his social position 
inferior; he was against new-fangled notions of pampering the troops, 
and Miss Nightingale never succeeded in establishing the personal con- 
tact she had enjoyed with Lord Raglan. "The man who was Lord 
FitzRoy Somerset" (Lord Raglan as youngest son of the Duke of 
Beaufort bore the title of Lord FitzRoy Somerset before being created 
Baron Raglan in 1852) "would naturally not be above interesting himself 


in hospital matters and a parcel of women — while the man who was 
James Simpson would essentially think it infra dig," she wrote in No- 
vember, 1855. Moreover, for some reason the official instructions as to 
her position and authority which had been sent by Sidney Herbert when 
Secretary at War to Lord Raglan were not passed on to General Simp- 

She learned that in the Crimea the kitchens which she had planned with 
Soyer had not been built, supplies were still being withheld from Airs. 
Shaw Stewart, the conduct of the nurses was still unsatisfactory. In 
July she sent up a French man-cook, to whom she paid 100 pounds 
sterling a year out of her own private income, but the authorities re- 
fused to employ him. She requested that the ineffectual Miss Weare 
should be relieved as Superintendent of the General Hospital. Dr. 
Hall's reply was to appoint Miss Weare Superintendent of the Monastery 
Hospital, a new hospital for ophthalmic cases and convalescents, and 
ignore her request. 

As she was bracing herself to gather strength and return to the 
Crimea, a fresh blow fell. The Bracebridges wished to go home. For 
nine months they had shared the fearful sights, the horrible smells, the 
uneatable food, the insolence, the petty slights, and the perpetual rude- 
ness. They had endured, toiled, sacrificed themselves, and yet — they 
had not been a complete success. Their devotion was as strong as ever, 
Miss Nightingale's affection as grateful. "No one can tell what she has 
been to me," she wrote of Selina, but Selina had muddled the 'Tree Gift" 
store, and Mr. Bracebridge's relations with the officials were increasingly 

Though she was barely convalescent, she would not hear of delay in 
the Bracebridges' departure. Everything was made easy. It was given 
out that they were going home for a few months and would come back 
in the autumn, but she knew they would never return. As soon as they 
sailed on July 28 she went back to her quarters at the Barrack Hospital, 
retaining Mr. Sabin's house and sending her nurses there by turns to have 
a rest. 

The medical authorities did not welcome her. They felt that the 
state of the hospital was now satisfactory and her help was not needed; 
there was an unwillingness to consult her and an outbreak of complaints. 
Orderlies caught in wrongdoing had only to say Aliss Nightingale had 
given the order to be exonerated. Some of the admirable work of the 
Sanitary Commission was being undone. The engineering works were 
not completed, and the men began once more to drink water that looked 
like barley water. Trouble in controlling the nurses was continuous. 


Two nurses broke out one Saturday night and were brought back dead 
drunk. "A great disappointment to me," wrote Miss Nightingale, "as 
they were both good natured hard working women." 

Nurses who did not drink got married. Lady Alicia Blackwood re- 
lated that one morning six of Miss Nightingale's best nurses came into 
her room followed by six corporals or sergeants to announce their im- 
pending weddings. On one occasion an emissary from a Turkish official 
called on Miss Nightingale with an offer to purchase a particularly plump 
nurse for his master's harem. 

She lost one of her best nurses on August 9 when Mrs. Drake, from 
St. John's House, died of cholera at Balaclava. Next she was involved 
in unpleasantness through the death of Miss Clough, who had got into 
difficulties on the "Highland Heights." She disliked living in a hut, could 
not control the orderlies, was accused of financial irregularities, quarreled 
with everyone, fell ill, and asked to be sent home. On the boat she 
became worse and was put ashore at Scutari, where she died. Miss 
Nightingale had to receive her body, arrange her funeral, communicate 
news of her death to her relations at home, and straighten her affairs. 

Much more serious trouble followed. After Mrs. Bracebridge went 
home, Miss Nightingale appointed a Miss Salisbury to take charge of the 
"Free Gift" store at a salary. From the moment she took up her post, 
she began writing letters home accusing Miss Nightingale of neglecting 
the patients, of wasting the "Free Gifts," and of having been concerned 
in Miss Clough's sudden death. These letters found their way to Mary 
Stanley, who was now in London. Miss Salisbury next began thieving 
from the store on a considerable scale. A search was ordered not only of 
Miss Salisbury's room but of the room of two Maltese kitchen-workers 
whom she had introduced. The results were staggering. The beds of the 
Maltese were found to be entirely constructed of piles of stolen goods, 
while in Miss Salisbury's room every box, every package, every crevice 
and cranny was crammed. 

Miss Nightingale summoned the Military Commandant. Lord William 
Paulet had just gone home and had been replaced by General Storks, 
a man of first-rate ability and one of her staunch admirers. The wretched 
Miss Salisbury was now groveling on the floor, sobbing, screaming, and 
clutching at Miss Nightingale's feet, imploring her not to prosecute, but 
to send her home, now, at once, immediately. A grave mistake was made. 
Miss Nightingale wished above all things to avoid a scandal, and she 
and General Storks agreed that the wisest course was to send Miss 
Salisbury home with as httle fuss as possible. She sailed immediately. But 
after she had gone, it was discovered that she had been stealing not only 


Free Gifts but grovernment stores as well. General Storks siiCTaested that 


in order to trace the stores and discover her accomplices her desk, which 
in the flurry of departure she had left behind, should be opened and 
searched and letters that came for her should be opened and read. 

When Miss Salisbury arrived in England, she declared she had been 
ill-treated. The gifts were decaying in the store because Miss Nightingale 
refused to let them be used, or used them herself, and Miss Salisbury 
had abstracted them in order to give them to the poor fellows for 
whom they were intended. Why, she demanded, had not the police been 
called in if what Miss Nightingale asserted was true? Miss Salisbury was 
soon in conference with Mary Stanley, and a formal complaint against 
Miss Nightingale was drawn up and submitted to the War Office. 

Within the War Office there were two parties, a reform party and 
an anti-reform party. Sending out four Commissions of Inquiry, send- 
ing out even Miss Nightingale herself, had not been accomplished 
without battles. The anti-reform party had been defeated and were ready 
to use any weapon that came to hand. At their head was Mr. Benjamin 
Hawes, Permanent Under-Secretary at the War Office. 

Miss Salisbury's complaint was submitted to Mr. Hawes, and he 
chose to take it very seriously. An official letter was written to Miss 
Nightingale and General Storks — who had schemes for the reform of 
army administration which Mr. Hawes did not find sympathetic — not 
inviting a report but requesting them to justify their conduct. 

Miss Nightingale had now to add to her labors the fearful task of 
straightening out the 'Tree Gift" store. Miss Salisbury's accusations 
and the action of the War Office became known in London, and her 
family blamed the Bracebridges; W. E. N., wrote Uncle Sam, ''would 
give out against good B." Someone must go out to be with Florence. 
Aunt Mai tactfully suggested she should go out for a short time until 
the Bracebridges returned — ostensibly in the autumn — and Uncle Sam 
rather unwillingly consented. 

On September i6 Aunt Mai arrived at Scutari. She burst into tears 
at her first sight of Florence, altered by her illness, thin and worn, and 
with her hair cut short looking curiously like the child of thirty years 
ago. The web of partisan intrigue, the party thwartings, irritations, and 
discourtesies in which she was forced to live horrified Aunt Mai. "The 
public generally imagine her by the soldier's bedside," she wrote on 
September i8, 1855; ". . . how easy, how satisfactory if that were all. 
The quantity of writing, the quantity of talking is the weary work, the 
dealing with the mean, the selfish, the incompetent." 

The pressure of work was enormous. During her first week Aunt 


Mai recorded getting up at 6 a.m. and copying until 1 1 p.m., and next 
day getting up at 5 a.m. and copying again until 1 1 p.m. 

At the beginning of October A4iss Nightingale went back to the 
Crimea, where a new tempest had blown up, with, in its center, Rev. 
Mother Bridgeman — "Mother Brickbat." Miss Nightingale had never 
succeeded in persuading Mother Bridgeman to acknowledge her author- 
ity. Mother Bridgeman had gone with her nuns to Koulali, where they 
issued "extras," wine, invalid food, and clothing at their own discretion 
and without a requisition from the doctor in charge. Lord Panmure, on 
his appointment as Secretary of State for War, had asked Miss Night- 
ingale to relinquish Koulali, and she had consented. But the lavishness 
there became such a scandal that the Principal Medical Officer insisted 
that the Scutari system must be adopted. The nuns then resigned, saying 
their usefulness was destroyed. 

At the end of September, 1855, Miss Nightingale had learned that 
Mother Bridgeman and her nuns, without either informing her or asking 
her permission, had gone to the General Hospital, Balaclava, where 
Mother Bridgeman was to be Superintendent. She asked Dr. Hall for 
an explanation and he alleged that he had written her a letter asking 
for more nurses, but had had no reply and had been forced to take action. 
No such letter had been received. 

Mother Bridgeman then wrote announcing that four of her nuns 
who were still working at the General Hospital, Scutari, were to pro- 
ceed to Balaclava. Miss Nightingale pointed out that to remove nurses 
who were engaged in her service was against all rules. Another Bridge- 
man refused to give way, and Miss Nightingale appealed to Lord Strat- 
ford; it was, she wrote, impossible for her to carry on her work if 
interference with the control of her nurses was permitted. At the same 
time, in a private letter, she told him that she was quite ready to arrange 
for the nuns to go to Balaclava; if any women were to be at the General 
Hospital, Balaclava, she thought nuns the least undesirable, but arrange- 
ments must be made through her and not over her head. Lord Stratford 
hastened in complimentary terms to assure her of his entire agreement, 
but informed her that she should approach not himself but General 

When A4iss Nightingale considered the situation, she came to the 
conclusion that her personal resentment must be swallowed. Wide im- 
plications were involved. The new recruits brought out to replace the 
army which had perished in the winter of 1854-55 were largely Irish 
and Catholics, and it was already being said that they were being de- 
prived of spiritual ministrations. "Had we more nuns," she wrote to 


Mrs. Herbert in November, 1855, "it would be very desirable, to 
diminish disaffection. But p/st not the Irish ones. The wisest thing the 
War Office could do now would be to send out a few more of the 
Bermondsey nuns to join those already at Scutari and counter balance 
the influence of the Irish ones, who hate their soberer sisters with the 
mortal hatred, which, I believe, only Nuns and Household Servants 
can feel towards each other." 

She returned to the Crimea determined, in her favorite phrase, to 
"arrange things." On September 8 Sebastopol had quietly and inglori- 
ously fallen, evacuated by the enemy, and the end of the war was only 
a question of time. General Simpson had resigned his command and gone 
home suffering from Crimean diarrhea and been succeeded by Sir Wil- 
liam Codrington. She was desperately anxious to keep things together, 
not to come to shipwreck at the eleventh hour. She was ready to con- 
ciliate — to conciliate Dr. Hall, conciliate Mother Bridgeman, conciliate 
Mr. FitzGerald, the Purveyor. 

The weather was bad, sailing delayed and the passage finally made in 
a gale. She was prostrated. Outside Balaclava it proved impossible to 
make the narrow opening to the harbor or even to bring out a tug. While 
the transport rose and fell on huge swells, a small boat was brought 
alongside. A sailor held her over the side of the ship, and as the boat 
rose dropped her into it. 

At first it seemed that she might succeed in "arranging things." It 
was an advantage to be without Mr. Bracebridge: "I find much less 
difficulty in getting on here without him than with him," she wrote in 
November, 1855. "A woman obtains that from military courtesy (if she 
does not shock either their habits of business or their caste prejudice), 
which a man who pitted the civilian against the military element and 
the female against the doctors, partly from temper, partly from policy, 
effectually hindered." On the surface she was on friendly terms with 
Dr. Hall and Mr. FitzGerald. In fact, Mr. FitzGerald went so far as to 
confess to her he hoped that Mother Bridgeman's nuns would not im- 
port extravagant Koulali habits into Balaclava. 

And then a copy of The Times for October 16, 1855, arrived at 
Balaclava, and all her work was undone. It contained a report of a 
lecture given by Mr. Bracebridge at the Town Hall, Coventry. Every- 
thing Mr. Bracebridge had previously said, which she had implored 
him to refrain from saying, he had now repeated publicly. The lecture 
was a furious and inaccurate attack on the British Army authorities and 
the British Army doctors. The harm done was incalculable. Other papers 
reprinted Mr. Bracebridge's allegations, and it was beUeved that Miss 


Nightingale had instigated a Press attack on the Army Medical De- 
partment. Everything asserted of her by Dr. Hall was felt to be justified. 

"When one reads such twaddling nonsense," wrote Dr. Hall to Dr. 
Andrew Smith, "as that uttered by Mr. Bracebridge and which was so 
much lauded in the 'Times' because the garrulous old gentleman talked 
about Miss Nightingale putting hospitals containing three or four thou- 
sand patients in order in a couple of days by means of the 'Times' fund, 
one cannot suppress a feeling of contempt for the man who indulges in 
such exaggerations and pity for the ignorant multitude who are deluded 
by these fairy tales." 

Angry as Dr. Hall was, he was no more furious than Miss Nightingale 
herself. On November 5 she told Mr. Bracebridge she wished for no 
"mere irresponsibility of opposition." She objected in the strongest 
possible manner to his lecture, '"''First, because it is not our business and 
I have expressly denied being a medical officer . . . secondly, because 
it justifies all the attacks made against us for unwarrantable interference 
and criticism, and thirdly, because I believe it to be utterly unfair." Alas, 
the damage had been done, and it was irremediable. She contemplated the 
wreckage of her endeavors with despair. 

"I have been appointed a twelvemonth today," she wrote to Aunt 
Mai, "and what a twelvemonth of dirt it has been, of experience which 
would sadden not a life but eternity. Who has ever had a sadder ex- 
perience. Christ was betrayed by one, but my cause has been betrayed 
by everyone — ruined, destroyed, betrayed by everyone alas one may 
truly say excepting Mrs. Roberts, Rev. Mother and Mrs. Stewart. All 
the rest, Weare, Clough, Salisbury, Stanley et id genus omne where 
are they? And Mrs. Stewart is more than half mad. A cause which is 
supported by a mad woman and twenty fools must be a falling house. 
. . . Dr. Hall is dead against me, justly provoked but not by me. He 
descends to every meanness to make my position more difficult." 

As if she had not enough to endure, she was taken ill again and forced 
to enter the Castle Hospital with severe sciatica. Minus the pain, which 
was great, she wrote to Mrs. Bracebridge that the attack did not seem 
to have damaged her much. "I have now had all that this climate can 
give, Crimean fever. Dysentery, Rheumatism and believe myself 
thoroughly acclimatised and ready to stand out the war with any man." 

In a week she was up and working again, ignoring personal humilia- 
tions as long as female nursing in military hospitals might emerge as a 
unified undertaking at the end of the War. No official statement came 
to establish her authority, and Dr. Hall gave out that she was an ad- 
venturess and to be treated as such. Minor officials treated her with vulgar 


impertinence. The Purveyor refused to honor her drafts. When she went 
to the General Hospital, she was kept waiting. 

But she would not be provoked. She persisted in visiting Mother 
Bridgeman, and when Sister Winifred, a lay sister from Mother Bridge- 
man's party, died of cholera she went to the funeral and joined in the 
prayers. "Alother Brickbat's conduct has been neither that of a Chris- 
tian, a gentlewoman, or even a woman," A4iss Nightingale wrote to 
Mrs. Herbert. "At the same time I am the best personal friends with the 
Revd. Brickbat and I have even offered to put up a cross to poor Wini- 
fred to which she has deigned no reply. But anything to avoid a woman's 
quarrel which ca7i be done or submitted to on my part shall be done — 
and submitted to." 

All she had accomplished by coming to the Crimea, she wrote, was 
that the extra diet kitchens which should have been erected in May were 
erected in November. At the end of November she was hastily summoned 
back to Scutari, where a new cholera epidemic had broken out. Before 
she left, she wrote to Sidney Herbert: "There is not an official who 
would not burn me like Joan of Arc if he could, but they know the 
War Office cannot turn me out because the country is with me — that 
is my position." The admiration and affection with which the people 
of England regarded her roused in the Crimean authorities dislike and 
distrust. But their masters at home. Ministers to whom public opinion 
was of importance, had a different outlook, and in November, when her 
prestige in the Crimea had never been so low or her difficulties so great, 
an astonishing demonstration of public feeling and affection in England 
placed her in the position of a national heroine whom no one could 
afford to ignore. 




growing up in England, the result of the survivors of the British Army 
coming home and telling up and down the country the story of Miss 
Nightingale and the Barrack Hospital. The legend was born and gained 
strength in cottages, tenements, and courts, in beer houses and gin shops. 
The rich might grow romantic, and dukes, in the slang of the day, 
declare themselves "fanatico for the new Joan of Arc," but the legend 
of Florence Nightingale belonged to the poor, the illiterate, the helpless, 
whose sons and lovers she refused to treat as the scum of the earth. "The 
people love you," wrote Parthe, "with a kind of passionate tenderness 
which goes to my heart." 

The hacks of Seven Dials, where topical doggerel was produced for 
the mob, hymned her in innumerable songs. "The Nightingale in the 
East," ^ decorated with a wood-cut of, apparently, a lady reposing in 
a tent bed, and to be sung to the tune of the "Cottage and the Wind 
Mill," was still popular at regimental reunions fifty years later. One 
of its eight verses runs: 

Her heart it means good for no bounty she'll take, 
She'd lay down her life for the poor soldier's sake; 
She prays for the dying, she gives peace to the brave, 
She feels that the soldier has a soul to be saved, 
The wounded they love her as it has been seen, 
She's the soldier's preserver, they call her their Queen. 
May God give her strength, and her heart never fail, 
One of Heaven's best gifts is Miss Nightingale. 

1 Contrary to present custom, Scutari, the Crimea, and even Constantinople, are 
described by Miss Nightingale and her contemporaries as being "in the East." She 
writes of "my time in the East," the Nightingale Fund Committee speaks of her 
"services in the Hospitals of the East," the War Office addresses orders "to the 
Army in the East." 


Another adapted the popular song "The Pilot that weathered the storm" 
to "Fair Florence who weathered the storm." Another entitled "God 
Bless Miss Nightingale" contained sentiments which, in the circum- 
stances, were ironical: 

God bless Miss Nightingale, 
May she be free from strife; 
These are the prayers 
Of the poor soldier's wife. 

Others were "Angels with Sweet Approving Smiles," "The Star in the 
East," "The Shadow on the Pillow," "The Soldier's Cheer." 

Quantities of a biography, printed in Seven Dials, were sold, price 
one penny. '''The only and im abridged edition of the Life of Miss Night- 
ingale. Detailijig her Christian and Heroic Deeds in the Land of Tinmdt 
and Death which has made her Name Deservedly Immortal, not only in 
England but in all Civilised Parts of the World, winning the Prayers of 
the Soldier, the Widoiv and the Orphan." 

A Staffordshire figure labeled "Miss Nightingale" depicts her not 
with the famous lamp, but carrying two cups on a small tray and 
romantically dressed in a long, white flowered skirt, a blue bodice with 
a pink bow, and wearing red slippers. Her portrait was eagerly de- 
manded, but the family did not dare supply it because she had an 
objection to having her portrait circulated. The likenesses of her were 
imaginary; one print shows her as a lady with a Spanish comb in her 
hair, dark and passionate; another depicts a golden-haired Miss in a bower 
of roses. Strangers called at Embley and asked to be allowed to see her 
desk. Shipowners named their ships after her. A life-boat was called 
the Florence Nightingale, one of the crew writing first to make sure 
the name was "got all correct." Sir Edward Cook quotes a newspaper 
cutting which records that "The Forest Plate Handicap was won by 
Miss Nightingale beating Barbarity and nine others." A popular tableau 
at Madame Tussaud's presented "A Grand Exhibition of Miss Florence 
Nightingale administering to the Sick and Wounded." 

The successive tidings of her illness, her recovery, and her determina- 
tion to stay at her post until the end of the war raised public feeling to 
boiling-point, and Sidney Herbert felt the authorities might usefully be 
reminded that she had the country at her feet. A committee was formed 
of which Richard Monckton Milnes was a member and Sidney Herbert 
honorary secretary, and on November 29, 1855, a public meeting was 
called at Willis's Rooms, in St. James's Street, "to give expression to a 
general feeling that the services of Miss Nightingale in the Hospitals 


of the East demand the grateful recognition of the British people." 
The Duke of Cambridge was chairman, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Stan- 
ley, Sidney Herbert, and Richard Monckton Milnes made speeches, and 
Sidney Herbert read the letter from Scutari in which a soldier described 
the men kissing Miss Nightingale's shadow as she passed, which suggested 
the poem "Santa Filomena" to Longfellow. The meeting was crowded 
to suffocation and wildly enthusiastic, and similar meetings were held 
throughout the country. The first intention was to present an article of 
gold or silver suitably inscribed, "something of the teapot and bracelet 
variety," wrote Parthe, but so much money came in that it was decided 
to establish a Nightingale Fund, to enable Miss Nightingale to "establish 
and control an institute for the training, sustenance and protection of 
nurses paid and unpaid." The Nightingales did not attend the meeting — 
Parthe and Fanny were afraid they would be overcome by emotion, 
W. E. N. that he might be asked to speak. After the meeting Fanny 
held a reception of "notabilities" in her sitting-room at the Burlington 
Hotel, and wrote: "The 29th of November. The most interesting day 
of thy mother's hfe. It is very late, my child, but I cannot go to bed 
without telling you that your meeting has been a glorious one . . . 
the like has never happened before, but will, I trust, from your example 
gladden the hearts of many future mothers." Miss Nightingale wrote 
back quietly: "My reputation has not been a boon in my work; but if 
you have been pleased that is enough." 

The formation of the Nightingale Fund was mentioned in General 
Orders to the Army in the East, and it was suggested that subscriptions 
should take the form of contributing a day's pay. Dr. Hall refused, but 
otherwise the response was good and nearly 9000 pounds sterling was 
subscribed by the troops. 

After the formation of the fund Queen Victoria, to "mark her warm 
feelings of admiration in a way which should be agreeable," presented 
a brooch designed by the Prince Consort, a St. George's Cross in red 
enamel surmounted by a diamond crown; the cross bears the word 
"Crimea," and is encircled with the words "Blessed are the merciful." 
On the reverse is the inscription, "To Miss Florence Nightingale, as a 
mark of esteem and gratitude for her devotion towards the Queen's 
brave soldiers from Victoria R. 1855." 

Miss Nightingale was not gratified: praise, popularity, prints, jewels 
left her unmoved. She wrote to Parthe in July: "My own effigies and 
praises were less welcome. I do not affect indifference towards real 
sympathy, but I have felt painfully, the more painfully since I have had 
time to hear of it, the eclat which has been given to this adventure of 


mine. . . . Our own old party which began its work in hardship, toil, 
struggle and obscurity has done better than any other. . . . The small 
still beginning, the simple hardship, the silent and gradual struggle up- 
wards; these are the climate in which an enterprise really thrives and 
grows. . . ." 

In reply to the resolution sent by the committee of the Nightingale 
Fund she wrote that she could not contemplate undertaking anything 
in addition to her present work, and would only accept the fund on 
condition that it was understood that there was great uncertainty as to 
when she would be able to employ it. The fact was that the organization 
and reform of nursing no longer filled her whole horizon. Nursing had 
become subsidiary to the welfare of the British Army. 

She had set herself a new and gigantic task — she had determined to re- 
form the treatment of the British private soldier. A mystical devotion to 
the British Army had grown up within her. In the troops she found the 
qualities which moved her most. They were victims; her deepest instinct 
was to be the defender of victims. They were courageous, and she in- 
stantly responded to courage. Their world was not ruled by money, 
and she detested materialism. The supreme loyalty which made a man 
give his life for his comrade, the courage which enabled him to advance 
steadily under fire, were displayed by men who were paid a shilling 
a day. 

She did not sentimentalize the British private soldier. "What has he 
done with the £ i — drank it up I suppose," she scribbled at Scutari. "He 
asks us to find a post for his wife," runs another note; "he had better 
say which wife." Queen Victoria offered to send eau de cologne for the 
troops, but she said someone had better tell her a little gin would be more 
popular. She was told one of the wounded wanted company and ob- 
served she knew the company he pined for, that of a brandy bottle under 
his pillow. She was content to accept and love the troops as she accepted 
and loved children and animals. She called herself the mother of 50,000 

"I have never," she wrote to Parthe in March, 1856, "been able to 
join in the popular cry about the recklessness, sensuality, and helpless- 
ness of the soldiers. On the contrary I should say (and perhaps few 
women have ever seen more of the manufacturing and agricultural 
classes of England than I have before I came out here) that I have never 
seen so teachable and helpful a class as the Army generally. Give them 
opportunity promptly and securely to send money home and they will 
use it. Give them schools and lectures and they will come to them. 
Give them books and games and amusements and they will leave off 


drinking. Give them suffering and they will bear it. Give them work and 
they will do it. I would rather have to do with the Army generally than 
with any other class I have attempted to serve." 

At Scutari — and Scutari was a typical army depot — the troops were 
given no opportunities but to drink. When a man became convalescent, 
he was discharged to the Depot, and inevitably he drank in the spirit 
shops and drank liquor so poisonous that men frequently fell down after 
swallowing only a small quantity. A large proportion of every batch of 
convalescents was carried back drunk within twenty-four hours. "Dead 
drunk," said Miss Nightingale, "for they die of it and the officers look 
on with composure." 

It became clear to her that she must look after the troops not only 
when they were ill but when they were well. What she did for them 
outside the hospital was as important as what she did inside the hospital. 
I In May, 1855, after strenuous opposition, she opened a small reading- 
room for men able to walk but not to leave the hospital. The authorities 
■feared that the men would get above themselves if they read instead 
of drinking, and she was accused of "destroying discipline." However, 
their conduct was excellent. She found that a great many of the men 
could neither read nor write, and she asked if she might engage a school- 
master. This was absolutely refused. "You are spoiling the brutes," Lord 
William Paulet told her. 

She discovered the men drank their pay away because they were dis- 
satisfied with the official method of sending money home through the 
Paymaster. Rightly or wrongly they believed they were defrauded and 
their ignorance exploited. She made it a practice to sit in her room for 
one afternoon a week and receive the money of any soldier in the hospital 
who desired to send it home to his family. The money went to Uncle 
Sam, who bought postal orders which he dispatched to the various 
addresses. About 1000 pounds sterling a month was brought in. When 
the men were discharged from hospital and rejoined their regiments in 
the Crimea, they wished to continue sending money home through the 
post. She submitted a scheme to the authorities, but it was refused. 

In November, 1855, in her letter of thanks for Queen Victoria's 
brooch, she laid before the Queen the causes and remedies of the preva- 
lent drunkenness in the army and the men's difficulties in remitting 
money home. On December 21 the Queen sent the letter down to a 
Cabinet meeting. Palmerston the Prime Minister, thought it excellent, 
and Clarendon, the Foreign Secretary, said it was full of real stuff; 
but Panmure said it only showed that she knew nothing of the British 


soldier. The same day he wrote to Sir William Codrington, the 
Commander-in-Chief in the Crimea: "the great cry now, and Miss 
Nightingale inflames it, is that the men are too rich; granted, but it is 
added that they have no means to remit their money home. In vain I 
point out that this is not true. . . . We have now offered the Post Office 
to them, but I am sure it will do no good. The soldier is not a remitting 

Lord Panmure proved wrong. Offices where money orders could be 
obtained were opened at Constantinople, Scutari, Balaclava, and the 
headquarters of the camp outside Sebastopol, and 71,000 pounds sterling 
was sent home in less than six months. It was, said Miss Nightingale, all 
money saved from the drink shops. 

When Lord William Paulet was replaced by General Storks she 
found an enthusiastic collaborator; working hand in hand, they brought 
discipline and order to the Barrack Hospital and its neighborhood. First, 
the drink shops were closed, and the streets of the village and the sur- 
rounding neighborhood were patrolled after dark. Next, in September 
1855, a large recreation room for the army called the Inkerman Coffee 
House was opened, with the aid of private funds, in a wooden hut be- 
tween the two hospitals. A second recreation room for patients in the 
Barrack Hospital was opened in a wooden hut in the courtyard. There 
were no rules except that women were not allowed. The walls were 
hung with maps and prints; the room was furnished with armchairs and 
writing-tables; newspapers and writing materials were paid for by Miss 
Nightingale. "The men," she wrote, "sat there reading and writing their 
letters, and the Library of the British Museum could not have presented 
a more silent or orderly scene." The officers had told her that the men 
would steal the notepaper and sell it for drink, but this never occurred. 

By the spring of 1856, four schools, conducted by professional school- 
masters, had been opened. "The lectures," she wrote, "were crowded 
to excess so that the men would take the door off the hut to hear. 
Singing classes were formed and the members allowed to sing in the Gar- 
rison Chapel. The men got up a little theatre for themselves, for which 
dresses and materials were lent by a private hand, and this theatre was, I 
believe, always perfectly orderly. Football and other games for the 
healthy, dominoes and chess for the sick, were in great request. . . . 
A more orderly population than that of the whole Command of Scutari 
in 1 855-1 856, though increased by the whole of the Cavalry being sent 
down there for winter quarters, it is impossible to conceive." 

It was an astonishing achievement, and during the winter of 1855-56 


the picture of the British soldier as a drunken intractable brute faded 
away never to return. "She taught," said an eye-witness, "officers and 
officials to treat the soldiers as Christian men." 

But the achievement had been accomplished only at the price of 
unremitting toil. Throughout the summer of 1855, when she was des- 
perately ill, through the autumn when she was alone, weak, and crushed 
by the enormous demands of her official work, she had somehow to ac- 
complish the additional heavy correspondence, the persuading, the 
interviewing, the accounting and listing involved in her welfare work. 
She had never completely recovered from her illness in May. She still 
had sciatica, she was losing weight rapidly, and her ears gave trouble. 

Lady Hornby, wife of the British Commissioner to Turkey, met her 
at a Christmas party given by Lady Stratford. "I felt quite dumb," 
Lady Hornby wrote, "as I looked at her wasted figure and the short 
brown hair combed over her forehead like a child's, cut so when her life 
was despaired of from a fever but a short time ago. Her dress . . . 
was black, its only ornament being a large enamelled brooch, which 
looked to me like the colours of a regiment. . . . To hide the close 
white cap a little, she had tied a white crepe handkerchief over the 
back of it, only allowing the border of lace to be seen. . . . She was still 
very weak, and could not join in the games, but she sat on a sofa, and 
looked on, laughing until the tears came into her eyes." 

At home there was no conception of the situation confronting Miss 
Nightingale. The welfare work had succeeded, but in every other direc- 
tion she was failing. The good she had done was being undone, the 
decisions she had formed were being reversed, and she was not only 
helpless but perpetually tormented by official spite. 

The Dapot within the Barrack Hospital building had been condemned 
by the Sanitary Commission and the troops evacuated. Faced with dif- 
ficulty in procuring recruits to replace the army lost before Sebastopol, 
the Government raised a German Legion of mercenaries, and, ignoring 
all protests, the military authorities put the Legion into the Depot. 
Cholera broke out and spread to the hospital, and one of the first to die 
was Dr. McGrigor. His successor refused to allow the nurses to ad- 
minister medicine and restricted their duties to feeding the patients and 
changing their beds. The hospital at Koulali finally collapsed, and Miss 
Nightingale found herself saddled with the unpleasant task of winding-up 
its affairs. The Superintendent of a hospital for officers at one of the 
Sultan's Palaces died, and she was requested to take the patients into the 
Barrack Hospital. She agreed, and two scandals ensued. One nurse was 
accused of ill-treating her patients, another of being too kind to them 


and receiving visits at midnight. Most sordid, most heart-breaking of all, 
was the case of Miss Salisbury. 

Night after night, when the enormous mass of her daily work had 
been done, she must sit up wrestling with her statement for the War 
Office. It was bitterly cold; the stove sent out from England would not 
draw, and the charcoal brazier made her head ache. "They are killing 
me," she told Aunt Mai. When the New Year of 1856 dawned, her health 
had still further deteriorated; she had earache, continual laryngitis, and 
found it difficult to sleep. In the dark icy cold she paced her room 
obsessed by failure. "The victory is lost already," she told Aunt Mai. 
"But it is won on some points," Aunt Mai reminded her, and added, 
when reporting the conversation to Uncle Sam, "if you could hear what 
the Hospital was and what it is through her struggles you would say so." 
It was unbelievable, wrote Aunt Mai again, how she worked; Aunt Mai 
could never have imagined any labor so unceasing, so unending. "Food, 
rest, temperature never interfere with her doing her work. You would 
be surprised at the temperature in which she lives . . . she who suffers 
so much from cold. . . . She has attained a most wonderful calm. No 
irritation of temper, no hurry or confusion of manner ever appears for a 

But the calm was only on the surface. Aunt Mai wrote confidentially 
to Mrs. Herbert that after a long difficult interview Florence often 
seemed about to faint with exhaustion. After the interviews in connection 
with the Salisbury case she had collapsed on several occasions. She lay 
on the sofa unable to speak or eat, and yet if anyone came to see her on 
business she pulled herself together and appeared normal. 

In January, 1856, the McNeill and Tulloch Commission into the Sup- 
plies for the British Army in the Crimea laid its final report before Parlia- 
ment and confirmed what Miss Nightingale had already told Sidney 
Herbert. The disaster of the winter of 1854-55 had been unnecessary, 
a compound of indiflFerence, stupidity, inefficiency, and bureaucracy. 
The report, though restrained and dispassionate, named a number of 
senior officers as being negligent, indifi^erent, and inefficient. Among 
them were Lord Cardigan, Lord Lucan, and Sir Richard Airey, the 
Quartermaster-General. The facts in the report had been communicated 
to the Government six months ago; yet almost all these officers had been 
promoted or decorated, and none had been removed from his position. 
The publication of the report created a storm, and Lord Panmure 
directed a Board of General Officers to assemble at Chelsea to "allow the 
officers adverted to in the report to have an opportunity of defending 
themselves." Extensive whitewashing was to be done. Immediately fol- 


lowing the establishment of the Board, a fresh list of decorations and pro- 
motions was published. Benjamin Hawes got a K.C.B. and so did Dr. 
John Hall. "Knight of the Crimean Burial grounds I suppose," wrote 
Miss Nightingale. 

It seemed the triumph of all she had been fighting against, the final 
defeat of justice by power. "I am in a state of chronic rage," she wrote 
on March 3, 1856, "I who saw the men come down through all that long 
long dreadful winter, without other covering than a dirty blanket and 
a pair of old regimental trousers, when we knew the stores were bursting 
with warm clothing, living skeletons devoured by vermin, ulcerated, 
hopeless, speechless, dying like the Greeks as they wrapped their heads 
in their blankets and spoke never a word. . . . Can we hear of the 
promotion of the men who caused this colossal calamity, we who saw it? 
Would that the men could speak who died in the puddles of Calamita 

There seemed no end to weariness, disillusion, falseness. Lady Strat- 
ford, feting her on Christmas Day, turned aside to assure a visitor she 
fully believed Miss Salisbury's story. Mary Stanley busily spreading 
rumors at home, yet wrote letters breathing devoted affection. Mother 
Bridcreman was still unsubdued and rebellious in the Crimea, and Miss 
Nightingale's own position was still officially unsupported. Now a new 
misery was added. At the beginning of December iMr. FitzGerald, the 
Chief Purveyor in the Crimea, encouraged by Miss Salisbury's success, 
wrote a "Confidential Report" on Miss Nightingale and her nurses which 
was forwarded by Sir John Hall to sympathetic quarters at the War 
Office. It was not a report but a series of accusations. She herself was 
accused of insubordination; her nurses were described as dishonest, ex- 
travagant, disobedient, inefficient, and immoral. Mother Bridgeman and 
her nuns were warmly commended for zeal, skill, economy, and obe- 

It was, said Miss Nightingale, "a tissue of unfounded assertions, wilful 
perversions, malicious and scandalous libels," but the readiness with 
with its mahce was received and exploited in official quarters added 
enormously to her difficulties. 

Fact was disregarded. She was accused of unjustly removing Mrs. 
Shaw Stewart from being Superintendent of the General Hospital, 
Balaclava, when in fact Mrs. Shaw Stewart, Miss Nightingale's personal 
friend and staunch supporter, had been urgently requisitioned by the 
medical authorities to put the newly opened Castle Hospital on its feet. 
The Castle Hospital contained twice as many patients as the General 
Hospital and was a promotion. 


In May, 1855 she had wished to replace Miss Weare as Superintendent 
of the General Hospital. Dr. Hall refused, advancing as a reason Miss 
Weare's successful management of the sick officers. In the Confidential 
Report it was stated that Miss Nightingale persisted in maintaining Miss 
Weare at her post in spite of the fact that Dr. Hall had demanded her 
removal on account of her unsuccessful treatment of sick officers. 

So immoral were her nurses, alleged the Confidential Report, that five 
had been sent home for promiscuous conduct on a single ship. Of the 
five nurses named, four were her "very best nurses," honorably invaUded 
home "broken by their exertions. "One had actually been officially com- 
mended by Mr. FitzGerald himself. The fifth had not gone home at all 
but was w^orking at Scutari. 

Mother Bridgeman's nuns were commended for their economy and 
obedience to the medical authorities, though in fact the nuns had left 
Koulali on account of their enormous expenditure, and Mr. FitzGerald 
himself had said he hoped they would not bring their system with them 
to Balaclava. 

Miss Nightingale was made aware of the existence of the report 
through Lady Cranworth, who was a friend of Sir Benjamin Hawes. 
The report was shown to Lady Cranworth, and it was intimated that 
Miss Nightingale would be wise to make a reply. She was not allowed 
to see the report, the substance only of the allegations was conveyed. 
How^ever, she wTote a full refutation. In reply she was told that her 
statement "in some cases did not meet the exact point." There was no 
other comment. Since she had never seen the original document, the 
result was not surprising. 

In February, 1856 her difficulties reached a climax. She was asked to 
send nurses to the Crimea by the Chief Medical Officer of the Land 
Transport Corps. But the situation was such that she doubted if she dared 
send nurses. Mr. FitzGerald, elated by the success of his Confidential 
Report, was refusing to honor her drafts; she was owed 1500 pounds 
sterling which she could not get; Mother Bridgeman reigned at Bala- 
clava; the Hall and FitzGerald party was openly declaring they intended 
to root her out of the Crimea. 

She had already written, on January 7, an official letter to the War 
Office complaining of Sir John Hall's action in sending Mother Bridge- 
man to Balaclava over her head, but it had brought no result. Before 
she went further, she wrote to Dr. Sutherland, who was at Balaclava, 
asking him if he thought it wise for her to bring nurses to the Crimea. 
On February 4 Dr. Sutherland told her she should make no such at- 
tempt. He advised her to "state a case fully to the War Department and 


ask them to place you on a proper footing with the authorities here." 
The position, he said, turned on the employment of the words "in 
Turkey," which the Crimean authorities contended did not include 
the Crimea. 

However, there were indications that Sir John Hall was uneasy. He 
withdrew his support from Mr. FitzGerald: the statements in the 
Confidential Report, he said, were made on Mr. FitzGerald's personal 
responsibility. "Mr. FitzGerald is in fact thrown overboard," wrote Dr. 
Sutherland. Miss Nightingale scribbled on the margin of the letter, "I am 
not at all surprised. ... I always expected it." 

On February 20, 1856, she wrote formally to Sidney Herbert en- 
closing Dr. Sutherland's letter and asking him to urge the War Depart- 
ment to telegraph a statement of her powers to the military and medical 
authorities in the Crimea. "It is obvious that my usefulness is destroyed, 
my work prevented or hindered, and precious time wasted, by the 
uncertainty of the relations in which I am left with the Crimean 

On the same day she wrote him a private letter. She was very angry. 
"The War Office gives me tinsel and plenty of praise, which I do not 
want, and does not give me the real business like efficient standing which 
I do want. . . . The War Office sent me here. And surely it should not 
leave me to fight my own battle. ... If they think I have not done my 
work well, let them re-call me. But, if otherwise, let them not leave 
me to shift for myself, in an ever recurring and exhausting struggle for 
every inch of the ground secured to me by the original agreement." 
She demanded that he should read the correspondence relating to the 
Confidential Report which was at Lady Cranworth's house and move for 
the production of papers in the House of Commons. "This is bad treat- 
ment. ... I am assured that the people of England would not suffer 
this for me." 

In reply he assured her that her position was to be cleared up. By 
some mischance it appeared that the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir 
William Codrington, like General Simpson, was unaware of her official 
status. As for moving for papers in the House of Commons, he refused. 
"I am going to criticize you and scold you," he wrote. "You have been 
overdone with your long, anxious, harassing work. . . . The Salisbury 
party, the Stanley party would, of course, take up the Hall and Fitz- 
Gerald view and press their particular cases, and the public, distracted, 
indolent, weary would settle that it was a pack of women quarreling 
among themselves, that it is six of one and half a dozen of the other, 
and everyone is equally to blame all round. . . . These are misrepre- 


sentations and annoyances to which all persons in office, and you are in 
office, are exposed — a single flower of the sort from which the bed of 
roses on which Secretaries of State repose is made." She answered on 
March 6 that she was being asked to do the work of a Secretary of State 
without the status of a Secretary of State. The War Office was feeble 
and treacherous, she wrote, and she pictured them saying: "Could we 
not shelve Aliss N? I daresay she does a great deal of good but she quar- 
rels with the authorities and we can't have that." 

On March lo Sir John Hall wrote her a suave and courteous letter 
inviting her to bring ten nurses to the hospital of the Land Transport 
Corps. She accepted the invitation, but attached so little importance to 
his good-will that she took with her everything she and her nurses could 
need, not only food but stoves. 

On the day she left, March i6, 1856, a dispatch, establishing her 
position in terms far beyond anything of which she had ever dreamed, 
reached the Crimea. 

The dispatch had a curious history. In October, 1855 a certain Colonel 
Lefroy, with the title of "Confidential Adviser to the Secretary of War 
on Scientific Matters," appeared, first in Scutari then in the Crimea. 
He was, in fact, engaged on a secret mission. He was to observe and 
report to Lord Panmure the truth about the state of the hospitals. He 
conceived the greatest admiration for Miss Nightingale; they became 
intimate friends, and he assisted in her welfare work for the troops. 
Colonel Lefroy reached home at the beginning of February. He pos- 
sessed, and was said to be the only man who did possess, very great 
influence over Lord Panmure. He pressed her case with warmth. In an 
official minute he wrote that the medical men were jealous of her mis- 
sion — Sir John Hall would gladly upset it tomorrow if he could. She 
had asked for a telegram defining her position, but Colonel Lefroy went 
further; he wished her to have the unique distinction of her name in 
General Orders: the bulletin issued daily by the Commander-in-Chief 
and posted in every barrack and mess. "A General Order," he wrote, 
". . . is due to all she has done and sacrificed. Among other reasons for 
it, it will put a stop to any spirit of growing independence among those 
ladies and nurses who are still under her, a spirit encouraged with no 
friendly intention in more than one quarter." 

A battle ensued. Minutes flew backward and forward. It was pointed 
out to Lord Panmure that the dispatch as worded amounted to a censure 
on Sir John Hall, but Panmure refused to alter it. Curious information 
was reaching him as to the state of the General Hospital, Balaclava, from 
sources other than Colonel Lefroy. At the end of December Sir WU- 


liam Codrington had written complaining of the amount of Hquor 
consumed by the sick. Lord Panmure decided that the dispatch was to 
be issued as it stood. On February 25 the dispatch left the War Office and 
was published by Sir William Codrington in General Orders on March 
16. "The Secretary of State for War has addressed the following des- 
patch to the Commander of the Forces, with a desire that it should 
be promulgated in General Orders: 'It appears to me that the Medical 
Authorities of the Army do not correctly comprehend Miss Night- 
ingale's position as it has been officially recognised by me. I therefore 
think it right to state to you briefly for their guidance, as well as for 
the information of the Army, what the position of that excellent lady is. 
Miss Nightingale is recognised by Her Majesty's Government as the 
General Superintendent of the Female Nursing Establishment of the 
military hospitals of the Army. No lady, or sister, or nurse, is to be trans- 
ferred from one hospital to another, or introduced into any hospital 
without consultation with her. Her instructions, however, require to 
have the approval of the Principal Medical Officer in the exercise of the 
responsibility thus vested in her. The Principal Medical Officer will 
communicate with Miss Nightingale upon all subjects connected with 
the Female Nursing Establishment, and will give his directions through 
that lady.' " 

It was triumph. It was more than she had ever asked. It was complete 
defeat for the Hall party, the Stanley party, the Salisbury party. She 
reached Balaclava on March 24, in a bhnding snowstorm, and was 
formally welcomed by Sir William Codrington. Next day she took her 
ten nurses to the Hospital of the Land Transport Corps about a mile and 
a half from Balaclava. 

Her struggle was over, and the war was all but over, too. A Peace 
Conference was meeting in Paris, hostilities had ceased, and a formal 
declaration of peace was expected at any moment. Once more she strove 
to compose her differences with Mother Bridgeman. Anything Mother 
Bridgeman wished Miss Nightingale would do. Once more she failed. 
Mother Bridgeman refused to submit to Miss Nightingale's control, 
she refused to be "humbled" or "mortified," and she insisted on going 
home at once. "I have piped to her and done the Circe in vain," Miss 
Nightingale wrote to Sidney Herbert. On March 28, with a passage ar- 
ranged by Sir John Hall and glowing testimonials from him and Mr. 
FitzGerald in her pocket. Mother Bridgeman sailed for home. 

Yet, though defeated, Sir John Hall and Mr. FitzGerald were still 
able to make themselves unpleasant. Sir John Hall questioned and 
delayed Miss Nightingale's requisitions, made difficulties about the 


nurses' duties, raised points that had been settled months ago, even ob- 
jected to using the extra diet kitchens. i\Ir. FitzGerald in turn contrived 
to deprive her party of rations. She apphed to Sir John Hall and was 
informed that he could entertain no complaints relative to the Purveyor. 
On April 4 she wrote to Sidney Herbert: "We have now been ten days 
without rations. ... I thank God my charge has felt neither cold nor 
hunger. ... I have, however, felt both. . . . During these ten days I 
have fed and warmed these women at my own private expense by my 
own private exertions. I have never been off my horse until 9 or 10 at 
night, except when it was too dark to walk home over these crags even 
with a lantern, when I have gone on foot. During the greater part of the 
day I have been without food necessarily, except a little brandy and 
water (you see I am taking to drinking like my comrades of the Army). 
But the object of my coming has been attained and my women have 
neither suffered nor starved." She had fed her party on the provisions 
she had brought from Scutari and cooked on her own stoves. 

Two of the hospitals were five miles up the country; the Monastery 
Hospital was five miles the other way; there were no roads, only rough 
tracks. Now the weather had become bitterly cold, and snowstorms 
were continuous. Soyer, who accompanied her, wrote: "The extraordi- 
nary exertions Miss Nightingale imposed on herself . . . would have 
been perfectly incredible if not witnessed by many and well ascertained. 
... I have seen that lady stand for hours at the top of a bleak rocky 
mountain near the hospitals, giving her instructions while the snow was 
falling heavily." The long hours in the saddle without food proving too 
much for her weakened health, a mule cart was procured, but one night 
it overturned on one of the rough tracks. Colonel McA4urdo then pre- 
sented her with a springless, hooded baggage cart, which gave some 
protection from the weather. This was the Crimean carriage in which 
she said she henceforward "lived," and which is still preserved at St. 
Thomas's Hospital, London. 

Sir John Hall's ingenuity in petty persecution was inexhaustible. On 
March 28, Mother Bridgeman and her nurses having left the General 
Hospital, Miss Nightingale went down to take over and found the 
nurses' huts locked. Sir John Hall had given the keys to Mr. FitzGerald, 
who had locked the doors and taken the keys away. A message was sent 
to Mr. FitzGerald. Could Miss Nightingale have the keys, please — she 
was outside the huts and would wait there until the keys came. It was 
late in the afternoon and snowing. She waited, an hour and another 
hour. Darkness fell. Still she waited with the snow thick on her, and at 
last the keys came. 


The General Hospital was filthy. "The patients were grimed with 
dirt, infested with vermin, with bed sores like Lazarus (iUother Bridge- 
man I suppose thought it holy)," wrote Miss Nightingale on April 17, 
1856. The Bermondsey nuns were horrified. After two days had been 
spent in washing, scrubbing, and disinfecting, and three days in cleansing 
the patients and their bedding — one man was such a mass of bed sores 
that it took six hours daily to dress him — Sir John Hall paid a visit of 
inspection and at once wrote an angry letter. He was "disgusted at the 
state of the hospital and ordered it all to be put back in the admirable 
order it was in previously," and he desired the Principal Medical Of- 
ficer in charge of the hospital "not to interfere with the Purveyor Mr. 
FitzGerald's admirable arrangements." 

It was a letter designed for the official file, to stand as a useful piece 
of evidence if the state of the Balaclava General Hospital under Mother 
Bridgeman was ever called in question. Miss Nightingale did not answer 
it; she was sickened. 

The only "diversion" was provided by Miss Weare, who had been sent 
to the Monastery Hospital. Though over seventy. Miss Weare was 
causing a scandal. "She spent," wrote Miss Nightingale, "much of her 
time cooking good things, eating, drinking, and gossiping with an old 
Medical Officer until the small hours of the morning. I don't think I 
ever felt in such a ridiculous position in my life, as when I was called 
upon by the authorities to put a stop to the midnight gossipings as 
causing 'scandal' and I had to speak to these two old fogies each of 
whom was twice as old as myself. Both were over 70." 

On April 29 peace was proclaimed to the Allied Armies, but she felt 
no exultation; she looked forward with a sense of doom. "Believe me 
when I say that everything in the Army (in point of routine versus sys- 
tem) is just where it was eighteen months ago. . . . ''Nous n^avons rien 
oublie ni rie?i appris.^ ... In six months all these sufi^erings will be 

English and Russian soldiers were fraternizing and getting drunk 
together. English officers were getting up steeplechases and breaking 
their necks. Interpreters were in request to arrange for collections of 
Crimean crocuses and hyacinths to be sent home to English gardens, 
and Lord Panmure was writing to Sir William Codrington on the im- 
portance of bringing the army home without beards. 

The nurses began to go home by detachments, and one of the first was 
Jane Evans, the old farm-worker, "made happy by the possession of a 
buffalo calf she had reared, to which beast, with herself, a free passage 
was granted." Mrs. Shaw Stewart went home, the persistent martyr who 


had been the prop and mainstay of Crimean nursing. Rev. Mother 
Bermondsey was invalided from Scutari — "What you have done for 
the work no one can ever say," wrote Miss Nightingale. "My love and 
gratitude will be yours dearest Reverend Mother wherever you go. . . . 
I do not presume to give you any other tribute." Miss Tebbutt, one 
of Mary Stanley's "ladies" who had proved an excellent nurse, went to 
Embley to rest, and Miss Nightingale wrote, "as she has only a mother at 
home it Mould give great pleasure if the mother were invited too." Miss 
Noble, another of Miss Stanley's "ladies," went to take up a post Miss 
Nightingale had procured for her. "She has been one of our best, 
kindest and most skilful surgical nurses, I feel a real attachment for her," 
she wrote to Lady Cranworth. Every nurse was to be provided for. No 
one was to be "thrown off like an old shoe." "That they remained with me 
I consider proof that I considered them, on the whole, useful to the work 
and worthy of having a part in it," she wrote. Those she did not feel 
she could ask the Government to assist, she helped out of her private 
pocket. A nurse who had been drunken, but had pulled herself together 
and done well was to be met when she arrived in London, given money 
if she needed it, and have a place found for her. A Miss Laxton had been 
disgraced for receiving visits from an officer; Miss Nightingale thought 
she had been too severely treated and asked W. E. N. to meet her and 
supply her with money. One thing only she implored — that her party 
should keep out of print. "If I do not conclude our campaign without 
saving all my ladies and nurses from expressing themselves in print (Oh 
that mine enemy would write a book!) I shall think myself quite out 

At the end of June she returned to Scutari, where the camp was 
empty, the Inkerman Cafe deserted, only a few convalescents lingering 
where once lines of dying men had lain on the bare floor. Father 
Michael Cuffe went home, who once had compared her to Herod but 
now, she wrote, "ate out of her hand." The Scllonite sisters, the "an- 
cient dames in black serge" who had proved among the best of her nurses, 
departed in tears. 

On July 1 6, 1856, the last patient left the Barrack Hospital, and her 
task was ended. 

Once more Fanny and Parthe began to hope. Surely she must be 
satisfied at last; surely now she would come and live at home, repose on 
her laurels and enjoy them. Would she accept an official reception, or 
should they meet her privately at Aix? They wrote Aunt Mai a great 
many letters. What were Florence's plans? 

Aunt Mai answered that she mentioned no plans: she seemed in high 


spirits, in great good looks, but they must make no mistake, her health 
was seriously shaken. She was painfully thin and, when alone, deeply de- 
pressed. She did not enjoy her fame; she was afraid of it. Her reputation 
stood so high that whatever she did must disappoint expectations. As to 
her agreeing to settle down at home, of that Aunt Mai, hastening tactfully 
to aoree that nothing could be more desirable, held out no hopes what- 

The nation passionately desired to honor her. She had emerged from 
the War with the only great reputation on the British side. The Gov- 
ernment offered a man-of-war to take her home in state, and Parthe wrote 
that "the whole regiments of the Coldstreams, the Grenadiers and the 
Fusiliers would like to meet her, or failing that they would like to send 
their bands to play her home wherever she might arrive, by day or night." 

The Mayors of Folkestone and Dover desired Mr. Augustus Stafford 
to "find out privately where Miss Nightingale would first touch English 
ground in order to rouse the whole community." There was a rumor that 
she would go to Lea Hurst. Committees met; triumphal arches were 
planned; there were to be bands, processions, addresses from the parish, 
and a carriage drawn by the neighborhood to take her home. She 
rejected everything. She was bereaved; a haunted woman. She began to 
write private notes again: "Oh my poor men; I am a bad mother to come 
home and leave you in your Crimean graves — 73 per cent in 8 regiments 
in 6 months from disease alone — who thinks of that now .5" At night Aunt 
Mai heard her pacing endlessly up and down. 

On July 28 she embarked at Constantinople for Marseilles, traveling 
incognito with Aunt Mai as "Mrs. and Miss Smith." A Queen's Mes- 
senger traveled in the same boat to attend to formalities. There preceded 
her what she called her "Spoils of War":* a one-legged sailor boy, a 
Russian orphan, a large Crimean puppy, and a cat had already arrived at 

From Marseilles she went to Paris, where she left Aunt Mai and walked 
in unexpectedly at 1 20 rue du Bac. M. Mohl was at home, but Clarkey 
was in England. She stayed the night and next day went on alone to 
England. At eight in the morning she rang the bell at the Convent of the 
Bermondsey Nuns. It was the first day of their annual retreat, and she 
spent the morning in prayer and meditation with Rev. Mother. In the 
afternoon she took the train north, still alone, and in the evening walked 
up from the station to Lea Hurst. 

Parthe, Fanny, and W. E. N. were in the drawing-room, but Mrs. 
Watson, the housekeeper, was sitting in her room in front of the house. 


She looked up, saw a lady in black walking alone up the drive, looked 
again, shrieked, burst into tears and ran out to meet her. 

Two figures emerged from the Crimea as heroic, the soldier and the 
nurse. In each case a transformation in public estimation took place, and 
in each case the transformation was due to Miss Nightingale. Never 
again was the British soldier to be ranked as a drunken brute, the scum 
of the earth. He was now a symbol of courage, loyalty, and endurance, 
not a disgrace but a source of pride. "She taught officers and officials to 
treat the soldiers as Christian men." Never again would the picture of a 
nurse be a tipsy, promiscuous harridan. Miss Nightingale had stamped 
the profession of nurse with her own image. Jane Evans and her buffalo 
calf. Mother Bridgeman and her proselytizing, Mary Stanley's ladies 
and their gentility, the hired nurses and their gin have faded from his- 
tory. The nurse who emerged from the Crimea, strong and pitiful, con- 
trolled in the face of suffering, unself-seeking, superior to considera- 
tions of class or sex, was Miss Nightingale herself. She ended the Crimean 
War obsessed by a sense of failure. In fact, in the midst of the muddle and 
the filth, the agony and the defeats, she had brought about a revolution. 



Hell, and because she had seen Hell she was set apart. Between her 
and every normal human pleasure, every normal human enjoyment, must 
stand the memory of the wards at Scutari. She could never forget. She 
wrote the words again and again, in private notes, on the margins of 
letters, on scraps of blotting-paper; whenever her hand lay idle the 
phrase formed itself — "I can never forget." 

She was a haunted woman, but she was pursued not by ghosts but 
by facts, the facts of preventable disease. Blood was calling to her .from 
the ground; the blood of the ghastly army of vermin-devoured "skeletons 
who had died before her eyes in the hospitals of Scutari, but their blood 
called "not for vengeance but for mercy on the survivors." 

The mortality of the Crimean disaster, 73 per cent in six months from 
diseases alone, was the ghastly fruit not of war but of the system which 
controlled the health administration of the British Army. The system 
was in operation still. Every day, every hour, wherever the British 
Army had barracks and hospitals, the system was murdering men as 
surely as it had murdered them in Scutari. The Crimean tragedy cried 
aloud not for revenge but for reform. She, and she alone it seemed, had 
discerned this self-evident truth. The summons to save the British private 
soldier had come to her. 

She recoiled. It was too much. Must she pass her life struggling with 
the forces which had defeated her in the Crimea? Must she now renounce 
all human contacts for the aridity of official correspondence, the com- 
piling of statistics, the drafting of regulations, the formality of official 

There were midnight agonies, tears, prayers. Fanny, Parthe, W. E. N., 
hearing her pace her room, thought she" was struggling with fearful 


memories; but she was struggling with herself. She did not find it easy 
to submit. But the voices of ten thousand of her children spoke to her 
from their forgotten graves. "I stand at the altar of the murdered men," 
she wrote in a private note of August, 1856, "and while I live I fight their 

She obeyed the summons. She, a woman, ill, alone, exhausted, a voice, 
she said, crying in the wilderness, prepared to undertake the gigan- 
tic task of reforming the health administration of the British Army — but 
she resented her fate. She wept for herself. No one appreciated what 
she was being forced to renounce for the sake of the work. She grew 
angry and the characteristics which had been so marked in her youth, the 
benevolence, the patience, the quality which Clarkey described as "Flo's 
extraordinary bonte" faded. Her astonishing mind developed; her pene- 
tration, infinite capacity for taking pains, persistence, iron will to work, 
scrupulous sense of fair play became still more extraordinary, but the 
woman of her early years gradually ceased to exist. 

She confided in no one. Her family and her friends were bewildered, 
but she would not enlighten them. The time when she had ached for sym- 
pathy was past; she reveled now in the consciousness that she was alone. 
The urgency of the situation drove her. Action must be taken now, 
within the next few months, while the Crimean disaster was still fresh 
in the nation's mind. The iron was hot and must be struck. How was she 
to strike it? London was empty. Politicians and administrators were tak- 
ing their summer holidays. The war was over; it had been discreditable, 
and there was a universal wish to forget it. 

Early in August she wrote to Lord Panmure announcing her arrival in 
England and asking for an official interview. Lord Panmure was in Scot- 
land shooting grouse. He replied through his secretary on August 13, 
that later he would be delighted, as always, to hear Miss Nightingale's 
views. Meanwhile, "it will be more pleasant for you to rest a little while." 

She wrote to Sidney Herbert. He was fishing salmon on his estate in 
Ireland. She drove herself to \\ rite him letter after letter, lying on her 
sofa sick and exhausted, her fingers hardly able to hold the pen, entreat- 
ing him, imploring him, commanding him to take action for the army 
now, at once, before it was too late. 

On August 16 he told her candidly that he thought her letters over- 
wrought. She should follow the excellent prescription of his doctor in 
Carlsbad, "N/ lire, ni ecrire, ?ii reflechir^ On August 26 he wrote to 
Mr. Sam Smith that Florence's state of mind was causing him concern; 
complete rest was badly needed, but since he realized, having regard to 
her temperament, that this was almost impossible, he advised her relations 


to plan a life for her of "some, tho' very limited and moderate, occupa- 
tion." He did not suggest a meeting; indeed he avoided her. 

She became frantic. Her whole being cried out for action. "If I could 
only carry one point which would prevent one part of the recurrence 
of the colossal calamity, then I should be true to the brave dead," she 
wrote in a private note of August, 1856. What could she do? Sidney 
Herbert had failed her; Panmure evaded her. She was so ill it seemed 
madness to contemplate work. She found difficulty in breathing, suf- 
fered from palpitations, and was overcome by nausea at the sight of food. 
W. E. N., unable to contemplate her condition, left Lea Hurst and re- 
treated to the peace and the shadows of the library at Embley. 

If only she would rest: her family, her friends, the whole world in 
an international chorus implored her to rest. A host of unknown ad- 
mirers from every country in Europe, from America, from Asia, in 
letters, newspaper articles, poems, songs, implored her to repose on her 
laurels. She could not. She was driven by the certainty that delay was 
fatal. And yet — if delay was fatal, a false step was fatal too. On August 
25, in a long letter to Colonel Lefroy, she explained her dilemma. 

Special difficulties, she wrote, confronted her. The first was that she 
was a woman — that was very bad; the second, that she was a popular 
heroine, which was worse. The two together formed a pill which official- 
dom would never swallow. Any scheme known to emanate from her 
would instantly be rejected because it came from her. Sir Benjamin 
Hawes had written inviting her to put forward suggestions for improve- 
ments in the Army Medical Department. She had reason to believe the 
invitation was given with the object of creating an opportunity for reg- 
istering an official rejection of her proposals, and she had refused. Dr. 
Pincoffs had asked her to be patroness and organizer of a scheme to pro- 
vide treatment for discharged wounded men, and she had told him that 
if he used her name the authorities would see to it that the scheme failed, 
"so great is the detestation with which I am regarded by the officials." 
Frankly, she continued, she did not know how to proceed. She might 
begin to work in the military hospitals at home as she had worked in 
Scutari and gradually reorganize the whole system. The Queen had 
written to her, and the Queen would certainly grant female nursing de- 
partments in all military hospitals. Again the difficulty was her position 
as a national heroine. It was nothing but an embarrassment. "The buz- 
fuz about my name," she wrote contemptuously, "has done infinite 

Suddenly she scribbled a postscript: "If I could only find a mouth- 
piece." She was convinced that she herself would shortly die — if only 


she could find someone to carry on the work! "If I could leave one man 
behind me," she wrote in a private note; and she returned to the idea 
again and again. "If I could leave one man behind me, if I fall out on 
the march, who would work the question of reform I should be satisfied, 
because he would do it better than I." She needed a man who would be 
acceptable to the official world, who would carry weight in official 
circles, but who would be ready to submit himself to her and be taught 
by her. Where could such a man be found? She did not think of Sidney 

After Miss Nightingale's return from the Crimea she never made a 
public appearance, never attended a public function, never issued a 
public statement. Within a year or two most people assumed she was 
dead. She destroyed her fame deliberately as a matter of policy. The 
authorities expected that on her return she would make revelations. She 
neither revealed, nor attacked, nor justified herself. She wrote nothing; 
she made no speeches; she was not even seen. Instead, with infinite pa- 
tience and self-effacement, she set out to win the authorities over to her 
side. She was laying aside a powerful weapon; at the moment adoration 
of her had reached an extraordinary pitch. "She may truly be called the 
voice of the people of the present," wrote Dr. Pincoffs to Fanny. In 
Sheffield a lady who resembled Miss Nightingale found herself sur- 
rounded by a large but respectful crowd, who pressed round her asking 
for permission "just to touch her shawl." Society wished to lionize her, 
and she was inundated with invitations. The Duke of Devonshire, who 
had formed a collection of Press cuttings relating to her work, presented 
her with a model of Athena, her pet owl, in silver, and wished to give a 
reception in her honor at Chatsworth. She refused. She refused inter- 
views, receptions, presentations. She refused to go out to dine. She re- 
fused to be painted. "The publicity and talk there have been about this 
work have injured it more than anything else," she wrote in a private 
note of August, 1856, "and in no way, I am determined, will I contribute 
by making a show of myself." 

Her post-bag was enormous, but she would barely glance at it. "As to 
her indifference to praise it is quite extraordinary," wrote Parthe. Con- 
gratulatory letters arrived in "hail storms." Unknown admirers showered 
gifts, poems, songs, illuminated addresses, and proposals of marriage. 
Begging letters came "in shoals." An unknown gentlewoman asked to be 
provided with a post, "but nothing derogatory because I am an Irish 
lady of good family"; one gentleman requested her to get his jewelery 
out of pawn and another asked for the gift of a donkey; a young lady 


wrote: "I have had a passion for soldiers all my life and now wish to get 
my bread by it." "How would you construe this?" Miss Nightingale 
scribbled in the margin. 

Parthe wrote the acknowledgments. Miss Nightingale herself wrote 
no letters, signed no autographs, granted no interviews. The few who did 
receive a pergonal reply were humble people — the parishioners of East 
Wellow, the working-cutlers of Sheffield who presented her with a 
canteen of cutlery, 1800 workingmen of Newcastle-on-Tyne who sent 
her an address. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, Miss Night- 
ingale had disappeared. 

At the end of August Sidney Herbert returned from Ireland; they met 
briefly at the Bracebridges' house, and he was "lukewarm about army 
reform." Then he retired to Wilton. She was in despair when suddenly 
she was given an opportunity of the most dazzling and unexpected 

Early in September her old friend Sir James Clark invited her to stay 
at his house in the Highlands. He wrote at Queen Victoria's desire: the 
Queen wished to hear the story of Miss Nightingale's experiences with 
the army, not only officially but privately. Sir James's house, Birk Hall, 
was only a mile or two from Balmoral. She would be commanded to 
Balmoral for an official interview, and in addition the Queen intended 
to have private conversations with her at Birk Hall. 

She rose from her sofa and flew to work, plunging into correspondence 
with experts she had known in the Crimea, Sir John McNeill, Colonel 
Tulloch, and Colonel Lefroy. Her plan was to ask for a Royal Commis- 
sion to examine the sanitary condition, administration, and organization 
of barracks and military hospitals and the organization, education, and 
administration of the Army Medical Department. For the first time in 
history the living conditions of the private soldier in peace and war, his 
diet and his treatment in health and sickness would, she hoped, be scien- 
tifically investigated. In addition to the Royal Commission she intended, 
on Colonel Lefroy's advice, to ask permission to address a Confidential 
Report to Lord Panmure which would be a frank account of her own 
experiences. "In some form or other we have almost a right to ask at your 
hands an account of the trials you have gone through," wrote Colonel 
Lefroy on August 28, "the difficulties you have encountered, the evils 
you have observed ... no other person ever was, or can be, in such a 
position to give it." 

On September 15, accompanied by W. E. N., she arrived at Sir John 
McNeill's house in Edinburgh and was joined there by Colonel Tulloch 
for four days' furious and concentrated work. Her condition was causing 


grave anxiety; she was weak, emaciated, and still experiencing nausea at 
the sight of food; nevertheless, she was able to work day and night sort- 
ing, digesting, and collating the vast mass of figures and facts which had 
been collected in the course of the McNeill and TuUoch enquiry. Her few 
free hours were spent in visiting and inspecting barracks, hospitals, and 

Sidney Herbert played no part in getting up the case. He did not even 
advise. Writing to Miss Nightingale from Wilton on September 9, he 
was affectionate but detached. "I hope your Highland foray will do you 
good. I am sure it will if you find help and encouragement for your 
plans." It seemed he did not take her seriously. 

On September 19 Miss Nightingale left Edinburgh with W. E. N. 
for Birk Hall; and on September 2 1 she was commanded to Balmoral for 
an afternoon's talk with the Queen and the Prince Consort. 

The meeting, an informal one, lasted for more than two hours and 
was a triumphant success. "She put before us," wrote the Prince in his 
diary that night, "all the defects of our present military hospital system 
and the reforms that are needed. We are much pleased with her; she 
is extremely modest." "I wish we had her at the VVar Office," wrote the 
Queen to the Duke of Cambridge, the Commander-in-Chief. 

She was commanded to Balmoral again and yet again. She conversed 
with the Prince Consort on metaphysics and religion and went with the 
royal party to church. On several occasions she dined informally. Most 
important of all, the Queen, as she had indicated, paid her private visits. 
One day she appeared suddenly quite alone, driving herself in a little pony 
carriage, and took Miss Nightingale off for a long walk. Another day 
she came over alone and unannounced, spent the afternoon, stayed to 
tea, and there was "great talk." Parthe reported Lord Clarendon as hav- 
ing said the Queen was "enchanted with her." 

The first step had been successfully taken, but Miss Nightingale was 
aware that it was only the first step. Under the British Constitution the 
Queen and the Prince had no power to initiate action; that was exclu- 
sively in the hands of the Ministers of the Crown. On September 26 Miss 
Nightingale wrote to Uncle Sam: "Everything is most satisfactory. 
Satisfactory that is as far as their will, not their power, is concerned." By 
their good-will and eagerness, she said soberly, her hopes were "some- 
what raised." 

Before the warrant for the Royal Commission could be issued, the 
Queen must be advised to do so by the Secretary of State for War. Lord 
Panmure must be convinced of the necessity for army reform. 

The next week Lord Panmure was to be in attendance at Balmoral, and 


the Queen, almost too anxious to be of use, insisted that Miss Nightingale 
come to Balmoral to meet him: "The Queen has wished me to remain to 
see Lord Panmure here rather than in London," she wrote to Fanny on 
September 25, "because she thinks it more likely something might be 
done with him here with her to back me. I don't but I am obliged to 

Lord Panmure was a difficult subject whose personal appearance was 
surprising; he had an enormous head, crowned with thick upstanding 
tufts of hair, and a habit of swaying it slowly from side to side which had 
earned him the nickname of "the Bison." Detail he hated, nor did he 
appreciate system. His position as Secretary of State for War involved 
an immense amount of work which, as Sidney Herbert said, he "found 
easy through the simple process of never attempting to do it." He de- 
tested bothers and had been infuriated by Sir John McNeill's and Colonel 
Tulloch's revelations in their Report on the Supphes for the British Army 
in the Crimea, though he himself had appointed them and given them 
their instructions. He had gone through their report before its official 
publication with the avowed object of cutting out anything that seemed 
unpleasant, and he had desisted only because he found that the only way 
to render the report innocuous was to rewrite the evidence. He had been 
heard to say that he wished both Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch 
at the devil. 

The greatest difficulty in deahng with him arose out of his habit of 
procrastination. He would not take action, for he had discovered that 
if action is avoided consequences are avoided too. 

Yet despite these defects he was a man of character. When he was a 
boy of fifteen, his father had quarreled with his mother, and he was 
informed that he must choose between his parents. If he broke completely 
with his mother, he would enjoy all the privileges of an eldest son with a 
large income and a safe seat in the House of Commons; if he persisted 
in seeing his mother he would be cut off with 100 pounds sterling a year 
and a commission in the army. He refused to be separated from his 
mother and never saw his father again. In 1852, after thirty -six years of 
estrangement, his father died, and at the age of fifty-one he succeeded to 
vast estates and a large income. Now at Brechin Castle, in Forfarshire, he 
lived as a feudal chieftain. 

To win over Panmure was a formidable task, and the ground was care- 
fully prepared. The Queen wrote informing him of the proposed meet- 
ing — "Lord Panmure will be much gratified and struck with Miss Night- 
ingale — her powerful clear head and simple modest manner." The Queen 
also fell in with a stratagem designed to prevent Panmure from evading 


the main issue. Miss Nightingale wrote her a letter outlining her sug- 
gestions for army reform; this the Queen accepted "with great grace," 
and a copy of it was then sent to Panmure with the information that the 
Queen had accepted the original. By this means it was hoped that the 
main lines of the discussion would be defined. 

Sidney Herbert was pessimistic. Miss Nightingale had written to him 
before the Queen's invitation asking him to arrange for her to see Pan- 
mure. He had, at one point, promised to meet her if he were in London 
for a "combined attack on the Bison." But he had evaded her by never 
being in London. Before her interview with Panmure she wrote from Birk 
Hall to remind him of this "very important promise." It had been im- 
possible to refuse the Queen's invitation, but "I would rather have seen 
Panmure with you," His reply was discouraging. There was no harm in 
her trying to see what she could do with Panmure, but "I am not san- 
guine, for tho' he has plenty of shrewd sense there is a vis inertiae in his 
resistance which is very difficult to overcome." 

On October 5 the interview took place, and Miss Nightingale's 
success exceeded all expectations. Lord Panmure succumbed to the spell 
which drunken orderlies, recalcitrant nurses, and suspicious officials had 
been powerless to resist. "You may hke to know," wrote Mr. John 
Clark, Sir James's son, "that you fairly overcame Pan. We found him with 
his mane absolutely silky; and a loving sadness pervading his whole 
being." On November 2 Sidney Herbert wrote: "I forget whether I 
told you that the Bison wrote to me very much pleased with his inter- 
view with you. He says that he was very much surprised at your physical 
appearance, as I think you must have been at his. God bless you." 

When she returned to Birk Hall, Panmure, like the Queen, came to 
see her privately, and it seemed that she had obtained everything. There 
was to be a Royal Commission, and the instructions were to be drawn up 
in accordance with her suggestions. She was to be invited to make a "Con- 
fidential Report"; and the request was to come jointly from Lord Pan- 
mure as Secretary of State for War and Lord Palmerston as Prime Min- 
ister. Netley, the first general military hospital to be built in the country, 
was in process of construction: Lord Panmure volunteered to send her 
the plans and invited her to make observations, declaring himself to be 
at her service to discuss details as soon as they were both in London at 
the end of the month. When she left Birk Hall to go south, the prospect 
was rosy. 

She spent a few days in Edinburgh with Sir John McNeill; stayed for 
a fortnight at Lea Hurst establishing contact with "Crimean confed- 
erates"; and on November i, accompanied by Fanny, Parthe, and 


W. E. N., went to London to the Burlington Hotel, the "dingy old 

She had drawn up a list of names for the Commissioners. Civilian^ and 
military men were to be equally balanced. On the civilian side she put 
forward Sir James Clark, Sir James Martin, Dr. Sutherland, and Dr. 

Dr. Farr was of special importance. He was a pioneer in the science 
of statistics, then in its infancy, and she intended, with his help, to make 
a statistical comparison of the rate of sickness and death in barracks with 
the rate in civilian life. It would, she believed, be startling. 

Dr. John Sutherland was one of the leading sanitary authorities of the 
day. He had been head of the Sanitary Commission of 1855, had become 
Miss Nightingale's intimate friend, and was her personal physician. He 
was an invaluable worker but was prone to a flippancy she found in- 
tensely irritating. On November 12, 1856, he wrote: "I am led to believe 
there must be a foundation of truth under the old myth about the Amazon 
women somewhere to the East. All I can say is that if you had been Queen 
of that respectable body in old days Alexander the Great would have had 
rather a bad chance. Your project has developed far better than I ex- 

On the military side she intended to press for Sir Henry Storks, who 
had worked "hand in hand" with her in army welfare work at Scutari, 
Colonel Lefroy, Dr. Balfour, assistant surgeon to the Grenadier Guards 
and an able statistician, and, most important of all. Dr. Alexander. "Get 
Alexander," Dr. Sutherland had written. "Nobody else if you cannot. 
He is our man." 

Sidney Herbert called Alexander "unquestionably the ablest man in 
the British Medical service." He had been first-class Staff Surgeon to the 
Light Division and had spent the Crimean campaign in the fighting line. 
William Howard Russell described him at Calamita Bay as "a gentle giant 
of a Scotchman, sitting on the beach with a man's leg in his lap," and 
pouring out the vials of his wrath on Sir John Hall for landing the army 
without medical supplies. Throughout the war he was distinguished by 
his skill, his powers of organization, and his fearless independence. His 
achievements did not endear him to his superiors, and at the close of 
the campaign he was relegated to a second-class appointment in Canada. 
If he were to be a member of the Commission, it would be necessary for 
the authorities to reconsider their decision and recall him. It was impos- 
sible to put forward the names of Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch 
owing to their dispute with Lord Panmure. 

The stage was set for the play, but the principal player lingered: Sid- 

ney Herbert still hesitated. He would not come to London. He remained 
at Wilton, and Miss Nightingale's letters became impatient. "If you come 
to London during the next fortnight will you have the goodness to let 
me know you are there," she wrote on October 31,". . . I should have 
much to tell you about my Tan,' could I only see you." In the first week 
of November he did come to London and called to see her; and when he 
left he had agreed to accept the chairmanship of the Commission. The 
spell cast by her presence coupled with his own sense of duty had been 
too powerful for him. He was far from well, easily tired, easily depressed 
— the fact was, he already carried within him the seeds of incurable dis- 
ease. His term at the War Office during the Crimean campaign had half 
broken his heart; he viewed the future with gloom. 

When Lord Panmure made an appointment to call at the Burlington 
Hotel on November 16, expectation ran high. "I long to hear what results 
you obtain from the Bison," wrote Sidney Herbert. During the morn- 
ing Sir James Clark sent her a note by hand: "I think it would be well, 
when you see Lord Panmure to make him understand that the enquiry is 
intended as ... an investigation into everything regarding the health 
of the Army." Sir James Clark had opportunities of observing Panmure 
at Court, and he realized that he had no idea of the revolutionary and 
explosive ideas which lay concealed under Miss Nightingale's quiet, mod- 
est manner. Panmure had come to his first meeting fearing that "with 
so strong a hold on the feelings of the nation, she is not unlikely to use 
it for personal ambition." He had found a charming, well-bred woman, 
completely altruistic, and he acknowledged he had misjudged her. He 
was destined to discover that her altruism was more troublesome than 
most women's ambition. 

The inter\new was a very long one. Once more her extraordinary per- 
sonal charm worked its spell; once more she triumphed. The main point 
was achieved. The Commission was to go forward, and its scope was to be 
"general and comprehensive, comprising the whole Army Medical De- 
partment and the health of the army at home and abroad." As soon as 
Panmure had left, she sat down and scribbled Sidney Herbert a long, 
gay, disconnected note: "My 'Pan' here for three hours. . . . Won't 
bring back Alexander, will have three Army Doctors. So like a sensible 
General in retreat I named Brown, Surgeon Major Grenadier Guards, 
... an old Peninsular and Reformer. . . . He [Panmure] had gener- 
ously struck out Milton." (Mr. Milton had been sent to Scutari to 
straighten out the purveying, and her verdict had been that he dealt only 
in "official whitewash.") "Seeing him in such a 'coming-on disposition' 
I was so good as to leave him Dr. Smith the more so as I could not help it. 


"Have a tough fight of it: Dr. Balfour as secretary. Pan amazed at my 
condescension in naming a MiUtary Doctor; so I concealed the fact of the 
man being a dangerous animal and obstinate innovator. 

"Failed in one point. Unfairly. Pan told Sir J. Clark he was to be 
on. Won't have him now. Sir J. Clark has become interested. Agreeable 
to the Queen to have him — just as well to have Her on our side. . . . 
Besides things Ld. P. finds convenient to forget, has really an incon- 
veniently bad memory as to names, facts, dates and numbers. . . . Does 
not wish it to be supposed he takes suggestions from me, a crime indeed 
very unjust to impute to him." 

Outside the Commission a point of first-class importance had been 
won. Dr. Andrew Smith, Director-General of the Army Medical Depart- 
ment, was very shortly due to retire; and Lord Panmure had pledged his 
word that Sir John Hall should not be made Director-General as long as 
he was in office. 

She had done a great deal, but the pressure necessary for complete 
success could not be applied by her. Sidney Herbert must do that. He 
must be made to understand that everything depended on him; and she 
finished her note with these words: "You must drag it through. If not 
you, no one else." A few days later an official letter from Panmure in- 
vited Sidney Herbert to accept the chairmanship of the Commission. He 
accepted, subject to certain conditions, chief of which was Alexander's 
recall from Canada. 

And then, inexplicably, nothing further happened. The official an- 
nouncement of the issue of the Royal Warrant to set up the Commission, 
which should have been made within the next few weeks, never came. 
Sidney Herbert's letter asking for Alexander's recall was not discussed. 
Instead, Sidney Herbert received a friendly note from Lord Panmure 
regretting he was unable to write as he had gout in both his hands. "Gout 
is a very handy thing; and Lord Panmure always has it in his hands when 
he is called upon to do anything," Miss Nightingale wrote to Sir John 
McNeill on December 15. 

Unfortunately at the moment Panmure was being put to the greatest 
possible trouble by Miss Nightingale's friends. Sir John McNeill and 
Colonel Tulloch. The storm raised by the inconvenient revelations made 
in their report was still raging. He had appointed them out of a genuine 
sense of duty, and horrid bothers had resulted. It seemed only too prob- 
able that the Commission on the Health of the Army would result in 
even greater bothers, and there was certainly a strong party against it at 
the War Office. Miss Nightingale, who was so charming and could be 
so very persuasive, pushed him one way, but when he left her and re- 


turned to the War Office the permanent officials pushed him the other. 

The solution was to do nothing, to be friendly and pleasant, because 
unfriendliness and unpleasantness also led to bothers, but to take no 
action whatsoever. Without apparent reason the Commission appeared 
to be fading away. 

"Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by delays," wrote Sir John 
McNeill on December 19; but to Miss Nightingale, whose overwrought 
mind burned with unearthly brilliance in her sick body, delay was in- 
tolerable. She suffered torments of frustration, pouring herself out once 
more in private notes. "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me," 
she wrote at Christmas, 1856. "We are tired of hearing of the Crimean 
Catastrophe. We don't want to know any more about the trenches cold 
and damp, the starved and frozen camp, the deficient rations, the stores 
which might have served the great army of the dead lying unused. . . . 
Generals who, looking at dead dogs polluting the atmosphere where men 
lay, said 'You are spoiling the brutes.' G.H.Q. feeding their horses on 
the biscuits the men could not eat; and saying that anyway they kept the 
horses fat. . . . Words were given in plenty to the great Crimean Catas- 
trophe, but the real tragedy began when it was over." Hour after hour 
her pen rushed on; hour after hour she paced her room sleepless, raging 
against the indifference, the forgetfulness of the world. In letter after let- 
ter she incited her fellow workers to action. Her shrewd eye had pene- 
trated the Bison's secret. "My Lord is," she wrote, "as I have often found 
the most bullyable of mortals." She entreated that he should be bullied. 
She besought Sidney Herbert to write threatening to resign the chair- 
manship publicly unless the Royal Warrant for the Commission was 
issued forthwith. She vowed, "I will never leave Panmure alone until it 
is done." Her personal relations with him remained pleasant, and their 
correspondence was conducted with arch playfulness. "Here is that 
bothering woman again," she wrote on January 22, 1857, "just to remind 
you I am in London awaiting your decision." Panmure jestingly called 
her "a turbulent fellow" and sent her presents of game. 

But he could not evade her entirely. As well as being involved to- 
gether on the subject of the Royal Commission, they were waging what 
she called a private campaign on the subject of Netley Hospital. When 
he had volunteered to send her the plans for her observations, he had 
wished to pay her a compliment. Before he could take breath, she had 
fallen upon the opportunity with relentless thoroughness, obtaining leave 
to "report confidentially" with the assistance of Dr. Sutherland. She 
inspected; she consulted authorities; she drew up exhaustive reports 
bristling with statistics derived from sources both at home and in Europe. 


She prepared additional memoranda, dealing in detail with certain aspects 
of the case; she drew up alternative suggestions. Finally, she condemned 
the Netley plans root and branch and sent the whole result to Lord Pan- 

He felt he had accidentally released a genie from a bottle. The ac- 
cumulated experience of fourteen years was suddenly put at his disposal; 
the fruit of her researches in France, Germany, Italy, London, and Switz- 
erland; of the endless miles she had tramped down the corridors of hos- 
pitals, prisons, asylums, orphanages; of the endless questions she had 
asked; the endless figures she had tabulated. He was taken aback. More- 
over, since issuing the invitation, a fact which he had failed to take 
into account had been brought to his notice. Building had progressed so 
far that radical alterations were impossible. He wrote her a soothing 
letter. Her objections were no doubt sound, but there were "suscepti- 
bilities" to be considered. But she was not to be put off; she appealed to 
the Prime Minister, her old friend Lord Palmerston, and during the 
Christmas holidays of 1856 went over to his house, Broadlands, to dine 
and sleep and open his eyes to the truth about Netley. 

On January 17 Lord Palmerston wrote Panmure a sharp letter. Miss 
Nightingale had left on his mind a conviction that the plan was funda- 
mentally wrong; and that it would be better to pull down everything that 
had been built and start again. "It seems to me," wrote the Prime Min- 
ister, "that at Netley all consideration of what would best tend to the 
comfort and recovery of the patients has been sacrificed to the vanity of 
the architect, whose sole object has been to make a building which should 
cut a dash when looked at from the Southampton river. . . . Pray there- 
fore stop all progress in the work till the matter can be duly considered." 

Lord Panmure was aghast. Vistas of bother, of explanations to be 
made, letters to be written, answers to questions in the House, unrolled 
themselves before him. There would be "rupture of extensive contracts," 
"reflections cast on all concerned in the planning of the designs." In 
addition there were 70,000 reasons which were completely unanswerable 
— it would cost £ 70,000 to pull down the partially constructed building 
and start again. The vision of himself attempting to explain away a loss 
of ;^ 70,000 to the House was a nightmare he refused to contemplate. 
Work at Netley went on. 

Lord Palmerston wrote again: He continued to feel very anxious about 
Netley Hospital, and he would rather pay for throwing it brick by 
brick into Southampton Water than construct a building which should 
be a chamel house rather than a hospital. 


Still Panmure would not be moved. He offered to incorporate im- 
provements, but reconstruction was impossible. Miss Nightingale re- 
fused to give up hope. Were not her criticisms admitted to be justified, 
her new plans to be infinitely superior to the old? She argued, cajoled, 
threatened, but she was defeated. The 70,000 reasons conquered; and 
Netley was constructed on the existing plans. 

Once defeat was a fact she accepted it and labored with goodwill to 
introduce improvements which should make the original plans tolerable. 
Her correspondence with Lord Panmure was more than usually playful. 
Netley was christened "the patient," and she advised him of the progress 
made in letters written in the form of bulletins on the patient's condi- 
tion. Nevertheless, she had been defeated, and by the spring of 1857, 
with the issue on Netley lost and the Commission still delayed, her spirits 
were at their lowest. "I am very miserable," she wrote to Mrs. Brace- 
bridge in February. "I think he [Panmure] means to shelve me." 

Frustration had its inevitable effects: she could not sleep, could not 
eat, spent the nights pacing her room or writing private notes. "No 
one," she wrote in a private note of February 9, 1857, "can feel for the 
Army as I do. These people who talk to us have all fed their children on 
the fat of the land and dressed them in velvet and silk while we have 
been away. I have had to see my children dressed in a dirty blanket and 
an old pair of regimental trousers, and to see them fed on raw salt meat, 
and nine thousand of my children are lying, from causes which might 
have been prevented, in their forgotten graves." 

Disappointment piled on disappointment. Early in 1857 the exasperat- 
ing affair of the iMcNeill and Tulloch Report came to a head. The Re- 
port of the Chelsea Board set up with the avowed intention of white- 
washing the officers concerned was published, all blame was removed 
from individuals, and the gigantic misfortunes endured by the army were 
attributed to the non-arrival of a certain single consignment of pressed 
hay. Lord Panmure accepted it, disowning the Commissioners he had 
himself appointed, and the McNeill and Tulloch Report was set aside. 

By March i Miss Nightingale had reached complete despair. "Lord 
Panmure has broken all his promises," she wrote to Sir John McNeill, 
"defeated the Army Reformers at every point, simply by the principle 
of passive resistance, the most difficult of all resistances to overcome, 
the easiest of all games to play. I think our cause is lost. . . . Mr. Her- 
bert is ill and going abroad and so ends all chance of a Commission to 
enquire into the Sanitary State of the Army, of which he was to have 
been chairman." 


In fact the first hopeful signs of change had already appeared. On 
February i8, after six months' delay, Panmure had written from the 
War Office with an official request for her Confidential Report. "Your 
personal experience and observation, during the late War, must have 
furnished you with much important information relating not only to 
the medical care and treatment of the sick and wounded, but also to the 
sanitary requirements of the Army generally. I now have the honour to 
ask you to favour me with the results of that experience . . . should you 
do so ... I shall endeavour to further as far as Hes in my power, the 
large and generous views which you entertain on this important sub- 

She was not elated. She had no faith in Panmure's intentions of fur- 
thering her "large and generous views." She believed he meant to shelve 
the Commission, and she regarded the report as a sop to her, something 
to keep her quiet, which in due course would also be shelved. Never- 
theless, she at once set to work. If he failed her, she had a larger audience. 
She had put the weapon of publicity aside, but the weapon still lay ready 
to her hand. At the end of February she wrote to Sidney Herbert: "All 
that Lord Panmure has hitherto done (and it is just six months since I 
came home) has been to gain time. . . . He has broken his most solemn 
promise to Dr. Sutherland, to me and to the Crimea Commission, And 
three months from this day I publish my experience of the Crimea Cam- 
paign and my suggestions for improvement, unless there has been a fair 
and tangible pledge by that time for reform." 

It was a threat which could not fail to make the Bison uneasy, and 
there were other indications that public opinion was turning in the 
direction of Army Reform. The whitewashing done by the Chelsea 
Board had by no means settled the matter of Sir John McNeill and 
Colonel TuUoch. Meetings of protest had been held in many large towns; 
addresses of sympathy and support from citizens and municipalities had 
been presented to them. Feeling in the country became so strong that 
Panmure was forced to act, and he attempted to buy off the Commis- 
sioners by offering them each £ looo cash down, on the understanding 
that the matter was to be considered closed. They indignantly refused, 
and Miss Nightingale pressed Sidney Herbert to raise the matter in the 
House. On Alarch 12 he moved a humble address to the Crown, amid 
loud applause, praying that Her Majesty might be pleased to confer 
some signal mark of favor upon Sir John McNeill and Colonel TuUoch. 
The atmosphere of the House was such that Lord Palmerston accepted 
the motion without a division. "Victory!" scribbled Miss Nightingale 
that night. "Milnes came in to tell us." Colonel Tulloch was created a 


K.C.B. and Sir John McNeill, already a G.C.B., was created a Privy 
Councillor. "They have been borne to triumph on the arms of the peo- 
ple," she wrote. 

The tide was setting toward reform; and once the tide had turned, 
Panmure was not the man to resist. 

On April 27 he paid another official call at the Burlington Hotel. So 
extraordinary was Miss Nightingale's position, so clearly was it recog- 
nized that she was the leader of the Reform party, that Panmure brought 
the official Draft of the Instructions for the Royal Commission to her 
before submitting it to the Queen. It was a long and difficult interview. 
The forces of reaction were in retreat, but they were by no means con- 
quered; and War Office officials had provided Panmure with a list of 
Commissioners which in Miss Nightingale's opinion would have nul- 
lified the inquiry. "Every one of the members of the Commisson was 
carried by force of will against Dr. Andrew Smith," she wrote to Sidney 
Herbert that evening. 

She won all along the line. The Bison's capitulation was, for the mo- 
ment, complete. Dr. Alexander was to be recalled from Canada. Colonel 
Lefroy could not be spared from his work in the War Office, but in his 
place she secured her old admirer and Crimean confederate, iMr. Augus- 
tus Stafford, M.P. Sir Henry Storks Mas to sit, so was Sir James Clark. 
Dr. Sutherland sat as sanitary expert. Sidney Herbert was, of course, 
chairman. "I could do nothing without him," she scribbled on the edge 
of a document. Only one member of the old gang was included — Dr. 
Andrew Smith inevitably sat as Director-General of the Army Medical 
Department. The Instructions, the official directions indicating the 
ground the Commission was to cover, were drawn up by Miss Nightin- 
gale herself and accepted without alteration by Panmure. On May 5 
the Royal Warrant was issued, and the following week the Commission 
began to sit. 




was enormous. Three months before she had been an invalid; now, as 
well as working night and day on the Commission, she was turning her 
Confidential Report into an important work covering the whole field 
of army medical and hospital administration in the recent war, in pre- 
vious wars, and in peace. This work emerged six months later as Notes 
on Matters affectmg the Health, Efficie?icy and Hospital AdiJiinistration 
of the British Army, a volume of nearly looo closely printed pages, 
crammed with figures, facts, tables, and statistical comparisons. The 
strain was intensified by the petty irritations, the tensions, the emotional 
conflicts, inseparable from the Nightingale family Hfe. 

Fanny and Parthe were profuse in fine phrases and expressions of af- 
fection. In practice they behaved with total want of consideration. The 
only place, besides her bedroom, where Miss Nightingale could work 
was a little inner drawing-room opening off the outer drawing-room. 
She sat in the inner room working at a table piled with papers, im- 
mersed in figures or talking in low tones to Dr. Sutherland or Dr. Farr, 
while in the outer drawing-room Fanny and Parthe entertained their 
friends, interrupting her whenever the fancy took them. A carriage 
was provided for Fanny and Parthe, but it was not put at her disposal. 
She used cabs, or, if a cab was not available, traveled in the public omni- 
bus, an unusual proceeding for a woman of her social position in the 
eighteen fifties. Several times she mentions having been stranded, unable 
to get cab or omnibus and forced to walk in wind and rain. In November, 
1856, Fanny told W. E. N. who had fled to the peace of the library at 
Embley: "Yesterday Flo went with Sir John Liddell and her good angel 
Hilary to Chatham, setting off at 9^ o'clock and not returning until 
9% at night; 30 miles to Chatham by rail, several miles in cabs and. Sir 
John says, up to 20 miles walking about the 3 hospitals." The next morn- 


ing she walked about the wards of St. Mary's, Paddington, of which she 
had been made an Honorary Life Governor; in the afternoon she went 
down to Bermondsey and walked about the wards of a hospital there and 
came back late to the Burlington and sat up until the small hours work- 
ing with Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Farr. 

It would have been hard work for a woman in good health; that Miss 
Nightingale could perform it in her physical condition was unbelievable. 
Statistical science was in its infancy. Statistics relating to the British 
Army were almost non-existent. She was doing the work of a pioneer, 
visiting civil and military institutions, barracks, infirmaries, asylums and 
prisons. After a day of toil she returned, almost fainting with exhaustion, 
to be scolded by Fanny and Parthe because she would not go to parties. 

Again the old painful story dragged itself out. But it was impossible 
for Miss Nightingale not to perceive that Fanny and Parthe coveted not 
her companionship and affection but the reflected glory from her celeb- 
rity. "I was the same person who went to Harley Street and who went 
to the Crimea," she wrote in a private note of November, 1856. "Noth- 
ing was different except my popularity. Yet the person who went to 
Harley Street was to be cursed and the other blessed . . . this false 
popularity has made all the difference in the feelings of my family to- 
■uards me." "Nothing has been learnt from their former experience," 
she wrote in another note, "but the world thinks of me differently." 

After her return from the Crimea she took her furniture out of the 
rooms she had used at Harley Street. In a pretty little scene before a 
gathering of admirers and friends Parthe begged to be allowed to keep 
the blue teacups "as a remembrance." In a private note Miss Nightingale 
commented that Parthe might also keep as a remembrance the fact that 
she never crossed the threshold of Harley Street without having hys- 

Financial arrangements were a constant source of irritation. Fanny 
never ceased to resent Miss Nightingale's allowance of 500 pounds ster- 
ling a year and behaved as if 500 a year was immense wealth. She made 
a practice of sending in accounts for a proportion of the hotel bill, for 
any expenditure that could possibly be construed as having been in- 
curred for or through her younger daughter. 

The problem was insoluble. The truth was that where money was 
concerned Miss Nightingale was Fanny's daughter. She was high- 
handed, not squandering money but disregarding it, and she was in- 
curably generous. Almost every i of January she wrote in a private 
note, "This year I 7mist retrench," but she never succeeded in living on 
^^500 a year. 


When the Commission began to sit, pressure on her steadily increased. 
Early in May Fanny wrote that Florence had spent the morning in Bel- 
grave Square "coaching up" Sidney Herbert for the sitting of the Com- 
mission next day and "the afternoon at Highgate performing the same 
office for Dr. Sutherland," returning to work far into the night. Next 
day she set off for Highgate at 9 a.m., worked there until after dark, then 
went on to work with Dr. Farr and did not get back to the Burlington 
until very late. The day after that she started for Highgate at 8.30 a.m., 
worked there until 7.30 p.m., came back to the Burlington to find a 
message from Sidney Herbert, went straight off again to Belgrave 
Square and did not get back until after 1 1 p.m. 

Meanwhile Fanny and Parthe gave breakfasts and dinners, drove in 
the Park, received callers, and paid calls. Through a mistake, one of their 
bedrooms was let. Fanny and Parthe stayed in the hotel but Miss Night- 
ingale turned out, sleeping at an annex in Albemarle Street and coming 
into the BurHngton to eat and work. By June Parthe and Fanny were 
weary, but they would not go home. The season ended. London be- 
came, wrote Parthe, "dismal as for a funeral," but Florence was not 
going away and, until she went, Fanny and Parthe were determined not 
to go either. 

Alarming reports reached W. E. N. at Embley. He wrote to Aunt 
Mai and asked her to call at the Burlington and see what could be done 
— Fanny was unwell, Parthe w as unwell, and Florence was apparently 
dying. Aunt Mai hurried to London to find she had stirred up a hornet's 
nest. She hastily retreated with a burst of apologies: "Dearest Parthe. 
I am anxious to prevent two things being thought which may appear 
other than they are. i , that there was any want of consideration for your 
dear mother either on F. N.'s part or mine. 2, that I was interfering in 
any way. When I came to the Burlington on Monday not only did I not 
know what would be best to do. I only knew that each ivished to do 
what was best for all, and that it was very difficult to do what was desir- 
able for each." And so on for five, six, seven pages. 

The summer wore on and became a nightmare. The weather was 
heavy, close, without sun but with great heat. The rooms at the Burling- 
ton were dark and airless, the sky perpetually gray. Water-carts sprin- 
kled the streets to lay the dust, but the water they used was putrid and 
produced a horrible smell. Still Florence had not finished her work; 
still Fanny and Parthe refused to leave her. "The days draw on and bring 
each their burden," wrote Parthe to Aunt JuHa on August 1 7 and signed 
herself "yours wearily." 

Ten years later Miss Nightingale described to Clarkey what she had 


endured from Fanny and Parthe in the summer of 1857. "The whole 
occupation of Parthe and Mama was to lie on two sofas and tell one 
another not to get tired by putting flowers into water. ... I cannot 
describe to you the impression it made on me." She was in a fever of 
fatigue. Every day brought more than could possibly be accomplished 
in a year. She longed, she wrote, for rest as a man dying of thirst longs 
for water. In this state she reached the Burlington one evening to be 
told that the Duke of Newcastle had called to see her. As she passed 
through the drawing-room, Fanny and Parthe were lounging on the 
sofas. "You lead a very amusing life," they said to her. "It is a scene 
worthy of Moliere," she wrote, "where two people in tolerable and 
even perfect health, lie on the sofa all day, doing absolutely nothing and 
persuade themselves and others that they are the victims of their self- 
devotion for another who is dying of overwork." 

Her position was extraordinary. She was, as the men round her de- 
lighted to call her, the Commander-in-Chief. She collected the facts, she 
collated and verified them, she drew the conclusions, she put the con- 
clusions down on paper, and, finally, she taught them to the men who 
were her mouthpieces. As each witness came up for examination, she 
prepared a memorandum on the facts to be elicited from him and coached 
Sidney Herbert before each sitting of the Commission. "These men 
seem to make her opinions their law," wrote Fanny to W. E. N. in June, 

"By Sidney Herbert's desire," Miss Nightingale wrote in a reminis- 
cence, "I saw everyone of the witnesses myself and reported to him 
what each could tell him as a witness in public." Notes from him reached 
her two or three times a day w^hile the Commission was sitting. "Let me 
know what you think," "Give me your notes on this," "What are we 
to do?" "What shall we say?", "This is Hebrew to me, will you look it 
over," "Your report is excellent," "I am at a stand still until I see you." 

"Sidney is again in despair for you," wrote Mrs. Herbert in the sum- 
mer of 1857. "Can you come? You will say 'Bless that man, why can't 
he leave me in peace!' But I am only obeying orders in begging for 

"She is the mainspring of the work," burst out Dr. Sutherland to Aunt 
Mai in May, 1857. "Nobody who has not worked with her daily could 
know her, could have an idea of her strength and clearness of mind, her 
extraordinary powers joined with her benevolence of spirit. She is one 
of the most gifted creatures God ever made." 

The Reformers christened themselves the "band of brothers," the 
Burlington Hotel was "the little War Office," and the meals they shared 


were "our mess." Within this circle was an inner council of three — 
Miss Nightingale, Sidney Herbert, and Dr. Sutherland. Though Dr. 
Sutherland had sacrificed his life to Miss Nightingale, he still irritated 
her. In 1855, when he was appointed to the Sanitary Commission, he 
was at the opening of a distinguished career. He was Sanitary Adviser 
to the Government Board of Health and received £ 1 500 a year for 
part-time duties. He met Miss Nightingale at Scutari, became her slave, 
and his career was at an end. He worked with her throughout the Sani- 
tary Commission on the Health of the Army without remuneration. 
She never thanked him and seldom had a good word for him. Once in 
February, 1857, when they were working together on the plans for 
Netley, she wrote to him: "As for Sanitary matters — Lord help you 
I'm only a humbug. I know nothing about them except what I have 
learnt from you. But you would never have found a more practical 
pupil." It was the only acknowledgment she ever made. 

He was untidy. He left his papers scattered over the sofa at the Burl- 
ington. He was unpunctual. He lost documents. He took a great deal 
of care of his health. Most exasperating of all, he was deaf. The more 
annoyed she became, the less he appeared to hear. She threatened to buy 
him an ear-trumpet, and he sent his wife to explain that his was no ordi- 
nary deafness but a pecuUar nervous affliction. When she was pleased 
with him. Miss Nightingale laughed at him and called him the "baby"; 
when she was annoyed, she belabored him with the full force of her in- 
vective, and he became "my pet aversion." Dr. Sutherland described him- 
self to her as "one of your wives." 

Dr. Sutherland made his wife write for him when he feared Miss 
Nightingale was angry, and during the immense labors of the summer 
of 1857 she had to write frequently. In one note sent down from High- 
gate by hand, she begged Miss Nightingale to forgive her husband for 
not keeping an appointment. "The rain is so tremendous that he would 
be drenched in five minutes so he hopes the Commander in Chief will 
excuse him for this once." He was not excused. First thing in the morn- 
ing a messenger arrived with an angry letter. "I hope you will have 
seen Dr. Sutherland before the return of your messenger," wrote Mrs. 
Sutherland. "I am so sorry he could not go to you last night. I am afraid 
it worried you." "My dear Lady," wrote Dr. Sutherland on May 22, 
1857, "do not be unreasonable. . . . I would have been with you yester- 
day had I been able but alas my will was stronger than my legs." One 
evening at the Burlington Hotel he was late with an urgent report. 
After a scene he consented to stay and finish it. When Miss Nightingale 


read it through, she was not satisfied and sent up to Highgate telling 
him to come back at once and go through it with her again. Dr. Suther- 
land lost his temper and refused, upon which she collapsed and fell into 
an "agitated half fainting state." Aunt Mai hurried up to Highgate and 
implored Dr. Sutherland to come or he would kill her. He came im- 
mediately and expressed "great sorrow and penitence." 

Her demands were fantastic; yet once within her orbit it was im- 
possible not to be fascinated. The tremendous vitality, the passion of 
feeling she poured into her work made the rest of the world colorless. 
Airs. Sutherland was devoted to her husband, devoted to her domestic 
life; Miss Nightingale broke up the Sutherlands' home. Dr. Sutherland 
was a strict Sabbatarian; she made him work on Sundays. He complained 
he was ill; he complained he was overworking; she abused him. Yet Mrs. 
Sutherland adored her. She became "Miss Nightingale's fag," shopping 
for her, running errands, buying oranges, pencils, new-laid eggs, dark 
curtains. She called her "My dear dear friend," "My dear and ever kind 
friend." It was impossible to know Miss Nightingale without recog- 
nizing that she possessed qualities which allowed her to transcend the 
ordinary rules governing human behavior. 

She pressed hard on Dr. Sutherland, but she pressed even harder on 
Sidney Herbert. The phrase she had scribbled against his name when 
the Commission was first set up she repeated again and again, "Without 
him I can do nothing." His standing, his prestige, his power with the 
House of Commons, were the means by which the Commission was 
raised to first-class importance. His powers were incomparable — if only 
she could get him to devote them to the work. But he was still hanging 
back. He complained of his health; he suffered from lassitude, fits of 
depression, and general malaise. They were the first symptoms of mortal 
disease, but to Miss Nightingale working, as she was convinced, under 
sentence of death, driving herself on by sheer force of will, fainting 
from exhaustion, forcing herself to get up and grind on again, Sidney 
Herbert's complaints were "fancies." She spoke of them contemptuously 
as "fancies." She grumbled about him. Speaking of a difficult negotiation 
she said: "Mr. Herbert and no one else can do it. If I can only bring him 
up to the scratch." 

Working together they were unequaled. Her industry, energy, and 
passion for facts, his incomparable talents as a negotiator, were a com- 
bination impossible to resist. "He was a man of the quickest and the most 
accurate perception I have ever known," she wrote. "Also he was the 
most sympathetic. His very manner engaged the most sulky and the 


most recalcitrant witnesses. He never made an enemy or a quarrel in 
the Commission. He used to say 'It takes two to make a quarrel and I 
won't be one.' " 

As the Commission proceeded, it became evident that the Reformers 
were succeeding beyond all their hopes. The long hours of close work, 
the exhausting journeys, the interviews, were bearing fruit, and Miss 
Nightingale's case for reforming the living conditions of the British 
Army was proving unanswerable. 

In May Dr. Andrew Smith was examined. He cut a poor figure. 
"Never was man so shown up as Smith," wrote Dr. Sutherland. He 
gave no further trouble and allowed himself, wrote Sir John McNeill 
in June, "to slip quietly into the current of reform." 

In the middle of June Sir John Hall gave evidence. Miss Nightingale 
had endured insolence at Sir John Hall's hands; he had been able to 
humiliate her, flout her authority and finally defeat her. Now the tables 
were turned, and she had him at her mercy, but she wrote: "We do not 
want to badger the old man in his examination, which would do us no 
good and him harm. But we want to make the best out of him for our 

In July came the turn of the most important witness of all. Miss 
Nightingale herself. How much dared she and should she say.^ Sidney 
Herbert wished her to make no reference whatever to her Crimean 
experiences. He did not want her to "make bad blood by reviving con- 
troversial issues." His plan was for her to appear personally before the 
Commissioners but to be asked only questions on hospital construction. 
Miss Nightingale disagreed. Sidney Herbert's plan combined the two 
worst possible policies for her. She would appear in person and pro- 
voke the personal attention — the "buz fuz" — which she was convinced 
did the work harm and yet say nothing of importance to compensate. 
"I am quite as well aware as he can be," she wrote to Sir John McNeill 
on July 7, 1857, "that it is inexpedient and even unprincipled to bring 
up past delinquencies, but it would be untrue and unconscientious for 
me to give evidence upon an indifferent matter like that of hospital con- 
struction, leaving untouched the great matters which affect (and have 
affected) our sick more than any mere architecture could do. ... It 
would be treachery to the memory of my dead." She decided not to 
give evidence at all. "Let me entreat you to reconsider your determina- 
tion," wrote Mr. Augustus Stafford, M.P., on June 11. "The absence 
of your name from our list of witnesses will diminish the weight of our 
Report, and will give rise to unfounded rumours. It will be said either, 
that we were afraid of your evidence and did not invite you to tender it, 


or, that you made suggestions the responsibility for which you were 
reluctant to incur in public." 

A compromise was reached: she did not appear in person; she sub- 
mitted written answers to questions, but she did not confine herself to 
hospital construction. Her evidence was read by the Commissioners 
"with the greatest eagerness and admiration" and was agreed to be con- 
clusive. "It must," wrote Sir James Martin, one of the Commissioners, 
". . . prove of the most vital importance to the British soldier for ages 
to come." 

Her evidence is of great length, occupying thirty closely printed 
pages of the report of the Commission, and is a verbatim reproduction 
of part of that great work which she completed in the same month, 
Notes on Matters ajfecti??g the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Ad- 
ministration of the British Arjny. 

The enormous volume of the Notes was written by Miss Nightingale 
in six months at the same time as she was working day and night on the 
Commission. It is a work on the grand scale. The canvas is immense; 
great masses of detail, vast quantities of facts and figures are handled 
with admirable lucidity; yet detail never obscures the main theme. The 
huge volume written at white-hot speed burns with an urgency which 
still strikes the reader with a physical shock. She uses the Crimean Cam- 
paign as a test case, a gigantic experiment in military hygiene. "It is a 
complete example (history does not afford its equal) of an army after 
falling to the lowest ebb of disease and disaster from neglects committed, 
rising again to the highest state of health and efficiency from remedies 
applied. It is the whole experiment on a colossal scale." 

In six long and detailed sections she examines the causes; the course 
and the cure of the Crimean disaster, quoting facts and figures, giving 
tables, plans, diet sheets, proving conclusively that the hospital was 
more fatal than the battlefield, that bad food, inadequate clothing, in- 
sanitary conditions led inevitably to defeat, while good food, proper 
clothing, tolerable conditions restored discipline and efficiency. 

Let the past, she pleads, be buried, but alter the system so that the 
soldier is more humanely treated in future. "It would be useless as in- 
judicious to select individual instances or persons as the objects of 
animadversion. The system which placed them where they were is the 
point to be considered. . . . Let us try to see whether such a system 
cannot be invented as men of ordinary calibre can work in, to the preser- 
vation and not to the destruction of an Army. It has been said by officers 
enthusiastic in their profession that there are three causes which make a 
soldier enlist, viz. being out of work, in a state of intoxication, or, jilted 


by his sweetheart. Yet the incentives to enlistment, which we desire to 
multiply, can hardly be put by Englishmen of the nineteenth century in 
this form, viz. more poverty, more drink, more faithless sweethearts." 

The most important part of the book follows. She had collected figures 
which proved living conditions in the barracks of the British Army in 
time of peace to be so bad that the rate of mortality in the army was 
always double, and in some cases more than double, the rate of mortality 
of the civilian population outside. For instance, in the parish of St. 
Pancras the civil rate of mortality was 2.2 per 1000. In the barracks of 
the Life Guards, situated in St. Pancras, the rate was 10.4. In the borough 
of Kensington the civil rate of mortality was 3.3. In the Knightsbridge 
barracks, situated in the borough of Kensington, the rate was 17.5. Yet 
the men in the Army were all young strong men who had been sub- 
jected to a medical examination to guarantee their physical fitness, while 
the civilian population included old people, infants, and the physically 
unfit. "The x\rmy are picked lives," she wrote. "The inferior lives are 
thrown back into the mass of the population. The civil population has 
all the loss, the Army has aU the gain. Yet, with all this, the Army from 
which the injured hves are subtracted dies at twice the rate of mortahty 
of the general population. 1 500 good soldiers are as certainly killed by 
these neglects yearly as if they were drawn up on Salisbury Plain and 
shot." In a phrase which became the battle-cry of the Reformers she 
declared: "Our soldiers enlist to death in the barracks." 

Here was something very different from the dry bones of administra- 
tive reform, very diiferent from jobbing back to old disasters, old griev- 
ances in the Crimea. "Our soldiers enlist to death in the barracks" was 
a challenge no Government could afford to ignore. 

There were two channels through which her disclosures could reach 
the public, through the Commission and through publication of the 
Notes. In July, the month in which she completed the Notes, it became 
evident that, owing to the white-hot speed at which she had driven the 
Commission, its Report would be written in August. She decided to put 
the Notes on one side — it was a confidential report addressed only to 
Lord Panmure and easily shelved by him, while facts stated before a 
Royal Commission and included in its report could not be suppressed. 
The enormous volume, representing such agonizing effort, such almost 
incredible toil, was sacrificed. Lord Panmure was not presented with 
Notes 071 Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Ad- 
ministration of the British Army until after he had received the report 
of the Commission in November, 1857. The public never had the op- 


portunity of seeing it at all. It was never published and has remained 
unread. "It is an old story now," Miss Nightingale wrote of the Notes 
in December, 1858. She had a few copies privately printed at her own 
expense which from time to time she gave away, and in these alone this 
monumental work survives. 

In July she began to write the report of the first Royal Sanitary Com- 
mission on the Health of the Army. She lists the Report as "one of my 
works." Success had been achieved, but at the price of her health. "Most 
people in her state," wrote Aunt Mai to W. E. N., "would be in bed not 
attempting to work but ... if she can keep up for this time her object 
will be gained." She had set herself a goal: to finish the report. Every- 
thing was to be sacrificed, everything was to be endured until it was 
completed. When that was done she would rest. 

But one day at the end of July she scribbled a sentence on the margin 
of a draft: "Reports are not self executive." She wrote the sentence 
again and again, in a private note, in a letter, on scraps of paper. "Re- 
ports are not self executive." She had realized that her task would end 
only when the recommendations of the report were put into force. Pan- 
mure had nearly succeeded in shelving the Commission; he would cer- 
tainly try to evade the bothers involved in carrying out its recommenda- 
tions. Once more the Bison must be bullied. 

On August 7, 1 857, Sidney Herbert wrote to Lord Panmure and com- 
municated the outstanding points which would emerge from the report. 
In suave terms he pointed out that the disclosures as to the living con- 
ditions of the army were sensational, that public attention would cer- 
tainly be arrested, and the Government would be attacked. He suggested 
the Government should protect itself by taking measures to remedy 
the worst of the abuses before the report came before the House. "The 
simultaneous publication of the recommendations of the Commission 
and of new orders and regulations already introduced by the Govern- 
ment to remedy the abuses the Report disclosed, will give the Govern- 
ment the prestige which promptitude always carries with it." 

He then outlined a plan drawn up by Miss Nightingale which put the 
reorganization of the health administration of the army into the Re- 
formers' hands. Four sub-Commissions were to be appointed at once by 
Lord Panmure, and Sidney Herbert was to be chairman of each. The 
four Commissions would begin to put the recommendations of the re- 
port into practical operation at once. Each Commission would have 
executive powers, and finance would be provided by an interim grant 
from the Treasury. 


The four sub-Commissions would: 

(i) put the Barracks in sanitary order; 

(2) found a Statistical Department for the Army; 

(3) institute an Army Medical School; 

(4) completely reconstruct the Army Medical Department, re- 
vise the Hospital Regulations, and draw up a new Warrant 
for the Promotion of Medical Officers. 

The fourth sub-Commission was christened the "wiping Commission" 
by Miss Nightingale, because its wide scope enabled the Reformers to 
wipe the slate clean and start afresh. 

On August 9 Sidney Herbert told her that "Panmure writes fairly 
enough but he has gone to shoot grouse." A week later Panmure was 
forced to come south on urgent business, was caught "on the wing" at 
the War Office, and after a long discussion agreed to the four sub- 
Commissions "in general terms." Sidney Herbert then left for Ireland 
to fish for a month, writing on August 14 that he went "with a lighter 
heart after seeing Pan. But I am not easy about you. — Why can't you 
who do man's work take man's exercise in some shape?" 

Miss Nightingale was still at the Burlington, still toiling in the stuffiness 
and heat, still plagued by Fanny and Parthe. The report was completed, 
but the four sub-Commissions must be prepared. It must be decided in 
what places and from what persons evidence should be taken and what 
questions should be asked. In addition, she was unexpectedly over- 
whelmed with work in connection with the Nightingale Fund. On 
August 1 1 she had a complete collapse. 

"I must be alone, quite alone," she suddenly broke out to Parthe. "I 
have not been alone for 4 years." She was at her last gasp. She had eaten 
no solid food for four weeks and had lived on tea. Parthe forgot her 
grievances and was frightened. "It was very affecting poor dear," she 
wrote to Aunt Mai. When Miss Nightingale was calmer, she told Parthe: 
"I who required more time alone than anybody, who could not live 
without silence and solitude, have never had one moment to myself 
since I went to Harley Street. I don't call writing being alone. It is by 
far the greatest sacrifice I have made." She refused to go to Embley; 
she refused to be nursed. She must go away by herself. She admitted 
she was ill and consented to take a cure at Malvern, but she must be 
quite alone. "She took," wrote Fanny to W. E. N., "a sudden resolution 
to go to Malvern. Nothing would induce her to take anyone but George 
[a footman]. It makes us very unhappy to think of her so forlorn and 

She was very ill, so iU that it was generally thought she must die, and 


in London Harriet Martineau wrote her obituary, which was actually- 
set up by the Daily News. Dr. Sutherland wrote imploring her to stay 
on at Malvern, pointing out as her physician that the Burlington Hotel, 
dark, stuffy, and in the center of London was the worst possible place 
for a person in her state of health. "The day you left town," he wrote at 
the end of August, "it appeared as if all your blood wanted renewing 
and that cannot be done in a week. You must have new blood or you 
can't work and new blood can't be made out of tea at least so far as I 
know. . . ." 

Ill as she was, she seized her pen and wrote him an enormous angry 
letter. Her brain wandered; her sentences were incoherent; her writing 
straggled over the page but she still had strength to be irritated by him. 
". . . Had I lived anywhere but handy would Mr. Herbert have used 
me? Had I not been ever at hand could he have used me? . . . Now had 
I lost the Report what would the health I should have 'saved' have 
profited me, or what would the ten years of my life have 'advantaged' 
me exchanged for the ten weeks this summer? Yes, you say, you might 
have walked, or driven, or eaten meat. Well ... let me tell you Doc- 
tor, that after any walk or drive I sat up all night with palpitation. And 
the sight of animal food increased the sickness. . . . Now I have writ- 
ten myself into a palpitation. ... I have been greatly harassed by see- 
ing my poor owl lately without her head, without her life, without her 
talons, lying in the cage of your canary . . . and the little villain peck- 
ing at her. Now, that's me. I am lying without my head, without my 
claws and you all peck at me. It is de rigueur, d' obligation, like the say- 
ing something to one's hat when one goes into church to say to me all 
that has been said to me no times a day during the last 3 months. It is 
the obbligato on the violin, and the twelve violins all practise it together, 
like the clocks striking twelve o'clock at night all over London, till I 
say like Xavier Le Maistre 'Assez, je le sais, je le sais que trop' " 

Dr. Sutherland replied on September 7 that she was decidedly wrong 
in passing herself off for a dead owl. He himself had got all the pecking 
"and your little beak is of the sharpest." Nevertheless, he loved her. 
"You little know what daily anxiety it has caused me to see you dying 
by inches in doing work fit only for the strongest constitutions. When 
I think of it all I can hardly bear the sight of a report. . . . One thing 
is quite clear that women can do what men could not do, and that 
women will dare suffering knowingly where men would shrink." 

His affection and concern only provoked her. Impatience was gain- 
ing on her. Everything was to be wiped out of her life but work. Work 
loomed always before her, mountains of it, endless labor, endless toil 


which somehow must be struggled through. Mr. Herbert went away 
to fish; Dr. Sutherland prated of rest. Did they not understand, could 
they not understand that the only way anything could be accomplished 
was by unremitting effort, unceasing toil? Did they think she had 
brought herself to the verge of the grave for her own amusement? 

She wrote Dr. Sutherland a cross, snubbing note. He was to cease this 
nonsense about being afraid of her and this nonsense about her taking 
a rest. Far from taking a rest, she ordered him to come to Malvern on 
Monday, when she intended to start work again. Everything, figures, 
facts, plans for the four new sub-Commissions must be ready for Mr. 
Herbert when he came back to London. 

"I have your note Caratina Mia," Dr. Sutherland wrote on September 
1 1 , "and write to say how sorry I am that I should seem to be afraid 
of your biting me. . . . But what are Mr. Herbert and I to do when 
you are buried? How is the play to go on without Hamlet? . . . The 
daughters of Sermiah be too much for me. I'll take the veil. I'll retire 
from the world. There's no help for it then but my coming down on 

He arrived to find her apparently at death's door. For once her iron 
will was defeated, and she was forced to stay in Malvern for over a 
month. Her pulse raced, and she was given two cold-water packs a day 
to bring it down. In spite of her physical condition she obstinately con- 
tinued to work. 

Fanny and Parthe, both unwell themselves and sobered by the fright- 
ening spectacle of her collapse in London, made only half-hearted at- 
tempts to join her. W. E. N. came to Malvern and insisted on seeing her 
for a few minutes. He was horrified. "Her days may be numbered," he 
wrote to Fanny. "Her breathing betrays her moments of distress, her 
power to take food fails her if excited, her nights are sleepless in con- 
sequence. . . . 'Tis a sad tale. I'm not able to say more. Adieu, 'W. E. N.' 
I've said too much." 

Once more Aunt Mai was called in. In the middle of September she 
left her husband and family and went to Malvern. She was expected to 
return in a week or two but she did not return. Husband and family 
were put on one side, and when Miss Nightingale returned to the 
Burlington at the end of September, Aunt Mai went with her. 

The collapse of August, 1857 was the beginning of Miss Nightingale's 
retirement as an invalid. For the first year after her return from the 
Crimea, though she had gone into strict retirement as a public figure, she 
had led her normal life. She had had strength, she said, to "rush about." 


Though she had refused to attend functions, she had seen her friends. 
"You should know Lord Stanley . . . come and dine with him here on 
Sunday," Richard Alonckton Milnes had written in February, 1857. 
After August, 1857 she had strength only to work. "It is an intolerable 
life she is leading," wrote Parthe to Clarkey in December, "lying down 
between whiles to enable her just to go on." After any prolonged exer- 
tion her exhaustion was frightening, and she often fainted. 

She not only became an invalid; she began to exploit her ill health. 
From the summer of 1857 she used her illness as a weapon to protect 
herself from her family. The summer had discouraged Fanny. She had 
been ill, and she announced that her health would not permit her to 
"attempt the Burlington" in the winter. Parthe, however, wrote that she 
proposed coming to London. Aunt Mai was told to write and tell Parthe 
not to come. Parthe was furious. Did Florence think her own sister was 
not capable of doing what was wanted for her? She insisted on coming. 

Miss Nightingale's reply was to have an "attack." Aunt Mai wrote in 
the greatest agitation. After reading Parthe's letter Florence had been ill 
all night. Dr. Sutherland had been much alarmed and had said he could 
not sleep for thinking of her. "It was excessive hurried breathing with 
pain in the head and the heart." As a result, Parthe did not come to Lon- 
don. W. E. N. then insisted on coming; he must see Florence and discuss 
her future plans. She had another "attack," and he retreated. 

It was evident that in the present state of her health, while her life, as 
Aunt Mai wrote, "hung by a thread," it was too much for her to see her 
family. They must keep away from her. 

This unpalatable news was conveyed to the Nightingales by Aunt 
Mai in a series of letters of immense length, every page criss-crossed, 
every statement wrapped in layer upon layer of explanation, withdrawal, 
and apology. They were forced to give way. 

By January, 1858 a point had been reached at which Aunt Mai could 
suggest that Parthe and Fanny had better give up coming to London 
at all. "My fear would be," she wrote to "dear friends at Embley," "that 
if you were staying in London and she trying to think day after day 
nvhen would she see you, thus would be caused the agitation we so 
dread." In an undated note of 1858 Fanny wrote to Parthe: "My dear — 
Florence thinks we are staying in town for her sake, so we must go on 
Friday." Parthe made one further effort. In February, 1858 she wrote 
that she was coming up to London with Fanny for the season and in- 
tended to stay at the Burlington. This announcement brought on an- 
other "attack." Again Parthe and Fanny gave way. They must come to 


London, but they would go to another hotel. Miss Nightingale's con- 
dition improved instantly, and Aunt Mai wrote to W. E. N.: "Thank 
God all seems relieved." 

Fortunately a new interest was occupying Parthe's mind. In the 
previous summer Fanny, writing to W. E. N. from the Burlington, de- 
scribed a visit from Sir Harry Verney, "an old guardsman, very much 
interested in Flo's work, his wife died last year and left as her earnest 
request that her daughters should become acquainted with F. but F. had 
not time for young ladies and she would not see Sir H." 

Sir Harry Verney, head of the Verney family and owner of the his- 
toric mansion of Claydon House, in Buckinghamshire; was fifty-six 
years old and one of the handsomest men in England. He was im- 
mensely tall, his features were aristocratic and aquiline, and he possessed 
an air of nobility so extraordinary that people turned to look after him 
in the street as if he were a visitant from another world. He had orig- 
inally held a commission in the Life Guards and intended to make a 
career in the army. When he inherited the family estates in Buckingham- 
shire, he was so horrified by the miserable condition of his land and his 
tenants that he gave up the army and devoted himself to becoming a 
model landlord. Agricultm^e and the agricultural laborer, owing to a 
long depression, were shamefully neglected. Sir Harry bcame a pioneer 
in rural housing and administration. From 1832 he sat as Liberal Mem- 
ber for Buckinghamshire, and he held the seat for fifty-two years. A 
Verney had represented Buckinghamshire, either the shire or the 
borough, in the House of Commons continuously since the reign of Ed- 
ward VL 

Before the end of the summer of 1857 Sir Harry was a frequent caller 
at the Burlington. He fell in love with Miss Nightingale and asked her to 
marry him, and she refused him. During the winter he stayed at Embley, 
and it began to be evident that he was becoming attached to Parthe. The 
engagement was announced in April, and the marriage took place quietly 
at Embley in June, 1858. 

The prospect of becoming Lady Verney occupied Parthe's mind; the 
business of marrying a daughter delighted and distracted Fanny. Hilary 
Bonham Carter told Clarkey in May, 1858 that she had been seeing 
Fanny and Parthe in London and spent "some horrible long days fussing 
and shopping with Aunt Fanny," but though Fanny and Parthe were 
staying in a hotel close to Florence "they did not wish to interfere with 
her in the slightest." At last she was left alone. 




life. She moved to new rooms in an annex of the Burhngton — three bed- 
rooms and a dressing-room on one floor, a double sitting-room on a floor 
below. The street was quiet; the house had none of the bustle of the 
hotel. The atmosphere was heavy with solemnity. Voices were lowered; 
feet trod lightly as her fellow workers were shown into the drawing- 
room where she lay prostrate on the sofa. She was convinced, everyone 
round her was convinced, that she had at most a few months to live. 

Aunt Alai broke up her family life. She shut up her house, her hus- 
band and girls went to stay at Embley, and she came to the Burlington 
to make Florence's last months on earth easy. Her son-in-law, Arthur 
Hugh Clough, became Florence's slave. He came to the Burlington every 
day, wrote notes, delivered reports, fetched letters, tied up parcels, and 
was content, she wrote, "to do the work of a cab horse." The Night- 
ingales, cowed, remained at a distance. Aunt Mai and Clough became 
the t\vin Guardians of a shrine. 

It was a strange, hot-house existence led under the shadow of im- 
pending death. One day Miss Nightingale had a long conversation with 
Cloueh in which she arranged all the details of her funeral. She wrote 
many letters "to be sent when I am dead." On November 26, 1857, Sid- 
ney Herbert was given as a sacred trust the task of carrying out the re- 
forms recommended in the report of the Commission. He was not to 
regret the manner of her death. "You have sometimes said you were 
sorry you employed me. I assure you that it has kept me alive." 

On December 11, 1857, she gave Parthe directions for her burial. Her 
love for the troops and her association with the men had made her feel 
what she never expected to feel — a superstition. She had a yearning to 
be buried in the Crimea, "absurd as I know it to be. For they are not 


In November, 1857 she made a will in which the property she would 
one day inherit from her father and mother was to be used to erect a 
model barrack, not forgetting the wives but having a kind of Model 
Lodging House for the married men. 

Personal remembrances were to be sent to Mrs. Herbert, Dr. Suther- 
land, and Sir John McNeill, "after I am dead," and Parthe was instructed 
to bring them from Embley. 

It was an atmosphere in which emotion ran riot, and the exalted affec- 
tion between Miss Nightingale and Aunt Mai burst into strange flower. 
Wounded by the behavior of Fanny and Parthe during the summer, she 
conceived an idea which she called the "Virgin Mother," to explain the 
love and sympathy she felt in Aunt Mai, the indifference she felt in 
Fanny. "Probably there is not a word of truth in the story of the Virgin 
Mary," she wrote in a private note of 1857. "^^t the deepest truth lies 
in the idea of the Virgin Another. The real fathers and mothers of the 
human race are not the fathers and mothers according to the flesh. I 
don't know why it should be so. It 'did not ought to be so." But it is. 
Perhaps it had better not be said at all. What is 'Motherhood in the 
Flesh'.? A pretty girl meets a man and they are married. Is there any 
thought of the children? The children come without their consent even 
having been asked because it can't be helped. . . . For every one of my 
18,000 children, for every one of these poor tiresome Harley Street 
creatures I have expended more motherly feeling and action in a week 
than my mother has expended for me in 37 years." 

In another note she wrote: "I have had a spiritual mother without 
whom I could have done nothing, who has been all along a 'Holy Ghost' 
to me and lately has lived the life of a porter's wife for me." On Aunt 
Mai's side affection passed into worship. "My child, my friend, my guide 
and upUfter, my dearest one on earth or in heaven," she wrote. Recalling 
this period to Clarkey, Miss Nightingale said: "We were like two lovers." 

Her family had agreed not to expect letters from her; her energy 
must be preserved for work, Aunt Mai was to send reports. And now, 
lying on the sofa in the drawing-room, seldom sitting up and almost 
never going out, she proceeded to toil as she had never toiled before. 
In November, 1857 Aunt Mai wrote: "Mr. Herbert for 3 hours in the 
morning, Dr. Sutherland for 4 hours in the afternoon. Dr. Balfour, Dr. 
Farr, Dr. Alexander interspersed." A little later: "Flo is working double 
tides, labouring day after day until she is almost fainting." The task 
differed from the task of a year ago when the material for the Commis- 
sion was being collected. "There is now the most important work of 


all to be done namely to gain the fruit of the Report in working the Re- 
forms which have been its purpose — they have now not only to work 
but to fight." "Dr. Sutherland quite admits," wrote Aunt Mai, "that 
. . . completion depends on her. She alone can give facts which no one 
else hardly possesses . . . she alone has both the smallest details at her 
finger ends and the great general view of the whole. He has been saying 
all this while at his luncheon, now he is at his work, and I only hope he 
won't too soon say 'Will you tell her I am at a standstill until I see her,' 
for she is now resting, and I am always afraid to hear those words which 
don't at all the less come because he begins by saying, 'I don't want her 
at all, I only want her to rest.' " 

Lord Panmure was behaving over the four sub-Commissions exactly 
as he had behaved over the Commission itself. He had been frightened 
by Sidney Herbert into agreement, but, under pressure from within the 
War Office, he lost his nerve and once more retreated to the Highlands 
where he shot grouse, left letters unanswered, and refused to come to 

"Pan is still shooting," wrote Sidney Herbert on September 28. "In 
future you must defend the Bison, for I won't." Miss Nightingale sent 
letters to Brechin Castle; she got wind of a flying visit Panmure was 
secretly paying to London and sent him round a note by hand. She de- 
clared in a letter to Sir John McNeill on October 10: "I shall not leave 
P. alone till this is done." Her personal relations with Panmure continued 
playful. Grim determination was masked by compliments and jokes. 
She wrote him humorous notes; he sent her grouse. In private she raged 
against his "unmanly and brutal indifference." "I have been three years 
serving in the War Department," she wrote to Sidney Herbert in No- 
vember, 1857. "When I began there was incapacity but not indifference. 
Now there is incapacity and indifference." 

Lord Panmure was being rent apart. The Reformers were powerful, 
they had public opinion with them, and public opinion was to be 
dreaded; but the reactionary party within the War Office was powerful 
and to be dreaded as well. On the administrative side Sir Benjamin Hawes 
was capable of causing infinite trouble, while Dr. Andrew Smith was 
fighting furiously against the "wiping" sub-Commission, which wiped 
the slate clean for the complete reorganization of the Army Medical De- 
partment. In November, 1857 pressure from the War Office was so great 
that Panmure revoked the "wiping" sub-Commission. The Reformers 
were appalled, Sidney Herbert forced Panmure to see him, and after 
a long and stormy interview this sub-Commission was reinstated. 


It became clear to Miss Nightingale that the issue turned on the ability 
of each side to frighten Panmure. Whichever side could frighten him 
most thoroughly would be victorious. 

She devised a new idea. Public opinion was the Reformers' strongest 
weapon. She would instruct public opinion and at the same time put 
pressure on Panmure through a Press campaign which should tell the 
nation the truth about conditions in the army. 

The outlines, the facts, even the headings for all articles were sup- 
plied to contributors by her. "I enclose a sketch, add to it, take away 
from it, alter it," she wrote to Edwin Chadwick in August, 1858. Lord 
Stanley, Sidney Herbert, Edwin Chadwick, who had sat on the first 
Poor Law Commission of 1834 and instigated the first Sanitary Commis- 
sion of 1839, wrote for her. She refused to sign anything herself. Her 
contribution was an unsigned pamphlet. Mortality in the British Army, 
_\which was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, instance of the presenta- 
tion of statistical facts by means of pictorial charts — Miss Nightingale 
believed she invented this method. The facts that the majority of deaths 
in the Crimean mortality were due not to war but to preventable disease, 
and that mortality in barracks was double the mortality in civil life, were 
driven home at a glance by means of colored circles and wedges. The 
text was an explanation of the diagrams based on the Reformers' battle- 
cry, "Our soldiers enlist to death in the barracks." 

By the end of 1857 Panmure had given way. The four sub- 
Commissions were granted and set up in December. "With such ample 
instructions as you may guess them to be, when I tell you they were 
written by me," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sir John McNeill. 

She did not go to Embley for Christmas, but stayed in London at the 
Burhngton with Aunt Mai and Clough. The year 1858 dawned brightly 
for the Reformers, and as the summer came they gained success after 
success; even though in February, 1858 Lord Palmerston's government 
fell. Lord Panmure went out of office, and for a moment it appeared as 
if his exit might be fatal. Dr. Andrew Smith had at last retired, and the 
next man in order of seniority was Sir John Hall. Lord Panmure had 
pledged his word that as long as he held office Sir John Hall should 
never be Director-General, but at this crucial moment Panmure was suc- 
ceeded by General Peel. Miss Nightingale was in an agony. The appoint- 
ment hung in the balance, and she raged at the fate which had decreed 
the Bison's disappearance at the one moment when he could be of use. 
However, Sidney Herbert, with his matchless talent for negotiation, 
approached General Peel. On February 27 Peel promised he would make 
no appointment until he had conferred with Sidney Herbert, but would 


not commit himself further. Sidney Herbert continued to put himself 
in Peel's way, not speaking directly on the appointment but "throw- 
ing in a little praise of Alexander when talking or writing on other sub- 
jects." His persuasiveness was effectual. On May 25 he wrote that he 
had won the day. Sir John Hall was passed over, and Alexander was ap- 
pointed Director-General of the Adedical Department of the British 
Army and officially gazetted on June 1 1. 

A citadel had fallen. Cooperation would replace obstruction from 
within the Medical Department at the War Office. "Smith is really gone," 
wrote Sidney Herbert. "It is no use trying to realise the enormous 
importance of such a fact." Yet another victory followed. On May 1 1 
in the House of Commons Lord Ebrington moved a series of resolutions 
on the health of the army founded on the report of the Royal Sanitary 
Commission. He called attention to the figures published in the report 
revealing the high mortality in barracks compared to the mortality in 
civil life. "Improvements," he concluded, "are imperatively called for 
not less by good policy and true economy than by justice and hu- 
manity." There were deafening cheers. After reading the account of 
this debate, Sir John McNeill wrote to Miss Nightingale on May 13: 
"To you more than to any other man or woman alive will henceforth 
be due the welfare and efficiency of the British Army. I thank God that 
I have lived to see your success." 

Throughout the summer of 1858 she was at the Burlington, going out 
of London only twice for a week's cure of "fresh air and water packs" 
at Malvern. She traveled by railway in an invalid carriage attended by 
Aunt Mai as "dragon" and Clough as courier. Bystanders were struck 
with awe. She was carried in a chair, and usually her bearers were old 
soldiers, who carried her as if she were a divinity. A space was cleared on 
the platform, curious onlookers were pushed back, voices were hushed, 
and the station-master and his staff stood bareheaded as she was carried 
into the carriage. She was already becoming a legend. 

Though she cut herself off from the world, her rooms at the Burling- 
ton, the "little War Office," were a hive of industry. She had made her 
rooms cheerful with new carpets and curtains at her own expense. Lady 
Ashburton, who before her marriage had been Miss Louisa Stewart 
Mackenzie, "beloved Zoe," sent flowers and plants from Melchett Court 
every week; Fanny supplemented the catering of the Burlington with 
game, hot-house fruit, eggs, and cream. A4iss Nightingale was very 
ready to provide her fellow workers with breakfasts, luncheons, and 
dinners. "If you will come and talk ought it not to be with dinner.'" 
she wrote to Dr. Farr in 1859. "Please come here you shall have dinner 


at 7," she wrote to Dr. Balfour in 1859. She offered the delegates to the 
Statistical Congress of i860 "a room, breakfast, dinner and a place to 
work at any time — a better dinner with notice." She seldom joined these 
parties herself, but from her couch she kept a hand on detail. "Take care 
of your cream for the breakfast — it is quite turned." "Put Dr. Balfour's 
big book back where he can see it while drinking his tea," she told Aunt 

She visited no one, but eminent visitors came to her. The Queen of 
Holland, the Crown Princess of Prussia, the Duke of Cambridge called 
on her regularly. Kinglake consulted her when he was writing his In- 
vasion of the Crimea. She was not impressed. "I found him exceedingly 
courteous and agreeable," she wrote to Edwin Chadwick, "looking upon 
the war as a work of art and emotion — and upon me as one of the figures 
in the picture . . . upon figures (arithmetical) as worthless — upon as- 
sertion as proof. He was utterly and self sufficiently in the dark as to all 
the real causes of Crimean Mortality." Kinglake's well-known descrip- 
tion of herself and her work she dismissed shortly: "He meant it to be 
kind, but it was fulsome." 

Manning visited her, and she wrote to him in February, 1 860 as "one 
of those whom I hioiv to be friendly to me." She told Sidney Herbert 
that Manning had always treated her fairly; he advised her on the special 
needs of the Catholic regiments of the army. 

In the spring of 1858 she had begun an important friendship. Captain 
Douglas Galton, a brilliant young Royal Engineer, was the army's lead- 
ing expert on barrack construction, ventilation, heating, water supply, 
and drainage. He held an important War Office appointment, had been 
appointed referee for the consideration of plans for the drainage of 
London, and was a member of the Barrack sub-Commission. He was 
also a family connection, for in 1851 he had married the beautiful 
Marianne Nicholson. In 1857 Marianne and the Nightingales were recon- 
ciled, and Clarkey was asked to meet her at a breakfast given by Fanny 
and Parthe at the Burlington. "In comes Marianne by invitation," wrote 
Clarkey to Mrs. Bonham Carter on July 18; "we are all loving, she is 
always as pretty and much improved in character, she takes an interest 
in amendments and don't never flirt no more. Let people talk against 

After the Barrack Commission was set up, Miss Nightingale and 
Douglas Galton met and corresponded almost daily. She absorbed him. 
She was too busy to see Marianne, but she wrote her kind letters and 
was godmother to one of the Galton children. Otherwise Marianne's 
name was not mentioned. Once at the foot of a long letter dealing with 


the construction of a hospital at Woolwich, he scribbled in pencil: 
"Marianne had a boy this morning." 

The support of Douglas Galton, the appointment of Alexander as 
Director-General of the Army Medical Department, the appointment 
of Dr. Balfour to establish a statistical department within the War Office 
strengthened Miss Nightingale's hand, and in the autumn of 1858 she 
judged the time was ripe for another Press campaign. The only way to 
influence Ministers, she wrote, was through the public. 

Notes on Matters affecthig the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Ad- 
ministration of the British Army was lying unused. Copies were sent to 
the Queen, the Commander-in-Chief, Members of the Cabinet, War 
Office officials, and well-known pubHc figures with a covering letter. 
"This is an advance copy of a Confidential Report," she wrote. "May 
I ask you not to mention to anyone that you have this Report." A copy 
was sent to Harriet Martineau with a letter calculated to provoke her 
interest by warning her, "this Report is in no sense public property." 

Harriet Martineau was a leader-writer on the Daily News. The 
daughter of an unsuccessful sugar-refiner, deaf, sickly, physically unat- 
tractive, and born without the sense of taste or smell — she said she had 
only once in her life been able to taste a leg of mutton and found it de- 
licious — she had become a political power through her writings. She had 
hit on the idea of conveying knowledge in the form of fiction, and in an 
enormously successful series of tales had illustrated the facts of political 
economy, taxation, and the poor law. 

Like Miss Nightingale, she suffered from bad health, and her character 
was, she wrote, gloomy, jealous, and morbid. In 1839 she was pro- 
nounced to be suffering from an incurable disease and had spent five 
years in bed. She recovered, cured by mesmerism. In 1855 she was an- 
nounced to be dying of heart disease, but in fact she did not die until 
twenty years later. 

^ She was a passionate supporter of the movement for "Women's 
Rights," unlike Miss Nightingale who, though she did more to open 
new worlds to women than perhaps any other woman, was not a feminist. 
Miss Nishtingale dedicated herself to the cause of the unfortunate, the 
weak, the suff^ering, and the defenseless, and it was a matter of indiffer- 
ence to her whether they happened to be women or men. 

She forbade Harriet A4artineau to use the Notes as the text for a ser- 
mon on pioneer women. "I have a great horror of its being made use of 
after my death by 'Women's Missio?iaries' and those kinds of people. I 
am brutally indifferent to the wrongs or the rights of my sex," she wrote 
on November 30, 1858. Miss Martineau used information from the Notes 


for a series of articles on the army which were pubHshed in the Daily 
News and successfully reprinted in 1859 in book form under the title 
England and her Soldiers. 

It was a hopeful period. The four sub-Commissions, in spite of official 
opposition, were accomplishing a great deal. Barracks were being in- 
spected and plans laid for rebuilding and reconditioning. Alexander was 
hard at work on the new regulations which were to transform the Army 
Medical Department. For the future, developments of the greatest im- 
portance were taking shape. 

In the summer of 1857 the Indian Mutiny had broken out. Miss Night- 
ingale longed to leave her desk and go out to the troops, but Sidney 
Herbert prevented her. "I may tell you in confidence," she wrote to 
Dr. Pattinson Walker in 1865, "that in 1857, ^^at dreadful year for India, 
I offered to go out to India in the same way as to the Crimea. But Sidney 
Herbert . . . put a stop to it. He said that I had undertaken this work, 
caused him to undertake it and that I must stay and help him." She con- 
soled herself with the reflection that by her work for the army in Eng- 
land she was saving more lives than by going to India. "What are the 
murders committed by these miserable Bengalese compared to the mur- 
ders committed by the insouciance of educated cultivated Englishmen?" 
she wrote to Sidney Herbert in September, 1857. As a result of the 
Mutiny India passed from the government of the East India Company 
to the government of the Crown, and the welfare of the troops in India 
became the responsibility of the British Government. In the course of 
the Royal Commission appalling reports were received of sanitary con- 
ditions in India, and for six months Miss Nightingale had been asking 
for a second Royal Sanitary Commission to deal with the health of the 
army in India. Now she seemed likely to succeed. The first Secretary of 
State for India to be appointed after the passage of the Control of India 
Bill in 1858 was Lord Stanley, her admirer and friend, and there was 
every probability that the Commission would be set up in the near future. 

All too soon the sky darkened. In August, 1858 Alexis Soyer died. 
At the time of his death he was collaborating with her on the Barracks' 
Commission, and one of his last acts was to open, on July 28, his model 
kitchen at the Wellington Barracks. On August 28 she wrote to Douglas 
Galton: "Soyer's death is a great disaster. My only comfort is that you 
were imbued before his death with his notions." 

But the disaster of Soyer's death was as nothing compared with the 
next disaster that threatened — the breakdown of Sidney Herbert's health. 
He had never been robust. After his term of office during the Crimea 
his health had broken down and he had gone abroad for a cure, and 


during the Royal Commission he had broken down again. Two months 
of fishing in Ireland, and riding and shooting at Wilton during the long 
vacation, partially restored him, but when he had returned to London 
in the autumn of 1857 he had to grapple with the enormous tasks of 
setting up the four sub-Commissions and then of administering them, 
since he was chairman of each of the four. 

The work was crushing, physically. Inspection of barracks meant con- 
stant traveling; there was opposition; commanding officers were insolent. 
Facilities for inspection were refused, and the Commissioners were kept 
waiting on barrack squares in cold and wind. "The Big-Wigs were 
surly," he wrote after a visit to Aldershot in March, 1858. Physical exer- 
tions were succeeded by the close and gruelling labor of drafting and 
revising regulations, for three of the sub-Commissions dealt with ad- 
ministration. The strain was too great. From the beginning of 1858 a 
marked deterioration in his health began. 

In January of that year he was suffering from acute neuralgia and tic 
in the temples. Miss Nightingale recommended "saturating a small piece 
of cotton with chloroform and camphor, putting it up the nose and 
inhaling strongly." He followed this prescription, did it too frequently, 
and made himself sick. At the end of the month he wrote: "My head is 
very shaky in the neuralgic way." On February 2 he was apologizing for 
missing a conference — "I am fairly broken down, but will be up again 
directly." He got up but felt so ill that he had to go back to bed. Three 
days later he wrote that he was suffering tortures from headache and 
was unable to work. On the 15 March he was in bed again — "Here I 
am idling away my time in bed. I have been heartily ashamed of myself 
these last few days." 

Never did a man receive less sympathy. Miss Nightingale working, as 
she believed on her deathbed, had small consideration for lesser ailments. 
What was a headache, a feeling of wretchedness compared with what 
she was enduring.^ It was no new thing for her to complain of him. 
They had differed when she was in the Crimea. He had evaded her on 
the subject of Army Reform when she came home. "Ten years have I 
been endeavouring to obtain an expression of opinion from him and have 
never succeeded yet," she wrote to Sir John AlcNeill in November, 1857. 
Nevertheless, she finished the letter with the phrase she used so often, 
"without him I could do nothinsf." 

She drove him. That was her function. He did not shrink from her 
white-hot energy, her implacability — he needed its vitalizing warmth. 
The fundamental differences between their two characters balanced 
each of them and gave their collaboration its immense value. But because 


they were so different, complications ensued. They irritated each other. 
Miss Nightingale lavished no admiration on Sidney Herbert while he 
was alive; her eulogies were written after his death. She was impatient 
with him; she hunted him; she grumbled at him; and Sidney Herbert, re- 
nowned for his urbanity and gentleness, scolded her. He told her she 
was irritable, exacting, impatient, that she exaggerated and was too fond 
of justifying herself. He never broke into the panegyrics commonly in- 
dulged in by her fellow workers. Only the words used by him at the 
end of every note he wrote her, of every interview they had together, 
"God bless you," spoke of the affection between them. The tie which 
united them was so strong that it did not need support. "We were iden- 
tified," she wrote to Clarkey in 1861. "No other acknowledgment was 

While on one hand Miss Nightingale drove him; on the other he was 
urged on no less relentlessly by his wife. Far from resenting his work 
with Miss Nightingale, Liz encouraged it; work with Florence was the 
part of her husband's life which she most thoroughly shared. 

Before his marriage Sidney Herbert had been the close friend of the 
beautiful and unhappy Caroline Norton, one of three lovely sisters nick- 
named the Three Graces. The granddaughters of Sheridan, they had 
inherited his wit and captivating charm. One sister became Lady Duf- 
ferin, one became Duchess of Somerset, and Caroline herself married 
the Hon. George Chappel Norton, younger brother of Lord Grantley. 
It was an unhappy match; George Norton, an unsuccessful barrister, 
had a violent temper, and the Nortons were incessantly in financial dif- 
ficulties. Caroline became a professional author and achieved consider- 
able success. She had wit and brilliant beauty, and the parties she gave 
in her little drawing-room in Storeys Gate became famous. One of her 
most intimate friends was Lord Melbourne. George Norton, though 
insanely jealous, was willing to profit from his wife's friendships, and 
in 1 83 1 he was made a Metropolitan PoUce Magistrate by Lord Mel- 
bourne. Five years later he brought proceedings charging Lord Mel- 
bourne with committing adultery with Caroline. The action failed, the 
jury dismissed the case without even calling upon the defense, but as a 
result the Nortons separated and the tragedy of Caroline's life began. As 
a woman living apart from her husband, she had no rights either over 
her income or her children. Her children, whom she adored, were re- 
moved, and George Norton not only refused to make her an allowance 
but brought an action demanding the money she made from her books. 
She did not think her children were well treated; her youngest boy, after 
being taken away, died at the age of nine as the result of a fall from a 


pony. The miseries she endured were instrumental in bringing about an 
improvement in the laws relating to women. 

In the early forties Sidney Herbert, "beautiful as an angel," chivalrous, 
brilliantly clever, immensely rich, was always to be seen at Caroline 
Norton's house. Their attachment was well known, and Meredith was 
said to have based his novel Diana of the Crossways on it. 

Sidney Herbert was now first in the succession to Wilton. His father's 
eldest son by his first marriage had, in 1814, contracted a disastrous 
marriage with a Sicilian pseudo-countess, which the family had tried 
in vain to annul, and in 1827 had succeeded to the title as the twelfth 
Earl of Pembroke. It was evident that his health was hopelessly impaired, 
and, as he had no children, it had become increasingly desirable that 
Sidney Herbert should marry. In 1846 he married Miss Elizabeth a 
Court, who had been devoted to him since childhood, who was beauti- 
ful, well born, and devoutly religious; they had been married for eight- 
een months when Miss Nightingale met them in Rome. Caroline Nor- 
ton disappeared from his life. In 1847 Fanny Allen met one of Sidney 
Herbert's "intimates" who "detailed the course of his [Sidney Her- 
bert's] marriage and the loosening of the tie between him and Mrs. 
Norton, who behaved very well on the occasion and assured him when 
he married she would never cross his path." 

Liz Herbert's devotion to her husband was possessive. Miss Night- 
ingale, meeting her in Rome, had noticed her almost unbalanced affec- 
tion for Sidney, her eagerness to be everything to him, to share his every 
thought. She was insecure. "You know all I have to bear more than any- 
one else," she wrote to Miss Nightingale after Sidney's death. "It is 
strange but I think his whole family believe he did not love me.'" Far 
from remonstrating with Florence for driving Sidney too hard, Liz sup- 
ported her. She clung to Florence — she had clung to her from the first 
moment they met in Rome in 1 849, because through her she drew nearer 
to Sidney. 

Thus urged, goaded, driven, Sidney Herbert struggled through 1858, 
and immeasurably greater demands were made on him the next year. 
Early in 1859 it became evident that what Miss Nightingale described 
to Harriet Alartineau as "eight months importunate widowing of Lord 
Stanley" was to be successful. A Royal Sanitary Commission was to be 
set up to do for the army in India what the Royal Sanitary Commission 
of 1857 had done for the army at home, and Sidney Herbert was invited 
to be chairman. It was a hideously laborious prospect. The work would 
be gigantic; the state of India was inextricably confused, the opposition 
obstinate; the distance from which data must be collected was an enor- 


mous complication. His health was steadily deteriorating, and he still 
had to devote long hours to the four sub-Commissions. Nevertheless, he 
felt himself bound to accept. A month later an even greater task was 
thrust on him. The Government had fallen in March, and in the gen- 
eral election which followed Lord Palmerston was returned to power. 
He invited Sidney Herbert to become Secretary of State for War. It 
was, on the face of it, a triumph. What could not Sidney Herbert do 
for Army Reform in the place of Panmure? But his first sensation was 
one of despair. On June 13 he wrote to Miss Nightingale: "I must write 
you a line to tell you I have undertaken the Ministry of War. I have 
undertaken it because I believe that in certain branches of administra- 
tion I can be of use, but I do not disguise from myself the severity of 
the task, nor the probability of my proving unequal to it. But I know 
you will be pleased at my being there. I will try and ride down to you 
tomorrow afternoon. God bless you." 

The Reformers seemed now to be in a strong position. Sidney Her- 
bert was Secretary of State for War; Alexander was Director-General 
of the Army Medical Department. The Royal Sanitary Commission on 
the Health of the Army of 1857 was being put into operation, and a 
new Commission on the Health of the Army in India was being set up. 
It seemed there was every reason for optimism; but there was no 
optimism. Instead there was depression. The Reformers felt that the 
future was dark. 

Only now, when so much progress had been made, did the almost in- 
superable difficulties confronting them emerge. The basic difficulty was 
the administrative system of the War Office itself. In November, 1859 
Miss Nightingale summed up her experience. "The War Office is a very 
slow office, an enormously expensive office, and one in which the Min- 
ister's intentions can be entirely negatived by all his sub-departments 
and those of each of the sub-departments by every other." 

A new issue had become clear. Progress was impossible with the 
existing machinery. Before reforms could be carried through the War 
Office itself must be reformed. Sidney Herbert must nerve himself to 
yet another gigantic task. Once again he felt he had no choice. In con- 
sultation with Miss Nightingale a scheme was prepared. Its objects, she 
wrote, were "to simplify procedure, to abolish divided responsibility, 
to define clearly the duties of each head of a department and of each 
class of office; to hold heads responsible for their respective depart- 
ments with direct communication with the Secretary of State." 

She approached this new task with a determination so grim that it was 
almost despair. The enthusiasm, the exhilaration with which she had ap- 


preached the first Royal Commission of 1 857 were gone for ever. She was 
being crushed, as Sidney Herbert was being crushed, by the weight of her 
labors. "I am being worked on the tread-mill," she wrote. 

Miss Nightingale had no secretary. The compilation of statistics, the 
noting down of columns of figures, the laborious comparisons were 
done by herself. The innumerable letters, the immensely long reports 
were written by her own hand. The physical effort of writing down the 
enormous number of words she produced each day was staggering. The 
only method of duplicating was to have the text set by a printer and 
copies struck off. She had this done at her own expense, recording that 
from 1 857-1 860 she spent 700 pounds sterling out of her own private 
income on printing. 

As she toiled her sense of resentment grew fiercer. Was ever suffer- 
ing like mine? Was ever self-sacrifice like mine? she constantly asked 
herself. Sidney Herbert with his health, Dr. Sutherland with his de- 
sire for holidays. Dr. Alexander, even Aunt Mai, even Clough, all ag- 
gravated her; all were inadequate. 

At the end of the summer of 1859 she had another collapse, with the 
familiar symptoms of fainting, breathlessness, weakness, and inability 
to digest food. It was impossible for her to leave London, impossible for 
her to pass another summer at the Burlington. She compromised by 
taking rooms at Hampstead, a custom she continued for many years. 
Dr. Sutherland and Clough came daily and stayed all day. Aunt Mai 
took the opportunity of going home to see her family, and Hilary Bon- 
ham Carter took her place as "dragon." Sidney Herbert, also kept in 
London by his work, rode out nearly every evening from Belgrave 

For a short interval she was quiet. Hilary, writing a bulletin to 
Embley, described her "lying on her couch, wrapt up in her delicate 
blanket, her little head resting on the pillow peeping from the blanket 
gives her quite an infantine appearance." In September Fanny came to 
Hampstead — she had not seen Florence for nearly six months. "She re- 
ceived me as if we had only just been parted, very affectionately, but her 
manner was nervous as if she feared to touch upon exciting subjects." 
She told Parthe, now Lady Verney, "She would have made a beauti- 
ful sketch, lying there reclining upon pillows in a blue drifting gown, 
her hair so picturesquely arranged, her expression most trusting, hardly 
harmonizing with the trenchant things she sometimes says, her sweet 
little hands lying there ready for action." There were, Fanny noticed, 
"several pussy cats" in the room; one was lying on Florence's shoulder. 

She was now in bed or on her couch continuously. She never walked; 


she seldom went out. Fanny noticed that her face was flushed, her hands 
hot, and that talking seemed an effort. Nevertheless, ill though she 
might be, the attitude of her circle toward her physical condition was 
changing. Time had passed. She still spoke as if she were on her deathbed, 
her life was still described as hanging by a thread, but — it had been hang- 
ing by a thread for two years. 

Aunt Mai's family became impatient. Two years had passed since 
Aunt Mai, who was greatly beloved at home, had gone to the Burling- 
ton. In the early summer of 1859 Uncle Sam wrote to Fanny complain- 
ing — not to Florence; she had established herself in a position where 
none of the family dared write to her direct. His grievance did not stop 
at Aunt Mai — there was Clough. His daughter Blanche's life had been 
broken up by Florence's absorption of Clough. For the past year 
Blanche had been living with her children in her father's house, while 
Clough stayed in London. Clough was delicate, his health was causing 
grave anxiety, and it was felt Florence asked too much of him. 

At the end of September, 1859, when Miss Nightingale left Hamp- 
stead and went back to the Burlington, Uncle Sam did his best to per- 
suade Aunt Mai to leave her. Miss Nightingale was very angry. To her, 
Aunt Mai's problem was not a personal problem. Aunt Mai's presence 
in London was essential to the work. Since she was the instrument chosen 
to do the work, if she suffered the work must suffer. She insisted that 
Aunt Mai must return. 

In October, back in the Burlington once more, she had Aunt Mai 
and ClouCTh to slave for her and cherish her, the familiar round of con- 
ferences and interviews, the inevitable burden of crushing work. But 
though outwardly everything was the same, inwardly nothing was the 
same. Difficulties were piling up. She was anxious over dough's health 
and Aunt Mai's troubles with her family. The task of War Office reform 
became daily more complicated, more hopelessly involved, more in- 
finitely laborious. Above all, there was the constant menace of Sidney 
Herbert's failing health. Everywhere she turned she saw threats of 




work which A4iss Nightingale performed for the army produces a sen- 
sation of weariness. It is too much. No one person should have driven 
herself to accomplish all this. What must not these mountains of paper, 
these innumerable reports and memoranda, these countless letters, have 
cost in fatigue, in strain, in endless hours of application, in the sacrifice 
of every pleasure? And yet by 1859 work for the army was only a part 
of her labors. From military hospitals and military nursing she had 
passed to civilian hospitals and civilian nursing; from working for the 
army she had passed to working for the nation and the world. 

She returned from the Crimea with the intention of devoting her 
life to the British Army. It was impossible. Her knowledge, her genius, 
and her experience were such that she could not be allowed to limit 
herself to military affairs. 

In her evidence before the Royal Sanitary Commission of 1857 she 
was asked: "Have you devoted attention to the organisation of civil 
and military hospitals?" She replied: "Yes, for thirteen years I have 
visited all the hospitals in London, DubHn and Edinburgh, many county 
hospitals, some of the Naval and Military hospitals in England; all the 
hospitals in Paris and studied with the 'Soeurs de Charite'; the Institution 
of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, where I was 
twice in training as a nurse, the hospitals at Berlin and many others in 
Germany, at Lyons, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Brussels; also 
the War Hospitals of the French and the Sardinians." 

The Commissioners were startled. It was an experience such as no 
other person in Europe possessed; and it was impossible that its benefits 
should be restricted to the British Army. 

In a letter to Dr. Farr, written during the autumn of 1859, Miss 
Nightingale described her feelings when she became aware of the de- 


plorable state of civil hospitals. She came back from the Crimea, she 
said, suffering from a delusion. She knew military hospitals were in 
administrative confusion, but she imagined civil hospitals to be much 
better; and her state of mind when she discovered civil hospitals to be 
"just as bad or worse" was "indescribable." 

During the long, losing fight over the construction of Netley Hos- 
pital she learned that abysmal ignorance of the first principles of hospital 
construction existed even among educated and liberal-minded people. 
She suffered a notable defeat because no single person concerned had 
had the faintest idea that any special importance ought to be attached 
to the way in which a hospital was designed. Steps must be taken to 
educate public opinion, and through Netley she entered the field of 
public health. In October, 1858 Lord Shaftesbury arranged that two 
papers written by her on Hospital Construction should be read at the 
annual meeting of the Social Science Congress. They were received 
"with enthusiasm," and she expanded them into a book which was 
published in 1859 under the title Notes on Hospitals. 

It was her revolutionary thesis that the high rate of mortality, then 
invariable in large hospitals, was preventable and unnecessary. 

It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first re- 
quirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite 
necessary nevertheless to lay down such a principle, because the ac- 
tual mortality in hospitals, especially those of large crowded cities, is 
very much higher than any calculation founded on the mortality of 
the same class of patient treated out of hospital would lead us to ex- 

Notes on Hospitals draws an alarming picture of contemporary hos- 
pital conditions; walls streaming with damp and often covered with 
fungus, dirty floors, dirty beds, overcrowded wards, insufiicient food, 
and inadequate nursing. The answer to hospital mortality was neither 
prayer nor self-sacrifice but better ventilation, better drainage, and a 
higher standard of cleanliness. 

Notes on Hospitals was a success; it went into three editions, and 
after its publication she was constantly asked for advice on Hospital 

The plans for the Birkenhead Hospital, the Edinburgh Infirmary, the 
Chorlton Infirmary, the Coventry Hospital, the Infirmary at Leeds, 
the Royal Hospital for Incurables at Putney, the Staffordshire Infirmary, 
and the Swansea Infirmary were submitted to her. The Government of 
India officially consulted her on the plans for the new General Hospital 


at Madras. The Crown Princess of Prussia and the Queen of Holland 
submitted hospital plans. The King of Portugal asked her to design a 
hospital in Lisbon. She did so, the plans were accepted, and she then 
learned that the hospital was intended not for adults, but for children; 
the King of Portugal waved aside her protests — it did not matter, the 
children would have all the more room. 

She had to deal with an enormous mass of practical detail. The piping 
of water was novel, and each choice was in some degree an experiment. 
She wrote hundreds of letters to ironmongers, engineers, builders, and 
architects. Huge bundles of these survive, though notes attached to the 
bundles state "Many destroyed." She did not like the dark-green walls — 
which were becoming popular in hospitals and wished to have "the 
palest possible pink." She forwarded one long report with the title "A 
treatise on sinks." 

In 1859 each hospital followed its own method of naming and clas- 
sifying diseases. Miss Nightingale drafted model hospital statistical--- 
forms which would, she wrote, "enable us to ascertain the relative mor- 
tality of different hospitals, as well as of different diseases and injuries 
at the same and at different ages, the relative frequency of different 
diseases and injuries among the classes which enter hospitals in different 
countries, and in different districts of the same countries." The model 
statistical forms were well received. St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, 
St. Thomas's, St. Bartholomew's, and University College Hospital 
agreed to use them at once, A year later representatives of Guy's, St. 
Bartholomew's, the London Hospital, St. Thomas's, King's College 
Hospital, the Middlesex, and St. Alary's, Paddington, met and passed a 
resolution that they would adopt a uniform system of registration of 
patients and publish their statistics annually, "using as far as possible 
Miss Florence Nightingale's Model Forms." 

She found statistics "more enlivening than a novel" and loved to 
"bite on a hard fact." Dr. Farr wrote in January, i860: "I have a New 
Year's Gift for you. It is in the shape of Tables." "I am exceedingly 
anxious to see your charming Gift," she replied, "especially those re- 
turns showing the Deaths, Admissions, Diseases." Hilary Bonham Carter 
wrote that however exhausted Florence might be the sight of long 
columns of figures was "perfectly reviving" to her. 

In the spring of 1859 St. Thomas's Hospital found itself in a dilemma. 
The South Eastern railway was about to build a line from London 
Bridge to Charing Cross, and St. Thomas's lay directly in the path 
proposed. The Governors of the Hospital were unable to agree on a 
policy. Some wished the railway company to acquire the whole site- 


and move the hospital to a new district; others wished for only a part 
of the site to be sold so that the hospital could remain in its ancient 
place, A deadlock was reached, and in February, 1859 Mr. Whitfield, 
the Resident Medical Officer, called on Miss Nightingale and asked her 
to help. In his opinion the whole site should be sold and the hospital 
rebuilt in another district. Would she influence the Prince Consort, 
who was a Governor, to adopt this point of view? 

She would not allow herself to be easily convinced. She went into 
the matter thoroughly, studied figures, interviewed railway and hospital 
officials, and came to the conclusion that Mr. Whitfield was correct. 
She then sent a memorandum to the Prince Consort. He read her memo- 
randum and was converted. 

However, the battle was not yet won, for a new point was raised. 
Financially it might be preferable to sell the whole site and rebuild 
elsewhere, but there was surely an ethical consideration. Ought the 
hospital to leave its ancient position among the people it had served for 
centuries? Again an appeal was made to Miss Nightingale. She col- 
lected statistics of patients treated in the hospital and was able to prove 
that the largest number of patients treated at the hospital did not come 
from the immediate neighborhood but from districts further away. A 
memorandum containing this evidence was drawn up by her and sub- 
mitted to the Governors and the Prince Consort, and as a result it was 
agreed that the whole site should be sold and the hospital moved. 

Yet another crisis followed. The Governors, becoming greedy de- 
cided to ask the railway company the then very large sum of ^^ 750,000. 
Miss Nightingale, called in once more, pointed out that if the demand 
was persisted in, the company would go to arbitration; and the sum 
awarded would almost certainly be smaller than the present offer. Her 
advice prevailed; the entire site in the Borough was sold by agreement, 
and the hospital moved to its present position in Lambeth. 

These negotiations produced a close association. Mr. Whitfield be- 
came devoted to her, and Mrs. Wardroper the matron was already a 
close friend. She became identified with St. Thomas's and in time held 
a position in the hospital which was almost that of patron saint. 

Her interest in nursing and nursing reform had never diminished, 
though her work for the army had pushed it into second place. She had 
the Nightingale Fund of / 45,000 at her disposal to found a Training 
School for Nurses, but there had been great difficulty in finding suitable 
connections for the school. In 1859, when she became concerned with 
the affairs of St. Thomas's, she began work on a scheme to establish 
the school there, 


While she worked on this scheme for training the professional nurse, 
she wrote a little book on nursing for the use of the ordinary woman, 
which became the most popular of her works. Notes on Nursing was 
intended to make the millions of women who had charge of the health 
of their children and their households "think how to nurse." "It was," 
she wrote, "by no means intended ... as a manual to teach nurses to 
nurse." It is a book of great charm, sympathetic, sensible, intimate, full 
of witty and pungent sayings, and possessing a remarkable freshness. 
Neither its good sense nor its wit has dated, and Notes on Nursifig can 
be read today with enjoyment. 

When the book was published in December, 1859, it caused a mild 
sensation. Habits of hygiene now taken for granted were then startling 
innovations. Mothers of families were shocked when Miss Nightingale 
attacked the education of the mid- Victorian girl, to whom "the cox 
combries of education" were taught, while she was left in ignorance of 
the physical laws which governed her own body. 

The book was not cheap — the price was 5s. — but 15,000 copies were 
sold within a month; and it was reprinted at 2s. and later at yd. Thousands 
of copies were distributed in factories, villages, and schools, and it was 
translated into French, German, and Italian. "There is not one word in 
it written for the sake of writing but only forced out of me by much 
experience in human suffering," she wrote to Sir John McNeill on 
July 29. 

It is impossible to doubt, after reading it, that Miss Nightingale was 
a gentle and sympathetic nurse. She understood that the sick suffer al- 
most as much mental as bodily pain. "Apprehension, uncertainty, wait- 
ing, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any ex- 
ertion. Remember he is face to face with his enemy all the time, inter- 
nally wrestling with him, having long imaginary conversations with 
him." "Do not cheer the sick by making light of their danger." "Do not 
forget that patients are shy of asking." "It is commonly supposed a nurse 
is there to save physical exertion. She ought to be there to save (the 
patient) taking thought." 

She spoke of the "acute suffering" caused a sick person by being so 
placed that it is impossible to see out of the window; of the "rapture" 
brought to an invalid by a bunch of brightly colored flowers; of the 
intense irritation caused to an invalid by a noise such as the constant 
rustling of a nurse's dress. She understood the reUef afforded a sick per- 
son by being taken out of himself. "A small pet animal is an excellent 
companion for the sick. A pet bird in a cage is sometimes the only pleas- 
ure of an invalid confined to the same room for years." She loved babies 


and recommended visits from the very young. "No better society than 
babies and sick people for each other." 

It will be recalled that when she was convalescing in Mr. Sabin's house 
at Scutari she had become fond of a certain Sergeant Brownlow's baby; 
and when the yd. edition of Notes on Nursing was published she added 
a chapter on "Minding Baby" inspired by this child. "And now girls I 
have a word for you," the chapter opens. "You and I have all had a great 
deal to do with 'minding baby,' though 'Baby' was not our own baby. 
And we would all of us do a great deal for baby which we would not do 
for ourselves." Jowett of Balliol said that a world of morality was con- 
tained in the parenthesis "though 'baby' was not our own baby." She 
received letters telHng her that this chapter was most fruitful in results. 
Unhappily, Sergeant Brownlow's baby died shortly after the return of 
the troops to England from the Crimea, owing, she said, to the insanitary 
condition of the barracks in which the father s regiment was quartered. 

She attacked "invalid food." As a result of invalid diet thousands of 
patients are annually starved, she declared. "Give loo spoonfuls of jelly 
and you have given one spoonful of gelatine which has no nutritive 
power whatever. Give a pint of beef tea and you have given barely a 
teaspoonful of nourishment. Bulk is not nourishment." Milk, in her 
opinion, was the best of all invalid foods, and she urged also that people 
who are ill should not be deprived of vegetables. Tea "admittedly has 
no nourishing qualities but there is nothing yet discovered which is a 
substitute to the English patient for his cup of tea." Invalid food must 
be carefully served: Do not give too much, do not leave any food by 
the patient's bed. "Take care nothing is spilt in the saucer." 

In a series of pungent paragraphs she cut to pieces the current idea 
of a nurse. "No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition 
of what a nurse should be than this — 'devoted and obedient.' This 
definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. 
It would not do for a policeman." "It seems a commonly received idea 
among men, and even among women themselves, that it requires noth- 
ing but a disappointment in love, or incapacity in other things, to turn 
a woman into a good nurse." 

Though she denounced the education of the Victorian girl, and 
advocated the training of women. Notes on Nursmg ends with a vigorous 
attack on the "jargon about the rights of women." "Keep clear of both 
the jargons now current everywhere," she wrote; ". . . of the jargon, 
namely about the 'rights' of women, which urges women to do all that 
men do including the medical and other professions, merely because 
men do it, and without regard to whether this is the best that women can 


do; and of the jargon which urges women to do nothing men do, merely 
because they are women, and should be 're-called to a sense of their 
duty as women' and because 'this is women's work' and 'that is men's' 
and 'these are things which women should not do' which is all assertion 
and nothing more. . . . You do not want the effect of your good things 
to be 'How wonderful for a womanf; nor would you be deterred from 
good things by hearing it said 'Yes, but she ought not to have done this, 
because it is not suitable for a woman.' But you want to do the thing 
that is good whether it is suitable for a woman or not." To praise women 
for doing what men did habitually and easily, she wrote, was to reduce 
them to the status of Dr. Howe's idiots whom, after two years of cease- 
less labor, he succeeded in teaching to eat with a knife and fork. 

Six months after the publication of Notes on Nursing, the scheme for 
establishing a Training School for Nurses, endowed with the proceeds 
of the Nightingale Fund, was at last carried through. For the past three 
years she had been "continuously deluged" with suggestions for spend- 
ing it. In March, 1856, she had written: "The first fruits of a long series 
(as I expect) of the brick and mortar plans of needy or philanthropic 
adventurers who wish to get hold of the 'Nightingale Fund' have al- 
ready come in upon me. ... I take at random those which first present 
themselves. One is a magnificent elevation with my statue on the top to 
be called the 'Nightingale Hospital' . . . another is a Home for Nurses 
with no hospital at all. One advises me to admit none but gratuitous serv- 
ices. This includes a threat if the obnoxious word 'Sister' is allowed, and 
a terrible warning as to the 'cut of our aprons' which are to be 'Large 
and White,' and a caution as to 'Celibacy,' which I was not aware be- 
fore came into the question. We are also solemnly assured that the 
'Apostles received a salary' (How much was it?) and that the Nurses 
must lead an ^ordinary life.' I thought the object was they should not be 
ordinary nurses. One offers me a clergyman and his sons and insists upon 
a service every day in the week, probably a son for each day and the Fa- 
ther on Sunday. Another insists on no Clergyman at all and a strictly 
secular education. One desires to confine my operations to the Work 
Houses, another to the Hospitals and a third recommends the training 
of nurses for private families only. One wishes for an 'Order,' another 
for an 'Asylum' for old age, and a third for high wages which will enable 
each to save for herself." 

She saw before her a fresh succession of the religious intrigues which 
had so nearly wrecked the nursing in the Crimea, and she refused to 
move. "If I do anything at present I shall be smothered in the dust raised 
by these religious hoofs," she wrote. 


In March, 1858 she wrote to Sidney Herbert asking to be released 
from the responsibility of conducting the Fund. He dissuaded her. The 
money was well invested and could accumulate; there was no need for 
immediate action. The subscribers expected that she personally would 
"animate the work"; and he did not see how she could with propriety 
dissociate herself from it. 

She unwillingly agreed but continued to feel that the Nightingale 
Fund was a millstone round her neck. Moreover, she had been annoyed 
by an attempt by the Council of the Nightingale Fund to dictate to her 
what her activities should be. It was proposed that she should be asked 
for a pledge that she would work in civil hospitals and not in Military 
hospitals. "I might go to the Opera and Races," she wrote to Sidney 
Herbert on October 31, 1856, "no pledge against amusing myself exist- 
ing, but I might not take Government employment being pledged to 
work for Civil Hospitals by the Fund. ... I never can cease while I 
live, doing whatever falls in my way in the work I have mentioned 
above, viz. the Military Hospitals, which God and you have so singu- 
larly put into my hands." 

By 1859, however, it was evident that some action must be taken. She 
was now an invalid; it was most unlikely that she would ever be suffi- 
ciently recovered to become the active superintendent of a large institu- 
tion; and in any case her achievements were so great that as the super- 
intendent of an institution she would be wasted. The scheme of founding 
a training school for nurses was revived. She was to be the patroness and 
organizer; and a sub-committee of the Nightingale Fund Council was 
appointed to hurry the scheme forward. 

She hoped to work with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, but the plan failed. 
"During March and April in town," Miss Nightingale wrote to Sidney 
Herbert on May 24, 1859, "I saw and corresponded with pretty nearly 
all the hospital authorities and female superintendents in esse or in posse 
that could be applied to the Fund. I will not tell you in writing (tho' I 
could any day viva voce) all the pros and cons and the different plans 
I have successively tried to initiate. The most promising, that of the 
'London' qua hospital and of Miss Blackwell qua superintendent, has 
fallen through. I have talked over the matter at great length with Sir 
John McNeill. For some months past I have also discussed it with some 
of the authorities at St. Thomas's Hospital. The Matron of that Hospi- 
tal is the only one of any existing Hospital I would recommend to form 
a 'school of instruction' for Nurses. It is not the best conceivable way of 
beginning. But it seems to me to be the best possible. It will be begin- 
ning in a very humble way. But at all events it will not be beginning 


with a failure, i.e. the possibility of upsetting a large Hospital — for she 
is a tried iMatron." 

Mrs. Wardroper, matron of St. Thomas's Hospital, a gentlewoman by 
birth, had been left a widow with young children at the age of forty- 
two, and had taken up nursing. Training was unknown — she entered 
the wards of a hospital and learned what she could from experience. Miss 
Nightingale wrote, "Her force of character was extraordinary, and she 
seemed to learn from intuition." She was appointed matron of St. Thom- 
as's in 1853, a remarkable achievement for a woman of her upbringing 
and class. Mrs. Wardroper held the post of superintendent of the Night- 
ingale Training School for twenty-seven years, and a great part of the 
success of the school was due to her energy and determination. 

The scheme for a training school for nurses was not universally wel- 
comed. A strong party in the medical world thought that nurses did very 
well as thev were, and that training would merely result in their tres- 
passing on the province of the doctors. Both Mrs. Wardroper and Mr. 
Whitfield, the Resident Medical Officer at St. Thomas's, showed cour- 
age in committing their hospital to the scheme; and in May, i860 Mrs. 
Wardroper wrote warning Miss Nightingale that they must be pre- 
pared for "rather harsh criticism." 

Strong opposition came from within St. Thomas's itself, led by the 
Senior Consulting Surgeon, Mr. J. F. South. In 1857, when the scheme 
of a training school was first discussed, Mr. South published a little book. 
Facts relating to Hospital Nurses. Also Observations on Training Es- 
tablishments for Hospitals. He was at the top of his profession, Presi- 
dent of the College of Surgeons and Hunterian Orator, besides being 
senior consulting surgeon at St. Thomas's, and "not at all disposed to 
allow that the nursing establishments of our hospitals are inefficient 
or that they are likely to be improved by any special Institution for 
Training." He argued that the sisters learned by experience and could 
only learn by experience, that the nurses were subordinates "in the 
position of house-maids" and needed only the simplest instruction, such 
as how to make a poultice. He asserted that the nursing at St. Thomas's 
hospital was already on a very high level. "That this proposed hospital 
nurse training scheme has not met with the approbation or support of 
the medical profession is beyond doubt," wrote Mr. South. "The very 
small number of medical men whose names appear in the enormous list 
of subscribers to the (Nightingale) Fund cannot have passed unnoticed. 
Only three physicians and one surgeon from one London Hospital and 
one physician from a second are found among the supporters." The 
Nightingale Training School was launched in an atmosphere of criticism. 


Its way was not to be made easy, and the probationers would be watched 
by unfriendly eyes. 

The object of the school was to produce nurses capable of training 
others. The Nightingale nurses were not to undertake private nursing; 
they were to take posts in hospitals and public institutions and establish 
a higher standard. They were to be missionaries, and as such they must 
be above suspicion. If scandal centered upon a Nightingale nurse, an 
active opposition was eagerly waiting to fasten on it. One piece of in- 
discretion, one false step, and hopes of reforming the nursing profes- 
sion and elevating its status might be set back for years. The future of 
nursing depended on how these young women behaved themselves. 
As a result, candidates to become Nightingale probationers were sub- 
jected to minute examination, and there was great difficulty in finding 
young women of suitable character. 

In May, i860, advertisements appeared inviting applications for ad- 
mission. The response was discouraging. However, fifteen candidates 
were chosen, and on July 9, i860, the Nightingale School opened. No 
pupil was admitted without a certificate of good character, and the train- 
ing was to last for one year — so long a period was hitherto unheard of. 
The Nightingale probationers Uved in a nurses "Home"; this was a 
novel idea originated by A4iss Nightingale, and it was received with dis- 
approval by the opposition. An upperfloor of a wing of St. Thomas's 
was fitted up so that each probationer had a bedroom to herself, there 
was a common sitting-room, and the sister in charge had a bedroom and 
sitting-room of her own. Books, maps, prints, and a supply of flowers 
from Embley were sent by Miss Nightingale, though Mrs. Wardroper 
feared that flowers came dangerously near overindulgence. The Night- 
ingale probationers wore a brown uniform with a white apron and cap. 
Board, lodging, washing, and uniform were provided by the Fund. Each 
probationer was given 10 pounds sterling for her personal expenses dur- 
ing training. At the end of the year's course the nurses who had satisfied 
the examiners were placed on the hospital register as "Certificated 
Nurses." A first-class cash gratuity of 5 and a second-class cash gratuity 
of 3 pounds sterling were offered to nurses who were certified to have 
worked efficiently in a hospital for one year after completing their 

It was a standard of life which nurses had never been offered before, 
and the opposition sneered at Miss Nightingale's "lady nurses." She did 
not believe nurses should be housemaids. "The Nurses," she wrote, 
"should not scour; it is waste of power." The Nightingale probationers 
worked hard, attending daily lectures from the medical staff and sisters 


of St. Thomas's Hospital and bi-weekly addresses from the chaplain. 
They were required to take notes, to be ready to submit their notebooks 
at any time for inspection and to pass examinations both written and 
oral; they acted as assistant nurses in the wards and received practical 
instruction from surgeons and sisters. What was required of them in 
work, however, was as nothing compared to what was required in 
behavior. Every month a report entitled "Personal Character and Ac- 
quirements" was filled in by Mrs. Wardroper, who exercised the closest 
possible supervision over every probationer. The details of the report, 
planned by Miss Nightingale, were minutely comprehensive. Two 
main heads, "Moral Record" and "Technical Record," were further sub- 
divided; "Moral Record" had six subdivisions — punctuality, quietness, 
trustworthiness, personal neatness, cleanliness, ward management, and 
order. "Technical Record" had fourteen subdivisions which were again 
subdivided, in some cases a dozen times. Mrs. Wardroper wrote against 
each head "excellent," "good," "moderate," "imperfect," or "o." In 
addition she wrote confidential personal reports on each probationer. 

Even this information was felt by Miss Nightingale to be insufficient. 
She was obsessed by the importance of these young women. The future 
of nursing hung on their behavior. Their natures, their thoughts, might 
wreck or make the work. If only she could get inside their minds. She 
originated a new scheme by which each probationer was required to 
keep a daily diary which was read by her at the end of the month. "I 
am sure," wrote Mrs. Wardroper, "that your approbation will stimulate 
them to increased perseverance." Miss Nightingale noticed that some 
of the probationers were weak in spelling and arranged for them to 
have spelling drill. 

Flirtation was punished by instant dismissal — the girls selected and 
trained to redeem nursing must not allow themselves to be women; 
their mission was to prove that the woman can be sunk in the nurse. No 
Nightingale probationer was permitted to leave the Home alone; two 
must always go out together. "Of course we always parted as soon as 
we got to the corner," wrote one of the original probationers in a 

The character and behavior of each probationer was discussed by 
Miss Nightingale and Mrs. Wardroper in anxious conferences and long 
letters. One set of letters considered in detail whether a certain young 
woman ought to be dismissed because she "made eyes." She was a 
competent nurse and her moral character was "said to be unexception- 
able," but she seemed unable to refrain from "using her eyes unpleas- 
antly." Before she was dismissed, however, ought they not to consider 


whether she might not grow out of this objectionable habit as she be- 
came older? 

Strictness was necessary. The Nightingale nurse must establish her 
character in a profession proverbial for immorality. Neat, lady-like, 
vestal, above suspicion, she must be the incarnate denial that a hospital 
nurse need be drunken, ignorant, and promiscuous. It soon became evi- 
dent that the school was succeeding. Within a few months a flood of 
applications was being received to bespeak the services of Nightingale 
probationers as soon as their period of training was completed. 

A second experiment, financed out of the Nightingale Fund at the 
end of 1 86 1, was the establishment of a Training School for Midwives. 
With the co-operation of the authorities of King's College a maternity 
ward was equipped, and the physician accoucheurs of the hospital 
agreed to assist in giving a six months' training; it was a scheme which 
Miss Nightingale had had at heart since her Harley Street days. On 
September 24, 1861, she wrote to Harriet Martineau: "In nearly every 
country but our own there is a Government School for Midwives. I 
trust that our school may lead the way towards supplying a long felt 
want in England." 

The school trained midwives, not only to work in hospitals, but to 
deliver women in their own homes. During their training at the hospital 
the candidates paid for board and lodging but received instruction 
free. A promising beginning was made, and a number of owners of large 
estates sent women at their own expense to be trained as village mid- 
wives. Unfortunately, after more than two years of success, an outbreak 
of puerperal sepsis brought the scheme to an abrupt end, but Miss Night- 
ingale's interest in rural problems of health continued, and she was con- 
stantly consulted on the selection and training of village nurses. 

Through these years of unremitting toil her sole recreation was 
theological and metaphysical speculation, and in the summer of 1858 
she turned again to the philosophical manuscript she had written in 1851 
designed to provide a new religion for intelligent artisans. She sent 
it to Dr. Sutherland, who wrote on July 7 to Aunt Mai that he "dis- 
agreed entirely and vehemently" with her theory, but "I have preferred 
sending this to you because poor Florence is very unwell and in our 
own work we have enough of difference of opinion to make it desirable 
not to have more." In spite of this discouragement Miss Nightingale 
did a considerable amount of work on the manuscript during the fol- 
lowing year and at the end of 1859 had it privately printed under the 
title Siiggestiofis for Thought. 

She had a strong affection for the book; she believed it to be an im- 


portant work, and she determined to obtain unbiased opinions. She 
sent out a number of copies anonymously, with a letter asking if, in the 
opinion of the recipient, the book should be offered to the general public. 
A copy was sent to Richard Monckton iMilnes, who identified the author 
and wrote to her on January 21, i860: "I do not think the theory of 
omnipotent and implacable Law is any more satisfactory to the dis- 
turbed and distracted mind than that of a beneficent and benevolent 
Deity." As to its suitability for the "Artizans of England" he could not 
express an opinion as he had "a morbid horror of touching on these 
subjects with what people call the 'lower classes.' " The book, he added, 
should be revised.The letter ended on a wistful note: "My two little 
women are well and happy. I am as much of both as I believe is good for 

From John Stuart Mill she obtained unqualified approval. Suggestions 
for Thought was not sent to him anonymously — a copy was brought to 
him by Edwin Chadwick, who first sent him a copy of Notes on Nurs- 
ing. "I do not need it," wrote Mill, "to enable me to share the admiration 
which is felt towards Miss Nightingale more universally, I should im- 
agine, than towards any other living person." He read Suggestions for 
Thought with care, annotating the copy in the margin; and he wrote on 
September 23, i860, giving his verdict in favor of publication. 

An anonymous copy was sent to Benjamin Jowett by Clough. Jowett, 
at this time a tutor of Balliol, was Clough's close friend. His verdict was 
unfavorable: he had "received the impress of a new mind," but the book 
must be rewritten. He thought that "here and there I traced some degree 
of irritation in the tone, the book appears to me full of antagonisms — 
perhaps these could be softened." 

She also sent a copy to Sir John McNeill, and he, too, told her the 
book must be rewritten and replanned. She wrote that she had not time 
or energy to undertake it and regretfully laid the book aside, sending the 
manuscript to Richard A4onckton Milnes for safe keeping. Yet she was 
not entirely convinced. More than ten years later she sent the manu- 
script to the historian, Froude. Once more the verdict was unfavorable, 
and this time she resigned herself. She wrote to him in July, 1873: "What 
you say about its 'want of focus,' want of 'form,' of its 'bleating pro- 
pensities,' is of course felt by me more than anyone. I would re-write 
every word — if I could." 

Suggestions for Thought was a failure, but it had brought her friend- 
ship with Benjamin Jowett. "I do so like Mr. Jowett," she scribbled on 
the margin of one of Jowett's first letters. In i860 he was already a cele- 
brated Oxford character. He was a fellow and tutor of Balliol and Regius 


Professor of Greek, and his personal appearance, wit, and eccentricities 
were University legends. In appearance he was short, cherubic, and 
strikingly handsome on a miniature scale; undergraduates nicknamed 
him the "downy owl." He spoke in a small piercing voice, "that small 
sweet voice once heard never to be forgotten." 

Between Jowett and Miss Nightingale acquaintance quickly became 
intimacy. Like all the men who were fond of her, Jowett scolded her — 
she was not to exaggerate, not to fuss, not be so hard on people; she was 
to try to be more cheerful, to look back on what she had accomplished 
and be proud of herself. Affection became devotion, and it was known 
to their friends that Jowett was pressing her to marry him. She refused, 
but their friendship was unaltered. They corresponded constantly, and 
she leaned on his devotion and advice. "My darling Jowett," she called 

She needed friendship, for as i860 drew to its close the structure for 
which she had sacrificed everything in Hfe crashed round her ears in 
ruin — Sidney Herbert's health finally collapsed. 




moment for him to break down. Everything depended on War Of- 
fice reorganization, and War Office reorganization could be pushed 
through by Sidney Herbert alone. "One fight more, the last and the 
best," wrote Miss Nightingale; let him nerve himself to this final task 
and he should be released. He should be allowed to resign his office. He 
should go away where he would, abroad, or to Wilton, or to Ireland. 
He should shoot, fish, hunt, and never be worked on the treadmill again. 
But he must not fail now. 

She had the habit of disregarding his complaints, and she shut her 
eyes to his physical condition. Indeed, his health varied. In November, 
1859 he insisted on going down to Wilton, spent the week fox hunting 
and wrote: "I have been drenched to the skin every day and enjoyed 
myself very much." Surely if he could hunt five days a week, he could 
find enough strength to carry through War Office reform. She admitted 
his health had deteriorated, but so had her own. In February she wrote 
to Manning: "I am so much weaker that I do not sit up at all now." 

Sidney Herbert's health was not to be the sole catastrophe; from the 
beginning of i860 blow after blow rained on her as if Fate was deter- 
mined to discover how much she could be made to bear. 

In February Dr. Alexander suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage. 
Behind his death lay a history of obstruction and petty intrigue. The de- 
partmental machine had been strong enough to break him. Men he had 
trusted, who had been placed in their positions through his recommenda- 
tion, had betrayed him. Disillusioned, snubbed, frustrated, he had labored 
through the immense amount of work entailed by the Sanitary Com- 
mission, and he was engaged in drafting the new Army Medical Regula- 
tions when he died. "His loss undoes a great part of the work I have 


done," Miss Nightingale wrote to Sir John McNeill in March, i860. "I 
wish I had not lived to see it. . . ." 

While she was still distracted by the loss of Alexander, another blow 
fell. Aunt Mai returned to her family. Since the previous autumn Aunt 
Mai's position had been intolerable. Uncle Sam refused to visit her when 
she was with Florence — he said he would be "de trop." Her second 
daughter was to be married that summer, and she implored her mother 
to come home. It was undeniable that Florence, who had been dying 
in 1857, was still alive. In the early summer of i860 she decided it was 
her duty to return. 

Her decision provoked intense bitterness. When Miss Nightingale 
realized that she was going to leave she refused to see her or speak to her. 
Aunt Mai wrote to Embley that she could not send her usual report on 
Florence's health because she had not seen her for over a week. Miss 
Nightingale did not forgive Aunt Mai for nearly twenty years; they 
never met, and the correspondence between them ceased. 

It was impossible for her to be left alone; and in June, i860 Hilary 
Bonham Carter came to the Burlington to take Aunt Mai's place. Clough 
remained faithful, calling daily and devoting every moment he could 
snatch from his office to the work, but his health, too, was causing 
anxiety, and on December 7, i860, Miss Nightingale wrote a depressed 
letter about him to Uncle Sam: "I have always felt that I have been a 
great drag on Arthur's health and spirits, a much greater one than I 
should have chosen to be, if I had not promised him to die sooner." 

Alexander was dead, Sidney Herbert fatally handicapped by ill health, 
and the burden on her increased. It was out of the question for her to 
leave London, and in August she went to Hampstead once more. She 
was very feeble, lying all day in bed by an open window in her rooms 
in South Hill Park, finding solace in the society of her cats and of chil- 
dren. She had Clough's children to stay with her, and on September i, 
i860, she wrote to Clough's wife describing a visit from the baby. " 'It' 
came in its flannel coat to see me. No one had ever prepared me for 
its Royalty. It sat quite upright, but would not say a word, good or bad. 
The cats jumped up upon it. It put out its hand with a kind of gracious 
dignity and caressed them, as if they were presenting Addresses, and 
they responded in a humble grateful way, quite cowed by infant maj- 
esty. Then it put out its little bare cold feet for me to warm, which when 
I did, it smiled. In about twenty minutes, it waved its hand to go away, 
still without speaking a word." 

Sidney Herbert rode out to see her every day. Forced to stay in Lon- 
don for the second summer in succession, he was weary, feverish, and 


dispirited. He felt "a total inability to deal with business." "He shrank," 
Miss Nightingale wrote to Sir John McNeill in July, 1861, "from the 
Herculean task of cleansing the Ausrean stable." 

Through July, August, and September he complained of biliousness, 
lassitude, and headaches. In September Liz asked Florence not to come 
back to the Burlington because the daily ride out to Hampstead did 
Sidney so much good; and she stayed in Hampstead with Hilary Bon- 
ham Carter through the autumn. 

Sidney Herbert was enduring a martyrdom, while the two women 
closest to him shut their eyes and drove him on. More than a year be- 
fore he had told his wife: "Every day I keep the War Office with the 
House of Commons is one day taken off my lijeT Since then, with Miss 
Nightingale urging him on one side and Liz on the other, he had forced 
himself to continue with both. Now he was nearly at the end of his 
powers. In October and November, i860 his health suddenly grew 
worse. Perhaps, wrote Florence, it was the London air. She conferred 
with Liz. He was so much better out of London — perhaps the solution 
was not to stay in Belgrave Square but to take a house in Hampstead. 
Liz agreed, and Mrs. Sutherland was sent round the house agents. It was 
too late. No change of air could save Sidney Herbert now. Early in 
December he collapsed. 

He was pronounced to be suffering from kidney disease, incurable and 
at an advanced stage: the amount of work he was doing must be cut 
down drastically and at once. It was practically a death warrant. On 
December 5 he rode out to Hampstead to see Miss Nightingale. "He 
was not low, but awe struck," she wrote to Uncle Sam on December 6; 
"I shall always respect the man for having seen him so." 

He remained with her for several hours, his intention being to consider 
what his future course of action should be. In fact it had already been 
settled for him. Liz had been to see Florence earlier, before Sidney was 
well enough to ride out, and they had agreed between themselves what 
he was to be persuaded to do. Three courses were open to him. He 
could retire altogether; he could give up the War Office, and keep his 
seat in the House of Commons; he could go to the House of Lords, give 
up the House of Commons and keep the War Office. For his own sake 
the first was the best. The doctors had enjoined complete and absolute 
rest as his only chance. 

But that choice neither Miss Nightingale nor his wife would allow 
him to contemplate, nor indeed did he contemplate it himself. Work was 
his fate. He recognized that and inchned toward the second course. He 
would give up the War Office and keep his seat in the House of Com- 


mons. He was a House of Commons man; he had sat in the House for 
twenty-eight years and had been brilliantly successful there. He could 
"do with the House what no one else could." He was an orator and a 
matchless negotiator. The work of the War Office he frankly detested. 
It did not suit him. His talents were wasted. He had never had, as Miss 
Nightingale frequently told him, any genius for administration. He 
could not, drive himself as he would, master the enormous mass of 
intricate detail which War Office reorganization involved. His mind 
recoiled from it. 

But Miss Nightingale's task was to persuade him to keep the War 
Office. For the sake of the work, for the sake of War Office reorganiza- 
tion, he must be persuaded to resign his seat in the Commons, keep the 
War Office, and go to the House of Lords. 

The interview was long, very long, but she succeeded. For the sake 
of the work the War (Office should be kept. "A thousand thanks," 
wrote Liz, "for all you have said and done." She had forced him to sign 
his death warrant. 

She still refused to admit how fatally ill he was. How else could she 
justify what she had done? The shock of the doctors' verdict had been 
great, but presently she began to minimize it: doctors were often wrong; 
people with so-called fatal diseases often hved for years. "I hope you 
will not judge too hardly of yourself from these doctors' opinions," 
she wrote on December 8, ". . . it is not true that you cannot (some- 
times) absolutely mend a damaged organ, almost always keep it com- 
fortably going for many years, by giving Nature fair play. ... I am 
not going to bore you with a medical lecture. But I do hope you won't 
have any vain ideas that you can be spared out of the W.O. You said 
yourself that there was no one to take your place — and you must know 
that as well as everybody else. It is quite absurd to think Lord de Grey 
can do it. . . . You cannot be the only person who does not know that 
you are necessary to the re-organising of the W.O. It is more impor- 
tant to originate good measures than to defend them in the H. of C. 
... I don't believe there is anything in your constitution which makes 
it evident that disease is getting the upper hand. On the contrary." 

He tried to follow her directions. He went down to Wilton and wrote 
cheerfully on the 12: "I went out hunting, had a lovely bright day and 
a good run, and I slept like a top for the first time for some days." Early 
in January he was created a baron with the title of Lord Herbert of 
Lea, and took his seat in the House of Lords. 

Miss Nightingale showed him no softness, and it almost seemed as 
if she regarded bad health as her personal monopoly. "To him retain- 


ing office and giving up the H. of C. is like what it was to me giving up 
men and taking to regulations," she wrote to Harriet Martineau on 
January i, 1861. Only once did she permit herself a quick horrified 
glance at the truth, when, on January 13, she wrote to Harriet Mar- 
tineau: "I see death written in the man's face. And, when I think of the 
possibility of my surviving him, I am glad to feel myself declining so 
fast." She hid herself behind impatience, harshness; she blamed him. It 
was a rehef to blame him and to close her eyes to the grim certainty ad- 
vancing inexorably upon her. 

Liz began to drag her husband on an anxious, melancholy round, con- 
sulting doctor after doctor, starting with eminent speciahsts, descending 
to fashionable quacks, trying treatment after treatment, each started 
in expectation of a miraculous cure, each only too soon discarded. 

Throughout these months Miss Nightingale was plagued by domestic 
difficulties. She had now been at the Burlington for two years, and it was 
both uncomfortable and expensive. In April, 1861, Colonel Phipps, 
Private Secretary to the Prince Consort, wrote to W. E. N. offering Miss 
Nightingale, on behalf of the Queen, an apartment in Kensington Palace. 
On April 20 she wrote to W. E. N. sharply declining: "I have to see 
a great many people on a great variety of subjects and no reside?jce 
would be any use to me which was not near enough the business centre 
of London to allow me to see these people at a mome?ifs notice." 

She was not easy to live with. In a letter to Uncle Sam on June 2, 1861, 
she described her mental state. "It is the morbid mind of a person who 
has Jio variety, no amusement, no gratification or change of any 
kind. ... I am always thinking I might do more or I had better not 
have done what I did do." 

When Hilary Bonham Carter finally joined her, a new difficulty arose. 
Hilary's family complained, first, that Hilary was being victimized, as 
Aunt Mai had been, and, secondly, that Florence was taking up all her 
time and preventing her from working at her drawing. Miss Nightingale 
blamed herself. Hilary must devote a certain number of hours each day 
to work, and to encourage her she agreed to sit for a statuette. It was an 
important concession, for she had a moral objection to having her like- 
ness taken in any form. "I do not wish to be remembered when I am 
gone," she said. 

For the bust by Steell, now in the Royal United Service Institution, 
she gave only two sittings; and then only because it was to be paid for 
out of the proceeds of a fund raised by small subscriptions from the 
noncommissioned officers and men of the British Army. Hilary had 
been given a unique opportunity. She began the statuette and at first it 


progressed well. But she did not finish it. Months went by, Hilary stayed 
with one sister while her husband was away, nursed another sister's 
children through measles; but she did not complete the statuette. 

"Hi! It is now the seventh month since you told me that little horrid 
thing would be done 'Next Monday' — since then 30 Mondays have 
elapsed," Miss Nightingale wrote to her in July, i860. At the end of 
August Miss Nightingale refused to leave the Burlington for Hampstead 
until the statuette was done. Hilary was forced to finish it, but she was 
dissatisfied and began another. The second statuette was not satisfactory. 
Hilary took advice from everyone and was "almost ill of trying to alter 
and improve to meet everyone's views and strictures." The head of the 
first was united with the body of the second. The face was worked over 
again and again. Finally, she lost heart altogether. 

The statuette was not finished until the spring of 1862. The sculptor 
Thomas Woolner was called in to give technical advice on the final 
version, and it was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Miss Nightingale's 
family did not like it. "I have seen our F.," wrote Fanny to Parthe, "and 
am shocked at the poor little finnikin minnikin they call Florence." 
Nevertheless, and in spite of the fact that it is slight and amateurish, a 
sketch rather than a finished portrait, the statuette is one of the best 
likenesses of Miss Nightingale. In 1866 Mrs. Sutherland wrote: "There 
are photographs of the statuette which (though it seems odd to say so) 
are more characteristic than the actual portraits, none of which . . . 
give a real idea of what you were ten years ago." 

Unwillingly Miss Nightingale realized that with all her talent, all her 
charm, all her intelligence, Hilary was frittering her life away. In March 
she went to do a cure at Malvern, and while she was there Miss Night- 
ingale wrote telling her not to come back. "Dearest. I hope that you 
will have guessed that long before last year had ended, I had quite come 
to the conclusion that it would not be right for me any more to absorb 
your life in letter writing and house-keeping. For this I gave you my 
reasons in five big conversations. ... If I could, if we were on that 
kind of terms together, I would go down on my knees and ask you to 
forgive me for having made such a use of your life. If you like to come 
back on the terms about the Atelier and the hours which we discussed 
by letter — as my guest and friend — oh my very best and dearest friend 
— but not as my letter-writer and housekeeper — let us now discuss 
what those hours shall be, you settling them before you come back. . . ." 

But Hilary would settle nothing, and she was not allowed to return, 
though sending her away. Miss Nightingale told Clarkey, was like 
amputating her own limb. A month later a fresh blow fell. Clough's 


health gave way completely. He was told his only chance of survival 
was complete rest in a warm climate, and in April, 1861 he and his wife 
went abroad to Greece. 

She was left entirely alone. In a year she had lost Alexander, Aunt Mai, 
Hilary, and Clough. She was in no condition to face the enormous bur- 
den of work involved in War Office reform combined with racking 
suspense over Sidney Herbert's health. 

In January, 1861 the scheme for War Office reorganization was 
launched. There was to be a pitched battle between the forces of re- 
form and the forces of bureaucracy. Sidney Herbert on the one hand, 
Benjamin Hawes on the other. Miss Nightingale was not confident. 
Sidney Herbert was the pivot; Sidney Herbert was the essential; Sidney 
Herbert alone could carry the scheme through — and she feared Sidney 
Herbert was weakening. "Our scheme of reorganisation is at last 
launched at the War Office," she wrote to Sir John McNeill on January 
17, "but I fear Hawes may make it fail. There is no strong hand over 

Again she hid fear behind impatience. She wrote to Douglas Galton 
in January that Sidney Herbert was the weak spot in the War Office re- 
organization scheme. "No one appreciates as I do Mr. H's great qualities. 
But no one feels more the defect in him of all administrative capacity in 
details." By March she was frantic, declaring that Sidney Herbert was 
inefficient. She warned Douglas Galton, "Though he says he will set 
about your committee as soon as ever you like, make haste, for he is 
hke the son who said 'I go and goeth not.' " She railed at his delays; she 
complained of "the difficulty of bringing him up to scratch," the im- 
possibility of getting a decision from him, his "total incapacity for at- 
tending to an administrative question for a single hour." She obstinately 
refused to recognize that he was a dying man. "He is a great deal better 
of that there is no doubt," she wrote to Liz in March, and added, "he is 
a bad patient." On May 14 she wrote: "I am sure the Cid thinks ^Oh she 
does not know how weak I feel and how much worse in general health' 
. . . but I do. I see it every time I see him and sorrowfully perceive that 
he is weaker and thinner — and yet I don't think him worse in general 
health, not materially worse." The opinion of the doctors was against 
her, but she dismissed their opinion. "Almost all London physicians are 

She spared him nothing; she stood behind him insisting that his sick 
mind should flog itself on, his weary spirit brace itself for fresh struggle. 
No one intervened on his behalf; Liz seconded her demands, and he bore 
it all with "angelic temper." By the end of May it was useless for her to 


rail at him — what she demanded he no longer had the power to attempt. 
Disease was advancing with horrible swiftness. He spent the mornings 
on a sofa in Belgrave Square drinking gulps of brandy until he had the 
strength to crawl down to the War Office, where he arrived too ex- 
hausted to work. In fact, he was dying on his feet; an examination, made 
after his death two months later, showed disease so far advanced that it 
was a miracle he had been able to work at all for the past year. 

The end came in June. In the first week in June he collapsed, and on 
June 7 he wrote to Miss Nightingale telling her he could struggle no 
longer. He must resign the War Office and retire. It was the letter of a 
beaten man. "As to organisation I am at my wits end. The real truth is 
that I do not understand it." He suggested that he should remain in 
office for a few weeks longer so that he could carry through, as a last 
gesture, certain points of internal organization and military hospital 

On June 8 she replied, bitterly, contemptuously, and cruelly. He had 
failed her. She refused to accept his health as an excuse. "I believe you 
have many years of usefulness before you. I have repeated so often my 
view of your case — and I never felt more sure of any physical fact in 
my life — that I will not trouble you with writing my letters all over 
ao-ain." She told him what his failure meant. Their work was ruined. 
War Office reorganization was a general wreck. The reform of military 
hospitals was a general wreck. The suggestion that he should stay on in 
office just long enough to carry through certain essential reforms she 
contemptuously rejected. "No reform had better be done by anyone 
about to leave office. . . . How perfectly ineffective is a reform unless 
the reformer remains long enough at the head to make it work." For 
herself personally there was nothing he could do, but on Douglas Gal- 
ton's behalf she asked him to establish and define Galton's position at the 
War Office, where his authority had been questioned. "I consider your 
letter as quite final about the reorganisation of the W.O. And I promise 
never to speak of it again. Many women will not trouble you by break- 
ing their hearts about the organisation of an office — that's one comfort. 
. . . Halves has ivon. If you will not think me profane I will say 'Hell 
hath gotten the victory.' " 

She cut herself off from him. He was still at the War Office preparing 
to hand over to his successor. She would not see him or write to him. 
Uncle Sam remonstrated with her and was told, "There is no uneasiness 
between me and Lord H. I am sure he does not at all realise what I feel 
about his failure, but thinks I do not see him or write to him because of 
my own health." He did realize, and he could not bear it. Her anger he 


had always been able to bear, but he could not endure her unhappiness. 
"Poor Florence" — he used the phrase so often. She gave up so much, and 
she was doomed to fail. He had always seen that she must fail, that the 
sacrifice must be in vain; from the beginning he had known that the 
task she insisted on undertaking was too difficult. But she had almost 
made him believe that faith could move mountains. Poor Florence. 

It was not in his nature to leave her to eat her heart out; he had always 
said, "It takes two to make a quarrel and I won't be one." Ill and harried as 
he was, he went to face her. She was in the old familiar rooms at the 
Burlington. Here, where so much had been endured, so much had been 
hoped, so much had been sacrificed, a terrible interview took place. In 
September, 1861, in a letter to Harriet Martineau she described what 
passed between them. She was a woman possessed; she was consumed 
with grief and rage; she would not see that she had before her a dying 
man. By failing to endure — and who could be asked to endure more 
than she had endured? — he was dooming the British Army. She felt no 
more pity for him than if he had in fact been an inanimate tool breaking 
at the crucial moment in her hand, and she lashed him with her tongue. 
"A Sidney Herbert beaten by a Ben Hawes is a greater humiliation 
than the disaster of Scutari," she told him implacably. "No man in my 
day has thrown a\^'ay so noble a game with all the winning cards in his 
hands." She said that he bore it all. He did not justify himself. "And his 
angelic temper with me I shall never forget." 

Did she break his heart, or had he already passed beyond her power 
to wound? The end had almost come. He had intended when he resigned 
to remain at the War Office clearing up his work for some weeks, but 
within a fortnight he had another and even more serious collapse. He was 
ordered to give up work at once and to go to Spa for a cure. On July 
9 he came to the Burlington to say good-bye to her. They were not alone. 
He could no longer walk easily, and he was brought in a carriage and 
assisted up the stairs. She never saw him again. 

He managed to reach Spa, but his condition was hopeless. He wished 
to be at Wilton, and on the 25 he came home. It was evident that he was 
dying. He reached Wilton, saw again the place where he loved every 
spot as if it were a living person, and early in the morning of August 2, 
1 86 1, he died. Liz kept notes of his last hours and his last words for 
Florence. His last coherent thought, she wrote, was of Douglas Galton's 
position in the War Office which Florence had asked him to establish, 
his last murmur "Poor Florence . . . poor Florence, our joint work 
unfinished." "And these words he repeated twice." 

Miss Nightingale was in Hampstead when she heard the news. She 


was overwhelmed. Anguish, despair rushed in on her like the bursting 
of a dam. She hurried down to the Burlington where she collapsed, and 
was seriously ill for nearly four weeks. Uncle Sam took charge of 
her affairs, informing all correspondents by her orders that "a great and 
overwhelming affliction entirely precludes Miss Nightingale from at- 
tending to any business." 

The structure of her existence had been destroyed at a single blow. 
"He takes my hfe with him," she told W. E. N. "My work, the object 
of my life, the means to do it, all in one depart with him. . . . Now not 
one man remains (that I can call a man) of all whom I began work with 
five years ago. And I alone of all men 'most deject and wretched' survive 
them all. I am sure I meant to have died." Successive frenzies of grief, 
of longing, of rebellion swept over her. She found it difficult not to blame 
God, who possessed, after all, absolute power, for letting Sidney Her- 
bert die. Sidney Herbert's death "involved the misfortune moral and 
physical of five hundred thousand men," and it would have been "but 
to set aside a few trifling physical laws to save him." 

There was no doubt of her agony, and yet — it was not quite what 
might have been expected. She felt grief, longing, the hopeless regret 
which foflows bereavement, but she did not feel remorse. She felt she 
was justified. She knew that Sidney Herbert had found the burden of 
life almost too heavy to bear, that he had been overworked, harried, and 
subjected to unjust criticism, and she regretted it had been necessary 
for her to add to his burdens. But the necessity had existed; it had been 
her duty to act as she did; and she had nothing with which to reproach 
herself. In the letter to Harriet Martineau of September 9 she wrote: 
"I too was hard on him." It was the only admission she ever made that 
she had anything to regret. In the same letter in which she told Harriet 
Martineau of the "angelic temper" with which he bore the hard things 
she said to him, she added implacably, "at the same time he knew that 
what I said was true." 

He died with a broken heart, but she never admitted she had done 
anything toward breaking it. That had come about through a combina- 
tion of the world's cruelty and his own weakness. She never felt she was 
to blame. 

Yet now he was dead an extraordinary change took place in her. While 
Sidney Herbert was alive she had been the teacher, he the pupil; she had 
been the hand, he the instrument. Now he was dead she called him her 
"Master." It was the name by which she always referred to him. She 
who had criticized him never uttered now a word that was not praise, 


she who had lashed him with her tongue, now abased herself before 
him. She spoke of herself as his adoring disciple. "I loved and served him 
as no one else," she wrote to Sir John McNeill. 

She developed an intense possessiveness about him. No other claim 
must equal hers; no knowledge of him could be compared with her 
knowledge. "I understood him as no one else," she wrote. It was the old 
story. What she felt, what she endured, must be unique. No illness was 
to be compared with her illness; no self-sacrifice was to be compared 
with her self-sacrifice; no grief could rival her grief. She would not 
even admit a wife could be more bereaved. "How happy widows are," 
she wrote to Uncle Sam on August 14, 1861, "because people don't write 
them harassing letters in the first week of their widowhood and yet I 
know of no widow more desolate than I." 

Hand in hand with intense jealous emotion came resentment. The 
world did not understand; friends did not understand; they had wrong 
ideas, miserable misapprehensions. 

In fact, the world was doing Sidney Herbert less than justice. His 
obituary notices were cold. The disasters in the Crimea were remem- 
bered, but it seemed that no one was aware of the benefits which had 
since been conferred on the British Army through him. His friends 
thought that something should be written which did justice to his 
achievements; and Miss Nightingale was approached by Gladstone to 
write a short memoir. On August 2 1, in a turmoil of grief, irritation, and 
misery, she wrote a vast letter to Sir John McNeill saying she knew 
nothing about what had appeared in newspapers. As far as she was con- 
cerned, she had stopped all newspapers from the day of Sidney Her- 
bert's death because she could not bear to read one line about him. 
But "before he was cold in his grave his wife, Mr. Gladstone and the 
War Office have done nothing but harass me. . . . Twice in the first 
•week after his death I was written to for materials for his life. Mr. Glad- 
stone was one of these as you will guess. And he enclosed me a sketch 
written by her. There was not one word of truth in it from beginning 
to end!!! She represented him as having triumphed (and quoted words 
of his to this effect) in having effected the reorganisation of the War 
Office, which he died of regret for not having done. I told Mr. Glad- 
stone a little of the real truth and wrote at his request a slight sketch of 
what he had done. (And the week was not out before she wrote to me 
for another.) . . . This is just what I most dreaded and least asked. 
In fact I really would hide myself in the East of London not to 
do it." 


Grief, resentment, irritation, despair, discharged themselves in the 
floods of words, which were her safety valve. But when irritation and 
resentment were discharged, as in all the crises of her life, justice and 
generosity remained behind; and when fury at Liz's obtuseness had 
run its course, there emerged recognition of her qualities and rights, and 
Miss Nightingale became the support and consolation of Sidney Her- 
bert's widow. 

During the first fortnight after her husband's death, Liz wrote to her 
five times. "You will say the children ought to be a comfort to me," 
she wrote on August 14, 1861, "but I suppose I am not naturally fond 
of children — at any rate I have never been used to be much with them. 
He was my all. He is gone." "You know all I have to bear more than any- 
one else," she wrote in November, 1861. 

She continued to include Miss Nightingale in her family life after 
Sidney Herbert's death. "I cannot help repeating that there is a great 
'fond' of justice and magnanimity in her," Miss Nightingale wrote to 
W. E. N. in May, 1862. "I am always first with her because I was first 
with him. My claim to be consulted, to be informed is always recog- 

But she could not leave Sidney Herbert's reputation to the unin- 
formed panegyrics of his wife or to the faint praises of men like General 
Sir John Burgoyne, who said at a memorial meeting: "Lord Herbert's 
hobby was to promote the health and comfort of the soldier and his pet 
was Miss Nightingale who followed the same pursuit." She reconsidered 
her decision and went to the Burlington, where she shut herself up for a 
fortnight, wTiting an account of Sidney Herbert's work for the army 
which she sent to Mr. Gladstone. 

On August 2 1 she had told Sir John McNeill that she had asked Glad- 
stone to assume Sidney Herbert's mantle. "I took advantage of my op- 
portunity and told Mr. Gladstone a little of what he [Sidney Herbert] 
had not done, asking him whether I should tell him the rest, and asking 
him whether I should ask him to help in it for S. Herbert's sake. The 
reply was truly Gladstonian — cautious, cold, complimentary yet 
eloquent — but evidently intending to do nothing." 

Her memoir was privately printed in 1861 and privately circulated 
under the title, Private and Cojifidential. Sidney Herbert — on his Serv- 
ices to the Arfny. In 1862 the memoir was enlarged, read as a paper at 
the London meeting of the Congres de Bienfaisance in June, and subse- 
quently published as a pamphlet under the title: Ar?ny Sanitary Ad- 
ministration and its Reform under the late Lord Herbert. 


Sidney Herbert has left little impression. His term of office was a 
period of great and promising beginnings fated to come to almost noth- 
ing. Many years were to pass before the reforms for which he and 
Miss Nightingale labored became realities. Much of what he did was un- 
done by his successors; many improvements have necessarily been super- 
seded and forgotten. 

It was his personal tragedy that fate called on him to expend his 
genius on a subject for which he was temperamentally unsuited. But he 
did not sacrifice himself in vain. The British Army was fortunate in 
finding such a champion. Without his influence, the prestige deriving 
from his high standing, and his altruism, the cause of the British soldier 
might well have languished for another half-century. He died before his 
work was done, and no outstanding reform is associated with his name, 
but he succeeded in making the health of the British soldier an issue of 
first-class importance, which no subsequent administration could ignore. 
The Royal Sanitary Commission to inquire into the Health of the Army 
in 1857 may not have done all that was anticipated in the first flush of 
hope. But that it should have sat at all was a triumph and marked the 
dawn of a new age. 

When Miss Nightingale had finished writing her memoir, she left the 
Burlington for ever. It was haunted; she could never bring herself to go 
back there. She could see Sidney Herbert in the street. "I could not bear 
to look down Burlington Street where I had seen him so often." And 
Sidney Herbert was not the only ghost. She could see Alexander; Clough, 
now desperately ill; Aunt Mai who had deserted her; Hilary, the limb 
she had been forced to cut off. "I have quite decided not to return to 
the Burlington where one by one my fellow workers whom I had so 
laboriously got together have been removed from me," she wrote to 
W. E. N. on September 9, 1861. She retired to Hampstead, where she 
isolated herself completely. She would see no one, fellow workers, 
family, or friends. To overwhelming grief was added blank despair as 
report after report reached her of Sidney Herbert's work being undone. 
During the first week after his death three important decisions he had 
taken were reversed by the Duke of Cambridge, the Commander-in- 
Chief, "who absolutely cringed to him when alive," she wrote to Sir 
John McNeill on August 21. "On one of these occasions Lord de Grey, 
who happe?ied to be in G. Lewis' room (everything happens — is not 
done — at that miserable place) said, 'Sir, it is impossible; Ld Herbert de- 
cided it — and the House of Commons voted it' and walked out of the 
room. It was less wise than honest. But it had its effect for the time. 


G. Lewis was awed and the C-in-Chief silenced. But only for the timey 
On September 24 she wrote to Harriet Martineau: "The Commander 
in Chief rides over the weak and learned Secretary of State (Sir G. 
Lewis) as if he were straw. Day rooms, Barrack Inspections, Hospitals, 
all the Sanitary Improvements, it is the same. Not one will they leave 
untouched." "As for me," she wrote to Sir John McNeill on August 21, 
"I feel like the Wandering Jew — as if I could ?iot die." 



her life work was ended. The death of Sidney Herbert had closed 
the door through which she entered the official world. Great as her in- 
fluence had been, intimately as she had been concerned in army admin- 
istration, all had depended upon him. She had never had any official 
status; she could not force the War Office to use her. She had been in- 
side because he was inside. Now he was gone, she would be shut out. 

It was the general opinion. In a letter written by one of Aunt Mai's 
daughters in September, 1861, Fanny asked Edwin Chadwick to sug- 
gest some new field of work for Florence, "her own being now closed 
against her." He agreed that her army work was ended but foresaw for 
her a long, useful life of labor for others in some different sphere. In 
the furnished rooms in Hampstead she was wretchedly ill. All the 
familiar symptoms of her collapses reappeared, fainting, extreme weak- 
ness, nausea at the sight of food. In addition, she suffered from nervous 
twitchings. She insisted on remaining alone. 

In 1863 Miss Nightingale wrote of the widowed Queen Victoria: 
"she always reminds me of the woman in the Greek chorus, with her 
hands clasped above her head, wailing out her inexpressible despair." It 
is an apt description of her own behavior after the death of Sidney Her- 
bert. Shut away in the rooms in Hampstead, she wrote letter after letter 
wailing out ruin. "My poor Master has been dead two months today," 
she wrote to Dr. Farr on October 2, 1861, "too long a time for him not 
to be forgotten. . . . The dogs have trampled on his dead body. Alas! 
seven years ago this month I have fought the good fight with the War 
Office. And lost it." "Every day his decisions . . . his judgments are 
over-thrown. . . . We have lost the battle. Now all is over," she wrote 
to Harriet Martineau in September. "Would 1 could hide myself under- 
ground not to see what I do see," she told Lady Herbert on August 1 7. 


But as the weeks went by the sympathy of her fellow workers became 
tempered with irritation. As far as they were concerned, she might as 
usefully have been underground as shut away in Hampstead wailing out 
despair. At the end of September Douglas Galton wrote to her sharply: 
"Notwithstanding what you say, Sidney Herbert did do a great deal, 
doubtless he left something still to be done. The Medical Department is 
in itself a great achievement. But perhaps your motto is 'Nihil actum, si 
quid agendum.' " (Nothing has been accomplished if there is still some- 
thing to be done.) Army reform had not utterly perished with Sidney 
Herbert. The edifice had collapsed, but there were workers still among 
the ruins. Douglas Galton held his post as Inspector-General of Fortifi- 
cations and controlled the erection and maintenance of barracks and 
hospitals. Lord de Grey, a convinced reformer and a disciple of Sidney 
Herbert, had been appointed Under-Secretary of State for War. Sir 
George Lewis, Sidney Herbert's successor, was not unfriendly. On 
October 21, 1861, Richard Monckton Milnes wrote, encouraging her 
to return to work: "I should like you to know how you will find Lord 
de Grey wiUing to do all in his power to further your great and wise 
designs. You won't like Sir G. Lewis, but somewhere or other you ought 
to do so. ... I write this about de Grey because I was staying with 
him not long ago and he expressed himself on the subject with much 

Even in the dark weeks immediately following Sidney Herbert's 
death, a few points had been gained. In September, 1861 Douglas Gal- 
ton's appointment as Inspector-General of Fortifications, which had 
been temporary, was confirmed. At the same time the scope of the Bar- 
rack and Hospital Commission, on which Dr. Sutherland and Douglas 
Galton were the most active and influential members, was extended to 
take in the Mediterranean stations. 

A considerable victory was won over the proposed construction of a 
new General Military Hospital at Woolwich. The Duke of Cambridge, 
the Commander-in-Chief, had steadily opposed the building of this hos- 
pital, and as soon as Sidney Herbert was dead he pressed for cancellation 
of the scheme. This was the occasion when Lord de Grey "happened" 
to be in Sir George Lewis's room and said, with more honesty than 
wisdom: "Sir, it is impossible. Lord Herbert decided it and the House 
of Commons voted it." The building went forward and eventually, at 
Miss Nightingale's suggestion, was called the Herbert Hospital. 

It was true something might still be done, but how woefully little! 
A point here, a point there, might with infinite labor be carried, but 
all high hopes, all grand schemes had perished. "It is reaUy melancholy," 


wrote Douglas Galton after Sidney Herbert had been dead a fortnight, 
"to see the attempts made on all hands to pull down all that Sidney Her- 
bert laboured to build up." 

Victory was no longer a possibility, but every inch of ground must 
be contested in retreat, to preserve something in the midst of disaster. 

Miss Nightingale was drawn back, but the work was bitter to her 
now. She had dreamed of great achievements; there were to be no great 
achievements. All that was left was "desperate guerilla warfare." Heart- 
broken and weary, she revolted. "It cannot last. I am worn out and can- 
not go on long," she wrote to Harriet Alartineau on September 14, 1861. 

Seclusion proved impossible. As soon as she finished her paper on 
Sidney Herbert's services to the army she went back to Hampstead to 
shut herself up again, but at this point she received an appeal which it 
was impossible to ignore. In April, 1861 civil war had begun between 
the Northern and Southern States of America. In October an appeal 
from the Secretary at War in Washington reached Miss Nightingale 
through the agency of Harriet Martineau, who had a channel of com- 
munication with the Northern States through her publisher in New 
York. She was asked for help in organizing hospitals and the care of the 
sick and wounded. On October 8 she told Dr. Farr she had sent to Wash- 
ington "all our War Office Forms and Reports, Statistical and other. 
... It appears that they, the Northern States, are quite puzzled by 
their lack of any Army Organisation." She also sent Miss Dix, the Super- 
intendent of Nurses at Washington, her evidence before the Commission 
of 1857, and Harriet Martineau reported that Miss Nightingale's writ- 
ings were "quoted largely and incessantly in medical journals as a guide 
to military management in the Northern States." No channel of com- 
munication with the Southern States was available, though Miss Night- 
ingale wrote that she was "horrified at the reports of the sufferings of 
their wounded." It was being made evident, had she been willing to be 
encouraged, how far public opinion had been educated in the impor- 
tance of health administration to an army in the field. The Secretary of 
War was petitioned to appoint a Sanitary Commission; plans were 
drawn up for the inspection of camps, for the introduction of female 
nurses into hospitals, and for the improvement and supervision of hos- 
pital diet and cooking. What she herself had done in the Crimea was 
reproduced. Though circumstances prevented much of this work being 
successful, the attempt showed a great change had taken place. 

She became involved in a very large correspondence, advising 
charitable committees, organizations for sick and wounded relief, and 
religious bodies and women's associations who were working for army 

welfare. In 1865, when the war was over, the Secretary of the United 
States Christian Union wrote to her: "Your influence and our indebted- 
ness to you can never be known." 

To remain in Hampstead was impossible, and early in November, 
1 86 1 she was persuaded to accept Sir Harry Verney's repeated offer of 
the loan of his London house, and moved to 32 South Street. She was 
still very feeble, but she persisted in being alone. 

She had only been in London a few days when she received another 
shattering blow: Arthur Hugh Clough died in Florence on November 
12, 1 86 1. Her grief for him was second only to her grief for Sidney Her- 
bert. "Oh Jonathan, my brother Jonathan, my love for thee was very 
great, passing the love of women," she wrote to Sir John McNeill on 
November 18. Clough had united with intellect and wit an extraordi- 
nary ability to inspire affection. "I do not know that I have ever cared 
so much for any man of whom I had seen so little as I did for Clough," 
Sir John McNeill wrote on November 19. Miss Nightingale was blamed 
for misusing his talents, for hastening his end by driving him too hard, 
and dough's family did not refrain from expressing their resentment. 
A fragment of a letter written to her by Jowett in December, 1861 — 
the remainder of the letter has been cut away — advises her to "disregard 
this attack arising from common misery at the death of our dear friend." 

Clough had complemented her as Sidney Herbert had complemented 
her; he gave her affection and sympathy, his brilliance and grace brought 
charm into her life. She gave him the energy, the conviction, the cer- 
tainty which he had somehow fatally lost. His death inflicted a mortal 
wound. Coming only three months after the death of Sidney Herbert, 
when she was struggling to recover herself, the effect was crushing. She 
was totally unnerved. On November 18 she wrote to Douglas Galton, 
"Now hardly a man remains (that I can call a man) of all those I have 
worked with these five years. I survive them all. I am sure I did not mean 

"Hardly a man (that I can call a man)." She had used that phrase be- 
fore when Sidney Herbert died and she was speaking of the most faith- 
ful, the most devoted, possibly the most able of them all, of Dr. Suther- 
land. He alone had done what she demanded, he alone had given up his 
whole life to the work, yet she had never loved him, never could love 
him. To love was essential to her; and with Clough lost, Alexander lost, 
Sidney Herbert lost, she felt herself horribly alone. 

On November 19 Hilary Bonham Carter went to see her; she had col- 
lapsed and been very ill. "She wept very much," wrote Hilary to Clarkey 


on November 20. "She thinks she may perhaps M'ithdraw her hand from 
Government matters entirely." 

But she was not to be allowed to withdraw her hand. A fortnight after 
Clough's death she received an urgent appeal from the War Office. Eng- 
land seemed on the brink of war with the Northern States of America: 
two agents of the Southern States had been taken by force from the 
neutral British steamship Trejit and carried prisoner to a Northern port. 
It was an outrage on the British flag, war seemed inevitable, and the Gov- 
ernment decided to send reinforcements at once to Canada. On Decem- 
ber 3 Lord de Grey wrote asking if he might call and be advised by her 
"as to sanitary arrangements generally" for the expedition, including 
transport, hospitals, the clothing and feeding of the troops, and comforts 
for the sick, 

111, shattered, sunk in grief though she was, she summoned energy to 
work night and day. She did far more than advise. She redrafted the 
proposed instructions to officers in charge of the expedition, and on 
December 10 Lord de Grey wrote to tell her that every one of her altera- 
tions had been adopted. She ascertained the average speed of transport 
by sledge and calculated the time required to transport the sick over the 
immense distances of Canada. She drew up schemes for relays of trans- 
port and for the setting up of depots containing necessary stores. She 
investigated the question of clothmg and recommended that buffalo 
robes should be issued to the troops in place of blankets. Her astonish- 
ing capacity for detail was unimpaired. On December 19 she wrote to 
Douglas Galton: "Your draft does not define with sufficient precision 
the manner in which the meat is to get from the Commissariat into the 
soldiers' kettle; and the clothing from the Q.M.G.'s store on to the sol- 
diers' back. You must define all this. Otherwise you will have men, as 
you did in the Crimea, shirking responsibilit)'." 

Through the intervention of the Prince Consort war was avoided. 
Though mortally ill, he roused himself from his deathbed to insert, with 
his own hand, modifications in the British despatch which made it pos- 
sible for the Northern States to withdraw without humihation. It was 
his last public act, and a fortnight later he died. Miss Nightingale felt his 
death was a great national disaster of which the nation was oblivious. 
"He was," she wrote to Clarkey, "really a minister. This very few knew. 
He neither liked nor was liked, but what he has done for this country no 
one knows." 

The Canadian Expedition was a turning-point. She was back in har- 
ness; work came rushing in; retirement was impossible. Weary, heart- 


broken, grief-stricken though she might be, her private feelings must be 
laid aside, and she must force herself to work once more. Jowett once 
said Miss Nightingale was the only person he had ever met in whom 
pubHc feelings were stronger than private feelings. But that did not 
mean that her private feelings were weak; on the contrary, they were 
almost overwhelmingly strong, and in 1861, though her sense of duty 
forced her to dedicate herself to the respublica, she was unreconciled 
to her lot. She resented more than ever the sacrifice demanded of her, 
she fell even more frequently into frenzies of grief, rage, and disgust 
with the world. 

She was horribly lonely. She had no friend; she had no helper. She 
was entering a period of great toil, relentless self-sacrifice, discourage- 
ment, and she had no single soul to give her support. 

She looked round the world and what did she see? Women every- 
where. The world was full of women, and not one of them would help. 
Rage seized her. What had she not endured from the pretensions, the 
foolishness, the frivolity, the selfishness of women! All her grief, her 
pain, concentrated itself into a passion of contempt and dislike for her 
own sex. On December 1 3 she began to pour out to Clarkey, who had 
just written a book on Madame Recamier, an enormous, disconnected 
diatribe on women: ". . . you say 'women are more sympathetic than 
men.' Now if I were to write a book out of my experience, I should be- 
gin, Wo7Jie?i have no sympathy. Yours is the tradition — mine is the con- 
viction of experience. I have never found one woman who has altered 
her life by one iota for me or my opinions. Now look at my experience 
of men. 

"A Statesman, past middle age, absorbed in politics for a quarter of a 
century, out of syinpathy with me, remodels his whole life and policy 
— learns a science, the driest, the most technical, the most difficult, that 
of administration as far as it concerns the lives of men, — not, as I learned 
it, in the field from the living experience, but by writing dry regulations 
in a London room, by my sofa, with me. 

"This is what I call real sympathy. 

"Another (Alexander whom I made Director General) does very 
nearly the same thing. He is dead too. 

"Clough, a poet bom if there ever was one, takes to nursing admin- 
istration in the same way, for me. 

"I only mention three, whose whole lives were re-modelled by sym- 
pathy for me. But I could mention very many others — Farr, McNeill, 
Tulloch, Storks, Martin, who in a lesser degree have altered their work 


by my opinions. And, most wonderful of all — a man born without a 
soul, like Undine — Sutherland. All these elderly men. 

"Now just look at the degree in which women have sympathy — as 
far as my experience is concerned. And my experience of women is al- 
most as large as Europe. And it is so intimate too. I have lived and slept 
in the same bed with English Countesses and Prussian Bauerinnen, with 
a closeness of intimacy no one ever had before. No Roman Catholic 
Superieure has ever had the charge of women of the most different 
creeds that I have had. No woman has excited 'passions' among women 
more than I have. 

"Yet I leave no school behind' me. My doctrines have taken no hold 
among women. Not one of my Crimean following learnt anything from 
me — or gave herself for one moment, after she came home, to carry out 
the lesson of that war, or of those hospitals. I have lived with a sister 30 
years, with an aunt four or five, with a cousin two or three. Not one 
has altered one hour of her existence for me. Not one has read one of 
my books so as to be able to save me the trouble of writing or telling it 
all over again. 

"Hilary is the type of want of sympathy. Because she is the most un- 
selfish, and because she has a 'passion' for me. Yet have I not influenced 
her by one inch. Nay rather all these women have influenced me, much 
more than I have them. Parthe always told me, as a reproach, that I was 
'more like a man.' Indeed I began to think it was true. 

"No woman that I know has ever appris a apprendre. And I attribute 
this to want of sympathy. . . . 

"It makes me mad the 'Woman's Rights' talk about the 'want of a 
field' for them — when I know that I would gladly give £ 500 a year for 
a Woman Secretary. And two English Superintendents have told me the 
same. And we can't get one. 

"As for my own family, their want of the commonest knowledge of 
contemporary history makes them quite useless as secretaries. They 
don't know the names of the Cabinet Ministers. They don't know the 
offices at the Horse Guards. They don't know who of the men of today 
is dead and who is alive. They don't know which of the Churches has 
Bishops and which not. 

"Now I'm sure I did not know these things. When I went to the 
Crimea I did not know a Colonel from a Corporal. But there are such 
things as Army Lists and Almanacs. Yet I never knew a woman who, 
out of sympathy, would consult one — for my work. 

"... A woman once told me my character would be more sym- 


pathised with by men than by women. In one sense, I don't choose to 
have that said. Sidney Herbert and I were together exactly like two men 
— exactly like him and Gladstone. And as for Clough, oh Jonathan, my 
brother Jonathan, my love for thee was very great, passing the love of 


"In another sense I do believe it is true. I do believe I am 'like a man,' 
as Parthe says. But how? In having sympathy. I am sure I have nothing 
else. I am sure I have no genius. I am sure that my contemporaries, 
Parthe, Hilary, Marianne, Lady Dunsany, were all cleverer than I was, 
and several of them more unselfish. But not one had a bit of sympathy. 

". . . Women crave for being loved, not for loving. They scream at 
you for sympathy all day long, they are incapable of giving any in re- 
turn, for they cannot remember your affairs long enough to do so. . . . 
They cannot state a fact accurately to another, nor can that other attend 
to it accurately enough for it to become information. Now is not all this 
the result of want of sympathy? If you knew what it has been to me, 
having my aunt instead of S. Herbert, Hilary instead of Clough, etc. 
etc. etc. — not because the man had power the women none. But simply 
from what I say of want of attention. I'm sure I don't think what falls 
from my lips pearls and diamonds. Only, if they are not going to listen, 
I had so much rather not say it. I'm none too fond of talking. . . . 

"People often say to me, you don't know what a wife and mother 
feels. No, I say, I don't and I'm very glad I don't. And they don't know 
what / feel. Why, dear soul, Blanche went away and left her husband 
for a year! I am the only person who made any effort to save his life 
and gave him ;^5oo to go abroad, my hard earned savings. And they are 
living on that now, his wife and sisters, at Florence. . . . 

"I am sick with indignation at what wives and mothers will do of the 
most egregious selfishness. And people call it all maternal or conjugal 
affection, and think it pretty to say so. No, no, let each person tell the 
truth from his own experience. 

"Ezekiel went running about naked, 'for a sign.' I can't run about 
naked because it is not the custom of the country. But I would mount 
three widows' caps on my head, 'for a sign.' And I would cry. This is for 
Sidney Herbert, I am his real widow. This is for Arthur Clough, I am his 
true widow (and I don't find it a comfort that I had two legs to cut 
off, whereas other people have but one). And this, the biggest widow's 
cap of all, is for the loss of all sympathy on the part of my nearest and 
dearest. (For that my aunt was. We were like two lovers.) 

". . . This is the shortest day, would it were the last. Adieu dear 
friend. I am worse. I have had two consultations and they say that all 


this worry has brought on congestion of the spine, which leads straight 
to Paralysis. And they say I must not write letters. Whereupon I do it 
all the more." 

Her health was approaching a new crisis. She had already collapsed 
twice within the last six months, once when Sidney Herbert died in 
August and again when the news of Clough's death reached her in No- 
vember. She was alone, devoured by grief, remorse, and resentment, un- 
able to rise from her bed, unable to eat. In this condition she had forced 
herself to work day and night on the Canadian Expedition. On Christ- 
mas Eve 1 86 1 she w^as dangerously ill, more dangerously ill than she had 
been since her collapse in the summer of 1857. 

For some weeks she was expected to die. She longed to die, but her 
iron constitution triumphed, and by the middle of January she was able 
to sit up in bed. But a further stage had been reached in the decline of 
her health. After this last illness she became bed-ridden and did not 
leave her room for six years. She moved from house to house but could 
not walk — she had to be carried. She never saw the outside world, to 
exchange one set of four walls for another was the only variation in her 

By the end of January, 1862 she was convalescent, but hope had left 
her; she was like a man brought back to health so that he might be able 
to walk to the gallows. "I have lost all," she wrote to Fanny on March 
7, 1862. "All the others have children or some high and inspiring interest 
to live for — while I have lost husband and children and all. And am left 
to the dreary hopeless struggle. ... It is this desperate guerilla war- 
fare ending in so little which makes me impatient of life. I, who could 
once do so much ... I think what I have felt most during my last 3 
months of extreme weakness is the not having one single person to give 
one inspiring word, or even one correct fact. I am glad to end a day 
which never can come back, gladder to end a night, gladder still to end 
a month." 

The task which lay before her was indeed daunting. The reformers 
had been appalled at Sidney Herbert's death, but even so they had not 
fully realized his value. On June 6, 1862, Miss Nightingale admitted to 
Douglas Galton: "One did not appreciate the power of Sidney Her- 
bert's hand at the War Office while he was alive." Her close intimacy 
with Sidney Herbert could not be repeated, but it was a malign stroke 
of fate which replaced Sidney Herbert by Sir George Lewis — no two 
people could have honestly found each other more difficult to under- 
stand than Sir George Lewis and Miss Nightingale. His virtues were 
of a kind which she was unable to appreciate. He was one of the best 


classical scholars in Europe, extremely industrious, and of unimpeach- 
able integrity, but he lacked warmth. Greville said he was as cold- 
blooded as a fish. He had written several books in a restrained and 
polished style on classical and political subjects and had considerable 
wit. One of his sayings, "the indiscretion of biographers adds a new 
terror to death," was often quoted by Miss Nightingale. In his position 
as Secretary of State for War he deserved sympathy; he had been un- 
willing to take office, and had accepted only out of public spirit. "I can 
fancy no fish more out of water than Lewis amidst Armstrong guns and 
General Officers," Sidney Herbert had written on July i6, 1861, adding 
that he was a gentleman and an honest man. But the nature of his breed- 
ing and integrity belonged to the eighteenth rather than the nineteenth 
century. He was no philanthropist, no reformer. He was able, as 
Richard Monckton Milnes said, to make up his mind to the "damnabil- 
ities of the work." 

Miss Nightingale never would meet him. The spell which she had 
cast over Panmure she never would attempt to cast over him. On his 
side Sir George Lewis was friendly. In the spring of 1862 he suggested 
he should call, but she refused on the grounds of her recent illness. 
Knowing her to be a classical scholar, he sent her one of the classical 
jeiix (T esprit in which he excelled, the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Did- 
dle" translated into Latin verse. She was not flattered, but enraged, and 
wrote to Douglas Galton that Sir George Lewis would do far better to 
keep his mind on the War Office. Meanwhile he followed up "Hey 
Diddle Diddle" in Latin with "Humpty Dumpty" in Greek. 

However, owing to Sir George's lack of experience in army admin- 
istration. Lord de Grey was becoming of increasing importance, and 
since the Canadian Expedition he had become her friend. Lord de Grey 
had been born to great position and great wealth. His father. Lord Ripon, 
was Prime Minister at the time of his birth, and his birthplace was 10 
Downing Street. He united an instinctively aristocratic outlook with 
radical and even revolutionary views. When a young man he had been 
a member of the Christian socialist movement, and had written a pam- 
phlet which was suppressed. His integrity was beyond question, his 
capacity for work great, and his sense of pubhc duty very high. 

When Miss Nightingale reentered the War Office after the Canadian 
Expedition, she had Lord de Grey behind her and influence within the 
departments through Douglas Galton and Dr. Sutherland. Outside the 
War Office she had a powerful friend and protector in Lord Palmerston, 
who had become Prime Minister again in 1859. 

Almost immediately a crisis arose. On May 15, 1862, Sir Benjamin 


Hawes, Permanent Under-Secretary for War, unexpectedly died. Both 
the man and his office liad been major obstacles in the path of reform. 
The Permanent Under-Secretary for War stood in an administrative 
bottle-neck. "He was," wrote Miss Nightingale, "a dictator, an autocrat, 
irresponsible to Parliament, quite unassailable from any quarter, im- 
movable in the middle of a (so-called) Constitutional Government and 
under a Secretary of State who is responsible to Parliament." One of the 
fundamental principles of her scheme of War Office reorganization had 
been the abolition of the office of Permanent Under-Secretary. 

The office had been attacked, and the attack had failed. Benjamin 
Hawes had beaten Sidney Herbert. Now Fate had intervened, and he 
was dead. Supported by Lord de Grey, she pressed urgently for reform. 
The office of Permanent Under-Secretary should be abolished, the work 
divided into two parts and performed by two Under-Secretaries, each 
directly responsible to the Secretary of State for War. The purely mili- 
tary work was to be done by the Alilitary Under-Secretary, a post, al- 
ready in existence, which had been created by Sidney Herbert, and the 
health and sanitary administration of the army should be done by a 
civilian with the title of Assistant Under-Secretary. She made the bold 
suggestion that Douglas Galton should be allowed to resign his com- 
mission and be appointed to this post as a civilian. 

A pitched battle ensued. Objections to splitting the office of the 
Permanent Under-Secretary into two were strengthened by the name 
of Sir Charles Trevelyan being put forward as Benjamin Hawes' suc- 
cessor. Sir Charles was an able man and an admirable administator whom 
Miss Nightingale liked and respected. But she was not to be turned from 
her determination. The system was wrong; and "there could be no more 
fatal mistake than to attempt to offset the evil of a system by introducing 
into it individuals of merit." As Permanent Under-Secretary under the 
present system, Sir Charles Trevelyan would still be "an absolute despot 
though a wise one," she wrote to W. E. N. on May 24, 1862; and, "inas- 
much as Trevelyan is a better and abler man than Hawes, it would have 
been worse for my reform of principle." 

She succeeded. It was agreed that the work of the office should be 
divided; its importance was halved, and it became no longer worthy of 
Sir Charles Trevelyan's consideration. 

The next step was to secure the appointment of Douglas Galton as 
Assistant Under-Secretary. Official opposition was determined, and Miss 
Nightingale appealed directly to the Prime Minister. Lord Palmerston 
spoke to the Commander-in-Chief, who told him that the appointment 
was "simply impossible." Lord Palmerston refused to be deterred. Miss 


Nightingale had convinced him, as six years ago she had convinced him 
in the matter of the plans for Netley Hospital. He had been thwarted 
then; he did not intend to be thwarted now. He ignored the Commander- 
in-Chief and directed Sir George Lewis to make the appointment, 
which he obediently did. Miss Nightingale, who despised Sir George 
Lewis's powers of administration, said he did not understand what he 
was doing. On May 24 Douglas Galton was appointed. 

She had won a notable victory. With Douglas Galton in charge of 
the health and sanitary administration of the army, with Lord de Grey 
as Parliamentary Under-Secretary, with Sir George Lewis acquiescent, 
she saw War Office reorganization as a certainty in the near future; and 
she allowed herself to rejoice. On May 24, 1862, heading her letter "The 
poor Queen's Birthday," she wrote to W. E. N.: "I must tell you the 
first joy I have had since poor Sidney Herbert's death. Lord Palmerston 
has forced Sir G. Lewis to carry out Mr. Herbert's and my plan for 
the re-organisation of the War Office in some measure. And it may 
seem some compensation to you for the enormous expense I cause you, 
that, if I had not been here, it would not have been done. Would that 
Sidney Herbert could have lived to do it himself!" 

Her jubilation was short-lived, for no radical change took place in 
the War Office. She had hoped too much both from the reform and the 
reformers. Douglas Galton and Lord de Grey, sincere, talented, and 
hard-working, did not possess the genius, the driving force which alone 
could have accomplished what she had called "the fearful task of cleans- 
ing the Augean stable." Where Sidney Herbert had failed, it was not 
surprising that Douglas Galton and Lord de Grey did not succeed. On 
August 8, 1862, she wrote to Sir John McNeill: "Lord de Grey and 
Douglas Galton miscalculated their powers and their intelligence when 
they promised to re-organise the W.O. The administrative work they 
do well." 

It was final defeat, and she accepted it. She continued to press Douglas 
Galton and Lord de Grey in season and out of season for departmental 
efficiency, but the grand project of complete War Office reorganization 
was relinquished for ever. 

It was not revived even when, on April 13, 1863, the situation was 
changed once more by the sudden death of Sir George Lewis. Three 
men were possible candidates for the office of Secretary of State for 
War — Lord Panmure, Mr. Cardwell, and Lord de Grey. The prospect 
of having the Bison once more at the War Office was distasteful, but 
even more distasteful was the prospect of Mr. Cardwell. Edward Card- 
well, who ten years later carried through the most important army 


reforms of the century, was a man to whom Miss Nightingale failed to 
do justice. He had been a scholar of Winchester and Balliol; he was 
conscientious, industrious, eminently discreet, kind-hearted, and an ex- 
cellent public servant. But he lacked charm. Nor did he commend him- 
self to her by being the devoted disciple of Gladstone. They had already 
met in 1857, while she was working on the first Royal Sanitary Com- 
mission, and they had not been attracted to each other. 

She plunged into a campaign to secure the appointment of Lord 
de Grey. Lord Palmerston had been the friend and admirer of Sidney 
Herbert, and she appealed to him, speaking not with her own voice but 
with the voice of Sidney Herbert. On April 1 5 Sir Harry Verney was 
sent down to read Lord Palmerston a letter she had written. On the 
afternoon of April 15 he wrote describing the interview. "Lord Pal- 
merston was so good as to admit me. I said I had seen you this morning, 
and that by your desire I requested him to allow me to read a letter to 
him from you. He said 'Certainly'; and I read it to him rather slowly. 
Having read it, I said that you had mentioned this morning that within 
a fortnight of Lord Herbert's death, he had said to you more than once 
that he hoped Lord de Grey would be his successor. He took the letter 
and put it in his pocket. He then asked how you were and where, and 
I told him. There is a Cabinet at 5.30 this afternoon." A copy of the 
letter was also sent to Air. Gladstone before the Cabinet meeting. 

At the same time Miss Nightingale appealed urgently to Harriet 
Martineau for newspaper support. A draft of a telegram, written in her 
own hand and sent on April 16, 1863, runs: "From Florence Nightingale 
to Harriet Martineau — Agitate, agitate, for Lord de Grey to succeed 
Sir George Lewis." On the following day the Daily Neivs published a 
leading article pressing for his appointment. 

In fact the matter was already decided. Lord Palmerston had once 
more been convinced. On April 16, the day after the Cabinet meeting, 
he went down to Windsor and read A4iss Nightingale's letter to the 
Queen, and the appointment of Lord de Grey was announced on 
April 22, 1863. 

The appointment ensured that Miss Nightingale's influence in army 
affairs continued, but her position was not the position she had held 
when Sidney Herbert was alive. She had then been closely concerned 
in the internal affairs of the War Office. She had done the work of an 
administrator. In 1863, not only was her friendship with Lord de Grey 
very different from her close intimacy with Sidney Herbert, but there 
was no urgent task, such as the Royal Sanitary Commission of 1857 had 
been, to bring her directly into War Office affairs. She herself wrote in 


1 862 that she had done the work of a Secretary of State at the War Of- 
fice for five years, but she was doing that work no longer. She had 
passed from being an administrator to being an adviser. 

As an adviser her position was extraordinary. For the next four years 
every problem afi"ecting the health and sanitary administration of the 
British Army was referred to Miss Nightingale, though she was not 
only a woman but an invalid who never left her house and for months 
on end did not leave her bed. She had enormous knowledge of the 
history of the departments; she knew the course of every transaction 
for years past; she knew where to go for information; she knew where 
papers were to be found. Secretaries borrowed copies of documents 
jfrom her which were inexplicably missing from War Office files. She 
saved trouble to busy men. Once there was work to be done, she asked 
neither for credit nor consideration, only to be allowed to do it. Minis- 
ters, Under-Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries wrote to her daily asking 
her as an expert for expert assistance. It was as if she were indeed a re- 
tired Secretary of State with vast experience, willing to devote his life 
to anonymous and unpaid work. She drafted hundreds of minutes; she 
drew up warrants and regulations; she wrote official memoranda, letters, 
and summaries for the Ministers' use; she composed instructions. 

Her genius for financial administration was extraordinary. She de- 
vised a cost-accounting system for the Army Medical Services, which 
was put into operation between i860 and 1865 and, eighty years later, 
was still in use. In 1947 the Select Committee on Estimates reported 
favorably on it, commented that it worked admirably, though in other 
departments systems installed within the last twenty years had been 
discarded, and inquired with whom it had originated. They were told — 
Miss Nightingale. 

War Office Abstracts list the questions on which she was engaged 
during one year as a new Warraiit for Apothecaries, Proposals for 
Equip77ie?Jt of Military Hospitals, a scheme for the Organization of 
Hospitals for Soldiers'' Wives, Proposals for the revision of Army Ra- 
tions, Warrant and Instructions for Staff Surgeons, Instructions for 
treatJiient of yellow fever, Proposals for revision of Purveying and 
CoTmnissariat in the Colonies, Revised diet sheets for Troop-Ships, Pro- 
posals for appoi?itments at Netley and Chatham, Instructions for Treat- 
ment of Cholera. And these were sidelines; her main work for the Army 
was still concerned with the improvement of barrack and hospital ac- 
commodation and the reform and reconstruction of the Army Medical 
Department, the two contributions Sidney Herbert had succeeded in 
making which she carried forward as a sacred trust. 


She exercised authority over plans for building and reconstructing 
barracks and hospitals. Douglas Galton had all construction works 
under his control and submitted almost all plans to her. He leaned, as 
Sidney Herbert had leaned, not only on her judgment but on her re- 
markable ability to tear the essentials out of great masses of detail, and 
her astonishing unwearying thoroughness. A specimen memorandum 
on the plans for the new general military hospital at Malta covers more 
than two dozen foolscap pages. 

It was the toughest and driest work, only occasionally enlivened by 
a gleam of humor. In 1863 Douglas Galton sent her plans for model 
cavalry barracks; she returned them with the request that the horses 
should be provided with windows to look out of. "I do not speak from 
hearsay but from actual personal acquaintance with horses of the most 
intimate kind," she wrote on June 4, 1863. "And I assure you they tell 
me it is of the utmost consequence to their health and spirits when in 
the loose box to have a window to look out of. A small bulls eye will do. 
I have told Dr. Sutherland but he has no feeling." On this letter Dr. 
Sutherland scribbled: "We have provided such a window and every 
horse can see out if he chooses to stand on his hind legs with his fore feet 
against the wall. It is the least exertion he can put himself to." 

The task of reconstructing and reforming the Army Medical Service 
was the most difficult of all her tasks. Constant and bitter opposition 
came from within the Medical Department itself: the senior members 
had scores to settle dating back to the Crimea. Opposition blazed up 
into fury when, in 1862, Miss Nightingale and the Medical Department 
found themselves on different sides in the controversy over the Con- 
tagious Diseases, i.e. Venereal Diseases, Act. 

The proportion of men in the British Army invalided with syphilis 
was disconcertingly high, and since 1861 the War Office had been de- 
bating measures to reduce it. The Aledical Department recommended 
that the continental system, by which prostitutes were licensed, in- 
spected and, if necessary, forced to submit to medical treatment, should 
be adopted. To this system Miss Nightingale was passionately opposed. 
She considered the continental system morally disgusting, unworkable 
in practice, and unsuccessful in results. 

In the hospitals and barracks of Scutari and Balaclava, in the crowded 
slums of London, she had come into close contact with prostitution. 
The quality of her mind, her common sense, her humanity freed her 
from contemporary prejudice. In 1862 she wrote to Edwin Chadwick 
that the causes of vice in the Army were not "moral but physical." 
"They are," she wrote, "i. Filthy crowded dwellings. 2. Drunkenness. 


3- Ignorance. and want of occupation." The way to improve the soldiers' 
morals was to improve his living conditions. "In civil life you don't 
expect that every workman who does not marry before he is 30 will 
become diseased," she wrote to Douglas Galton in June, 1861. "In mili- 
tary Hfe you do. Why? Because a workman may have occupation and 
amusement and consort with honest women. People always say a 
woman can't know anything about it. It is because I know more about 
the actual workings of the thing than most men that I cannot hold my 
tongue." She advanced her views with such force that in 1862 she was 
officially invited to submit a paper, giving her first-hand experience in 
barracks and hospitals. Lord de Grey told Douglas Galton that he was 
shaken by her figures, but Mr. Gladstone, though he said he should ap- 
proach the question with circumspection, "doubted the possibility of 
making a standing army a moral institution." 

She had made sufficient impression for the Government to proceed 
cautiously. In 1863 a committee was set up by the War Office to investi- 
gate the results of police inspection of prostitutes in what were termed 
"protected" armies. The instructions for the committee were drawn up 
by Miss Nightingale, and she was invited to submit a list of suitable 

Meanwhile the Army Medical Department was becoming more and 
more infuriated. Though Miss Nightingale's name did not appear, it was 
an open secret that she was the moving spirit. In July, 1863 one of the 
few scurrilous attacks ever made on her came from a member of the De- 
partment, who wrote her anonymously she told Harriet Martineau, a 
letter of "vulgar and indecent abuse." 

The suggestions put forward by the Army Medical Department were 
of incredible naivete. One doctor told Dr. Sutherland, "quite gravely, 
that the only way would be to attach a certain number of these women 
to each regiment and place them under religious instruction." Miss 
Nightingale remarked, "the prostitutes who survive five years of this 
life should have good service pensions." She had great faith in the effect 
of the inquiry made by the War Office Committee. She was wrong. 
Public opinion was not converted; the House of Commons was over- 
whelmingly in favor of police regulation and inspection; and in 1864 
the Contagious Diseases Act became law. Miss Nightingale said that the 
War Office deserved the V.C. for their cool intrepidity in the face of 

The passage of the Act left her depressed. Was she succeeding to any 
degree, was she accomplishing anything at all? Ill, lonely, grief-stricken, 
toiling incessantly, living without the slightest relaxation, she was 


haunted by a settled conviction of failure. Any compromise was defeat. 
Everything was to be measured against perfection; if it fell short of 
perfection there was no good in it; and yet, if she would only see it, she 
was repeatedly presented with solid evidence of how much she had 

In the spring of 1 864 she was asked to supply information for a speech 
to be made in the House of Commons by Lord Hartington, the Under- 
Secretary for War, who was to defend the increase in the cost of the 
hospital and medical services for the Army, which had risen from 
j^ 97,000 in 1853 to no less than ^295,000 in 1864. Surely here was 
cause for congratulation; here was proof of extraordinary progress? 
She refused to be cheered. She sent Lord Hartington a detailed memo- 
randum, setting out what the nation got for its money, which he used 
with success. She experienced no gratification and pronounced the 
speech to be very dull. 

In the following year she had even more remarkable proof of progress. 
Lord Panmure, now sitting in the House of Lords as Lord Dalhousie, 
made an attack on sanitary principles in general and sanitarians in par- 
ticular; he attacked the Herbert Hospital as being "all glass and glare" 
and providing only a fraction of the accommodation of his hospital at 
Netley; he attacked the wasteful system which Lord Herbert had in- 
augurated by paying attention to sanitarians; and, finally, he made a 
personal attack on Miss Nightingale herself. He "could not help think- 
ing that all these unnecessary knick knacks in hospitals were introduced 
partly from the habit, which prevailed at the War Office, of consult- 
ing hygienists not connected with the Army." 

She had prepared Lord de Grey with a reply, but defense was not 
necessary — the speech fell flat. Lord Dalhousie's attack on sanitary 
science was out of fashion. In eleven years so q^reat a change had taken 
place that his voice seemed to come from a past age. 

"Do not fear," Lord Stanley wrote to Miss Nightingale on July 10, 
1863, "that Lord Herbert's work will be left unfinished: sanitary ideas 
have taken root in the public mind, and they cannot be treated as vision- 
ary. . . . The ground that has been gained cannot be lost." 

If she felt any satisfaction, she did not record it. War Office affairs 
had become of secondary importance; memoranda, the drafting of 
minutes, warrants and instructions, the never-ending toil involved in 
the scrutiny of plans for barracks and hospitals had become sidelines. 
Another vast undertaking^ had come into her Hfe which was overwhelm- 
ing her and crushing her as no other previous labor had done — the Royal 
Sanitary Commission on the Health of the Army in India. 




Nightingale approaches this enormous task, one is overcome by a feel- 
ing of hopelessness. It is too much to attempt; the labor is too gigantic, 
the questions involved too vast and too intricate; the difficulties of dis- 
tance, language, communication must prove insuperable. She herself is 
now a bed-ridden invalid of over forty, shattered in health and over- 
whelmed with other work. Nevertheless, in 1862 and 1863 she reached 
the peak of her working life; her will conquered her physical disabilities; 
she drove herself to work as she had never worked before, and as, after 
this period, she was never able to work again. 

Sidney Herbert had left her a frightful legacy in the Indian Sanitary 
Commission. Without him, she repeatedly said, she would never have 
contemplated it. Lord Stanley, "that noble and industrious lord," was 
not altogether satisfactory to her. They were friends, but he was cool, 
"singularly cool," one of his contemporaries called him, cautious and 
critical. His slowness to take action, refusal to be driven, threw Miss 
Nightingale into frenzies of irritation. She did not realize his value. The 
fact that the movement to improve Indian sanitation had behind it a man 
of Lord Stanley's known stability was in reality of the greatest assistance 
to her. 

Early in May, 1859, before the warrant for the Commission was is- 
sued. Miss Nightingale had discovered that no satisfactory figures and 
records, on which she and Dr. Farr could work, existed and that to 
obtain even ordinary documents relating to India in London was a 
hopeless task. She decided to obtain all her information at first-hand, and 
in consultation with Sir John McNeill and Sir Charles Trevelyan, at 
this time Governor of Madras, she drafted a Circular of E?iquiry which 
was to be sent to every mihtary station in India. She also wrote to 200 
larger stations asking for copies of all regulations, including local Regula- 


tions, relating to the health and sanitary administration of the army. 
Finally, she wrote indiv'idually to all military and medical officers of 
high rank in India with whom she was acquainted, or to whom she 
could obtain introductions, asking for their goodwill and cooperation. 

As the reports returned from India, they were sent to Miss Nightin- 
gale, who analyzed them, assisted by Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Farr. The 
task was colossal. Literally tons of paper were involved. When she took 
a house, the reports required a whole room to house them. When she 
moved, they filled two vans. 

Eventually the Station Reports filled the second volume of the Indian 
Sanitary Commission's Report, a folio volume of nearly i,ooo pages in 
small t)^pe. "The bulk of the Report" wrote Henry Reeve "is truly ap- 
palling." They are documentary evidence of immense value, providing 
a detailed picture, which is recorded nowhere else, of military life in 
India, both British and native, in the years immediately preceding and 
following the Mutiny. No official survey of India was undertaken until 

As the analysis proceeded, it became clear that facts of such over- 
whelming importance were being disclosed that they must constitute 
the basis of the Commission's Report. Yet Miss Nightingale, who had 
originated the scheme and executed it, from the drafting of the ques- 
tions to the analysis of the replies, was not a member of the Commis- 
sion nor did she qualify as a witness. How was her work to be included? 
The solution proved the extraordinary place she had earned in official 
estimation. She was officially invited, in October, 1861, to submit in due 
course "Remarks" on the Station Reports, which should be signed by 
her and incorporated under her name into the report of the Commis- 
sion. By August, 1862 the analysis was complete, and she had written 
her remarks under the title Observations by Miss Nightingale. 

After Notes on Nursijjg, Observations is the most readable of her 
writings. Ill, exhausted, and bereaved, she had never written anything 
with fiercer vitality. She intended Observations to be provocative. She 
told a frightful story with accuracy. "The picture is terrible but it is 
all true," wrote Sir John McNeill on August 9, 1862. 

Statistics showed that for years the death-rate of the British Army 
in India had been 69 per 1,000. "It is at that expense," wrote Miss Night- 
ingale, "that we have held dominion there for a century; a company out 
of every regiment has been sacrificed every twenty months." This 
enormously high death-rate was not the inevitable result of the climate. 
The diseases from which troops died like flies were not specifically 
tropical diseases; they were camp diseases rendered a hundred times 


more deadly in India by climate and the proximity of native populations 
living in conditions of appalling filth. 

Barracks were built of lath and plaster with floors of earth varnished 
over with cow dung "like Mahomet and the dung hill, if men won't go 
to the dung hill, the dung hill it appears comes to them." The water 
supply was deplorable. Only two stations supphed a chemical analysis, 
one of which read "like an intricate prescription," other stations con- 
tented themselves by describing their water as "smells good" or "smells 

No drainage whatever existed "in any sense in which we understand 
drainage. The reports speak of cess pits as if they were dressing rooms," 
wrote Miss Nightingale. The Indian Authorities were like the London 
woman who when asked to point out the drains said: "No, thank God, 
Sir, we have none of them foul stinking things here." Means of washing 
were practically nil; stations were either without lavatories or, if lava- 
tories existed, they had no fittings. One station washed in "earthenware 
pie dishes on a wooden form." "If the facilities for washing were as great 
as those for drink, our Indian army would be the cleanest body of men 
in the world," commented Miss Nightingale. Drunkenness was uni- 
versal. A station was described as "temperate" in which one man out 
of every three admitted to hospital was suffering directly from the ef- 
fects of drink. 

Barracks were crammed with troops. One report stated that "300 
men per room were generally accommodated without inconvenient 
overcrowding." "What is co7ivenient overcrowding.'" inquired Miss 
Nightingale. Troops had no occupation, no means of recreation, and no 
opportunities for exercise. In the hot weather they were customarily 
confined to barracks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They had nothing to do, noth- 
ing to read, nowhere to go. Out of 24 hours they lay on their beds for 

Hospitals were inferior in construction and comfort even to bar- 
racks. Often they were merely sheds supported on poles. Patients were 
washed and nursed by a ward coolie hired at 4 rupees a month who was 
not a soldier and, in a cholera epidemic, usually ran away. When a man 
was dangerously ill, one of his comrades was sent for and then, in Miss 
Nightingale's words, "The Regimental Comrade not knowing the 
language, nurses the Patient by beating the Coolie." 

The allowance of tubs and basins was i per 100 men. Washing was 
done by pouring water over the patients from a tin pot. Convalescents 
spent 24 hours a day in bed. Privies were highly offensive and gangrene 


and erysipelas widespread. Troops would conceal their illness rather 
than go into hospital. 

To rectify these conditions involved a new problem. Of what use to 
improve and sanitate barracks and hospitals when next door lay the 
bazaar and native city in all their filth? To improve conditions for the 
troops, the whole sanitary level of the country must be raised. "The 
salvation of the Indian Army must be brought about by sanitary meas- 
ures everywhere," Miss Nightingale wrote. The health of the army and 
the people of India went hand in hand. 

Another great mission had come to her. Work in military hospitals 
had inevitably led her to civil hospitals; sanitary work for troops in India 
led her to work for the health of the peoples of India. By the time she 
had finished the report, she was as much concerned with the one as the 
other. "This is the dawn of a new day for India in sanitary things, not 
only as regards our Army but as regards the native population," she 
wrote to Harriet iVlartineau in May, 1863. 

Miss Nightingale proposed that a Sanitary Department should be 
established at the India Office to draw up and enforce a sanitary code for 
all India. She did not succeed. The Sanitary Commission on the Health 
of the Army in India was a military commission, instructed to concern 
itself with military aff^airs. Between the civil and military administration 
in India there was friction; no suggestions for changes in civilian ad- 
ministration would be entertained which emanated from a military Com- 
mission. She did, however, succeed in establishing some sanitary control 
at home. Two Indian representatives were added to the Barrack and 
Hospital Commission, and its powers were extended to include India; 
as a result all sanitary works for the Army in India would pass through 
Dr. Sutherland's hands. The sky seemed to be clearing, and Miss Night- 
ingale, relieved from the enormous burden under which she had stag- 
gered for two years, allowed herself a moment of elation. On May 
19, 1863, she wrote to Harriet Martineau: "I cannot help telling you in 
the joy of my heart that the final meeting of the Indian Sanitary Com- 
mission was held today — that the Report was signed and that, after a 
very tough fight, lasting over three days to convince these people that 
a report was not self executive, our working commission was carried." 

She was confident that the report would be read, not only by Mem- 
bers of Parliament, but by the public. So many copies of the Army 
Sanitary Report of 1857 had been sold that the Government had made 
a profit, and she anticipated that the sales of the Indian Report would 
be larger still. But disaster followed. Either a genuine mistake occurred, 


or, as she believed, she was the victim of a deliberate plot. It appeared 
that an attempt was made, if not to suppress the whole report, then at 
least to suppress the disclosures most unpalatable to the Government. 

Unknown to her the Clerk to the Commission prepared a new and 
shorter edition: shorter because it left out the facts on which the report 
was based — the Station Reports, her abstract of the Station Reports and 
her Observations. The ground was covered by giving a Precis of the 
Evidence, executed with so little competence that reference was re- 
peatedly made to passages in the sections which had been eliminated. 
This edition was to be the only one on sale to the public and was to be 
the edition presented to both Houses of Parliament. A thousand copies 
only had been printed of the original report, the type for the two 
enormous volumes having already been broken up. Even these copies 
were not obtainable. They were "reserved" by the Government. 

On July 20 Miss Nightingale wrote to Sir James Clark: "There has 
been a perfect outcry (and I think a legitimate one) because the two 
folio book is not to be sold, not to be had, not to be published, not to be 
presented to Parliament, and that the 8vo makes references passim to a 
work which is not to be had." She refused to believe that the affair was 
an unfortunate mistake. The Report contained too many inconvenient 
revelations. On August 1 1 she wrote to Harriet Martineau, "the Gov- 
ernment wished to suppress the sale." 

She could do nothing; it was impossible to set up and reprint the two 
enormous books. The position must be accepted, and she must set to 
work to see what could be salvaged from yet another wreck. 

She discovered that the 1,000 "reserved" copies were to be had "on 
application" by Members of Parliament. By an irony of Fate the ad- 
dress to which applicants were directed was the Burial Board, where 
the Clerk to the Commission happened to hold a post. She wrote to 
Members with whom she was acquainted begging them to apply and 
heard that for the first time in history there was a run on a Blue Book. 

Next she published the Observatio7is. Copies went out to India and 
were read by officials first with anger, then with conviction. Many 
years later Sir Bartle Frere was asked what had started the movement 
for sanitary reform in India. It was not the Blue Book, he said, which no 
one read, but a certain little red book "which made some of us very 
savage at the time but did us all immense good." 

Finally, she persuaded Lord de Grey to allow her to rewrite the 
abridged edition. "Surely," she wrote in August, 1863, "Sir Charles 
Wood [Secretary of State for India] will be very grateful to you for 
remedying his mistake.'''' The inevitable objection that the Treasury 


would not authorize the expense, she met by offering to pay the cost 
herself. With the issue of the revised edition all she could do on the 
report itself was finished. Its possibilities had been enormous, and it had 
been a crushing disappointment. 

She began to work on setting up the administrative machinery which 
should put its recommendations into practice. For the moment all went 
well; an official despatch was sent to India recommending the formation 
of sanitary commissions in each Presidency; the two additional members 
to represent India were added to the Barrack and Hospital Improve- 
ment Commission; and Miss Nightingale was asked to prepare a list 
of suggestions for sanitary improvements which might be sent to India 
and be the foundation of a sanitary code. 

An outcry followed, furious opposition coming from officials in the 
India Office, in the War Office, in India itself and it became evident 
that sanitary reform would only be carried out in the teeth of resistance 
from every authority concerned. All through the summer Miss Night- 
ingale stayed in London, ill, miserable, and alone. Lord Stanley had gone 
to the country and would not be persuaded to return. The work of the 
Indian Sanitary Commission was at a standstill. All her gigantic labors 
seemed once more to be dissolving into thin air. 

Suddenly, however, the scene changed. In October, 1863 Lord Elgin, 
the Viceroy, was taken seriously ill. On November 20 he died, and Sir 
John Lawrence was appointed his successor. 

The appointment of Sir John Lawrence as Viceroy of India opened 
a new period in Miss Nightingale's life. He was the first of a series of 
Indian officials of the highest rank who became her intimate friends, and 
through whose affection and admiration she gained an inside influence 
in Indian affairs approximating to some extent to the influence she had 
exercised at the War Office while Sidney Herbert was alive and in 

Her position in Indian affairs was even more extraordinary than her 
position at the War Office. She had never been to India, she never did 
go to India, and yet she was considered an expert on India and consulted 
on its affairs by men who had lived there all their working lives. This 
knowledge was the reward of her enormous labors on the Station Re- 
ports. To her bedroom had come a return from almost every military 
station in India, not from one Presidency or one district but the entire 
Peninsula. Year after year she had toiled, examining, classifying, group- 
ing. She possessed prodigious powers of absorbing, retaining, and mar- 
shaling masses of facts, and when she had completed her task the whole 
vast teeming country lay before her mind's eye like a map. 


Sir John Lawrence had first called on her when she was in the midst 
of her work on the Station Reports in 1861. Both felt an instant attrac- 
tion. He had striking personal beauty, immense height, curling golden 
hair, and flashing blue eyes. He was fearless, chivalrous, incorruptible, 
and deeply religious. Lord Stanley described his quality by saying that 
he had "a certain Homeric simplicity." He had passionately desired to 
be a soldier, and it was a crushing disappointment when he found he 
was to be taken into the East India Company's service with a civil and 
not a military appointment. "A soldier I am and a soldier I will be," 
he exclaimed, and he conducted his life with a soldier's fearlessness, 
directness, discipline, and austerity. Fate brought him the opportunity 
to display military genius. When the Mutiny broke out, he was Gov- 
ernor of the Punjab. His swift action and personal courage, his bold 
disposition of the troops in his province, and above all his popularity 
and influence with the native popularion, prevented upper India from 

In spite of a fiery temper — he had been seen hurrying out of church 
to belabor a disobedient servant — he was one of the band of Indian 
administrators who possessed deep sympathy with the native races. He 
was disgusted by the mass executions which followed the suppression of 
the Mutiny, and he repeatedly protested against the severities of certain 
military authorities. Miss Nightingale wrote to M. Mohl on January 
I, 1864: "His love of and trust in the native races — his fear and distrust 
of the British Military authorities are sad and remarkable because so 
true — at least I can vouch for cause for the latter. With great simplicity 
he implies that the natives are much more capable of civilisation — even 
of sanitary civilisation — than our Army authorities in India. He looks 
upon our occupation as a conquest and we as camped out all over India, 
having hitherto attempted little but Martial Law over the conquered 
country. You must not betray him. For I received a hint from Head 
Quarters to tell him to be more conciliatory with our Army." When 
his appointment as Viceroy was announced, her delight knew no bounds. 
"There is no more fervent joy, there are no stronger good wishes than 
those of one of the humblest of your servants," she wrote. 

It seemed that a golden age must be about to dawn, and even Lord 
Stanley allowed himself to be optimistic. "Sir J. Lawrence's appoint- 
ment is a great step gained," he wrote to Adiss Nightingale on December 
I, 1863. "I believe now there will be little difficulty in India." 

He went on to make a remarkable suggestion, the more remarkable 
coming from a man with his regard for official etiquette. The new Vice- 
roy must be instructed in the Indian sanitary question; he wished him 


to learn, not from any official, but from Miss Nightingale. With a life- 
time spent in India behind him, the Viceroy was to come to be taught 
by an invalid lady who had never been to India in her life. "The plans 
are, in the main, yours," wrote Lord Stanley. "No one can explain them 
better; you have been in frequent correspondence with him. . . . 
Your position in respect of this whole subject is so peculiar that advice 
from you will come with greater weight than from anyone else." 

Sir John Lawrence had only a week before he sailed, but he called on 
December 4, 1863. The interview, wrote Miss Nightingale, was one 
never to be forgotten. The Viceroy remained with her for several hours, 
the Indian Sanitary Report was discussed in detail, and he declared him- 
self "heart and soul for Sanitary Reform." At last it seemed that the 
mountain that was India was being moved. 

In January, 1864, assisted by Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Farr, and the cele- 
brated civil engineer. Sir Robert Rawlinson, Aliss Nightingale prepared 
her Suggestiojis iji regard to Sanitary Works required for the Iviprove- 
ment of Indian Stations. It was the first sanitary code for India, the 
starting-point from which, she hoped, great new projects, bringing 
health and prosperity to millions, would be developed. 

Once more hope faded. The Suggestions were sent to the War Office, 
but nothing happened. The Barrack and Hospital Improvement Com- 
mission inexplicably came to a standstill on Indian work. In April Miss 
Nishtindale discovered the truth: the War Office and the India Office 
had fallen out. The India office did not intend to have action proposed 
to it by the War Office, and the Suggestions had been pigeon-holed. 

At this stage Lord Stanley became annoyed. It was seven months 
since the Commission, of which he was chairman, had reported, and 
nothing had been done. He considered that a reflection had been cast on 
his work. He went to see Sir Charles Wood and promised to support 
him in case of any criticism in the House and Sir Charles Wood then 
accepted the Suggestions. The conflict in dignity between the War 
Office and the India Office was solved by a phrase on the title-page; 
though the Indian Sanitary Commission had been a War Office Com- 
mission, the title-page stated that the Suggestions had been "prepared 
by the said Commission in accordance with letters from the Secretary 
of State for India in Council." 

As soon as the Suggestions were officially approved. Miss Nightingale 
had copies printed at her own expense, which she sent out to Sir John 
Lawrence. Delay continued in the official issue. The War Office and 
the India Office fell into an argument as to the number of copies to be 
printed; and a further two months passed before the official edition was 


ready. By this time Sir John Lawrence was having Miss Nightingale's 
advance text reprinted in India, and she wrote to Douglas Galton: "It 
might be as well to hurry your copies for the India Office who will other- 
wise receive them first from India." 

Once more she was the mainspring of the work. No toil was so weari- 
some that she shrank from it, no detail too small to receive her attention. 
Across two continents her burning zeal infused Sir John Lawrence with 
new strength. Sir Bartle Frere, at this time Governor of Bombay, told 
her, "Men used to say that they always knew when the Viceroy had 
received a letter from Florence Nightingale; it was like the ringing 
of a bell to call for Sanitary progress." Her hand was everywhere. She 
had drawn up the instructions to the Presidency Commissions and 
widened their scope, so that they were not only to "supervise the gradual 
introduction of sanitary improvements in Barracks, Hospitals and Sta- 
tions" but also to improve the sanitary condition of "Towns in prox- 
imity to Stations." The Suggestions, the code by which the Commis- 
sions worked, were written by her; the report of the Commission itself 
was her work. Lying in her bed in London, she held the threads of a 
network which covered all India. 

Again hope ran high. "I sing for joy every day," she wrote in June, 
1864, "at Sir John Lawrence's Government." In October, 1864 in the 
full flood of optimism she wrote to him: "I feel it a kind of presumption 
in me to write to you — and a kind of wonder at your permitting it. I 
always feel you are the greatest figure in history and yours the great- 
est work in history in modern times. . . . You are conquering India 
anew by civilisation, taking possession of the Empire for the first time 
by knowledge instead of the sword." 

It was a lyric rapture which, alas, bore little relation to reality. While 
the machinery of the Sanitary Commissions was being set up, all went 
well; President, Secretary, and Commissioners were appointed and 
coached in their duties, information was collected, and schemes formu- 
lated on paper. And then — nothing happened. The machinery was there 
— but it did not operate. 

The truth was that Sir John Lawrence was not altogether successful 
in the office of Viceroy, which he had accepted solely from a sense of 
public duty. The personal courage and military genius which had saved 
the Punjab were not qualities which shone in the committee room. He 
had a violent temper, a rough manner, strong prejudices, a want of tact. 
The difficulties which faced him were appalling. Financially and admin- 
istratively India was in fearful disorder. The year 1859-60 had shown 
a deficit of over forty million pounds sterling. The enormous increase in 


military expenditure, due to the Mutiny, seemed likely to increase and 
become an intolerable burden, since the extreme antagonism between 
Europeans and Indians prevented retrenchment. 

It became known that he was on bad terms with his Council. The 
native population was distrustful. In June, 1864 he described the feeling 
of hopelessness which overcame him when an attempt to improve the 
sanitation of Calcutta was construed by the Bengalis as an attack on the 
Hindoo religion. Miss Nightingale herself found the Indian mentality 
difficult to deal with. "Nothing can give you any idea," she wrote to 
Harriet Martineau in 1862, "of the horrors of the disclosures as to the 
state of the stations which these Indians make themselves while declaring 
themselves to be 100 years before England." 

Delay succeeded delay; 1864 passed into 1865, and still nothing sub- 
stantial had been done in India. Once more she was in despair. It was the 
old weary story of guerilla warfare, the odd point here, the odd point 
there, snatched from the India Office or the War Office at the cost of 
infinite toil. But where was the plan? The plan, the constructive cam- 
paign, had once more faded away. 




ments, the reverses she endured, the common lot of the reformer? She 
refused to admit it. She was convinced that she was singled out by a 
malignant fate. She herself, her work, everything she touched, was 
cursed. She beat herself against the callousness and indifference of the 
world; she exhausted herself in storms of resentment and despair. Such 
was the power of her extraordinary nature that in middle age the intensity 
of her emotion was unabated, and she continued to feel as violently, as 
blindly, as if she were a girl. 

It was the old story, repeated now for more than twenty years. She 
must attain perfection, or she had failed. She must have everything, or 
she declared she had nothing. She refused to consider what had been 
done, only what had not. 

Yet how much she had achieved was becoming plainer every day. 
Lord Stanley's coolness was notorious, but on July 25, 1864, he wrote 
to her: "Every day convinces me more of two things; first, the vast in- 
fluence on the public mind of the Sanitary Commissions of the last 
few years . . . and next, that all this has been due to you and to you 
almost alone." Jowett wrote on September 8, 1865: "Considering what 
Ministers are, instead of wondering at their not doing all you want, I 
wonder at their listening to a word you say. A poor sick lady, sitting 
in a room by herself and they have only not to go near her and not to 
read her letters and there is an end of her. And yet you seem to draw 

She would not be comforted. More than health had been lost in these 
last years of incessant toil. Sometimes now she doubted. She had been 
able to be ruthless because she had been sustained by an unshakable con- 
viction that what she did was right. Now she \v2ls not sure. A new note 
crept into her letters. Writing to Clarkey in May, 1865, she said she 


felt like a vampire who had sucked Sidney Herbert's and dough's blood. 
Writing to Jowett in July, she was humble and confused. "You are 
quite right in \\ hat you say of me. ... I will try and take your advice. 
I have tried but it is too late. I lost my serenity some years ago, then I 
lost clearness of perception, so that sometimes I did not know whether 
I was doing right or wrong for two minutes together — the horrible 
loneliness — but I don't mean to waste your time." 

Once she had felt proud to be alone; now she dreaded the prospect of 
perpetual solitude. Her life was closing in. Every hour must be given 
up to work. Friends, affection, sympathy, all must be sacrificed. In the 
summer of 1 865 Clarkey came over to London. She was Miss Nightin- 
gale's most intimate friend, and since Sidney Herbert's death they had 
drawn still closer. "What I lost in Sidney Herbert you only (who lost 
M. Fauriel) can tell," she wrote to her in 1862. Yet she could not spare 
time to see Clarkey. "Clarkey Mohl darling," she wrote on June 23, 
1865, "how I should like to be able to see you, but it is quite impossible. 
I am sure no one ever gave up so much to live who longed so much to 
die as I do. It is the only credit I claim. I will live if I can, I shall be so 
glad if I can't." 

The distinguished visitors who had called at the Burlington were no 
longer received. The Queen of Holland wished to call — "I really feel it 
a great honour," wrote Miss Nightingale in June, 1865, "she is a Queen 
of Queens. But it is quite quite impossible." She would see no one who 
was not directly connected with her work. She made, however, one 
exception. In 1864 Garibaldi came to London; she had never forgotten 
her girlhood's passion for Italian freedom, and she had regularly sent 
money to his funds. Now she consented to receive him. On April 27 he 
came, using Sir Harry V'erney's carriage to avoid notice. She was disil- 
lusioned. "Alas, alas, what a pity that utter impracticability," she wrote 
to Harriet Martineau on April 28. He was noble and heroic, but he 
was vague. He had, she wrote, no "administrative capacity." He "raved" 
for a Government like the English, but "he knows no more what it is 
than his King Bomba did." "One year of such a life as I have led for ten 
years," she told Harriet Martineau, "would tell him more of how one 
has to give and take with a 'representative Government' than all his 
'Utopias' and his 'Ideal.' " 

Her consolation in her solitude was friendship with Jowett. By 1864 
her intimacy with him was closer than her intimacy with any other hu- 
man being, with the exception of Clarkey. They did not meet fre- 
quently, though he occasionally spent an afternoon with her when he 
was in London, but they exchanged many hundreds of letters. Nearly 

all Miss Nightingale's personal letters to Jowett, with the exception of 
a few rough drafts preserved among her papers, have been destroyed, 
but she kept most of his letters to her. Intense concern for her welfare, 
intense affection breathe from every line. He was devoted to her, and 
because he was devoted to her she would accept advice and even 
criticism from him. Jowett alone could tell her not to exaggerate, "as 
you always do"; Jowett alone could tell her to be calmer, "and don't 
try and move the world by main force"; Jowett alone could tell her not 
to despise people and, worse still, to let them see that she despised them; 
Jowett alone could scold her, and she would accept and almost enjoy 
the scolding. He had entered her life when she was crushed by the death 
of Sidney Herbert, and his remarkable powers of sympathy and under- 
standing were offered her at a time when she was desperately in need 
of them. "Mine has been such horrible loneliness," she wrote to him 
on July 12, 1865. "But how many women, maids of all work and poor 
governesses, have been lonelier than I — and have done much better than 
I. I think if I had had one friend — such a friend as you have been to 
me for the past six months. . . ." 

Friendship with Jowett took the only form in which friendship could 
have been fitted into her life. There was infinite solicitude, but there 
were no demands; there was constant and intimate communication, but 
the communication was by letter and brought no interruption to the 
routine of work. The friendship was eminently successful, as her friend- 
ship with Clarkey was eminently successful. Jowett was in Oxford; 
Clarkey was in Paris; she was in London. The problem of interference 
did not arise. 

But even though Miss Nightingale had resigned herself to a "desert- 
island" life she still had to find a place to live. For some time Fanny had 
been trying to persuade W. E. N. that the only solution was to buy a 
house, but he was unwilling. Fanny was extravagant; Embley and Lea 
Hurst were expensive to keep up; he was irritated to find himself con- 
tinually short of money. Yet Florence's accommodation cost more every 
year — the possibility that she could live on an annual income of ^^500 
was never mentioned now. At last W. E. N. was forced to the conclusion 
that a permanent house might be an economy. On July 4 he wrote to 
Fanny: "Saturday she goes to Ld Digby's big house at Hampstead ^ 1 1 
a week. 34 South Street, /500 the year, Hampstead if she stays there 
three months ^110. Parthe urges me to offer X7000 fo^" 35 South Street, 
you are in the same vein. There is nothing for it but to say I will give 
;^5ooo, you adding your money. Of course I shall consider the money 


sunk from the time I produce it and shall hope never to hear any more 
OF IT, Is it not of course too that the £'jooo will not be accepted?" 

The /7000 was accepted, and at the end of October, "with everyone's 
united efforts," wrote Fanny, Miss Nightingale was moved into No. 
35 South Street, which henceforward became her home. The house 
suited her admirably; it was central, manageable, and backed on to the 
gardens of Dorchester House. She was able to enjoy fresh air, sunlight, 
and trees, and to observe birds, of which she was passionately fond. 

A few years later the street was renumbered: No. 35 became No. 10, 
and at No. 10 South Street she continued to live until her death. 

No further attempt was made to provide her with a companion. She 
moved into her new house to live alone. And, as she moved in, the specter 
of desolate solitude, which had crept into her life as one by one her 
friends were taken from her, stalked nearer. The sword which seemed 
to hang over all those she loved fell again, and she sustained another 
great grief. 

Of the friends of her youth she had loved none more than Hilary 
Bonham Carter. Soft, loving, a pleasure to look at and highly gifted, 
Hilary possessed a remarkable power of inspiring affection. "I was so 
attached to her," wrote Al. Mohl on September 9, 1865. "I have never 
known anyone so made up of kindness." But Florence disapproved of 
Hilary, and in 1862 she had sent her away. Clarkey implored her to take 
Hilary back. "My dearest," she wrote on February 5, 1862, "if she is 
as useful to you as a limb, why should you amputate her? . . . the 
thing she hkes best in the world is being with you and being useful to 
you ... I agree with you, she ought to do for herself, but I am not 
sure her nature can bear it. I give it to you as a problem, think on it." 

To make Hilary happy by giving way to her was criminal to Miss 
Nightingale. Clarkey could write, "I can't alter Hilly, I can only give 
her a little enjoyment"; but Miss Nightingale despised such enjoyment. 
She refused to have her back, and Hilary continued to be maid-of-all- 
work to her family. "Hilly is devoured by little black relations just like 
Fleas," Clarkey wrote on August 19. 

The break with Miss Nightingale was complete. "I see nothing of 
Hilary," Miss Nightingale wrote to Clarkey on February 14, 1863. "I 
believe the fact is she cannot see me without an appointment and to her 
everything is possible but keeping an appointment." In April, 1865 
Hilary broke down, was examined by a specialist, and said to have a 
tumor. In fact she was dying of cancer. On May 16, 1865, Jowett wrote 
to Miss Nightingale: "She seemed to be at peace, but she had suffered 


greatly — poor thing — she said that she had mental trial in past times 
and that, she found, had been alleviated by trusting in God, but she did 
not find that physical suffering could be similarly alleviated." On Sep- 
tember 6 she died. "Hilary was released this morning at half past eight 
. . . ," Miss Nightingale told Clarkey, "Oh dearest how she had suf- 

Throughout the summer, while she was in London, soHtary and over- 
worked, Hilary's terrible illness had been preying on Miss Nightin- 
gale's mind. On Hilary's death she broke into frenzy. Rage seized her, 
made up of resentment, anger, and despair — despair at Hilary's wasted 
talents, at Hilary's wasted life, at the stupidity and indifference of 
Hilary's family, at the system of family life which permitted such things 
to be. On September 8 she wrote Clarkey an immense, furious letter: 
". . . There is not a single person, except yourself, who does not think 
that Hilary's family were quite right in this most monstrous of slow 
murders — and all for what? There is something grand and touching in 
the Iphigenia sacrifice and Jephthah's daughter. But, if Jephthah had 
made his vow to sacrifice his daughter to feed his pigs it would only be 
very dirty and disgusting. And I say, the Fetichism to which Hilary has 
been sacrificed is very dirty and disgusting. ... I shall never cease to 
think as long as I live of you and M. Mohl as of Hilary's only friends. 
The golden bowl is broken — and it was the purest gold — and the most 
univorked gold — I have ever known. I shall never speak of her more, I 
have done. . . . How I hate well meaning people." 

Hilary's death was succeeded by another blow, the death of Lord 
Palmerston on October 1 8. Miss Nightingale regretted him deeply. But 
personal regret was secondary to the serious loss she sustained in no 
longer having Palmerston to help her in her work. On October i8 she 
wrote to Dr. Walker, the Secretary of the Bengal Sanitary Commis- 
sion: "He may be passing away even at this moment. He will be a great 
loss to us. Tho' he made a joke when asked to do the right thing, he always 
did it. No one else will be able to carry the things thro' the Cabinet as 
he did. I shall lose a powerful protector. . . . He was so much more in 
earnest than he appeared. He did not do himself justice." 

Through the winter of 1865, her first winter in her own house, she 
was miserably ill and miserably unhappy. Death and failure, failure in 
India, her loss of power at the War Office combined to crush her. "I 
just keep my place on at the War Office by doing all their dirty work 
for them, i.e. what they are too cowardly to do for themselves — les 
laches,'" she wrote to Clarkey in March, 1865. She had been bed-ridden 
for four years, and she began to have severe pains in her back, described 


as "rheumatism of the spine." She was ordered to have a "rubber," a 
masseuse, three times a week, but the state of her nerves made treatment 
difficult. The "rubber" was forbidden to speak. She must come in noise- 
lessly, do her work, and withdraw without speaking to Miss Nightin- 
gale on any pretext. The treatment had little effect, and she passed the 
winter and spring in constant pain. "Nothing did me any good," she 
wrote to M. Mohl in July, 1866, "but a curious little new fangled opera- 
tion of putting opium under the skin which relieves one for twenty- 
four hours — but does not improve the vivacity or serenity of one's intel- 
lect." Yet for the first time for many years her horizons were widening 
to include something beyond her work. During the long winter nights, 
lonely, sleepless, and in pain she had once more begun to read and en- 
couraged by Jowctt, she turned once more to Greek. She began to resign 
herself to the fact that the ideal companionship, the ideal sympathy, for 
which she so passionately longed, were never to be hers, and to make the 
best of such materials as life offered her. 

Her emotions found an outlet in affection for her cats. She worked 
with a cat "tied in a knot round her neck." As many as six cats wandered 
at will about her room and made "unseemly blurs" on her papers. On 
many of her letters and drafts is still to be seen the print of a cat's paw. 
She amused herself by playing with them and described to Clarkey her 
efforts to teach one of her kittens to wash itself; and the kitten saying 
"what an awkward great cat that is." 

The winter of 1 865 passed. It was two years since the Report of the 
Indian Sanitary Commission had been issued, and nothing had been ac- 
complished. The work of pushing on without result, of enormous labors 
which perpetually came to nothing, was infinitely dreary, infinitely ex- 
acting; and the strain on her was increased by the irritation of her rela- 
tions with Dr. Sutherland. 

As they worked together year after year, she became more and more 
dependent on him and found him more intolerably provoking. She ad- 
mired the ability, but she disliked the man. "I know he is your pet 
aversion as he is mine," she wrote to Clarkey in 1862. "Don't beHeve 
what Sutherland tells me he told you ... he only does it to annoy me," 
she wrote to Douglas Galton in 1862, "You know how queer he is." 
As she grew more exacting, Dr. Sutherland became more elusive. He 
lived at Finchley, which Miss Nightingale thought sufficiently distant, 
but in 1865 he moved even further away to Norwood. At Finchley he 
had been fond of gardening; at Norwood he had a garden of consider- 
able size which absorbed a great deal of his time. "I find — I don't know 
whether you find — it more and more difficult to rouse Dr. Sutherland to 


do the work we have to do," she wrote to Douglas Galton in 1866. "He 
has always some pond to dig in his garden. Confound that Norwood." 
Through the years of crushing labor on the Indian Sanitary Report she 
railed at him with increasing bitterness. She complained of his "in- 
credible looseness of thought and recklessness of action." She scolded 
him for losing papers — "it is as I thought, Sutherland took my copy of 
the Army Medical Schools Report and now he can't find it." Sometimes 
he would not work, and she was infuriated. "I could not get Sutherland 
to do a thing yesterday," she wrote to Douglas Galton in 1866. "He was 
just like one possessed." 

She had always been irritated by his deafness. He was becoming more 
deaf as he grew older and always found it totally impossible to hear any- 
thing if he were scolded. As her health deteriorated, speaking loud 
enough for Dr. Sutherland to hear exhausted her. From 1864 onward 
she developed a system of communicating with him by scribbling on any 
piece of paper which happened to be handy; literally hundreds of such 
scribbles are preserved, written on odd scraps of paper of all descrip- 
tions, from the margins of letters to pieces of blotting-paper. "What 
have you done?" she wrote. "You said you were going to lay it before 
your Committee, you had much better lay it before me!" "Well I don't 
suppose the man will hurt you." "My dear soul! It's rather late for this." 
"There's fish for you at one." "You know they could only have let you 
out because you were incurable." "Write that down." "Why did you 
tell me that tremendous banger." "Which means nothing but that 
you're too lazy to look at it." "You've looked at it? For five minutes on 
Wednesday." "What has become of the 8 copies of the Indian Report? 
Where is Barbadoes? Where are the three Registrar General papers." 
On one occasion Dr. Sutherland tried to be reconciled with her and she 
wrote, "I ivoii't shake hands until the Abstract is done." 

Irritated by him as she was, their intimacy was very close. No other 
person was part of her daily life as he was part. She saw him, however 
ill she might be, and he acted as host in her house. Many notes refer to 
visitors. "These two people have come. Will you see them for me? I 
have explained who you are." "Was the luncheon good?" "Did he 
eat?" "Did he walk?" "Then he's a liar, he told me he couldn't move." 

In the autumn of 1865 there was a serious quarrel. She was told by 
Douglas Galton that it was extremely probable that Dr. Sutherland 
would be invited, as representative of the Barrack and Hospital Com- 
mission, to go to Algiers, Malta, and Gibraltar to investigate recent 
cholera epidemics. She became frantic. "For God's sake," she wrote to 
Douglas Galton on December 15, 1865, "if you can, prevent Dr. Suther- 


land going, he is so childish that if he heard of this Gibraltar and Malta 
business he would instantly declare there was nothing to keep him in 
England." She had pledged her word to have the Indian reports and ab- 
stracts ready before Parliament met after the Christmas vacation — "a 
thing I should never have done if I thought Dr. Sutherland was to be 
sent abroad." Dr. Sutherland was offered the appointment, and in spite 
of all her entreaties he went. She was furious. On January 19, 1866, she 
wrote to Dr. Farr: "Dr. Sutherland has been sent to Algiers, and I have 
all his business besides mine to do. If it could be done I should not mind. 
I had just as soon wear out in two months as in two years, so the work 
be done. But it can't. It is just Hke two men going into business with a 
million each. The one suddenly withdraws. The other may wear him- 
self to the bone but he can't meet the engagements which he made with 
two." Dr. Sutherland was aware he was in disgrace. "I have been think- 
ing," he wrote to her from Algiers on January 28; "will she be glad to 
hear from me? Or will she swear?" In spite of Miss Nightingale's anger 
he continued during 1866 to leave London for weeks at a time and owing 
to his absence in the Mediterranean Miss Nightingale was without him 
during an important crisis in Indian affairs. If Dr. Sutherland had been 
in London, she was convinced the outcome would have been very dif- 

At the beginning of 1866 the Indian outlook brightened. Delay in 
carrying out the recommendations of the Commission was due to the 
fact that the Sanitary Commissions set up in the Presidencies were sub- 
ordinate to their local Governments. Miss Nightingale had written to 
Sir John Lawrence urging that the Sanitary Commissions should be 
transformed into a public health service, standing on its own feet, re- 
sponsible directly to the Viceroy and the Viceroy's Council, and kept 
active by a complementing department of experts at the India Office 
in London. On January 19 he replied that he agreed to the necessity for 
reconstructing the sanitary organization and had written a dispatch to 
the Secretary of State for India requesting a scheme. He did not send 
her a copy of the dispatch as he assumed she would see it. A week earlier 
Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India, had been succeeded 
by Lord de Grey and with Lord de Grey at the India Office it seemed 
that the establishment of an efficient sanitary administration in India 
was certain. She asked Lord de Grey to send her a copy of the dispatch 
but he replied that he had received no such dispatch; it would come in 
by the next mail, no doubt. Several mails came in, but no dispatch ap- 
peared. Meanwhile it became evident that the Government was on its 
last legs. Within the next few months, even within the next few weeks, 


it would fall, and Lord de Grey would be Secretary of State for India 
no longer. She became frantic. March went by; April went by. The 
Government tottered nearer its fall, and still no dispatch appeared. Miss 
Nightingale scolded, implored, threatened, but without result. As a final 
resort Lord de Grey made a personal search, and the dispatch was dis- 
covered. "At last the Sanitary Aiinute has been found," he wrote on 
May 5, "it was attached to some papers connected with the Finance 
Department and so escaped notice." 

She was ill and Dr. Sutherland away, but by May 7 she had managed 
to submit a draft scheme to Lord de Grey. The Government was now 
on the verge of disaster and Lord de Grey harassed and distracted by 
party business. It was not until June 1 1 that she was able to extract in- 
structions from him to proceed further. He then requested her to com- 
plete the scheme and add a survey of the sanitary question. It was a 
formidable task, but by dint of further desperate efforts she completed 
it and sent it to Lord de Grey on June 19. 

She was twenty-four hours too late. On the previous day the Govern- 
ment had been defeated and had fallen. 

The blow was crushing. "I am furious to that degree," she wrote to 
Douglas Galton on June 23, "at having lost Lord de Grey's five months 
at the India Office that I am fit to blow you all to pieces with an infernal 
machine of my own invention." In a letter to M. Mohl on July 1 2 she 
said she had come to the end of her endurance. She had lost the oppor- 
tunity of establishing a public health service in India "by twenty four 
hours!! I am well nigh done for. Life is too hard for me." 

The Tories were now in power, and Miss Nightingale was pushed 
further outside Government matters. On March 20 she wrote to 
Clarkey: "While Sidney Herbert was alive I made most of the appoint- 
ments. This is no bray, . . . Noiv if you can fancy a position where 
a person can do nothmg directly, nothing but by frightening, intrigu- 
ing, 'soaping' or going on all fours, that position is mine." A letter she 
wrote to Douglas Galton on June 27, 1866, showed how conscious she 
was of being outside Government circles: ". . . now do write to an 
agitated female F. N. about who is to come where. Does Gen. Peel 
come to the War Office? If so, will he annihilate our Civil Sanitary 
element? Is Sutherland to go all the same to Malta and Gibraltar this 
autumn? Will Genl Peel imperil the Army Sanitary Committee? I must 
know — ye infernal powers! Is Mr. Lowe to come into the India Office? 
It is all unmitigated disaster to me. For, as Lord Stanley is to be Foreign 
Office (the only place where he can be of no use to us), I shall not have 

a friend in the world. If I were to say more I should fall to swearing. I 
am so indignant — ever yours furiously. F. N." 

Meanwhile Parliament rose, and everyone of importance left Lon- 
don. Nothing could be done until the autumn, and again Miss Nightin- 
gale must resign herself to inactivity. Jowett begged her to visit her 
parents. She had not been home for nine years. Fanny was seventy- 
eight, it was feared that her eyesight was failing, and she had recently 
been in a carriage accident which had left her bruised and suffering 
from shock. In August, when the Nightingales invariably went north 
to Lea Hurst, she was not well enough to travel. It was essential that 
W. E. N. should go to Lea Hurst, and Miss Nightingale agreed to go 
home to be with her mother. 

Fanny in her old age was to be pitied. Parthe had been her companion, 
but Parthe was now immersed in her own life. She was mistress of the 
historic mansion of Claydon and of a house in London. Sir Harry 
Verney, who was in Parliament, took an active part in public affairs, 
and Parthe had become "very much the fine lady." She was achieving 
success as a hostess, and she was writing novels, one of which was pub- 
lished in 1865 in the Cornhill. 

Elaborate arrangements were made to receive Miss Nightingale. She 
traveled in an invalid carriage, and at Embley six rooms were given up 
to her. Her rooms and her way of life were to be sacred. She worked 
incessantly, saw no one, and never left her room except to visit her 

The first reunion with Fanny was affectionate, but even now she 
would not give way to her mother. Fanny might be seventy-eight and 
almost blind, but she was not to be indulged. Miss Nightingale still 
implacably disapproved of the way in which Fanny frittered away her 
life. On August 21, 1866, immediately after her arrival, she wrote a 
long letter to Clarkey. She began tenderly enough: "I don't think my 
dear mother was ever more touching and interesting to me than she is 
now in her state of dilapidation. She is so much gentler, calmer, more 
thoughtful. . . ." But as she proceeded, irritation and disapproval crept 
in, and at the end of the letter she wrote sharply, "I can't think Mama 
much altered except her memory . . . and her habits which have be- 
come worse, till now she is seldom up until 5 or 6 p.m. and then goes 
out in the carriage." 

Miss Nightingale was not an easy visitor. She required a great deal 
and was critical of the way in which her requirements were met. To 
argue with her was forbidden. Aunt Mai, writing to Parthe during the 


summer, repeated a letter from her daughter Beatrice who was acting 
as Fanny's companion: "In confidence. Beatrice finds her concerns with 
Flo extremely difficult. Beatrice does her best but it is very difficult to 
explain anything to Flo because of her health. Her heart . . . may 
snap at any extra effort or excitement. Her feeUng for Beatrice partakes 
of the displeasure so often felt when something is done which she thinks 
might be better done." 

Only children were allowed to break into Miss Nightingale's solitude. 
Fanny kept up her custom of having children to stay through the sum- 
mer months. During August Fanny wrote to Parthe: "I thought our 
poor F. both excited and exhausted on Sunday, but to-day she has ac- 
cepted our beautiful baby, who marched into her room, all alone with 
a flower in each hand, and played upon her bed for %_ of an hour." 

When she returned to London, affairs in India could hardly have 
been more discouraging. Sir John Lawrence's dispatch on sanitary or- 
ganization still lay unanswered at the India Office, and in India what 
amounted to the abolition of the Sanitary Commissions was being pro- 
posed. Their place was to be taken by a single "Sanitary Officer" in 
each Presidency, who was also to be Inspector of Prisons; the Inspector- 
General of Prisons was to become "Sanitary Commissioner to the Gov- 
ernment of India." It was difficult to see how, after professing to be 
convinced of the necessity for a pubHc health service on the hues laid 
down by Miss Nightingale, Sir John Lawrence could have agreed to 
a scheme which made sanitary administration a subdepartment of the 
prison department. She was bitterly disappointed — very far away were 
the days when she had sung for joy at Sir John Lawrence's government. 
Dr. Sutherland frankly said Sir John Lawrence was hopeless. "He is 
our worst enemy," he wrote in 1866; and he advised her before she at- 
tempted to do anything further to wait until Sir John Lawrence's term 
of office ended in the following year. Douglas Galton urged her to 
approach Sir Bartle Frere, a well-known Indian administrator, who 
had just been appointed to a seat on the India Council. Before she had 
time to write, he had asked permission to call, and on June 16 she wrote 
to Douglas Galton: "I have seen Sir Bartle Frere. He came on Friday 
by his own appointment. And we had a great talk. He impressed me 
wonderfully. I hope Sir B. Frere may be of use to us." The friendship 
became one of the closest of her life and for the next tA\'o months Miss 
Nightingale and Sir Bartle Frere met almost daily. "I need not tell you 
how entirely my services are at your disposal," he wrote after their 
first interview. 

Sir Bartle Frere, Uke John Lawrence, possessed deep sympathy with 


the Indian character. His outstanding achievement was his administra- 
tion of the province of Scinde. In eight years the revenues were prac- 
tically doubled, 6000 miles of road were built, the construction of rail- 
ways was begun, the first postage stamps ever used in India were issued, 
and so loyal was the province that he was able, when the Mutiny broke 
out, to hold Scinde with only 178 European soldiers. In 1862 he was ap- 
pointed Governor of Bombay. Here he demolished insanitary buildings, 
introduced scavenging services, established a town council, founded a 
school for the education of the daughters of Indian gentlemen, and 
opened Government House freely to Indian gentlemen and their wives 
as well as Europeans. 

On July 24 Miss Nightingale wrote to Douglas Galton: "If onlv \ve 
could get a Public Health Department in the India Office to ourselves 
with Sir B. Frere at the head of it, our fortunes would be made." She 
did not go to Embley in the summer of 1867. There was fresh hope of 
progress, and she stayed in London. Meanwhile in the summer of 1867 
Sir John Lawrence threw another project into confusion. Three years 
ago he had asked Miss Nightingale to draw up a scheme for the em- 
ployment of nurses in hospitals by the Bengal Sanitar)^ Commission. 
The difficulties were enormous, largely owing to the very poor level 
of the Indian Medical Service. Miss Nightingale made notes of an inter- 
view on the scheme with a doctor holding the high rank of Deputy 
Inspector-General in Madras. "He came intent on proving to me that 
no matron was wanted. The Dr. ought to be Matron and wretched 
coolie women under the Dr. nurses. But, luckily for me, he was drunk. 
And before he went (he was here 2V2 hours) he had admitted every- 
thing. He described his lying-in hospital where 'the pupils deliver all 
the ordinary cases, without a midwife, and without a doctor. The Dr. 
comes in for the extraordinary cases.' ... I said 'They are by to see 
the extraordinary cases delivered?' Here he got so drunk that he spent 
at least half an hour explaining to me that there was nothing to be seen 
that 'everything was under the bed clothes.' The lying-in patients were 
all fed by friends from outside and were always naked in bed — except 
the Europeans. There were 80 leper beds at the General Hospital, al- 
ways full. He says 'It all answers very well!!' " 

The attempt to employ female nurses must be made with the greatest 
caution, and she submitted a scheme for employing nurses in a single 
hospital and observing the result before embarking on any large under- 
taking. Sir John Lawrence turned the scheme over to the medical serv- 
ice, who blew it up into a grandiose plan for introducing female nursing 
on a large scale into seven hospitals simultaneously at great expense. 


This scheme, not Miss Nightingale's, was submitted to the Government 
of India, who, she said very properly, rejected it. She was angry. It 
seemed that Dr. Sutherland was right and that Sir John Lawrence was 
her worst enemy. She decided to approach Sir Stafford Northcote, the 
new Secretary of State for India. He had indicated that he was prepared 
to hear from her; and on August 19, while she was debating whether the 
time was ripe to suggest a meeting, he wrote suggesting that he should 
call on her at South Street "for a little conversation." 

She was nervous. "Hope was green and the donkey ate it (that's me)," 
she wrote to Douglas Galton on July 16. Nevertheless she determined 
to be bold. If she made an impression on Sir Stafford Northcote, she 
would ask, then and there, for the establishment of a department at the 
India Office with Sir Bartle Frere at the head of it to control the sanitary 
administration of India. 

On August 20 Jowett wrote her a cautionary letter. "I am delighted 
to hear you are casting your toils about Sir Stafford Northcote. May I 
talk to you as I would to one of our undergraduates? Take care not to 
exaggerate to him." 

The interview had already taken place. Sir Stafford had called at 
South Street on the day Jowett wrote, and the meeting had been a 
triumphant success. When Sir Stafford had gone. Miss Nightingale 
scribbled a note for Dr. Sutherland. "Well — I've won this. We are to 
have a department in the I.O. for Sanitary business. I don't know if he 
saw how afraid I was of him. For he kept his eyes tight shut all the time. 
And I kept mine wide open. ... I liked Sir Stafford Northcote." 

Once more the establishment of a public health service for India 
seemed just round the comer. "We will make 35 South Street the India 
Office till this is done," wrote Sir Bartle Frere. 

The phrase touched a chord. Ten years ago when Sidney Herbert 
was alive, the Burlington Hotel had been called the little War Office, 
and Miss Nightingale scribbled on Sir Bartle Frere's letter "I miss him 
so." The wound had never healed. She passed each anniversary of his 
death, "that dreadful day," in meditation and prayer. On August 2 she 
dated her private letters "6 years ago," "7 years ago." Her grief was 
tenacious; she refused to be resigned, as she refused to accept compro- 
mise. To be resigned, to compromise was to accept the second best. That 
she would never do, and she kept grief with her. Grief was waiting for 
her when she turned from her work, grief with grief's companions — 
frustration, resentment, and remorse. And yet — if she had ceased to feel, 
she would have slackened. As great waves of resentment and grief 
surged up in her, she worked harder, vowed more furiously that she 


would never give way, never succumb to the low standards, the ineffi- 
ciency, and the indifference of the world. 

In the autumn of 1867 she did some of the hardest work of her life. 
On October 23 Sir Stafford Northcote came to see her again; the second 
interview was even more successful than the first. The names of the 
members of the Indian Sanitary Committee were agreed, and Sir Staf- 
ford consented to establish the authority of the Sanitary Committee as 
supreme in India. Further, he asked her to prepare a digest of the prog- 
ress of the whole Indian Sanitary question from the setting up of the 
Sanitary Commission in 1859 to 1867. 

She plunged into w ork at once. By the beginning of December she had 
completed the instructions for the Sanitary Committee, the Digest, 
and had added a Memorandum of Suggestions and Advice. In addition, 
on her own initiative, she had drafted an important dispatch request- 
ing a report on sanitary progress with particular reference to the Sug- 
gestions in regard to Solitary Works required for the huproveuient of 
Indian Stations which had been sent to ouide the Indian authorities as 
long ago as 1 864. What was the present position, the Secretary of State 
for India wished to know? what results had been achieved? She sub- 
mitted her draft with temerity — she was fully aware, she wrote, that 
Sir Stafford might disapprove the whole scheme. Sir Stafford accepted 
the suggestion almost in its entirety. The dispatch was sent; and the 
reports received from the Presidencies as a result were printed as a 
Blue Book in 1868 under the title of the India Office Sanitary A?inual. 
In future reports were to be sent in by the Presidencies and published 
every year. 

At last she had accomplished something. She had secured a Sanitary 
Department in the India Office with supreme authority in India; she 
had secured publication of annual reports which would prevent authori- 
ties in India from going to sleep. On February 16, 1868, she was able to 
write to M. Mohl in triumph: "By dint of remaining here for 13 months 
to dog the Minister I have got a little (not tart) but Department all to 
myself, called 'Of Public Health Civil and Military for India' with Sir 
B. Frere at the head of it. And I had the immense satisfaction 3 or 4 
months ago of seeing 'Printed Despatch No. i' of said Department. (I 
never in all my life before, saw any Despatch, Paper or Minute under 
at least No. 77,981.)" 

Again she had paid a heavy price for her success. The thirteen months 
during which she had shut herself up in South Street working day and' 
night had further impaired her health. She was slowing down. "I do the 
work in 3 hours I used to do in one," she told Clarkey in July, 1867. She 


would not spare herself on that account. If she were slower, the only 
consequence was that she must drive herself harder. Once more the limit 
of what she could inflict on herself was reached, and in December, 1867, 
after the autumn of grueling work for Sir Stafford Northcote, she col- 
lapsed completely. "I broke up all at once," she told M. Mohl in Feb- 
ruary, 1868, "and fled to Malvern on December 26 with a little cat." 

Urgent work called her back — not Indian work; for the moment 
there was a lull in Indian affairs. She had other calls on her as exacting as 
India. While she had been working on the Indian Sanitary Commission, 
gigantic as her labors had been, they were not her only occupation. Her 
work for public health in England, for hospitals and the reorganization 
of nursing, had rapidly expanded and assumed enormous proportions. 



1 86 1, received a letter from a Mr. William Rathbone of Liverpool, who 
was the eldest son of a dynasty of Liverpool merchants and shipowners, 
and the sixth William Rathbone in succession to be senior partner in the 
family firm. He inherited a tradition of philanthropy and liberalism. 
His grandfather had been a prominent Abolitionist, and his father, 
though the Rathbones were originally Quakers, had taken a leading 
part in the struggle for Catholic emancipation. As a young man he was 
an honorary visitor for the District Provident Society in one of the 
poorest quarters in Liverpool, and witnessed the miseries endured by 
the poor who were ill in their own homes. In 1859 he founded district 
nursing, starting in his own district with one trained nurse. Since one 
nurse proved ludicrously inadequate, he decided to establish, at his own 
expense, a body of trained nurses to nurse the sick poor in their own 
homes. Finding that trained nurses of the type he required — responsible, 
trustworthy, and experienced — did not exist, he wrote to Miss Nightin- 
gale asking her advice. 

Though she was overwhelmed with work on the Indian Sanitary Com- 
mission, she gave William Rathbone's scheme "as much consideration," 
he wrote, "as if she herself were going to be the Superintendent." She 
came to the conclusion that the only satisfactory solution was to train 
nurses specially, and suggested that the Royal Liverpool Infirmary should 
be approached to cooperate in opening a training school with the 
guarantee that a fixed percentage of nurses trained should be reserved 
for the Royal Infirmary. In the following year, at William Rathbone's 
expense, a Training School and Home for Nurses was opened in con- 
nection with the Royal Infirmary and proved an unqualified success. 

William Rathbone, austere in spite of great wealth, unselfish, tender- 
hearted, devoid of sentimentality to the point of dryness, was a man 


Miss Nightingale could appreciate, and they became intimate friends. 
His admiration and affection for her was unbounded; he wrote that he 
was "proud to be one of her journey men workers," and when she 
moved into South Street he presented her with a stand filled with flower- 
ing plants, which he kept renewed weekly until his death. 

While following up cases from his district he visited workhouse in- 
firmaries and found that, though the sick in the slums were miserable, the 
paupers in the workhouse infirmaries were more miserable still. The 
Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary was, on the whole, well administered, 
but the condition of the sick was wretched beyond description. Twelve- 
hundred sick paupers were accommodated. As in all workhouse in- 
firmaries, such nursing as existed was done by able-bodied female pau- 
pers, and owing to the fact that Liverpool was a seaport and the city 
had large harbor slums, many of the women were drunken prostitutes. 
These women, wrote Miss Eleanor Rathbone in a memoir of her fa- 
ther, "were superintended by a very small number of paid, but un- 
trained, parish officers, who were in the habit, it was said, of wearing kid 
gloves in the wards to protect their hands. All night a policeman 
patrolled some of the wards to keep order, while others, in which the 
inhabitants were too sick or infirm to make disturbance, were locked up 
and left unvisited all night." 

On January 31, 1864, William Rathbone made the first move to re- 
form workhouse nursing. He wrote to Miss Nightingale and suggested 
that a staff of trained nurses and a matron should be sent to the Liver- 
pool Workhouse Infirmary; it was not possible to send nurses from the 
training school, as the full number trained there was already bespoken 
by the Royal Infirmary and the District Nursing scheme. If she could 
find nurses and a matron, he offered to guarantee the cost for whatever 
term of years she thought advisable. It would not be easy to obtain per- 
mission to introduce the nurses, and he asked her to draft a letter which 
he could send to the Vestry who controlled the Workhouse Infirmary, 
asking for their cooperation. 

A long battle ensued. "There has been as much diplomacy and as 
many treaties and as much of people working against each other, as if 
we had been going to occupy a Kingdom instead of a Workhouse," Miss 
Nightingale wrote to Rev. Mother Bermondsey in September, 1864. 
Permission was not granted until March, 1865, and by then she had also 
become involved in the reform of workhouse nursing in London. 

In December, 1864 a pauper named Timothy Daly died in the Hol- 
born Workhouse. There was an inquest, and it was found that death had 


resulted from filthiness caused by gross neglect; the newspapers took 
the case up, and there was a public scandal. Miss Nightingale seized the 
opportunity^ to write a tactful letter to Mr. Charles Villiers, the Presi- 
dent of the Poor Law Board. She ventured to write, she said, because 
Timothy Daly's case proved the overwhelming necessity for the im- 
provement of nursing in workhouse infirmaries. He might perhaps be 
interested to hear what was going to be done in the Liverpool Work- 
house Infirmary with a staff of trained nurses and a matron from the 
Nightingale Training School. 

Mr. Villiers replied immediately; he was a friend of Lord Palmerston; 
he was a friend also of Miss Nightingale's ally, Sir Robert Rawlinson 
the engineer. A champion of the people's rights, Charles Villiers had 
devoted many years of his life to the repeal of the Corn Laws to reduce 
the price of bread. His appearance was romantically handsome, his man- 
ner was charming, and his powers of conversation were considered un- 

At the end of January he called and by the end of the interview they 
were firm friends. Her powers inspired him with intense admiration. 
Sir Edward Cook describes him bursting out to a friend after he had 
received one of her memoranda: "I delight to read the Nightingale's 
song about it all. If any one of them had a tenth part of her vigour of 
mind we might expect something." 

More than the reform of workhouse nursing was discussed. She had 
realized that it was virtually impossible to reform workhouse nursing 
without reforming workhouse administration, and she urged Mr. Villiers 
to make use of the death of Timothy Daly to initiate an investigation 
into the whole question of the treatment of the sick poor. 

"Thev are much more frightened by the death from the Holborn 
Union than they 'let on,' " she wrote to Sir John McNeill on February 
7. "I was so much obliged to that poor man for dying. It was want of 
cleanliness. Mr. Villiers says that he shall never hear the last of it." Early 
in February, 1 865 Mr. Villiers sent his principal assistant, A4r. H. B. Far- 
nail, to see her. Mr. Farnall was Poor Law Inspector for the Metropolitan 
District. He had been working for Poor Law Reform all his life and 
knew the almost insuperable difficulties lying ahead, but she inspired 
him with an astonishing confidence. "From the first," he wrote in 
December, 1 866, "I had a sort of fixed faith that Florence Nightingale 
could do anything." 

It was decided to start the investigation in London, and with Mr. 
Farnall's assistance Miss Nightingale drew up a "Form of Enquiry" to 


be circulated to every workhouse infirmary and workhouse sick ward in 
the Metropolitan district. Mr. Villiers approved, and the forms were 
sent out in February, 1 865. 

In A4arch permission was at last given for the Nightingale nurses to 
enter the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary, and on May 16 twelve nurses 
and a matron. Miss Agnes Jones, arrived. "A4r. Rathbone puts down 
^1200," wrote Miss Nightingale. The experiment was at first to be 
confined to the male wards only. 

Once more she was desperately anxious. Once more everything hung 
on the endurance, the good behavior, and the good sense of a band of 
young women. She had convinced Mr. Villiers of the possibility of 
employing trained nurses in workhouse infirmaries, but what if the 
nurses failed? The task which lay before them was fearful enough to 
daunt the boldest. Fortunately the matron was a young woman of re- 
markable character and qualifications who had already been selected 
by Miss Nightingale as the only woman capable of becoming her suc- 
cessor. Agnes Jones was the daughter of Colonel Jones of Londonderry 
and the niece of Sir John Lawrence. She was "pretty and young and rich 
and witty, ideal in her beauty as a Louis XIV shepherdess," Miss Night- 
ingale wrote to Clarkey. But beneath the prettiness was the soul of a 
martyr. Miss Nightingale's work in the Crimea had inspired her to 
become a nurse, and, following in her footsteps, she persuaded her 
family to allow her to go to Kaiserswerth in i860. After two years 
there she wrote to Miss Nightingale, who advised her to complete her 
training by a year at the Nightingale School at St. Thomas's. She entered 
in 1863 and was the best probationer Mrs. Wardroper had ever had and 
Miss Nightingale's "best and dearest pupil." On completing her train- 
ing, she went to the Great Northern Hospital and was working there as 
a sister when she was offered the post of Matron of the Liverpool Work- 
house Infirmary in August, 1864. 

She knew how fearful would be the task, and she refused; but her 
conscience would not let her rest. Had she not received a call from God? 
After days spent in agony and prayer, she wrote again and accepted. 

In 1 868 Miss Nightingale wrote an account of Agnes Jones's work in 
Good Words under the title "Una and the Lion." The Lion symbolized 
the paupers Agnes Jones had to nurse, "far more untameable than any 
lion." She had nursed in great London hospitals, but, she said, until she 
came to Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary she did not know what sin 
and wickedness were. The wards were an inferno, the hordes of pauper 
patients more degraded than animals. Vicious habits, ignorance, idiocy, 
met her on every side. Drunkenness was universal — thirty-five of the 


pauper nurses had to be dismissed for drunkenness in the first month. 
Immorality was universal. Filth was universal. The patients wore the 
same shirts for seven weeks; bedding was only changed and washed once 
a month; food was at starvation level; spirits entered the infirmary freely. 
The number of patients was very large, 1350, rising at times to 1500. 
There were administrative difficulties; her position and powers were 
not properly defined; the supply of food to the Workhouse Infirmary 
was done by contract, and the doctors had no control over it; the task 
of training the pauper nurses was hopeless. "It is like Scutari over again," 
Miss Nightingale told her. 

At first it seemed that the experiment was failing. The governor of 
the Infirmary had supported the scheme, but Agnes Jones quarreled 
with him. She objected to his "want of refinement," and he thought 
her too strict and unpractical. There were several serious disagreements, 
described by Dr. Sutherland as "Hibernian Rows." Miss Nightingale 
intervened, smoothed things over, talked each side round. When affairs 
in Liverpool reached a deadlock, William Rathbone made a flying trip 
to London to consult her. 

Gradually the scene changed. Agnes Jones, under Miss Nightingale's 
influence, became less rigid, and her genius as a nurse and as an ad- 
ministrator made itself felt. Old women visiting their husbands reported 
"wonderful changes in the House" since the London nurses came. Ladies 
who acted as charitable visitors began to sing her praises; the medical 
staff asked for more nurses. The results Miss Jones was achieving were 
so good that they intended to propose she should take over the female 
as well as the male wards. Most important of all, the cost of maintaining 
the sick in the Workhouse Infirmary under her regime was less, not 
more, than before. Agnes Jones, wrote Miss Nightingale, converted 
the Vestry to the conviction of the economy as well as the humanity 
of nursing pauper sick by trained nurses. 

With this success behind her Miss Nightingale pressed for legislation. 
It was impossible to correct the abuses which existed in workhouses and 
workhouse infirmaries until they were put on a new financial and ad- 
ministrative basis. To make the changes required, there must be an Act 
of Parliament. She did not try to establish a position for herself within 
the Poor Law Board as she had done with the War Office and the India 
Office. Mr. Villiers was over sixty, and, much as she liked him, she was 
forced to realize that he no longer possessed the energy to be her mouth- 

The Poor Law Board would never produce the necessary legislation 
— she must go over its head and approach Lord Palmerston. Once more 


she succeeded. He promised that if she would draft a Bill he would use 
his influence to get it through the Cabinet. Full of hope, she began work 
with Mr. Farnall, but another blow fell. It was the moment when Lord 
Palmerston was taken ill, and on October i8 he died; her hopes of in- 
fluence in the Cabinet were at an end. 

She must depend again on Mr. Villiers, but she was not left without 
hope. The answers to the "Form of Enquiry" sent out to London work- 
houses and workhouse infirmaries revealed facts so shameful that they 
could not be ignored. 

Through the autumn of 1865 she worked on a scheme for the Metro- 
poKtan area which was intended to be extended later to other areas. The 
first necessity was to change the mental attitude which made the miseries 
of the hideous system possible. "So long," she wrote, "as a sick man, 
woman or child is considered administratively to be a pauper to be re- 
pressed and not a fellow creature to be nursed into health, so long will 
these shameful disclosures have to be made. The sick, infirm or mad 
pauper ceases to be a pauper when so afflicted." It was the conception 
on which she based her attitude toward the human race. Suffering lifts 
its victim above normal values. While suffering endures, there is neither 
good nor bad, valuable nor invaluable, enemy nor friend. The victim has 
passed to a region beyond human classification or moral judgments, and 
his suffering is a sufficient claim. 

Administratively her scheme for reform was based on three essentials 
which she termed the A B C of workhouse reform. 

(A ) The sick, insane, incurable, and children must be dealt with sep- 
arately in proper institutions and not mixed up together in infirmaries 
and sick wards as at present. "The care and government of the sick poor 
is a thing totally different from the government of paupers. Once ac- 
knowledge this principle and you must have suitable establishments for 
the cure of the sick and infirm." 

(B) There must be a single central administration. "The entire Medi- 
cal Relief of London should be under one central management which 
would know where vacant beds were to be found, and be able so to 
distribute the Sick etc., as to use all the establishments in the most 
economical way." 

(C) "For the purpose of providing suitable establishments for the 
care and treatment of the Sick, Insane etc., Consolidation and a Gen- 
eral Rate are essential." This point was vital; the future of workhouse 
nursing and administration turned on it. As long as the workhouses and 
infirmaries were paid for out of the parochial rates, and staff appoint- 
ments were made by local authorities with absolute power, there would 


inevitably be jobbery. Moreover, "to provide suitable treatment in each 
Workhouse would involve an expenditure which even London could 
not bear." At the moment to be a sick or insane pauper in a poor parish 
was to be horribly penalized. 

The memorandum reached Mr. Villiers in December. Her case was 
unanswerable, and he agreed to press at once for a new London Poor 
Law Bill. From day to day the situation improved. The Lancet sent a 
special commissioner to inquire into the state of London workhouse 
infirmaries, and, as a result, the "Association for the Improvement of 
the Infirmaries of London Workhouses" was formed. In April, 1866 the 
Association sent a deputation to the Poor Law Board pressing for im- 
mediate improvement, and Air. Villiers gave an assurance that legisla- 
tion might be expected almost immediately. Newspaper articles began 
to appear. Delane, editor of The Times, called to see Mr. V^illiers, and 
journalists, including Edwin Chadwick, applied to Miss Nightingale for 
facts. In April the Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmary Bill seemed al- 
most a certainty. 

Yet once more everything vanished into thin air. It was the spring of 
1866, and the Whig Government was tottering. Workhouse infirmary 
reform was a controversial subject, and as Lord de Grey delayed on the 
Indian Public Health Service so Mr. Villiers delayed on the Metropolitan 
Workhouse Infirmary Bill. "He was afraid," wrote Miss Nightingale to 
Harriet Martineau, on May 2, "of losing the Government one vote." 
On June 1 8 the Government fell, Mr. Villiers went out of office, and the 
Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmary Bill was lost. 

Though all the summer she was very ill, she would not accept defeat. 
Surely in some direction something could be done, "I had hopes for a 
time from a Committee of the House of Commons (on which serves 
John Stuart Mill) on the special Local Government of the Metropolis," 
she wrote to M. Mohl on July 12. She sent John Stuart Mill a copy of her 
scheme; she approached Edwin Chadwick, who also served on the 
House of Commons Committee, offering "to express my conclusions 
more in detail in answer to written questions (as I have done to 2 Royal 
Commissions)." At first she seemed to be making an impression, and the 
Committee asked her for "a long letter," then hope faded as the whole 
question was postponed. "Because it is July and they are rather hot they 
give it up for this year," she wrote. 

Early in July she had written to Mr. Gathorne Hardy, Mr. Villiers' 
successor, and on July 25 he replied in a complimentary and discourag- 
ing letter. She must not apologize for writing to him; she had "earned 
no common title to advise and suggest upon anything which affects the 


treatment of the sick." Sufficient compliments having been paid, he 
made it clear that he had no intention of becoming involved with her. 
He had "not advanced very far from want of time"; and he was "neces- 
sarily very much occupied with other business." In conclusion, he 
hastened to assure her he would "bear in mind the offer you have made 
and in all probability avail myself of it to the full." 

He did not invite her to write to him again; he did not suggest calling 
on her. On the heels of the letter came further discouraging news. Mr. 
Gathorne Hardy removed Mr. Farnall from his post at Whitehall as 
Poor Law Inspector of the Metropolitan District and sent him to York- 
shire. There could be no plainer proof that Mr. Gathorne Hardy did not 
intend to be on the side of reform. Miss Nightingale was forced to admit 
she could do nothing further and went to Embley. 

But in October Mr. Gathorne Hardy made Mr. Villiers "frantically 
angry." On October 3 1 Miss Nightingale wrote to Douglas Galton that 
"Air. Hardy told him, Mr. Vilhers, twice, in the Ho: of C, that had he 
only known how to use, with dexterity and wisdom, the weapon of 
the law, he would have found it a very sufficient weapon." Fresh legisla- 
tion, Mr. Hardy asserted, was quite unnecessary, provided the existing 
Acts were properly understood and applied. Since Mr. Villiers had de- 
voted his term of office to framing new legislation, he took this as an 
attack on himself. He began to write to Aiiss Nightingale again, express- 
ing his determination "not to sit down under this kind of thing"; he 
intended to "catch Mr. Gathorne Hardy out" and show him that some- 
thing more was needed to solve the problem of Poor Law Administra- 
tion than "a touch of Mr. Gathorne Hardy's magic wand." On October 
28 Miss Nightingale wrote to Edwin Chadwick: "I have had a great 
deal of clandestine correspondence with my old loves at the Poor Law 
Board this last two months. There is only one thing of which I am 
quite sure. And that is that Mr. Villiers will lead Mr. Gathorne Hardy 
no easy life next February." 

In October Mr. Gathorne Hardy appointed a committee of sanitary 
and medical experts to report "upon the requisite amount of space and 
other matters in relation to Workhouses and Workhouse Infirmaries." 
Among the other matters was included nursing. He did not consult Miss 
Nightingale, but she put her pride in her pocket and asked to be allowed 
to contribute. The committee invited her to submit a paper on nursing; 
this opening gave her the chance to put forward her scheme of work- 
house reform, basing her argument on the obvious truth that the or- 
ganization, construction, and administration of workhouse and work- 
house infirmaries were of vital importance to the nursing system. Sht; 


had her paper printed and sent a copy to Mr. Gathorne Hardy with a 
long, urgent letter. She was writing repeatedly to him, but with no ef- 
fect. He neither consulted her nor informed her what he intended to 
do. It was a complete surprise when on February 8 he introduced a Bill 
which became law in the following: month under the title of the Metro- 
politan Poor Act. 

Miss Nightingale and her fellow workers felt they had been exploited. 
On February 1 1 William Rathbone wrote: "I think Hardy's use of our 
experiment and of your name atrocious." On a draft copy Miss Night- 
ingale scribbled angrily "Humbug," "No principles," "Beastly." She 
was especially angry that no direct provision was made for the improve- 
ment of workhouse nursing. For this, however, she herself was to blame. 
She had written a letter to Mr. Gathorne Hardy reporting the victory 
of the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary nursing in which she gave a 
dramatic description of the opposition and difficulties encountered at 
the beginning. He took fright; either he was genuinely alarmed, or he 
was not sorry to find an excuse for postponing nursing reform; in any 
case, he publicly gave her letter as a reason for shelving the question for 
the present. 

In fact, resentful though the Reformers might be, the Bill was a great 
advance. Miss Nightingale campaigned furiously in the hope of getting 
it amended, but Mr. Gathorne Hardy was both conciliatory and skillful. 
He put forward the Bill modestly as "only a beginning," freely admit- 
ting that criticism was justified but emphasizing he was doing every- 
thing that could be done at present. One by one her supporters became 
lukewarm. Mr. Villiers, who had begun by calling the Bill a seven 
months' child bom in the Whitehall Workhouse, admitted that it would 
"set the ball rolling." Miss Nightingale herself did not suffer her usual 
torments of despair. After the Bill was passed, in March, 1867, she wrote 
to Rev. Mother Bermondsey almost with cheerfulness: "We have ob- 
tained some things, the removal of 2000 lunatics, 80 fever and small- 
pox cases and all the remaining children out of the Workhouses — (and 
the providing for them out of a common fund in order to relieve the 
rates) the paying of all salaries of Medical Officers, Matrons, Nurses etc., 
outof a A4etropolitan (not parochial) rate. . . . Also; — the removing all 
other sick into separate buildings which are to be improved — and con- 
stituting fresh Boards of Guardians for these sick with nominees from 
the Poor Law Board. This is a beginning, we shall get more in time." 

Another battle was over, but the pause which succeeded it brought 
her no rest. During the summer of 1867 she was forced to stay in Lon- 
don working desperately on Indian sanitary affairs. She was conscious 


of driving herself too hard; if Sidney Herbert or Clough iiad been alive, 
she wrote to Clarkey, one of them would have made her stop. But now 
there was no one to stop her. Indeed, far from being able to spare her- 
self, she was forced, in June 1867, to undertake a new and laborious 

Part of the money raised by the Nightingale Fund had been devoted 
to establishing a training school for midwives in King's College Hospi- 
tal. The school flourished and was considered by Miss Nightingale to 
be one of her most satisfactory achievements, when it was overtaken 
by disaster. Puerperal sepsis broke out in the lying-in wards following 
the delivery of a woman suffering from erysipelas and developed into 
an epidemic which closed the school. An investigation followed, in the 
course of which she discovered that no reliable statistics of mortality in 
childbirth existed. Ill, harassed, and overdriven as she was, she set to 
work with Dr. Sutherland's assistance to collect facts and figures on 
which statistics could be based. It was a difficult task. Doctors were 
suspicious of interference and surprisingly ignorant — one doctor told 
her that ergot was a specific against puerperal sepsis. Institutions were 
unwilling to disclose their figures. However, working through hospitals 
and doctors to whom she was personally known, she collected pre- 
liminary facts which pointed to a startling conclusion. It seemed that 
in lying-in institutions and hospital wards the rate of mortality was 
much higher than when patients were delivered at home, however 
poor and unhygienic those homes might be. She determined that a great 
mass of further facts must be collected and began to correspond with 
doctors, matrons, sanitary experts, and engineers throughout the world. 

The work involved was enormous. The analyzing and tabulating was 
done by her, and the majority of letters were written in her own hand. 
The inquiry took three years to complete, years during which the 
pressure of other work was crushing. At the end of the inquiry she had 
accumulated a mass of information but had neither time nor energy to 
work it up. A book was planned, but Dr. Sutherland had to put it 
into shape, and it was not until 1871 that a small volume was published 
under the rather apologetic title of Introductory Notes on Lying-m In- 

It is one of the most interesting of Miss Nightingale's works. She 
reached the conclusion that the use of small separate rooms was the 
answer to the high rate of mortality in maternity cases. The same con- 
clusion was reached, independently, by Sir James Simpson, the pioneer 
of the use of chloroform in childbirth, with whom she corresponded. 
When she wrote, the great discoveries of bacteriology were still ten 


years ahead; Lister had only just made public his first experiments with 
carbolic acid, and the nature of infection was not understood. Miss 
Nightingale herself regarded "the fear of entering a cab in which a 
case of fever or small pox has been for half an hour" as "morbid" and 
wrote of "the myth of scarlet fever being carried in a bedside carpet." 
But she did establish, independently, the fact that, whenever a number 
of maternity cases were collected together, and whenever maternity 
cases were under the same roof as medical and surgical cases, the mortal- 
ity rose. The lower mortality in cases delivered at home was due to the 
fact that "ho\\ever grand, or however humble, a home may be in which 
the birth of a child takes place, there is only one delivery in the home 
at one time." In London workhouses the death-rate depended on the 
number of deliveries. Thirteen infirmaries which had no deaths at all 
in five years, had under sixteen deliveries per annum. "When Water- 
ford Institution had 8 beds in i room the mortality was 8 per looo. When 
the wards were moved and the number of beds reduced to 4, the mortal- 
ity fell to 3.4 per 1000." In La Charite in Paris maternity cases were un- 
der the same roof as medical and surgical cases, and the mortality in 
1 86 1 was 193.7 P^^ 1000, of which over 80 per cent were due to puerperal 

She pressed for midwifery as a career for educated women. In 1871 
there was an agitation for women to be admitted to the medical profes- 
sion, an ambition with which she had little sympathy: the crying need 
was for nurses and midwives. She added a letter to her book: "Dear Sis- 
ters," she wrote, "there is a better thing for women to be than 'medical 
men,' that is 'medical women.' " "It is a good thing you are at Lea Hurst," 
wrote Dr. Sutherland in July, 187 1, "or your 'dear sisters' would infal- 
hbly break your head." 

The spring of 1867 brought final victory in Liverpool. District nurs- 
ing was rapidly developing. The city had been divided into eighteen 
districts, each provided with trained nurses. In the Liverpool Work- 
house Infirmary the cost of the scheme which William Rathbone had 
borne was officially assumed by the Vestry, and all the wards in the 
Infirmary, male and female, were placed under the authority of Agnes 
Jones. It was triumph, but triumph was short-lived. The winter of 1 867 
was a time of unemployment and distress, Agnes Jones was already 
cruelly overworked, and the work entailed by the additional wards was 
more than any human being could accomplish. "All the winter," wrote 
Miss Nightingale to Al Mohl in February, 1868, "she has had 1350 pa- 
tients and to fight for every necessary of life for them. She has never 
been in bed until 1.30 a.m. and always up at 5.30 a.m." An epidemic of 


typhus broke out, and Agnes Jones caught the infection. On February 
19, 1868, she died. The last words she spoke to Miss Nightingale were: 
"You have no idea how I am overworked." 

Her death was a catastrophe. There was no one to take her place. 
Personal loss Miss Nightingale could bear; on the third anniversary of 
Sidney Herbert's death she had written that the mere personal craving 
after a beloved presence she felt as nothing, a few years and it would 
be over — her bitter grief was for the work. After so much had been 
sacrificed, so much had been achieved, it seemed that the reform of 
nursing in workhouse infirmaries would collapse for want of someone 
to carry it on. She became frantic. Her bitterness against women, her 
distrust of women, her resentment of their pretensions flared up again. 
"I don't think," she wrote to Clarkey in April, 1868, "anything in the 
course of my long life ever struck me so much as the deadlock we have 
been placed in by the death of one pupil, combined you know, with the 
enormous Jaw, the infinite female ink which England pours forth on 
'Woman's Work.' " 

"The more chattering and noise there is about Woman's Mission the 
less of efficient women can we find," she wrote to Sir John McNeill on 
February 7, 1865. "It makes me mad to hear people talk about unem- 
ployed women. If they are unemployed it is because they won't work. 
The highest salaries given to women at all we can secure to women 
trained by us. But we can't find the women. They won't come." Those 
who did come gave enormous trouble, and there were moments when 
it seemed that everything she had achieved by her work in the Crimea 
would be lost through their unreasonableness and stupidity. "It is not 
money we want," she wrote to Harriet Martineau in February, 1 865, "it is 
workers. . . . We don't aspire, altho' they are needed by the hundred 
and the thousand, to sending out nurses by the hundred and the thou- 
sand. What we want to do is to send a small staff of trained nurses and a 
trained training Matron, wherever we are asked. But the material, espe- 
cially in the latter (the Matron) does not come to us. We have 23 nurses 
now in training at St. Thomas's, our largest number. 18 is the number 
we can entirely support at St. Thomas's but this is no difficulty at all, 
even at the moment some of our 23 are supported by others. We should 
never lack the money, but we want the workers. . . . Applications 
have no superfluity at all from any description or class of persons rush- 
ing to be trained. We can scarcely make up our number of the right 
sort. . . . We never have rejected one of the right sort for want of 
room. But really not many of any sort come to be rejected. . . . We 
have always 10 times as many situations offered as trained persons to 


fill them. Indeed I am sorry to say that nurses of ours have been made 
superintendents who were totally unfit for it, and whom we earnestly 
remonstrated with, as well as with their employers, to prevent them 
being made Superintendents but in vain — such is the lack of proper per- 

Many first-class nurses were prevented by lack of education from 
being able to attempt administrative work. Miss Nightingale considered 
that Mrs. Roberts, who had been her head nurse in the Crimea, was the 
best nurse she had ever met, but in 1857 she wrote: "She might be a 
first-class physician and surgeon, learnt by 2 3 years experience, but not 
by reading. She can't read! not literally." Too often the woman with 
some education who took up nursing did so only because she had proved 
herself too unreliable for other work. In 1871 visitors to the Poplar Sick 
Asylum found the matron in a "low dress with short sleeves, being 
merry"; she confided to them that she had successfully brought two 
actions for breach of promise. In military hospitals the difficulty was 
even greater. In July, 187 1 Miss Nightingale gave Henry Bonham Carter, 
Hilary's brother, an account of an interview with the superintendent 
of a military hospital who had been reported for improper conduct. 
"She had nursed a Pole and he had left her all his money. Alternatively 
he had only given one small present to her little girl. Then she began 
raving about her social position, her poor husband, her character, her 
age. Who might not take presents if she might not she screamed — she 
must have been heard all over Lord Lucan's next door — to frighten me. 
She began by declaring that she would not keep her superintendency a 
day, she would resign at once. Then it flashed, even over her, that her 
resignation might be accepted. 

"And she shouted — 
"that she didn't care for the W.O. — not a fig — she snapped her fingers 
at them. She would stay where she was and nobody should turn her 
out, that if the W.O. asked her to resign she would defy them and they 
should find her a match for them and she should not resign. (Do you 
know I have the strong impression that there is a great deal to know 
which we do not know.) She told me she was a saint, she screamed this 
at least 40 times. She repeated (I am sure 50 times) that she had made 
the nurses a cake 'with her own hands' as proof of her being 'a mother 
to them.' She screamed 'You have made me miserable, miserable, miser- 
able' (30 or 40 times). But she was quite evidently trying to practise on 
me. (I have no doubt she has tried this practice on many, especially her 
husband.) And the cruelty of her eyes in saying this was frightful to 


The obvious solution was for educated women of a good type to be- 
come nurses, but this path too was strewn with difficulties. The "ladies" 
and "nurses" controversy which had caused so much heart-burning in 
the Crimea was still raging. On September 13, 1866, Miss Nightingale 
wrote Dr. Farr a long letter protesting against statements made by a 
Dr. Stewart and a Miss Garret, who asserted that she had been "com- 
pelled to give up employing lady nurses, had been forced to abandon the 
introduction of educated women into the profession of nursing" and 
had "declared that educated women were unable to undergo the train- 
ing necessary for the purpose." It was just possible, said Dr. Stewart and 
Miss Garret, that a middle-class woman might become a nurse but quite 
impossible for an upper-class lady. 

The truth, wrote Miss Nightingale, was exactly opposite. "Be it 
known to Dr. Stewart who draws a painfully invidious distinction be- 
tween 'upper' and 'middle class,' that the fact is exactly the contrary 
from what he represents it. It is far more difficult to induce a 'middle- 
class' woman than an 'upper class' one to go through as Head Nurse 
the incidental drudgery which must fall to the province of the Head 
Nurse — or be neglected. 

"i. No nurses should do the work of 'scrubbers' — that therefore the 
Nurse whether she be upper, middle or lower class is equally able to go 
through the training of a nurse. 

"2. No Lady Superintendent — be she upper, middle or lower class — 
is qualified to govern or to train nurses, if she has not herself gone 
through the training of a nurse. 

"3. I don't exactly know what Dr. Stewart and Miss Garret mean by 
the 'upper' class. . . . Therefore I will wait to know before I mention 
many who have gone through the training of a nurse . . . are equally 
qualified to be Nurses, Head Nurses, to attend an operation or to be 
Supt — and yet are of what is usually called the 'upper' class," 

Dr. Stewart and Miss Garret voiced views widely held by Miss Night- 
ingale's contemporaries. The figure of the self-immolating sister of 
charity was fixed in the public mind, and few people could visualize the 
professional woman, trained, efficient, and highly paid whom she wished 
to call into existence. "To make the power of serving without pay a 
qualification is, I think, absurd," she wrote to Dr. Farr on September 13, 


CAREER HIGHLY PAID. My principle has always been — that we should 
give the best training we could to any woman, of any class, of any sect, 
'paid' or unpaid, who had the requisite qualifications, moral, intellectual 
and physical, for the vocation of a Nurse. Unquestionably the educated 


will be more likely to rise to the post of Superintendent, but 7iot because 
they are ladies but because they are educated^ 

When the right type of woman had been secured and there were no 
religious objections, difficulties remained. The Nightingale nurses, care- 
fully selected, trained under Miss Nightingale's own eye, were efficient, 
professional, educated, but they suffered from a feeling of their supe- 
riority. "Intolerable conceit is one of our nurses' chief defects," she 
wrote in 1871. One of the Nightingale probationers — "a good girl," 
wrote Miss Nightingale, "but using the lowest kind of High Church 
slang" — refused to sit at meals with an old-style sister from St. Thomas's 
on the ground that the sister was "low." When Nightingale nurses were 
sent to work under matrons who were not Nightingale-trained, they 
were patronizing. On one or two occasions Miss Nightingale was asked 
to recall her nurses because they were too difficult to manage, 

Ther.e were difficulties inherent in the very fervor which inspired the 
new nurse. The woman who was neither frivolous nor in financial dif- 
ficulties, who was prepared to undergo a rigorous training and subse- 
quently endure the conditions of work in the wards of a hospital or in- 
firmary of the period, was likely to be animated with a fanatic's spirit. 
Miss Nightingale did not want fanatics; she did not want warfare, espe- 
cially holy warfare. No one knew better that almost everything was 
wrong with the conditions and technique of contemporary nursing. But 
the way to improvement did not lie through rebellion; she had never 
been a rebel, and she did not mean to send out parties of rebel nurses. Au- 
thority must not be flouted but converted. Regulations must be observed 
because regulations were essential to organization. If regulations were 
bad, they must certainly be changed, but until they were changed they 
must be observed. In a private note of 1866 she wrote: "Women are 
unable to see that it requires wisdom as well as self denial to establish a 
new work." 

It was a difficult lesson to teach. Women who had trained as nurses 
inspired by a spirit of devotion found themselves sent to posts where 
their good intentions were frustrated and their skill wasted. Unhappy 
and rebellious, they appealed to Miss Nightingale, and when she 
preached patience, yielding, moderation, their disappointment was great. 
Many lost faith in her, and she frequently mentions having received let- 
ters of abuse from unhappy and disappointed nurses. But she would 
not change her policy. "Do you think," she wrote to a rebellious nurse 
on April 22, 1869, "I should have succeeded in doing anything if I had 
kicked and resisted and resented? ... I have been shut out of hospitals 
into which I had been ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, obliged to 


stand outside the door in the snow until night, have been refused rations 
for as much as lo days at a time for the nurses I had brought by superior 
command. And I have been as good friends the day after with the offi- 
cials who did these things — have resolutely ignored these things for the 


The want of women to train as nurses, the difficulties perpetually aris- 
ing from their unreasonableness and instability affected Miss Nightin- 
gale's attitude toward the feminist question. The movement for the 
higher education and emancipation of women was gathering strength, 
and between i860 and 1870 the first organized efforts were made to en- 
able women to enter the learned professions and to give them the vote. 
In September, i860 John Stuart Mill asked A4iss Nightingale to support 
the movement to enable women to qualify as doctors on the same terms 
as men. But she was unsympathetic; her difficulties had left her with the 
conviction that women already had more opportunities than, at the 
moment, they were capable of using. She was impatient with "female 
missionaries," with the "enormous Jaw about Woman's Work." She 
was convinced that her attitude was based on hard facts derived from 
her experience, but in fact the truth lay in her own nature. 

Her outlook was aristocratic. Equality meant little to her, equality of 
the sexes, the goal of the early pioneers of feminism, least of all. She had 
never felt handicapped by her sex or wished to be a man. In all the long 
history of frustration recorded in her private notes, she never suggests 
she was frustrated by men because she was a woman. Stupidity frustrated 
her, not sex. She had been made aware that in the world of affairs sug- 
gestions from a woman were accepted less readily than suggestions from 
a man, but by using the right tactics she had been able to overcome that 
drawback. Statesmen, Cabinet ministers, public servants had willingly 
sat at her feet, and she assumed that any woman who chose to take the 
trouble could achieve the same position. In spite of the extraordinary 
power of her mind, she was a woman of intensely feminine nature whom 
men admired and spoiled. She preferred men to women, and sex antago- 
nism, sex rivalry were foreign to her. Nothing exasperated her more 
than a desire on the part of women to imitate and emulate men. "To do 
things just because men do them!" she wrote contemptuously. The 
exaggerated praise lavished on female achievement infuriated her — why 
should what was normal for a man be considered exceptional for a 
woman? Why should it be hailed as remarkable when a woman quali- 
fied as a doctor — not because she qualified brilliantly but because she 
succeeded merely in qualifying? 

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to qualify as a doctor. 


She had studied in Paris and qualified in America, and was now a celeb- 
rity. On January 19, 1862, Miss Nightingale wrote that she would be 
"inferior as a 3rd rate apothecary of 30 years ago." "Female M.D.'s have 
taken up the worst part of a male M.D. ship of 50 years ago," she wrote 
to John Stuart Mill on September 12, i860. "The women have made no 
improvement, they have only tried to be 'men' and they have succeeded 
only in being third rate men. Let all women try . . . these women have 
in my opinion failed . . . but this is no prior conclusion against the 

On September 23 John Stuart Mill replied, pointing out the limita- 
tions of her argument. "When we consider how rare first rate minds 
are, was it to be expected on the doctrine of chances that the first two 
or three women who take up medicine should be more than you sav these 
are — third rate. It is to be expected that they will be pupils at first, not 
masters. . . . Neither does the moral right of women of admission into 
the profession depend at all upon the likelihood of their being the first 
to reform it." 

She remained unconvinced. The moral right did not interest her. The 
all-important consideration was the work waiting to be done in the 
world. Women made third-rate doctors and first-rate nurses: there were 
plenty of first-rate doctors; there was a shortage of first-rate nurses; 
what could be plainer than the conclusion that women ought to become 
nurses, not doctors? In July, 1867 John Stuart Mill asked her to be- 
come a member of the first committee of the London National Society 
for Women's Suffrage. "A Society has been formed for the purpose of 
obtaining the Suffrage for Women. The honour of your name as a mem- 
ber of the General Committee is earnestly requested." She refused. 
Again, the moral right of women to have a voice in the government of 
the countr\' meant little to her. Her objections were practical — "that 
women should have the suffrage," she wrote on August 11, 1867, "I 
think no one can be more deeply convinced than I. It is so important 
for a woman to be a 'person' as you say. . . . But it will be years before 
you obtain the suffrage for women. And in the meantime there are 
evils which press much more hardly on women than the want of the 
suffrage. . . . Till a married woman can be in possession of her own 
property there can be no love or justice. But there are many other evils, 
as I need not tell you." John Stuart Mill answered that he deplored on 
moral grounds the "indirect influence" to which women were restricted 
owing to their want of political power. But Miss Nightingale, whose 
immense influence was all indirect, was devoid of moral qualms and in- 
fluenced only by practical considerations. "I have thought I could work 


better, even for other women, off the stage than on it," she wrote simply. 

She dechned to believe in the vote as a universal panacea for the 
wrongs of women. "If women were to get the vote immediately Mr. 
Mill would be disappointed with the result," she wrote in a rough draft 
of a letter to Jowett. The greater part of female misery was due to 
economics — not to the economic situation of women specifically but 
the economic situation of the whole nation. She instanced the "fright- 
ful burden of pauperism, the overflowing workhouses . . . The wives 
and daughters of all these people are starving, does Mr. Mill really be- 
lieve that the giving of any woman a vote will lead to the removal of 
even the least of these evils?" In a sentence which she used again in 
writing to John Stuart Mill, she spoke of her own position. "In the 1 1 
years I have passed in Government offices I have never felt the want of 
a vote, because, if I had been a Borough returning two members to 
Parliament, I should have had less administrative influence." Her ar- 
rogance was unconscious; her modesty was genuine. She insisted that 
the only difference between herself and other women was that she 
worked and they did not. She never could be brought to admit there 
was anything else. 

In later Hfe she was conscious she had been unsympathetic, and in 
1896 she wrote to Sir William Wedderburn asking him to tell her 
what the vote would do for the ordinary woman. "I am afraid I have 
been too much enraged by vociferous ladies talking on things they know 
nothing at all about to think of the rank and file." 

Miss Nightingale was now forty-eight, and she thought of herself as 
old. Writing to Clarkey in 1868, she spoke of "the course of my long 
Hfe." Jowett implored her to change her way of living. It was incon- 
ceivable that she could intend to spend the rest of her days shut up in 
one room in London. Early in 1868 fate intervened. Another change of 
Government destroyed much of her remaining influence in official de- 
partments. In March the Tories went out, the Liberals came in, and Mr. 
Gladstone became Prime Minister. 




Gladstone to power was a severe blow to A4iss Nightingale. They had 
never been in sympathy; administration did not interest Mr, Gladstone. 
He disliked soldiers, regarded an army as an undesirable and unchristian 
institution which, as the world progressed, every civilized nation would 
discard, and consistently opposed increased expenditure on the welfare 
of the British soldier. A standing army, he had said, can never be turned 
into a moral institution. 

In Miss Nightingale's opinion the effect of Mr. Gladstone was dis- 
astrous. "The administrative state of things here is to me unimaginable," 
she wrote to M. Mohl on June lo, 1869. The War Office is drifting back 
to what it was before the Crimean War. Pauperism which concerns 
hundreds of thousands is just let alone. . . . One must be as miserably 
behind the scenes as I am to know how miserably our affairs go on." 
"What would Jesus have done," she wrote in a private note, "if He had 
had to work through Pontius Pilate?" 

The tide had turned against her. Very far off were the days when she 
wrote "Alexander whom I made Director General." There were no 
longer men in the departments who spoke the words she put into their 
mouths and were instruments in her hand. In the War Office her in- 
fluence was almost at an end; in 1869 Douglas Galton, her last remain- 
ing friend, resigned and took an appointment at the Office of Works, 
retaining out of his War Office appointments only his seat on the Army 
Sanitary Committee. 

India alone was left. In Indian affairs, in spite of disappointments and 
unrealized hopes, she had achieved a personal position of very great 
authority, and it happened that the number of men holding important 
offices in India who were her intimate friends steadily increased. 

At the end of 1865 her old admirer, Lord Napier, was appointed 


Governor of Madras, and he wrote asking her to receive him, assuring 
her that he was "at your orders for any day or hour," and reminding 
her that he had had "the happiness and honour of having seen you at 
the greatest moment of your life, in the Httle parlour of the hospital at 
Scutari." She was ill, but "managed to scramble up to see him" on 
January i, 1866, and made not only an enthusiast for the cause of sanita- 
tion in India but a personal friend. He signed his letters "ever your 
faithful grateful and devoted servant;" he told her "I think I am attached 
to you irrespective of sanitation;" he promised her "F<9Z^ shall have the 
little labour that is left in me." In Madras his governorship was marked 
by solid achievements. Roads and schools were built, drainage and ir- 
rigation undertaken, wells sunk, jails remodeled, and hospitals recon- 
structed. Under the direction of Lady Napier the experimental scheme 
for gradually introducing female nurses into Indian hospitals, which 
had been mishandled and subsequently abandoned by Sir John Law- 
rence, was put into practice in /Madras. Miss Nightingale wrote that 
Lady Napier was one of the most efficient women she had ever met. 

In 1868 Sir John Lawrence's term of office as Viceroy ended. On 
November 23, a few days before he sailed, he wrote to Miss Nightin- 
gale: "I think we have done all we can do at present in furtherance of 
Sanitary Improvement and that the best thing is to leave the Local Gov- 
ernments themselves to work out their own arrangements. If we take 
this course we shall keep them in a good humour." Far from having done 
all that could be done, she considered that almost nothing had been ac- 
complished; and as for the local governments being in a good humor, 
he forwarded by the same mail an official memorandum from Mr. John 
Strachey sharply criticizing the Sanitary Department at the India Of- 
fice. The instructions they sent out, he asserted, were written from an 
English point of 'view, old discussions were "hashed up," no credit was 
given the Government for the fact that 2 million pounds sterling a year 
was being spent on sanitary works, and the department's latest scheme 
for "a system of sanitary experts sending in reports" was "politically 
foolish, and indeed absolutely dangerous . . ." The memorandum was, 
Miss Nightingale scribbled to Dr. Sutherland, "the nastiest pill we have 
swallowed yet." Howxver, she restrained her irritation and wrote Sir 
John Lawrence a final letter "to bless and not to curse," 

And yet when, in April, 1869, he called on her with a present of "a 
small shawl of the fine hair of the Thibetan goat" she succumbed once 
more to his personal beauty and charm. "When I see that man again," 
she wrote to M. Mohl on June 10, 1869, "all the statesmen of the mo- 
ment in England whether 'in' or 'out' seem to me like rats and weazels." 


Nevertheless, her heart never quite ran away with her head, and she 
added, "but when I see him I understand he will not do much in Eng- 

She had already established her influence over Sir John Lawrence's 
successor. Lord Mayo. On the morning of October 28, 1868, Dr. Suther- 
land, arriving at South Street after a day's holiday, sent up a message 
that he hoped "there was nothing much on to-day." "There is a 'some- 
thing' which most people would think a very big 'Thing' indeed," she 
replied. "And that is seeing the Viceroy or Sacred Animal of India. 
I made him go to Shoeburyness yesterday and come to me this after- 
noon because I could not see him until you give me some kind of gen- 
eral idea what to state." 

Lord Mayo came and stayed the whole afternoon. Though she liked 
him personally, his attitude toward the responsibility he had undertaken 
provoked her wrath. He said "quite calmly" that he had not been able 
to free himself from his previous office as Irish Secretary until October 
6, he was not going to be able to see Sir Stafford Northcote, the Secre- 
tary of State for India, at all because Sir Stafford would be busy first 
electioneering and then staying with the Queen, and he was proposing 
to go out to India as Viceroy on November 6 "completely unin- 
structed." "He came to me to be coached and with Sir Bartle Frere I 
gave him his Indian education." Jowett wrote that she had earned a 
new title, "Governess of the Governor of India," but Miss Nightingale 
replied that her correct title was "Maid of all (Dirty) Work." 

Lord Mayo was, however, a willing pupil. "He asked me," she wrote 
to Dr. Sutherland immediately after the interview, "(over and over 
again) that we should now, at once before he goes, write down some- 
thing (he said) that would 'guide me upon the Sanitary Administra- 
tion as soon as I arrive.' " 

In Lord Mayo's guide to sanitary administration, Miss Nightingale 
showed a new purpose. Once more she took a step forward and passed 
from advocating engineering works to laying down an economic policy. 
Nothing could be done in India until India was fed; before sanitation 
must come irrigation — "famine is the constant condition of the people." 
Health was impossible, justice was impossible, organization was impos- 
sible, as long as the great mass of the people of India was vitiated and 
corrupted by being semi-starved from birth to death. Agricultural 
development, which implied irrigation, must come first of all. Before 
education, before any of the blessings of Western civilization were 
offered to them, the people of India must be fed, and henceforward ir- 
rigation works became Miss Nightingale's first aim for India. 


A year later she added the Commander-in-Chief to her circle. In 
December, 1 869 she received a note from Lord Napier of Magdala ask- 
ing if he might call. He came on the afternoon of December 14 and was 
instantly elected to a leading position in her gallery of heroes. "Ah 
there is a man," she wrote to M. Mohl on April i, 1870. "We were like 
a brace of lovers on our Indian objects." 

Robert Cornells Napier had gained his title as a reward for his bril- 
liant military feat of storming the supposedly impregnable fortress of 
Magdala in Abyssinia. He was tall, extremely handsome and was de- 
scribed by Sir Bartle Frere as "one of the few men fit for the Round 
Table." He had begun his career in the Bengal Engineers of the East 
India Company and risen to be head of the Public Works Department 
of the Punjab. One of his achievements was the construction of the 
Bari-Doab canal, 250 miles long, said to have turned a desert into a 
garden. He was humane, based his discipline on confidence not fear, and 
devoted himself to the welfare of his troops. 

In March, 1870 he came for a final conference. "Make no ceremony 
with me, as an old Pere de famille and do not think of getting up and 
thus fatiguing yourself," he wrote to Miss Nightingale on March 18. 

"He actually spent his last morning in England wuth me, starting from 
this house," she told M. Mohl on April i, 1870. "And I sent away the 
C.I.C. to India without anything to eat! He said he had too much to 
talk about to waste his time in eating." Between them they put on paper 
a complete scheme of Indian Army reform to be begun at once, rang- 
ing from barrack and hospital reorganization to the provision of educa- 
tion and physical training. Lord Napier asked her to write to Lord Mayo 
to prepare his mind for the proposals — "a letter from you would have 
great weight as it was you who raised public opinion in England on these 
subjects," he told her. 

It was not Miss Nightingale's nature to console herself; yet some 
progress had been made in the ten years since the Indian Sanitary Com- 
mission began its work. Her enormous energy, her extraordinary his- 
tory, her capacity to inspire boundless faith, were producing astonish- 
ing results. Air. John Strachey criticized her sharply more than once, 
but he told Sir Bartle Frere: "Of the sanitary improvements in India 
three-fourths are due to Miss Nightingale." Her fellow workers re- 
garded her as exercising an almost supernatural influence. "I have often 
known a scrap of paper on which you had written a few words — or 
even your words printed — work miraculously," wrote Sir Bartle Frere 
in 1868. 

Man after man who came to see her in the bright austere drawing- 


room in South Street fell under her spell. Many began with concealed 
hostility: she was a thorn in the side of bureaucracy, an interfering 
aggressive woman to be visited only because it was good policy. Few 
were not converted. Her sincerirv, her disinterestedness, her astounding 
knowledge were irresistible. Honest men, able men, men who had the 
good of India and its peoples at heart, became her friends. 

But her record was not one of uninterrupted success. She had never 
been to India, her knowledge was a paper knowledge, and her persist- 
ence had its drawbacks. She owed her success to her ability to persist 
in the face of opposition. Again and again she proved to be right. When 
she proved to be wrong, she paid the penalty. In 1867 she came to the 
conclusion that the barracks and hospitals of the army in India were 
not adequately ventilated. In the hot weather, when infection and dis- 
ease were most rife, it was the invariable custom to keep the windows 
shut and only open the doors.^ In the Crimea, in the hospitals of London, 
she had proved the supreme importance of fresh air. In the Crimea she 
had been told that if the windows of the men's huts were opened during 
the winter the huts would become so cold that the men would die of 
pneumonia. She had forced the windows to be opened, and the men 
had not died. Their health had improved, and they had contracted less 
pneumonia. Therefore, when she wrote a memorandum to the Govern- 
ment of India advising that the windows of barracks and hospitals 
should be kept open through the hot weather and was told the men 
would be made ill with heat, she would not be convinced. She persisted 
in pressing for a general order to open the windows, writing to doctors, 
to the secretaries of the Presidential Sanitary Commissions, to Com- 
manding Officers, to the Viceroy himself, until Sir John Lawrence told 
her bluntly that nothing on earth, even a direct order from the Govern- 
ment at home, would induce him to issue instructions for windows to 
be kept open in hot weather. 

A laugh went up throughout the length and breadth of India. Her 
supporters were forced to realize that she might be betrayed into 
ludicrous mistakes, and even today Miss Nightingale's attempt to open 
windows in the hot weather is not forgotten. 

A more serious failure followed. The report of the Indian Sanitary 
Commission had urgently recommended improvement in barrack ac- 
commodation, and during 1864 an enormous amount of work was done 

1 It had long been established in India that it was only by keeping the windows 
and shutters closed as far as possible during the hours when the sun was up, that 
the lower temperature of the night could be partly retained to make the day en- 

by Miss Nightingale and Douglas Galton on a model barrack plan. She 
was aware from the beginning that no single standard plan could be laid 
down and applied throughout India. Her object was to define the es- 
sential features which every barrack must possess and to leave the local 
authorities to adapt them to local conditions. The scheme was approved 
by the Government of India and the War Office, and in 1865 she wrote 
that she had got a grant of seven millions for "my Indian barracks." 
Work began at once, and the plans were passed to the Royal Engineers. 

Presently disturbing news reached her. The Royal Engineers were 
acting "in a high handed manner." They were determined to erect 
barracks for the army without civilian interference or advice. By the 
end of 1869 it was evident that the scheme had gone fatally wrong. On 
December 4 Miss Nightingale wrote to Sir Bartle Frere: "We begged 
and prayed to be allowed to put up in Poona and the Deccan where the 
winds are terrific and the ground rocky, one storied barracks — we were 
ordered to wait. Sir Robert Napier [Lord Napier of Magdala, the 
Commander-in-Chief] was ordered to wait until a 3rd class engineer 
colonel, an ordinary man such as you can find anywhere, sent us 
'standard plans,' which we were to use and no other and which were 
extravagantly expensive." 

She was in despair. Not a single one of the new barracks, she wrote 
to Sir John McNeill in 1 869, was erected in accordance with the recom- 
mendations. Everything had been sacrificed for the sake of an imposing 
fagade of European design totally unsuited to the climate. Good water, 
drainage, shade, space, all had been neglected. 

The troops moved in, and disaster followed. Cholera broke out at 
several stations, and early in 1870 there was an outcry in The Times 
against the senseless extravagance of erecting palatial buildings in which 
the troops died. 

The cause of sanitary reform had received a serious set-back. The 
money had been forthcoming, the work had been promptly done, and 
the result was complete failure. That the reformers were in no way 
responsible, that what had been done was a complete contradiction of 
every essential laid down, was impossible to explain. MiUtary secrecy, 
military etiquette veiled the issue in hopeless obscurity, and not only the 
public but officials within the War Office who had been in favor of 
sanitary improvements now associated them with sentimental extrava- 

She was losing ground on all sides. She was already shut out of the 
War Office and the Poor Law Board, and in India the barrack failure 
must weaken her hold on Lord Mayo. Yet she hardly rebelled. In the last 


ru'O years she had changed. "I assure you I don't let these things corrode 
into me now," she told Clarkey in 1868. She had worn herself out. Her 
last collapse, in December 1867, had weakened her not only in body but 
in mind. Some of her energy, some of her power of fierce feeling had 
gone. "I am becoming quite a tame beast — fit for a lady to ride or drive — 
as horse dealers say of their most vicious brutes," she wrote to M. Mohl 
in September, 1868. 

In the summer of that year she went to Lea Hurst for three months. She 
had not been there since 1 856, and the visit marked a change in her way 
of life. While she was at Lea Hurst, she read the novels of Jane Austen, 
who, she told Clarkey in September, 1868, in her opinion, "ranked 
second to Shakespeare in the English language for dramatic power," and 
the plays of Shakespeare — "I don't know whether Hamlet was mad, he 
would certainly have driven me mad." 

Jowett spent a week at Lea Hurst; Parthe stayed away: Miss Nightin- 
gale had refused to go there unless "Parthe and her governessing are 
excluded." She had long talks with W. E. N. on metaphysics. Her 
mother, she wrote, was "more cheerful, more gentle than I ever remem- 
ber her tho' of course she is much aged. Her memory is nearly gone but 
to me she is far dearer, far more respectable than ever before." Fanny was 
now eighty, W. E. N. seventy-four. 

Bv the end of September she was bored. She wrote on September 27 
imploring M. Mohl to stay on at South Street "until I come which will 
be, please God, on Friday or Saturday." Family life, books, friends were 
not sufficient; she needed an outlet. For some time Jowett had been 
urging her to write and in the summer of 1 868 she began a "Treatise on 
the Reform of the Poor Law." Her loss of power was at once apparent. 
Jowett had to send her a draft before she could start, and even then 
she found composition an intolerable strain. The treatise was shortened to 
an article, but even so she could not complete it. 

In September, 1869 she wrote a letter to Dr. Sutherland enclosing a 
large mass of notes on the subject, asking him to expand them into a book 
after her death, and to do the same for Notes on Lying-in Institutions. 
But she herself, though she worked on for more than twenty years, never 
touched either again. The days of her great achievements, when she had 
written the huge volume of Notes on Matters affecting the Health, Effi- 
ciency and Hospital Administration of the British Army with her own 
hand in six months, were over. She was no longer capable of the sustained 
effort necessary to write a book. 

The energy with which she had once sprung on opportunity like a 
tiger had also left her. Her life was growing calmer. It had been, she wrote 


to Jowett in 1865, "a fever and not a fitful one. Neck or nothing has 
been all my public life. . . . Could I help in the two Royal Commissions 
I have served, in the 9 years I have served in the W.O. [War Office] 
exclusive of the Crimea my whole life being in a hurry? If the thing were 
not done to the day, it were not done at all." 

Not only were the demands of the work less frenzied, but she herself 
was working in a less frenzied atmosphere. A new influence for rea- 
sonableness had come into her life. Clough had been succeeded as secre- 
tary of the Nightingale Fund by Hilary Bonham Carter's brother, Henry. 
Henry Bonham Carter was devoted to Miss Nightingale; he gave up 
more than forty years of his life to her service, but he would not become 
a slave. When it was getting late, says Sir Edward Cook, he used to say, 
"Now I must go home to dinner"; he was an excellent man of business 
and invaluable to Miss Nightingale, but his soul remained his own. 

In 1 870 some of the urgency of old days returned. War was declared 
between Germany and France in June, and in July the "National Society 
for Aid to the Sick and Wounded," subsequently called the "British 
Red Cross Aid Society," was founded at a public meeting in London. 

Miss Nightingale was pressed to give up all other work and take 
control. The need was very great and heartrending reports of the 
sufferings of the troops on both sides were being received. But she re- 
fused; one laborious memorandum on sanitation in India affected the 
lives of milHons on whom, even if her health allowed, she could never turn 
her back to become the Lady with the Lamp once more. 

Though she had declined to be in charge of the National Society, its 
activities were under her direction. Sir Harry Verney, Douglas^ Galton 
and A4iss Emily Verney, Sir Harry's daughter by his first wife, were 
on the executive committee. Henry Bonham Carter and Dr. Sutherland 
were sent by the Society to visit both the French and German hospitals 
during the war, and after it the report on the Society's work was written 
by Dr. Sutherland under her supervision. 

She advised the executive committee on organization and administra- 
tion. "Those who undertake the work of aiding the sick and wounded 
must not be sentimental enthusiasts but downright lovers of hard work 
. . . attending to and managing the thousand and one hard practical 
details which never the less plainly determine the question as to whether 
your sick and wounded shall live or die," she wrote on August 2, 1870. It 
was nine years to the day, she noted, since Sidney Herbert died. She 
advised on practical matters from the administration of field ambulances 
to the pattern of hospital suits and cooking utensils. She wrote to workers 


at the seat of war; she interviewed volunteers for service; she directed 
and supervised the purchase and despatch of supplies. She collected 
money from her friends which was used chiefly for the relief of prisoners 
of war and recorded sending out / 5000 in one week. Once again in scenes 
of horror and confusion it was found that the quickest way to get things 
done was to go to Miss Nightingale. The amount of correspondence in- 
volved was a strain. "Every man and woman in the world seems to have 
come into it with the express purpose of writing to me," she told Aladame 
Mohl in 1 870. "Would I could go to the seat of War instead of all this 
writing, writing, writing." 

At first her sympathies were with Germany. She considered Na- 
poleon III a tyrant and disliked and despised the Empress Eugenie, whom 
she described as "the Empress who was born to be a dressmaker." Ger- 
many was the home of liberal thinking, music, and philosophy. M. iMohl, 
whom she loved dearly, was a German; she herself had been trained at 
Kaiserswerth on the Rhine; Prince Albert, for whom she had a profound 
admiration, had been a German. Germany stood for music, folk-songs, 
simpHcity, and thought. She had to discover that since her girlhood a 
startling change had taken place, and that in place of Germany had risen 

Through her influence a War Office ambulance had been equipped 
and sent out to the German Army with the double purpose of assisting 
the German wounded and of observing and noting the treatment and re- 
quirements of wounded in a large-scale modern war. The Germans would 
not allow it to be used. In November, 1 870 she wrote to Douglas Galton 
that she had heard that the War Office ambulance was "cold shouldered" 
by the Prussians. On December 12 he wrote: "Every foreign ambulance 
has a Prussian N.C.O. in it. Ours is the only exception because it has only 
one patient in it — a casual." 

On November 4, 1 870, she wrote to M, Mohl: "Is it not quite unknown 
in history that a philosophical, a deep thinking, the most highly and 
widely educated and in some respects the most civilised nation of Eu- 
rope — the Germans, should plunge head foremost into this abyss called 
Military Despotism? That they should not see that that (soi-disa?Jt) 
German Unity means only Prussian aggrandisement." The alacrity with 
which German philosophy and culture hastened to prostrate themselves 
before the Prussian war machine left her bewildered. "Now if you take 
all the greatest names in science, in literature, or metaphysical and 
religious philosophy, in art, of the last 70 or 80 years in all Germany, 
will you tell me how many of these came out of Berlin," she wrote in a 


private note. "Yet the higher civilisation is to be subjected to the lower." 
"The free translation of German nationality is Prussian military su- 

German behavior after the defeat of the French finally alienated her. 
"After the fighting," she wrote to M. Mohl in February, 1871, "come 
the miseries of the poor people. Correspondents known and unknown 
write to me by every post." She deplored Bismarck's "rapaciousness," 
his "want of delicacy or of any nobility." She had loved the German 
language, the German mind, and the German way of life. All that had 
perished. There had been a death, but the death was of Germany, not 
France. Worst of all, she realized that a new age had dawned for Europe. 
"Prussia," she wrote in a private note of 1871, "openly says she does 
these things because the first Napoleon did them 64 years ago. And 
France wdll say, long before 64 years hence, she will do them because the 
Corporal Emperor King did them so many years ago. Horrible as is the 
account of wounds and grief and starving people, it is as nothing com- 
pared with the principles which this War has put forth and brought 
to life." 

In 1872 Jean Henry Dunant, a Swiss banker, paid a visit to London. 
He had succeeded in turning what the world assured him was a Utopian 
dream into hard fact — he had brought about the Geneva Convention 
and founded the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 1872, 
after the Franco-Prussian war, Dunant visited London and read a paper 
on the work of the Society. His first words were these: "Though I am 
known as the founder of the Red Cross and the originator of the Con- 
vention of Geneva, it is to an Englishwoman that all the honour of that 
Convention is due. What inspired me . . . was the work of Miss Flor- 
ence Nightingale in the Crimea." 

She had legendary prestige and enormous popular appeal, and while 
she had these she could not be without power. Throughout 1870 and 
1 87 1 she debated the possibility that she might "seek office" again. If she 
pursued Ministers, she might make her way into the departments once 
more. But such a course was contrary to the policy of her life. She had 
succeeded because she had made herself an instrument in the hands of 
Ministers, because she had been sought out, not seeking. Mr. Gladstone's 
Government had no place for her. She despised his Ministers; she called 
them contemptuously "Gladstone's secretaries," and though they treated 
her with deference she felt they were antagonistic. "Here is a note from 
Mr. Cardwell," she wrote to Sir Bartle Frere in 1870, "which seems to 
me, I don't know why, a nasty one." Her powers of working and con- 
centrating had declined, and she had come to depend entirely on Dr. 


Sutherland. "The only way I can work now," she wrote to him in 1870, 
"is by receiving written notes from you, and working them up into my 
own language, then printing and showing you the work." 

Loss of influence in Indian affairs finally decided her. Her hopes of 
Lord Mayo were not being fulfilled. It was not that he wished to do 
too little, but that he wished to do too much. "He got," wrote Sir Bartle 
Frere in 1874, "into the hands of men who were like the Fisherman's 
Wife who never would make the best of what the Enchanted Fish gave 
her but always wanted something better." With Sir Bartle Frere's help 
Miss Nightingale had preached irrigation to him. To her dismay in 
1 87 1 he sent home what Sir Bartle Frere described as a "wild and vision- 
ary project" for providing every ryot in India with water at once. 
When it was pointed out that the money to pay for the enormous works 
involved could not be raised by tax until after the water had been pro- 
vided Lord Mayo "sulked." 

Miss Nightingale was profoundly discouraged. She had lost Lord 
Mayo and with him her influence in the Government of India; under 
the present Government her influence in the War Office and at the Poor 
Law Board was at an end; she was wretchedly ill and overwhelmed 
with other and vitally important work. She decided she would struggle 
no more with Government departments. As 1871 passed into 1872 she 
wrote on a sheet of paper: "1872, This year I go out of office." 

Almost immediately she had proof that her term of office had already 
ended. In February Lord Mayo, while inspecting a penal settlement, 
was assassinated by a convict. He was succeeded by Lord Northbrook. 
She knew Lord Northbrook personally; he had been a friend of Sidney 
Herbert, but he did not consult her or call to see her before he sailed. 

She was deeply wounded. "Why should you be troubled at the 
Governor General not coming to see you (as he most certainly ought 
to have done)," wrote Jowett on April 3, 1872. "Put not your trust in 
Princes, or Princesses or in the War Office or in the India Office; all 
that kind of thing necessarily rests on a sandy foundation. I wonder that 
you have been able to carry on so long with them." 

It was sixteen years since she had returned from the Crimea to insti- 
gate the Royal Army Sanitary Commission of 1857. For sixteen years 
she had labored in Government departments, sacrificing health, pleas- 
ure, friends. She had done the work of a Secretary of State, she had 
"made the appointments." Now all that was over. Henceforward she 
must lead a new life. What kind of life should it be? 




to live again for hospitals. One of the most painful sacrifices of her 
life had been the renunciation of hospital work for administration after 
her return from the Crimea. She had declared repeatedly that of all 
people she was least suited to the writing of regulations, that pen-and- 
ink employment drove her mad, that she starved without human con- 
tacts. "My life now is as unlike my Hospital life when I was concerned 
with the souls and bodies of men as reading a cookery book is unlike a 
good dinner," she wrote to Rev. Mother Bermondsey in 1864. 

She had already arranged that, when she could work no more, she 
should be taken to a hospital. In January, 1 864 she wrote to Mrs. Brace- 
bridge: "You know that I always believed it to be God's will for me 
that I should live and die in Hospitals. When this call He has made upon 
me for other work stops, and I am no longer able to work, I should wish 
to be taken to St. Thomas's Hospital and to be placed in a general ivard 
(which is what I should have desired had I come to my end as a Hospital 

She was not prepared for her present situation. She had assumed that 
only death would release her from the obligation laid on her by God to 
do administrative work. She had assumed that she would leave the work 
— instead the work had left her. She was "out of office," but she was not 
dying. Indeed, though she was fifty-two and an invahd, her expectation 
of death was more remote than it had been for sixteen years; she de- 
termined, however, to apply to St. Thomas's to enter a general ward 
as an ordinary patient; the cost of her establishment at 10 South Street 
was large and W E. N.'s financial affairs were not prosperous. While 
she was "in office," while she was toiling at the work God had called 
her to do, the expense had been justified; now she was out of office the 
expense should end. 


She determined to leave the world. She, the most famous woman in 
two continents, the friend of queens, the adviser of governments and 
ministers, would end her days lying side by side with poor working 
women subject to the discipline and the rigors of a hospital general 
ward. It was a scheme which appealed to her sense of drama, but when 
she confided it to Jowett he was alarmed. "Something which you said 
to me on Sunday has rather disquieted me," he wrote on June 22, 1872, 
"and I hope that you w^ill allow me to remonstrate with you about it. 
You said that you were going to ask admission as a patient to St. 
Thomas's Hospital. Do not do this. ( i ) Because it is eccentric and we 
cannot strengthen our lives by eccentricity, (2) Because you will not 
be a patient but a kind of Directress to the Institution, viewed with 
great alarm by the doctors. (3) When a person is engaged in a great 
work I do not think the expense of living is much to be considered; the 
only thing is that you should live in such a way that you can do your 
work best. (4) I would not oppose you living at less expense if you wish, 
though I think it a matter of no moment; but I would live independ- 
ently. (5) Do you really mean to live as a patient? It will kill you. I do 
not add the annoyance to your father of a step which he can never be 
made to understand; I look at the matter solely from the point of view 
of your own work. I have cared about you for many years; and though 
I have httle hope of prevailing with you, I would ask you not to set 
aside these reasons without consideration." 

She yielded. Her affection for Jowett triumphed, and she told him 
she would set aside duty and conscience for his sake and abandon her 
plan of entering St. Thomas's. On July 1 1 he wrote that he was flattered 
he had prevailed and now would she not allow herself a little happiness? 
A new period in her life was beginning — "will you try to hope and 
be at peace?" He urged her to be calm, to tranquilize herself, to achieve 
a philosophical attitude. 

But it w^as impossible, for a great gap yawned in her life. She was 
out of office; the press of departmental work no longer made every day 
a fever — and how was she to occupy herself? In a private note of 1872 
she wrote: "Never has God let me feel weariness of active life, but only 
anxiety to get on. Now in old age I never wish to be relieved from new 
work, but only to have it to do." 

Though she had planned to live a life of austerity, poverty, and dis- 
cipline in a general ward at St. Thomas's, she had never intended to 
retire from participation in the affairs of the hospital, and a new chapter 
in its history had just opened. In 1871 it moved from its temporary 
quarters in Surrey Gardens to the new buildings in Lambeth with which 


she had been closely concerned. The plans embodied her ideas, and 
every detail of equipment had received her meticulous attention. On the 
subject of hospital floors alone she had exchanged almost a hundred 
letters with Dr. Sutherland, Douglas Galton, manufacturers, matrons, 
doctors, architects. 

The Nightingale Training School had also reached a crisis. Miss 
Nightingale's attention had been distracted from it by the demands of 
Poor Law reform and India. Now she found that it had fallen away 
from its original standards. In the spring of 1872 she began an investi- 
gation into the teaching and organization of the Nightingale School. 
In the new St. Thomas's the school had larger quarters and would 
train more probationers. Finding an urgent need for reorganization and 
reform, she made a new plan for herself: she would live near St. Thomas's 
and devote her life to the training school and the hospital. Mrs. Suther- 
land was set to work to find suitable lodgings in the district. 

But in the summer of 1872 a drastic change took place in her life, and 
she was forced to return home. For the past three or four years Fanny 
and W. E. N. had been an increasing anxiety. They were old and ailing; 
in 1872 W. E. N. was seventy-seven and Fanny eighty-three, and the 
management of their property and their two establishments at Embley 
and Lea Hurst had become unsatisfactory. The position was peculiarly 
difficult. Since W. E. N. had no son, by his uncle's will the properties 
of Embley and Lea Hurst passed on his death to Aunt Mai and next to 
her son, Shore. Uncle Sam had become an exacting invalid, and the close 
ties of blood (in addition to Aunt Mai being W. E. N.'s sister. Uncle 
Sam was Fanny's brother) made criticism easy and businesslike arrange- 
ments difficult. 

As soon as Miss Nightingale visited her family again she found her- 
self elected into being the man of business of the family, though most 
unwilling to accept the position. "People who have carriages and butlers 
and housekeepers and who drive out every day for their pleasure and 
dress and go out every day, ask me, who have none of these things and 
am always in bed — and am chained to the oar — ask me to pay their bills 
and do their business," she wrote to Clarkey in the summer of 1868: the 
gibes were at Parthe. Parthe was "always, as she always had been, the 
spoilt child," Parthe fussed over her health and if she had an aching foot 
"made a tohu-bohu and would not put it to the ground." In fact her 
sister was suffering from the first symptoms of the arthritis which in a 
few years turned her into a helpless cripple. 

In the summer of 1872, unable to see things go wrong without trying 
to put them right, she was forced to leave London and spend eight 


months with her parents at Embley. In June Fanny's old housekeeper, 
Mrs. Watson, died: she had been in the Nightingales' service for twenty- 
five years and had been the first person to welcome iMiss Nightingale on 
her return from the Crimea. Her death was followed by confusion. The 
discipline of the household had become slack. The servants, wrote Miss 
Nightingale, did what they liked; not one of them was doing his or her 
proper work and to put the household of Embley into order was as dif- 
ficult as organizing the Barrack Hospital at Scutari. 

Aionth followed month, and it was impossible for Miss Nightingale 
to leav^e Embley. Life was filled with the misdeeds and complaints of 
housemaids, kitchen maids, footmen, cooks, and with unwelcome dis- 
coveries in household and estate accounts. "I am so stifled by dirty anx- 
ious cares and sordid defensive business," she wrote in a private note of 
August, 1872. "Like the maid of all work who has to wipe her dirty 
hands on her dirtier apron before she can touch clean people." 

She was imprisoned again. Her father and mother clung to her; they 
were old and helpless, and her heart forbade her to abandon them. Miss 
Nightingale was fifty-two, but she had lost none of her capacity to suf- 
fer. "Oh to be turned back to this petty stagnant stifling life at Embley," 
she wrote in a private note of the late summer 1872. "I should hate my- 
self (I do hate myself) but I should loathe myself, oh my God, if I 
could like it, find 'rest' in it. Fortunately there is no rest in it, but ever 
increasing anxieties. II faut que la victime soit mise en pieces. Oh my 

The thought of work piling up in London, of the reform and reor- 
ganization ol the Nightingale School crying out to be done, while she 
was held prisoner at Embley was agony to Miss Nightingale. All through 
the winter of 1872 she chafed. In the spring of 1873 she could bear it no 
longer. She must be in London; Parthe was ill and could not help — Fanny 
must come to London. The drawing-room floor at South Street was 
fitted up as a bedroom and sitting-room, and Fanny came to London in 
the spring of 1873. 

Once in London Miss Nightingale threw herself with desperate haste 
into the reconstruction of the Nightingale School. The first task was 
to tighten up the technical side of the training. Soon after she arrived 
back, her friend Mr, Whitfield, the Resident Medical Officer of St. 
Thomas's, who had supervised the medical training of the Nightingale 
probationers since the foundation of the school, gave up the post owing 
to the extra work involved in the new enlarged hospital. His place was 
taken by Mr. Croft, one of the honorary surgeons. In April and A4ay 
Miss Nightingale and Mr. Croft drew up a new plan of instruction. 


The standard of examination was raised; probationers were required 
to undertake a course of reading planned by Mr. Croft and Miss Night- 
ingale and were also at intervals to submit their notebooks for her in- 
spection. Within a few months he reported that the work was improv- 
ing and "the answers collectively are much better than they have been 
for years." 

Miss Nightingale held that the training and education of a nurse, or 
indeed any education or training, was made up of two aspects of equal 
importance. First, the acquisition of knowledge which was properly 
tested by the passing of an examination; second, the development of 
character which could not be tested by the passing of an examination. 

To improve the development of character, she created a new post. Mrs. 
Wardroper, the matron of St. Thomas's, who supervised the probation- 
ers, now found, Uke Mr. Whitfield, that the new hospital made greater 
demands on her time. An Assistant Superintendent was appointed with 
the title of Home Sister; the Home Sister was to make herself the girls' 
friend; she was to encourage them to read poetry, to listen to music, to 
go regularly to church. She was to inculcate a standard which would 
keep the Nightingale nurses "above the mere scramble for a remunera- 
tive place." 

All influences, however, were secondary to the influence of Miss 
Nightingale herself. She dominated the school. From 1872 onward she 
determined to make herself personally acquainted with every proba- 
tioner, and as soon as a girl had completed a trial period she was inter- 
viewed by Miss Nightingale, who wrote a character sketch which 
formed the first item in a dossier composed of examination results, notes 
of further interviews, letters, and comments. Miss Nightingale invited 
the probationers' criticisms and comments on the treatment they re- 
ceived from the sisters and the value of their medical lectures; she in- 
vited comments from the sisters on the character and conduct of the 
probationers. When she received a complaint or a suggestion which 
seemed to her to be worthy of notice, she wrote a memorandum to the 
persons concerned. 

It was work with human beings again, the work for which she had 
longed. After the long dry years of toiling at administration, her life 
was rich once more. "I am over whelmed," she wrote to M. Mohl on 
June 21, 1873, "in a torrent of my Trained Matrons and Nurses, going 
and coming, to and fro, Edinburgh and Dubhn, to and from Watering 
Places for their health, dining, tea-ing, sleeping — sleeping by day as 
well as by night." 


Her stay in London had to be cut short when Fanny became unwell. 
By the end of June Miss Nightingale was back at Embley chafing at 
being separated from her work, miserable, frustrated. The solution, 
Jowett told her, was to resign herself to dropping active work and to 
concentrate on writing. He greatly admired the powers of her mind, 
he was convinced she had a message to give the world, and he believed 
she could spread her message more widely with more happiness to her- 
self if she expressed herself by writing. 

In October, 1872 he suggested that she should write some essays for 
the reviews on the Idea of God. "During the ten years and more that 
I have known you," he wrote, "you have repeated to me the expression 
'Character of God' about 1000 times, but I can't say I have any clear idea 
what you mean." The suggestion attracted her — all her life, in periods 
of unhappiness, she had found relief in exercising her mind on philo- 
sophical ideas. She wrote three essays on the Laws of the Moral World 
which repeated the ideas she had earlier treated at length in Suggestions 
for Thought. Two of the essays were published by Froude in Fraser^s 
Magazine for May and July, 1873 under the titles "A Note of Inter- 
rogation" and "A Sub-Note of Interrogation: What will our Religion 
be in 1999?" 

Jowett also invited her to help him in revising his translations of the 
Dialogues of Plato — she still had considerable facility in Greek — and 
he placed a high value on her interpretations. "You are the best critic 
I ever had," he told her in 1872. He used her suggestions in his introduc- 
tion to the Republic and wrote, "I am always stealing from you." In 
July, 1873 she sent him a letter on the Phaedrus and he told her that he 
had "put in most of what you suggested." 

At the end of 1872 he asked her to make a selection of Bible stories for 
a Children's Bible. Enclosing her selection she wrote: "The story of 
Achilles and his horses is far more fit for children than that of Balaam 
and his ass, which is only fit to be told to asses. The stories of Samson 
and of Jephthah are only fit to be told to bull dogs; and the story of 
Bathsheba to be told to Bathshebas. Yet we give all these stories to chil- 
dren as 'Holy Writ.' " She summarized the book of Samuel and the books 
of Kings as "Witches. Harlots. Talking Asses. Asses Talking. Young 
Gentlemen caught by the Hair. Savage Tricks. Priests' Tales." Jowett 
was delighted, and on February 10, 1873, told her that she would find 
her suggestions had been adopted almost entirely and that he blessed 
her every time he took up the book. 

And now she discovered there was a message she wished to convey 
to the world. Its nature was surprising. It had nothing to do with sani- 


tary reform. She had turned away from practical affairs to the life of the 

Miss Nightingale was a mystic. She was not a contemplative. Like 
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she was an administrator. The union of a 
busy and active life with the practice of mysticism was normal. Yet 
mysticism had come to be regarded as apart from ordinary Hfe, a prac- 
tice confined to saints enclosed in convents and hermits in their cells. 
In the autumn of 1872 Jowett suggested she should compile a book of 
extracts from the medieval mystics translated by herself showing the 
application of mysticism to present-day life. "You will do a good work," 
he wrote on October 3, "if you point out the kind of mysticism which 
is needed at the present day." She began to work on a book and drew 
up a title-page, "Notes from Devotional Authors of the Middle Ages. 
Collected, Chosen and freely translated by Florence Nightingale." 

As she worked she sent her extracts to Jowett, who became interested 
in her comments. On April 18, 1873, he wrote suggesting that she 
should add a preface to the book, formulating her conception of mysti- 
cism and giving guidance as to how mystical books should be used. "I 
think it is clear," he wrote, "that this mystic state ought to be an oc- 
casional and not a permanent feeling — a taste of heaven in daily life. Do 
you think it would be possible to write a mystical book which would also 
be the essence of Common Sense?" 

Through the summer and autumn of 1873 work on the book and the 
preface was her chief solace. She needed a "taste of heaven in daily life"; 
her own had become a round of coaxing servants, humoring her par- 
ents, struggling to persuade them to allow her to straighten their neg- 
lected affairs. By December she wrote to M. Mohl that she was "com- 
pletely broken." 

Worse, however, was to follow. In January, 1874 she escaped for a 
few weeks: Parthe was a little better, and as she and Sir Harry Verney 
were able to come to Embley Miss Nightingale hurried to London. On 
January 10 she heard that her father was dead. He had gone upstairs be- 
fore breakfast to fetch his watch, slipped on the stairs, and died in- 

The affection between them had been very deep. "His reverent love 
for you," wrote Richard Monckton Milnes on January 13, 1874, "was 
inexpressibly touching." But grief only too soon took second place as 
she became overwhelmed by the painful anxieties, the innumerable dif- 
ficulties which arose out of his death. 

She went down to Embley to be with her mother. All the painful 
wearing business, she wrote, was left to her, and in a few weeks she was 


reduced to misery. She asked Aunt Mai to offer Fanny a home at Embley, 
but Aunt Mai refused — she was seventy-six, was crippled with arthritis, 
and had the responsibihty of an invalid husband. The only solution 
was for Miss Nightingale to give up her work and take her mother to 
Lea Hurst, which the Smiths did not require and after which Fanny 
"craved and longed." "I am utterly exhausted," Miss Nightingale wrote. 
"Not a day passes without the most acute anxiety and care. Oh the 
cruel waste of time, of all real work. If our family could neither read 
nor write, if they had only a limited number of Serb words at their 
disposal and if postage were 5/- an ounce, how happy Hfe would be. 
How happy it was in the Crimea on account of these things; that was 
living in spite of misery." Her sole comfort was the consideration and 
good sense of Aunt Mai's son, the heir to the property, "my boy Shore." 
The affection she had lavished on him was, she wrote, a thousandfold 

Once more there was no escape. Old, feeble, and unwanted, Fanny 
had a claim which to Miss Nightingale it was impossible to reject. The 
weary business of clearing up at Embley dragged on. "Everything has 
gone from my life except pain," she told Clarkey on June 8, 1 874. In July 
Embley was given up, and she took Fanny to Lea Hurst. 

Fanny's mind had almost failed, and she was blind. Surrounded by 
familiar objects, though she could not see them, hearing familiar voices, 
though she did not recognize them, she was at peace. But when she was 
taken to strange places, heard strange voices, she became agitated and 
unhappy, and wept. In her lucid moments she returned to the past. 
"Where is Flo?" she asked one day. "Is she still in her hospital?" Then 
she gave a sigh, "I suppose she will never marry now," she said. So very 
dim were her apprehensions that Parthe and Clarkey thought Miss 
Nightingale was making an unnecessary sacrifice: but she could not 
leave her mother to strangers. The tenderness which helplessness and 
suffering evoked in her were on Fanny's side now. 

Many times in her life she was desperately unhappy, but never unhap- 
pier than during the summer and autumn of 1874 at Lea Hurst. It was, 
she wrote, "utter ship wreck." Writing had been a solace; now writing 
was impossible, and her book on the mystics was laid aside never to be 
resumed. Every minute which could be snatched from struggling with 
domestic problems was devoted to trying to preserve some part of her 
work. She habitually rose before dawn — her letters are headed "5 a.m.," 
"6 A.M.," "4-8 A.M.," "Before it is light." An enormous amount of writ- 
ing was required. "Because I am not in London I have to write 100 let- 
ters to get one thing done," she wrote. Weariness grew on her. She 


implored Dr. Sutherland not to crease her drafts "because I have no 
strength to re-write." She doubted herself — "I am afraid I am dreadfully- 
prolix." "I have put in far too much detail," she told him in 1874. 

One night, she recorded in a private note, the shadow cast by the 
night-light on the wall reminded her of Scutari. "Am I she who once 
stood on that Crimean height? 'The Lady with a Lamp shall stand.' The 
lamp shows me only my utter ship wreck." 

Despair alternated with passionate self-reproach. She reminded her- 
self that if failure were God's will then to rebel was the worst failure of 
all. She must force herself to believe that her present sufferings were not 
useless but part of God's scheme for the world. "I must believe in the 
plan of Almighty Perfection to make us all perfect." She must not 
snatch the management of the world out of God's hands. In practical 
details she found herself apt to give the Divine Will directions. "I must 
remember God is not my private secretary," she wrote on an odd scrap 
of paper. 

It had never been her habit to live in the past, but now circumstances 
forced her thoughts backward. A succession of deaths removed figure 
after figure who had played an important part in her early life, and as 
she pined at Lea Hurst not only her present but her past seemed slowly 
dying. "My friends drop off one by one," she wrote to M. Mohl in May, 
1873. "Every individual who formed my committee in 1857, many of 
them hardly older than myself, is dead. And I hang on." In August, 1872 
Mr. Bracebridge died. A host of memories rushed in on her. Her stay 
in Rome — "I never enjoyed any time in my life so much as my time at 
Rome" — his sympathy in her early struggles, his work for her at Scutari. 
When he died, she was at Embley and miserably unhappy. Mrs. Brace- 
bridge's overwhelming grief provoked her to bitterness. In a private 
note she wrote: "Sometimes I think that I am glad that when I go there 
will be no such heart rending grief felt for me as when two are parted, 
who had lived for nearly half a century with each other and for each 
other — or as I felt when Sidney Herbert died and feel every day more 
and more. On Friday he will have been dead 1 1 years." She added, 
"There are things worse than death." 

In May, 1873 John Stuart Mill died suddenly at Avignon. His death, 
she told M. Mohl, was a great shock to her. On January 31, 1874, a week 
or two after W. E. N., Mrs. Bracebridge (2), died after a long and 
painful illness. "A dreary end for her who had been all warmth and 
radiance," Miss Nightingale wrote. Mrs. Bracebridge had been Sidney 
Herbert's close friend and for years had spent the anniversary of his 


death with Miss Nightingale. "This is to me Hke the last parting with 
my past," she wrote in a private note. 

In July, 1874 another familiar figure vanished — Lord Dalhousie for- 
merly Lord Panmure. "I felt the death of Panmure, my old enemy, tho' 
I was always friends with him," wrote Miss Nightingale to M. Mohl on 
August II, 1874, ". . . it was the last breaking up of old associations, 
of strife and struggle for noble aims and objects; the last ghost disappear- 
ing of my Sidney Herbert life. ... He used to call me "a turbulent fel- 

Chapter after chapter was closing; figure after figure left the stage. 
She alone survived — but for what? 

Shore and his wife Louisa tried to help her. Shore suggesting that he 
and his wife should have Fanny at their house in London for some 
months between October and July when it was most urgent for Miss 
Nightingale to be in London for her work. Parthe could do nothing — 
her health was worse, and it was evident that she was seriously ill. In 
addition to Shore Miss Nightingale had a new helper. Miss Paulina Irby. 

Paulina Irby had cherished a passionate admiration for Miss Nightin- 
gale since girlhood, and, inspired by her example, had gone to Kaisers- 
werth to be trained as a nurse. She was a Greek scholar and a woman 
of great nobility of character who had devoted her Hfe to the relief of 
the sufferings of the Christian populations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
struggling to emancipate themselves from Turkish rule. She had stayed 
constantly at Embley, and now looked after Fanny and took some of the 
domestic burden off Miss Nightingale's shoulders. 

It seemed that here were arrangements by which she might have been 
relieved, but they did not work smoothly. In the summer of 1875 Fanny 
went to stay with Shore and his wife, but became so ill and unhappy that 
she had to be taken away. South Street was deserted at a critical juncture, 
and Miss Nightingale found herself in a villa at Norwood. On June 1 8 
she wrote to Clarkey: "I am 'out of humanity's reach' in a red villa, like 
a Monster Lobster in charge of my mother by doctor's orders, as her 
only chance of recovering strength enough to see her old home (Lea 
Hurst) after which she cruelly craved. ... It is the only time for 22 
years that my work has not been the first reason for deciding where I 
should live and how I should live. Here it is the last. It is the caricature 
of a life." 

Miss Nightingale's conscience deprived her of Paulina Irby's help. 
Paulina was becoming absorbed by the Nightingale family troubles, but 
she was in England to collect funds for her work in Bosnia, not to look 


after Fanny. In a private note written in the summer of 1875, Miss Night- 
ingale sternly reminded herself that, however great the temptation to 
keep Paulina, the decision to send her away must be right. The world, 
as she had so often told Hilary Bonham Carter, was divided into devour- 
ers and the devoured. Was she, F. N., now to become a devourer and 
allow Pauhna to sacrifice herself and her work to "my poor mother's 
state and the family affairs.^" At the beginning of 1876 Paulina was sent 
back to Bosnia. 

In January Miss Nightingale sustained another great bereavement — 
M. Mohl died of "a peritonitis." She was heartbroken: she had cared 
deeply for M. Mohl, and he had been devotedly attached to her. No 
shadow had fallen on their friendship for nearly forty years. "It seems," 
she wrote, "as if a great light had gone out of the world." 

By the autumn she was on the edge of breaking down. On November 
28 she wrote to Clarkey from Lea Hurst: "The good Shores have taken 
my mother back. But I am so worn out — not having had one day's nor 
one hour's rest since my Father's death 3 years ago come January, that 
I am staying on here for a few days silence. An eternity of silence seems 
too short to rest me." Difficult as 1876 had been, 1877 was more dif- 
ficult still. "O my darling," she wrote to Clarkey in June, 1877, "how 
impatient you are when your sister does but propose to you a compan- 
ion — think of me — not proposed but obliged — and this is the fourth 
year and such companions — obliged to take charge of poor Mother, 
companion and a pack of new and strange servants." In July she told 
Douglas Galton: "I don't know M^hen I shall be able to work again." 
The summer of 1877 was disastrous. One of the servants developed 
smallpox; there was a scandal, and defamatory articles appeared in the 
local paper. This unpleasant business forced her to stay on in the coun- 
try, and in October she wrote to Douglas Galton that there was no 
chance whatever of her being able to do anything in London during the 

And yet she managed to keep control of the Nightingale School. 
When she could get to London, she saw her nurses and probationers 
constantly; every girl who trained at the school was still personally 
known to her; and, above all, she wrote: to probationers, to nurses, to 
matrons, to those who were still in the school and those who had left it. 
Once a girl had become a Nightingale nurse, she did not slip out of 
Miss Nightingale's hands when her training was completed. Miss Night- 
ingale did not approve of her nurses taking posts which had not been 
arranged by her. A nurse who had trained under her close supervision 
went to a post arranged and approved by her and continued to receive 


letters of advice. When Miss Torrance was appointed matron of the 
Highgate Infirmary Miss Nightingale sent her more than loo letters 
in the first year, and had about the same number of replies. "It takes 
a great deal out of me," Miss Nightingale wrote to Clarkey in 1875. "^ 
have never been used to influence people except by leading in work; 
and to have to influence them by talking and writing is hard. A more 
dreadful thing than being cut short by death is being cut short by life 
in a paralysed state." 

Miss Nightingale insisted that her school should perform the dual 
function which was her conception of education: it must not only teach 
the mind, but it must form the character. "It must be," she wrote in 
August, 1875, "a Home — a place of moral religious and practical train- 
ing — a place of training of character, habits and intelHgence, as well as 
of acquiring knowledge." In this conception she held the place, if not 
of a mother, then certainly of a favorite aunt. She was Fanny's daughter 
in hospitality and generosity, in the pleasure she took in seeing people 
comfortable and well fed. Fruit, game, jellies, creams, country eggs, 
and butter flowed from her to the Nightingale Home; she had sheaves 
of flowers sent up from Claydon for the Home and the hospital wards. 
When a nurse went to a new post. Miss Nightingale sent floM^ers to 
welcome her. Nurses who were ill had special dishes cooked for them 
by her cook. Nurses who were traveling found her manservant wait- 
ing at the train with a luncheon basket. Nurses who were run down were 
fed up at her expense. "Get the things out of my money," she wrote 
enclosing a detailed diet sheet. If a nurse were prescribed a change or a 
rest, she came forward. Sometimes the nurse would be sent to the sea- 
side at her expense, sometimes asked to stay at Lea Hurst or Claydon. 
When Miss Nightingale was in London, she invited hard-worked nurses 
for what she called "a Saturday to Monday in bed" at South Street. Her 
girls were encouraged to feel that she was always behind them. "Should 
there be anything in which I can be of the least use, here I am," was a 
favorite ending to her letters. To be of use included the practical and 
the spiritual. She never ceased in countless letters, in numberless inter- 
views, to hold up before her nurses' eyes the spiritual nature of their 
vocation, to instill into them not only the high standard of efficiency 
on which she was adamant but a sense of the presence of God. 

She was repaid. Her nurses constantly sought her advice. From all 
over the world they wrote to her, addressing her as "Dear Alistress," "Be- 
loved Chief," "Dearest Friend." In spite of her exile she made the Night- 
ingale School as much an expression of her own personaUty as if she 
had presided over it in the flesh. 


She found great pleasure in the company of young women. She liked 
young people, and young people liked her. The specter of a solitary old 
age, of "horrible loneliness," haunted her, and in the "torrent of nurses," 
dining, sleeping, tea-ing, coming to her for advice, confiding their dif- 
ficulties to her, young, enthusiastic, affectionate, she enjoyed the human 
warmth of which she had been starved. All her life she had ex- 
pressed personal feelings in terms of hyperbole; exaggeration was the 
custom of the age and set in which she had been brought up. Her old 
friend Lady Ashburton wrote of "the deep joy of communion with 
my beloved" after spending a day with Miss Nightingale when she was 
nearly sixty, and repeatedly addressed her as "Guiding Star of my life." 

Miss Nightingale wrote and talked to the young women to whom 
she became attached in these terms, and her attachments, like all her 
emotions, verged on the inordinate. Two young women in particular 
won her affection. Miss Pringle, whom she christened "the Pearl," and 
Miss Rachel Williams, called the "Goddess Baby." Both were excel- 
lent nurses, both became matrons of important hospitals, and both were 
extremely good looking. Rachel Williams in particular was strikingly 
beautiful. ". . . It was quite a pleasure to my bodily eyes to look at her," 
Miss Nightingale wrote when Rachel paid her first visit as a Nightingale 
probationer. "She is like a queen; and all her postures are so beautiful 
without being in the least theatrical." The letters she wrote to Rachel 
Williams and to Miss Pringle were highly colored. The ups and downs 
of hospital hfe, the minor crises inseparable from taking a new post or 
deciding to go for a holiday, became dramas. In January, 1874 Miss 
Nightingale wrote: "... I am well aware that my dear Goddess-baby 
has — well a baby side, I shall not be surprised at any outburst, though I 
know full well that in the dear Pearl's terrible distress you will do every- 
thing and more than everything possible to drag her through. . . . Only 
don't break yourself down dear child." In December, 1874 she urged 
Rachel to come and see her in London. ". . . Telegraph to me any 
day and come up by the next express. . . . And I will turn out India, 
my Mother and all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men, together 
with one sixth of the human race and lay my energies (not many left) 
at the Goddess's feet." 

Miss Pringle, the Pearl, was addressed as "Dearest little Sister," 
"Extraordinary little Villainess," "Dearest ever Dearest." Miss Nightin- 
gale reproached her tenderly for not having eaten her dinner, and sent 
it after her in a cab. She implored her to take a much needed holiday — 
"Dearest very dearest. Very precious to me is your note. Make up your 
mind to a long holiday; that's what you have to do now. God bless you. 


We shall have time to talk," When Rachel Williams or Miss Pringle 
lunched or dined, she took pains to tempt them. "Dishes for Miss Wil- 
liams," runs a note to her cook in 1879: "Rissoles, or fillets of sole a la 
Maitre d'hotel, or oyster patties, or omelette aux fines herbes, or chicken 
a la mayonnaise with aspic jelly, or cutlets a la Bechamelle." She de- 
lighted in beauty and charm, and the friendship of these lovely and in- 
telligent girls filled an important place in her life. The friendship had 
also its practical side. The work was furthered; they were the ablest 
young women she had ever trained. 

With enormous effort the Nightingale School could be controlled by 
correspondence, but there was other nursing work which could not, and 
in 1874 Miss Nightingale had to turn her back on an important opportu- 
nity. She was fully alive to the importance of district nursing, but when in 
1874 William Rathbone asked her to help him in organizing a district- 
nursing scheme for London she had to refuse — family difficulties pre- 
vented her from undertaking anything which required her to be in 
London. She could not personally organize, but she did everything that 
could be done from a distance. In 1874 she wrote a pamphlet. Sugges- 
tions for Improv'nig the Nursing Service for the Sick Poor, and, in ac- 
cordance with her suggestions, William Rathbone founded the A4etro- 
politan Nursing Association. In April, 1876 she wrote and signed a 
letter to The Times which was reprinted as a pamphlet under the title 
Metropolitan and National Association for providitig Nurses for the 
Sick Poor. On traijied nursing for the Sick Poor, by Florence Nightin- 
gale. It went into two editions. Finally, the first Superintendent of the 
District Nursing Scheme for London, appointed in 1876, was Miss 
Florence Lees, one of her ablest nurses, who had served with distinction 
during the War of 1870. 

It was frightful to Miss Nightingale to turn her back on work, fright- 
ful not to attempt to do something which ought to be done — and she 
did not turn her back often enough. In her nursing work she had the 
Nightingale School to give her direction, but in her Indian work she 
became confused. 

She had fully intended to go out of office in India as well as in Eng- 
land, but she received appeals she could not ignore. The state of India 
was sufficient to produce frenzy. There was so much to be done; the 
problems were so enormous, so urgent, so innumerable. As soon as in- 
vestigation was made in any direction, fresh abuses emerged. In her 
mental state she was incapable of crying halt. At this period a letter 
from her was described at the India Office as "another shriek from Miss 
Nightingale." Irrigation led her to the land question, to rights of tenure, 


to usury, to taxation, to education, to communication. She toiled not at 
one issue but at twenty. 

In 1874 she met Sir Arthur Cotton, the great master of irrigation. His 
record was impressive. He had irrigated Trichinopoly and South Arcot 
in Southern India by building, with immense success, two dams across 
the river Coleroon. There was not an individual in the province, it was 
said, who did not consider the damming of the Coleroon the greatest 
blessing that had ever been conferred on it. The financial returns were, 
respectively, 69 and 100 per cent. He had dammed the Godavery river 
and irrigated the Godavery district. The Godavery district was in a 
desperate state after a severe famine, and the district was almost de- 
populated. After the irrigation works were completed, the district be- 
came one of the most prosperous in India, and the population doubled. 
Was it not clear that the answer to the problem of India was irrigation? 
But Sir Arthur Cotton failed to persuade the Government to undertake 
large-scale irrigation works, and it was a favorite catchphrase to say that 
he had water on the brain. 

iMiss Nightingale sent Lord Salisbury schemes prepared by Sir Arthur 
Cotton, she demanded a commission on irrigation, she asked that the 
Government should collect statistics on the cost of irrigation works and 
their return. 

In 1877 famine ravaged the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras, four 
million people perished, and irrigation became a burning issue. In 1878 
a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into 
the possibility and desirability of preventing such famines in future by 
constructing public works, especially irrigation works, with money 
raised on loan. Sir Arthur Cotton was summoned to give evidence. Losses 
in the famine had been enormous, but the districts irrigated under Sir 
Arthur Cotton's schemes had not suffered. Nevertheless, the commit- 
tee was hostile to Sir Arthur Cotton, and the recommendations con- 
tained in its report were in contradiction of his views. 

It was a major defeat, and it brought Miss Nightingale into conflict 
with the India Office, which did not wish to admit the seriousness of the 
famine. When early in 1878 she applied for figures relating to the famine, 
she received a snub. On February 7 an official minute was addressed to 
her: "The Revenue Committee is of opinion that an intimation should 
be made to Miss Nightingale to the following effect. The various objects 
of high interest to which she refers are engaging the earnest attention 
of the Govt, of India ... in addition to this a special enquiry is about 
to be made by a carefully selected Commission on the subject of Fam- 
ines. . . . While then the Secretary of State would on public grounds 


deprecate the researches which Miss Nightingale wishes to make, as 
possibly interfering with and embarrassing the comprehensive enquiry 
of a Commission appointed by the Govt, of India under the orders of 
H.M. Government, he would as a matter of official propriety, point 
out to Miss Nightingale, whose active and intelligent philanthropy is 
universally recognised, that to open the Records of a Public Office to 
the free inspection of a private individual, however distinguished for 
character and abihty, would constitute a very inconvenient precedent." 

She was in disgrace. And while she became unpopular at the India 
Office, at the same time she lost more of her influence in India itself. 
Lord Northbrook was succeeded by Lord Lytton. She did not sympa- 
thize with Lord Lytton, he did not call on her and they never cor- 

Seldom had Miss Nightingale sunk lower in misery than now. Her life 
with Fanny continued to present difficulty after difficulty, and Clarkey 
begged her to come back to London. Fanny was completely childish; it 
was very doubtful if she reahzed where she was. Why did Flo persist in 
burying herself in "that absurd place Lea Hurst?" "Why do you abuse 
me for being here?" wrote Miss Nightingale on September 13, 1879. 
"Do you think I am here for my own pleasure? Do you think any part 
of my life is as I please? Do you know what have been the hardest years 
of my life? Not the Crimean War. Not the 5 years with Sidney Herbert 
at the War Office when I sometimes worked 22 hours a day. But the 
last 5 years and three quarters since my father's death." The autumn 
dragged on. She had never in her life done anything she did not feel was 
morally justified, and she did not feel morally justified in leaving her 
mother now. But release was near. On February 2, 1880, Fanny died 
peacefully at the age of ninety-two, after regaining consciousness for 
a few hours, during which she listened to her favorite hymns. 




had embittered Miss Nightingale's hfe for more than forty years was 
over. At sixty years of age she was free. Not because Fanny was dead, 
but because she had become reconciled with Fanny and with Parthe as 
well. All her life resentment against Fanny and Parthe had been a poison 
working within her. During these last difficult years, before Fanny's 
childishness, helplessness, and blindness, before Parthe's suffering, re- 
sentment had melted away. 

A change came over her, and the bonte, the pervading benevolence, 
which had been her chief characteristic as a young woman, returned. 
She became gentler, calmer, even tolerant. In 1881 Uncle Sam died; she 
became reconciled to Aunt Mai, and they began to correspond affec- 
tionately again. With Parthe, for the first time since their childhood, 
she became intimate. She began to visit Claydon, where a room was set 
aside for her and called "Miss Nightingale's room." As Parthe's illness 
increased, Sir Harry leaned on her. "You are our Family Solicitor," 
Sir Harry wrote to her in January, 1881, "to whom we all turn when 
we get into a scrape." 

Failure began to weigh less heavily on her. Had she achieved nothing, 
need she reproach herself quite so desperately? On New Year's Eve, 
1879, Jowett had written to her: "There was a great deal of romantic 
feeling about you 2 3 years ago when you came home from the Crimea. 
(I really believe that you might have been a Duchess if you had played 
your cards better! ) And now you work on in silence, and nobody knows 
how many lives are saved by your nurses in hospitals (you have intro- 
duced a new era in nursing): how many thousand soldiers who would 
have fallen victims to bad air, bad drainage and ventilation, are now 
alive owing to your forethought and diligence; how many natives of 
India (they might be counted probably by hundreds of thousands) in 


this generation and in generations to come have been preserved from 
famine, oppression and the load of debt by the energy of a sick lady 
who can scarcely rise from her bed. The world does not know all this, 
or think about it. But I know it and often think about it, and I want you 
to, so that in the later years of your course you may see (with a side 
of sorrow) what a blessed life yours is and has been. ... I think that 
the romance too . . . did a great deal of good. Like Dr. Pusey you are 
a Myth in your own lifetime. Do you know that there are thousands 
of girls about the ages of 1 8 to 23 named after you? Everyone has heard 
of you and has a sweet association with your name." 

Could Jowett be right? Ordinary happiness she had never wanted — 
"miserable as I am," she had written in 1867, "I had rather be as I am 
than as I see the mass of London Ladies." In 1872 when on her way to 
Embley, she had caught a glimpse of Lord Stanley, now happily mar- 
ried and absorbed in his country estates, his wife and his library. "I saw 
them both at the station," she wrote to Clarkey, "they did not see me. 
(They were going to see the Queen.) I did not want to speak to him. I 
wanted to observe him. I saw it all at a glance. I should not have known 
him, so complacent, so obese, so happy — so bustling. All the great visions 
dropt away. (I was glad I had not to speak to him.) All quite for- 
gotten, what once he was, or might have been. O happiness — Hke the 
Bread Fruit Tree, what a corrupter of human nature thou art!" 

She could look back without regret, and now she found she could do 
more — she could look forward. On June 30, 1881, she wrote to Clarkey: 
"I cannot remember the time when I have not longed for death. After 
Sidney Herbert's death and Clough's death in 1861, 20 years ago, for 
years and years I used to watch for death as no sick man ever watched 
for the morning. It is strange that now I am bereft of all, I crave for it 
less. I want to do a little work, a little better, before I die." 

Opportunity was on its way. At the moment she became free, op- 
portunities for work for India, for nursing, even for the army, presented 
themselves once more. The political scene had just been transformed 
by the unexpected triumph of the Liberals in the General Election of 
April 1880. When Lord Lytton's term of office ended in May, her old 
friend and close ally. Lord de Grey, now Lord Ripon, was appointed 
Viceroy of India. Once more official doors were thrown open to her, 
and as Lord Ripon's Indian policy unfolded she was enthusiastic. 

Two main measures of reform were proposed by Lord Ripon, both 
highly controversial. The storm center was the llbert Bill, introduced by 
Sir Courtenay Ilbert, which gave Indian magistrates, under certain con- 
ditions, power to try and sentence Europeans. An absurd situation had 


arisen. Since 1858, Indians had been allowed to enter the Civil Service, 
and, in spite of the fact that promotion was by no means made easy, cer- 
tain of them reached the rank of District Magistrate; yet because Eng- 
lishmen could be tried only by English magistrates, an Indian District 
Magistrate could find himself without authority to try cases which were 
within the authority of his subordinates. 

Hostility to the Ilbert Bill, in fact a carefully guarded and by no 
means revolutionary measure, was based on racial grounds. Hysteria 
swept the country. Englishwomen wrote that it was an insult to subject 
English womanhood to native judges; atrocities committed during the 
iMutiny were recalled; Indian papers joined in with violence; insults and 
recriminations were freely exchanged, and India blazed from end to 
end with hatred. 

Almost equally detestable, not only to Europeans but also to a large 
number of commercially successful Indians, were the proposals for land 
reform in Bengal and Oudh which endeavored to protect the ryot^ the 
Indian peasant, from oppression and exploitation by placing authority 
and responsibility in the hands of the head man of each village, thus 
laying the first foundations of a degree of local government. 

Behind the frantic opposition to Lord Ripon's reforms lay the grim 
shadow of the Mutiny. The Mutiny had done irreparable damage. The 
atrocities committed by Indians on Europeans on lonely stations, the 
equal atrocities committed by Europeans on Indians as, against the ad- 
vice of such men as John Lawrence and Lord Napier of Magdala, the 
European victors avenged themselves in rivers of blood, left a wound 
which has never yet healed. In 1 882 the wound was fresh. 

Miss Nightingale had received her Indian education in a different 
school. The great Indian administrators who taught her — John Law- 
rence, Bartle Frere, Lord Napier of Magdala — were men to whom 
racial hatred was unknown. It had been their creed that the future of 
India must lie in giving ever-increasing authority to Indians. In this 
spirit the Queen's Proclamation of 1858 had been drawn up, in which 
the Crown, assuming the government of India, declared it to be the 
Sovereign's intention that ". . . our subjects of whatever race or creed 
be impartially admitted to our service, the duties of which they may be 
qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge." 

Through Lord Ripon, Miss Nightingale believed, light was coming 
to India at last. After the interminable delays, the endless disappoint- 
ments — it was twenty years since she had written the "Sanitary Sugges- 
tions" for John Lawrence — a new age was dawning. "At last," she wrote 
to Lord Ripon in June, 1883, "we have a government of India which 


steadfastly sets its face to carry out . . . the spirit of the Queen's Proc- 
lamation." In private notes she called Lord Ripon "the saviour of India." 
She described his term of office as the beginning of a golden age. "It is 
the Millennium!" She acted as a reference library for Lord Ripon, and 
he used her encyclopaedic knowledge of Indian administration, reach- 
ing back for over twenty-five years, to guide him through the tangled 
jungle of Indian aff"airs. 

She was drawn back into army work when in April, 1 880, she received 
a letter from General Gordon asking her to help his cousin Mrs. Haw- 
thorn, wife of a colonel in the Royal Engineers, in putting before the 
War Office facts concerning the neglect and ill-treatment of patients in 
military hospitals by orderlies. Miss Nightingale wrote a memorandum 
which was submitted to the Secretary for War. She was not successful. 
In his reply the Secretary for War stated that he "failed to be con- 
vinced." "I have seen such answers in the Crimean War time," she wrote 
to Douglas Galton in August, 1880. "The patient died of neglect and 
want of proper attendance; but by regulations should not have died, 
therefore the allegation that he is dead is disposed of." Out of the failure, 
however, came friendship with General Gordon. 

She was instinctively in sympathy with him. His intense Evangelical 
religiousness did not grate on her; she cared only for saintliness, nothing 
for the form in which it was expressed, and his attitude toward his sol- 
diers and the people of India exactly corresponded with her own. 
"I gained the hearts of my soldiers (who would do anything for me) 
not by my justice, etc., but by looking after them when sick and con- 
tinually visiting the Hospitals," he wrote to her on April 22, 1880. He 
came to see her repeatedly, and they discussed religious experiences. 
Both were aiming at the same end — a life of union with God producing 
practical good works. The bond became closer when in May he was 
appointed private secretary to Lord Ripon, an appointment greeted by 
universal astonishment. Before he sailed he presented A4iss Nightingale 
with one of the religious writings which he described as "little books 
of comfort." On his way out he wrote to her, on A4ay 30: "On board 
this vessel nothing but discontent with their lot from Indian officers. 
. . . The element of all government is absent, i.e. the putting of the 
governors into the skin of the governed. The old Indian was obliged to 
do so, he was bound in some way to consider the sympathies of the na- 

Gordon's understanding of Oriental races was indisputable. He had 
already a brilliant record of success both in India and China, but a 
large section of the official world detested him, and he was evidently 


unsuited to the post of private secretary to the Viceroy, involving of- 
ficial contacts and requiring the tact and social dexterity he lacked. As 
soon as he reached India he resigned, and after successfully executing a 
short mission in China he came home. 

A period of vacillation followed, but his M^ant of direction did not 
irritate Miss Nightingale. His difficulty was to find an employment 
which would satisfy his conscience. The fact that he felt he must ex- 
ercise his own moral judgment, that he could not undertake to carry 
out any order he felt to be unethical, closed almost all avenues of official 
employment to him. As an additional difficulty he had no money on 
which to Hve. He spoke of going to work among the sick poor in Syria 
because Syria was cheap. She entreated him to go to India where there 
was so much to be done. But India was closed to him. "I would have 
gone to the Cape, I would have gone to India as you suggest," he wrote 
in January, 1881, "but I would never do so if I had to accept the shib- 
boleth of the Indian or Colonial middle classes. To me they are utterly 
wrong in the government of the subject races, they know nothing of 
the hearts of these people, and oil and water would as soon mix as the 
two races. Men may argue as they like, our tenure of India is very little 
greater than it was 100 years ago. The people's interests not having 
been involved or interested in our prosperity or disasters are equally 
indifferent to either, in fact they hope more from our disaster than from 
our prosperity." The Government would not allow him to enter India. 
"I consider my life's work done, that I can never aspire to, or seek em- 
ployment where one's voice must be stilled to one particular note — there- 
fore I say it is dojje. ... I cannot visit the sick in London; it is too ex- 
pensive. I can do so in Syria and where the sick are there is our Lord. 
My dear Miss Nightingale what am I to do? My hfe truly is to me a 
straw, but I must live. I would do anything I could for India but I am 
sure my advent there would not be allowed. The door is shut." 

Eventually, to assist a friend, he accepted an appointment in Mauritius, 
and from Mauritius he was called to Basutoland to negotiate with a 
rebellious chief. In spite of another success the Cape Government re- 
fused to renew his appointment, and he found himself back in England 
in November, 1882 once more unemployed. After wandering in Pales- 
tine for a year, he accepted a mission to the Belgian Congo at the request 
of the King of the Belgians, and went to Brussels, but the Belgian Gov- 
ernment refused to sanction his employment. While in Brussels he re- 
ceived a telegram on January 15, 1884, from the British War Office. 
The victories of the Mahdi in the Sudan made instant action necessary, 
and Gordon was asked to go out as Governor-General. On January 18 


he went to the War Office, and so great was the urgency that he left for 
Egypt the same night. He was not able to see Miss Nightingale, but he 
wrote to Sir Harry Verney, on January 17, 1884, "I daily come and see 
you in spirit, you and Aliss Nightingale." A year later, on Monday, 
January 26, 1885, Khartoum, which Gordon had defended brilliantly 
against overwhelming odds for 3 1 7 days, fell and he was murdered. 

A tremendous outburst of indignation against the British Government 
followed. Miss Nightingale did not share it. Whether Gordon had suc- 
ceeded in his mission or not, whether he had been betrayed by the 
British Government or not, was unimportant. On February 7, in a let- 
ter to Mrs. Hawthorn, she spoke of the creed which she and Gordon 
shared. Suffering, disappointment, lack of success are the tribute which 
it is the soul's greatest privilege to present to God. In Gordon's death 
he had shown "the triumph of failure, the triumph of the Cross." "With 
him," she wrote, "all is well." 

She took an active interest in the Gordon Home for Destitute Boys, 
founded in his memory. In 18S7, sending the yearly report to a friend, 
she scribbled: "Ask them to tea. The roughest boys first." 

However Mrs, Hawthorn's allegations were substantiated by inde- 
pendent evidence, .Miss Nightingale persisted, and a Committee of En- 
quiry was set up in January, 1882 under the chairmanship of her old 
Crimean acquaintance. Sir Evelyn Wood. The first results were disap- 
pointing, the committee merely reporting that "improvements in the 
system of nursing are both practical and desirable." A member of the 
committee commented to Miss Nightingale: "This seems rather a mild 
opinion considering that all the independent evidence went to show 
that the orderlies were often drunk and riotous, that they ate the 
rations of the sick and left the nursing of the patients to the convales- 
cents." Before the report could be issued, the Egyptian campaign of 
1882 had begun under the command of Lord Wolseley, and much more 
serious defects became apparent. Aliss Nightingale was asked for nurses, 
and a party of twent)^-four, under the charge of a Nightingale-trained 
matron, went out. Reading their reports, she exclaimed: "It is the 
Crimea over again." The proportion of sick was unduly high, and only 
the small number of troops involved and the short duration of the 
campaign prevented disaster. In October, 1882 the Committee of In- 
quiry was reconstituted under the chairmanship of Earl Morley with 
instructions to inquire into the organization of the Army Hospital Corps 
and army hospital supply, organization, and efficiency in the field gen- 
erally, including nursing. 

She played a leading part in the second Committee of Inquiry, sug- 


gested witnesses, sent briefs for their examination, and outlined the 
facts to be elicited. As a result of this work she regained some influence 
at the War Office and became close friends with the Director-General 
of the Medical Department, Dr. Crawford. "We have not had a man of 
such unflagging energy since Alexander," she wrote to Douglas Galton 
on November, 1883. 

She was working in administration again; she had influence at the 
War Office again, but how strange was the road by which she had re- 
turned! Nursing had brought her back to the War Office. The sacrifice 
of her personal Hf e, the long bitter years of administrative toil, the thank- 
less labor, the perpetual struggle with exhaustion had come to nothing. 
"How little is left of all the good work of 1856 and that five years until 
1 86 1 for the Army," she wrote to Sir John McNeill in February, 1881. 
But out of the forty unsatisfactory tiresome creatures she had landed at 
Scutari, out of the drunkenness, the scandals, the back-biting had grown 
an immense work. 

In 1884, when the Gordon Relief Expedition was sent to Egypt, 
female nurses were officially requested by the Government. Miss Night- 
ingale selected and engaged the party. Some w^ere sent up the Nile to 
Wady Haifa. In 1850, during her Egyptian travels. Miss Nightingale 
had been at Wady Haifa, miserably unhappy. "How little could I ever 
have thought there would be trained nurses there now!" she wrote to 
Miss Pringle, the Pearl, on October 11, 1884. The nurses proved un- 
questionably successful. There were difficulties with orderlies; there 
was a shortage of medical supplies; there was a shortage of experienced 
sisters, but there was good-will on the part of the authorities. "Gov- 
ernment are now doing all they can," Miss Nightingale wrote to Rachel 
Williams in the autumn of 1884. "In my day they were hopeless." 

Her health improved. She visited Claydon; she stayed in a hotel at 
Seaf ord during the spring of 1 88 1 ; she made a habit in fine weather of 
taking drives in the London parks with Sir Harry Verney. In 1882 she 
made her first personal visit to the Nightingale Training School; in 
November she went with Sir Harry Verney to Victoria station to see 
the return of the Guards from the first Egyptian campaign; a few days 
later she attended a review, sitting on the platform next Mrs. Gladstone; 
and on December 4 she was present at the opening of the Law Courts, 
where Queen Victoria spoke to her and expressed herself pleased to 
note that Miss Nightingale was looking well. 

But the structure of her life was still rigorously laid out for work, and 
she still refused to see anyone without an appointment. She still wrote 
into the small hours, still sent letters dated "Before it is hght," still at- 


tempted more than any human being could accomplish, still continued 
to speak of herself as being on the verge of the grave; yet one by one the 
figures who had filled her life were steadily disappearing, and she re- 
mained, helpless, almost bedridden, but still alive. 

Clarkey began to fail, and her indomitable gaiety — at the age of 
eighty-six she had been seen dancing to a German band — faded. Through 
the winter of 1882 she became feebler, and in May, 1883 she died. The 
enormous series of letters in which Miss Nightingale had poured out 
her inmost thoughts and feelings for more than forty years ceased, and 
a curtain fell on her private life. 

In 1882 her very old friend Dr. Farr, the statistician, died. In 1883 
Sir John McNeill died, her constant friend and counselor; "always so 
kind and fatherly," Aunt Mai had written in 1858. In 1884 Sir Bartle 
Frere died, and in 1885 Richard Monckton Milnes, now Lord Hough- 
ton, the man she had once adored. 

But in her old age she no longer raged; she no longer resented what 
had not been accomplished; now she looked forward. On Christmas 
Day, 1885, when she was sixty-five, she wrote: "Today, Oh Lord, let 
me dedicate this crumbling old woman to Thee." Nihil actum si quid 
agendum was no longer her motto. How much she had changed was 
proved when, during the next few years, the tide turned against her 

Unexpectedly Lord Ripon resigned. So great was the personal animos- 
ity against him that he considered his best course was to secure a suitable 
successor and go home. Lord DuflFerin was appointed and on Novem- 
ber 6, called on Miss Nightingale, the fifth Viceroy of India to receive 
his Indian education at her hands. Unfortunately a series of what Miss 
Nightingale described as "political earthquakes" followed. Lord Salis- 
bury's Government was defeated in the general election of December, 
1885. Mr. Gladstone came into power, only to be defeated on the Home 
Rule Bill. Another general election took place in 1886, and Lord Salis- 
bury returned to power once more. In the excitements of these changes 
it was hopeless to expect any general interest in Indian reform. She wrote 
that it was "excruciating," but she resigned herself. 

In 1886 she was introduced by Lord Salisbury to Mr. W. H. Smith, 
Secretary of State for War. He wished to begin a program of welfare 
work for the troops and asked for her assistance. A scheme was drawn 
up, and its accomplishment seemed certain when once more Fate stepped 

Lord Randolph Churchill, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
unexpectedly resigned. The Government was reconstructed, Cabinet 


offices were redistributed, Mr. W. H. Smith left the War Office and went 
to the Treasury, and the Army Welfare scheme was shelved. "We are 
unlucky," she wrote to Douglas Galton on December 23, 1886. 

In 1887 Queen Victoria celebrated her Jubilee, and Aliss Nightingale, 
too, considered 1887 her Jubilee year: her "voices" had called her first 
in February, 1837, and she had now completed fifty years of service. 
Retrospection was universal, and Miss Nightingale retraced her own 
long and eventful past. 

On August 5, 1887, she wrote to Aunt Mai, now completely crippled 
with arthritis: "Dearest Aunt iMai — Thinking of you always, grieved for 
your sufferings, hoping you have still to enjoy. In this month 34 years 
ago you lodged me in Harley Street (Aug. 12) and in this Month 31 
years ago you returned me to England from Scutari (Aug. 7th). And in 
this month 30 years ago the first Royal Commission was finished (Aug: 
7). And since then 30 years of work often cut to pieces but never de- 
stroyed, God bless you! In this month 26 years ago Sidney Herbert 
died, after five years of work for us (Aug. 2). And in this month 24 
years ago the work of the second Royal Commission (India) was 
finished. And in this month, this year, my powers seem all to have failed 
and old age set in." 

Old age had come, and she accepted it. The storms had passed, and 
tolerance had replaced the uncompromising desire for perfection. She 
was entering on her last period of active work, and she enjoyed an 
Indian summer. Her health had improved, her mind was at rest, and her 
work in all directions bore a late harvest. 

In India Lord Dufferin succeeded in passing with some amendments 
Lord Ripon's Land Tenure Bills and pressed for irrigation. In 1888 
the Government of India set up a Sanitary Board in every province 
which possessed independent and executive authority. It was partial 
fulfillment at last of the scheme for an independent public health 
service which she had so urgently pressed on John Lawrence twenty- 
four years before. 

Scheme after scheme came, if not to perfection, at least to partial ful- 
fillment. The drainage of the great Indian cities, especially Madras, 
progressed at last. The drainage of Black Town, the worst quarter of 
Madras, was begun in 1882 and the work extended in 1887. For twenty 
years she had been preaching the importance of the Indian village, with 
its traditional community life, as the unit through which any educative 
scheme must be developed. In 1889 her efforts were to some extent 
rewarded by the Bombay Village Sanitation Act, which aimed at edu- 


eating each village as a self-contained community, the channel of com- 
munication being the head man. 

In 1 89 1 she managed to focus attention on the progress of Indian 
Sanitation by arranging that the International Congress of Hygiene 
and Demography, to be held in London, should include an Indian sec- 
tion. Indian gentlemen were sent as delegates and were entertained at 
Claydon. "Sir Harry Verney renews his invitations to Claydon to the 
native Indian delegates . . . ," she wrote to Douglas Galton on August 
I, 1 89 1. "Do you remember it is thirty years tomorrow since Sidney 
Herbert died?" 

Lord Dufferin's term of office came to an end. On board ship on his 
way home he wrote to Aliss Nightingale: "Among the first persons 
whose hands I hope to come and kiss will be yours." He was succeeded 
by Lord Lansdowne, a close friend of Jowett. Lord Lansdowne came 
to see her to receive his Indian education before he sailed, and he corre- 
sponded regularly with her. "He did much for us in every way," she 

She \\ as over seventy-one when she embarked on a complicated un- 
dertaking which proved her final crusade for the people of India, a 
scheme to make urwent sanitation a first change on taxation. The method 
of taxation was complicated. Very broadly, a certain amount of taxation 
was fixed, while another amount, known as "cesses," varied from time 
to time and was devoted to various purposes. She proposed that when 
a village lacked a pure water supply, lacked drainage, lacked any means 
of disposing of its refuse, and when it was suffering from cholera or ty- 
phoid, its cesses should be applied to remedying these conditions before 
being applied to any other purpose. She prepared a memorandum set- 
ting out the scheme in detail; it was signed by Douglas Galton and other 
sanitary experts and forwarded to the Viceroy in April, 1892. 

The famiHar history of delay followed. There was a party which 
thought the cesses should first of all be applied to the making of roads: 
sanitary works were important, but increased means of communication 
were the right way to create the prosperity which would enable sani- 
tary works to be paid for. Another party, while agreeing that a pure 
water supply and "simple latrine arrangements" were more than de- 
sirable, considered they should be made a charge on the revenues of the 
provincial government. Years passed by. Aliss Nightingale argued, 
urged, reminded, interviewed. An enormous quantity of correspondence 
accumulated. Not until 1894 did she receive an official answer. The 
Government of India could not see its way to accept her suggestion, 


but would press the claim of sanitation upon local governments and 
administrations as opportunity offered. 

It was her last campaign. She was still to do an immense amount of 
work for India, but in an advisory capacity; her vast knowledge, her 
long experience, and the weight of her prestige were called on again 
and again, but controversy was at an end. 

In 1887, the year of Miss Nightingale's jubilee, the following hos- 
pitals, institutions, and organizations had matrons or superintendents 
who had been trained at the Nightingale School: the Westminster Hos- 
pital, St. Mary's, Paddington, the Marylebone Infirmary, the Highgate 
Infirmary, the Metropolitan and National Nursing Association, the 
North London District Association, the Cumberland Infirmary, the 
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the Huntingdon County Hospital, the 
Leeds Infirmary, the Lincoln County Hospital, the Royal Infirmary, 
Liverpool, the Workhouse Infirmary, Liverpool, and the Southern In- 
firmary, Liverpool, the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, the Royal 
Hospital for Incurables, Putney, and the Salisbury Infirmary. Parties of 
nurses under a Nightingale-trained superintendent had also gone to 
the United States of America, Sydney, Montreal, India, Ceylon, Ger- 
many, and Sweden. Training schools modeled on the Nightingale Train- 
ing School and supervised and directed by Nightingale superintendents 
had been established at Edinburgh, at the Westminster Hospital, at the 
Marylebone Infirmary, at St, Mary's, Paddington. The school in con- 
nection with the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was under the direction 
of Miss Pringle, and that at St. Mary's, Paddington, of Rachel Williams. 

Though she had expressed regret that she could not give herself to 
district nursing. Miss Nightingale held the threads of the movement in 
her hands. William Rathbone consulted her on every point. "In any 
matter of nursing Miss Nightingale is my Pope and I believe in her in- 
fallibility," he wrote. During the years following 1880, she formed the 
movement. Somehow, "by hook or by crook," she managed to meet 
nearly all the trained nurses who took up district nursing and to keep up 
a correspondence with them. The function of the district nurse was 
estabUshed and defined by her. The district nurse must be a sanitary 
missionary, not an almsgiver, and to be a sanitary missionary she must 
be trained. 

Finance was a constant difficulty. In 1884 Miss Nightingale wrote to 
Sir Harry's daughter-in-law, Margaret Verney, that ladies were ready 
enough to give money to pauperize the patients but not so ready to give 
money to train and pay nurses. The nurses were kept paupers in order 


that the patients might be pauperized. In 1887 Queen Victoria decided 
to devote the major part of the money which had been presented by 
the women of England as the "Women's Jubilee Gift" to the cause of 
"nursing the sick poor in their own homes by means of trained nurses," 
and the Jubilee Institute for Nurses was founded. 

Results were beginning to exceed her highest hopes. In private notes 
during 1887 and 1888 she recalled the first beginnings of the work, her 
attempt in 1845 to train at Salisbury when her parents behaved as if 
she had wished to be a kitchenmaid, the difficulty of finding nurses to 
go to the Crimea, and Agnes Jones's experiences in the old infirmaries, 
when the police were regularly called in to establish order in the wards. 

Yet though Miss Nightingale's influence in nursing was dominant, 
there was opposition to her. It was never contested that her results were 
not superior, but it was held that the form of training she demanded, 
the close supervision, and the exactions of her school, could not produce 
nurses in the numbers which were now necessary. 

In 1886 a proposal was made which aimed at giving the trained nurse 
official recognition and at placing her qualifications on a standard basis. 
A committee of the Hospitals' Association proposed that an independ- 
ent body of examiners, not connected with the training schools, should 
be created. This body would set an examination, and when a nurse had 
passed it she would be entitled to have her name placed on a register of 
nurses. Thus a standard of technical excellence in nursing would be 
established, and the public would be protected against employing 
nurses who were incompetent or disreputable. 

It was the beginning of a battle which split the nursing world in two. 
Miss Nightingale opposed the proposal for two reasons. First, she did 
not think the time was ripe for the step. In forty years' time, she wrote, 
the nursing profession might be ready, but at the moment nursing was 
stiU too young, still too unorganized, and contained divergences too 
great for a single standard to be applied. 

The second ground on which Miss Nightingale opposed the scheme 
was of greater importance. The scheme as put forward was a contradic- 
tion of what she believed the training of a nurse should be. She was not 
necessarily against registration, but she was passionately opposed to the 
kind of registration proposed. The quahfying of a nurse by examination 
only took no account of the character training which she held to be 
as important as the acquisition of technical skill. A nurse, she said re- 
peatedly, could not be tested by public examination as if she were an 
engineer. Nursing was a vocation as well as a profession, and the two 
must be united. When a nurse received a certificate from her training 


school, the matron was able to guarantee by personal knowledge that 
her pupil possessed the qualities of character as well as the degree of 
technical skill which were essential to the calling of a nurse. Devotion, 
gentleness, sympathy, qualities of overwhelming importance in a nurse, 
could never be ascertained by public examination. "Nursing has to nurse 
living bodies and spirits. It cannot be tested by public examination, 
though it may be tested by current supervision," she wrote. 

In thirty years she had, she said, "raised nursing from the sink" by 
training character. She had caused training schools for nurses to be 
called "Homes" to emphasize the fact that they were places in which 
character was to be developed, general culture acquired, and a moral 
standard learned. Now the object of the training school was to be made 
not the training of character but the granting of a certificate. "You 
cannot select the good from the inferior by any test or system of exami- 
nation," she wrote in 1890. ". . . A4ost of all and first of all must the 
moral qualifications be made to stand preeminent in estimation." 

The British Nurses' Association continued to agitate, and in 1888 a 
new committee was set up to conduct an inquiry among the training 
schools and the medical profession on their opinion of a nurses' register. 
It at once became apparent that opinion was divided and that feeling 
was running high. Miss Nightingale feared disaster. The nursing world 
would be divided into two camps. Political differences would become 
all-important, and the work would take second place. She recalled the 
division of opinion over the Reform Bill when she was a child: those 
who were for the Bill would refuse to sit at dinner with those who 
were against it. 

In 1889 the situation crystallized. The British Nurses' Association 
published its policy. Its main object was to provide for the registration 
of qualified British nurses, and to accomplish this it intended to apply 
for a Royal Charter incorporating the Association and authorizing the 
formation of a register. Nurses would be deemed to be qualified who 
were certified by an outside Board as having attained a certain standard 
of proficiency, and it was suggested that a preliminary qualification 
should be three years' training in a hospital. The manifesto made a con- 
siderable impression, and Princess Christian, Queen Victoria's daughter, 
accepted the Presidency of the Association. 

Miss Nightingale had received a set-back. When the time came to 
petition for the Royal Charter, Princess Christian would approach 
Queen Victoria. Moreover, Princess Christian had great influence and 
was much beloved for philanthropic work. "This makes things awk- 
ward for us," wrote William Rathbone. Through Sir Harry Verney, 


Miss Nightingale made overtures to Princess Christian. It was not pos- 
sible, she found, to compromise, because Princess Christian felt that she 
was in honor bound to support the policy of the Association of which 
she was President, and Aliss Nightingale settled down to fight. 

For the next four years the battle absorbed her. She was seventy, and 
the work was exhausting. Her friends regretted her absorption, for the 
point at issue seemed unimportant. "It is a comparative trifle," wrote 
Jowett in May, 1892, "among all the work you have done." 

Miss Nightingale, however, was convinced she faced a major crisis: 
the principle which had governed her work for nursing was at stake. 
Nor in her opinion would the register as proposed protect the public. 
The fact that a nurse's name was on it would only mean that at a certain 
date she had satisfied the examiners in certain tests; it would tell nothing 
of her subsequent record. If a register were to be useful, it should be 
kept up to date, and include a description of each nurse's character and 
a recent recommendation from a surgeon or physician. 

In 1889 the British Nurses' Association announced that it was apply- 
ing for a Charter. Miss Nightingale, supported by the matron of the 
London Hospital and the matron of St. Thomas's and most of the train- 
ing schools, declared her intention of opposing the application. Two 
years of controversy followed, and a large number of pamphlets were 
issued on both sides. Then in 1891 the British Nurses' Association ap- 
plied to the Board of Trade to be registered as a public company with- 
out the addition of the word "Limited," the object of the company be- 
ing to form a register of nurses and to lay down what should be the 
qualifications necessary for registration. Miss Nightingale presented 
a case opposing the application, and registration was refused. In the 
same year a committee of the House of Lords reported on the condition 
and organization of London hospitals. William Rathbone was called to 
give evidence as to the desirability of the proposed register of nurses; 
he gave evidence against the proposal, and the committee in its report 
did not recommend the formation of a register of nurses. 

But the British Nurses' Association was not yet defeated. Later in 
the year it obtained permission from the Queen, through Princess Chris- 
tian, to use the title "Royal," and they then petitioned the Queen her- 
self for a Royal Charter. The petition, in accordance with precedent, 
was referred to a special committee of the Privy Council and was heard 
in November, 1892. 

On both sides this was felt to be the decisive moment, and Miss Night- 
ingale rallied all her forces. A campaign fund was raised and two counter- 
petitions opposing the grant of a Royal Charter presented, one signed 


by the Council of the Nightingale Fund, admittedly the pioneers of the 
training of nurses, and the other by many thousands of matrons, lady 
superintendents and principal assistants, doctors and nursing sisters, as 
well as by superintendents and principals of training schools. The list 
was headed by the signature of Miss Nightingale. In addition, a letter 
from her was read to the Committee of the Privy Council by William 
Rathbone. Eminent barristers appeared on both sides, and two Law Lords 
sat on the committee. 

The hearing took a week and was completed by the end of November, 
but the decision was not announced until six months later — in May, 1 893. 
The result v/as victory for no one. True, the Royal British Nurses' As- 
sociation was granted a Royal Charter, but not in the terms it had sought. 
The word "register" was removed, and the Charter conferred only the 
right to the "maintenance of a list of persons who may have applied to 
have their names entered thereon as nurses." 

The battle was over, and Miss Nightingale put it behind her. In 1 894 
she talked and corresponded with Princess Christian regarding a scheme 
for the formation of a war reserve of nurses by the Royal British Nurses' 
Association. "We should, I think," she wrote, "be earnestly anxious to 
do what we can for Princess Christian as she holds out the flag of truce, 
in order to put an end, as far as we can, to all this bickering which does 
such harm to the cause." In 1893 she dedicated a lecture on Sick Nursing 
and Health Nursing, which was read at the Chicago Exhibition of 
Women's Work, to Princess Christian. 

It was a tranquil end to her last great battle. She was an old lady now, 
and though her mind was still keen and her energy still remarkable, an- 
other change was taking place. Her horizons were narrowing; the world 
was receding; for the first time personal relationships were becoming 
of paramount importance in her life. 



hardly, she was compensated now. Few human beings have enjoyed 
a fuller, happier old age. She was treated with an almost religious def- 
erence — ministers, kings, princesses, statesmen waited at her door, and 
her utterances were paid the respect due to an oracle. To millions of 
women all over the world she was the symbol of a new hope, the sign 
of a new age. Nor was she separated from the common joys of life. 
Though she had never married, she enjoyed the pleasures of matriarchy. 
In the lives of a large circle of young people, Shore's two daughters and 
his sons, Clough's son and daughters, and Parthe's stepchildren, she 
held the place of a powerful, generous, and respected grandmother. 

In old age an extraordinary atmosphere of peace flowed from her. 
She was formidable still; she preserved her rule of seeing only one per- 
son at a time and bent her whole attention on her visitor, making you 
feel, it was said, like a sucked orange, but she was animated now by the 
purest benevolence. To confide in her was irresistible. She delighted 
to concern herself with the small crises of daily life. Clough's son 
brought her his love affairs. Shore's daughters their examination papers. 
No detail was too small to command her interest — the character of a 
servant, the quality of a joint of meat, the treatment of a cold. She de- 
lighted to write birthday letters, to send gifts of jellies, fruit, creams, 
special soups to invalids, to make presents. Sir Harry Verney, suffering 
from eye trouble, was sent a special lamp-shade; a girl cousin working 
too hard received concert tickets; Margaret Verney, going on a night 
journey by train, was sent sandwiches, coffee, and a special cushion for 
her head. 

Her sympathy extended itself beyond her family. Her butcher, the 
policemen on duty at the Park gates near her house, everyone who served 
her, came within the circle of her benevolence. Their family affairs rc- 


ceived her earnest consideration; their health was the object of her so- 

To enter her house was to receive an instant impression of whiteness, 
order and light. "You have such a beautifully tidy house," wrote a 
schoolgirl cousin. Her bedroom at the back of the house had French 
windows opening on to a balcony; there were no curtains only blinds, 
the walls were painted white, and the room was bathed in Hght. 

A stand of flowering plants stood in the window, kept filled through- 
out the year by William Rathbone, and more flower-boxes stood on the 
balcony. The house backed on to the gardens of Dorchester House, and 
outside the windows were trees, flowers, and lawns. Birds twittered, and 
in summer the sunlight filtered through green leaves. Miss Nightingale's 
bed stood with the windows on her right; behind it was a shelf of books. 
She had a table beside her bed on which stood a reading-lamp with a 
green silk shade and a vase of fresh flowers — a large box of cut flowers 
was sent weekly by Lady Ashburton from Aielchett Court. The furni- 
ture was unpretentious. There were an armchair, a bureau, a bookcase, 
another larger table. On the walls were a photograph of John Lawrence's 
portrait, a lithograph of the ground about Sebastopol, and a few water- 
colors. The room conveyed an exquisite and fastidious freshness. Flowers 
were never faded; vases sparkled like crystal; the pillows and sheets of 
Miss Nightingale's bed were spotless and without a crease. 

On her good days she got up after luncheon and received visitors in 
the drawing-room below, lying on a couch wearing a black silk dress 
with a shawl over her feet, and a scarf either of delicate white net or fine 
quality lace round her head. "No gentlewoman ever wears anything but 
real lace," she told one of Shore's daughters; she was fond of the Buck- 
inghamshire lace which Sir Harry Verney had made for her. The decora- 
tion of the drawing-room was severe, relieved by a profusion of flowers. 
The windows were curtained in plain blue serge; the walls were white. 
Round the room were hung the engravings of Michelangelo's ceiling 
in the Sistine chapel which she had bought in Rome, and there were 
several bookcases full of books. When young relatives waited in the 
drawing-room before going up to see Aunt Florence, they found the 
books consisted solely of Blue Books, with one exception, a copy of The 
Rbig and the Book. 

Visitors, even when staying in the house, never saw Miss Nightingale 
except by appointment. She never took a meal with anyone, but she did 
her own housekeeping and took immense pains over her household. 
"Florence's maids and little dinners perfect," W. E. N. had written in 
1867. Her staff consisted of five maids, her own personal maid, and a 


man known as "Miss Nightingale's messenger," who was an old soldier 
and a member of the Corps of Commissionaires. 

The household was highly organized. The proper duties to be per- 
formed in the house and in the kitchen at every hour through the day 
were marked on a chart. The food was ordered by Miss Nightingale, 
and she was particular as to quahty. In March, 1889 she wrote to a new 
butcher for "a fore quarter of your best small mutton. I prefer four year 
old mutton." The following week she wrote, "the neck 'ate' better than 
the shoulder tho' off the same piece," and ordered "a neck of mutton well 
hung and a leg well hung. Please tell your man to wait, as I always pay 
weekly." The neck proved "very good but the leg not so good," and she 
ordered "13 to 14 pounds of good sirloin of beef to try." Meanwhile 
the butcher's wife had fallen ill. Miss Nightingale was all sympathy, 
gave advice, sent lemon jelly and when, unhappily, the woman died, 
wrote: "God be with you and with your children is the earnest prayer 
of Florence Niohtinfrale." 

Her taste in food was fastidious. Each day's menu was submitted to 
her, and she made suggestions and criticized the previous day's dishes. 
"Remember I am a small but delicate eater," she wrote. "Sauces and 
gravies are not to be thickened with flour. The bones of the meat are 
simmered down with vegetables to make the stock, which is then re- 
duced to make the sauces. Use plenty of herbs for flavouring." Turnips 
were to be served by "squeezing out all water, putting through a hair 
sieve and adding a gill of cream." "Brisket of beef must be cooked with 
herbs, onions, carrots, celery in a light broth on the hot plates from 10 
A.M. to 9 P.M. Never too fast." "Roast pheasant must be hung not too 
near a good fire and basted every minute or two with good butter for 
an hour. Roast chicken must be larded all over.'" "Tell Miss Nightingale 
the luncheon was a work of art," said the Crown Princess of Prus- 

Miss Nightincrale's account of an interview in 1886 demonstrates how 
little she now inspired awe, how readily she felt sympathy. The inter- 
view was with a girl who wished to be a nurse. "She showed," wrote 
Miss Nightingale, "a natural, unconscious, unrestrained interest in in- 
teresting things which I liked very much." Three remarks struck her 
favorably. "Oh I do so want to go inside the House of Commons some 
day just to hear iMr. Gladstone speak once." "May I just look round the 
books to see if there is a Tennyson?" "Oh, I'm not a bit tired now." 

It was even possible to disagree with her without disturbing her good 
humor. In 1895 she received a letter upbraiding her for opposing the 
registration of nurses. She scribbled a note on the margin for Henry 


Bonham Carter: "Shall I royally disregard it — or shall I give them a 


As her character blossomed into benevolence, her physical appearance 
changed. The slight, tall, willowy girl whose elegance had struck every- 
one who saw her, whose small head had been set on her neck with the 
grace of a stag, who had loved to dance and been hght as thistledown on 
her feet, the thin, emaciated, mature woman with lines of suffering 
deeply engraved on her face, underwent a surprising metamorphosis. 
She became a dignified stout old lady with rather a large good-humored 
face. The shape of her head seemed to change; the face became wider, 
the neck shorter, the brow much more prominent. Surgeon-Major Evatt, 
who knew her in her old age, said she resembled Mr. Gladstone, and a 
relative, introduced to her as a boy, retained as his recollection that she 
looked "so jolly." 

Much of her life centered upon Shore and his wife and daughters and 
the children of Blanche and Clough; she followed them through their 
various stages of development, sent eggs and Egyptian lentils when one 
became a vegetarian, read pamphlets when another became an ardent 
advocate of cooperation, helped on several occasions with checks for 
foreign tours. But her closest association was with the Verney family 
— to the Verneys she was indispensable. 

Each year Parthe became more crippled with arthritis, and in 1883 she 
had a serious illness. She suffered a great deal, and no nurse could control 
her. Her household fell into confusion, and Sir Harry, now eighty-two, 
was distracted; so Miss Nightingale went down to Claydon and took 
command. After 1883 Parthe was completely crippled, and Miss Night- 
ingale became an essential part of the Verney family Hfe. In addition 
to her old and deep affection for Sir Harry she was greatly attached 
to Sir Harry's son, Frederick Verney, who had been ordained a deacon 
and did social work in London. She corresponded with him, and on 
several occasions he read her papers to scientific and pohtical meetings. 

She also became intimate with the wife of Sir Harry Verney's eldest 
son — Margaret Verney. In 1 869, after their first meeting. Miss Nightin- 
gale described her as "a sort of heavenly young woman. I do not know 
that I ever saw anyone exactly like her. Only that she is witty and makes 
jokes she would be exactly like the Virgins and Saints of Era Angelico." 
Margaret Verney — Miss Nightingale's name for her was "Blessed Mar- 
garet" — in addition to saintliness and beauty had capabiHty. She had, 
wrote Miss Nightingale to Frederick Verney in 1896, "administrative 
power, that power of detail which makes works succeed and is called 
capacity for business." 


The burden of Parthe's illness had fallen on Margaret Vemey, and 
Miss Nightingale alone could help her. When Parthe wrote Margaret 
a letter "so outrageously discourteous" that she "destroyed it as if it 
were a viper ... I have no wish in the world but to be a daughter but 
there are some things Mama inust not say to me," Miss Nightingale per- 
suaded Parthe to apologize; when she had been at Clay don, Parthe was 
much easier to manage. "I write with a very thankful heart to-night 
for Mama has been so kind and gentle," wrote Margaret on September 
8, 1887, "and I feel as if the echoes of your loving words and thoughts 
and prayers still linger here and have an influence for peace." 

The intimacy grew swiftly. "Dearest Miss Nightingale" became 
"Dearest Aunt Florence," and innumerable letters passed between them 
breathing affection and solicitude. In 1888 she called Miss Nightingale, 
"the presence which to all of us brings such balm of sympathy and 
peace." In 1889 she wrote, "I long so much to see you. Thank you so 
much for all you have been to us." In 1894: "Have you been able to 
sleep? You cannot think how I lo7ig to be able to do something for 
you. ... If you could invent some wood to hew or water to carry, 
you would make me so very happy." In 1892, when Miss Nightingale 
wrote to ask if a certain date would be convenient for her to come to 
Claydon, Margaret replied "there never could be found in any almanac 
any day when it was not convenient and delightful that you should come 

In May 1890 Parthe died. Their reconciliation had been complete. For 
seven years Parthe had been a difficult invalid, but Miss Nightingale's 
patience had never failed. "You contributed more than anyone to what 
enjoyment of life was hers," wrote Sir Harry on May 1 5, 1 890. "It was 
delightful to me to hear her speak of you and to see her face, perhaps 
distorted with pain, look happy when she thought of you." 

Parthe's death brought Miss Nightingale even closer to the Vemey 
family. She went down to Claydon at once and stayed with Sir Harry 
until the autumn. He became the principal object of her life. He visited 
her every day, and if she went to London she wrote to him daily; when 
they were both in London, he called on her every morning. He was now 
nearly ninety, still mentally alert and still magnificently handsome, and 
she was seventy. One of the few photographs she ever allowed to be 
taken shows them sitting together on a garden seat at Claydon, smiling 
at each other. Her health had so far improved that occasionally she was 
able to take a short stroll leaning on his arm. 

It was inevitable that she should interest herself in the management 
of the estate and inevitable that, having investigated accounts, condi- 


tion of cottages, health of neighboring villages, water supply and sanita- 
tion, she should find much that needed improvement. It was uphill work. 
Sir Harry was old; Parthe had been extravagant and careless. Even the 
treasures in the house itself had been neglected — Margaret found one 
of the historic family portraits used as a partition to separate stored 
apples. An immense amount of work was done by Miss Nightingale and 
Margaret to straighten out the confusion. In the house a degree of order 
was established, and the drains attended to. "You know," wrote Mar- 
garet in January, 1892, "how one goes through phases of discouragement 
at Claydon. You -have established two definite steps forward which we 
never could have done without you." 

In the villages Miss Nightingale embarked on a new scheme. She 
wished to support the work of the District Nurse with Lady Health 
Missioners, women who were to be trained to teach village mothers 
the elementary principles of health in the home. Miss Nightingale was 
convinced that the best way to develop sanitary education, in England 
as in India, was to use the village as a unit. And, she insisted, "the work 
jnust be personal"; the Health Missioners were "not to lecture the village 
women but to work with them." 

It was a curious reproduction of the work she had done in her best 
days in India, a reproduction in miniature with Buckinghamshire in 
place of India, the Aylesbury district in place of Bengal. Even the con- 
clusion repeated itself. Progress was impossible without water. Village 
sanitation in England, as in India, turned on water supply. "Prizes to 
cottagers for cleanliness are not desirable," she wrote to the Medical 
Officer of Health in November, 1 891. "The prizes ought to be for handy 
water supply — to the authorities. ... It is very pretty in a picture the 
group at the well of mother and children. It is not pretty in practice. 
The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in water supply. ^^ 

Year succeeded year, and it seemed that Time had decided to pass Miss 
Nightingale by, that her Indian summer would last for ever while round 
her familiar faces were disappearing. In 1889 Aunt Mai died at the age 
of ninety-one. In July, 1891 Dr. Sutherland died. His last articulate 
words were for her — "give her my love and blessing," he told his wife. 

In 1893 a great grief awaited her: she lost Jowett. During the past 
few years they had drawn even closer. "The truer, the safer, the better 
years of life are the later ones," he had written to her in 1887. "We must 
find new ways of using them, doing not so much but in a better way." 
In October, 1890 he had a heart attack and was expected to die. "I 
am always thankful for having known you," he wrote in a farewell 
letter on October 16. He recovered, and in November, 1890 she went 


over to Balliol from Claydon to see him, and stayed the night. In May, 
1892 he had another attack which greatly weakened him, but he still 
managed to visit her. "I want to hold fast to you dear friend as I go down 
the hill," he wrote. In August, 1893 he was seen to be sinking — he be- 
came too weak to hold a pen; and on September 18 he dictated his last 
letter to her: "Fare you well . . . How large a part has your hfe been 
of mv life." On October i he died. 

Four months later she had to bear another great grief: in February, 
1 894 Sir Harry Verney died at the age of ninety-three. Six months later, 
in August 1894, Mr. Shore Nightingale "My boy Shore," died, whose 
kindness, she was never tired of saying, had been one of the great rec- 
ompenses of her life. "I have lost the three nearest to me in twelve 
months," she wrote. But there was no bitterness, none of the resentful 
anguish which had torn her apart thirty years ago. She was seventy -four, 
and as she drew nearer to the dividing line between life and death the 
bodily veil grew thin. It was not loss she faced now, but a temporary- 
separation. And as she looked back over the long years she felt, as she 
had never felt in the days of her youth, that the sum total of life was 
good. "There is so much to live for," she wrote on May 12, 1895. "I have 
lost much in failures and disappointments, as well as in grief but, do you 
know, life is more precious to me now in my old age." 

Claydon continued to be her second home, but after Sir Harry's death 
her visits became less frequent. The affection, the welcome was there. 
"We are crazy with joy that you give us so blessed a hope of seeing you in 
November," wrote Margaret Verney in October. But the renewal of 
physical vigor which had been so extraordinary a part of her Indian sum- 
mer was beginning to fail. Gradually her life closed in; after 1896 she 
never left South Street, and she spent thereafter the whole of her life in 
her bedroom. 

But it was only her body which had failed, for her mind and spirit 
remained as vigorous as ever. Indeed, she seemed to gain, as if in com- 
pensation, added confidence and hope. "Yes, one does feel the passing 
away of so many who seemed essential to the world. I have no one now 
to whom I could speak of those who are gone. But all the more I am 
eager to see successors," she wrote in a private note dated "All Saints. 
All Souls. November 2nd, 1896." She was still actively occupied. "I am 
soaked in work," she wrote to Douglas Galton in January, 1897. The 
War Office consulted her, and she had influence there. Lord Lansdowne, 
her friend and Jowett's, was Secretary of State for War. 

She maintained connections with India, corresponding with the Vice- 
roy, Lx)rd Elgin, continuing to receive from the India Office all papers 


on Indian sanitary matters, and entertaining a large number of Indian 
gentlemen, educationalists, doctors, and administrators. In 1898 she re- 
ceived the Aga Khan. "He was," she wrote in a private note, "a most 
interesting man, but you could never teach him sanitation. ... I told 
him as well as I could all the differences, both in town and country, 
during my life. 'Do you think you are improving?' he asked. By improv- 
ing he meant believing more in God." 

Year by year her legend steadily grew. The world had taken her 
figure to its heart, but in an extraordinary, an unprecedented, way. No 
crowd of admirers waited outside her house in South Street; indeed, the 
greater part of the world supposed she was dead, had supposed she was 
dead for the past forty years. Even the survivors of the men she had 
nursed did not know what had become of her. "I should have com- 
municated with you sooner," wrote the organizer of an annual banquet 
of Inkerman survivors in 1895, "but I did not know your address." But 
whether she was dead or alive was unimportant: the image of her lived 
with vivid hfe. Not only in England but in the United States of 
America, in Turkey, Japan, in Brazil, her name had a magic possessed 
by no other. 

The year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897, added enor- 
mously to her legend. The Victorian Era Exhibition included a section 
representing the progress of trained nursing, and it was planned round 
Miss Nightingale; she was asked for Crimean relics, for pictures of 
Scutari, for her portrait, for the loan of her bust by Steell. She refused. 
"Oh the absurdity of people and their vulgarity!" she wrote. "The relics, 
the representations of the Crimean War! What are they? They are first 
the tremendous lessons we have had to learn from its tremendous blun- 
ders and ignorances. And next they are Trained Nurses and the progress 
of Hygiene. These are the 'representations' of the Crimean War. And 
I will not give my foolish portrait (which I have not got) or anything 
else as 'relics' of the Crimea. It is too ridiculous. . . ." 

However, one of the organizers of the exhibition was Lady Wantage, 
and Lady Wangate was exceptionally pretty and charming. She called, 
and Miss Nightingale, always susceptible to charm, gave way. She 
wished to substitute a few hard facts about the work of the Royal 
Sanitary Commissions for Crimean relics, but Lady Wantage, wrote 
Miss Nightingale, "would not take [them] . . . she stuck to her point 
and she is so charming." A^Iiss Nightingale lent the bust by Steell and 
tracked down her Crimean carriage. "O my dear Harry," she wrote to 
Henry Bonham Carter in March, 1897, "that wretched Russian car with 
wretched but active boy and pony, all dismantled, haijgs round my 


neck. ... It was discovered all to pieces in an Embley farmhouse when 
Embley was sold. I never cared ivhat became of it." 

The exhibition was the scene of extraordinary demonstrations. Her 
relics were treated by the crowds as holy. Flowers were laid daily be- 
fore the bust by an unknown hand; old soldiers, it was said, had been 
seen to come forward and kiss the carriage. It was canonization, but of 
an unwilling saint. She was disgusted. In October, 1897, when the ex- 
hibition was closing, she wrote to Louis Shore Nightingale, Shore's son: 
"Now I must ask you about my bust. (Here I stop to utter a great many 
bad words not fit to put on paper. I also utter a pious wish that the bust 
may be smashed.) I should not have remembered it but that I am told 
somebody came every day to bedeck it with fresh flowers. I utter a 
pious wish that that person may be — saved. . . . What is to be done 
about the bust?" 

Her life had turned to a golden evening, and it seemed the golden 
evening might last for ever. Year after year slid by, and still she faced 
life with relish; still the vigor of her mind was unimpaired. Then the 
darkest of shadows fell across the tranquil radiance as she began slowly 
to go blind. 

Since 1867 she had had occasional pain in her eyes especially after 
working at night. After 1884 her sight began to trouble her seriously. 
In February, 1889 she had become "too bhnd to read newspapers." 
Three months later she asked Douglas Galton to take over the writing 
of an article she had been invited to contribute to Chambers's Encyclo- 
paedia "because I have no longer eyes to write." 

Her spirit remained undimmed. "No, no a thousand times no. I am 
not growing apathetic," she wrote to Sir Robert Rawlinson in 1889. 
As late as 1 898 she reread Shakespeare and made copious notes. In her 
letters her phrases were vigorous as ever. "Do you know the taste of your 
heart in your mouth?" she asked Margaret Vemey in 1891. She received 
a present, in 1893, "with a loud purr of gratitude such as the best fish 
elicits from the cat." She said of Lord Shaftesbury, "He would have been 
in a lunatic asylum if he had not devoted himself to reforming lunatic 

She was fully conscious, however, of disquieting symptoms. As her 
sight grew worse, she wrote fewer private notes, but in 1 895 she wrote 
"Want of memory," and in 1896 "How to preserve my sight!" It was 
the only mention of her growing blindness she ever made. If fear 
clutched at her, she concealed it. In earlier life she had talked a great deal 
about her health, in her old age she never mentioned it, but she must have 
remembered that Fanny had become childish and blind. 


Slowly, inexorably, the curtain descended. She had always written 
with astonishing legibility and firmness (every line of her enormous 
letters is as easy to read as if it were print) , but now the indelible pencil 
she took to using began to waver, the lines ran across the page, the let- 
ters were formed with difficulty. Still her vitality, her gaiety were un- 
quenched. Margaret Vemey's daughter, Ellin, married and in 1 899 had 
her first child, a girl. In a spirited correspondence Miss Nightingale did 
her utmost to have the child named Balaclava, one of the most beautiful 
names, she declared, in the world. As late as 1900 she wrote to one of 
Margaret Vemey's younger daughters: "I am sorry to see the tide leav- 
ing Italian for German. There are as many divine things in one page of 
Dante as in the whole of Goethe. Still it is no use, as Canute said, to kick 
against the tide. ... As for riding, no 'hockey,' no games will equal 
it for improving the circulation all over and exercising the muscles and 
animal courage. A hve horse and the sympathy of 'the horse and its rider' 
is worth all the bats and (deaf and dumb) balls put together. So 'drat' 
hockey and long live the horse! Them's my sentiments." 

Year by year in a steady procession her old friends left the mortal 
stage. In 1898 Sir Robert Rawlinson died — he had been a Sanitary Com- 
missioner in the Crimean War and had remained her close friend ever 
since. In 1899 she lost Sir Douglas Galton. In 1902 William Rathbone; 
"one of God's best and greatest sons," she wrote on his funeral wreath. 
Still her optimism remained undiminished; still she looked forward with 
an undaunted spirit. Lady Stephen, one of Shore's two daughters, was 
sitting, when a girl, with iMiss Nightingale, who was lying back on her 
pillows, and they were speaking of one of the friends she had lost. Lady 
Stephen said that after a busy life he was at rest. Miss Nightingale at 
once sat bolt upright. "Oh no^ she said with conviction, "I am sure it 
is an irm^iense activity." 

In 1 90 1 darkness closed in on her. Her sight failed completely, and, 
except with the greatest difficulty, she could no longer read or write. 
At the same time her mind began to fail; she was not always aware of 
her surroundings and lay for hours in a state of coma. She fought to 
keep her grip on life. Ever)' day she had The Times read to her. She also 
enjoyed biographies and articles from reviews which recorded action. 
One of her favorite books was Theodore Roosevelt's Strenuous Life. 
No longer able to act herself, she enjoyed hearing of action by others. 
Sometimes instead of being read to, she would recite poetry to herself, 
passages from Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, and the Italian poets; some- 
times she would sing airs from the operas she had loved in her youth 
in a voice still surprisingly full and sweet. 


A time came when there was no more reading, no more reciting or 
singing. In 1906 it was necessary to tell the India Office that it was use- 
less to send papers on sanitary matters any longer to Miss Nightingale; 
the power of apprehension had almost left her; she was quite blind, and 
her memory had failed. She saw very few people and she no longer rec- 
ognized visitors: she took them for friends of her youth and asked for 
Sir Harry Verney, who had been dead for twelve years. Hour after hour 
she lay inert, unconscious, her hands, still pretty in old age, folded peace- 
fully outside the bedclothes. Words no longer reached her, although 
when her young relatives sang hymns she seemed to recognize familiar 
tunes and be pleased. 

And now when she had passed beyond the power of the world to 
please or pain, a shower of honors fell on her. In November, 1907 the 
Order of Merit was bestowed on her by King Edward VII, the first 
time it had ever been given to a woman. Since no ceremony was pos- 
sible, the Order was left at South Street by the King's representative. 
It was not even certain that she understood the honor she had received. 
An explanation was attempted, but she hardly seemed to grasp it. "Too 
kind, too kind," she murmured. In the following year she received the 
Freedom of the City of London. The Roll of Honour was brought to 
her bedside, and her hand was guided to sign two wavering initials 
"F. N.," but it was evident that she did not understand what she was 

The legend surrounding her silent inert figure burst into new life. 
Many people reading the news of these signal honors were taken aback 
to find that Florence Nightingale was still alive. A flood of congratula- 
tions poured in; there were poems, songs, illuminated addresses, flowers. 
The Mayor of Florence sent official congratulations, the Florence Night- 
ingale Society of America, the Ladies of the Red Cross Society of 
Tokio, sent tributes to "the great and incomparable name of Florence 
Nightingale"; thousands of \\'omen who had been christened Florence 
in her honor banded together to send a joint message. Crimean veterans 
assured her that she had never been forgotten. 

In June, 1907 the International Conference of Red Cross Societies 
had held a conference in London and sent a message to "Miss Florence 
Nightingale, the pioneer of the first Red Cross movement, whose heroic 
efforts on behalf of suffering humanity will be recognised and admired 
by all ages as long as the world shall last." Now local branches sent mes- 
sages; regiments remembered her, the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Rob- 
erts, wrote a warm personal message in his own hand; Queen Alexandra 
wrote, and the Kaiser sent a bouquet of flowers: ^'very beautiful and 


very large," wrote Miss Nightingale's companion to Henry Bonham 
Carter in December, 1907, "lily of the valley and splendid pink carna- 
tions with yards of pink ribbon to match. Do you think the Emperor 
will wish the Press Association informed?" This was the Emperor's 

May, 19 10 was the Jubilee of the founding of the Nightingale Train- 
ing School, and to mark the occasion a meeting was held in New York 
in the Carnegie Hall at which the Public Orator, Mr. Choate, delivered 
an eulogium on the great record and noble life of Miss Florence Night- 
ingale. There were now over one thousand training schools for nurses 
in the United States alone. 

She knew nothing. Slowly, with heartbreaking slowness, death ap- 
proached. Intervals of consciousness became less and less frequent. After 
February, 1910 she no longer spoke. The iron frame which had endured 
the cold and fevers of the Crimea, which had been taxed and driven and 
misused in forty years of gigantic labors, still lived on, deprived of 
memory, of sensation, of sight, but still alive. 

The end came on August 13, 19 10. She fell asleep about noon and 
did not wake again. 

In an immensely long will, which finds a place in collections of legal 
curiosities, she divided her possessions with meticulous detail, distribut- 
ing prints, books, furniture, and mementoes in hundreds of personal 
bequests. She expressed a wish "that no memorial whatever should mark 
the place where lies my Mortal Coil"; if this proved impossible she 
wished her body "to be carried to the nearest convenient burial ground 
accompanied by not more than two persons without trappings." A 
simple cross without her name, only with initials, and date of birth and 
death was to mark the spot. She also directed that her body should be 
given "for dissection or post-mortem examination for the purposes of 
Medical Science." 

This was not done. But in deference to her wishes the offer of a na- 
tional funeral and burial in Westminster Abbey was declined. She was 
buried in the family grave at East Wellow, and her coffin was carried 
by six sergeants of the British Army. Her only memorial is a line on the 
family tombstone "F. N. Born 1820. Died 1910." She had lived for 
ninety years and three months. 



(i) MSS. 

The Nightingale Papers 

The Vekney Nightingale Papers 

The Herbert Papers 

The Mohl Nightingale Correspondence 

The Correspondence of Miss Hilary Bonham Carter 

The Correspondence of Mr. Frederick Verney 

The Leigh Smith Papers 

Place of piiblicatiou: Loj2don, U7iless otherivise stated 

Report upon the State of the Hospitals of the British Army in the 
Crimea and Scutari, together with an Appendix. Presented to both 
Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1855. (The Hospitals 

Report to the Right Hon. Lord Panmure, G.C.B., Etc., Minister at War, 
of the Proceedings of the Sanitary Commission Dispatched to the Seat 
OF War in the East, 1855-56. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by 
command of Her Majesty, March 1857. (The Sanitary Commission.) 

First, Second and Third Report from the Select Committee on the Army 


the House of Commons to be printed, i March 1855. (The Roebuck Com- 

Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Supplies of the British 
Army ln the Crimea, with the Evidence Annexed. Presented to both 
Houses of Parhament by Command of Her Majesty, 1856. (The McNeill 
and Tulloch Commission.) 

Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Regulations 
affecting the Sanitary Condition of the Army, the Organisation of 
Military Hospitals, and the Treatment of the Sick and Wounded; with 
Evidence and Appendix. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Com- 
mand of Her Majesty, 1858. (The Royal Sanitary Commission.) 


Royal Commission on the Sanitary State of the Army in India. Report 
OF THE Commissioners. Precis of Evidence. Minutes of Evidence. Ad- 
denda, 1863. (The Indian Sanitary Commission.) 

Suggestions in Regard to Sanitary Works required for Improving Indian 
Stations. Prepared by the Barrack and Hospital Improvement Commission, 

Memorandum of Measures Adopted for Sanitary Improvements in India 
UP to the End of 1867; together with Abstracts of the Sanitary Re- 
ports Hitherto Forwarded from Bengal, Madras and Bombay. Printed 
by order of the Secretary of State for India in Council, 1868. Ditto to the 
end of June 1869. Ditto to the end of June 1870. Ditto to the end of June 


The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine for the Practical Train- 
ing OF Deaconesses under the direction of the Rev. Pastor Fliedner, em- 
bracing the support and care of a Hospital, Infant and Industrial Schools, 
and a Female Penitentiary. Printed by the Inmates of the London Ragged 
Colonial Training School, 1851. 
- Letters from Egypt. Privately printed, 1854. 

Statements Exhibiting the Voluntary Contributions Received by A-liss 
Nightingale for the L^se of the British Hospitals in the East, with the 
Mode of their Distribution, in 1854, 1855, 1856. Harrison and Sons, 1857. 
B Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Ad- 
ministration OF the British Army. Founded Chiefly on the Experience 
OF THE Late War. Presented by Request to the Secretary of State for 
War. Privately printed for Miss Nightingale. Harrison and Sons, 1858. 

Subsidiary Notes as to the Introduction of Female Nursing into Military 
Hospitals in Peace and in War. Presented by Request to the Secretary 
OF State for War. Privately printed for Miss Nightingale. Harrison and 
Sons, 1858. 
I: A Contribution to the Sanitary History of the British Army during the 
Late War with Russia. Harrison and Sons, 1859. 

Notes on Hospitals. John W. Parker and Sons, 1859. 3rd edition, almost com- 
pletely rewritten, 1863. Longmans, Green and Co. 

Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth among the Ar- 
TizANs of England. Privately printed for Miss Nightingale. 3 vols. Eyre and 
Spottiswoode, i860. 

Notes on Nursing: What it is, and what it is not. By Florence Nightingale. 
2d ed. Harrison and Sons, i860. 

Army Sanitary Administration and its Reform under the late Lord 
Herbert. M'Corquodale and Co., 1862. 

Observations on the Evidence Contained in the Stational Reports Sub- 
mitted TO the Royal Commission on the Sanitary State of the Army 


IN India. By Florence Nightingale. (Reprinted from the Report of the 
Royal Corpmission), Edward Stanford, 1863. (The "Observations.") 

Introductory Notes on Lying-in Institutions. Together with a Proposal 
FOR Organising an Institution for Training Midwfves and Midwifery 
Nurses. By Florence Nightingale. Longmans, Green and Co., 1871. 
A Life or Death in India. A paper read at the meeting of the National Associa- 
tion for the promotion of Social Science, Norwich, 1873. With an Ap- 
pendix on life or death by irrigation, 1874. 

The Zemindar, the Sun, and the Watering Pot as Affecting Life or Death 
in India. Unpublished, proof copies among the Nightingale Papers, 1873- 

On Trained Nursing for the Sick Poor. By Florence Nightingale. The 
Metropolitan and National Nursing Association, 1876. 

Miss Florence Nightingale's Addresses to Probationer-Nurses in the 

"Nightingale Fund" School at St. Thomas's Hospital and Nurses who 

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Airey, Sir Richard, 169 

Albert, Prince Consort, 164, 185, 228, 

Alexander, Dr. Thomas, 100, 188, 195, 

218, 239 
Allen, Fanny, 16 
American Civil War, 255-256 
Army in India, health of (see Royal 

Commission on Health of the 

Army in India) 
Army Medical Service, reform of, 

266 ff. 
Ashburton, Lady, 215, 336 
Athena, F. N.'s pet owl, 55, 91, 154, 

Avon, transport, 145 

Balaclava, survivors in Scutari Hos- 
pital, 107, III ff.; F. N.'s visit to, 
Balfour, Dr. Graham, 188, 217 
Bermondsey, Rev. Mother, 93, 128, 

Bible stories, F. N.'s selection of, 329 
Blackwell, Dr. Elizabeth, 59, 232, 

Blackwood, Dr., in Crimea, 120, 129 
Blackwood, Lady Alicia, 1 20-1 21, 156 
Bonham Carter, Henry, secretary of 

Nightingale Fund, 320 
Bonham Carter, Hilary, F. N.'s 
cousin, 28, 35, 62-63, 66-67; re- 
places Aunt Mai as companion, 240, 
243-244; statuettes of F. N., 243- 
244; death, 283-284 

Bonham Carter, Joanna, sister of 
Fanny Nightingale, 3, 5, 14, 35 

Bracebridge, Charles Holte, 46, 52, 
95; in Scutari, 105, 121, 123, 125- 
127, 150, 155; attacks Army au- 
thorities, 159-160; death, 332 

Bracebridge, Mrs. Charles Holte 
(Selina), friendship with F. N., 46; 
visit to Egypt and Greece with F. 
N., 52, 54; work in Crimean War, 
91, 95, 105, 128, 142-143, 154-155; 
death, 332 

Bridgeman, Rev. Mother Frances, 
with Mary Stanley's nurses, 124, 
128-130, 132; rebels against F. N., 
158, 161, 170-171, 174 

British Nurses' Association, 352-354 

British Red Cross Aid Society, 320 

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 64 

Buckland, Professor, 45 

Bunsen, Baron, 29, 44, 49 

Burgoyne, General Sir John, opinion 
of Sidney Herbert, 250 

Cambridge, Duke of, 216, 251 
Canadian Expedition, F. N.'s help 

asked, 257 
Canning, Lady, 69-70, 77, 91 
Cardigan, Lord, 169 
Cardwell, Edward, 264-265 
Carter, Hilary Bonham (see Bonham 

Carter, Hilary) 
Cassandra, by F. N., 63 
Cattley, Mr., interpreter in Crimea, 


Chelsea Board Report, 193-194 

Childbirth mortahty, 304-305 

Cholera, in Crimean War, 83 ff., 1 1 1, 
137-140; in London, 79-80 

Christian, Princess, 352-354 

Christie, Miss, governess, 6 

Churchill, Lord Randolph, 347 

Civil War, F. N. organizes hospitals, 

Clarendon, Lord, 166 

Clark, Sir James, 184, 188-189, ^95 

Clarke, Mary, "Clarkey" (see Mohl, 

Clough, Arthur Hugh, 64; work for 
F. N., 211, 215, 224, 237, 240, 244- 
245, 256 

Clough, Miss, nurse in Crimea, 148, 

Codrington, Sir William, 159, 174 

Contagious Diseases Act, 267-268 

Cotton, Sir Arthur, 338 

Crimean War, 82 ff.; suffering of sick 
and wounded, 83-84; William 
Howard Russell's description in 
The Times, 84-86; condition of 
hospitals, 98 ff.; F. N.'s work at 
Scutari, 103 ff.; winter at Sebasto- 
pol, 133-134; McNeill and Tulloch 
report on inefficiency, 169-170; 
conclusion, 174, 176 

Croft, Mr., of St. Thomas's Hospital, 

Cuffe, Father Michael, denounces F. 
N., 128 

Cumming, Dr., at Scutari, 125-127, 
129-131, 146-147 

Daly, Timothy, pauper, case of, 296- 

Davis, Elizabeth, nurse, 130, 148-149 
De Grey, Lord {see Ripon, Marquis 

District nursing, 295, 305, 337 
Doctors in Scutari, hostility to F. N., 

103-104, 106; ask for her help, 113 

Dufferin, Marquis of, 347-349 
Dunant, Jean Henri, founder of In- 
ternational Red Cross, 322 

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 226 
Egyptian Campaign, 345-346 
Eliot, George, 64 
Eugenie, Empress, F. N.'s opinion 

of, 321 
Evans, Jane, nurse, 125, 176 

Farnall, H. B., Poor Law Inspector, 
297, 300, 302 

Farr, Dr. William, Royal Commis- 
sioner on Health of the Army, 188, 

277' 347 
Fauriel, Claude, 19-21, 28, 34 
Feminism {see Women, position of) 
FitzGerald, David, Purveyor-in- 

Chief, 149, 159; accuses F. N., 170- 

Fliedner, Theodore, founder of 

Kaiserswerth, 60-61 
Food in Scutari Hospital, 1 08-1 10 
Fowler, Dr., of Sahsbury Infirmary, 

France, F. N.'s visit to, 14-15 
Franco-Prussian War, F. N.'s work 

in, 320-322 
Free Gifts, 143, 148-149, 155-157 
Frere, Sir Bartle, member of India 

Council, 290-293, 323, 347 

Gale, Mrs., F. N.'s nurse and patient, 

Galton, Douglas, 216-217, 246, 254; 

as Assistant Under-Secretary of 

War, 263-264, 313; in British Red 

Cross Aid Society, 320 
Garibaldi, Giuseppe, meets F. N., 

Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, quoted, 

57; description of F. N., 79-81 
Gladstone, William Ewart, asks F. 

N. for memoir of Sidney Herbert, 


248-250; as Prime Minister, 313, 


Goodman, Sister Margaret, in Scu- 
tari, 106-107, ^^5i 13^ 

Gordon, General Charles George, 

Gordon Home for Destitute Boys, 


Hall, Sir John, Chief of Medical Staff, 
persecution of F. N., 144-146, 148- 
149, 155, 159-160, 164, 170-176, 190, 
202, 214-215 

Hardy, Gathorne, President of Poor 
Law Board, 301-303 

Hawes, Sir Benjamin, Under-Secre- 
tary at War Office, 157, 170, 182, 
213, 245-246, 263 

Hawthorne, Mrs., cousin of General 
Gordon, 343, 345 

Herbert, Sidney (Lord Herbert of 
Lea), meets F. N., 47; character, 
48; visits Kaiserswerth, 61; inquiry 
on hospitals, 78; appointed Secre- 
tary of War, 85-86; urges F. N. to 
go to Scutari, 86-89; sends unre- 
quested nurses to F. N., 1 21-123, 
130; asks for private information, 
136-137; goes out of War Office, 
138; honorary secretary of Night- 
ingale Fund, 163-164; F. N.'s appeal 
to him against criticism, 172-173; 
unsympathetic with her plans for 
reform, 181-182, 184-185; accepts 
chairmanship of Royal Commis- 
sion, 189-190; supports McNeill 
and Tulloch, 194-195; work on 
Royal Commission, 199-202, 205- 
206, 211, 214-215; breakdown of 
health, 218-219, 238ff ., 245-247; re- 
lationship with F. N., 219-220; 
early friendship with Caroline 
Norton, 220-221; marriage with 
Elizabeth a Court, 221; chairman of 
Royal Commission for India, 221- 

222; reappointed Secretary of War, 
222; work for reform of War 
Office, 222 ff., 239, 245-246; death, 
247; appreciated by F. N., not by 
others, 248-251; F. N.'s memoir of 
him, 249-250; Woolwich Military 
Hospital named for him, 254 

Herbert, Mrs. Sidney, 47-48, 59, 61, 
69, 77-78, 90, 123, 131, 199, 220-221, 
241, 243, 250 

Holland, Queen of, 216, 227, 281 

Hornby, Lady, description of F. N., 

Hospitals, conditions in 1845, 40-41, 
78-79; in Crimean War, 98 ff., 1 39- 
140; F. N.'s plans for improving, 
226-228; her wish to end her days 
in one, 324-325 

Howe, Dr. Ward, advises F. N., 33- 

Ilbert Bill on Indian magistrates, 341- 


India, race problems in, 341-342; sani- 
tary conditions in, 271-273, 277, 
290-294, 315-318, 348-350; taxa- 
tion, 349-350 

India Office, Sanitary Commission, 
290-294, 316 ff. 

Indian Mutiny, 218 

Indian Sanitary Commission, War 
Office (see Royal Commission on 
the Health of the Army in India) 

Institution for the Care of Sick Gen- 
tlewomen, 69-71; F. N.'s work in, 
74 ff. 

Introductory Notes on Lying-in In- 
stitutions, by F. N., 304-305, 319 

Irby, PauHna, F. N.'s companion, 

Irrigation in India, 338 
Italy, F. N.'s visit to, 15-16 

Joan of Arc, compared with F. N., 
12-13, 161-162 


Jones, Agnes, F. N.'s "best and dear- 
est pupil," at Liverpool Infirmary, 
298-299, 305-306 

Jowett, Benjamin, friendship with F. 
N., 237-238, 281-282, 325, 329, 340- 
341, 360-361 

Jubilee Institute for Nurses, 351 

Kaiserswerth, F. N. receives Year 
Book of, 44; her first visit and pam- 
phlet, ^^\ her life at, 60-61 

Kinglake, A. W., Invasion of the 
Cri?nea, 216 

King's College Hospital, 227 

King's College Training School for 
Midwives, 236, 304 

Koulali Hospital, 130-132, 158, 168 

Lawrence, Sir John, Viceroy of 
India, 275-279, 287, 290-292, 314- 

Lawson, Dr., at Scutari, 145-146 
Leeds Infirmary, 226 
Lefroy, Colonel, 173, 184, 188 
Lewis, Sir George, Secretary of War, 

251-252, 254, 261-262, 264 
Liverpool, district nursing in, 295- 

296, 305 
Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary, 

296, 298-299, 305-306 
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 164 
Lovelace, Lady, admires F, N., 45 
Lucan, Lord, 169 

Macdonald, Mr., The Times almoner 

in Crimea, 114 ,116 
McGrigor, Dr., at Scutari, 11 7-1 18, 

137, 146, 168 
McNeill, Sir John, 215, 237, 270, 347; 

inquiry into army supplies, 139, 

150, 169, 184, 186-187, J 9^1 1 93" 

Mai, Aunt (see Smith, Mrs. Samuel) 
Manning, Henry Edward, Cardinal, 


Martin, Sir James, on Royal Com- 
mission, 188 

Martineau, Harriet, 217-218; writes 
premature obituary for F. N., 207; 
appeals for her help in Civil War, 

Mary Gonzaga, Sister, nurse, 128 
Mayo, Lord, Viceroy of India, 315, 

Menzies, Dr., at Scutari, 84, 97, 102, 

105, 1 15-1 16, 145 
Metropolitan Nursing Association, 

Meyer, Dr., in Crimea, 125-126, 129 
Middlesex Hospital, 79, 227 
Midwives, training of, 236, 304-305 
Mill, John Stuart, 237, 301, 310-312, 

Milnes, Richard Monckton (Lord 

Houghton), in love with F. N., 29- 

31, 37, 43, 45-46, 51, 59; regard for 

her after his marriage, 78, 95, 163- 

164, 237, 254, 347 
Mohl, Julius, 19-21, 28, 45, 72, 95, 334 
Mohl, Madame (Mary Clarke, 

"Clarkey"), 18-21, 28, 34-35, 45, 

72-73, 281, 347 

Napier of Magdala, Lord, 127, 313- 
314, 316 

Napoleon III, 17, 321 

Netley Hospital, 191-193, 226 

Nicholson, Hannah, influence on F. 
N., 33,50-51 

Nicholson, Henry, in love with F. N., 
24, 29, 32, 34; his proposal rejected, 
36; dies, 58 

Nicholson, Marianne (Mrs. Douglas 
Galton), 24, 32, 34, 36, 71-72, 216 

Nicholson, Mrs. G. T., sister of 
Fanny Nightingale, 2, 5, 23 

Nightingale, Florence, birth at Flor- 
ence, i; childhood, 5-10; educated 
by father, 8; devotion to Aunt Mai, 
6, 10, 25, 212; private notes and 


diaries, 12; experience with inner 
voices, 12-13; travels in France and 
Italy, 13-21; interest in Italian free- 
dom, 16-17, 49; meets Mary Clarke 
and Julius Mohl, 20-21; social life 
in London, 23-24; infatuation with 
Marianne Nicholson, 24, 36; in- 
fluence of Aunt Mai, 25-26; studies 
mathematics, 26-28; discontent 
with life, 28-29, 35» 42-43; meets 
Richard Monckton Milnes, 29-31; 
aware of human suffering, 31-32, 
34; trance-like states, 32, 35, 46-47, 
5 1 ; influence of Hannah Nicholson, 
33, 50-51; realizes vocation for 
nursing, 33, 37-38; consults Dr. 
Ward Howe, 34; illness, 35-36; re- 
jects Henry Nicholson's proposal, 
36; nurses her grandmother and 
Mrs. Gale, 37; family opposes her 
plans, 38, $6; comments on hospitals 
and nurses, 40-41; studies hospital 
reports, 43-44; receives Kaisers- 
werth Year Book, 44; renunciation 
of marriage, 44, 46, 51; friendship 
with Selina Bracebridge, 46; illness, 
46-47; visit to Rome, 46-49; meets 
Sidney Herbert, 47; meets Mary 
Stanley, 48-49; refuses to marry 
Richard Monckton Milnes, 51; 
mental and physical distress, 52; 
journey to Egypt and Greece, 52- 
55; pets, 55, 154, 178, 285; visits 
Kaiserswerth and writes pamphlet, 
55; family discouragement, 57-60, 
65-68, 70-71; studies at Kaisers- 
werth, 60-62; opinion of family 
life, Cassandra pamphlet, 62-63; in- 
terest in Roman Catholic Church, 
64-65; position in Institution for 
the Care of Sick Gentlewomen, 69- 
72, 74 ff.; takes rooms of her own, 
73; nurses cholera patients, 79-80; 
Mrs. Gaskell's description of her, 
79-81; Sidney Herbert asks her to 

go to Scutari, 86-90; journey to 
Scutari, 94-97; work there, 103 ff.; 
meets hostility of doctors, 106-107; 
survivors of Balaclava at hospital, 
107, 111-113; doctors ask for her 
help, 113, 116; her administration 
of the hospital, ii6ff.; difficulties 
with nurses, 1 19-120, 156; anger 
over Sidney Herbert's interference, 
121-123, 130; arrival of Mary Stan- 
ley's party, 1 21-130; casualties 
from Sebastopol, 133-137; epi- 
demic in hospital, 137-140; opinion 
of her colleagues, 141-143; con- 
flicts with Dr. John Hall, 144-146; 
inspects hospital at Balaclava, 148- 
152; ill with Crimean fever, 152- 
154; Miss Salisbury complains of 
her conduct, 156-157; trouble with 
Mother Bridgeman, 158; Brace- 
bridge's attack on Army authori- 
ties, 159-160; popular admiration in 
England, 162-163, 183-184; reforms 
treatment of soldiers, 165-168; Fitz- 
gerald's complaint against her, 170- 
172; her position confirmed, 173- 
174; ends work at Scutari, 176-177, 
homecoming, 178-181; received 
by Queen Victoria at Balmoral, 
184-187; plans Royal Commission 
on Health of the Army, 184-195; 
difficulties with mother and sister, 
196-199; work with Royal Com- 
mission, 198-206, 212-216; Notes 
on Matters Affecting the Health, 
Efficiency arid Hospital Adminis- 
tration of the British Army, 203- 
205, 217; serious illness, 206 ff., 223- 
224; joined by Aunt Mai, protected 
from family, 208-209; prepares for 
death, 211-212; relationship with 
Sidney Herbert, 219-220; work for 
Royal Commission on Health of 
the Army in India, 218, 221-225, 
270-279, 287-288, 290; concern for 


Nightingale, Florence {continued) 
reform of War Office, 222 ff., 245- 
246, 261-269; Notes on Hospitals, 
226; plans for improving hospitals, 
226-228; establishes Nightingale 
Training School for Nurses, 228, 
231-236; Notes on Nursing, 229- 
231; establishes King's College 
Training School for Midwives, 
236; Suggestions for Thought, 236- 
237; friendship with Benjamin 
Jowett, 237-238, 281-282; Sidney 
Herbert's illness, 239 ff., 245-247; 
Aunt Mai leaves, replaced by 
Hilary Bonham Carter, 240, 243- 
244; statuettes, 243-244; apprecia- 
tion of Sidney Herbert after his 
death, 248-251, 253; memoir of him, 
249-250; retires to Hampstead, 
251, 253-254; organizes hospitals 
for Civil War, 255-256; her help 
asked for Canadian Expedition, 
257; her criticism of women, 258- 
260, 306-307, ^10-^1 2;her Observa- 
tions for Royal Commission on 
Health of the Army in India, 271- 
275; advises Sir John Lawrence, 
Viceroy, 275-277; Suggestions in 
Regard to Sanitary Works, i-j-]; 
meets Garibaldi, 281; moves to 
South Street, 282-283; irritration 
with Dr, Sutherland, 285-287; 
visits her mother after nine years' 
absence, 289-290; organizes Sani- 
tary Commission of India Office, 
290-294; William Rathbone con- 
sults her on training of nurses, 295- 
296; reform of workhouse nursing 
in London, 296-301; influence on 
improvement of Poor Laws, 297- 
303; sends Agnes Jones to Liver- 
pool Workhouse Infirmary, 298- 
299, 305-306; investigates lying- 
in hospitals, 304-305; opinion of 
nursing as a career, 306-312; re- 

newed concern for India, 313-318, 

337-339. 341-343. 348-350; work in 
Franco-Prussian War, 320-322; 
meets founder of Red Cross, 322; 
plans to end her days in a hospital, 
324-325; visits her parents, 326- 
327; improvement of Nightingale 
Training School, 326-328, 334-337; 
essays on moral law, 329; selection 
of Bible stories, 329; mysticism, 
330; care of her mother after her 
father's death, 330-331, 333, 339; 
intimacy with her nurses, 334-337; 
helps to organize London district 
nursing, 337; work with General 
Gordon, 343-345; advice in Egyp- 
tian campaign, 345-346; considers 
1887 her Jubilee year, 348; Jubilee 
Institute for Nurses, 351; opposi- 
tion to standardized training for 
nurses, 351-354; peaceful old age, 
355-358; interest in lady health mis- 
sioners, 360; honored at Victorian 
Era Exhibition in 1897, 362-363; 
becomes a legend, 362-363, 365; 
blindness and loss of memory, 363- 
365; receives Order of Merit, 365; 
death and burial, 366 
Nightingale, Frances Smith (Fan- 
ny), mother of Florence, 1-3; mar- 
riage, 3-4; plans for her daughters, 
11-12, 21; visit to France and Italy, 
15-21; social success, 30-31; op- 
poses F. N.'s plans for nursing, 38, 
46, 52, 57; relationship with her 
daughters, 57, 62, 6^, 67-68; admi- 
ration of F. N.'s success, 90-91, 164; 
interference with F. N. after her 
return, 196-199; visits F. N. during 
her illness, 223-224; comments on 
statuettes, 244; F. N. visits her after 
nine years' absence, 289-290; old 
age, 319, 326-327, 329; dependent 
on F. N. after her husband's death, 
33^331. 333; dies, 339 


Nightingale, Parthenope {see Ver- 

ney, Lady) 
Nightingale, Peter, uncle of W. E. 

N., 3-4 

Nightingale, William Edward (W. 
E. N.), father of Florence, family 
and marriage, i, 3-4; name changed 
from Shore, 3; character, 3, 5-7, ii; 
educates his daughters, 8; candidate 
for Parliament, lo-ii; interest in 
Italian freedom, 16-17; opposes F. 
N.'s plans for nursing, 38, 50, 57; 
distress over family conflicts, 70- 
71; gives F. N. an allowance, 71; 
worried after her return, 196, 198, 
208; helps to buy house for her, 
282-283; o'd 3ge, 319, 326-327; 
death, 330 

Nightingale Fund for Training Nur- 
ses, 163-165, 228, 231-233, 304 

Nightingale Training School, 228, 
231-236, 326-328, 334-337; work of 
nurses trained in, 350; Jubilee in 
1910, 366 

Northbrook, Lord, Viceroy of India, 

Northcote, Sir Stafford, 292-293 
Norton, Caroline, relationship with 

Sidney Herbert, 220-221 
Notes on Hospitals, by F. N., 226 
Notes on Matters Affecting the 
Health, Efficiency and Hospital 
Adininistration of the British 
Army, by F. N., 134, 196, 203-205, 
Notes on Nursing, by F. N., 229-231 
Nuns as nurses, 92-93, 123-129, 158- 


Nurses, F. N. realizes need for train- 
ing of, 37-38, 79; incompetence of, 
41; needed in Crimean War, 86-88, 
91-93; troubles at Scutari, 105-108, 
1 19-120, 156; Mary Stanley's party, 
124-126; F. N. establishes Nightin- 
gale Training School for, 228, 231- 

236; employed in India, 291-292; 
at Liverpool Workhouse Infir- 
mary, 298-299; F. N.'s opinion of 
nursing as a career, 306-312; her 
intimacy with students, 334-337; 
success of Training School, 350; 
F. N.'s opposition to standardized 
training, 351-354 

Observations for Indian Sanitary 
Commission, by F, N., 271-275 

Osborne, Rev. Sidney Godolphin, in 
Crimea, 11 2-1 13, 141 

Palmerston, Lady, 28, 79 

Palmerston, Lord, 28, 64, 138, 166, 
192, 214, 222, 262, 265, 284, 300 

Panmure, Lord (later Earl of Dal- 
housie), 269, 333; sends Sanitary 
Commission to Scutari, 138-140, 
146; as Secretary of War, 158, 166- 
167, 169, 173-174, 181; doubtui sup- 
port of Royal Commission, 185- 
187, 189-195, 213-214 

Paulet, Lord William, Com