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Title: Florence Nightingale to her Nurses - A selection from Miss Nightingale's addresses to - probationers and nurses of the Nightingale school at St. - Thomas's hospital
Author: Nightingale, Florence
Language: English
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                         FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

                             TO HER NURSES

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                      MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

                      LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA

                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

                      NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO
                        DALLAS · SAN FRANCISCO

                   THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.


           [Illustration: Photo of Florence Nightingale
		                   with her signature]

                         Florence Nightingale

                             to her Nurses

                     OF THE NIGHTINGALE SCHOOL AT
                         ST. THOMAS’S HOSPITAL

                      MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

                      ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON




Between 1872 and 1900 Miss Nightingale used, when she was able, to send
an annual letter or address to the probationer-nurses of the Nightingale
School at St. Thomas’ Hospital, “and the nurses who have been trained
there.”[1] These addresses were usually read aloud by Sir Harry Verney,
the chairman of the Nightingale Fund, in the presence of the
probationers and nurses, and a printed copy or a lithographed facsimile
of the manuscript was given to each of the nurses present, “for private
use only.” A few also were written for the Nightingale Nurses serving in

The letters were not meant for publication, and indeed are hardly
suitable to be printed as a whole as there is naturally a good deal of
repetition in them. Since Miss Nightingale’s death, however, heads of
nursing institutions and others have asked for copies of the addresses
to be read or given to nurses, and her family hope that the publication
of a selection may do something to carry further the intention with
which they were originally written.

Perhaps, too, not only nurses, but others, may care to read some of
these letters. There is a natural desire to understand the nature of a
great man’s or woman’s influence, and we see in the addresses something
at least of what constituted Miss Nightingale’s power. Her earnest care
for the nurses, her intense desire that they should be “perfect,” speak
in every line. They do not, of course, give full expression to the
writer’s mind. They were written after she had reached middle age, as
from a teacher of long and wide experience to pupils much younger than
herself--pupils some of whom had had very little schooling and did not
easily read or write. The want of even elementary education and of
habits and traditions of discipline which grow in schools are
difficulties less felt now than in 1872, when Miss Nightingale’s first
letter to nurses was written. At that time it was necessary in
addressing such an audience to write very simply, without learned
allusions (though some such appear in disguise) and without too great
severity and concentration of style. The familiar words of the Bible and
hymns could appeal to the least learned among her hearers, and never
lost their power with Miss Nightingale herself.

But through the simple and popular style of the addresses something of a
philosophical framework can be seen. When Miss Nightingale hopes that
her nurses are a step further on the way to becoming “perfect as our
Father in Heaven is perfect,” she has in mind the conception she had
formed of a moral government of the world in which science, activity,
and religion were one. In her unpublished writings these ideas are dwelt
on again and again. They are clearly explained in her note on a prayer
of St. Teresa:--

“We cannot really attach any meaning to _perfect_ thought and feeling,
unless its perfection has been attained through life and work, unless it
is being realised in life and work. It is in fact a contradiction to
suppose Perfection to exist except at work, to exist without exercise,
without ‘working out.’ We cannot conceive of _perfect_ wisdom, perfect
happiness, except as having _attained_, attained perfection through
work. The ideas of the Impassible and of Perfection are
contradictions.... This seems to be the very meaning of the word
‘perfect’--‘made through’--made perfect through
suffering--completed--working out; and even the only idea we can form of
the _Perfect Perfect_ ... ‘God in us,’ ‘grieving the Holy Spirit of
God,’ ‘My Father worketh and I work’--these seem all indications of this
truth.... We cannot explain or conceive of Perfection except as having
worked through Imperfection or sin.... The Eternal Perfect almost
pre-supposes the Eternal Imperfect.” Hence her deep interest in the
“laws which register the connection of physical conditions with moral
actions.” She quotes elsewhere a scientific writer who delighted in the
consciousness that his books were to the best of his ability expounding
the ways of God to man. “I can truly say,” she continues, “that the
feeling he describes has been ever present to my mind. Whether in having
a drain cleaned out, or in ventilating a hospital ward, or in urging
the principles of healthy construction of buildings, or of temperance
and useful occupation, or of sewerage and water supply, I always
considered myself as obeying a direct command of God, and it was ‘with
the earnestness and reverence due to’ God’s laws that I urged them....
For mankind to create the circumstances which create mankind through
these His Laws is the ‘way of God.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

The letters have needed a little editing. Miss Nightingale had great
power of succinct and forcible statement on occasion, but here she was
not tabulating statistics nor making a businesslike summary for a
Minister in a hurry. Certain ideas had to be impressed, in the first
place orally, on minds which were not all highly trained; and for this
she naturally wrote in a discursive way. She did not correct the proofs.
As readers of her _Life_ will know, she was burdened with other work and
delicate health, and she found any considerable revision difficult and
uncongenial. It has therefore been necessary to make a few emendations,
such as occasionally correcting an obvious misprint, adding a missing
word, and taking out brackets, stops, and divisions which obscured the
sense. A few of the many repetitions and one or two passages only
interesting at the time, have also been left out. The object has been to
change as little as possible, and I hope nothing has been done that Miss
Nightingale would not have done herself if she had corrected the proofs.
The first two addresses give perhaps the fullest expression of the main
theme to which she returns again and again. Others have been chosen
chiefly for the sake of characteristic illustrations of the same theme.



LONDON, _May, 1872_.

For us who Nurse, our Nursing is a thing, which, unless in it we are
making _progress_ every year, every month, every week, take my word for
it we are going _back_.

The more experience we gain, the more progress we can make. The progress
you make in your year’s training with us is as nothing to what you must
make every year _after_ your year’s training is over.

A woman who thinks in herself: “Now I am a ‘full’ Nurse, a ‘skilled’
Nurse, I have learnt all that there is to be learnt”: take my word for
it, she does not know _what a Nurse is_, and she never _will_ know; she
is _gone_ back already.

Conceit and Nursing cannot exist in the same person, any more than new
patches on an old garment.

Every year of her service a good Nurse will say: “I learn something
every day.”

I have had more experience in all countries and in different ways of
Hospitals than almost any one ever had before (there were no
opportunities for learning in _my_ youth such as you have had); but if I
could recover strength so much as to walk about, I would begin all over
again. I would come for a year’s training to St. Thomas’ Hospital under
your admirable Matron (and I venture to add that she would find me the
closest in obedience to all our rules), sure that I should learn every
day, learn all the more for my past experience.

And then I would try to be learning every day to the last hour of my
life. “And when his legs were cuttit off, He fought upon his stumps,”
says the ballad; so, when I could no longer learn by nursing others, I
would learn by being nursed, by seeing Nurses practise upon _me_. It is
all experience.

Agnes Jones, who died as Matron of the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary
(whom you may have heard of as “Una”), wrote from the Workhouse in the
last year of her life: “I mean to stay at this post forty years, God
willing; but I must come back to St. Thomas’ as soon as I have a
holiday; I shall learn so much more” (she had been a year at St.
Thomas’) “now that I have more experience.”

When I was a child, I remember reading that Sir Isaac Newton, who was,
as you know, perhaps the greatest discoverer among the Stars and the
Earth’s wonders who ever lived, said in his last hours: “I seem to
myself like a child who has been playing with a few pebbles on the
sea-shore, leaving unsearched all the wonders of the great Ocean

By the side of this put a Nurse leaving her Training School and
reckoning up what she has learnt, ending with--“The only wonder is that
one head can contain it all.” (What a small head it must be then!)

I seem to have remembered all through life Sir Isaac Newton’s words.

And to nurse--that is, under Doctor’s orders, to cure or to prevent
sickness and maiming, Surgical and Medical,--is a field, a road, of
which one may safely say: There is no end-no end in what we may be
learning every day.[2]

I have sometimes heard: “But have we not reason to be conceited, when we
compare ourselves to ... and ...?” (naming drinking, immoral, careless,
dishonest Nurses). I will not think it possible that such things can
ever be said among _us_. Taking it even upon the worldly ground, what
woman among us, instead of looking to that which is higher, will of her
own accord compare herself with that which is lower--with immoral women?

Does not the Apostle say: “I count not myself to have apprehended: but
this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, _and
reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward_ the
mark for the prize of the _high calling_ of God in Christ Jesus”; and
what higher “calling” can we have than Nursing? But then we must “press
forward”; we have indeed _not_ “apprehended” if we have not
“apprehended” even so much as this.

There is a little story about “the Pharisee” known over all Christendom.
Should Christ come again upon the earth, would He have to apply that
parable to us?

And now, let me say a thing which I am sure must have been in all your
minds before this: if, unless we improve every day in our Nursing, we
are going back: how much more must it be, that, unless we improve every
day in our conduct as Christian women, followers of Him by whose name we
call ourselves, we shall be going back?

This applies of course to every woman in the world; but it applies more
especially to us, because we know no one calling in the world, except it
be that of teaching, in which _what we can do_ depends so much upon
_what we are_. To be _a good Nurse_ one must be _a good woman_; or one
is truly nothing but a tinkling bell. To be a good woman at all, one
must be an improving woman; for stagnant waters sooner or later, and
stagnant air, as we know ourselves, always grow corrupt and unfit for

Is any one of us a _stagnant woman_? Let it not have to be said by any
one of us: I left this Home a worse woman than I came into it. I came in
with earnest purpose, and now I think of little but my own satisfaction
and a good place.

When the head and the hands are very full, as in Nursing, it is so easy,
so very easy, if the heart has not an earnest purpose for God and our
neighbour, to end in doing one’s work only for oneself, and not at
all--even when we seem to be serving our neighbours--not at all for them
or for God.

I should hardly like to talk of a subject which, after all, must be very
much between each one of us and her God,--which is hardly a matter for
_talk_ at all, and certainly not for me, who cannot be among you (though
there is nothing in the world I should so dearly wish), but that I
thought perhaps you might like to hear of things which persons in the
same situation, that is, in different Training Schools on the Continent,
have said to me.

I will mention two or three:

1. One said, “The greatest help I ever had in life was that we were
taught in our Training School always to raise our hearts to God the
first thing on waking in the morning.”

Now it need hardly be said that we cannot make a rule for this; a rule
will not teach this, any more than making a rule that the chimney shall
not smoke will make the smoke go up the chimney.

If we occupy ourselves the last thing at night with rushing about,
gossiping in one another’s rooms; if our last thoughts at night are of
some slight against ourselves, or spite against another, or about each
other’s tempers, it is needless to say that our first thoughts in the
morning will not be of God.

Perhaps there may even have been some quarrel; and if those who pretend
to be educated women indulge in these irreligious uneducated disputes,
what a scandal before those less educated, to whom an example, not a
stone of offence, should be set!

“A thousand irreligious cursed hours” (as some poet says), have not
seldom, in the lives of all but a few whom we may truly call Saints upon
earth, been spent on some feeling of ill-will. And can we expect to be
really able to lift up our hearts the first thing in the morning to the
God of “good will towards men” if we do this?

I speak for myself, even more perhaps than for others.

2. Another woman[3] once said to me:--“I was taught in my Training
School never to have those long inward discussions with myself, those
interminable conversations inside myself, which make up so much more of
our own thoughts than we are aware. If it was something about my duties,
I went straight to my Superiors, and asked for leave or advice; if it
was any of those useless or ill-tempered thoughts about one another, or
those that were put over us, we were taught to lay them before God and
get the better of them, before they got the better of us.”

A spark can be put out while it is a spark, if it falls on our dress,
but not when it has set the whole dress in flames. So it is with an
ill-tempered thought against another. And who will tell how much of our
thoughts these occupy?

I suppose, of course, that those who think themselves better than others
are bent upon setting them a better example.


And this brings me to something else. (I can always correct others
though I cannot always correct myself.) It is about jealousies and
punctilios as to ranks, classes, and offices, when employed in one good
work. What an injury this jealous woman is doing, not to others, or not
to others so much as to herself; she is doing it to herself! She is not
getting out of her work the advantage, the improvement to her own
character, the nobleness (for to be useful is the only true nobleness)
which God has appointed her that work to attain. She is not getting out
of her work what God has given it her for; but just the contrary.

(Nurses are not children, but women; and if they can’t do this for
themselves, no one can for them.)

I think it is one of Shakespeare’s heroes who says “I laboured to be
wretched.” How true that is! How true it is of some people all their
lives; and perhaps there is not one of us who could not say it with
truth of herself at one time or other: I laboured to be mean and
contemptible and small and ill-tempered, by being revengeful of petty

A woman once said: “What signifies it to me that this one does me an
injury or the other speaks ill of me, if I do not deserve it? The injury
strikes God before it strikes me, and if He forgives it, why should not
I? I hope I love Him better than I do myself.” This may sound fanciful;
but is there not truth in it?

What a privilege it is, the work that God has given us Nurses to do, if
we will only let Him have His own way with us--a greater privilege to
my mind than He has given to any woman (except to those who are
teachers), because _we_ can always be useful, always “ministering” to
others, real followers of Him who said that He came “not to be
ministered unto” but to minister. Cannot we fancy Him saying to _us_, If
any one thinks herself greater among you, let her minister unto others.

This is not to say that we are to be doing other people’s work. Quite
the reverse. The very essence of all good organisation is that everybody
should do her (or his) own work in such a way as to help and not to
hinder every one else’s work.

But this being arranged, that any one should say, I am “put upon” by
having to associate with so-and-so; or by _not_ having so-and-so to
associate with; or, by not having such a post; or, by having such a
post; or, by my Superiors “walking upon me,” or, “dancing” upon me (you
may laugh, but such things have actually been said), or etc.,
etc.,--this is simply making the peace of God impossible, the call of
God (for in all work He calls us) of none effect; it is grieving the
Spirit of God; it is doing our best to make all free-will associations

In “Religious Orders” this is provided against by enforcing blind,
unconditional obedience through the fears and promises of a Church.

Does it not seem to you that the greater freedom of secular Nursing
Institutions, as it requires (or ought to require) greater individual
responsibility, greater self-command in each one, greater nobleness in
each, greater _self-possession_ in _patience_--so, that very need of
self-possession, of greater nobleness in each, requires (or ought to
require) greater thought in each, more discretion, and higher, not less,
obedience? For the obedience of intelligence, not the obedience of
slavery, is what _we_ want.

The slave obeys with stupid obedience, with deceitful evasion of
service, or with careless eye service. Now, we cannot suppose God to be
satisfied or pleased with stupidity and carelessness. The free woman in
Christ obeys, or rather _seconds_ all the rules, all the orders given
her, with intelligence, with all her heart, and with all her strength,
and with all her _mind_.

“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

And you who have to be Head Nurses, or Sisters of Wards, well know what
I mean, for you have to be Ward _Mistresses_ as well as Nurses; and how
can she (the Ward Mistress) command if she has not learnt how to obey?
If she cannot enforce upon herself to obey rules with discretion, how
can she enforce upon her Ward to obey rules with discretion?


And of those who have to be Ward Mistresses, as well as those who are
Ward Mistresses already, or in any charge of trust or authority, I will
ask, if Sisters and Head Nurses will allow me to ask of them, as I have
so often asked of myself--

What is it that made our Lord speak “as one having authority”? What was
the key to _His_ “authority”? Is it anything which we, trying to be
“like Him,” could have--like Him?

What are the qualities which give us authority, which enable us to
exercise some charge or control over others with “authority”? It is not
the charge or position itself, for we often see persons in a position of
authority, who have no authority at all; and on the other hand we
sometimes see persons in the very humblest position who exercise a great
influence or authority on all around them.

The very first element for having control over others is, of course, to
have control over oneself. If I cannot take charge of myself, I cannot
take charge of others. The next, perhaps, is--not to try to “seem”
anything, but to _be_ what we would _seem_.

A person in charge must be felt more than she is heard--not heard more
than she is felt. She must fulfil her charge without noisy disputes, by
the silent power of a consistent life, in which there is no _seeming_,
and no hiding, but plenty of discretion. She must exercise authority
without appearing to exercise it.

A person, but more especially a woman, in charge must have a quieter and
more impartial mind than those under her, in order to influence them by
the best part of them and not by the worst.

We (Sisters) think that we must often make allowances for them, and
sometimes put ourselves in their place. And I will appeal to Sisters to
say whether we must not observe more than we speak, instead of speaking
more than we observe. We must not give an order, much less a reproof,
without being fully acquainted with both sides of the case. Else, having
scolded wrongfully, we look rather foolish.

The person in charge every one must see to be just and candid, looking
at both sides, not moved by entreaties or, by likes and dislikes, but
only by justice; and always reasonable, remembering and not forgetting
the wants of those of whom she is in charge.

She must have a keen though generous insight into the characters of
those she has to control. They must know that she _cares for_ them even
while she is checking them; or rather that she checks them _because_ she
cares for them. A woman _thus_ reproved is often made your friend for
life; a word dropped in this way by a Sister in charge (I am speaking
now solely to Sisters and Head Nurses) may sometimes show a probationer
the unspeakable importance of this year of her life, when she must sow
the seed of her future nursing in this world, and of her future life
through eternity. For although future years are of importance to train
the plant and make it come up, yet if there is no seed nothing will come

Nay, I appeal again to Sisters’ own experience, whether they have not
known patients feel the same of words dropped before _them_.

We had in one of the Hospitals which we nurse a little girl patient of
seven years old, the child of a bad mother, who used to pray on her
knees (when she did not know she was heard) her own little prayer that
she might not forget, when she went away to what she already knew to be
a bad life, the good words she had been taught. (In this great London,
the time that children spend in Hospital is sometimes the only time in
their lives that they hear good words.) And sometimes we have had
patients, widows of journeymen for instance, who had striven to the last
to do for their children and place them all out in service or at work,
die in our Hospitals, thanking God that they had had this time to
collect their thoughts before death, and to die “so comfortably” as they
expressed it.

But, if a Ward is not kept in such a spirit that patients can collect
their thoughts, whether it is for life or for death, and that children
can hear good words, of course these things will not happen.

Ward management is only made possible by kindness and sympathy. And the
mere way in which a thing is said or done to patient, or probationer,
makes all the difference. In a Ward, too, where there is no _order_
there can be no “authority”; there must be noise and dispute.

Hospital Sisters are the only women who may be in charge really of men.
Is this not enough to show how essential to them are those qualities
which alone constitute real authority?

Never to have a quarrel with another; never to say things which rankle
in another’s mind; never when we are uncomfortable ourselves to make
others uncomfortable--for quarrels come out of such very small matters,
a hasty word, a sharp joke, a harsh order: without regard to these
things, how can we take charge?

We may say, so-and-so is too weak if she minds that. But, pray, are we
not weak in the same way ourselves?

I have been in positions of authority myself and have always tried to
remember that to use such an advantage inconsiderately is--cowardly. To
be sharp upon them is worse in me than in them to be sharp upon me. No
one can trample upon others, and govern them. To win them is half, I
might say the whole, secret of “having charge.” If you find your way to
their hearts, you may do what you like with them; and that authority is
the most complete which is least perceived or asserted.

The world, whether of a Ward or of an Empire, is governed not by many
words but by few; though some, especially women, seem to expect to
govern by many words--by talk, and nothing else.

There is scarcely anything which interferes so much with charge over
others as rash and inconsiderate talking, or as wearing one’s thoughts
on one’s cap. There is scarcely anything which interferes so much with
their respect for us as any want of simplicity in us. A person who is
always thinking of herself--how she looks, what effect she produces upon
others, what others will think or say of her--can scarcely ever hope to
have charge of them to any purpose.

We ought to be what we want to seem, or those under us will find out
very soon that we only seem what we ought to be.

If we think only of the duty we have in hand, we may hope to make the
others think of it too. But if we are fidgety or uneasy about trifles,
can we hope to impress them with the importance of essential things?

There is so much talk about persons now-a-days. Everybody criticises
everybody. Everybody seems liable to be drawn into a current, against
somebody, or in favour of every one doing what she likes, pleasing
herself, or getting promotion.

If any one gives way to all these distractions, and has no root of
calmness in herself, she will not find it in any Hospital or Home.

“All this is as old as the hills,” you will say. Yes, it is as old as
Christianity; and is not that the more reason for us to begin to
practise it to-day? “_To-day_, if ye will hear my voice,” says the
Father; “_To-day_ ye shall be with me in Paradise,” says the Son; and He
does not say this only to the dying; for Heaven may begin here, and “The
kingdom of heaven is within,” He tells us.

Most of you here present will be in a few years in charge of others,
filling posts of responsibility. _All_ are on the threshold of active
life. Then our characters will be put to the test, whether in some
position of charge or of subordination, or both. Shall we be found
wanting? Unable to control ourselves, therefore unable to control
others? With many good qualities, perhaps, but owing to selfishness,
conceit, to some want of purpose, some laxness, carelessness, lightness,
vanity, some temper, habits of self-indulgence, or want of
disinterestedness, unequal to the struggle of life, the business of
life, and ill-adapted to the employment of Nursing, which we have chosen
for ourselves, and which, almost above all others, requires earnest
purpose, and the reverse of all these faults? Thirty years hence, if we
could suppose us all standing here again passing judgment on ourselves,
and telling sincerely why one has succeeded and another has failed; why
the life of one has been a blessing to those she has charge of, and
another has gone from one thing to another, pleasing herself, and
bringing nothing to good--what would we give to be able _now_ to see all
this before us?

Yet some of those reasons for failure or success we may anticipate now.
Because so-and-so was or was not weak or vain; because she could or
could not make herself respected; because she had no steadfastness in
her, or on the contrary because she had a fixed and steady purpose;
because she was selfish or unselfish, disliked or beloved; because she
could or could not keep her women together or manage her patients, or
was or was not to be trusted in Ward business. And there are many other
reasons which I might give you, or which you might give yourselves, for
the success or failure of those who have passed through this Training
School for the last eleven years.

Can we not see ourselves as others see us?

For the “world is a hard schoolmaster,” and punishes us without giving
reasons, and much more severely than any Training School can, and when
we can no longer perhaps correct the defect.

Good posts may be found for us; but can we keep them so as to fill them
worthily? Or are we but unprofitable servants in fulfilling any charge?

Yet many of us are blinded to the truth by our own self-love even to the
end. And we attribute to accident or ill-luck what is really the
consequence of some weakness or error in ourselves.

But “can we not see ourselves as God sees us?” is a still more important
question. For while we value the judgments of our superiors, and of our
fellows, which may correct our own judgments, we must also have a higher
standard which may correct theirs. We cannot altogether trust them, and
still less can we trust ourselves. And we know, of course, that the
worth of a life is not altogether measured by failure or success. We
want to see our purposes, and the ways we take to fulfil such charge as
may be given us, as they are in the sight of God. “Thou God seest me.”

And thus do we return to the question we asked before--how near can we
come to Him whose name we bear, when we call ourselves Christians? How
near to His gentleness and goodness--to His “authority” over others.[4]

And the highest “authority” which a woman especially can attain among
her fellow women must come from her doing God’s work here in the same
spirit, and with the same thoroughness, that Christ did, though we
follow him but “afar off.”


Lastly, it is charity to nurse sick bodies well; it is greater charity
to nurse well and patiently sick minds, tiresome sufferers. But there is
a greater charity even than these: to do good to those who are not good
to us, to behave well to those who behave ill to us, to serve with love
those who do not even receive our service with good temper, to forgive
on the instant any slight which we may have received, or may have
fancied we have received, or any worse injury.

If we cannot “do good” to those who “persecute” us--for we are not
“persecuted”: if we cannot pray “Father, forgive them, for they know not
what they do”--for none are nailing us to a cross: how much more must we
try to serve with patience and love any who use us spitefully, to nurse
with all our hearts any thankless peevish patients!

We Nurses may well call ourselves “blessed among women” in this, that we
can be always exercising all these three charities, and so fulfil the
work our God has given us to do.

Just as I was writing this came a letter from Mrs. Beecher Stowe, who
wrote _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_. She has so fallen in love with the character
of our Agnes Jones (“Una”)[5] which she had just read, that she asks
about the progress of our work, supposing that we have many more Unas.
They wish to “organise a similar movement” in America--a “movement” of
Unas--what a great thing that would be! Shall we all try to be Unas?

She ends, as I wish to end,--“Yours, in the dear name that is above
every other,”



_May 23, 1873._

MY DEAR FRIENDS,--Another year has passed over us. Nearly though not
quite all of us who were here at this time last year have gone their
several ways, to their several posts; some at St. Thomas’, some to
Edinburgh, some to Highgate. Nearly all are, I am thankful to say, well,
and I hope we may say happy. Some are gone altogether.

May this year have set us all one step farther, one year on our way to
becoming “perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect,” as it ought to
have done.

Some differences have been made in the School by our good Matron, who
toils for us early and late--to bring us on the way, we hope, towards
becoming “perfect.”

These differences--I leave it to you to say, improvements--are as you
see: our new Medical Instructor having vigorously taken us in hand and
giving us his invaluable teaching (1) in Medical and Surgical Nursing,
(2) in the elements of Anatomy. I need not say: Let us profit.

Next, in order to give more time and leisure to less tired bodies, the
Special Probationers have two afternoons in the week off duty for the
course of reading which our able Medical Instructor has laid down. And
the Nurse-Probationers have all one morning and one afternoon in the
week to improve themselves, in which our kind Home Sister assists them
by classes. And, again, I need not say how important it is to take the
utmost advantage of this. Do not let the world move on and leave us in
the wrong. Now that, by the law of the land, every child between five
and thirteen must be at school, it will be a poor tale, indeed, in their
after life for Nurses who cannot read, write, spell, and cypher well and
correctly, and read aloud easily, and take notes of the temperature of
cases, and the like. Only this last week, I was told by one of our own
Matrons of an excellent Nurse of her own to whom she would have given a
good place, only that she could neither read nor write well enough for

And may I tell you, not for envy, but for a generous rivalry, that you
will have to work hard if you wish St. Thomas’ Training School to hold
its own with other Schools rising up.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us be on our guard against the danger, not exactly of thinking too
well of ourselves (for no one consciously does this), but of isolating
ourselves, of falling into party spirit--always remembering that, if we
can do any good to others, we must draw others to us by the influence of
our characters, and not by any profession of what we are--least of all,
by a profession of Religion.

And this, by the way, applies peculiarly to what we are with our
patients. Least of all should a _woman_ try to exercise religious
influence with her patients, as it were, by a ministry, a chaplaincy. We
are not chaplains. It is what she _is_ in _herself_, and what comes out
of herself, out of what she _is_--that exercise a moral or religious
influence over her patients. No set form of words is of any use. And
patients are so quick to see whether a Nurse is consistent always in
herself--whether she _is_ what she _says_ to them. And if she is not, it
is no use. _If she is_, of how much use, unawares to herself, may the
simplest word of soothing, of comfort, or even of reproof--especially in
the quiet night--be to the roughest patient, who is there from drink, or
to the still innocent child, or to the anxious toil-worn mother or
husband! But if she wishes to do this, she must keep up a sort of divine
calm and high sense of duty in her own mind. Christ was alone, from time
to time, in the wilderness or on mountains. If _He_ needed this, how
much more must we?

Quiet in our own rooms (and a room of your own is specially provided for
each one here); a few minutes of calm thought to offer up the day to
God: how indispensable it is, in this ever increasing hurry of life!
When we live “so fast,” do we not require a breathing time, a moment or
two daily, to think where we are going? At this time, especially, when
we are laying the foundation of our after life, in reality the most
important time of all.

       *       *       *       *       *

And I am not at all saying that our patients have everything to learn
from _us_. On the contrary, we can, many a time, learn from them, in
patience, in true religious feeling and hope. One of our Sisters told me
that she had often learnt more from her patients than from any one else.
And I am sure I can say the same for myself. The poorest, the meanest,
the humblest patient may enter into the kingdom of Heaven before the
cleverest of us, or the most conceited. For, in another world, many,
many of the conditions of this world must be changed. Do we think of

       *       *       *       *       *

We have been, almost all of us, taught to pray in the days of our
childhood. Is there not something sad and strange in our throwing this
aside when most required by us, on the threshold of our active lives?
Life is a shallow thing, and more especially _Hospital_ life, without
any depth of religion. For it is a matter of simple experience that the
best things, the things which seem as if they most would make us feel,
become the most hardening if not rightly used.

And may I say a thing from my own experience? No training is of any use,
unless one can learn (1) to feel, and (2) to think out things for
oneself. And if we have not true religious feeling and purpose, Hospital
life--the highest of all things _with_ these--_without_ them becomes a
mere routine and bustle, and a very hardening routine and bustle.

One of our past Probationers said: “Our work must be the first thing,
but God must be in it.” “And He is not in it,” she added. But let us
hope that this is not so. I am sure it was not so with _her_. Let us try
to make it not so with any of us.

There are three things which one must have to prevent this degeneration
in oneself. And let each one of us, from time to time, tell, not any one
else, but herself, whether she has these less or more than when she
began her training here.

One is the real, deep, religious feeling and strong, personal, motherly
interest for each one of our patients. And you can see this motherly
interest in girls of twenty-one--we have had Sisters of not more than
that age who had it--and _not_ see it in women of forty.

The second is a strong practical (intellectual, if you will) interest in
the _case_, how it is going on. This is what makes the true Nurse.
Otherwise the patients might as well be pieces of furniture, and we the
housemaids, unless we see how interesting a thing Nursing is. This is
what makes us urge you to begin to observe the very first case you see.

The third is the pleasures of administration, which, though a fine word,
means only learning to manage a Ward well: to keep it fresh, clean,
tidy; to keep up its good order, punctuality; to report your cases with
absolute accuracy to the Surgeon or Physician, and first to report them
to the Sister; and to do all that is contained in the one word,
Ward-management: to keep wine-lists, diet-lists, washing-lists--that is
Sister’s work--and to do all the things no less important which
constitute Nurse’s work.

But it would take a whole book for me to count up these; and I am going
back to the first thing that we were saying: without deep religious
purpose how shallow a thing is Hospital life, which is, or ought to be,
the most inspiring! For, as years go on, we shall have others to train;
and find that the springs of religion are dried up within ourselves. The
patients we shall always have with us while we are Nurses. And we shall
find that we have no religious gift or influence with them, no word in
season, whether for those who are to live, or for those who are to die,
no, not even when they are in their last hours, and perhaps no one by
but _us_ to speak a word to point them to the Eternal Father and
Saviour; not even for a poor little dying child who cries: “Nursey, tell
me, oh, why is it so dark?” Then we may feel painfully about them what
we do not at present feel about ourselves. We may wish, both for our
patients and Probationers, that they had the restraints of the “fear” of
the most Holy God, to enable them to resist the temptation. We may
regret that our own Probationers seem so worldly and external. And we
may perceive too late that the deficiency in their characters began in
our own.

For, to all good women, _life_ is a prayer; and though we pray in our
own rooms, in the Wards and at Church, the end must not be confounded
with the means. We are the more bound to watch strictly over ourselves;
we have not less but more need of a high standard of duty and of life in
our Nursing; we must teach ourselves humility and modesty by becoming
more aware of our own weakness and narrowness, and liability to mistake
as Nurses and as Christians. Mere worldly success to any nobler, higher
mind is not worth having. Do you think Agnes Jones, or some who are now
living amongst us, cared much about worldly success? They cared about
efficiency, thoroughness. But that is a different thing.

We must condemn many of our own tempers when we calmly review them. We
must lament over training opportunities which we have lost, must desire
to become better women, better Nurses. That we all of us must feel. And
then, and not till then, will _life_ and _work_ among the sick become a

For prayer is communion or co-operation with God: the expression of a
_life_ among his poor and sick and erring ones. But when we speak with
God, our power of addressing Him, of holding communion with Him, and
listening to His still small voice, depends upon our will being one and
the same with His. _Is_ He our God, as He was Christ’s? To Christ He was
all, to us He seems sometimes nothing. Can we retire to rest after our
busy, anxious day in the Wards, with the feeling: “Lord, into Thy hands
I commend my spirit,” and those of such and such anxious cases;
remembering, too, that in the darkness, “Thou God seest me,” and seest
them too? Can we rise in the morning, almost with a feeling of joy that
we are spared another day to do Him service with His sick?--

    Awake, my soul, and with the sun,
    Thy daily stage of duty run.

Does the thought ever occur to us in the course of the day, that we will
correct that particular fault of mind, or heart, or temper, whether
slowness, or bustle, or want of accuracy or method, or harsh judgments,
or want of loyalty to those under whom or among whom we are placed, or
sharp talking, or tale-bearing or gossiping--oh, how common, and how old
a fault, as old as Solomon! “He that repeateth a matter, separateth
friends;” and how can people trust us unless they know that we are not
tale-bearers, who will misrepresent or improperly repeat what is said to
us? Shall we correct this, or any other fault, not with a view to our
success in life, or to our own credit, but in order that we may be able
to serve our Master better in the service of the sick? Or do we ever
seek to carry on the battle against light behaviour, against
self-indulgence, against evil tempers (the “world,” the “flesh,” and the
“devil”), and the temptations that beset us; conscious that in ourselves
we are weak, but that there is a strength greater than our own, “which
is perfected in weakness”? Do we think of God as the Eternal, into whose
hands our patients, whom we see dying in the Wards, must resign their
souls--into whose hands we must resign our own when we depart hence, and
ought to resign our own as entirely every morning and night of our lives
here; with whom do live the spirits of the just made perfect, with whom
do really live, _ought_ really as much to live, our spirits here, and
who, in the hour of death, in the hour of life, both for our patients
and ourselves, must be our trust and hope? We would not always be
thinking of death, for “we must live before we die,” and life, perhaps,
is as difficult as death. Yet the thought of a time when we shall have
passed out of the sight and memory of men may also help us to live; may
assist us in shaking off the load of tempers, jealousies, prejudices,
bitternesses, interests which weigh us down; may teach us to rise out of
this busy, bustling Hospital world, into the clearer light of God’s
Kingdom, of which, indeed, this Home is or might be a part, and
certainly and especially this Hospital.

This is the spirit of prayer, the spirit of conversation or communion
with God, which leads us in all our Nursing silently to think of Him,
and refer it to Him. When we hear in the voice of conscience _His_ voice
speaking to us; when we are aware that He is the witness of everything
we do, and say, and think, and also the source of every good thing in
us; and when we feel in our hearts the struggle against some evil
temper, then God is fighting _with_ us against envy and jealousy,
against selfishness and self-indulgence, against lightness, and
frivolity, and vanity, for “our better self against our worse self.”

And thus, too, the friendships which have begun at this School may last
through life, and be a help and strength to us. For may we not regard
the opportunity given for acquiring friends as one of the uses of this
place? and Christian friendship, in uniting us to a friend, as uniting
us at the same time to Christ and God? Christ called His disciples
friends, adding the reason, “because He had told them all that He had
heard of the Father,” just as women tell their whole mind to their

But we all know that there are dangers and disappointments in
friendships, especially in women’s friendships, as well as joys and
sorrows. A woman may have an honourable desire to know those who are her
superiors in education, in the School, or in Nursing. Or she may allow
herself to drop into the society of those beneath her, perhaps because
she is more at home with them, and is proud or shy with her superiors.
We do not want to be judges of our fellow-women (for who made thee to
differ from another?), but neither can we leave entirely to chance one
of the greatest interests of human life.

True friendship is simple, womanly, unreserved: not weak, or silly, or
fond, or noisy, or romping, or extravagant, nor yet jealous and selfish,
and exacting more than woman’s nature can fairly give, for there are
other ties which bind women to one another besides friendship; nor,
again, intrusive into the secrets of another woman, or curious about
her circumstances; rejoicing in the presence of a friend, and not
forgetting her in her absence.

Two Probationers or Nurses going together have not only a twofold, but a
fourfold strength, if they learn knowledge or good from one another; if
they form the characters of one another; if they support one another in
fulfilling the duties and bearing the troubles of a Nursing life, if
their friendship thus becomes fellow-service to God in their daily work.
They may sometimes rejoice together over the portion of their training
which has been accomplished, and take counsel about what remains to be
done. They will desire to keep one another up to the mark; not to allow
idleness or eccentricity to spoil their time of training.

But some of our youthful friendships are too violent to last: they have
in them something of weakness or sentimentalism; the feeling passes
away, and we become ashamed of them. Or at some critical time a friend
has failed to stand by us, and then it is useless to talk of “auld lang
syne.” Only still let us remember that there are duties which we owe to
the “extinct” friend (who perhaps on some fanciful ground has parted
company from us), that we should never speak against her, or make use
of our knowledge about her. For the memory of a friendship is like the
memory of a dead friend, not lightly to be spoken of.

And then there is the “Christian or ideal friendship.” What others
regard as the service of the sick she may recognise as also the service
of God; what others do out of compassion for their maimed
fellow-creatures she may do also for the love of Christ. Feeling that
God has made her what she is, she may seek to carry on her work in the
Hospital as a fellow-worker with God. Remembering that Christ died for
her, she may be ready to lay down her life for her patients.

“They walked together in the house of God as friends”--that is, they
served God together in doing good to His sick. For if ever a place may
be called the “house of God,” it is a Hospital, if it be what it should
be. And in old times it _was_ called the “house” or the “hotel” of God.
The greatest and oldest Central Hospital of Paris, where is the
Mother-house of the principal Order of Nursing Sisters, is to this day
called the Hôtel Dieu, the “House of God.”

There may be some amongst us who, like St. Paul, are capable
of feeling a natural interest in the spiritual welfare of our
fellow-probationers--or, if you like the expression better, in the
improvement of their characters--that they may become more such as God
intended them to be in this Hospital and Home. For “Christian friendship
is not merely the friendship of equals, but of unequals”--the love of
the weak and of those who can make no return, like the love of God
towards the unthankful and the evil. It is not a friendship of one or
two but of many. It proceeds upon a different rule: “Love your enemies.”
It is founded upon that charity “which is not easily offended, which
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth
all things.” Such a friendship we may be hardly able to reconcile either
with our own character or with common prudence. Yet this is the
“Christian ideal in the Gospel.” And here and there may be found some
one who has been inspired to carry out the ideal in practice.

“To live in isolation is to be weak and unhappy--perhaps to be idle and
selfish.” There is something not quite right in a woman who shuts up her
heart from other women.

This may seem to be telling you what you already know, and bidding you
do what you are already doing. Well, then, shall we put the matter
another way? Make such friendships as you will look back upon with
pleasure in later life, and be loyal and true to your friends, not going
from one to another.

    The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel;
    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
    Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.

And do not expect more of them than friends can give, or weary them with
demands for sympathy; and do not let the womanliness of friendship be
impaired by any silliness or sentimentalism; or allow hearty and genial
good-will to degenerate into vulgarity and noise.

And as was once truly said, friendship perhaps appears best, as it did
in St. Paul, in his manner of rebuking those who had erred,
“transferring their faults in a figure to Apollos and to himself.” “No
one knew how to speak the truth in love like him.”

It has been said of Romans xii.: “What rule of manners can be better
than this chapter?” “She that giveth, let her do it with simplicity”;
that is, let us do our acts of Nursing and kindness as if we did not
make much of them, as unto the Lord and not to men. “Like-minded one
towards another”; that is, we should have the same thoughts and feelings
with others. “Rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them
that weep”; going out of ourselves and entering into the thoughts of

And have we St. Paul’s extraordinary regard for the feelings of others?
He was never too busy to think of these. “If meat make my brother to
offend, I will eat no more meat while the world standeth,” he says,
though he well knew such scruples were really superstitions. If the
spirit of these words could find a way to our women’s hearts, we might
be able to say, “See how these Christians (Nurses) love one another!”

Then the courtesy we owe, one woman to another: “for the happiness and
the good” of our work and our School is not simply “made up of great
duties and virtues, nor the evil of the opposite.” But both seem to
consist also in a number of small particulars, which, small as they are,
have a great effect on the tone and character of our School, introducing
light or darkness into the “Home,” sweetness or bitterness into our
intercourse with one another.

And, as to our Wards: Christ, we may be sure, did not lose authority, or
dignity and refinement, “even in the company of publicans and harlots,”
just as we may observe in the Wards, that there are a few of us whose
very refinement makes them do the coarsest and roughest things there
with simplicity. A Sister of ours once remarked this of one of her
Probationers (who was not a lady in the common sense of the word, but
she was the truest gentlewoman in Christ’s sense), that she was too
refined (most people would have said, to do the indelicate work of the
Wards, but _she_ said) to see indelicacy in doing the nastiest thing;
and so did it all well, without thinking of herself, or that men’s eyes
were upon her. That is real dignity--the dignity which Christ had--on
which no man can intrude, yet combined with the greatest gentleness and
simplicity of life.


And let me say a word about self-denial: because, as we all know, there
can be no real Nursing without self-denial. We know the story of the
Roman soldier, above fourteen hundred years ago, who, entering a town in
France with his regiment, saw a sick man perishing with cold by the
wayside--there were no Hospitals then--and, having nothing else to
give, drew his sword, cut his own cloak in half, and wrapped the sick
man in half his cloak.

It is said that a dream visited him, in which he found himself admitted
into heaven, and Christ saying, “Martin hath clothed me with this
garment”: the dream, of course, being a remembrance of the verse, “When
saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee?” and of the answer,
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me.” But whether the story of the dream be true or
not, this Roman soldier, converted to Christianity, became afterwards
one of the greatest bishops of the early ages, Martin of Tours.

_We_ are not called upon to feed our patients with our own dinners, or
to dress them with our own clothes. We are comfortable, and cannot make
ourselves uncomfortable on purpose. But we can learn Sick Cookery for
our Patients, we can give up spending our money in foolish dressy ways,
and thus squandering what we ought to lay by for ourselves or our

On one of the severest winter days in the late war between France and
Germany, an immense detachment, many thousands, of wretched French
prisoners were passing through the poorest streets of one of the largest
and poorest German towns on the way to the prisoners’ camp. Every door
in this poor “East End” opened; not one remained closed; and out of
every door came a poor German woman, carrying in her hand the dinner or
supper she was cooking for herself, her husband, or children; often all
she had in the house was in her hands. And this she crammed into the
hands of the most sickly-looking prisoner as he passed by, often into
his mouth, as he sank down exhausted in the muddy street. And the
good-natured German escort, whose business it was to bring these poor
French to their prison, turned away their heads, and let the women have
their way, though it was late, and they were weary too. Before the
prisoners had been the first hour in their prison, six had lain down in
the straw and died. But how many lives had been saved that night by the
timely food of these good women, giving all they had, not of their
abundance, but of their poverty, God only knows, not we. This was told
by an Englishman who was by and saw it; one of our own “Aid Committee.”

And at a large German station, which almost all the prisoners’ trains
passed through, a lady went every night during all that long, long,
dreadful winter, and for the whole night, to feed, and warm, and
comfort, and often to receive the last dying words of the miserable
French prisoners, as they arrived in open trucks, some frozen to the
bottom, some only as the dead, others to die in the station, all
half-clad and starving. Some had been nine days and nights in these open
trucks; many had been twenty-four hours without food. Night after night
as these long, terrible trainsful dragged their slow length into the
station, she kneeled on its pavement, supporting the dying heads,
receiving their last messages to their mothers; pouring wine or hot milk
down the throats of the sick; dressing the frost-bitten limbs; and,
thank God, saving many. Many were carried to the prisoners’ hospital in
the town, of whom about two-thirds recovered. Every bit of linen she had
went in this way. She herself contracted incurable ill-health during
these fearful nights. But thousands were saved by her means.

She is my friend.[6] She came and saw me here after this; and it is from
her lips I heard the story. Smallpox and typhus raged among the
prisoners, most of whom were quite boys. Many were wounded; half were
frost-bitten. Sometimes they would snatch at all she brought; but
sometimes they would turn away their dying heads from the tempting hot
wine, and gasp out, “Thank you, madam; give it to _him_, who wants it
more than I.” Or, “I’m past help; love to mother.”

_We_ have not to give of our own to _our_ sick. But shall we the less
give them our all--that is, all our hearts and minds? and reasonable

Suppose we dedicated this “School” to Him, to the Divine Charity and
Love which said, “Inasmuch as ye do it unto one of the least of these my
brethren” (and He calls all our patients--all of us, His brothers and
sisters) “ye do it unto me”--oh, what a “Kingdom of Heaven” this might
be! Then, indeed, the dream of Martin of Tours, the soldier and
Missionary-Bishop, would have come true!


May I take this opportunity of saying what I think really very much
concerns us? First of all, that you have, or might have, directly and
indirectly, a great deal to do with maintaining a supply of good
candidates to this School. You know whether you have been happy here or
not; you know whether you have had opportunities given you here of
training and self-improvement. Many, very many of our old Matrons and
Nurses have told me that their time as probationers with us was “the
happiest time of their lives.” It _might_ be so with all, though perhaps
all do not think so now.

It is in your power to assist the School most materially in obtaining
fresh and worthy recruits. There is hardly one of you who has not
friends or acquaintances of her own. You _ought_ to advertise us. We
ought not to have to put one advertisement in the newspapers. If you
think this is a worthy life, why do you not bring others to it? I tried
to do my part. When Agnes Jones died, though my heart was breaking, I
put an article in _Good Words_, such as I knew she would have wished, in
all but the mention of herself; and for years her dear memory brought
aspirants to the work in our Schools, or others’ Schools.

To reform the Nursing of all the Hospitals and Workhouse Infirmaries in
the world, and to establish District Nursing among the sick poor at
home, too, as at Liverpool--is this not an object most worthy of the
co-operation of all civilised people?

In the last ten years, thank God, numerous Training Schools for Nurses
have grown up, resolved to unite in putting a stop to such a thing as
drunken, immoral, and inefficient Nursing. But all make the same
complaint; while the outcry of “employment for women” continues, why
does not this most womanly employment for all good women become more
sought after? I hope to hear that my old friends in St. Thomas’ have
each done their part; and I feel quite sure that if it is once placed
before them, as a thing they ought to do, they will be found in the

You who are assembled in this room, and who are each connected with some
circle, directly or indirectly, may do a good work for the civilisation
of the Workhouses and Hospitals of the world. If you inform yourselves
on the subject, and if you set yourselves to work, to deal with it, as
we do with any other great evil that tortures helpless people, you will
be able to act directly upon your friends outside, and ultimately get up
an amount of public opinion among women capable of becoming Nurses,
which will be of the greatest possible aid to our efforts in improving
Hospital and Workhouse Nursing. Every one can help--every one--better
than if she were a “newspaper,” better than if she were a “public
meeting.” I believe that within a few years you can make it a thing that
will be a disgrace to any Hospital or even Workhouse to be suspected of
bad Nursing, or to any district (in towns, at any rate) not to have a
good District Nurse to nurse the sick poor at home.

Those who have made the right use of all the training that came in their
way in this School, if they would write to their own homes for the
information of their friends outside, an immense help on its way could
be given to the work we have all so much at heart. And I look upon it as
a certainty that you will each be able, in one way or another, whether
purposely or almost unconsciously, to take a great part in reforming the
Hospital and Workhouse Nursing systems of our country, perhaps of our
colonies and dependencies, and perhaps of the world.


May I pay ourselves even the least little compliment, as to our being a
little less conceited than last year? Were we not as conceited in 1872
as it was possible to be? You shall tell. Are we, in 1873, rather less
so? And, without having any one particularly in my head--for what I am
going to ask is in fact a truism--is not our conceit always in exact
proportion to our ignorance? For those who really know something know
how little it is.

Would that this could be a “secret” among us! But, unfortunately, is not
our name “up” and “abroad” for conceit? And has it not even been said
(“tell it not in Gath”): “And these conceited ‘Nightingale’ women
scarcely know how to read and write?”

Now let no one look to see our blushes. But shall we not get rid of this
which makes us ridiculous as fast as we can?

But enough of this joke; let us be serious, remembering that the
greatest trust which is committed to any woman of us all is, _herself_;
and that she is living in the presence of God as well as of her

To know whether we know our Nursing business or not is a great result
of training; and to think that we know it when we do _not_ is as great a
proof of want of training.

The world, more especially the Hospital world, is in such a hurry, is
moving so fast, that it is too easy to slide into bad habits before we
are aware. And it is easier still to let our year’s training slip away
without forming any real plan of training ourselves.

For, after all, all that any training is to do for us is: to teach us
how to train ourselves, how to observe for ourselves, how to think out
things for ourselves. Don’t let us allow the first week, the second
week, the third week to pass by--I will not say in idleness, but in
bustle. Begin, for instance, at once making notes of your cases. From
the first moment you see a case, you can observe it. Nay, it is one of
the first things a Nurse is strictly called upon to do: to observe her
sick. Mr. Croft has taught you how to take notes; and you have now,
every one of you, two leisure times a week to work up your notes.

But give but one-quarter of an hour a _day_ to jot down, even in words
which no one can understand but yourself, the progress or change of two
or three individual cases, not to forget or confuse them. You can then
write them out at your two leisure times. To those who have not much
education, I am sure that our kind Home Sister, or the Special
Probationer in the same Ward, or nearest in any way, will give help. The
race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; and “line
upon line”--_one_ line every day--in the steady, observing, humble Nurse
has often won the race over the smarter “genius” in what constitutes
real Nursing. But few of us women seriously think of improving our own
mind or character _every day_. And this is fatal to our improving in
Nursing. We do not calculate the future by our experience of the past.
What right have we to expect that, if we have not improved during the
last six months, we shall during the next six? Then, we do not allow for
the changes which circumstances make in us--the being put on Staff duty,
when we certainly shall not have more time, but less, for improving
ourselves, or the growing older or more feeble in health. We believe
that we shall always have the same powers or opportunities for learning
our business which we now have. Our time of training slips away in this
unimproving manner. And when a woman begins to see how many things might
have been better in her, she is too old to change, or it is too late,
too late. And she confesses to herself, or oftener she does not
confess--“How all her life she had been in the wrong.”

We are all of us, as we believe, passing into an unknown world, of which
this is only a part. We have been here a year, or part of a year. What
are we making of our own lives? Are we where we were a year ago? Or are
we fitter for that work of after-life which we have undertaken?

Do our faults, and weaknesses, and vanities, tend to diminish? Or are we
still listless, inefficient, slow, bustling, conceited, unkind, hard
judges of others, instead of helping them where we can? There is no
greater softener of hard judgments than is the trying to help the person
whom we so judge, as I can tell from my own experience; and in this you
will tell me whether we have been deficient to each other. There is a
true story told of Captain Marryat when a boy; that he jumped overboard
to save an older midshipman who had made the boy’s life a misery to him
by his filthy cruelties. And the boy Marryat wrote home to his mother
“that he loved this midshipman now--and wasn’t it lucky that his life
was saved--even better than his own darling mother.”

Do we keep before our minds constantly the sense of our duty here, of
our duty to others--Nurses, Sisters, Matron--as well as to ourselves,
our fellow Probationers, and our Home Sister, and to the whole School of
which we are members?

If we thought of this more, we might hope to attain that quiet mind and
self-control, which is the “liberty” spoken of by St. Paul. We might
learn how truly to use and enjoy both our fellow Probationers, and this
Home and our School, if we were more anxious about following the example
of Christ than about the opinion of our “world.” “We are the ‘world,’
which we often seem to think includes every one but _us_.”

But few comparatively have the power of disengaging themselves, even in
thought, from those about them. They take the view of their own set. If
it is the fashion to conceal, they conceal; if to carry tales, they
carry tales. There are a few who never allow themselves to speak against
others, and exercise such a kind of authority as to prevent others being
spoken against in their hearing. These are the “peacemakers” of whom
Christ speaks. These are they who keep a Home or Institution together,
and seem more than any others in this our little world to bear the image
of Christ until His coming again.

Do we ever do things because they are right, without regard to our own
credit? When we ask ourselves only “What is right?” or (which is the
same question), “What is the will of God?” then we are truly entering
His “kingdom.” We are no longer grovelling among the opinions of men and
women. We can see God in all things, and all things in God, the Eternal
Father shining through the accidents of our lives--which sometimes shake
us more, though less conspicuous, than the accidents we see brought into
our Surgical Wards--the accidents of the characters of those under whom
we are placed, and of our own inner life.

One of the greatest missionaries that ever was, wrote more than 300
years ago to his pupils and fellow-missionaries:

“Self-knowledge”--(the knowledge by which we see ourselves in
God)--“self-knowledge is the nurse of confidence in God. It is from
distrust of ourselves that confidence in God is born. This will be the
way for us to gain that true interior lowliness of mind which, in all
places, and especially here, is far more necessary than you think. I
warn you also not to let the good opinion which men have of you be too
much of a pleasure to you, unless perhaps in order that you may be the
more ashamed of yourselves on that account. It is that which leads
people to neglect themselves, and this negligence, in many cases,
upsets, _as by a kind of trick_, all that lowliness of which I speak,
and puts conceit and arrogance in its place. And thus so many do not see
for a long time how much they have lost, and gradually lose all care for
piety, and all tranquillity of mind, and thus are always troubled and
anxious, finding no comfort either from without or within themselves.”

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” says our Lord,
“and I will give you rest.” But He adds immediately who those are to
whom He will give this “rest” or quietness of mind--namely those, who,
like Himself, are “meek and lowly of heart.”

These words may seem in a Hospital life “like dreams.” But they are not
dreams if we take them for the spirit of our School and the rule of our
Nursing. “To practise them, to feel them, to make them our own,” this is
not far from the “kingdom of Heaven” in a Hospital.

Pray for me, as I do for you, that “piety” and a “quiet mind”--but these
always and only in the strenuous effort to _press forwards_--may be



_July 23rd, 1874._

Another year has passed over us, my dear friends. There have been many
changes among us. We have each of us tasted somewhat more of the
discipline of life. To some of us it may have been very bitter; to
others, let us hope, not so. By all, let us trust, it has been put to
heroic uses.

“Heroic?” I think I hear you say; “can there be much of ‘heroic’ in
washing porringers and making beds?”

I once heard a man (he is dead now) giving a lesson to some poor orphan
girls in an Orphan Asylum. Few things, I think, ever struck me so much,
or them. It was on the “heroic virtues.” It went into the smallest
particulars of thrift, of duty, of love and kindness; and he ended by
asking them how they thought such small people as themselves could
manage to practise those great virtues. A child of seven put up its
little nib and chirped out: “Please, my lord, we might pick up pins
when we don’t like to.” That showed she understood his lesson.

His lesson was not exactly fitted to us, but we may all fit it to

This night, if we are inclined to make a noise on the stairs, or to
linger in each other’s rooms, shall we go quietly to bed, alone with
God? Some of you yourselves have told me that you could get better day
sleep in the Night Nurses’ Dormitory than in your own “Home.” Is there
such loud laughing and boisterous talking in the daytime, going upstairs
to your rooms, that it disturbs any one who is ill, or prevents those
who have been on night duty from getting any sleep?

Is that doing what you would be done by--loving your neighbour as
yourselves, as our Master told us?

Do you think it is we who invent the duty “Quiet and orderly,” or is it

If our uniform dress is not what we like, shall we think of our Lord,
whose very garments were divided by the soldiers? (But I always think
how much more becoming is our uniform than any other dress I see.)

If there is anything at table that we don’t like, shall we take it
thankfully, remembering Who had to ask a poor woman for a drink of

Shall we take the utmost pains to be perfectly regular and punctual to
all our hours--going into the wards, coming out of the wards, at meals,
etc.? And if we are unavoidably prevented, making an apology to the Home
Sister, remembering what has been written about those who are in
authority over us? Or do we think a few minutes of no consequence in
coming from or going to the wards?

Do we carefully observe our Rules?

If we _are_ what is printed at the top of our Duties, viz.:

    Quiet and orderly,
    Cleanly and neat,
    Patient, cheerful, and kindly,

we scarcely need any other lesson but what explains these to us.

_Trustworthy_: that is, faithful.

Trustworthy when we have no one by to urge or to order us. “Her lips
were never opened but to speak the truth.” Can that be said of us?

Trustworthy, in keeping our soul in our hands, never excited, but always
ready to lift it up to God; unstained by the smallest flirtation,
innocent of the smallest offence, even in thought.

Trustworthy, in doing our work as faithfully as if our superiors were
always near us.

Trustworthy, in never prying into one another’s concerns, but ever
acting behind another’s back as one would to her face.

Trustworthy, in avoiding every word that could injure, in the smallest
degree, our patients, or our companions, who are our neighbours,
remembering how St. Peter says that God made us _all_ “stewards of grace
one to another.”

How can we be “stewards of grace” to one another? By giving the “grace”
of our good example to all around us. And how can we become
“untrustworthy stewards” to one another? By showing ourselves lax in our
habits, irregular in our ways, not doing as we should do if our
superiors were by. “Cripple leads the way.” Shall the better follow the

It has happened to me to hear some of you say--perhaps it has happened
to us all--“Indeed, I only did what I saw done.”

How glorious it would be if “only doing what we saw done” always led us

A master of a great public school once said that he could trust his
whole school, because he could trust every single boy in it. Oh, could
God but say that He can trust this Home and Hospital because He can
trust every woman in it! Let us try this--every woman to work as though
success depended on herself. Do you know that, in this great Indian
Famine, every Englishman has worked as if success depended on himself?
And in saving a population as large as that of England from death by
starvation, do you not think that we have achieved the greatest victory
we ever won in India? Suppose we work thus for this Home and Hospital.

Oh, my dear friends, how terrible it will be to any one of us, some day,
to hear another say, that she only did what she saw us do, if that was
on the “road that leadeth to destruction”!

Or taking it another way, how delightful--how delightful to have set
another on her journey to heaven by our good example; how terrible to
have delayed another on her journey to heaven by our bad example!

There is an old story--nearly six hundred years old--when a ploughboy
said to a truly great man, whose name is known in history, that he
“advised” him “always to live in such a way that those who had a good
opinion of him might never be disappointed.”

The great man thanked him for his advice, and--kept it.

If our School has a good name, do we live so that people “may never be
disappointed” in its Nurses?

Obedient: not wilful: not having such a sturdy will of our own. Common
sense tells us that no training can do us any good, if we are always
seeking our own way. I know that some have really sought in dedication
to God to give up their own wills to His. For if you enter this Training
School, is that not in effect a promise to Him to give up your own way
for that way which you are taught?

Let us not question so much. You _must_ know that things have been
thought over and arranged for your benefit. You are not bound to think
us always right: perhaps you can’t. But are _you_ more likely to be
right? And, at all events, you know you _are_ right, if you choose to
enter our ways, to submit yours to them.

In a foreign Training School, I once heard a most excellent pastor, who
was visiting there, say to a nurse: “Are you _dis_couraged?--say rather,
you are _dis_obedient: they always mean the same thing.” And I thought
how right he was. And, what is more, the Nurse thought so too; and she
was not “discouraged” ever after, because she gave up being

“Every one for herself” ought to have no footing here: and these strong
wills of ours God will teach. If we do not let Him teach us here, He
will teach us by some sterner discipline hereafter--teach our wills to
bend first to the will of God, and then to the reasonable and lawful
wills of those among whom our lot is cast.

I often say for myself, and I have no doubt you do, that line of the

    Tell me, Thou yet wilt chide, Thou canst not spare,
    O Lord, Thy chastening rod.

Let Him reduce us to His discipline before it is too late. If we “kick
against the pricks,” we can only pray that He will give us more
“pricks,” till we cease to “kick.” And it is a proof of His fatherly
love, and that He has not given us up, if He does.

For myself, I can say that I have never known what it was, since I can
remember anything, not to have “prickly” discipline, more than any one
knew of; and I hope I have not “kicked.”

To return to _Trustworthiness_.

Most of you, on leaving the Home, go first on night duty. Now there is
nothing like night duty for trying our trustworthiness. A year hence you
will tell me whether you have felt any temptation not to be quite honest
in reporting cases the next morning to your Sister or Nurse: that is, to
say you have observed when you have not observed; to slur over things in
your report, which, for aught you know, may be of consequence to the
patient: to slur over things in your work because there is no one
watching you: no one but God.

It has indeed been known that the Night Nurse had stayed in the kitchen
to talk; but we may trust such things will not happen again.

And, for all, let us _all_ say this word for ourselves: everything gets
toppled over if we don’t make it a matter of conscience, a matter of
reckoning between ourselves and our God. That is the only safeguard of
real _trustworthiness_. If we treat it as a mere matter of business, of
success in our career in life, never shall we give anything but
eye-service, never shall we be really trustworthy.

_Orderly_: Let us never waste anything, even pins or paper, as some do,
by beginning letters or resolutions, or “cases,” which they never take
the trouble to finish.

_Cheerful and Patient_: Let us never wish for more than is necessary,
and be cheerful when what we should like is sometimes denied us, as it
may be some day; or when people are unkind, or we are disregarded by
those we love: remembering Him whose attendants at His death were
mocking soldiers.

I assure you, my friends, that if we can practise those “duties”
faithfully, we are practising the “heroic virtues.”

_Patient_, _cheerful_, _and kindly_: Now, is it being patient, cheerful,
and kindly to be so only with those who are so to us? For, as St. Peter
tells us, even ungodly people do that. But if we can do good to some one
who has done us ill, oh, what a privilege that is! And even God will
thank us for it, the Apostle says. Let us be kindest to the impatient
and unkindly.

Now let me tell you of two Nurses whom we knew.

One was a lady, with just enough to live upon, who took an old widow to
nurse into her house: recommended to her by her minister. One day she
met him and reproached him. Why? Because the old widow was “too good”;
“_any_body could nurse _her_.” Presently a grumbling old woman, never
contented with anything anybody did, who thought she was never treated
well enough, and that she never had “her due,” was found. And this old
woman the lady took into her house and nursed till she died; because,
she said, nobody else liked to do anything for her, and _she_ did. That
was something like kindness, for there is no great kindness in doing
good to any one who is grateful and thanks us for it.

But my other story is something much better still.

A poor Nurse, who had been left a widow, with nothing to live upon but
her own earnings, inquired for some _tedious children_ to take care of.
As you may suppose, there was no difficulty in finding this article. And
from that day, for twenty years, she never had less than two, three, or
four orphans with her, and sometimes five, whom she brought up as her
own, training them for service. She taught them domestic work, for she
herself went out to service at nine years old. She never had any
difficulty in finding places for them, and for twenty years she had thus
a succession of children. But she taught them something better.

She taught them that they had “nothing but their character to depend
upon.” “I tell them,” she said, “it was all I had myself; God helps
girls that watch over themselves. If a girl isn’t made to feel this
early, it’s hard afterwards to make her feel it.”

These girls, so brought up, turned out much better than those brought up
in most large Union schools, for asylums are not like homes. Of the
children whom Nurse took in, one was a girl of such bad habits and such
a mischief-maker that no one else could manage her. But Nurse did. She
soon found she could not refuse boys. One was a boy of fourteen, just
out of prison for bad ways, whom she took and reclaimed, and who became
as good a boy as can be. These are only two specimens.

They called her “Mother.” And God, she used to say, gave them to her as
her own. You will ask how she supported them. The larger number of them
she supported by taking in washing, by charing one day a week, and bye
and bye, by taking in journeymen as lodgers. Now and then a lady would
pay for an orphan. Once she took in a sailor’s five motherless children
for 5s. a week from the father: but she has taken in apprentices as
lodgers, whose own fathers could not afford to keep them for their

All this time she washed for a poor sick Irishwoman, who never gave her
any thanks but that “the clothes were not well washed, nor was anything
done as it ought to be done.” Yet she took in this woman’s child of two
years old as her own, till the father came back, when he gave up drink
and claimed it.

Every Friday she gave her earnings to some poor women, who bought goods
with the money, which they sold again in the market on Saturday, and
returned her money to her on Saturday night. She said she never lost a
penny by this: and it kept several old women going.

She must have been a capital manager, you will say. Well, till she took
in lodgers, she lived in a cellar which she painted with her own hands,
and kept as clean as a new pin. Afterwards she let her cellar for 2s. a
week, though she might have got 2s. 6d. or 3s. a week for it, because,
she said, “the poor should not be hard on one another.” Milk she never
tasted; meat seldom, and then she always stewed, never roasted it. She
lived on potatoes, and potato pie was the luxury of herself and

On Sundays she filled her pot of four gallons and made broth: sometimes
for six or eight poor old women besides her own family, as she called
her orphans. _These_ must be satisfied with what she provided, little
or much. She never let them touch what was sent her for her patients.
Sometimes good things were sent her, which she always gave to sick
neighbours; yet she has been accused of keeping for herself nice things
sent to her care for others. She never owed a penny, for all her

If this Nurse has not practised the “heroic virtues,” who has?

I mentioned this Nurse merely as an instance of one who literally
fulfilled the precept to “do good” to them that “despitefully use you”:
to be “patient, cheerful, and kindly.” There is no time to tell you how
she was left a widow with two infants and a blind and insane mother,
whom she kept till doctors compelled her to put her mother into a
lunatic asylum: how one of her sons was a sickly cripple, whom she
nursed till he died, working by day and sitting up with him at night for
years: how the other boy was insane, and ran away: how, to ease her
broken mother’s heart, she returned to sick-nursing, chiefly among the
poor, nursed through two choleras, till her health broke down, and, by
way of taking care of herself, then took up the “tedious” orphan system,
which she never ceased. She felt, she said, as if she were doing
something then for her “own dear boy.” As soon as she lived in a poor
house of four rooms and an attic, she has had as many as ten carpenters’
men of a night, who had nowhere but the public-house to go to. She gave
them a good fire, borrowed a newspaper for them, and made one read
aloud. They brought her sixpence a week, and she laid it all out in
supper for them, and cooked it. She gave the only good pair of shoes she
had to one of these, because “he must go to work decent!”

She was a famous sick cook, often carrying home fish-bones to stew them
for the sick, who seldom thanked her; and the remains of damsons and
currants, to boil over again as a drink for fever patients: who
sometimes accused her of keeping back things sent for them.

“How much more the Lord has borne from me,” she used to say.

And of children she used to say: “We never can train up a child in the
way it should go till we take it in our arms, as Jesus did, and feel:
‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven’; and that there is a ‘heavenly
principle’ (a ‘little angel,’ I think she said) in each child to be
trained up in it.”

She said she had learnt this from the master in a factory where she had
once nursed.

(How little he knew that he had been one means of forming this heroic


And now I have a word for the Ladies, and a word for the
Nurse-Probationers. Which shall come first?

Do the ladies follow up their intellectual privileges? Or, are they lazy
in their hours of study? Do they cultivate their powers of expression in
answering Mr. Croft’s examinations?

Ought they not to look upon themselves as future leaders--as those who
will have to train others? And to bear this in mind during the whole of
their year’s training, so as to qualify themselves for being so? It is
not just getting through the year anyhow, without being blamed. For the
year leaves a stamp on everybody--this for the Nurses as well as the
Ladies--and once gone can never be regained.

To the Special Probationers may I say one more word?

Do we look enough into the importance of giving ourselves thoroughly to
study in the hours of study, of keeping careful _Notes of Lectures_, of
keeping notes of all type cases, and of cases interesting from not being
type cases, so as to improve our powers of observation--all essential
_if we are in future to have charge_? Do we keep in view the importance
of helping ourselves to understand these cases by reading at the time
books where we can find them described, and by listening to the remarks
made by Physicians and Surgeons in going round with their Students?
(Take a sly note afterwards, when nobody sees, in order to have a
correct remembrance.)

So shall we do everything in our power to become proficient, not only in
knowing the symptoms and what is to be done, but in knowing the “Reason
Why” of such symptoms, and _why_ such and such a thing is done; and so
on, till we can some day TRAIN OTHERS _to know the “reason why.”_

Many say: “We have no time; the Ward work gives us no time.”

But it is so easy to degenerate into a mere drudgery about the Wards,
when we have goodwill to do it, and are fonder of practical work than of
giving ourselves the trouble of learning the “reason why.” Take care,
or the Nurses, some of them, will catch you up.

Take ten minutes a day in the Ward to jot down things, and write them
out afterwards: come punctually _from_ your Ward to have time for doing
so. _It is far better to take these ten minutes to write your cases or
to jot down your recollections in the Ward than to give the same ten
minutes to bustling about._ I am sure the Sisters would help you to get
this time if you asked them: and also to _leave_ the Ward punctually.

And do you not think this a religious duty?

Such observations are a religious meditation: for is it not the best
part of religion to imitate the benevolence of God to man? And how can
you do this--in this your calling especially--if you do not thoroughly
understand your calling? And is not every study to do this a religious

Without it, _May you not potter and cobble about the patients without
ever once learning the reason of what you do, so as to be able to train

(I do not say anything about the “cards,” for I take it for granted that
you can read them easily.)

Our dear Matron, who is always thinking of arranging for us, is going
to have a case-paper with printed headings given to you, and to keep
this correctly ought to be a mere every-day necessity, and a very easy
one, for you.

2. And for the Nurses:

They are placed, perhaps here only, on a footing of equality with
educated gentlewomen. Do they show their appreciation of this by
thinking, “We are as good as they”? Or, by obedience and respect, and
trying to profit by the superior education of the gentlewomen?

Both we have known; we have known Nurse-Probationers who took the Ladies
“under their protection” in saving them the harder work, and the Ladies
have given them the full return back in helping them in their education.

And we have known--very much the reverse.

Also, do the Nurse-Probationers take advantage of their opportunities,
in the excellent classes given them by the Home Sister, in keeping
diaries and some cases?

Very few of the Nurse-Probationers have taken notes of Mr. Croft’s
Lectures at all; it is not fair to Mr. Croft to give him people who do
not benefit by his instruction.

3. And I have another word to say:

Are there parties in our Home?

Could we but be _not_ so tenacious of our own interests, but look at the
thing in a larger way!

Is there a great deal of canvassing and misinterpreting Sisters and
Matron and other authorities? every little saying and doing of theirs?
talking among one another about the superiors (and then finding we were
all wrong when we came to know them better)?

We must all of us know, without being told, that we cannot be trained at
all, if in training this will of our own is not kept under.

Do not question so much. Does not a spirit of criticism go with
ignorance? Are some of you in all the “opposition of irresponsibility”?
Some day, when you are yourselves responsible, you will know what I

Now could not the Ladies help the Nurse-Probationers in this: (1) in
never themselves criticising; and (2) in saying a kindly word to check
it when it is done?

Let me tell you a true story about this.

In a large college, questions--about things which the students could but
imperfectly understand in the conduct of the college--had become too
warm. The superintendent went into the hall one morning, and after
complimenting the young men on their studies, he said: “This morning I
heard two of the porters, while at their work, take up a Greek book
lying on my table; one tried to read it, and the other declared it ought
to be held upside down to be read. Neither could agree which _was_
upside down, but both thought themselves quite capable of arguing about
Greek, though neither could read it. They were just coming to
fisticuffs, when I sent the two on different errands.”

Not a word was added: the students laughed and retired, but they
understood the moral well enough, and from that day there were few
questions or disputes about the plans and superiors of the college, or
about their own obedience to rules and discipline.

Do let us think of the two porters squabbling whether the Greek book was
to be read upside down, when we feel inclined to be questioning about
“things too high for us.”

We are constantly making mistakes in our judgment of our little world.
We fancy that we have been harshly treated or misunderstood. Or we
cannot bear our fellow-Probationers to laugh at us.

Believe me, there will come a time when all such troubles will simply
seem ridiculous to us, and we shall be unable to imagine how we could
ever have been the victims of them. (One of your number told me this
herself. She has left St. Thomas’ for another post.) Let us not brood or
sentimentalise over them. They should be met in a common-sense way. How
much of our time has been spent in grieving over these trifles, how
little in the real sorrow for sin, the real struggle for improvement.

4. As for obedience to rules and our superiors: “True obedience,” said
one of the most efficient people who ever lived, “obeys not only the
command, but also the intention” of those who have a right to command
us. Of course, this is a truism: the thing is, _how to do it_. As it is
a struggle, it requires a brave and intrepid spirit, which helps us to
rise above trifles and look to God, and His leadings for us. Oh, when
death comes, how sorry we shall be to have watched others so much and
ourselves so little; to have dug so much in the field of others’
consciences and left our own fallow! What should we say of a “Leopold”
Nurse who should try to nurse in “Edward” Ward, and neglect her own
“Leopold”? Well, that is what we do. Or who should wash her patients’
hands and not her own?

It is of ourselves and not of others that we must give an account. Let
us look to our own consciences as we do to our own hands, to see if they
are dirty.

We take care of our dress, but do we take care of our words?

It is a very good rule to say and do nothing but what we can offer to
God. Now we cannot offer Him backbiting, petty scandal,
misrepresentation, flirtation, injustice, bad temper, bad thoughts,
jealousy, murmuring, complaining. Do we ever think that we bear the
responsibility of all the harm we do in this way?

Look at that busybody who fidgets, gossips, makes a bustle, always
wanting to domineer, always thinking of herself, as if she wanted to
tell the sun to get out of her way and let her light the world in its
place, as the proverb says.

And when we might do all our actions and say all our words as unto God!

So many imperfections; so many thoughts of self-love; so many selfish
satisfactions that we mix with our best actions! And when we might offer
them all to God. What a pity!

5. One word more for the Ladies, or those who will have to train and
look after others.

What must she be who is to be a Ward or “Home” Sister?

We see her in her nobleness and simplicity: being, not seeming: without
name or reward in this world: “clothed” in her “righteousness” merely,
as the Psalms would say, _not_ in her dignity: often having no gifts of
money, speech, or strength: but never preferring seeming to being.

And if she rises still higher, she will find herself, in some measure,
like the Great Example in Isaiah 1iii., bearing the sins and sorrows of
others as if they were her own: her counsels often “despised and
rejected,” yet “opening not her mouth” to be angry: “led as a lamb to
the slaughter.”

She who rules best is she who loves best: and shows her love not by
foolish indulgence to those of whom she is in charge, but by taking a
real interest in them for their own sakes, and in their highest

Her firmness must never degenerate into nervous irritability. And for
this end let me advise you when you become Sisters, always to take your
exercise time out of doors, your monthly day out, and your annual

Be a judge of the work of others of whom you are in charge, not a
detective: your mere detective “is wonderful at suspicion and
discovery,” but is often at fault, foolishly imagining that every one is

The Head-Nurse must have been tested in the refiner’s fire, as the
prophets would say: have been tried by many tests: and have come out of
them stainless, in full command of herself and her principles: never
losing her temper.

She never nurses well till she ceases to command for the sake of
commanding, or for her own sake at all: till she nurses only for the
sakes of those who are nursed. This is the highest exercise of
self-denial; but without it the ruin of the nursing, of the charge, is
sure to come.

Have we ever known such a Nurse?

She must be just, not unjust.

Now justice is the perfect order by which every woman does her own
business, and injustice is where every woman is doing another’s
business. This is the most obvious of all things: and for that very
reason has never been found out. Injustice is the habit of being a
busybody and doing another woman’s business, which tries to rule and
ought to serve: this is the unjust Nurse.

Prudence is doing your nursing most perfectly: aiming at the perfect in
everything: this is the “seeking God and His righteousness” of the

And must not each of us be a Saviour, rather than a ruler: each in our
poor measure? Did the Son of God try to rule? Oh, my friends, do not
scold at women: they will be of another mind if they are “gently
entreated” and learn to know you. Who can hate a woman who loves them?
Or be jealous of one who has no jealousy? Who can squabble with one who
never squabbles? It is example which converts your patients, your
ward-maids, your fellow-Nurses or charges: it is example which converts
the world.

And is not the Head-Nurse or Sister there, not that she may do as she
likes, but that she should serve all for the common good of all? The one
worst maxim of all for a future Matron, Sister, or Nurse is “to do as I
like”: that _is_ disorder, not rule. It is giving power to evil.

Those who rule must not be those who are desirous to rule.

She who is best fitted is often the least inclined to rule: but if the
necessity is laid upon her, she takes it up as a message from God. And
she must no longer live in her own thoughts, making a heaven or hell of
her own. For if she does not make a heaven for others, her charge will
soon become something else.

She must never become excited: and therefore I do impress upon you
regularity and punctuality, and never to get hurried. Those often get
most excited who are least in earnest. She who is fierce with her
Nurses, her patients, or her ward-maid, is not truly above them: she is
below them: and, although a harsh ward-mistress to her patients or
Nurses, has no real superiority over them.

There is no impudence like that of ignorance. Each night let us come to
a knowledge of ourselves before going to rest: as the Psalm says:
“Commune with your own heart upon your bed, _and be still_.” Is it
possible that we who live among the sick and dying can be satisfied not
to make _friends_ with _God_ each night?

The future Sister should be neither mistress nor servant, but the
_friend_ of every woman under her. If she is mistress of others when she
is not mistress of herself, her jealous, faithless temper grows worse
with command (oh, let not this be the case with any of us!)--wanting
everything of everybody, yet not knowing how to get it of anybody.
Always in fear, confusion, suspicion, and distraction, she becomes more
and more faithless, envious, unrighteous, the cause of wretchedness to
herself and others. She who has no control over herself, who cannot
master her own temper, how can she be placed over others, to control
them through the better principle? But she who is the most royal
mistress of herself is the only woman fit to be in charge.

For this is the whole intention of training, education, supervision,
superintendence: to give self-control, to train or nurse up in us a
higher principle; and when this is attained, you may go your ways safely
into the world.

But she who nurses, and does not nurse up in herself the “infant
Christ,” who should be born again in us every day, is like an empty
syringe--it pumps in only wind.

The future Sister must be not of the governessing but of the Saviour
turn of mind.

Let her reason with the unjust woman who is not intentionally in error.
She must know how to give good counsel, which will advise what is best
under the circumstances; not making a lament, but finding a cure;
regarding _that_ only as “bettering” their situation which _makes them
better_. She must know and teach “how to refuse the evil and choose the
good,” as Isaiah says.

She must have an iron sense of truth and right for herself and others,
and a golden sense of love and charity for them.

When a future Sister unites the power of command with the power of
thought and love, when she can raise herself and others above the
commonplaces of a common self without disregarding any of our common
feelings, when she can plan and effect any reforms wanted step by step,
without trying to precipitate them into a single year or month, neither
hasting nor delaying: that is indeed a “Sister.”

The future Sister or Head must not see only a little corner of things,
her own petty likes and dislikes; she must “lift up her eyes to the
hills,” as David says. She must know that there is a greater and more
real world than her own littlenesses and meannesses. And she must be not
only the friend of her Nurses, but also, in her measure, the angel whose
mission is to reconcile her Nurses to themselves, to each other, and to


Now let us not each of us think how this fits on to her neighbour, but
how it fits on to oneself.

Shall I tell you what one of you said to me after I last addressed
you?--“Do you think we are missionaries?”

I answer, that you cannot help being missionaries, if you would. There
are missionaries for evil as well as for good. Can you help choosing?
Must you not decide whether you will be missionaries for good, or
whether for evil, among your patients and among yourselves?

And, first, among your patients:

Hospital Nurses have charge of their patients in a way that no other
woman has charge; in the first place, no other woman is in charge really
of grown-up men. Oh, how careful she ought to be, especially the Night
Nurse, to show them what a true woman can be! The acts of a nurse are
keenly scrutinised by both old and young patients. If she is not
perfectly pure and upright, depend upon it, they know.

Also, a Hospital Nurse is in charge of people in their sick and feeble,
anxious and dying hours, when they are singularly alive to impressions.
She leaves her stamp upon them, whether she will or no. And this
applies almost more to the Night Nurse than to the Day Nurse.

Lastly, if she have children-patients, she is absolutely in charge of
these, who come, perhaps for the first and the last time of their lives,
under influence.

So many pass by a child without notice. A whole life of happiness or
wretchedness may turn upon an act of kindness to it--a good example set
it. A poor woman once said of a child of hers under just these
circumstances: “The Sister set its face heavenwards: and it never looked
back.” Do we ever set their faces the other way? The child she spoke of
when it was dying actually gave its halfpence, which it had saved for
something for itself, for another dying child “who had nobody.” I call
_that_ practising the “heroic virtues,” if ever there were such. And
that was done under just such an influence as we have been speaking of.

On the other hand, do you know anything in its way more heinous than a
Nurse, who to the sick and tiresome child might be like an angel “to set
its face heavenward” by her sympathy with it, and who, by her own bad
habits or bad temper, by her unfairness, by her unkindness or injustice,
by her coarseness or want of uprightness, sets it the other way?

A very good man once said that in each little Hospital patient, he saw
not only a soul to be saved, but many other souls that might possibly be
committed to this one: for the poor can do so much among one another: do
what no others going among them can do. Every child is of the stuff out
of which Home Missionaries may be made, such as God chooses from the
ranks that have furnished his best recruits.

The Apostles were fishermen and workmen.

David Livingstone was a cotton-mill piecer. In each little pauper waif
he saw one destined to carry a godly example (or the reverse) where none
but they could carry it--into godless and immoral homes.

We will not repeat here, because we are so fully persuaded of it, that a
woman, especially a Nurse, must be a missionary, _not_ as a minister or
chaplain is, but by the influence of her own character, silent but not

It was this, far more than any words, that gave his matchless influence
to David Livingstone, whose body, brought upwards of 1500 miles through
pathless deserts by his own negro servants--such a heroic feat as
Christians never knew before--was buried this spring in Westminster
Abbey. Some of us knew him: one of our Probationers was with him and his
wife, who died in 1862, and Bishop Mackenzie, at their Mission Station
in Africa. He was such a traveller and missionary as we shall never see
again perhaps. But what he was in influence each of us may be, if we
please, in our little sphere.

A Nurse _is_ like a traveller, from the quantity of people who pass
before her in the ever-changing wards. And she is like a traveller also
in this, that, as Livingstone used to say, either the vices or the
virtues of civilisation follow the footsteps of the traveller, and he
cannot help it. So they do those of the Nurse. And missioning will be,
whether she will or no, the background of her nursing, as it is the
background of travelling. The traveller may call himself a missionary or
not, as he likes. He _is_ one, for good or for evil. So is the Nurse.

Livingstone used to say that we fancy a missionary a man with a Bible in
his hand and another in his pack. He then went on to say what a real
missionary must be in himself to have influence. And he added: “If I had
once been suspected of a single act of want of purity or uprightness
the negroes would never have trusted me again. No, not even the least
pure or the least upright of the negroes. And any influence of mine
would have been gone for ever.” What his influence was, even after his
death, you know.

Then you must be missionaries, whether you will or no, among one

We need only think of the friendships that are made here. Will you be a
missionary of good or of evil to your friend? Will you be a missionary
of indifference, selfishness, lightness of conduct, self-indulgence? Or
a missionary--to her and to your patients--of religious and noble
devotion to duty, carried out to the smallest thing?

Will you be a “hero” in your daily work, like the dying child giving its
hard-saved halfpence to the yet poorer child?

Livingstone always remembered that a poor old Scotchman on his death-bed
had said to him: “Now, lad, make religion the _every-day_ business of
your life, not a thing of fits and starts; for if you do not, temptation
and other things will get the better of you.”

Such a Nurse--one who makes religion the “every-day business of her
life,” _is_ a “Missionary,” even if she never speak a word. One who
does not is a missionary for _evil_ and not for good, though she may say
many words, have many good texts at the end of her tongue, or, as
Livingstone would say, a Bible in her hand and a Bible at her back.

Believe me, who have seen a good deal of the world, we may give you an
institution to learn in, but it is You must furnish the “heroic” feeling
of doing your duty, doing your best, without which no institution is
safe, without which Training Schools are meat without salt. _You_ must
be our salt, without which civilisation is but corruption, and all
churches only dead establishments.

Shall I tell you what one of the most famous clergymen that ever lived
said? That, in order to manage people, and especially children, well, it
was necessary to speak more of them to God than of God to them. If a
famous preacher said that, how much more must a woman?

Another learned clergyman, who was also the best translator of the Bible
(in a foreign language), said: “Prayer, rather than speech must be
relied upon for the reform of any little irregularities: for only
through prayer could the proper moment for speech become known.” If a
great leader of mankind said that, how much more should a Nurse?

I must end: and what I say now I had better have said: and nothing else.

What are we without God? Nothing.

“Father, glorify Thy name!” How is His name glorified? _We_ are His
glory, when we follow His ways. Then we are something.

What is the Christian religion? To be like Christ.

And what is it to be like Christ? To be High Church, Low Church,
Dissenter, or orthodox? Oh, no. It is: to live for God and have God for
our object.


LONDON, _May 26, 1875_.

MY DEAR FRIENDS,--This year my letter to you must needs be short, for I
am not able to write much. But good words are always short. The best
words that ever were spoken--Christ’s words--were the shortest. Would
that ours were always the echo of His!

First, then:

What is our one thing needful? To have high principles at the bottom of
all. Without this, without having laid our foundation, there is small
use in building up our details. That is as if you were to try to nurse
without eyes or hands. We know who said, If your foundation is laid in
shifting sand, you may build your house, but it will tumble down. But if
you build it on solid ground, this is what is called being _rooted and
grounded in Christ_.

In the great persecutions in France two hundred years ago (not only of
the Protestants, who came over here and settled in Spitalfields, but of
all who held the higher and more spiritual religion) a noble woman, who
has left her impress on the Christian Church, and who herself endured
two hard imprisonments for conscience’ sake, would receive no
Probationer into her Institution, which was, like ours, for works of
Nursing and for the poor, till the Probationer had well considered
whether she were really rooted and grounded in God himself, and not in
the mere habit of obeying rule and doing her work; whether she could do
without the supports of the example and fellowship of a large and
friendly community, the sympathy and praise of fellow-workers--all good
things in themselves, but which will not carry us through a life like
Christ’s. And I doubt whether any woman whom God is forming for Himself
is not at some time or other of her life tried and tested in this lonely

A French Princess, who did well consider, and who was received into the
said Institution on these conditions, has left us in writing her
experience. And well she showed _where_ she was “rooted and grounded”
through ten after-years of prison and persecution.

We have not to endure these things. Our lot is cast in gentler times.

But I will tell you an old woman’s experience--that I can never remember
a time, and that I do not know a work, which so requires to be rooted
and grounded in God as ours.

You remember the question in the hymn, “Am I His, or am I not?” If I
_am_, this is what is called our “hidden life with Christ in God.” We
all have a “hidden life” in ourselves, besides our outward working life.
If our hidden life is filled with chatter and fancies, our outward
working life will be the fruits of it.

“By their _fruits_ ye shall know them,” Christ says. Christ knows the
good Nurse. It is not the good talker whom Christ knows as the good

If our hidden life _is_ “with Christ in God,” by its fruits, too, it
will be known.

What is it to live “with Christ in God”? It is to live in Christ’s
spirit: forgiving any injuries, real or fancied, from our
fellow-workers, from those above us as well as from those below (alas!
how small our injuries are that we should talk of forgiving!) thirsting
after righteousness, righteousness, _i.e._ doing completely one’s duty
towards all with whom we have to do, towards God above as well as
towards our fellow-nurses, our patients, our matron, home sister, and
instructors; fain to be holy as God is holy, perfect as our Father in
Heaven is perfect in our hospital and training school; caring for
nothing more than for God’s will in this His training; careful for our
sick and fellow-Nurses more than for ourselves; active, like Christ, in
our work; like Christ, meek and lowly in heart in our Wards and “Home”;
peacemakers among our companions, which includes the never repeating
anything which may do mischief; placing our spirits in the Father’s
charge. (“I am the Almighty’s charge,” says the hymn.) _This_ is to live
a life with Christ in God.

You may have heard of Mr. Wilberforce. He it was who, after a long life
of unremitting activity, varied only with disappointment, carried the
Abolition of the Slave Trade, one of England’s greatest titles to the
gratitude of nations. Slavery, as Livingstone said, is the open sore of
the world. (Mr. Clarkson and my grandfather were two of his
fellow-workers.) Some one asked how Mr. Wilberforce did this, and a man
I knew answered, “Because his life was hid with Christ in God.”

Never was there a truer word spoken. And if we, when the time comes for
us to be in charge of Wards, are enabled to “abolish” anything wrong in
them, it can only be in the same way, by our life being hid with Christ
in God. And no man or woman will do great things for God, or even small,
whose “hidden life” is employed in self-complacency, or in thinking over
petty slights, or of what other people are thinking of her.

We have three judges--our God, our neighbour, and ourselves. Our own
judgment of ourselves is, perhaps, generally too favourable: our
neighbour’s judgment of us too unfavourable, except in the case of close
friends, who may sometimes spoil each other. Shall we always remember to
seek _God’s_ judgment of us, knowing this, that it will some day find
us, whether we seek it or not? _He_ knows who is _His_ nurse, and who is

_This_ is laying the “foundation”; _this_ is the “hidden life with
Christ in God” for us Nurses. “Keeping up to the mark,” as St. Paul
says; and nothing else _will_ keep us up to the mark in Nursing.

“Neglect nothing; the most trivial action may be performed to ourselves,
or performed to God.” What a pity that so many actions should be wasted
by us Nurses in our Wards and in our “Home,” when we might always be
doing common things uncommonly well!

Small things _are_ of consequence--small things are of _no_ consequence;
we say this often to ourselves and to each other.

And both these sayings are true.

Every brick is of consequence, every dab of mortar, that it may be as
good as possible in building up your house. A chain is no stronger than
its weakest link: therefore every link is of consequence. And there can
be no “small” thing in Nursing. How often we have seen a Nurse’s life
wrecked, in its usefulness, by some apparently small fault! Perhaps this
is to say that there can be no small things in the nursing service of

But in the service of ourselves, oh! how small the things are! Of no
consequence indeed. How small they will appear to us all some day!

For what does it profit a Nurse if she gain the whole world to praise
her, and lose her own soul in conceit? What does it profit if the
judgment of the whole world is for us Nurses, and God’s is against us?

It is a real danger, in works like these, when all men praise us. We
must then see if we are “rooted and grounded in Christ Himself,” to
nurse as _He_ would have us nurse, as _He_ was in God, to do _His_
Saviour-work. Am I His, or am I not?

It is a real danger, too, if in works like these we do not uphold the
credit of our School. That is _not_ bearing fruit. Can we hope, may we
hope that, at least, some day, Christ may say even to our Training
School, as He did once to His first followers, “Ye are the salt of the
earth”? But oh! if we may hope this, let us never forget for one moment
the terrible conclusion of that verse.

If we can, in the faintest sense, be called “the salt “of God’s nursing
world, let us watch, watch, watch, that we may never lose our “savour.”
One woman, as we well know, may be honoured by God to be “the salt” to
purify a whole Ward. One woman may have lost her “savour,” and a Ward be
left without its “salt,” and untold harm done.

We ought to be very much obliged to our kind Medical Instructor for the
pains he has taken with us, and to show this by our careful attention.
Without this there can be no improvement.

There is a time for all things--a time to be trained, and a time to use
our training. And if we have thrown away the year we have here, we can
hardly recover it. Besides, what a shame it is to come here, as
Probationers, at considerable cost (to others, most of us), and then not
to make our improvement the chief business of our lives, so that at the
end of our year we go away not much better but rather worse than we
came! What account can we give of such a waste of time and
opportunities, of the best gifts of God, to ourselves and to Him? “For
God requireth that which is past.” If, when I was young, there had been
such opportunities of training for Hospital work as you have, how
eagerly I should have made the most of them!

Therefore, “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy
might”: be earnest in work, be earnest also even in such things as
taking exercise and proper holiday. I say this particularly to future
Matrons and Sisters, for there should be something of seriousness in
keeping our bodies[7] too up to the mark.

Life is short, as preachers often tell us: that is, each stage of it is
apt to come to an end before the work which belongs to it is finished.
Let us

    Act that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

Let us be in earnest in work: above all, because we believe this life to
be the beginning of another, into which we carry with us what we have
been and done here; because we are working together with God (remember
the Parting Command!) and He is upholding us in our work (remember the
Parting Promise!); because, when the hour of death approaches, we should
wish to think (like Christ) that we have completed life, that we have
finished the work which was given us to do, that we have not lost one of
those, Patients or Nurses, who were entrusted to us.

What was the Parting Command? What was the Parting Promise?

We Nurses have just kept Ascension Day and Whit-Sunday. Shall we Nurses
not remember the Parting Command on Ascension Day--to preach the Gospel
to every creature? And the Parting Promise: “And lo I am with you
always, even unto the end of the world.”

That Command and that Promise were given, not to the Apostles or
Disciples only, but to each and every one of us Nurses: to each to
herself in her own Ward or Home.

Without the Promise the Command could not be obeyed. Without we obey the
Command the Promise will not be fulfilled.

Christ tells us what He means by the Command. He tells us, over and over
again: it is by ourselves, _by what we are in ourselves_, that we are
“to preach the Gospel.” _Not what we say, but what we do_, is the
Preacher. Not saying “Lord, Lord,”--for how many ungodly things are done
and said in the name of God--but “keeping his commandments,” this it is
which “preaches” Him; it is the bearing much “fruit,” not the saying
many words. God’s Spirit leads us rather to be silent than to speak, to
do good works rather than to say fine things or to write them.

Over and over again, and especially in His first and last discourses, He
insists upon this. He takes the sweet little child and places it in our
midst: it was as if He had said, “Ah! that is the best preacher of you
all.” And those who have followed Him best have felt this most.

The most successful preacher the world has probably seen since St.
Paul’s time said, some 300 years ago, it was by _showing an example_,
not by delivering a discourse, that the Apostles’ work was really done,
that the Gospel was really preached. And well did he show his own belief
in this truth. For when all was ready for his mission to convert China
to Christianity, and the plague broke out where he was, he stayed and
nursed the plague.

We can, every one of us here present, though our teaching may not be
much, by our _lives_ “preach a continual sermon, that all who see may
understand.” (These words were found in the last letter, left
unfinished, of a native convert of the “greatest missionary of modern
times,” Bishop Patteson, who was martyred in the South Sea Islands, in
September 1871, and this convert with him. Oh, how he puts us to shame!)

It has happened to me--I daresay it has happened to every one of us--to
be told by a Child-Patient, one who had been taught to say its prayers,
that it “was afraid” to kneel down and “say its prayers” before a whole
ward-full of people. Do we encourage and take care of such a little
child? Shall we, when we have Wards under our own charge, take care that
the Ward is kept so that none at proper times shall be “afraid” to kneel
down and say their prayers? Do we reflect on the immense responsibility
of a Nurse towards her helpless Sick, who depend upon her almost
entirely for quiet, and thought, and order? Do we think that, as was
once said, we are to no one as “rude” as we are to God?

I believe that one of our St. Thomas’ Sisters, who is just leaving us
after years of good work, is going to set up a “Home” for Sick Children,
where, under her, they will be cared for in _all_ ways. I am sure that
we shall all bid her “God speed.” And I know that many of those who have
gone out from among us, and who are now Hospital Sisters or Nurses--they
would not like me to mention their names--do care for their Patients,
Children and all, in _all_ ways. Thank God for it!

When a Patient, especially a child, sees you acting in all things as if
in the presence of God--and none are so quick to observe it--then the
names he or she heard at the Chaplain’s or the Sister’s or the Night
Nurse’s lips become names of real things and real Persons. There _is_ a
God, a Father; there _is_ a Christ, a Comforter; there _is_ a Spirit of
Goodness, of Holiness; there _is_ another world, to such an one.

When a Patient, especially a Child, sees us acting as if there were
_no_ God, then there but too often becomes no God to him. Then words
become to such a child mere words. And remember, that when such a
Nurse--“salt” which has lost its “savour”--speaks to her Patients of
God, she puts _a hindrance_ in their way to keep them _from_ God,
instead of helping them _to_ God. She had better not speak to them at

It is a terrible thought--I speak for myself--that we may _prevent_
people from believing in God, instead of bringing them to “believe in
God the Father Almighty.”

What is it, “setting an example”? An example--_of what_? _Who_ is _our_
example, that we are to set? Christ is our example, our pattern: this we
all know and say. And when this was once said--a very common
word--before a very uncommon man, he said: “When you have your picture
taken, the painter does not try to make it rather like, or not very
unlike. It is not a good picture if it is not _exactly_ like.” Do we try
to be _exactly_ like Christ? If we do not, “are we His, or are we not?”
Could it be said of each one of us: “That Nurse _is_ (or is trying to
be) exactly what Christ would have been in her place”?

Yet this is what every Nurse has to aim at. Aim lower: and you cannot
say then, “Christ is my example.” Aim as high: and, after this life, “we
shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness.”

But this aim cannot be carried out, it cannot even be entertained,
without the Parting Promise. The Parting Promise was fulfilled to the
disciples ten days afterwards, on Whit-Sunday, when the Holy Spirit was
given them--that is, when Christ came as He promised, and was with them.

Christ comes to each Nurse of us all: and stands at our little room-door
and knocks. Do we let Him in?

The Holy Spirit comes, no more with outward show but with no less inward
power, to each Ward and to each Nurse of us all, who is trying to do her
Nursing and her Ward work _in God_, to live her hidden Nurse’s life with
Christ in God.

When your Patient asks you for a drink, you do not give him a stone. And
shall not our Heavenly Father much more give His Spirit to each one of
us, His nurses, when she asks Him? (_Are_ we _His_ nurses?)

What is meant by the Spirit descending upon _us_ Nurses, as it did on
the first Whitsuntide? Is it not to put us in a state to nurse Him, by
making our heart and our will His? (He has really told us that nursing
our Patients is nursing Him.) God asks the _heart_: that is, that we
should consecrate _all_ our self to Him--within as well as without,
_within_ even more than without--in doing the Nursing work He has given
each one of us here to do.

Is it not to have the spirit of love, of courtesy, of justice, of right,
of gentleness, of meekness, in our Training School; the spirit of truth,
of integrity, of energy and activity, of purity, which He _is_, in our
Hospital? This it is to worship God in spirit and in truth. And we need
not wait to go into a church, or even to kneel down at prayer, for
_this_ worship.

Is it not to feel that we desire really nothing for ourselves in our
Nursing life, present and future, but only this, “Thy will be done,” as
we say in our daily prayer? Is it not to trust Him, that _His will_ is
really the best for each one of us? How much there is in those two
words, _His will_--the will of Almighty Wisdom and Goodness, which
always _knows_ what is best for each one of us Nurses, which always
_wills_ what is best, which always _can_ do what it wills for our best.

Is it not to feel that the care and thought of ourselves is lost in the
thought of God and the care of our Patients and fellow-Nurses and
Ward-Maids? Is it not to feel that we are never so happy as when we are
working _with Him_ and _for them_? And we Nurses can always do this, if
we will.

Is not this what Christ meant when He said, “The kingdom of heaven is
within you”? “The kingdom of heaven” consists not in much speaking but
in doing, not in a sermon but in a heart. “The kingdom of heaven” can
_always_ be in a Nurse’s blessed work, and even in her worries. Is not
this what the Apostle meant when he told us to “rejoice in the Lord”?
That is, to rejoice, whether Matrons, or Sisters, or Nurses, or Night
Nurses, in the service of God (which, with us, means good Nursing of the
Sick, good fellowship and high example as relates to our
fellow-workers); to rejoice in the right, whoever does it; to rejoice in
the truth, whoever has it; to rejoice in every good word and work,
whoever it is; to rejoice, in one word, in what God rejoices in.

Let us thank God that some special aids to our spiritual life have been
given us lately, for which I know many of us _are_ thankful; and some of
us have been able to keep this Whitsuntide as we never did before.

One little word more about our Training School. Training “consists in
teaching people to bear responsibilities, and laying the
responsibilities on them as they are able to bear them,” as Bishop
Patteson said of Education. The year which we spend here is generally
the most important, as it may be the happiest, of our lives.

Here we find many different characters. Here we meet on a common stage,
before we part company again to our several posts. If there are any rich
among us, they are not esteemed for their riches. And the poor woman,
the friendless, the lonely woman, receives a generous welcome. Every one
who has any activity or sense of duty may qualify herself for a future
useful life. Every one may receive situations without any reference,
except to individual capacity, and to a kind of capacity which it is
within the power of the most humble and unfriended to work out. Every
one who has any natural kindness or courtesy in her, and who is not too
much wrapped up in herself, may make pleasant friends.

Although we know how many and serious faults we have, ought we not also
to be able to find here some virtues which do not equally flourish in
the larger world?--such as disinterested devotion to the calling we
have chosen, and to which we can here fully give ourselves up without
anxiety; warm-hearted interest in each other, for no one of us stands
here in any other’s way; freedom from jealousy and meanness; a generous
self-denial in nursing our charges, and a generous sympathy with other
Nurses; above all, an interest in our work, and an earnestness in taking
the means given us to improve ourselves in what is to be so useful to

And this is also the surest sign of our improvement in it. This is what
St. Paul calls: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving
the Lord.”

Always, however, we must be above our work and our worries, keeping our
souls free in that “hidden life” of which it has been spoken.

       *       *       *       *       *

Above all, let us pray that God will send real workers into this immense
“field” of Nursing, made more immense this year by the opening out of
London _District_ Nursing at the bedside of the sick poor at home. A
woman who takes a sentimental view of Nursing (which she calls
“ministering,” as if she were an angel), is of course worse than
useless. A woman possessed with the idea that she is making a sacrifice
will never do; and a woman who thinks any kind of Nursing work “beneath
a Nurse” will simply be in the way. But if the right woman is moved by
God to come to us, what a welcome we will give her, and how happy she
will soon be in a work, the many blessings of which none can know as we
know them, though we know the worries too! (Good Bishop Patteson used to
talk to his assistants something in this way; would we were like him!)

Nurses’ work means downright work, in a cheery, happy, hopeful, friendly
spirit. An earnest, bright, cheerful woman, without that notion of
“making sacrifices,” etc., perpetually occurring to her mind, is the
real Nurse. Soldiers are sent anywhere, and leave home and country for
years; _they_ think nothing of it, because they go “on duty.” Shall _we_
have less self-denial than they, and think less of “duty” than these
men? A woman with a healthy, active tone of mind, plenty of work in her,
and some enthusiasm, who makes the best of everything, and, above all,
does not think herself better than other people because she is a
“Nightingale Nurse,” that is the woman we want.

(Must I tell you again, what I have had to tell you before, that we have
a great name in the world for--conceit?)

I suppose, of course, that sound religious principle is at the bottom of

Now, if there be any young persons really in earnest whom any of you
could wish to see engaged in this work, if you know of any such, and
feel justified in writing to them, you will be aiding materially in this
work if you will put it in their power to propose themselves as

My every-day thought is--“How will God provide for the introduction of
real Christianity among all of us Nurses, and among our Patients?” My
every-day prayer (and I know that the prayer of many of you is the same)
is that He will give us the means and show us how to use them, and give
us the people. We ask you to pray for us, who have to arrange for you,
as we pray for you, who have to nurse the Patients; and I know you do.
The very vastness of the work raises one’s thoughts to God, as the only
One by whom it can be done. That is the solid comfort--_He knows_. He
loves us all, and our Patients infinitely more than we can. He is, we
trust, sending us to them; He will bless honest endeavours to do His
work among them. Without _this_ belief and support, it seems to me, when
we look at the greatness of the work, and how far, far we fall short of
it, instead of being conceited, we should not have courage to work at

And when we say the words in the Communion Service--“Therefore with
angels and archangels,” do we think whether we are fit company for
angels? It may not be fanciful to believe that “angels and archangels,”
to whom all must seem so different, may see God’s light breaking over
the Nursing Service, though perhaps in our time it may not attain the
perfect day. Only we must work on, and bring no hindrances to that
light. And that not one of us may bring hindrances to that light,
believe me, let us pray daily.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have been longer than I intended or hoped, and will only say one more

May we each and all of us Nurses be faithful to the end, remembering
this, that no one Nurse stands alone. May we not say, in the words of
the prophet, that it is “The Lord” who “hath gathered” us Nurses
“together out of the lands”? “It is because we do not _praise_ as we
proceed,” said a good and great man, “that our progress is so slow.”
Should not all this Training School be so melted into one heart and
mind, that we may with _one_ heart and mind act and nurse and sing
together our praise and thanksgiving, blessing and gratitude, for
mercies, every one of which seems to belong to the whole School? For
every Nurse alike belongs to the Mother School of which she is a part,
and to the Almighty Father, who has sent her here, and to whom alone we
each and all of us Nurses owe everything we have and are.

F. N.


_April 28, 1876._

MY DEAR FRIENDS,--Again another year has brought us together to rejoice
at our successes, and, if to grieve over some disappointments, to try
together to find out what it is that may have brought them about, and to
correct it.

God seems to have given His favour to the manner in which you have been

Thanks to you, each and all of you, for the pains you have taken to
carry out the work. I hope you feel how great have been the pains
bestowed upon you.

You are not “grumblers” at all: you do try to justify the great care
given you, the confidence placed in you, and, after you have left this
Home, the freedom of action you enjoy--by that _intelligent_ obedience
to rules and orders, to render which is alone worthy of the name of
“Trained Nurse,” of God’s soldier. We shall be poor soldiers indeed, if
we don’t _train_ ourselves for the battle. But if discipline is ever
looked upon as interference, then freedom has become lawlessness, and we
are no “Trained Nurses” at all.

The trained Englishwoman is the first Nurse in the world: _if_--IF she
knows how to unite this intelligent obedience to commands with
thoughtful and godly command of herself.

       *       *       *       *       *

“The greatest evils in life,” said one of the world’s highest statesmen,
“have had their rise from something which was thought of too little
importance to attend to.” How we Nurses can echo that!

“Immense, incalculable misery” is due to “the immoral
thoughtlessness”--he calls thoughtlessness immoral--of women about
little things. This is what our training is to counteract in us. Think
nothing too small to be attended to in this way. Think everything too
small of personal trouble or sensitiveness to be cared for in another

It is not knowledge only: it is practice we want. We only _know_ a thing
if we can _do_ it. There is a famous Italian proverb which says: “So
much”--and no more--“each knows as she does.”

What we did last year we may look upon not as a matter of conceit, but
of encouragement. We must not fail this year, and we’ll not fail. We’ll
keep up to the mark: nay more, we will press on to a higher mark. For
our “calling” is a high one (the “little things,” remember: a high
excellence in little things). And we must answer to the call ever more
and more strenuously and ever more and more humbly too.

We live together: let us live for each other’s comfort. We are all
working together: grasp the idea of this as a larger work than our own
little pet hobbies, which are very narrow, our own little personal
wishes, feelings, piques, or tempers. This is not individual work. A
real Nurse sinks self. Remember we are not so many small selves, but
members of a community.

“Little children, love one another.” To love, that is, to help one
another, to strive together, to act together, to work for the same end,
to bring to perfection the sisterly feeling of fellow-workers, without
which nothing great is done, nothing good lasts. Might not St. John have
been thinking of us Nurses in our Training Schools when he said that?

May God be with us all and we be _one_ in Him and in His _work_!

    God speed us all!
    Amen in our hearts.


These are some of the little things we need to attend to:

To be a Nurse _is_ to be a Nurse: not to be a Nurse only when we are put
to the work we like. If we can’t work when we are put to the work we
don’t like--and Patients can’t always be fitted to Nurses--that is
behaving like a spoilt child, like a naughty girl: not like a Nurse.

If we can do the work we don’t like from the higher motive till we do
like it, that is one test of being a real Nurse. A Nurse is not one who
can only do what she does like, and can’t do what she does not like. For
the Patients want according to their wants, and not according to the
Nurse’s likes or dislikes.

If you wish to be trained to do _all_ Nursing well, even what you do not
like--trained to perfection in little things--that is Nursing for the
sake of Nursing, for the sake of God and of your neighbour. And
remember, in little things as in great--No Cross, no Crown.

Nursing is said, most truly said, to be a high calling, an honourable

But what does the honour lie in? In working hard during your training to
learn and to do all things perfectly. The honour does not lie in putting
on Nursing like your uniform, your dress; though dishonour often lies in
being neat in your uniform within doors and dressy in your finery out of
doors. Dishonour always lies in inconsistency.

Honour lies in loving perfection, consistency, and in working hard for
it: in being ready to work patiently: ready to say not “How clever I
am!” but “I am not yet worthy: but Nursing is worthy; and I will live to
deserve and work to deserve to be called a Trained Nurse.”

Here are two of the plain, practical, little things necessary to produce
good Nurses, the want of attention to which produces some of the
“greatest evils in life”: quietness, cleanliness, (_a_) Quietness in
moving about the “Home”; in arranging your rooms, in not _slamming_
every door after you. No noisy talking on the stairs and in the
lobbies--forgetting at times some unfortunate Night Nurse in bed. But if
you are Nurses, Nurses ought to be going about quietly whether Night
Nurses are asleep or not. For a Sick Ward ought to be as quiet as a Sick
Room; and a Sick Room, I need not say, ought to be the quietest place in
God’s Kingdom. Quietness in dress, especially being _consistent_ in this
matter when off duty and going out. And oh! let the Lady Probationers
realise how important their example is in these things, so little and so
great! If you are Nurses, Nurses ought not to be dressy, whether in or
out of their uniform.

Do you remember that Christ holds up the wild flowers as our example in
dress? Why? He says: God “clothes” the field flowers. How does He clothe

First: their “clothes” are exactly suitable for the kind of place they
are in and the kind of work they have to do. So should ours be.

Second: field flowers are never double: double flowers change their
useful stamens for showy petals, and so have no seeds. These double
flowers are like the useless appendages now worn on the dress, and very
much in your way. Wild flowers have purpose in all their beauty. So
ought dress to have; nothing purposeless about it.

Third: the colours of the wild flower are perfect in harmony, and not
many of them.

Fourth: there is not a speck on the freshness with which flowers come
out of the dirty earth. Even when our clothes are getting rather old we
may imitate the flower: for we may make them look as fresh as a daisy.

Whatsoever we do, whether we eat or drink _or dress_, let us do all to
the glory of God. But above all remember, “Be not anxious what ye shall
put on,” which is the real meaning of “Take no thought.”

This is not my own idea: it was in a Bible lesson, never to be
forgotten. And I knew a Nurse who dressed so nicely and quietly after
she had heard this Bible lesson that you would think of her as a model.
And alas! I have known, oh how many! whose dress was their snare.

Oh, my dear Nurses, whether gentlewomen or not, don’t let people say of
you that you are like “Girls of the Period”: let them say that you are
like “field flowers,” and welcome.

(_b_) Cleanliness in person and in our rooms, thinking nothing too small
to be attended to in this respect. And if these things are important in
the “Home,” think how important they are in the Wards, where
cleanliness and fresh air--there can be no pure air without
cleanliness--not so much give life as _are_ the very life of the
Patients; where the smallest carelessness may turn the scale from life
to death; where Disinfectants, as one of your own Surgeons has said, are
but a “mystic rite.” Cleanliness is the only real Disinfectant. Remember
that Typhoid Fever is distinctly a filth disease; that Consumption is
distinctly the product of breathing foul air, especially at night; that
in surgical cases, Erysipelas and Pyaemia are simply a poisoning of the
blood--generally thro’ some want of cleanliness or other. And do not
speak of these as little things, which determine the most momentous
issues of life and death. I knew a Probationer who when washing a poor
man’s ulcerated leg, actually wiped it on his sheet, and excused herself
by saying she had always seen it done so in another place. The least
carelessness in not washing your hands between one bad case and another,
and many another carelessness which it is plain I cannot mention
here--it would not be nice, though it is much less nice to do it--the
least carelessness, I say, in these things which every Nurse can be
careful or careless in, may cost a life: aye, may cost your own, or at
least a finger. We have all seen poisoned fingers.

I read with more interest than if they were novels your case papers.
Some are meagre, especially in the “history.” Some are good. Please
remember that, besides your own instruction, you can give me some too,
by making these most interesting cases as interesting as possible, by
making them full and accurate, and entering the full history. If the
history of every case were recorded, especially of Typhoid Fever, which
is, as we said, a filth disease, it is impossible to over-estimate the
body of valuable information which would thus be got together, and might
go far, in the hands of Officers of Health and by recent laws, to
prevent disease altogether. The District Nurses are most useful in this

When we obey all God’s laws as to cleanliness, fresh air, pure water,
good habits, good dwellings, good drains, food and drink, work and
exercise, health is the result. When we disobey, sickness. 110,000 lives
are needlessly sacrificed every year in this kingdom by our
disobedience, and 220,000 people are needlessly sick all the year round.
And why? Because we will not know, will not obey God’s simple Health

No epidemic can resist thorough cleanliness and fresh air.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is there any Nurse here who is a Pharisee? This seems a very cruel and
unjust question.

We think of the Pharisees, when we read the terrible denunciation of
them by our Master, as a small, peculiar, antiquated sect of 2000 years
ago. Are they not rather the least peculiar, the most widely-spread
people of every time? I am sure I often ask myself, sadly enough, “Am I
a Pharisee?” In this sense: Am I, or am I not, doing this with a single
eye to God’s work, to serving Him and my neighbour, even tho’ my
“neighbour” is as hostile to me as the Jew was to the Samaritan? Or am I
doing it because I identify my selfish self with the work, and in so
doing serve myself and not God? If so, then I am a Pharisee.

It is good to love our Training School and our body, and to wish to keep
up its credit. We are bound to do so. That is helping God’s work in the
world. We are bound to try to be the “salt of the world” in nursing; but
if we are conceited, seeking _ourselves_ in this, then we are not “salt”
but Pharisees.

We should have zeal for God’s sake and His work’s sake: but some seem to
have zeal for zeal’s sake only. Zeal does not make a Christian Nurse if
it is zeal for our own credit and glory--tho’ Christ was the most
zealous mediciner that ever was. (He says: “The zeal of God’s house hath
eaten me up.”) Zeal by itself does not make a good Nurse: it makes a
Pharisee. Christ is so strong upon this point of not being conceited, of
not nursing to show what “fine fellows” we are as Nurses, that He
actually says “it is conceited of us to let one of our hands know what
the other does.” What will He say if He sees one of us doing all her
work to let not only her other hand but other people know she does it?
Yet all our best work which looks so well _may_ be done from this

And let me tell you a little secret. One of our Superintendents at a
distance says that she finds she must not boast so much about St.
Thomas’. Nor must you. People have heard too much about it. I dare say
you remember the fine old Greek statesman who was banished because
people were tired of hearing him called “The Just.” Don’t let people get
tired of hearing you call St. Thomas’ “The Just” when you are away from
us. We shall not at all complain of your proving it “The Just” by your
training and conduct.

I read lately in a well-known medical journal, speaking of the
“Nightingale Nurses,” that the day is quite gone by when a novel would
give a caricature of a Nurse as a “Mrs. Gamp”--drinking, brutal,
ignorant, coarse old woman. The “Nightingale Nurse” in a novel, it said,
would be--what do you think?--an active, useful, clever Nurse. These are
the parts I approve of. But what else do you think?--a lively, rather
pert, and very conceited young woman. Ah, there’s the rub. You see what
our name is “up” for in the world. That’s what I should like to be left
out. This is what a friendly critic says of us, and we may be very sure
that unfriendly critics say much worse. Do we deserve what they say of
us? That is the question. Let us not have, each one of us, to say “yes”
in our own hearts. Christ made no light matter of conceit.

Keep the usefulness, and let the conceit go.

       *       *       *       *       *

And may I here say a few words of counsel to those who may be called
upon to be Night Nurses? One of these asked me with tears to pray for
her. I do pray for all of you, our dear Night Nurses. In my restless
nights my thoughts turn to you incessantly by the bedsides of restless
and suffering Patients, and I pray God that He will make, thro’ you,
thro’ your patience, your skill, your hope, faith and charity, every
Ward into a Church, and teach us that to _be_ the Gospel is the only way
to “preach the Gospel,” which Christ tells us is the duty of every one
of us “unto the end of the world”--every woman and Nurse of us all; and
that a collection of any people trying to live like Christ is a Church.
Did you ever think how Christ was a Nurse, and stood by the bed, and
with His own hands nursed and “did for” the sufferers?

But, to return to those who may be called upon to be Night Nurses: do
not abuse the liberty given you on emerging from the “Home,” where you
are cared for as if you were our children. Keep to regular hours by day
for your meals, your sleep, your exercise. If you do not, you will never
be able to do and stand the night work perfectly; if you do, there is no
reason why night nursing may not be as healthy as day. (I used to be
very fond of the night when I was a Night Nurse; I know what it is. But
then I had my day work to do besides; you have not.) Do not turn dressy
in your goings out by day. It is vulgar, it is mean, to burst out into
freedom in this way. There are circumstances of peculiar temptation
when, after the restraint and motherly care of the “Home,” you, the
young ones, are put into circumstances of peculiar liberty. Is it not
the time to act like Daniel?... Let “the Judge, the Righteous Judge,”
have to call us not the “Pharisees,” but Daniel’s band!

That is what I pray for you, for me, for all of us.

But what is it to be a Daniel’s band? What is God’s command to Night
Nurses? It is--is it not?--not to slur over any duty--not the very least
of all our duties--as Night Nurse: to be able to give a full, accurate,
and minute account of each Patient the next morning: to be strictly
reserved in your manner with gentlemen (“Thou God seest me”: no one
else); to be honest and true. You don’t know how well the Patients know
you, how accurately they judge you. You can do them no good unless they
see that you _live_ what you say.

It is: not to go out showily dressed, and not to keep irregular hours
with others in the day time.

    Dare to have a purpose firm,
    Dare to make it known.

Watch--watch. Christ seems to have had a special word for Night Nurses:
“I say unto you, watch.” And He says: “Lo, I am with you alway,” when no
one else is by.

And he divides us all, at this moment, into the “wise virgins” and the
“foolish virgins.” Oh, let Him not find any “foolish virgins” among our
Night Nurses! Each Night Nurse has to stand alone in her Ward.

    Dare to stand alone.

Let our Master be able to say some day that every one of the Patients
has been the better, not only in body but in spirit--whether going to
life or to death--for having been nursed by each one of you.

       *       *       *       *       *

But one is gone, perhaps the dearest of all--Nurse Martha Rice.

I was the last to see her in England. She was so pleased to be going to
Miss Machin at Montreal. She said it was no sacrifice, except the
leaving her parents. She almost wished it had been, that she might have
had something to give to God.

Now she _has_ had something to give to God: her life.

“So young, so happy: all so happy together, when in their room they
were always sitting round the table, so cheerful, reading their Bible
together. She walked round the garden so happy that last night.”

So pure and fresh: there was something of the sweet savour of holiness
about her. I could tell you of souls upon whom she made a great
impression: all unknowing: simply by being herself.

A noble sort of girl: sound and holy in mind and heart: living with God.
It is scarcely respectful to say how I liked her, now she is an angel in
heaven; like a child to Miss Machin, who was like a mother to her, loved
and nursed her day and night.

“So dear and bright a creature,” “liked and respected by every one in
the Hospital,” “and, as a Nurse, hardly too much can be said in her
favour.” “To the Doctors, Patients, and Superintendent, she was simply
invaluable.” “The contrast between these Nurses and the best of others
is to be keenly felt daily”; “doing bravely”; “perfectly obedient and
pleasant to their Superintendent.”

Was Martha conceited with all this? She was one of the simplest humblest
Christian women I have ever known. All noble souls are simple, natural,
and humble.

Let us be like her, and, like her, not conceited with it all. She was
too brave to be conceited: too brave not to be humble. _She_ had trained
herself for the battle.

“With a nice, genial, respectful manner, which never left her, great
firmness in duty, and steadiness that rendered her above suspicion”:
“happy and interested in her charge.”

More above all petty calculations about self, all paltry wranglings,
than almost any. How different for us, for her, had it not been so!
Could we have mourned her as we do? The others of the small Montreal
staff who miss her so terribly will like to hear how we feel this. They
were all with her when she died. Miss Machin sat up with her every
night, and either she or Miss Blower never left her, day or night,
during the last nine days of her illness. She died of typhoid fever:
peritonitis the last three weeks; but, as she had survived so long, they
hoped against hope up to Easter Day.

About seven days before her death, during her delirium, she said: “The
Lord has two wills: His will be done.” It is when we do not know what
God’s will is to be, that it is the hardest to will what He wills.

Strange to say, on Good Friday, though she was so delirious that there
was difficulty in keeping her in bed, and she did not know what day it
was, Christ on the Cross was her theme all the day long. “Christ died on
the Cross for me, and I want to go and die for Him.” She had indeed
lived for Him. Then on Easter Day she said to Miss Blower: “I am happy,
so happy: we are both happy, so very happy.” She said she was going to
hear the eighth Psalm. Shall we remember Martha’s favourite psalm? She
spoke often about St. Thomas’.

She died the day after Easter Day. The change came at 7 in the evening,
and she lived till 5 o’clock the next morning, conscious to the last,
repeating sentences, and answering by looks when she could speak no
more. Her Saviour, whom she had so loved and followed in her life, was
with her thro’ the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and she felt Him
there. She was happy. “My best love,” she said, “tell them it is all for
the best, and I am not sorry I came out.”

Her parents have given her up nobly, though with bleeding hearts, with
true submission to our Father’s will: they _are_ satisfied it is “all
for the best.”

All the Montreal Hospital shared our sorrow. The Doctors were full of
kindness in their medical attendance. Mr. Redpath, who is a principal
Director, and Mrs. Redpath were like a real father and mother to our
people. Martha’s death-bed and coffin were strewed with flowers.

Public and private prayers were offered up for her at Montreal during
her illness. Who can say that they were not answered?

She spoke of dying: but without fear. We prayed that God would spare the
child to us: but He had need of her.

Our Father arranged her going out: for she went, if ever woman did, with
a single eye to please Him and do her duty to the work and her
Superintendent. “Is it well with the child?” “It is well.” Let us who
feel her loss so deeply in the work not grudge her to God.

As one of you yourselves said: “She died like a good soldier of Jesus
Christ, well to the front.” Would any one of us wish it otherwise for
her? Would any one of us wish a better lot for herself? There is but one
feeling among us all about her: that she lived as a noble Christian
girl, and that she has been permitted to die nobly: in the post of
honour, as a soldier thinks it glorious to die. In the midst of our
work, so surely do we Nurses think it glorious to die.

But to be like her we must have a mind like hers: “enduring, patient,
firm, and meek.” I know that she sought of God the mind of Jesus Christ,
“active, like His; like His, resigned”; copying His pattern: ready to
“endure hardness.”

We give her joy; it is our loss, not hers. She is gone to our Lord and
her Lord, made ripe so soon for her and our Father’s house. Our tears
are her joy. She is in another room of our Father’s house. She bids us
now give thanks for her. Think of that Easter morn when she rose again!
She had indeed “another morn than ours”--that 17th of April.



_Easter Eve, 1879_, 6 A.M.

MY DEAR FRIENDS,--I am always thinking of you, and as my Easter
greeting, I could not help copying for you part of a letter which one of
my brother-in-law’s family had from Col. Degacher (commanding one
battalion of the 24th Regiment in Natal), giving the names of men whom
he recommended for the Victoria Cross, when defending the Commissariat
Stores at Rorke’s Drift. (His brother, Capt. Degacher, was killed at
Isandhlwana.) He says:

“Private John Williams was posted, together with Private Joseph Williams
and Private William Harrison (1/24th Regiment), in a further ward of the
Hospital. They held it for more than an hour--so long as they had a
round of ammunition left, when, as communication was for the time cut
off, the Zulus were enabled to advance and burst open the door. A
hand-to-hand conflict then ensued, during which Private Joseph Williams
and two of the Patients were dragged out and assegaied (killed with a
short spear or dagger).

“Whilst the Zulus were occupied with the slaughter of these unfortunate
men, a lull took place, which enabled Private John Williams (who with
two of the Patients were by this time the _only men left alive_ in the
Ward) to succeed in knocking a hole in the partition and taking the two
Patients with him into the next ward, where he found Private Henry Hook.

“These two men together, one man working whilst the other fought and
held the enemy at bay with his bayonet, broke through three more
partitions, and were thus enabled to bring eight Patients through a
small window into the inner line of defence.

“In another ward facing the hill, William Jones and Private Robert Jones
had been placed: they defended their post to the last, and until six out
of seven Patients it contained had been removed. The seventh, Sergeant
Maxfield, 2/24th Regiment, was delirious from fever, and although they
had previously dressed him, they were unable to induce him to move; and
when Private Robert Jones returned to endeavour to carry him off, he
found him being stabbed on his bed by the Zulus.

“Corporal Wm. Allen and Fd. Hitch, 2/24th Regiment, must also be
mentioned. It was chiefly due to their courageous conduct that
communication with the Hospital was kept up at all--holding together, at
all costs, a most dangerous post, raked in reverse by the enemy’s fire
from the hill. They were both severely wounded, but their determined
conduct enabled the Patients to be withdrawn from the Hospital. And when
incapacitated from their wounds from fighting themselves, they
continued, as soon as their wounds were dressed, to serve out ammunition
to their comrades throughout the night.”

These men who were defending the house at Rorke’s Drift were 120 of his
(Col. Degacher’s) men against 5000 Zulus, and they fought from 3 P.M. of
January 22nd, to 5 A.M. of the 23rd. _There_ is a Night Nurse’s work for
you. “When shall such heroes live again?” In every Nurse of us all.
Every Nurse may at all costs serve her Patients as these brave heroic
men did at the risk and the cost of their own lives.

Three cheers for these bravest of Night Nurses of Rorke’s Drift, who
regarded not themselves, not their ease, not even their lives; who
regarded duty and discipline; who stood to the last by God and their
neighbour; who saved their post and their Patients. And may we Nurses
all be like them, and fight through the night for our Patients’
lives--fight through every night and day!

Do you see what a high feeling of comradeship does for these men? Many a
soldier loses his life in the field by going back to help a drowning or
a wounded comrade, who might have saved it. Oh, let us Nurses all be
_comrades_; stick to the honour of our flag and our corps, and help each
other to the best success, for the sake of Him who died, as at this
time, to save us all!

And let us remember that petty selfishnesses and meannesses and
self-indulgences hinder our honour as good soldiers of Jesus Christ and
of the Unseen God, who sees all these little things when no one else

What makes us endure to the end? Discipline. Do you think these men
could thus have fought at a desperate post through the livelong night if
they had not been trained to obedience to orders, and to acting as a
corps, yet each man doing his own duty to the fullest extent--rather
than every man going his own way, thinking of his own likings, and
caring for himself?

How _great_ may be men and women, “little lower than the angels,” and
also how _little_!

Humility--to think our own life worth nothing except as serving in a
corps, God’s nursing corps, unflinching obedience, steadiness, and
endurance in carrying out His work--that is true discipline, that is
true greatness, and may God give it to us Nurses, and make us His own

And let us not think that these things can be done in a day or a night.
No, they are the result of no rough-and-ready method. The most important
part of those efforts was to be found in the patient labour of years.
These great tasks are not to be accomplished suddenly by raw fellows in
a night; it is when discipline and training have become a kind of second
nature to us that they can be accomplished every day and every night.
The raw Native levies ran away, determining our fall at Isandhlwana. The
well-trained English soldiers, led by their Officers and their
Non-commissioned Officers, stuck to their posts.

Every feeling, every thought we have, stamps a character upon us,
especially in our year of training, and in the next year or two.

The most unruly boys, weak in themselves--for unruliness is
weakness--when they have to submit, it brings out all the good points in
their characters. These boys, so easily led astray, they put themselves
under the severest discipline, and after training sometimes come out the
best of us all. The qualities which, when let alone, run to seed and do
themselves and others nothing but harm, under proper discipline make
fine fellows of them.

And what is it to obey? To obey means to do what we are told, and to do
it at once. With the nurse, as with the soldier, whether we have been
accustomed to it or not, whether we think it right or not, is not the
question. Prompt obedience is the question. We are not in control, but
under control. Prompt obedience is the first thing; the rest is
traditional nonsense. But mind who we go to for our orders. Go to
headquarters. True discipline is to uphold authority, and not to mind
trouble. We come into the work to do the work....

We Nurses are taught the “reason why,” as soldiers cannot be, of much of
what we have to do. But it would be making a poor use of this “reason
why” if we were to turn round in any part of our training and say, or
_not_ say, but _feel_--We know better than you.

Would we be of less use than the Elephant? The Elephant who could kill a
hundred men, but who alike pushes the artillery train with his head when
the horses cannot move it, and who minds the children and carefully
nurses them, and who threads a needle with his trunk. Why? Because he
has been taught to _obey_. He would be of no use but to destroy, unless
he had learnt that. Sometimes he has a strong will, and it is not easy
for him to get his lesson perfect. We can feel for him. We know a little
about it ourselves. But he does learn in time to go our way and not his
own, to carry a heavy load, which of course he would rather not do, to
turn to which ever side we wish, and to stop when we want him to stop.

So God teaches each one of us in time to go His way and not our own. And
one of the best things I can wish each one of us is that we may learn
the Elephant’s lesson, that is to obey, in good time and not too late.

Pray for me, my dear friends, that I may learn it, even in my old age.



LONDON, _May 16, 1888_.

MY DEAR FRIENDS,--Here, one year more, is my very best love and
heart-felt “good speed” to the work.

To each and to all I wish the very highest success, in the widest
meaning of the word, in the life’s work you have chosen.

And I am more sorry than for anything else that my illness, more than
usually serious, has let me know personally so little of you, except
through our dear Matron and dear Home Sister.

You are going steadily and devotedly on in preparing yourselves for
future work. Accept my heartiest sympathy and thanks.

       *       *       *       *       *

We hear much of “Associations” now. It is impossible indeed to live in
isolation: we are dependent upon others for the supply of all our wants,
and others upon us.

Every Hospital is an “Association” in itself. _We_ of this School are
an Association in the deepest sense, regulated--at least we strive
towards it--on high and generous principles; through organisation
working at once for our own and our fellow Nurses’ success. For, to make
progress possible, we must make this interdependence a source of good:
not a means of standing still.

There is no magic in the word “Association,” but there is a secret, a
mighty call in it, _if_ we will but listen to the “still small voice” in
it, calling upon each of us to do our best.

It calls upon our dear heads, and they answer. It calls upon each of us.

We must never forget that the “Individual” makes the Association. What
the Association _is_ depends upon each of its members. A Nurses’
Association can never be a substitute for the individual Nurse. It is
she who must, each in her measure, give life to the Association, while
the Association helps _her_.

We _have_ our dear heads. Thank God for them! Let us each one of us be a
living member, according to her several ability. It is the individual
that signifies--rather than the law or the rule.

Has not every one who has experience of the world been struck by this:
you may have the most admirable circumstances and organisations and
examinations and certificates, yet, if the individual allows herself to
sink to a lower level, it is all but a “tinkling cymbal” for her. It is
how the circumstances are worked that signifies. Circumstances are

Rules may become a dead letter. It is the spirit of them that “giveth
life.” It is the individual, inside, that counts, the level she is upon
which tells. The rest is only the outward shell or envelope. She must
become a “rule of thought” to herself through the Ruler.

And on the other hand, it strikes you often, as a great man has said, if
the individual finds herself afterwards in less admirable circumstances,
but keeps her high level, and rises to a higher and a higher level
still--if she makes of her difficulties, her opportunities--steps to
ascend--she commands her circumstances; she is capable of the best
Nursing work and spirit, capable of the best influence over her

It is again, what the individual Nurse _is_ and can do during her
_living_ training and _living_ work that signifies, not what she is
certified for, like a steam-boiler, which is certified to stand so much
pressure of work.

She may have gone through a first-rate course, plenty of examinations,
and we may find nothing inside. It may be the difference between a Nurse
nursing, and a Nurse reading a book on Nursing. Unless it bear fruit, it
is all gilding and veneering: the reality is not there, growing, growing
every year. Every Nurse must grow. No Nurse can stand still. She must go
forward or she will go backward every year.

And how can a Certificate or public Register show this? Rather, she
ought to have a moral “Clinical” Thermometer in herself. Our stature
does not grow every year after we are “grown up.” Neither does it grow
down. It is otherwise with our moral stature and our Nursing stature. We
grow down, if we don’t grow up, every year.

At the present time, when there are so many Associations, when
periodicals and publicity are so much the fashion, when there is such a
dragging of everything before the public, there is some danger of our
forgetting that any true Nursing work must be quiet work--an individual
work. Anything else is contrary to the whole realness of the work.
_Where_ am _I_, the individual, in my inmost soul? _What_ am _I_, the
inner woman called “I”? That is the question.

This “I” must be quiet yet quick; quick without hurry; gentle without
slowness, discreet without self-importance. “In quietness and in
confidence must be her strength.”

I must be trustworthy, to carry out directions intelligently and
perfectly, _unseen_ as well as seen; “unto the Lord” _as well as_ unto
men; no mere eye service. (How can this be if she is a mere Association
Nurse, and not an individual Nurse?)

I must have moral influence over my Patients. And I _can_ only have this
by _being_ what I appear, especially now that everybody is educated, so
that Patients become my keen critics and judges. My Patients are
watching me. They know what my profession, my calling is: to devote
myself to the good of the sick. They are asking themselves: does that
Nurse act up to her profession? This is no supposition. It is a fact. It
is a call to us, to each individual Nurse, to act up to her profession.

We hear a good deal nowadays about Nursing being made a “profession.”
Rather, is it not the question for _me_: _am I_ living up to my

But I must not crave for the Patient to be always recognising my
services. On the contrary: the best service I can give is that the
Patient shall scarcely be aware of any--shall recognise my presence most
by recognising that he has _no_ wants.

(Shakespeare tells me that to be “nurse like” is to be to the Patient--

        So kind, so duteous, diligent,
    So tender over his occasions, true,
    So feat.)

I must be thorough--a work, not a word--a Nurse, not a book, not an
answer, not a certificate, not a mechanism, a mere piece of a mechanism
or Association.

At the same time, in as far as Associations really give help and pledges
for progress, are not mere crutches, stereotypes for standing still, let
us bid them “God speed” with our whole hearts.

We all know what “parasites” are, plants or animals which live upon
others and don’t work for their own food, and so degenerate. For the
work to get food is quite as necessary as the food itself for healthy
active life and development.

Now, there is a danger in the air of becoming Parasites in Nursing (and
also Midwifery)--of our becoming Nurses (and Midwives) by deputy, a
danger now when there is so great an inclination to make school and
college education, all sorts of Sciences and Arts, even Nursing and
Midwifery, a book and examination business, a profession in the low, not
in the high sense of the word. And the danger is that we shall be
content to let the book and the theory and the words do for us. One of
the most religious of men says that we let the going to Church and the
clergyman do for us _instead of_ the learning and the practice, if we
have the Parasite tendency, and that even the better the service and the
better the sermon and the theory and the teaching, the more danger there
is that we may let it do. He says that we may become satisfied to be
prayed for instead of praying--to have our work for Christ done by a
paid deputy--to be fed by a deputy who gives us our supply for a
week--to substitute for thought what is meant as a stimulus to thought
and practice. This is the parasite of the pew he says (as the literary
parasite thinks he knows everything because he has a “good library”). He
enjoys his weekly, perhaps his daily worship, while character and life,
will and practice are not only not making progress, but are actually

Do you remember Tennyson’s farmer, who says of the clergyman:

    I ’eärd ’um a bummin’ awaäy ... ower my ’eäd, ...
    An’ I thowt a said whot a owt to ’a said an’ I coom’d awaäy.

We laugh at that. But is the Parasite much better than that?

Now the Ambulance Classes, the Registration, the Certificates of Nursing
and of Nurses (and of midwifery), especially any which may demand the
minimum of _practice_, which may _substitute_ for _personal_ progress in
active proficiency, mere literary or word progress, instead of making it
the material for growth in correct knowledge and practice, all such like
things may tend this way.

It is not the certificate which makes the Nurse or the Midwife. It may
_un-make_ her. The danger is lest she let the certificate be _instead
of_ herself, _instead of_ her own never ceasing going up higher as a
woman and a Nurse.

This is the “day” of Examinations in the turn that
Education--Elementary, the Higher Education, Professional
Education--seems taking. And it is a great step which has substituted
this for what used to be called “interest.” Only let us never allow it
to encroach upon what cannot be tested by examinations. Only let the
“day” of _Practice_, the development of each individual’s thought and
practice, character and dutifulness, keep up, through the materials
given us for growth and for correct knowledge, with the “day of
examinations” in the Nurse’s life, which is above all a moral and
practical life, a life not of show, but of faithful action.

But above all, dear comrades, let each one of us, each individual of us,
not only bid “God speed” in her heart to this, our own School (or
Association--call it so if you will), but _strive_ to _speed_ it with
all the best that is in her, even as your “Association” and its dear
heads strive to speed each one of you.

Let each one of us take the abundant and excellent food for the mind
which is offered us, in our training, our classes, our lectures, our
examinations and reading--not as “Parasites,” no, none of you will ever
do that--but as bright and vigorous fellow-workers, working out the
better way every day to the end of life.

Once more, my heartiest sympathy, my dearest love to each and to all of

from your ever faithful old comrade,


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.


 [1] The beginning of the first address will suggest a reason for this
 turn of phrase. A nurse who had been through training might not always
 be “worthy of the name of ‘Trained Nurse’” (Address of 1876).

 [2] There is a well-known Society abroad (for charitable works) of
 which the Members go through a two years’ probation on their first
 entering, but after ten years they return and go through a second
 probation of one year. This is one of the most striking recognitions
 I know of the fact that progress is always to be made: that grown-up
 people, even of middle-age, ought always to have their education going
 on. But only those _can_ learn _after_ middle age who have gone on
 learning up to middle age.

 [3] The Madre Santa Colomba, of the Convent of the Trinità dei Monti
 in Rome.--EDITOR’S NOTE.

 [4] There is a most suggestive story told of one, some 300 years
 ago, an able and learned man, who presented himself for admission
 into a Society for Preaching and Charitable Works. He was kept for
 many months on this query: _Are you a Christian?_ by his “Master of
 Probationers.” He took kindly and heartily to it; went with his whole
 soul and mind into this little momentous question, and solved it
 victoriously in his own course, and in his after course of usefulness
 for others. Am I a Christian? is most certainly the first and most
 important question for each one of us Nurses. Let us ask it, each of
 herself, every day.

 [5] Nightingale Nurse and Lady Superintendent of Liverpool Workhouse
 Infirmary. Pioneer of Workhouse Nursing. After her early death in 1868
 Miss Nightingale wrote in _Good Words_ an article, “Una and the Lion,”
 on her life and work.--EDITOR’S NOTE.

 [6] Madame Caroline Werckner, an Englishwoman.--EDITOR’S NOTE.

 [7] Do you remember the word of one of the greatest poets of the
 Middle Ages?

 The soul Which o’er the body keeps a holy ward, Placed there by God,
 yielding alone to Him _The trust He gave_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

to set it face heavenward=> to set its face heavenward {pg 84}

And lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world=> And lo I am
with you always, even unto the end of the world {pg 98}

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Florence Nightingale to her Nurses - A selection from Miss Nightingale's addresses to - probationers and nurses of the Nightingale school at St. - Thomas's hospital" ***

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