A Stuhborn Samaritan Florence nightingale's life in the Crimea has well been described by one of her biographers in a chapter headed — Hell. The London Times correspondent had not exaggerated in his picture of the state of the wounded British Army. She found not so much a hospital as a pest house. The rough, massive building, which was given the name of Barrack Hospital, lent to the English by the Turkish government, was originally intended for hardy, well soldiers. Of the cramped quarters given to Florence and her nurses, she writes, "Occasionally our roof is torn off, or the windows are blown in, and we are under water for the night.
Florence was later to tell the Royal Commission of , "The sanitary conditions of the hospitals of Scutari were inferior in point of crowding, ventila- tion, drainage, cleanliness, up to the middle of March, A Stubborn Samaritan , to any civil hospital, or to the poorest homes of the worst parts of the civil population of any large town that I have ever seen.
Peter had been here, he would have said so I have been well acquainted with the dwellings of the worst parts of most of the great cities in Europe, but have never been in an atmosphere which I could compare with the Barrack Hospital at night. It was indeed impossible to put men in such a state of emaciation into these sheets. There was no bedroom furniture of any kind, and only empty beer or wine bottles for candlesticks. First-aid 29 Tlorence Nightingale: Fiery Angel in the field of battle was then unknown. The soldiers often spent several days on shipboard between the scene of combat and Scutari, tortured by fever, thirst and hunger, with broken bones and undressed wounds.
One of the nurses writes of "their thigh and shoulder bones perfectly red from rubbing against the deck. Vessels were arriving and orderlies carrying the poor fellows, who with their wounds and frost-bites had been tossing about on the Black Sea for two or three days and sometimes more. Where were they to go?
Not an available bed. They were laid on the floor one after another, till the beds were emptied of those dying of cholera and every other disease. Many died im- mediately after being brought in — their moans would pierce the heart and the look of agony on those poor dying faces will never leave my heart. They may well be called 'the martyrs of the Crimea! As for the assistants, they are all cubs, and will, while a man is breathing his last breath under the knife, lament the annoyance of being called up from their dinner by such a fresh influx of wounded In all our corridor, I think we have not an average of three limbs per man.
Then come the operations. They are all performed 30 A Stubborn Samaritan in the wards There were no facilities for bathing; none for eating; "the men have to tear their meat like wild beasts," Florence writes. There was no kitchen, no knives, no forks, no spoons, no cooks. Food was unsystematicaily prepared in thirteen huge coppers by whoever was able. The rations were sometimes cooked only half an hour. Sometimes it was four hours before they were fished out. It took three or four hours to serve the dinner to the three and four miles of patients.
There was no laundry. The clothes and bed-linen of the wounded men and of those with infectious diseases were all thrown to- gether. The most common medical materials, splints, bandages, ordinary drugs were absent. Florence wrote that there were "no scissors for cutting the men's hair, which is literally alive, no basin, no towels, no chloride of zinc.
Those who wished might stay at home and hem- stitch garments to send to "the poor soldiers. But Florence's philanthropy must be first-hand. The Lady Superintendent found at Scutari not only filth and horror, but a complete collapse of morale among the medical authorities. The orderlies were unfeeling, ignorant and irresponsible.
Admin- istration at home and in Scutari was a sorry bungle. Kinglake's simple statement tells the whole story, "The sanitary administration had broken down. They cracked jokes about her as "The Bird. The military officers either threw obstacles in her path or lent her as little support as possible, sarcasti- 32 A Stubborn Samaritan cally retorting, "It is the Bird's duty. With exemplary patience, Florence overcame their hostility. The Lady Superintendent with tact, but strength, soon made her impact felt as she slowly but surely became administrator of the hospital.
First she sent to England for hard scrubbing brushes for the floors. She must have carpenters to patch up the dilapidated building. The men in the hospital must have towels and tooth- brushes; those who were fighting must have warm clothing. She writes after one of her visits at the front, "Fancy working five nights out of seven in the trenches! Fancy being thirty-six hours in them at a stretch, often forty-eight hours with no food but raw salt pork, sprinkled with sugar, rum, and biscuit;. When I see the camp, I wonder not that the army suffered so much, but that there is any army left at all.
If the troops who work in the trenches are not supplied with warm clothing, Napol- eon's Russian campaign will be repeated here. British aristocrats and humble working women made bandages, shirts and socks; they turned their houses upside down to find what Miss Nightingale wanted. When one of the "sisters" sorted the goods that came to the wharves at Scutari, she said, "The English nobility must have emptied their wardrobes and linen stores, to send out bandages for the wounded.
There was the most beautiful undercloth- ing, and the finest cambric sheets, with merely a scissors run here and there through them, to insure their being used for no other purpose, some from the Queen's palace, with the royal monogram beautifully worked. Florence took him for a walk through the packed wards of the hospital and pointed to her men tossing in fever and delirium.
The Times Fund went, not for a church, but for blankets and medicines. Florence received and distributed the consignments from home. After ten days she had two "extra diet kitchens" for those who needed special food. The meat was boned, the gristle re- moved. Meals became punctual and well prepared. Soups, jellies, arrowroot mixed with port wine were discovered on special trays. She installed boilers in a Turkish house and organized a laundry. Special provision was made for the women who had come far from home to be near their husbands. Florence found the army wives, barefooted and bareheaded, living in three or four rooms in the basement of the hospital, their clothes worn out.
Twenty-two babies were born in a cellar from November through De- cember and many more during the winter. Florence helped feed and clothe some five hundred women and their babies. When fever broke out, due to a broken drain, she found a nearby house, cleaned and furnished it and moved the women in. She sent widows back to Eng- land, employed the others and helped start a school for the children.
In her later suggestions for army reform, she was to write, "When the improvements in our system which the war must suggest are discussed, let not the wife and child of the soldier be forgotten. For weeks she rode on horseback over the bleak and rocky roads of the Crimea. It was a far cry from the pleasant canters of the Squire's daughter in the New Forest of beautiful England. No hardship or danger could sway her from her duties.
Approaching the walls of Sebastopol, one day, a sentry met the party and begged them to dismount. The horrified sentry told her, "Madam, if anything hap- pens, I call upon these gentlemen to witness that I did not fail to warn you of the danger. The rough and fatiguing rides under the pitiless sun finally took their toll on her weakened constitution.
She had withstood daily contacts with cholera and typhoid fever at Scutari, but in her travels at the front she collapsed with what the doctors pronounced the 36 A Stubborn Samaritan worst form of Crimean fever. News reached England that Florence Nightingale was dying.
But it seemed that her incomparable self-discipline was dominant even on her deathbed. She had work to do ; she must get better. The dreaded affliction passed. The doctors urged the convalescent to sail immediately for Lon- don. Florence refused. She would not desert her post. She insisted on being taken back to Scutari. Even when she was on a stretcher, her word was law. Tlie eight soldiers who carried her down from the sanator- ium on the mountainside to the port did as they were told.
Despite this ordeal, her work in the heart of the Crimea was not over. She came back to set up two new camp hospitals and to establish a staff of nurses. On the height above Balaclava, where "The Nightin- gale Cross" stands today in memoriam, she spent a second winter in the bitter cold. A victim of rheuma- tism, tortured by sciatica, yet the report of one person was, "I have seen Miss Nightingale stand for hours at the top of a bleak, rocky mountain near the hos- pital, giving her instructions while the snow was falling heavily. Her carriage once turned over, injuring both herself and 37 Vlorence Nightingale: Viery Angel the attendant nurse.
But she stayed on, demanding order and comfort, not for herself, but for her soldiers. Even after the Treaty of Peace was signed, she refused to leave until all the hospitals were closed and the last troopship with the last sick man had gone. Six months after her arrival at Scutari, the change was so great that Kinglake writes, "Had it been pre- ceded by mummery, instead of ventilation and drain- age and pure water supply, it would have passed for a miracle.
Florence had not only established a systematic, well organized hospital; she had at the same time done much for what she called "the education of the British Army. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low dysen- tery, chronic acute, and cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoral- ization, and disorder on the part of the inferior; jealousies, meanness, and indifference, selfish brutal- ity on the part of the superior.
Florence wrote to England for games, maps, music and books; she conducted study classes; a cafe was built at Inkerman where the soldiers could come in from the bitter cold for a cup of hot coffee or chocolate. Money order offices sprang up in convenient spots so that the men might forward their pay home. Scarcely had she arrived from Eng- land than she wrote to Mr. Herbert of her hopes for the formation of a Medical School at Scutari. She cared for 18, sick and wounded. She passed eight hours at a time on her knees dressing wounds.
But one of her male companions wrote of Miss Nightingale, "Her nerve is equal to her good sense; she, with one of the nurses and myself, gave efficient aid at an amputation of the thigh yesterday. She was just as cool as if she had to do it herself. The more awful any particular case, the more certainly might her slight form be seen bending over him. Her spectacular accomplishments there became known the world over. Pass through the glimmering gloom. And flit from room to roomJ'" Longfellow's world-famous tribute is responsible for our proverbial picture of Florence Nightingale as a 40 A Siubborn Satnaritan self-sacrificing, saintly maiden; but the fact is that she was made more of dynamite than of sweetness and light.
She was a stern, rather than a swooning heroine. As Lytton Strachey says, "In the real Miss Nightingale there was more that was interesting than the legendary one ; there was also less that was agree- able. Well might "The speechless sufferers kiss her shadow" as she went down the long rows of cots listening to their breathing and noting their color. But to the military surgeons, the orderlies and the administra- tors, she seemed a dangerous, meddlesome person.
She wrote with deep feeling of her wounded men. Sarcastically, vituperatively, she flayed those who she felt cared nothing for the sick. She lashed out against the lack of system and the evils of the personnel. From there she wrote letters to the relatives of the men who had died, carefully relaying their last words. It was here, too, that she penned her confiden- tial reports to Herbert in which she spared no one. From her pen the most highly respected British lords received terrible nicknames.
One important indivi- dual she referred to as "a fossil of the pure Old Red Sandstone. When the men arrived from battle with their clothes in tatters, the "Purveyor" stood inactive, in- sisting that "according to the rules and regulations" 42 Tlorence Nightingale: Wiery Angel soldiers should bring "an adequate supply of cloth- ing with them to the hospital.
It was impossible to act "without a board. The next time the situa- tion arose, Florence ordered a government consign- ment to be forcibly opened. Open the door! No obstacle was too formidable for the Lady-in- Chief. When, in the already overflowing hospital, a great new contingent was expected from the battle- fields, she hired workmen to rehabilitate some of the rooms. Disapproving officials insisted that the proper course for such action was an appeal to the Director General of the Army Medical Department in London, who, in turn, would apply to the Horse Guard, who would move the Ordnance, who would take it up with the Treasury, who might consent to having the remodeling done in a few months — when the need was over.
On her own. Miss Nightingale hired two hundred workmen, completed the building, and paid 44 A Stubborn Samaritan the bill out of her own pocket. She devoted her entire personal allowance to her work in the East. But Miss Nightingale was no wholesale spumer of rules; she insisted upon rigid discipline and respect for the regulations.
One cold night, sitting by the bedside of a dying patient, she asked an orderly to bring a hot-water bottle. The orderly refused on the ground that he could do nothing for a patient without directions from a medical officer.
Florence Nightingale - Facts, Biography & Nursing - HISTORY
Miss Nightingale herself found a doctor who could grant her request. In this case she was able to warm the icy feet of her patient — legally. Criticized for her strictness, she never lost sight, however, of her real goal, that of alleviating the suffering of her soldiers. When she had to choose between a rule or the comfort of a wounded man, there was never a question as to which it should be.
There was none of the hysterical female in Miss Nightingale, understandable though it would have been midst the horrors of Scutari. She fought hard, but mostly from her desk in the Sister's Towers. She never lost her temper in public. She did not need to. When a doctor or orderly questioned any of her directions, saying 'It can't be done,' her answer was a quiet, insistent, 'But it must be done. Nothing can be sweeter than her smile. It is like a sunny day in summer. The small firm mouth we see in her portraits, with the tightly closed lips is more symbolic of Flor- ence Nightingale's nature than the "sunny" Polly- anna smile.
The "soul's glory" may have shone through her features, but the light in her steady, clear grey-blue eyes revealed a willful determination. The objective of the Lady-in-Chief of the Crimea was fortunately not that of popularity. She wanted results and she got them. Much of her precious time and energy had to go to solve power and personality conflicts in the administration.
She wrote, "There is not an official who would not burn me like Joan of Arc if he could. She spoke the truth. Far from being the "most loved woman of her period," as our Sunday School texts declare, she was at the height of her great work, bitterly hated. When she and her nurses were inspect- ing the hospitals in the Crimea itself, Sir John Hall ordered that no rations of any kind be supplied her ; he would literally starve her into submission. Flor- ence wrote at the time, "During the greater part of the day I have been without food, except necessarily a little brandy and water.
Most of the conflicts were due to the fact that she was a woman. She got things done, but the military officers sulked; a female was usurping their power. She circumvented the red-tape and got supplies; they labelled her as officious. She had the meat boned; she fed the starving and clothed the naked; they said she was coddling the brutes with "preposterous lux- uries. Not only her sex, but her religion was used as a weapon against her. They were trying "to root her out of the Crimea," she wrote home, "due to sectarian differences.
The great body of English people had only gratitude for her work, yet as she grappled with disease, suffering and death, a certain element of small-minded British society, far removed from the realities of war, attacked her on religious ground. The old bogeys that had accompanied her appoint- ment reappeared; they said she had become a Roman Catholic. Clergymen warned their flocks against sub- scribing money for the soldiers in the East "if it was to pass through Popish hands.
Herbert's assurance that Miss Nightingale was somewhat Low Church had no effect. For then the public criticised her not for her "Catholicism," but because she was one of England's detested non- conformists — a Unitarian. Yet, despite the friction the Lady-in-Chief caused, she succeeded in keeping the Home Government behind her all during her stay at Scutari. Hall might challenge her status, but at each crisis the authorities at home dispatched orders placing her status beyond question.
When the War Department reimbursed her for the building she had constructed with her own money, "The Nightingale Power" was undeniable. Sidney Herbert, too, had only praise for her initiative. There is much mischief done to the public service in the stickling for precedence. Power passed to one who could wield it — the Lady-in-Chief. Florence Nightingale was no plaster saint.
A Lady with a Lamp of course; but behind that lamp was also a Lady with a Will. The Conquering Heroine Returns "The nightingale's song to the sick soldiers" had been sung in a key that rang 'round the world. When an enamoured public dis- covered she was due home they planned her triumphal entry. The British Gov- ernment begged her to accept, as her own, a man-of- war, to see her safely home.
She thanked the officials, but refused their offer. Closing her hospitals, with Aunt Mai by her side, she quietly sailed for France. As "Miss Smith" she stayed overnight in a humble Paris hotel and went to London the next day. Even her family did not know her exact schedule, though they had indications of her arrival.
Florence's "spoils of war" as Parthe, now Lady Verney, called them, had preceded her. They included William, a one- legged sailor boy, Peter, a Russian orphan, and a 50 The Conquering neroine Heturntt big Crimean puppy, called "Rousch," given her by the soldiers. Florence spent a night in London with sisters in a convent, and after her few hours' rest, took a morn- ing train home. Walking to Lea Hurst from the little country station she entered the back door, closely veiled and dressed in black.
The first person to greet her was her old butler. Wrote Parthe, "A little tinkle of the small church bell on the hills and a thanksgiving prayer at the little chapel next day were all the innocent greetings. Her grateful public might not be able to show its gratitude with bells and cannon, bonfires and processions, but they could and did come in droves to the palatial Nightingale home, hop- ing to catch a glimpse of her.
Heart and Soul: The Story of Florence Nightingale
An old lady who lived near the park gate told one of Florence's biographers, "I remember the crowds as if it was yesterday. It took me all my time to an- swer them. Folks came in carriages and on foot, and there was titled people among them, and a lot of sol- diers, some of them without arms and legs, who had been nursed by Miss Florence in the hospital, and I remember one man who had been shot through both eyes coming and asking to see Miss Florence. But not ten out of the hundreds who came got a 51 Florence Nightingale: Fiery Angel glimpse of her.
If they wanted help about their pen- sions, they were told to put it down in writing, and Miss Florence's maid came with an answer. Of course, she was willing to help everybody, but it stood to rea- son she could not receive them all; why, the park wouldn't have held all the folks that came, and be- sides, the old Squire wouldn't have his daughter made a staring stock of. Florence refused to be lionized. When the people realized that she was determined to have no public demonstra- tions, they began to shower her with gifts.
The Queen herself had sent one of the first tokens before Flor- ence left the Crimea, a brooch called "The Nighting- ale Jewel. Parthe, knowing her sister's lack of interest in decorations, pleaded with her to wear the token to please the soldiers. After discovering that Miss Nightingale did most of her work reclining on a sofa, an upholsterer made a special reclining couch "as some slight token of the esteem she is held in by the working classes for her kindness to our soldiers, many of whom are related to my workmen, who would gladly work in her be- half without pay.
Old soldiers wrote poetry about her. Nightingale were reticent about supplying portraits, likenesses were left to the imagination. China shops produced China figures, inscribed with her name and a picture of her. Lifeboats and emi- grant ships were christened "The Florence Nighting- ale. Vegetarians and Spiritualists alike sought her endorsement. Mail came from all walks of life, as Lady Verney said, "in hailstorms. I do not affect indifference to real sympathy, but I have felt painfully, the more pain- fully since I have had time to hear of it, the eclat which has been given to this adventure.
A great public meet- ing was called, "To give expression to a general feel- ing that the services of Miss Nightingale in the hos- pitals of the East demand the grateful recognition of 54 The Conquering Meroine Iteturna the British people. The officers and men of nearly every regiment and of many vessels contributed a day's pay. There were great sums from great names and small amounts from those in modest walks of life.
All England responded to the cause. The Conquering Heroine had returned. She was now looked upon as a saint. One old lady who came close to her begged, "Let me touch your shawl. England expected nothing more; her friends and family hoped for noth- ing more; her doctors demanded she do nothing more. She had devoted her life as truly as any soldier on the battlefield. Her people wanted only the chance to "touch the hem of her garment," the privilege of idolizing her. By all the laws of human nature, the worn-out Lady-in-Chief's work was over.
But once again, Florence Nightingale refused to follow estab- lished patterns. Florence the Gadfly Florence nightingale's health had been seriously impaired by her work in the East. Her naturally delicate constitution had undergone a severe strain. She was never completely well again. It would seem that physical infirmity might make her conform to her role of an adored convalescent even if social pressure could not.
But her dominant will was a startling contrast to her ailing body. Florence Nightingale's work at Scutari was but an over-emphasized incident in her total career. She herself strongly felt it. Historians and biographers have paid much attention to her dramatic accom- plishments in the year and eight months she spent in the East and have overlooked or minimized her half-century of reform in England.
As Strachey con- cludes, "What she accomplished in these years of 56 Florence the Gadfly unknown labour could, indeed, hardly have been more glorious than her Crimean triumphs; but it was certainly more important. The true history was far stranger even than the myth. Her outward appearance was deceptive. Dressed in a soft, black silk dress with a shawl over her feet and a transparent white net kerchief edged with real lace laid over her hair and tied under the chin, she epitomized fragile and dainty womanhood.
But as Strachey writes, "She remained an invalid, but an invalid of a curious character, an invalid who was too weak to walk downstairs, and who worked far harder than most Cabinet Ministers. For years she was in daily ex- pectation of death. But she would not rest. At this rate, the doctors assured her, even if she did not die, she would become an invalid for life.
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She could not help that; there was work to be done; and, as for the rest, very likely she might rest. She contrasted conditions at home with those in the Crimea : "These people. I have had to see my children dressed in a dirty blanket. But I can never forget.
The thought of the past but made her more insistent for present action. Florence Nightingale is above all else an example of real integration of personality; her emo- tions, her intellect and will were all in a happy state of balance. She felt, she reasoned, she acted. Her driving power, though seemingly dominant, was no greater than her sharp intelligence and her deep sym- pathies. The mortality rate in the Crimea had been ap- palling; but the toll of lives in the barracks in peace time was a disgrace. Neither the Army Medical De- partment, the Medical Office nor the Military Hos- pital organization could be counted on to remedy the glaring evils of the system.
Florence herself must take care of the health of the army. She organized her life well, closing her doors reso- lutely to many people, often including her parents and close friends who she felt pampered her. Stra- chey suggests that even her illness was a carefully planned excuse to weed inessentials out of her life. Florence spoke grate- fully to her mother of "Pop's liberality," which in addition to her own earnings through her books, al- lowed her to give full support to her ''causes. With the exception of brief visits and twice yearly drives in the park at rhododen- dron time, Florence spent 45 years at this address.
At one period she took no holiday for ten years. The socially conscious Florence insisted that there should 59 Florence Nightingale: Tiery Angel be change in the laws, codes and methods of army hospitals; her organization-minded enemies, enmesh- ed in "the System," held out for the status quo.
Florence was confronted by the hidebound Lord Pan- mure, aptly called by his friends, "The Bison. She had everything. The name of her crusading grand- father, William Smith, M. It was no unknown fanatic that the standpatters confronted, but a nation's idol, a lady of rank, a woman whose executive genius had made world his- tory.
Too wise to tackle her problems single-handed, Florence gathered around her a group of friends upon whom she could rely — her "cabinet. John Sutherland, whose sanitary engineering corps in Scu- tari had, according to Florence, "saved the British army," became her confidential secretary. More and more Florence was to fall into the habit of "saying 60 Wlorence the Gadfly nothing, doing nothing, writing nothing" without first consuhing him.
There was the poet Arthur Clough, a relative by marriage, eager to serve in the most menial ways; Clough bought Florence's railroad tickets, saw her printers, corrected proof and posted her parcels. At a modest salary he became secretary of the Nightin- gale Fund. He had "studied and taught too much for a man's own moral good," he told Florence.
He want- ed to do "plain work. The most important member of Florence's "cabi- net" was Sidney Herbert, as eager now to support her English crusade as he had been to advance her work in the Crimea. The story book writer might find in Sidney Her- bert and Florence Nightingale all the qualifications for intrigue in affairs of the heart as well as state. Both were socially conscious, handsome, rich and talented, yet, according to Strachey, it was "one of the most extraordinary of friendships.
It was the friendship of a man and woman intimately bound together by their devotion to a public cause; mutual affection, of course, played a part in it, but it was an incidental part; the whole soul of the relationship was a community of work. Perhaps out of England Wlorence ISightingale: Viery Angel such an intimacy could hardly have existed — an in- timacy so utterly untinctured, not only by passion it- self, but by suspicion of it.
For years Sidney Herbert saw Miss Nightingale almost daily, for long hours to- gether, corresponding with her incessantly when they were apart; and the tongue of scandal was silent; and one of the most devoted of her admirers was his wife. Flor- ence took full advantage of her companion's philan- thropic nature.
Herbert, a deeply religious man, once wrote, "I am more and more convinced every day that in politics, as in everything else, nothing can be right which is not in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. The profound influence she had upon her "Cabi- net" members, great and small, is strikingly described by Strachey: "Helpers and servers she must have.
Devoted, indeed, these disciples were, in no ordinary sense of the term ; for certainly she was no light task-mistress, and he who set out to be of use to Miss Nightingale was apt to find before he had gone very far, that he was in truth being made use of in good earnest, to 62 Florence the Gadfly the very limits of his endurance and his capacity. Perhaps, even beyond these limits; why not? Was she asking of others more than she was giving her- self? Let them look at her lying there pale and breathless on the couch; could it be said she spared herself?
Why, then, should she spare others? And it was not for her own sake that she made these claims. For her own sake, indeed! They all knew it; it was for the sake of the work. And so the little band, bound body and soul, in their strange servitude, laboured on ungrudgingly. First she went to see the Queen herself. She had several interviews both with Victoria and the Prince Consort. The latter wrote in his diary of her, "She puts before us all the defects of our present military hospital system and the reforms that are needed.
She saw that a Royal Commission was appointed to report upon the health of the Army. Like a hawk, she watch- ed over the new body and guided it. First she engineered the "personnel of the Com- mission," getting Herbert appointed Chairman and adeptly "packing" the rest of the Board so that only one member on it was opposed to her views.
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She scheduled meetings in her own room. The group did not move fast enough to suit her. It spent six months quibbling over what its powers should or should not be. The impatient invalid told the commission that unless there was quick action she would publish a report of her experiences in the Crimea. Whether the philosophy of Karl Marx in had affected Florence or not, she was a revolutionist. Change there must be. If those in power did not see the light, she would agitate her public to make them see it. The memory of the Crimean War was still fresh in the minds of many mothers and relatives of the men who had died.
If the people were told that it was governmental indifference and negligence that had killed British soldiers, there would be, in reality, a revolution. She spent six months framing her threatened re- port, working with statisticians, sanitary engineers and experts, but doing the actual writing herself. Herbert wrote to her, "Why do you do all this with your own hands? I wish you could be turned into a cross-country squire like me for a few weeks. The "amazing tour de force" constitutes, in the opinion of the experts in the field, "one of the most valuable contributions ever made to hospital organization and administra- tion in times of war.
As ably versed in political intrigue as in the skills of the operating room, she referred to her methods as "a petty kind of warfare, very unpleas- ant. He knew that in Florence was a per- son who could twist the grateful masses of people around her finger, if she but raised it. What politician could hold out against the threats of "public opin- ion"? Needless to say, the notes were not made public.
A Royal Warrant was issued instructing the commis- sion in wide and comprehensive terms. A report was prepared embodying almost word for word Florence's "notes. The Commission now had a basis for reform; but it refused to act. For six months Flor- 65 Viorenee Nightingale: Vierg Angel ence lashed out individually and collectively against the numbers: they were lazy; they were inefficient. Of Lord Pan she wrote, "We have seen terrible things in the last three years, but nothing to my mind is so terrible as Panmure's unmanly and stupid indifference. When the "Bi- son" tried to excuse himself because of physical in- firmity, Florence's tart remark was, "His gout was always handy.
Suther- land was playing in his garden in Norwood. The se- vere task-mistress wrote sarcastically about his "dig- ging ponds," insisting that he come back and tend to business at South Street. During this period, Florence's health really gave way. In she herself expected to die. She wrote a letter to Herbert "to be sent when I am dead. Sutherland told her she was thinking of every- body's "sanitary improvement" except her own. A shakeup in the Government at last gave her a new lease on life. Herbert became Secretary of State for War. Florence was now to see the culmination of her plea for reform.
Sidney Herbert himself did some of the hardest work of his life, inspecting barracks and hospitals throughout the country.
Building were ventilated and warmed, drainage improved, gas and lights were installed. Plans were laid for proper education and recreational facilities for the soldiers. Florence refused to believe that the prevalent vices were inherent in men's natures. The authorities might sneer at the idea of her making the army a moral institution, but she writes, "I have never been able to join the popular cry about the recklessness, sensuality, and helplessness of the sol- diers. Give them schools and lectures and they will come to them. Give them books and games and amusements and they will leave off drinking.
Give them suffering and they will bear it. Give them work and they will do it. I had rather do with the Army generally than with any other class I have ever at- tempted to serve If you know as I do, or once did, the difference between our soldiers cared for in body, mind and morale, and our soldiers uncared for — the last, 'hell's carnival,'. We may not hope to make 'saints' of all, but we can make men of them instead of brutes. Under Florence's supervision, one of the sub-com- missions succeeded in making "the British Army Statistics," according to Sir Edward Cook, "the best obtainable in Europe.
Even the Army Medical Department was re- organized. But Florence was not satisfied. The changes at last springing up all over the country were not enough. The War Office was still as it had been ; there must be a shake-up. The struggles she had had against cholera and typhus were mere skirmishes compared to the battles she now faced. She wanted to force certain phlegmatic individuals in the War Office to resign. Sidney must help her, but Herbert was suffering from a sharp attack of pleurisy; his doctor told him he must rest.
Much to the horror of his prodding companion, he obeyed. According to Strachey, Florence was unrelenting as she exclaimed, "Beaten! Can't you see that you've simply thrown away the game? And so noble a game! Sidney Herbert beaten; it is a worse disgrace". For days only constant gulps of brandy could keep him going.
His fainting fits grew more frequent. He finally collapsed. Whether Florence drove Herbert to his grave or not, Herbert's dying words well bespoke her influ- ence upon him, "Poor Florence! Our joint work. She told Dr. Sutherland that he lacked method as he forgot, from time to time, where he had placed a particular Bluebook. There was much scold- ing if he delayed in attending to her long-winded busi- ness letters. Sometimes her devoted secretary re- sponded to her complaints, sometimes he remained silent.
Once he wrote, "Thanks for your parting kick. Her- bert's death, followed by that of Aunt Mai, threw the overwrought Florence into a state of agony. Her father's sister had been her life-long emotional support. Herbert was the captain of her ship "with- out whom she could never have done her work.
She published a pamphlet devoted to the mem- ory of her "dear master. She told what he had meant to do and what remained to be done.
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Death was no time for mourning; Herbert's plans must be carried out. The project was part of his lex Iulia which allotted farm plots to veterans and construction probably began around 30 BC. Whether or not Florentia was built on the site of a pre-existing village remains a matter of learned dispute.
Florentia lay on a strategic river crossing and was laid out in classic Roman form, with the main east—west street, the decumanus, intersected from north to south by the cardo. Piazza della Repubblica marks the site of the forum. Florentia had prospered on the back of brisk maritime trade along the Arno. Under Diocletian in the late 3rd century, Florentia became the capital of the Regio Tuscia et Umbria the name Etruria was banned , remaining so until the end of the Empire.
The first Christian churches were raised in the following century, although Greco-Syriac merchants had brought the religion to pagan Florentia as early as AD , when St Minias San Miniato was martyred here. By now Italy and the Western Roman Empire were in deep trouble. After a Byzantine interlude under Emperor Justinian, the Lombards came to control much of the northern half of Italy , including the region around Florentia.
After a period under Lombard rule, the duchy of Tuscia, which covered Tuscany , Umbria , much of Lazio and Corsica , fell under the control of the Holy Roman Empire, created in when Charlemagne was crowned by the pope in Rome. By the end of the 11th century, particularly under the administration of Countess Matilda Canossa, the duchy had achieved considerable independence. Florence, with a population of 20, , was a robust regional capital.
The death of Matilda spelled the end of Tuscia as a political unit. In the wake of its disintegration, more-or-less independent and frequently quarrelling city-states emerged in Tuscany. Florence quickly reduced Fiesole to submission in Fifty years later a new set of defensive walls was built and Florentine troops were battling Sienese soldiers in the Chianti area over boundary disputes.
Emperor Frederick Barbarossa then waltzed into the Italian labyrinth, determined to reestablish imperial control. The latter, however, took little notice and pursued their own interests. By now a system of corporatist government, the comune, was developing, a kind of oligarchy in which the top families increasingly a mix of landed nobility and the burgeoning merchant class shared out the leading positions in government, or signoria. Powerful guilds, or arti, had also emerged and would long play a key role in the distribution of power. Florentine family feuding as early as the 11th century crystallised as two main factions emerged, the pro-imperial Ghibellines Ghibellini and the pro-papal Guelphs Guelfi.
Traditionally the spark that set off this powder keg is identified as the murder of Buondelmonte dei Buondelmonti, a Guelph , on the south side of the Ponte Vecchio in The Guelphs, generally wealthy merchants, sought greater independence than the Holy Roman emperor wished to countenance. The Ghibellines tended to be noble families whose sense of power rested in part on the notion of being part of the imperial order. By the Guelphs were in the ascendant in Florence and 20 years later had succeeded in having Guelph governors imposed on Siena , Pisa and other Tuscan cities.
From their ranks the gonfaloniere standard-bearer was selected as a kind of president. Together they formed the signoria and resided in the Palazzo della Signoria today known as the Palazzo Vecchio for the duration of their mandate. Representatives of the 14 lesser guilds had no political representation and still less the remaining three-quarters of the population, most of them wage slaves in the most unpleasant of wool industry jobs, like dyeing.
With French and Papal aid the latter prevailed and the Bianchi including Dante Alighieri were exiled. At around this time, one of the great social-scientific revolutions was quietly taking place: towards the end of the 13th century reading glasses appear to have been invented in Tuscany. Medieval Europeans seem to have had an unlimited capacity for absorbing punishment and over the next 17 years Florence went on the warpath, bringing San Gimignano , Volterra , Pistoia , Prato and Pisa to heel.
War and peace were regular as clockwork and by Florence controlled much of Tuscany. Quiet times were rare and fleeting. In a rather nasty band of unemployed mercenaries, led by Essex man Sir John Hawkwood, descended on Florence. In the end, Hawkwood, or Giovanni Acuto as the locals knew him, entered the pay of Florence and remained one of its more capable soldiers. All the blood-letting, instability, tax rises and food shortages became increasingly hard to bear and a mob revolt in left city government in the hands, briefly, of the ciompi , as a militant section of the proletariat was known.
Tax was assessed in proportion to wealth as measured in fixed goods and income-producing potential. Thus, tax avoidance and evasion in the modern sense were also born with the catasto! In these first decades of the 15th century, the Albizi family called most of the shots in Florence. It was by now a given that the real power lay with people behind the scenes, not directly in the hands of any one gonfaloniere. Another family, however, was growing in influence.
His eldest son Cosimo became paterfamilias in , by which time the increasing power of his family so upset the Albizi that they contrived to have him sent into exile in The Albizi, however, had miscalculated. Not only were several powerful families allied to Cosimo, but he had enormous international support through his banking network.
Within a year Cosimo was back and the Albizi expelled. Although he chose to remain in the background he kept the government stacked with his own people. The population reached about 70, , taxes fell and trade blossomed. By the time he returned from exile in , the Renaissance style had largely dislodged the Gothic. Two years later Brunelleschi completed the extraordinary dome that still graces the Duomo Cathedral and from this time on Cosimo employed artists such as Donatello, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi on various projects.
Cosimo was one of the few Florentine chiefs to be genuinely mourned by his people on his death. The signoria even went so far as to award Cosimo the posthumous title of pater patriae — Father of the Fatherland. The Pazzi family, rivals of the Medici and backed by the papacy, plotted to murder Lorenzo and take over the city on 26 April No sooner had he solved the Pazzi problem than Lorenzo found himself facing an allied Papal-Neapolitan army.
Lorenzo chose to negotiate in Naples and spared Florence what looked like certain defeat. He then focused on home affairs, creating a Consiglio dei Settanta Council of Seventy with powers overriding those of the signoria. Lorenzo il Magnifico the Magnificent , as he was now dubbed, had the reins of power in his hands. Lorenzo continued the promotion of the arts the young Michelangelo came to live in the Medici household for a time but there were worrying signs on the horizon.
Since the days of Cosimo, the Medici bank had declined. Branches across Europe continued to close through mismanagement and the family fortunes dwindled. In the momentous year of Lorenzo expired, aged 43, to be succeeded by his nasty and incompetent son Piero, who ushered in a long period of mayhem. The republic was restored and the constitution again remodelled in The flavour this time was altogether novel. A city of commercial families and luxury-lovers seemed to have lost its collective nerve as it meekly submitted to the fiery theocracy of Girolamo Savonarola.
The republic was organised along the lines of the Venetian model and a Consiglio dei Cinquecento Council of set up as a parliament. Savonarola, the Dominican friar with the staring eyes, big nose and fat lips, had arrived in Florence in to preach repentance in the Chiesa di San Marco. He found a susceptible audience that, over the years, filled the church to bursting to hear his bloodcurdling warnings of horrors to come if Florentines did not renounce their evil ways.
He called on the government to act on the basis of his divine inspiration. Drinking, whoring, partying, gambling, wearing flashy clothes and other signs of wrongdoing were pushed well underground. He demanded Savonarola be sent to Rome , and the signoria started to worry. The Franciscans, rivals of the Dominicans, had especially had enough. The Franciscans challenged Savonarola to an ordeal by fire, an invitation he declined, although he had no problem with sending a deputy in his stead. The trial was washed out by rain but in the ensuing riots the sign oria finally decided to arrest Savonarola.
He died along with two supporters in Piazza della Signoria on 22 May. The spot is marked in the square today. He set about restoring the position of his family in Florence, which should have been further strengthened when Giovanni was elected Pope Leo X one year later. But the Medici line seemed to have lost much of its lustre. Most of its banks had failed and business was bad. A series of Medici lads, culminating in the utterly useless bastards Ippolito and Alessandro, managed to so alienate Florentines that when Pope Clement VII another Medici was cornered in Rome by an uncompromising imperial army, the people rejoiced and threw the Medici family out.
Alessandro soon returned as duke, but was assassinated by a jealous cousin, Lorenzino, in They got that wrong. Cosimo, who in was declared grand duke of Tuscany after the definitive fall of Siena to Florence, brooked no opposition. In his long reign from to he was a despot, but a comparatively enlightened one. His immediate successors, Francesco and Ferdinando I, between them managed to go some way to stimulating the local economy and promoting agriculture, building hospitals and bringing some relief to the poor.
Cosimo II invited Galileo Galilei to Florence, where the scientist could continue his research under Tuscan protection and undisturbed by the bellyaching of the Church. Ferdinando II was ineffectual if well meaning — during the three terrible years of plague that scourged Florence from , he stayed behind while anyone else could was hotfooting it to the countryside.
Next in line was Cosimo III, a dour, depressing individual. Perhaps he had over-read his Savonarola, but in any event, this ill-educated bigot was not a fun date. Persecution of Jews was one of his contributions to Florentine society, and he also backed the Inquisition in its opposition to virtually any kind of scientific learning. A little stretch on the rack was the prescribed tonic for extramarital sex. The last significant act of the Medicis came six years after the death of Gian Gastone.
His sister Anna Maria, who died in , bequeathed all the Medici property and art collections to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany , on condition that they never leave Florence. The imperial Austrian couple visited for a three-month sojourn and liked Florence well enough, but from then until the city and Grand Duchy were ruled by regents. They brought a feeling of mostly quiet discontent to their subjects. Matters improved in , when Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo arrived. He also made sure that some of the art and furnishings that had been removed to Austria under Grand Duke Francis were returned.
He pushed through a raft of reforms at every level of city and grand ducal administration, and by every account was an all-round good fellow. His death in was greeted with dismay, not least because no-one knew what to expect from his gloomy son Leopoldo. Grand Duke Leopoldo II proved more able than anticipated, but as the years wore on his task grew more onerous.
The independence of the Grand Duchy was menaced not only by more direct interference from Vienna , but also by the growing calls for a united Italian state. Leopoldo took a lenient line in Florence, allowing dissent and so attracting to the city intellectuals from around the country, including writers such as Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni and Giacomo Leopardi. The Grand Duke encouraged urban development and a series of improvements, including the introduction of gas street lighting, the widening of roads, and housing programmes for the poor.
The torment of the revolts across Europe convinced Leopoldo to repair to Vienna. He returned some months later but by then the writing was on the wall.