The Life of Florence Nightingale Complete by Edward Tyas Cook
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The image did much to domesticate a stern and forbidding woman who expressed a notable dislike for portrait photography at the height of its popularity. The portrait has enjoyed popular appeal and great endurance.
Yet, nursing historians such as Judith Moore have lamented its predominance. Whether accurately or not, Nightingale epitomized middle-class industry in the face of aristocratic failing, female nurture in the face of battlefield carnage, and purposeful action in the face of military blunder. Members of all classes recognized as much, and so sought to offer Nightingale her just rewards as the Crimean War drew to a close.
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Nightingale had traveled back to Britain from the East incognito, using the alias of Miss Smith. From that time, she eschewed public appearances. Its direct use was in the foundation of St. It would provide a template for training across Britain, the empire, and the globe. She was a paragon of liberal-minded reform. Nightingale vigorously and forcefully engaged in the reworking of the War Office , often sparring with foes—and friends—from her Crimean days. She sought to improve sanitary conditions in India , too. For these causes, she wrote prolifically.
Nightingale was also an innovative statistician, developing her well-known rose, or coxcomb, graphs to communicate to the medical community and the broader public the extent of deaths by disease in the East fig. Nightingale was, at once, a proper lady and a woman warrior. The malleability that contributed so greatly to her appeal in her lifetime would thus continue after her passing. Figure 4: Example of polar area diagram by Florence Nightingale.
The same cannot be said of her death, though Bostridge recently gave it sharp consideration in his biography. Nightingale may have died in retirement from the public sphere, but her passing was an eminently social occasion. They cast the Crimean War as the apogee of her achievements; they credited her with the birth of the profession of nursing; and they praised her as the truest expression of English womanhood. As they did so, they bid farewell not only to a cherished heroine but also to a bygone age. Nightingale may have outlived Queen Victoria by nine years, but their denouements coincide in striking ways.
In those early years of recorded sound, she must have seemed to the aging veterans to be something of a spectral presence—a beloved voice from beyond. Not only a recluse, Nightingale was, herself, a living relic in those last decades of her life. Perhaps the most difficult loss to sustain was that of her intellectual acumen. Acute and exacting, her mind had left her as well. Feeble and bedridden, the elderly Nightingale was a shade of her former self.
Even so, the elderly Nightingale did not want for honors and accolades. Important birthdays came with public recognition. In her final year, she attained the Order of Merit, enjoying the distinction of being the first woman to hold the status, something not lost on feminist contemporaries who noted it in their correspondence. At no time, though, did her absence make the hearts of the nation and the world grow fonder than on the occasion of her passing.
It was, in the understanding of the Victorians, a good death, or at least a variant thereof Jalland. Nightingale passed at home and around family, though not in the company of a husband or children Pringle. They wrote against the backdrop of rising tensions in England, the Empire, and Europe. In England, militancy among several populations was rearing its head. In the Empire, longstanding ties were being unsettled by the rise of nationalist movements. And in Europe, diplomatic tensions were threatening an epoch of relative peace. Such adoration could only accrue to someone of a singular status.
Admirers compared her to Joan of Arc. The gendered stakes of adoration recalled the efforts of those who feminized the Lady with the Lamp in the mid-nineteenth century. Nightingale had used gender as a tool of self-presentation in the nineteenth century to great effect. Her admirers did the same, if not always as wittingly. If this sort of maneuvering was predictable, it was also expedient. Many feminists adopted Nightingale in the wake of her passing. In this climate, reinvigorating the notion of Nightingale as the apotheosis of Victorian womanhood had great appeal, for both suffragists and their opponents.
Many upheld Nightingale as the epitome of selflessness and generosity. Others made a link explicitly to religiosity. The notion that Nightingale represented the highest of Christian womanhood was a common refrain at the moment of her passing. When they remembered her, those who celebrated Nightingale as the avatar of true womanhood and as a saint-like subject offered up stories of her life.
One former pupil of the Nightingale School, A. Time and again, newspapers and hagiographies rehearsed the stories of an English girl born to wealth and privilege in Italy in She combined acuity for language and learning with sympathy for the sick and the meek.
The cause made Nightingale into a martyr for the nation. As these narratives show, the myths that circulated around Nightingale during her lifetime resurfaced in her death. In a fitting tribute, they were accompanied by representatives of the Indian Medical Service and by Chelsea Pensioners who had fought in past wars.
Nightingale had not wished for a public funeral, but, in response to demand, the War Office planned a memorial service of monumental proportion at St.
The grand occasion allowed an audience of 4, to remember Nightingale in the metropolis on Saturday 20 August , just a week after the great heroine passed away. Nightingale would have found the private burial that followed more suited to her own tastes. Fittingly, her body was set to rest simply and quietly in the country churchyard at East Wellow , where her parents lay and where she had worshipped as a girl.
There was one among them who claimed a special relationship above the others. This was Mr. Kneller could not recall whether or not he had ever spoken with Nightingale, but he remembered Nightingale in her s incarnation all the same. Known and unknown, Nightingale and Kneller were both relics by the year The Crimean War was a thing of the distant past.
The Life of Florence Nightingale by Cook Edward Tyas
Since then, the Cardwell Reforms had sought to make the army more efficient, meritocratic, and reliable. This reformed army was tested, several times, most notably in the South African War of to This was, of course, a looming necessity in Military men, diplomats, and civilians were all too aware of the tensions that would send Europe and then the world into the global conflagration of World War I.
There was, too, plenty of uncertainty in the Empire, with nationalist unrest brimming from Ireland to India Burton. The mood at home was equally anxious, with militancy rising among women in the suffrage movement and workers in labor unions. As a young woman, Nightingale had served as a salve during the Crimean War. After her death, she managed to do the same.
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Historian George Dangerfield once understood the years between and under the rubric of the Strange Death of Liberal England. In , his immediate concern, in assessing revolts among the women, the workers, the Irish, and even the Lords, was to understand the decline of the Liberal Party.
But, in seeking to do as much, Dangerfield chronicled a decisive departure from the nineteenth century, its values, and its orthodoxies. Her concern, instead, was literary character. Woolf castigated the Edwardians and the Georgians for their failure to depict character effectively and suitably for their moments. Woolf yearned, similarly, for literary characters that might effectively represent her own age.
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As if to anticipate Woolf and Dangerfield, the author of a pamphlet published in had suggested that the year of her passing was a watershed in history. As obituaries penned in anticipation of her death and afterward suggested, Nightingale rivaled royals for public affection and vied with Victoria as the exemplar of the age. When did the Victorian age end?