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  Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Florence Nightingale

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One of the most interesting places in the whole of London, is St. Thomas' Hospital, an immense four-story structure of brick with stone trimmings. Here is the Nightingale Training School for nurses, established through the gift to Miss Nightingale of $250,000 by the government, for her wonderful work in the Crimean War. She would not take a cent for herself, but was glad to have this institution opened, that girls through her training might become valuable to the world as nurses, as she has been.

Here is the "Nightingale Home." The dining-room, with its three long tables, is an inviting apartment. The colors of wall and ceiling are in red and light shades. Here is a Swiss clock presented by the Grand Duchess of Baden; here a harpsichord, also a gift. Here is the marble face and figure I have come especially to see, that of lovely Florence Nightingale. It is a face full of sweetness and refinement, having withal an earnest look, as though life were well worth living.

What better work than to direct these girls how to be useful? Some are here from the highest social circles. The "probationers," or nurse pupils, must remain three years before they can become Protestant "sisters." Each ward is in charge of a sister; now it is Leopold, because the ward bears that name; and now Victoria in respect to the Queen, who opened the institution.

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The sisters look sunny and healthy, though they work hard. They have regular hours for being off duty, and exercise in the open air. The patients tell me how "homelike it seems to have women in the wards, and what a comfort it is in their agony, to be handled by their careful hands." Here are four hundred persons in all phases of suffering, in neat, cheerful wards, brightened by pots of flowers, and the faces of kind, devoted women.

And who is this woman to whom the government of Great Britain felt that it owed so much, and whom the whole world delights to honor?

Florence Nightingale, born in 1820, in the beautiful Italian city of that name, is the younger of two daughters of William Shore Nightingale, a wealthy land-owner, who inherited both the name and fortune of his granduncle, Peter Nightingale. The mother was the daughter of the eminent philanthropist and member of Parliament, William Smith.

Most of Miss Nightingale's life has been spent on their beautiful estate, Lea Hurst, in Derbyshire, a lovely home in the midst of picturesque scenery. In her youth her father instructed her carefully in the classics and higher mathematics; a few years later, partly through extensive travel, she became proficient in French, German, and Italian.

Rich, pretty, and well-educated, what was there more that she could wish for? Her heart, however, did not turn toward a fashionable life. Very early she began to visit the poor and the sick near Lea Hurst, and her father's other estate at Embly Park, Hampshire. Perhaps the mantle of the mother's father had fallen upon the young girl.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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