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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Florence Nightingale

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Miss Nightingale seemed to be everywhere. Dr. Pincoffs said: "I believe that there never was a severe case of any kind that escaped her notice; and sometimes it was wonderful to see her at the bedside of a patient who had been admitted perhaps but an hour before, and of whose arrival one would hardly have supposed it possible she could already be cognizant."

She aided the senior chaplain in establishing a library and school-room, and in getting up evening lectures for the men. She supplied books and games, wrote letters for the sick, and forwarded their little savings to their home-friends.

For a year and a half, till the close of the war, she did a wonderful work, reducing the death-rate in the Barrack Hospital from sixty per cent to a little above one per cent. Said the Times correspondent: "Wherever there is disease in its most dangerous form, and the hand of the spoiler distressingly nigh, there is that incomparable woman sure to be seen; her benignant presence is an influence for good comfort even amid the struggles of expiring nature. She is a 'ministering angel,' without any exaggeration, in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settled down upon these miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed, alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.

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"With the heart of a true woman and the manner of a lady, accomplished and refined beyond most of her sex, she combines a surprising calmness of judgment and promptitude and decision of character. The popular instinct was not mistaken, which, when she set out from England on her mission of mercy, hailed her as a heroine; I trust she may not earn her title to a higher, though sadder, appellation. No one who has observed her fragile figure and delicate health can avoid misgivings lest these should fail."

One of the soldiers wrote home: "She would speak to one and another, and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it to all, you know, for we lay there by hundreds; but we could kiss her shadow as it fell, and lay our heads on our pillows again content." Another wrote home: "Before she came there was such cussin' and swearin', and after that it was as holy as a church." No wonder she was called the "Angel of the Crimea." Once she was prostrated with fever, but recovered after a few weeks.

Finally the war came to an end. London was preparing to give Miss Nightingale a royal welcome, when, lo! she took passage by design on a French steamer, and reached Lea Hurst, Aug. 15, 1856, unbeknown to any one. There was a murmur of disappointment at first, but the people could only honor all the more the woman who wished no blare of trumpets for her humane acts.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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