Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
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.
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.