The Life of Florence Nightingale Volume II Part 7

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On higher themes the correspondent to whom Miss Nightingale wrote most fully from her heart was from this time forth Mr. Jowett. Their acquaintance, at first confined to paper, had begun, as described in an earlier chapter, with correspondence about her _Suggestions for Thought_. The work had greatly interested him, and from time to time he continued to write to her about it. He wished her to do something with her "Suggestions," but to rewrite them in a more connected form and a gentler mood, and he sometimes gave hints for an irony less bitter than hers. Her letters to him are no longer in existence, except in the case of a few of which she preserved copies; but it is clear from the tenor of the correspondence on the other side that she was already (1862) giving to him much of her intimate confidence. She had now met a new friend who was capable of entering into her inmost and highest thoughts, not indeed always with agreement, but always with a sympathetic understanding. "As you have shown me so much confidence," he presently wrote, "I feel the strongest wish to help you in any way that I can without intruding." And again: "I cannot but wish you (as sincerely as I ever desired anything) unabated hope and trust and resolve to continue your work to the end, and many rays of light to cheer the way." A little later, drawing a bow at a venture, Mr. Jowett wondered whether she was engaged about Indian sanitary matters? He had "a reason for being interested about them which is that I lost my two brothers in India."

Miss Nightingale, as we have heard, was interested in nothing else so intently at this time, and here was a fresh bond of sympathy. She asked whether, knowing what he did of her religious views, he would come and administer the Sacrament to her, as she was entirely unable to leave her room. "I shall be very glad," he wrote (Oct. 3), "to give you the Sacrament. I am sure that many other clergymen would be equally glad.

Would you like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or any of their family, to join you?"

The Sacrament was often thus administered, and Miss Nightingale's most intimate friends--such as Mrs. Bracebridge--or some of her family, generally partook of the rite with her. On one of the earlier of these occasions, Mr. Jowett met her parents, and in 1862 paid the first of his visits, which afterwards became frequent, to them in the country. He often figures in their letters as "that great and good man," or "that true saint, Mr. Jowett." And from this date also began his frequent visits--usually many times a year--to Miss Nightingale herself; indeed he was seldom, if ever, in London without spending an afternoon with her. If she had friends staying in her house--such as M. and Madame Mohl--he would sometimes come in to dine with them.

"Dear Miss Nightingale," wrote Mr. Jowett (Oct. 28), "I shall always regard the circ.u.mstance of having given you the Communion as a solemn event in my life which is a call to devote myself to the service of G.o.d and men (if He will give me the power to do so). Your example will often come before me, especially if I have occasion to continue my work under bodily suffering. There is something that I want to say to you which I hardly know how to express." And then followed the first of what became a long series of spiritual admonitions. Mr. Jowett had, it is clear, a very high opinion of Miss Nightingale's genius, the most sincere admiration for her self-devotion, and a deep affection for her. But he thought that she was in some ways not using her life to the best advantage, and that her state of physical and mental suffering was in some measure the result of a too impetuous temper. In letter after letter, full of a beautiful and delicate sympathy, he whispered into her ears counsels of calm, of trust, of moderation. She seems to have kept him informed of every move in her crusades, and he was constantly afraid that she would fight too fiercely or even (in this case a quite needless fear) come out into the open. "The gift of being invisible," he wrote (April 22, 1863), "is much to be desired by any one who exercises a good influence over others. Though Deborah and Barak work together, Sisera the Captain of the Host must not suspect that he has been delivered into the hands of a woman." "I hope" (March 1865) "that you won't leave your incognito. It would seriously injure your influence if you were known to have influence. (Did you know the Baron Stockmar whom Sir Robert Peel called one of the most influential persons in Europe? Hardly any one in England excepting Kings and Queens knew of his existence. That was a model for that sort of life.) If you answer (anonymously, as I hope, if at all), may I beg you to answer with facts only and without a trace of feeling?" When he applauds some stroke, he urges her to find rest and comfort in the victory. "All this," he wrote (Feb. 26, 1865), "I firmly believe would not have been accomplished but for your clearness of sight and intensity of purpose. Is not this a thing to thank G.o.d about? I was reading in Grote an account of an attempted Spartan revolution in the times of Agesilaus. One of the great objects of the Ephori was to keep the Spartan youth from getting under the influence of a woman (name unknown) who was stirring the rebellion. Do you not think that woman may have been you in some former state of existence?" Miss Nightingale, perhaps in some justification for her eagerness in action, opened her heart fully to Mr. Jowett about her sense of loss in Sidney Herbert's death; explaining her loneliness in work, and yet her overmastering desire to complete, while strength was still granted to her, the "joint work" of her friend and herself. "I have often felt," he replied (Aug.

7, 1865), "what a wreck and ruin Lord Herbert's death must have been to you. You had done so much for him and he had grown so rapidly in himself and in public estimation that there seemed no limits to what he might have effected. He might have been one of the most popular and powerful Prime Ministers in this country--the man to carry us through the social and ecclesiastical questions that are springing up. And you would have had a great part in his work and filled him with every n.o.ble and useful ambition. Do not suppose that I don't feel and understand all this. (And you might have made me Dean of Christ Church: the only preferment that I would like to have, and I would have reformed the University and bullied the Canons.) But it has pleased G.o.d that all this should not be, and it must please us too, and we must carry on the struggle under greater difficulties, with more of hard and painful labour and less of success, still never flinching while life lasts." Never flinching, but never fretting or fuming: that was the burden of Mr. Jowett's exhortations. "I sometimes think," he had written (July 9, 1865), "that you ought seriously to consider how your work may be carried on, not with less energy, but in a calmer spirit. Think that the work of G.o.d neither hastes nor rests, and that we should go about it in the spirit of order which prevails in the world. I am not blaming the past (who would blame you who devote your life to the good of others?). But I want the peace of G.o.d to settle on the future. Perhaps you will feel that in urging this I really can form no notion of your sufferings. Alas, dear friend, I am afraid that this is true. Still I must beg you to keep your mind above them. Is that motive vain of being made perfect through suffering?" It is an idle speculation to wonder whether persons who have done great things in the world would have done as much or more or better if they had been other than they were. Calm is well; but it is not always the spring of action. If Miss Nightingale had been less eager and impetuous, she might, after her return from the Crimea, have done nothing at all. But perhaps already, in moments of weariness during the battle, and increasingly as the shadows lengthened into the pensive evening of her days, she may have felt that there was some truth in the soothing counsels of Mr. Jowett's friends.h.i.+p.

That Miss Nightingale reciprocated his feelings of affectionate esteem is shown very clearly by the way in which she received his admonitions.

She was not usually meek under even the gentlest reproaches of her friends; but, so far as Mr. Jowett's letters tell the story, she never resented anything he said; she expressed nothing but grat.i.tude. I do not suppose that she never retorted. He advised her, as he advised everybody, to read Boswell. I gather from one of his letters that she may have reminded him of Dr. Johnson's love of a good hater, for Mr. Jowett promises to try and satisfy her a little better in that respect in the future. And, as far as it was in him to do so, he seems to have kept his word. "Hang the Hebdomadal Council," he wrote; or, of a certain meeting of another body, "I was opposed by two fools and a knave." There are pa.s.sages about "rascals" and "rogue Elephants" and "beasts," which are almost as downright as was Miss Nightingale herself in this sort. She returned to the full the sympathy which he gave to her. She was solicitous about his health. He promised to cut down his hours of reading, and never to work any more after midnight. "I cannot resist such a remonstrance as yours. I think that you would batter the gates of heaven or h.e.l.l. Seriously, I shall think of your letter as long as I live, dear friend." She asked to be kept informed of every move in the academical disputes which concerned him, the judgment in the case of _Essays and Reviews_, the dispute about the Greek Professors.h.i.+p, and so forth. He told her even of stupidities at College meetings--"not to be beaten," he said of one, "even by your War Office." "I think you are the only person," he wrote (1865), "who encourages me about my work at Oxford. I cannot be too grateful for your words." "I am delighted," he wrote again (Oct. 27, 1866), "to have a friend who cares two straws whether I succeeded in a matter at Oxford." She, as is clear from his letters, wrote to him, not only about her struggles and interests, but also about his; and he, on his side, discussed all her problems. He wanted her to spend herself no longer "on conflicts with Government offices," but to devote her mind to some literary work in which successful effect would depend only on herself. In such work, moreover, he could perhaps help her. She, on her side, would like to help him with a sermon, the preparation of which was teasing him, and there is a long draft amongst her papers of the heads of a discourse, suggested by her, on the relation of religion to politics. "I sometimes use _your_ hints,"

he had written earlier. "A pupil of mine has a pa.s.sion for public life, and having the means, is likely to get into Parliament. I said to him, 'You are a fanatic, that cannot be helped, but you must try to be a "rational fanatic."'" Each of the friends thought very highly of the powers and services of the other. "There is nothing you might not accomplish," he says to her. He turns off what she must have said of him with playful deprecation: "About Elijah--you must mean the Honble.

Elijah Pogram. There is no other Elijah to whom I bear the least resemblance." And each valued the friends.h.i.+p as a means of enabling them both to serve G.o.d more truly. "The spirit of the twenty-third Psalm and the spirit of the ninetieth Psalm should be united in our lives."

Her friends.h.i.+p with Mr. Jowett was, I cannot doubt, Miss Nightingale's greatest consolation in these strenuous years. She was immersed in official drudgery, never forgetful, it is true, of the end in the means, but sorely vexed and hara.s.sed by the difficulties and disappointments of circ.u.mstance. Her friend's letters and conversation raised her above the conflict into a purer and calmer atmosphere. Not indeed that Mr. Jowett was a quietist; she would little have respected him had he been so; but though in the world, he was not of it; he was unsoiled by the dust of the great road. She had, it is true, other and yet more unworldly friends--nuns in convents and matrons or nurses in hospitals. With them, too, she exchanged intimate confidences in spiritual matters; but their standpoint was not hers, and the exchange could only be with mental reservations on her part. To Mr. Jowett she was able to open unreservedly her truest thoughts. And then, too, the dearest of her other friends paid her an almost adoring wors.h.i.+p, whilst some who were estranged offered only unsympathetic criticism. It was from Mr. Jowett alone that she heard the language of affectionate and understanding remonstrance. She heard it gladly, because she knew that it was sympathetic, and because she felt that her friend's character was attuned to her own highest ideals.

Thirty years after the date at which we have now arrived (1866), Miss Nightingale read through the hundreds of letters she had received and kept from Mr. Jowett. She made copious extracts from them in pencil, and sent several to his biographers. Many of his letters to her were included in his _Life_, though the name of the recipient was not disclosed. She was jealous in her life-time of the privacy of her life.

She rebuked Mr. Jowett once for accepting a copy of her cousin's statuette of her. He explained that he had placed it where it would not be observed. "I consider you," he had already written, "a sort of Royal personage, not to be gossiped about with any one." The letters to her, hitherto published, were selected to throw light upon his views. In this Memoir, in which it has been decided to give (if it may be) a truthful picture of her life and character, I select rather those letters which show the influence of his character upon hers. The following was noted by Miss Nightingale as "one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, of the whole collection":--

ASKRIGG, _July_ [1864]. I am afraid that hard-working persons are very bad correspondents, at least I know that I am, or I should have written to you long ago, which I have always a pleasure in doing. But Plato, who is either my greatest friend or my greatest enemy, and has finally swelled into three large volumes (you will observe that I am proud of the size of my baby), is to blame for preventing me. This place, at which I shall be staying for about five weeks longer, is at the head of Wensleydale, high among mountains in a most beautiful country, and what, I think, adds greatly to the charm of the country, very pleasing for the simplicity and intelligence of the people. Among the enjoyments which I have here, which notwithstanding Plato are really very great, I cannot help remembering you at 115 Park Street. I wish you would venture to see something more of the sights and sounds of nature. You will never persuade me that your way of life is altogether the best for health any more than I could persuade you into Mr. Gladstone's doctrine of the salubrity of living over a churchyard.

As to the rest, I have no doubt that you could not be better than you are. I don't wish to exaggerate (for you are the last person to whom I should think of offering compliments), but I certainly believe that it has been a great national good that you have taken up the whole question of the sanitary condition of the soldier and not confined yourself to hospitals. The difficulties and stupidities would have been as great in the case of the hospitals, and the object really far inferior in importance. Besides you could never have gained the influence over medical men with their professional jealousies that you have had over the War Office and the Indian Government. Also, if your life is spared a few years longer, a great deal more may be done. There are many resources that are not yet exhausted. Therefore never listen to the voice that tells you in a moment of weariness or pain that you ought to have adhered to your old vocation.

I suppose there have been persons who have had so strong _a sense of the ident.i.ty of their own action with the will of G.o.d as to exclude every other feeling, who have never wished to live nor wished to die except as they fulfil his will_? Can we acquire this?

I don't know. But _such a sense of things would no doubt give infinite rest and almost infinite power_. Perhaps quietists have been most successful in gaining this sort of feeling, but the quietists are not the people who have pa.s.sed all their lives rubbing and fighting against the world. But _I don't see why active life might not become a sort of pa.s.sive life too, pa.s.sive in the hands of G.o.d and in the fulfilment of the laws of nature. I sometimes fancy that there are possibilities of human character much greater than have been realized_, mysteries, as they may be called, of character and manner and style which remain to be called forth and explained. One great field for thought on this subject is the manner in which character may grow and change quite late in life.... [The rest of the letter is about the politics of the day.]

The pa.s.sages which I have printed in italics are those which Miss Nightingale had specially marked. "Can we help one another," he wrote in the following year (March 5, 1865), "to make life a higher and n.o.bler sort of thing--more of a calm and peaceful and never-ending service of G.o.d? Perhaps--a little." The marked pa.s.sages show in what way Miss Nightingale found in Mr. Jowett's friends.h.i.+p a source of comfort, and a fresh inspiration towards her own spiritual ideals. In her meditations of later years, a greater "pa.s.sivity in action" was the state of perfection which she constantly sought to attain.

Mr. Jowett, as will have been noted, sought to rea.s.sure her about her concentration for the most part upon work for the Army and for India.

And indeed she was herself intensely devoted to it, nor was it ever deposed from a princ.i.p.al place in her thoughts and interests. Yet there were times, as shown in a letter already quoted (p. 82), when she felt that this work, insistently though it appealed to her, though it was bound up with some of her fondest memories, was all the while, if not a kind of desertion, yet at best only a temporary call. Her first "call from G.o.d" had been to service in another sort, and she was anxious to make peace with "those first affections." In January 1864 she sent these instructions to Mrs. Bracebridge, who directed that if Miss Nightingale should survive her they were to be handed on to Mrs. Sutherland:--

You know that I always believed it to be G.o.d's will for me that I should live and die in Hospitals. When this call He has made upon me for other work stops, and I am no longer able to work, I should wish to be taken to St. Thomas's Hospital and to be placed _in a general ward_ (which is what I should have desired had I come to my end as a Hospital matron). And I beg you to be so very good as to see that this my wish is accomplished, whenever the time comes, if you will take the trouble as a true friend, which you always have been, are, and will be. And this will make me die in peace because I believe it to be G.o.d's will.

It was not so to be. But we shall find, on opening the next Part in the story of Miss Nightingale's long life, that she was presently to have time for helping forward the movement, which she had promoted as a Reformer of Hospitals and as the Founder of Modern Nursing, into a new and a wider field.

CHAPTER VI

NEW MASTERS

(1866)

Among new men, strange faces, other minds.

TENNYSON.

The year 1866 was one of stirring events both at home and abroad. It saw the downfall of the Whig Administration which, with a brief interval (1858-59), had held office under different chiefs since December 1852.

In March Mr. Gladstone, now leader of the House of Commons, introduced a Reform Bill, of which the fortunes were uncertain owing to the dissent of the Adullamites under Mr. Lowe. On April 27 the second reading was carried by a majority of five only. On June 18 the Government was defeated in Committee on Lord Dunkellin's amendment, and resigned. On the day before Lord Russell's Government was defeated war was declared between Austria and her allies on the one side, and Prussia and Italy on the other. Prussia, armed with her new breech-loading gun, quickly defeated Austria. The foundation of the future German Empire under the hegemony of Prussia was laid, and Italy, as part of the price of a victory not hers, received from Austria the province of Venetia. Of these great events, some brought consequences with them to causes in which Miss Nightingale was deeply interested, whilst others made direct demands on her exertions.

The earlier months of the year were thus a period of continuous and almost feverish activity on her part. Two of her letters--the former written when the fate of the Government was still trembling in the balance, the latter written when the new Government had been installed and when the war was raging on the continent--will serve to introduce the subjects of this chapter:--

(_Miss Nightingale to Harriet Martineau._) 35 SOUTH STREET, _May_ 2 [1866].... We have been rather in a fever lately because Ministers were hovering between in and out. Mr. Villiers promised us a Bill quite early in the year for a London uniform Poor Rate for the _sick_ and consolidated hospitals under a central management. (This was before we got our Earls and Archbishops and M.P.'s together to storm him in his den.) We shall not get our Bill this session, for Mr. Villiers is afraid of losing the Government one vote. But we shall certainly get it in time. "In 1860 the consolations of the future never failed me for a moment. And I find them now an equally secure resource." Can you guess who wrote those words? They are in a note from Mr. Gladstone written the morning of his speech on the Franchise Bill. Could you have believed he was so much in earnest?

I could not. And yet I knew him once very well. His speech (he was ill) impressed the House very much. "And e'en the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer." ...

(_Miss Nightingale to Julius Mohl._) 35 SOUTH STREET, _July_ 12 [1866]. I have been in the thick of all these changes of Government. I should like, if you had been in England, to have shown you the notes I have had from those going out, and those coming in--especially from my own peculiar masters, Lord de Grey and Lord Stanley. They are so much more serious and anxious than the world gives them credit for. I used to think public opinion was higher than private opinion. I now think just the reverse. As for the _Times_ and about all these German affairs--I believe the _Times_ to be a faithful reflection of the public opinion of our upper cla.s.ses: see what it is. Last week Prussia and Bismarck were the greatest criminals in Europe. This week the needle-gun (I mean Prussia and Bismarck--no, I mean the needle-gun) is a const.i.tutional Protestant--or a Protestant const.i.tution, I am not sure which.... But I was going to tell you: Lord Stanley has taken the Foreign Office (how he or anybody could take willingly the Foreign Office, England having now so little weight in European councils, in preference to the India Office which Lord Stanley created[67] and where we _create_ the future of 150 millions of men, one can't understand). Lord Stanley accepted the Foreign Office solely because he could not help it--Lord Clarendon (which I saw under his own hand) having "unhesitatingly declined" it, although Lord Derby made the most vehement love to him, even to offering to him the nomination of half the places in the Cabinet.

This I heard from Lord Clarendon himself.... Like you, I can't sleep or eat for thinking of this War. I can't distract my thoughts from it--because, you know, it is my business. I am consulted on both sides as to their Hospital and sanitary arrangements.... And then those stupid Italians publish parts of my letter--just the froth at the end, you know, while I had given them a solid pudding of advice at their own request--publish it cruelly, without my leave, with my address--since which my doors have been besieged by all exiles of all nations asking to be sent to Italy, and women threatening to "_accoucher_" (_sic_) in my pa.s.sage. I sometimes think I must give up business, _i.e._ work, or life. It would take two strong policemen to keep my beggars in check. No one could believe the stories I should have to tell--people who beg of me whom I might just as well beg of ... [a sheet missing]. Of course now I have to begin again at the very beginning with Mr. Gathorne Hardy at the Poor Law Board, to get our Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmary Bill. It was a cruel disappointment to me to see the Bill go just as I had it in my grasp. Also: a Public Health Service organization for Sir John Lawrence in India which I lost by 24 hours!! owing to Lord de Grey's going out. However, I am well nigh done for. Life is too hard for me. I have suffered so very much all the winter and spring, for which nothing did me any good but a curious new-fangled little operation of putting opium in under the skin, which relieves one for 24 hours, but does not improve the vivacity or serenity of one's intellect. When Ministers went out, I had hopes for a time from a Committee of the House of Commons (on which serves John Stuart Mill) "on the special local government of the Metropolis." At their request I wrote them a long letter. Then because it is July and they are rather hot, they give it up for this year. The change of Ministers, which brings hard work to us drudges, releases the House of Commons men. Alas! (There is a pathetic story of Balzac's, in which a poor woman who had followed the Russian campaign, was never able to articulate any word except _Adieu, Adieu, Adieu!_ I am afraid of going mad like her and not being able to articulate any word but _Alas! alas! alas!_)--F. N.

[67] Lord Stanley had been President of the Board of Control in 1858, in which capacity he conducted the India Bill through the House of Commons, and on its pa.s.sage he became the first Secretary of State for India.

II

Of the events over which Miss Nightingale cried alas! in this letter, the one which came first was the loss of Mr. Villiers's Poor Law Bill.

The loss, however, as she rightly surmised in writing to Miss Martineau, was only temporary. The whole subject is connected with a distinct branch of Miss Nightingale's work, of which a description must be reserved for the next chapter. She was in large measure, as we shall hear, the founder of Sick Nursing among the Indigent Poor, and a pioneer in Poor Law Reform.

The next event is connected with a subject with which we have already made acquaintance. Miss Nightingale "lost by 24 hours the opportunity of organizing a Public Health Service in India for Sir John Lawrence." The story of this lost opportunity and its retrieval ill.u.s.trate the truth of something said already;[68] namely, the difference it made that there was in London, in the person of Miss Nightingale, a resolute enthusiast, to whom the question of Indian sanitation was not "one of a thousand questions," but the one question of absorbing interest. That the opportunity of which she spoke was lost, was not, as by this time the reader will hardly need to be told, in any way whatever the fault of Miss Nightingale. It is a curious story, and is the subject of a great ma.s.s of correspondence amongst her Papers--a ma.s.s eloquent of the eager interest and infinite trouble which she devoted to the matter; but the story itself admits of being told succinctly. A few words, however, are first necessary on the essential issues; it was not a case of much ado about nothing. The whole future of sanitary progress in India was, or might reasonably be thought to be, at stake. Under the energetic rule of Sir John Lawrence, a good start had been made. The Governor-General continued to report progress to Miss Nightingale, and suggestions which she sent were communicated by him to his officers. But the larger questions of organization had still to be settled. Sir John's eagerness as a sanitary reformer was in some measure held in check by shortage of money. "Sanitary works," as Lord Salisbury remarked at a later stage of the affair, "are uniformly costly works." Miss Nightingale's view was that whether advance was to be slower or quicker, the organization should be on lines which would ensure the importance of advance being constantly kept in mind. She insisted that the Public Health Service in India should be a separate service, responsible to the Governor-General in Council, not a subordinate branch tucked away under some other department. This is the burden of many letters and memoranda from her hand.

[68] Above, p. 58.

Early in 1866 a double opportunity seemed to offer itself to Miss Nightingale for advancing her cause. At the beginning of February Sir Charles Wood resigned office, and her friend, Lord de Grey, became Secretary of State for India in his place. At the same time she had received an important letter from the Governor-General (dated Calcutta, Jan. 19). Her friend, Mr. Ellis, who had been in conclave (as we have heard) with her and her circle, had shortly before submitted proposals to him. Sir John Lawrence wrote to her: "As regards the reconstruction of our sanitary organizations, we are sending home to the Secretary of State a copy of Mr. Ellis's note which he sent me, and are proposing a further change somewhat in accordance with his plan. I have no doubt that you will see the dispatch, and therefore I had better not send it to you." He then went on to give a summary of its contents. The summary was brief, and allowed of different opinions as to the ultimate bearing of the Governor-General's proposals. He had a.s.sumed as a matter of course that she would be shown his dispatch, and she applied to her official friends for a sight of it. They would be delighted if they had it, but they had received no such dispatch; perhaps it would come by the next mail. But it did not, nor by the next, nor the next, for a very simple reason, as will presently appear. Miss Nightingale put on her friend Mr. Ellis, who as the head of a Presidency Health Commission had a direct _locus standi_, to inquire and even to search at the India Office. "They swear by their G.o.ds," he reported, "that they have no such dispatch." Miss Nightingale was becoming desperate. She was perfectly certain that Sir John Lawrence must have sent it. Meanwhile the Home Government was tottering to its fall; the new Secretary of State might be one who knew not Miss Nightingale. She entreated that a further search should be made. On May 5 she was told that "at last the Sanitary Minute had been found, and a copy of it was sent for her consideration.

It had been attached to some papers connected with the Financial Department and thus had escaped attention. Lord de Grey begged Miss Nightingale to let him have the benefit of her opinion upon it as soon as possible." She afterwards learnt that it was the Secretary of State himself who, with his own hands, had searched for and found the Governor-General's Minute. It had "escaped attention" for nearly four months. The incident did not raise Miss Nightingale's opinion of government offices, or lessen her sense of responsibility in the duty of keeping the sanitary question to the fore. She was ill when the Minister's message arrived; but she at once set to work, and on May 7 she sent in a memorandum giving a summary of her views, and pointing out wherein the Governor-General's proposals seemed to require revision if the recommendations of the Royal Commission were to be carried out effectually. The Minister was busy with many things. His own fate and that of his colleagues were in peril every day. A month intervened before the next move was taken. On June 11 Miss Nightingale was asked by Lord de Grey, through Captain Galton, to develop her views further and to draw up, in consultation with Dr. Sutherland, "a draft letter which he could submit to the Indian Council as his reply to Sir John Lawrence." The letter was to take the form either of "a practical scheme to propose to Sir John Lawrence for the sanitary administration of India" or of "such a description of the requirements as would draw from Sir J. L. a practical scheme." It was suggested that perhaps it would be best if the letter (1) shadowed out the requirements and (2) sketched a scheme of administration for carrying them out. This was a large order and took time. On June 19 Miss Nightingale sent in her draft. She was "24 hours" too late, for on June 18 the Government had been defeated.

There was, however, a short period of grace owing to the absence of the Queen at Balmoral and to her unwillingness to accept Lord Russell's resignation.[69] Lord de Grey had no time to pa.s.s the letter through the Secretary of State's Council, but he did what he could. He left on record at the India Office, he told Miss Nightingale, a Minute[70]

closely following the lines of her Memorandum. If his successor let the matter go to sleep again, Lord de Grey would be ready to call attention to it in Parliament. He a.s.sured Miss Nightingale that his interest in such questions would remain as warm as ever, and as she was now more likely than he to know what was going on, he begged her to keep him informed.

[69] In one of Mr. Jowett's letters to Miss Nightingale (June 1866) there is this story of Lord Russell. "On the evening of the crisis he was not to be found. He had gone down to Richmond to hear the Nightingales (your cousins)! 'And the provoking thing,' as he wrote to a friend, 'was that they did not sing that night.'"

[70] The substance of it may be found at p. 11 of the _Memorandum_ (as cited above, p. 34 _n._).

III

So, then, she had been too late. "I am furious to that degree," she wrote to Captain Galton (June 23), "at having lost Lord de Grey's five months at the India Office that I am fit to blow you all to pieces with an infernal machine of my own invention." She threw some of the blame upon Dr. Sutherland, whose mission to the Mediterranean she had not been able to cancel, and who, for weeks at a time during this year, was absent at Malta and Gibraltar or in Algiers. Algiers, indeed, she wrote tauntingly, "why not Astley's?" That would be quite as good a change for him. Sometimes she varied the figure, and Dr. Sutherland and his party figured in her letters as Wombwell's Menagerie. "The Menagerie, I hear,"

she wrote (Jan. 26), "including three ladies, H.M. Commissioners, and two ladies' maids, has gone after a column in the interior." Had he stayed at home, he might have been able to find the missing dispatch; and in any case they could have written at leisure, from the hints in Sir John Lawrence's letter to her, the Memorandum which they ultimately had to write in haste. The truant seems to have foreseen what a rod in pickle was awaiting him on his return. "I have been thinking," he wrote to her from Algiers (Jan. 28), "Will she be glad to hear from me? or Will she swear? I don't know, but nevertheless I will tell her a bit of my mind about our visit to Astley's." And he goes on to write an admirable account of his experiences, in which he ingeniously emphasizes the vast importance of his inquiries in connection with their Indian work. Nor was this only an excuse; Dr. Sutherland's Report on Algeria, and the French sanitary service there, was a most valuable piece of work. It is impossible to read his writings--whether in published reports or in his ma.n.u.scripts among Miss Nightingale's papers--without perceiving how well based was the reliance which she placed upon his collaboration. His wife stayed at home and saw much of Miss Nightingale.

Mrs. Sutherland must have reported the state of things in South Street; for a month later Dr. Sutherland wrote thus to Miss Nightingale (Feb.

20): "The mail which ought to have arrived yesterday came in to-day, and I am trying to save the out mail, which leaves the harbour at 12, without much prospect of success. I have had a letter to-day from home about you, and if it had come yesterday, Ellis and I would certainly have been embarking to-day for England. After the account of your suffering, and of the pressure of business under which you are sinking, I feel wild to get away from this. To-night we leave Algeria, and by the time you get this we will be on our way home. G.o.d bless you and keep you to us. Amen." Well, I can only hope that Dr. Sutherland enjoyed his trip while it lasted; for I fear that he may have had a bad quarter-of-an-hour when he reported himself at South Street on his return. She had complained of his absence to another of her close allies, Dr. Farr. "I have all Dr. Sutherland's business to do," she wrote (Jan. 19), "besides my own. If it could be done, I should not mind. I had just as soon wear out in two months as in two years, so the work be done. But it can't. It is just like two men going into business with a million each. The one suddenly withdraws. The other may wear himself to the bone, but he can't meet the engagements with one million which he made with two. Add to this, I have been so ill since the beginning of the year as to be often unable to have my position moved from pain for 48 hours at a time. But to business...."

One good stroke of business, however, Miss Nightingale had been able to do during Dr. Sutherland's absence. She reported it to Dr. Farr: "The compensation to my disturbed state of mind has been a convert to the sanitary cause I have made for Madras--no less a person than Lord Napier. I managed to scramble up to see him before he sailed." The "conversion" means not necessarily that Lord Napier needed to find salvation, but refers rather to the fact that his predecessor in the governors.h.i.+p of Madras had been unsympathetic. Lord Napier, on receiving the appointment, had expressed a desire to learn Miss Nightingale's views. He had been secretary to the British Emba.s.sy at Constantinople during the Crimean War, and had there formed a high opinion of her ability and devotion. She now wrote to him about Indian sanitary reform, and he at once replied:--

(_Lord Napier to Miss Nightingale._) 24 PRINCES GATE, _Feb._ 16 [1866]. I beg you to believe that I am far from being impatient of your communication or indifferent to your wishes. I have read your letter with great interest, and I regret that you had not time and strength to make it longer. You will confer a great favour on me by sending me the 8vo volume of which you speak, and I would not stumble at the two folio blue books.... The Sanitary question like the railway question or the irrigation question will probably remain subordinated in some degree to financial requirements, to the necessity of shewing a surplus at the end of the year; but within the limits of my available resources I promise you a zealous intervention on behalf of the cause you have so much at heart. You say that you do not know me well; but you cannot deprive me of the happiness and honor of having seen you at the greatest moment of your life in the little parlour of the hospital at Scutari. I was a spectator, and I would have been a fellow-labourer if any one would have employed my services. I remain at your orders for any day and hour.--Very sincerely yours, NAPIER.

Their interview took place three days later. Lord Napier, during his governors.h.i.+p of Madras, which lasted six years, tried hard to fulfil his promise. To other matters he attended also; but it was to questions connected with the public health that he devoted his most particular attention, and throughout his residence in India he kept up a correspondence with Miss Nightingale about them.

IV

Meanwhile on the immediate question of the moment she had been too late, and her political friends were out. She was a Whig and a keen Reformer; but she was a sanitarian before she was a politician, and as soon as the Whigs fell she was on the alert to make friends for her causes with the mammon of unrighteousness. She was eager to hear the earliest political news:--

The Life of Florence Nightingale Volume II Part 7

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