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F r i e d a: Mr. Priestley, you have told us about a number of great English men, but you've said nothing about great English women.

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: Well, I mentioned Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

F r i e d a: I wasn't thinking so much about kings and queens.

They are sometimes great only owing to their position.

L u c i 11e: Or because writers or courtiers wanted to flatter them and make them out to be great.

F r i e d a: Yes, I wondered if there were any who had be­ come great by what they did.

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: Oh yes, quite a lot. Of course, until fairly recently women hadn't the education or the opportunity for winning fame that men had, but just speaking from memory I could mention Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Elizabeth Bar­ rett Browning, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti.

01a f: All these were writers. It's natural, I suppose, that women should become great by writing.

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: Yes, I suppose so, but there have been others. Elizabeth Fry, for example, who did a great deal of prison reform; Grace Darling who, whith only her father to help, took out the lifeboat and rowed across a mile of wild, stormy sea to rescue shipwrecked sailors. Above all, perhaps, there is Florence Nightingale.

01a f: I read a play about her - I enjoyed it very much. 1

F r i e d a: Could you tell us something about her, please? M r. P r i e s t 1e y: Certainly if you wish. The story goes back to the middle of the nineteenth century. England was at war with Russia, and an English army was fighting in the Cri­ mea. Disturbing reports, chiefly from the pen of William Rus­ sell, The Times reporter, began to come to England of the terrible conditions in the hospitals where our wounded men were being treated. The chief hospital, the one at Scutari in Turkey, was an old barracks. It was built over a vast drain up which the wind blew evil-smelling air. The floors were broken and the building was swarming with rats and mice. But even


1 The Lady with the Lamp, by Reginald Berkeley.

this horrible place was overcrowded. There were hardly any beds, and men were lying on the floor, in the passages, any­ where. There were no clean shirts for the men, and they lay in their blood-soaked rags. They were dying in thousands, not of their wounds so much as of sickness. The only nurses were old soldiers long past fighting age, who knew nothing of nursing and were quite unable to do the work. That was the terrible position when Sidney Herbert, the Minister for War, wrote to Florence Nightingale asking if she would go out to the Crimea with a band of nurses. His letter crossed hers in the post offer­ ing her services. Within a week she was ready, and with thirty­ eight nurses she sailed for Scutari.

Fr i e d a: But why did Sidney Herbert choose Florence Nigh­ tingale? Was she already working as a nurse or had she already organised any work like this?

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: No women had already organised work like this, and home of Florence Nightingale was almost the last place that you would have expected a nurse to come from. In her day, nursing was done only by woman of the lowest moral class, dirty, drunken creatures such as Dickens had drawn in his picture of Mrs. Gamp. 1 In fact, when women were charged in the police-courts they were often given the choice of going to prison or to hospital service.

The Nightingales moved in the highest social class. Cabinet Ministers were frequent visitors to their house. They were very wealthy; they had two large country houses and a town house in London. They travelled a good deal, and Florence (she was so called because she was born in the city of Florence in 1820) was highly educated in music, art, literature, Latin and Greek. She spoke Italian, French and German with ease, was attrac­ tive, and was expected to marry one of the numerous admirers who came to the Nightingales' home. But ever since she was a child she had nursed the villagers and the sick dogs and cats and horses round her home and had had a passion to be a nurse. Her parents were horrified and did all they could to prevent it, but Florence was not to be turned aside. Whenever she was abroad she visited hospitals, she read, secretly, books on nursing, reports of medical societies, histories of hospitals. She spent some weeks as a sister in a hospital in Paris and three months in a nursing school at Kaiserwerth in Germany, and kept up a constant struggle with her parents. Finally her single-


1 In Martin Chua,lewit.

ness of aim and her resolution won the day. Her mother - with tears in her eyes - agreed to Florence be­ coming superintendent of an "Estab­ lishment for Gentlewomen during ill­ ness" in Harley Street, the fashionable street of London's most famous doc­ tors. She had been there a year when the Crimean War broke out. It was from there that she wrote to Sidney Herbert, whom she knew personally, offering her services.

FLORENCE When she arrived at Scutari she NIGHTINGALE found conditions even worse than the reports had stated. The War Office had told her "nothing was lacking at Scutari". She found that everything was lacking, furniture, clothes, towels, soap, knives, plates. There were no bandages and no linen to make bandages, few medicines and scarcely any proper food. Luckily (or perhaps it wasn't luck but good organisation) she had brought with her large quanti­ ties of food, soups, wines, jellies and medical supplies. Every­ where she met with inefficiency and confusion, and every­ where difficulties were put in her way by the officials in charge. As the officials working "according to Army Regulations" could not, or would not, supply the necessary stores, she did so out of her own money. She bought boots, socks, blankets, shirts by the thousand. "I am a kind of general dealer", she wrote, "in shirts, knives, forks, tin baths, cabbages, operating tables, tow­ els, soap". She was the only one who cared nothing for regula­ tions and red-tape. 1 To the stone wall of officialdom she op­ posed a will of iron. "It can't be done", said a doctor, objecting to an order that she gave. "It must be done", she said quietly.

And it was.

H o b: She sounds more like an eagle than a nightingale!

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: She spared no one, least of all herself. She often worked for twenty-four hours on end, dressing wounds, helping surgeons in their operations, easing the pain of the sick, comforting the dying. Every night, carrying a little oil­ lamp to light her way, she walked by the beds, four miles of


1 red-tape. Papers in Government offices, lawyers' offices, etc., are often tied with pink or red tape (i.e., thin band of cotton cloth). So the phrase is used to mean rules and regulations in Government affairs that make it difficult to get business done quickly.

them. To the soldiers she was the "Lady with the Lamp", and they worshipped her. One of them wrote: "What a comfort it was just to see her pass. She would speak to one, smile to many more. She could not speak to all, you know. We lay there by hundreds, but we could kiss her shadow as it fell on the wall". But that is only one side of the picture. The "Lady with the Lamp" was also the hard, practical woman. She and her nurses got down on their knees and scrubbed floors and walls. She organised the cooking of the men's food and the washing of their clothes. Instead of badly-cooked, badly-served food she gave the men well-cooked, well-served meals. She wrote letters to the Government in England, stinging letters to waken them out of their self-satisfied dreams. "When I wrote politely", she said, "I got a polite answer - and nothing was done. When I wrote furiously I got a rude answer - but something was done". Out of hopeless confusion she brought order. The rate of deaths fell from sixty per thousand to three per thousand. In 1855 she was made Inspector of all hospitals in the Cri­ mea. It meant long, uncomfortable journeys in snow and rain and cold. She took fever but continued her work from her bed.

She refused to go home until the last soldier went. It was not until after peace was declared in 1856 that she returned home - an invalid for life.

But she lived fifty-four years longer. Though she couldn't leave her house, often not even her bed, she worked as fiercely as she had done at Scutari and brought about more changes in English life than perhaps any other private person of her time. At home she met with the same opposition from "officials" as she had met in the Crimea but she had great support, too. Queen Victoria was a great admirer of her. "Such a clear head", she said. "I wish we had her at the War Office". And the British public was always solidly at her back. Now it was not only a hospital at Scutari that needed her, it was a whole world that was sick and needed help. She changed the whole system of hospital organisation of the army. She began the reform of the health service in India. She wrote books on nursing. She started the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital, now one of the finest in the world. She changed the whole idea of hospital planning and is the founder of modern nursing. Foreign governments consulted her on the health services for their countries, and their representatives crowded to the ceremony in 1907 when she was given the Order of Merit,

the highest civil honour the Government can give and the first ever given to a woman. Three years later, a very old, tired woman of ninety, she died quietly in her sleep.



I. CJioeapmui: pa6oTa. IIpH)JJMait:Te npero10:>Keem1 co cJioBaMu:

flatter (use also flatterer, flattery ), row (as a verb, and, with a quite different meaning, as a noun), shipwreck, hospital, bar­ racks, drain ( noun and verb; use also drainage), swarm ( noun and verb), soak, charge (to be charged with a crime), admirer (use also admiration), superintendent, lack, bandage ( noun and verb), jelly, soup (not soap), regulations (use also regulate), nightingale, dress (note its use here, "to dress a wound"), scrub, sting ( noun and verb; give the parts of this verb), rate, invalid, founder (what is the difference between tofound and to find?; give the parts of each verb), mysterious (what is the corre­ sponding noun?).

II. 06'M1ceuTe 3Ha'leeuu cJie,!l,ylOJIU1X e&1pa:>Keeuu 113 ypoKa 20:

1. speaking from memory. 2. disturbing reports. 3. long past fighting age. 4. his letter crossed hers. 5. Florence was not to be turned aside. 6. the Crimean War broke out. 7. offering her services. 8. red-tape. 9. the stone wall of officialdom. 10. she spared no one. 11. hours on end. 12. self-satisfied dreams.

13. sixty per thousand. 14. peace was declared. 15. an invalid for life.

III. OmeT&Te ea eonpocw:

1. Why is it natural there should have been fewer famous women that famous men?

2. What did Grace Darling do?

3. In what ways was the building at Scutari unsuitable to be a hospital?

4. What was wrong with the conditions there before Florence Nightingale arrived?

5. Who invited Florence Nightingale to go to the Crimea?

6. Mention the conditions of nursing in England before Florence Nightingale's time.

7. What kind of people were the Nightingales?

8. Give a short account of Florence Nightingale's education.

9. In what ways had she prepared herself for her task?

10. "Nothing was lacking at Scutari". How far was this true?

11. How did she overcome the shortage of supplies?

12. "I am a kind of general dealer". How far was this true?

13. What did Hob mean by saying, "She sounds more like an eagle than a nightingale"?

14. Mention some of the duties she did (a) as a nurse, (b) as "a hard, practical woman".

15. Why was she called "The Lady with the Lamp"?

IV. KaKHe nperomru HJIH uapeqm1 yno'I'pe6JUIIOTCH co cJie;:cyro111uMu maroJiaMH? IlpOHJIJIIOCTJJHpyiiTe OTBeT npHMepaMH:

1. deal 5. divide 9. increase 13. live

2. debate 6. entrust 10. inquire 14. long

3. depend 7. glance 11. laugh 15. object

4. differ 8. hear 12. listen 16. play

Composition Exercises

17. present

18. preside

19. quarrel

20. refer

1. Tell in about 450 words the story of Florence Nightingale.

2. Write an essay on "A day in the life of a nurse".

3. Give an account of a great woman in your or any other country.

* * *

Lucille goes

L u c i 11e: Mr.Priestley, I'm afraid this is the last lesson I shall have with you. A cousin of mine and his wife in America have invited me to go there and stay with them for three or four months so I am flying there next week. I am very sorry to leave. I have enjoyed our class very much and have learned a great deal.

M r. P r i e s t 1e y: And we are sorry to lose you, Lucille. Our little circle is breaking up. Jan is going to London Univer­ sity, Pedro to Cambridge, Frieda is going to be married, and now you, Lucille. Well, it is only to be expected. We shall often think of you, Lucille, and of the pleasant times we have had here, and I am sure we all give you our heartiest good wishes for the future. Ifever you come to England again, please come and see me. I shall always be glad to see you again.

O l a f, F ri e d a, P e d r o, J a n, H o b: Hear! Hear! Good­ bye, Lucille, and the best of luck.


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