Date: August 9, 2013

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florence nightingale glorious tributes to a ‘ministering-angel’

Henri Dunant, speech on Florence Nightingale at the Geneva Convection (August, 1864)

To the many who pay their homage to Miss Nightingale, though a very humble person of a small country, Switzerland, I yet want to add my tribute of praise and admiration. As the founder of the Red Cross and originator of the diplomatic Convention of Geneva, I feel emboldened to pay my homage.

To Miss Nightingale I give all the honor of this humane Convection. It was her work in the Crimea that inspired me to go Italy during the war of 1859, to share the horrors of war, to relieve the helplessness of the unfortunate victim to their duty, far from their native country, and to water the poetic land of Italy with their blood.

A history of the Western Sanitary Commission, written in 1864, begins with this credit to Florence Nightingale’s pioneering work:

The first organized attempt to mitigate the horrors of war, to prevent disease and save the lives of those engaged in military service by sanitary measures and a more careful nursing of the sick and wounded, was made by a commission appointed by the British Government during the Crimean war, to inquire into the terrible mortality from disease that attended the British army at Sebastopol, and to apply the needed remedies. It was as a part of this great work that the heroic young Englishwoman, Florence Nightingale, with her army of nurses, went to the Crimea to care for the sick and wounded soldier, to minister in hospitals, and to alleviate suffering and pain, with a self sacrifice and devotion that has made her name a household word, wherever the English language is spoken.

Letter in the times on the activities of Florence Nightingale at Scutari (February, 1855)

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 fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her.

Her method of work was one of untiring thoroughness in reading, assembling, observing, testing and analyzing of everything to be had on the subject at home or abroad, and then lining up her facts with the obvious intent to produce action. Queen Victoria expressed recognition of her thoroughness “I wish we had her at the war office”

The Nightingale Pledge

“The Nightingale Pledge” written by Mrs.Lystra E. Getter, Superintendent Harper Hospital Detroit, USA in honor of Florence Nightingale in 1893.

I solemnly pledge myself before God
And in the presence of this assembly,
To pass my life in purity and to practice
My profession faithfully.
I will abstain from whatever is
Deleterious and mischievous and
Will not take or knowingly administer
Any harmful drug.
I will do all in my power to maintain
And elevate the standard of my profession and
Will hold in confidence
All personal matters committed
To my keeping and
All family affairs coming to my knowledge
In the practice of my calling
With loyalty will I endeavour
To aid the physician in his work
And devote myself to the welfare
Of those committed to my care.

Please Note: Later, to emphasize the ever-widening field of nursing, Mrs.Gretter altered the last clause to:
‘With loyalty will I aid the physician in his work, and as a “missioner of health” I will dedicate myself to devoted service to human welfare.’

‘The Lady with the Lamp’
“Florence Nightingale began to walk the wards at night within days of her arrival at Scutari what began an exploratory tour of inspection turned into a routine and then into a ritual. It symbolized the covenant between her and the men, and they understood its meaning very well” .

As we turned the angle of the long corridor to the right, we perceived, at a great distance, a faint light flying from bed to bed, like a will O’-the-wisp’ flickering in a meadow on a summer’s eve, which at last rested upon one spot.

To The Lady with The Lamp
August 13, 1910.

One star still burns albeit the sun declines,
A light goes out, but still one lamp is clear;
The lamp of duty born to persevere
That one time down dark Scutari’s noisome lines
Of indescribable agony shone, still shines;
Still dying soldiers feel an angel’s cheer,
Content to kiss love’s shadow passing near.
And the worst battle woe had anodynes.
Dear lady the lamp so brave, so frail,
The light you lit shall grow to perfect morn
Till wounds no more may need a woman’s hand,
Ten thousand thousands in that painless land
To our farewells to-day are crying Hail!
And all the world gives thanks that you were

We think to-day of the little Russian prisoner, the poor boy who could not speak or be spoken to till she had taken him in and had him taught and made useful; and how he answered when at length he could understand a question. When asked if he knew where he would to when he was dead, he confidently said; “I shall go to Miss Nightingale”.
Harriet Martineau.

The Bird
Nightingale ‘Singer of the night’
Greek – ‘filomela’
Persian – ‘Bulbul’
American – ‘ Thrush’
The soldiers in Crimea affectionately called her “The Bird.”

The British Soldier’s Feeling of Thanks and Reverence of Florence Nightingale.

On a dark lovely night on Crimea’s dread shores. There ‘d been bloodshed and strife on the morning before; The dead and the dying lay bleeding around, Some crying for help-there was none to be found. Now God is his mercy. He pitied their cries, and the soldiers cheerful the morning to rise.

So, forward my lads, may your hearts never fail. You are cheered by the presence of a sweet Nightingale. Her heart it means good for no bounty she’ll take, She’d lay down her life for the poor soldier’s sake; She prays for the dying, she given peace to the brave, She feels that a soldier has a soul to be saved. The wounded they love her as it has been seen, She’s the soldiers preserver, they call her their Queeen, Refrain.

May heaven give her strength and her heart never fail. One of Heaven’s best gifts is Miss Nightingale.

What a comfort to see her pass. She would speak to one, nod and smile to as many more; but she could not do it to all you know. We lay there by the hundreds, but we could kiss her shadow as it fell and lay our heads on the pillow again content.

Extracts from Mahatma Gandhi’s article on Florence Nightingale, which was published in Indian Opinion on September 9th, 1915.


Gandhiji wrote the following article on Florence Nightingale, which was published in Indian Opinion on September 9th, 1915.

“Fifty years ago, the various facilities for nursing the wounded which are available today did not exist, People did not come out to render aid in large number as they do now. Surgery was not as efficacious then as it is today. There were in those days very few men who considered it an act of mercy and merit to succour the wounded. It was at such a time that this lady, Florence Nightingale came upon the scene and did good work worthy of an angel descended from heaven. She was heart-stricken to learn of the sufferings of the soldiers.

Born of a noble and rich family, she gave up her life of ease and comfort to nurse the wounded and the ailing, followed by many other ladies. She left her home on October 21, 1854. She rendered strenuous service in the battle of Inkerman. At that time there were neither beds nor other amenities for the wounded. There were 10,000 wounded under the charge of this single woman. The death rate among the wounded which was 42 percent, before she arrived, immediately came down to 31 percent, and ultimately to five percent. This was miraculous, but can be easily visualized. If bleeding could be stopped, the wounds bandaged and the requisite diet given, the lives of many thousands would doubtless be saved. The only thing necessary was kindness and nursing, which Miss Nightingale provided.

“It is said that she did an amount of work which big and strong men were unable to do. She used to work nearly twenty hours, day and night. When the women working under her went to sleep, she, lamp in hand, went out alone at midnight to the patient’s bedside, comforted them, and herself gave them whatever food and other things were necessary. She was not afraid of going even to the battle-front, and did not know what fear was. She feared only God. Knowing that one has to die some day or other, she readily bore whatever hardships were necessary in order to alleviate the sufferings of others.”

“This lady remained single all her life, which she spent in good work. It is said that, when she died, thousands of soldiers wept bitterly like little children, as though they had lost their own mother.

No wonder that a country where such women are born is prosperous. That England rules over a wide empire is due, not to the country’s military strength, but to the meritorious deeds of such men and women.”

To express her personal appreciation for all Miss Nightingale had done for the troops, Queen Victoria sent her a brooch that Prince Albert himself had designed.

The brooch featured St. George’s cross – on which was written “Blessed are the Merciful” and “Crimea”

On the back of the Medal was written:” “To miss Florence Nightingale, as a mark of esteem and gratitude for her devotion towards the Queen’s brave soldier’s – from Victoria R. 1855”.

If Florence Nightingale be the founder of modern Nursing – Sidney Herbert must rank as its patron Sidney Herbert’s tribute to Florence Nightingale

He paid his tribute by placing of his statue next to that of Florence Nightingale in waterloo place.

It was a brave and original step considering that this step was taken in English mid-nineteenth century!!


To have women nurses with the British Army! It was immodest, unthinkable, revolutionary! Yet it was not only suggested but carried into effect.
The step was bold – but if it had not been taken how different night the history of nursing (have) been !!

[At the outbreak of the Crimean war the Duke of Newcastle was the Secretary for war and Sidney Herbert the Secretary at war.]

Tribute and Acknowledgement of Florence Nightingale’s Work

Queen Victoria, who regarded the army as a primary concern of her own and who ordered that Nightingale’s letters be sent to her, once remarked: “We are very much struck by her — wonderful, clear, and comprehensive head. I wish we had her at the war office!”

The sect of the Good Samaritan ‘she belongs to a sect which unfortunately is a very rare one the sect of the Good Samaritan’.
(one Clergyman)

No, adequate appreciation of Florence Nightingale life can probably yet be written, for like the greatness of hers grows the more striking the further one gets away from it. By nurses she will ever be revered as their Foundress, but this is not all. While she revolutionized nursing she was almost equally great in other fields; her advanced ideas on sanitation or on statistics would alone have entitled her to respect. She remains as one of the most remarkable figures of the 19th Century, Indeed one of the outstanding women of all time.
Lucy Ridgely Seymer
[A General History of Nursing]

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