It was all quite natural, of course. The theologians who condemned her to death, and those who have now raised her to Beatitude, were concerned with the authenticity of her miracles, and there is nothing miraculous in thus raising a nation from the dead. Considering the difficulty of their task, we may forgive the clergy some apparent inconsistency in their treatment. But for myself, as a mere layman, I should be content to call any human being Blessed for the natural magic of such a history; and compared with that deed of hers, I would not turn my head to witness the most astonishing miracle ever performed in all the records of the saints.
It is strange to think that up to August of 1910, a woman was alive who had won the highest fame many years before most people now living were born. To remember her is like turning the pages of an illustrated newspaper half-a-century old. Again we see the men with long and pointed whiskers, the women with ballooning skirts, bag nets for the hair, and little bonnets or porkpie hats, a feather raking fore and aft. Those were the years when Gladstone was still a subordinate statesman, earning credit for finance, Dickens was writing Hard Times, Carlyle was beginning his Frederick, Ruskin was at work on Modern Painters, Browning composing his Men and Women, Thackeray publishing The Newcomes, George Eliot wondering whether she was capable of imagination. It all seems very long ago since that October night when that woman sailed for Boulogne with her thirty-eight chosen nurses on the way to Scutari. I suppose that never in the world’s history has the change in thought and manners been so rapid and far-reaching as in the two generations that have arisen in our country since that night. And it is certain that Florence Nightingale, when she embarked without fuss in the packet, was quite unconscious how much she was contributing to so vast a transformation.
One memory almost alone still keeps a familiar air, suggesting something that lies perhaps permanently at the basis of man’s nature. The present-day detractors of all things new, of every step in advance, every breach in routine, every promise of emancipation, and every departure from the commonplace, would feel themselves quite at home among the evil tongues that spewed their venom upon a courageous and noble-hearted