No good nurse can endure any fuss about her work and her merits. Enthusiasts and devotees find immediately that they are altogether out of place in a hospital,—or, as we may now say, they would find this, if they were ever to enter a hospital: for, in fact, they never now arrive there. The preparation brings them to a knowledge of themselves; and the two sorts of women who really and permanently become nurses are those who desire to make a living by a useful and valued and well-paid occupation, and those who benevolently desire to save life and mitigate suffering, with such a temper of sobriety and moderation as causes them to endure hardship and ill-usage with firmness, and to dislike praise and celebrity at least as much as hostility and evil construction. The best nurses are foremost in perceiving the absurdity and disagreeableness of such heroines of romance as flourished in the press seven years ago,—young ladies disappointed in love, who went out to the East, found their lovers in hospital, and went off with them, to be happy ever after, without any anxiety or shame at deserting their patients in the wards without leave or notice. Not of this order was Florence Nightingale, whose practical hard work, personal reserve, and singular administrative power have placed her as high above impeachment for feminine weaknesses as above the ridicule which commonly attends the striking out of a new course by man or woman. Those who most honor her, and most desire to follow her example, are those who most steadily bring their understandings and their hearts to bear upon the work which she began. Her ill-health has withdrawn her from active nursing and administration; but she has probably done more towards the saving of life by working in connection with the War-Office in private than by her best-known deeds in her days of health. Through her, mainly, it is that every nation has already studied with some success the all-important subject of Health in the Camp and in the Hospital. It now lies in the way of American women to take up the office, and, we may trust, to “better the instruction.”
* * * * *
Old Jacob Newell sat despondent beside his sitting-room fire. Gray-haired and venerable, with a hundred hard lines, telling of the work of time and struggle and misfortune, furrowing his pale face, he looked the incarnation of silent sorrow and hopelessness, waiting in quiet meekness for the advent of the King of Terrors: waiting, but not hoping, for his coming; without desire to die, but with no dread of death.