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Florence Nightingale Letters

[Letter, Florence Nightingale to Mary Mohl, March 26, 1869] Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910 Mar 26, 1869

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 Signed letter from FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE to Mme Mohl, Pen, handwritten [8:569-71] [1] 35 South Street, [printed address] March 26/69 Park Lane, W. Dearest Madame Mohl Yes: I must have the little cat with a cultivated mind, brought up in the purple. "Bring it up" for me, if you please, with every- accomplishment of singing & dancing, such as poor Mr. Tit had Is it a lady or a gentleman? -- My Pa & ma are wonderfully well, thank you. He was here a short time ago, passing thro' from Lea Hurst. No: you did not send me the 3rd Vol: of Laufrey. Nor have I read it. I never get anything amusing or interesting for myself, except for my business. Do you know I am often 3 months saying to myself: `I will get such & such a book'. & never find a moment to do it in? But I believe the principal thing I write for now is about Sir John Lawrence. I cannot conceive what your informant means by his "injustice towards natives." Because the one characteristic of his Government, acknowledged by all friends & foes -- has been: -- a certain persistent chivalry towards natives, especially peasant natives, which has often made him overlook the strict justice of a question, as e.g. in Land Tenure, -- his one absorbing idea being to raise the native -- just as there are some in England who, in their one absorbing idea, which is to raise the pauper -- forget all Political Economy. I wrote a little "Note on Pauperism" [5:149] in "Fraser's Magazine" for March which I sent to M. Mohl -- [do you know whether he ever got it?] to shew that, to raise the pauper was according to the strictest rules of Political Economy. I was only like the drummer boy, going round, by beat of drum, just to wake people up. You must sometimes trample on the toes of Political Economists, just to make them feel whether they are standing on firm ground. To do good useful work in this world, you must enlist the interests of every body on your side. Christian effort won't do -- You must shew well=directed worthiness that their interest is to help you -- that it is cheaper to go out of their way a little to teach people to help themselves than to give their money in charity -- or in Poor Law to offer paupers the Workhouse or to let them die. But to return to Sir J. Lawrence. [5:522-23] He is come back -- & wrote me one of his little letters, beautiful in their stern simplicity & modesty -- & is coming to see me. You can ask Sir B. Frere about him, if you like. But they are two men, so unlike, yet each so roundly perfect in his own way, that they can never understand each other -- never, touch at any point -- not thro' eternity. I love & admire them both with all my mind & with all my heart -- but have long since given up the [2] slightest attempt to make either understand the other. But each is too much of a man, too noble, too chivalrous, to denigrate (dénigrer) the other. As for Sir J. Lawrence's Governmt -- tho it had great faults -- the greatest of which was Caesarism -- & this without the slightest desire of popularity or power on his side. But he never could see that the Caesarism of Lord Dalhousie, which was necessary during the process of conquest, must be exchanged for quite another policy in organizing & administering for 200 millions of people in time of peace. He could not delegate power to the Local Governments. The centralization was something inconceivable. I knocked my head against it at every step. Sir J. Lawrence tried, with his indefatigable industry & powers of government, to do all the business in his own room for a country bigger than Europe, of which Bengal is bigger & more populated than France. But Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew. --he has left his mark on India. Wherever superstition or ignorance or starvation or dirt or fever or famine, or the wild bold lawlessness of brave races, or the cringing slavishness of clever feeble races, was to be found -- there he has left his mark -- he has set India on a new track which -- may his successors follow! "Knight of a better era Without reproach or fear laid I not well that Bayards And Sidneys still are here!" You ask about the Sanitary affairs for the natives: the whole of our Sanitary work for the last 3 years has been for the natives. The soldiers' Sanitary organization is now complete -- And, tho' of course it will be years before the details are worked up to it, still they have nothing to do, since we got our ten millions of £, but to go on. What grieves me is: that, in the new Govt of India Bill, just passed here, they have given a powers to the Governor Genl, (such as that of naming natives to Govt appointments, without making them pass thro the English competitive examination,) & other powers, which Sir John Lawrence had been contending for for years -- And to him who knew the natives better than any man on this planet they did not give these powers. And they have given them to Lord Mayo, who does not know a Sikh from a Bengalee? You ask me the story, of my work, dearie -- And I feel inclined to answer, like Canning's Knife-grinder: -- Story, God bless you! I have none to tell Sir, Only last night, a fighting at the Chequers he gets a hole in his head, his hat & his breeches. That's just like me. I have only to tell how I have been fighting, & broken my head, when you ask after my work. Don't suppose I have not more to tell about Sir J. Lawrence. But he is too big for a letter. And my hand won't write any more. ever yours F. Nightingale

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