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Florence Nightingale Letters

[Letter, Florence Nightingale to Julius Mohl and Mary Mohl, February 3, 1874] Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910 Feb 3, 1874

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 A.42 Signed letter from Nightingale to M. Mohl & Madame Mohl, Pen, Handwritten by Nightingale, part in [3:203-05] Please address Embley x 35 South St. Romsey Park LaneFeb 3/74 London W. Dear M. Mohl & Madame Mohl, Mrs. Bracebridge died on Saturday morning at 1/4 past 5. She had taken no notice since Thursday at noon when she tried to say something & failed. She had been taken ill on the Sunday before with difficulty of swallowing. I tried to tell her of my dear Father's death: I mean, I sent her a letter by a friend. Now I have no one to tell of her death: She was more than mother to me: and oh that I could not be a daughter to her in her last sad days. What should I have been without her? And what would many have been without her? To one living with her as I did once, she was unlike any other human being: as unlike as a picture of a sunny scene is to the real light & warmth of sunshine: or as this February lamp we call our Sun is to her own Sun of living light in Greece. It is my last parting with my past from all that is not pain: but to her it is all joy. Hers was "faith": real sympathy with God. And her rising again: but she would not have me say this: so I can only think of that Saturday morning: after the suffering darkness of her last sad months: as of the first time I saw: with her: after a bad voyage: [this is but a pale likeness of her rising again: the "better world" will be the better for her: & heaven, I am sure the happier when she is in it.] the Sun spring out of Eastern seas: not with the chill damp of an English dawn: but rejoicing like Apollo to run his course. Hers was "another dawn than ours". But she is in her grave (to us) -- and oh the difference to me. In thought I always lived with her in the days of her sorrows I try to live with her now in the thought in the days of her joys. I told her what you M. Mohl said to me once about her husband: that delighted her. Other people live together to make each other worse: she lived with all to make them better: and she was not like a chastened Christian saint: no more like that than Apollo: but she had qualities which no Greek God ever had: real humility: Excepting my dear Father, I never knew any so really humble. And with hers, the most active heart & mind, & buoyant soul that could well be conceived: was it not the more remarkable? Dr. Livingstone's death is confirmed: as you perhaps know. How sad -- not because he died out there -- but because he died 'ere he finished what he had set before him to do. He was a Missionary after your own heart: we have no such men now-a-days. We are in the midst of [not in 3:204] the Dissolution: I can't say I care about it much: these men have played their game so ill: the Cabinet makes no secret that of the probability that they will have to resign as soon as or before the new Parliament meets. Sir Harry Verney & his son are both fighting good battles. Sir H. V. has lost his seat 8/2/74 The Bengal Famine is even worse than was expected. I came down here to be with [3:204 resumes] my poor Mother. [I must go back to London in 2 or 3 weeks.] For me the place "all withered when my Father died." She wandered (much & painfully) -- not mere memory=wanderings -- when I first came. But now sometimes when we speak of him there comes a flash of divine happiness over her sensible old face: it is worth living to me to see. At first I thought her more altered than I could have supposed possible: not between what she was in afternoons 3 months ago: & what she is now: for when up & walking about she has long been confused in memory: but between the mornings when I sat by her in her bed & she used to show more mental & spiritual insight than ever she did in all her life last year & now on Saturday it was terrible: I thought: oh I am too late: the mind is gone: But Sunday morning: I was by her bed as soon as she spoke: she knew me at once: & began at once to speak of our loss. Then I said all that is so true about him: and when we repeated: To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise: a sort of divine rapture gleamed in her: it is enough to have lived for to have seen it. She continually asks: when shall I go after him? -- She feels the loss the more, not the less, because it is like a fresh shock, a new blow to her every morning. To me it is different from what it is to any one else: I lie in the same rooms I did: not his: & I keep expecting now as then to hear his voice & his step coming in to the rooms below: Dear M. Mohl: you have never sent me your Theodike remarks: I care for them more than ever now: ever yours F. Nightingale [end 3:205]


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