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Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)


British nurse, a pioneer of modern nursing, and a noted statistician.
Florence Nightingale
That man and woman have an equality of duties and rights is accepted by woman even less than by man. Behind his destiny woman must annihilate herself, must be only his complement. A woman dedicates herself to the vocation of her husband; she fills up and performs the subordinate parts in it. But if she has any destiny, any vocation of her own, she must renounce it, in nine cases out of ten.
Nightingale quotes
The great reformers of the world turn into the great misanthropists, if circumstances or organisation do not permit them to act. Christ, if He had been a woman, might have been nothing but a great complainer. Peace be with the misanthropists! They have made a step in progress; the next will make them great philanthropists; they are divided but by a line.
The next Christ will perhaps be a female Christ. But do we see one woman who looks like a female Christ? or even like "the messenger before" her "face", to go before her and prepare the hearts and minds for her?
To this will be answered that half the inmates of Bedlam begin in this way, by fancying that they are "the Christ."
People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.
Nightingale
Law is the continuous manifestation of God's presence — not reason for believing him absent.
Great confusion arises from our using the same word law in two totally distinct senses ... as the cause and the effect. It is said that to "explain away" everything by law is to enable us to do without God.
But law is no explanation of anything; law is simply a generalization, a category of facts. Law is neither a cause, nor a reason, nor a power, nor a coercive force. It is nothing but a general formula, a statistical table. Law brings us continually back to God instead of carrying us away from him.




Nightingale Florence quotes
The progressive world is necessarily divided into two classes — those who take the best of what there is and enjoy it — those who wish for something better and try to create it. Without these two classes the world would be badly off. They are the very conditions of progress, both the one and the other. Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.
Nightingale Florence
The Church is now more like the Scribes and Pharisees than like Christ... What are now called the "essential doctrines" of the Christian religion he does not even mention.
Florence Nightingale quotes
Though he made a joke when asked to do the right thing, he always did it. He was so much more in earnest than he appeared. He did not do himself justice.
Florence Nightingale
Now just look at the degree in which women have sympathy — as far as my experience is concerned. And my experience of women is almost as large as Europe. And it is so intimate too. I have lived and slept in the same bed with English Countesses and Prussian Bauerinnen [farm laborers]. No Roman Catholic Supιrieure [president of a French university system known for their diverse, eclectic teaching methods] has ever had charge of women of the different creeds that I have had. No woman has excited "passions" among women more than I have. Yet I leave no school behind me. My doctrines have taken no hold among women. ... No woman that I know has ever appris ? apprendre [learned to learn]. And I attribute this to want of sympathy. You say somewhere that women have no attention. Yes. And I attribute this to want of sympathy. ... It makes me mad, the Women's Rights talk about "the want of a field" for them — when I know that I would gladly give ?500 a year [roughly $50,000 a year in 2008] for a Woman Secretary. And two English Lady Superintendents have told me the same thing. And we can't get one.
Nightingale Florence quotes
In one sense, I do believe I am "like a man," as Parthe [the writer's sister] says. But how? In having sympathy. ... Women crave for being loved, not for loving. They scream out at you for sympathy all day long, they are incapable of giving any in return, for they cannot remember your affairs long enough to do so. ... They cannot state a fact accurately to another, nor can that other attend to it accurately enough for it to become information. Now is not all this the result of want of sympathy?
Nightingale
To have no food for our heads no food for our hearts, no food for our activity, is that nothing? If we have no food for the body, how do we cry out, how all the world hears of it, how all the newspapers talk of it, with a paragraph headed in great capital letters, DEATH FROM STARVATION! But suppose one were to put a paragraph in the Times, Death of Thought from Starvation, or Death of Moral Activity from Starvation, how people would stare, how they would laugh and wonder! One would think we had no heads nor hearts, by the total indifference of the public towards them. Our bodies are the only things of any consequence.
Nightingale Florence
For what is Mysticism? Is it not the attempt to draw near to God, not by rites or ceremonies, but by inward disposition? Is it not merely a hard word for "The Kingdom of Heaven is within"? Heaven is neither a place nor a time. There might be a Heaven not only here but now...
Florence Nightingale
Perhaps, if prematurely we dismiss ourselves from this world, all may even have to be suffered through again — the premature birth may not contribute to the production of another being, which must be begun again from the beginning.




Florence Nightingale quotes
Men and women meet now to be idle. Is it extraordinary that they do not know each other, and that, in their mutual ignorance, they form no surer friendships? Did they meet to do something together, then indeed they might form some real tie.
But, as it is, they are not there, it is only a mask which is there — a mouth-piece of ready-made sentences about the "topics of the day"; and then people rail against men for choosing a woman "for her face" — why, what else do they see?
Florence Nightingale
I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.
Nightingale quotes
You must go to Mahometanism, to Buddhism, to the East, to the Sufis & Fakirs, to Pantheism, for the right growth of mysticism.
Nightingale Florence
Her statistics were more than a study, they were indeed her religion... Florence Nightingale believed — and in all the actions of her life acted upon that belief — that the administrator could only be successful if he were guided by statistical knowledge. The legislator — to say nothing of the politician — too often failed for want of this knowledge. Nay, she went further; she held that the universe — including human communities — was evolving in accordance with a divine plan; that it was man's business to endeavor to understand this plan and guide his actions in sympathy with it. But to understand God's thoughts, she held we must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose. Thus the study of statistics was for her a religious duty.
Nightingale Florence quotes
The martyr sacrifices herself (himself in a few instances) entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for she (or he) makes the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower.
Florence Nightingale
Suffering, sad "female humanity!" What are these feelings which they are taught to consider as disgraceful, to deny to themselves? What form do the Chinese feet assume when denied their proper development? If the young girls of the "higher classes," who never commit a false step, whose justly earned reputations were never sullied even by the stain which the fruit of mere "knowledge of good and evil" leaves behind, were to speak, and say what are their thoughts employed upon, their thoughts, which alone are free, what would they say?
Florence Nightingale quotes
How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.
Florence Nightingale
Nothing can well be imagined more painful than the present position of woman, unless, on the one hand, she renounces all outward activity and keeps herself within the magic sphere, the bubble of her dreams; or, on the other, surrendering all aspiration, she gives herself to her real life, soul and body. For those to whom it is possible, the latter is best; for out of activity may come thought, out of mere aspiration can come nothing.
Nightingale Florence
Passion, intellect, moral activity — these three have never been satisfied in a woman. In this cold and oppressive conventional atmosphere, they cannot be satisfied. To say more on this subject would be to enter into the whole history of society, of the present state of civilisation.


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