Part 4 out of 5
Aeschylus, Harriet Martineau's _British Empire in India_; and _History
of the Thirty Years' Peace_; Beranger, _Modern Painters_, containing
some of the finest writing of the age; Overbech on Greek art; Anna
Mary Howitt's book on Munich; Carlyle's _Life of Frederick the Great_;
Darwin's _Origin of Species_; Emerson's _Man the Reformer_, "which
comes to me with fresh beauty and meaning"; Buckle's _History of
Civilization_; Plato and Aristotle.
An American publisher now offered her six thousand dollars for a book,
but she was obliged to decline, for she was writing the _Mill on the
Floss_, in 1860, for which Blackwood gave her ten thousand dollars
for the first edition of four thousand copies, and Harper & Brothers
fifteen hundred dollars for using it also. Tauchnitz paid her five
hundred for the German reprint.
She said: "I am grateful and yet rather sad to have finished; sad that
I shall live with my people on the banks of the Floss no longer. But
it is time that I should go, and absorb some new life and gather fresh
ideas." They went at once to Italy, where they spent several months in
Florence, Venice, and Rome.
In the former city she made her studies for her great novel, _Romola_.
She read Sismondi's _History of the Italian Republics_, Tenneman's
_History of Philosophy_, T.A. Trollope's _Beata_, Hallam on the _Study
of Roman Law in the Middle Ages_, Gibbon on the _Revival of Greek
Learning_, Burlamachi's _Life of Savonarola_; also Villari's life
of the great preacher, Mrs. Jameson's _Sacred and Legendary Art_,
Machiavelli's works, Petrarch's Letters, _Casa Guidi Windows_, Buhle's
_History of Modern Philosophy_, Story's _Roba di Roma_, Liddell's
_Rome_, Gibbon, Mosheim, and one might almost say the whole range of
Italian literature in the original. Of Mommsen's _History of Rome_
she said, "It is so fine that I count all minds graceless who read it
without the deepest stirrings."
The study necessary to make one familiar with fifteenth century times
was almost limitless. No wonder she told Mr. Cross, years afterward,
"I began _Romola_ a young woman, I finished it an old woman"; but
that, with _Adam Bede_ and _Middlemarch_, will be her monument. "What
courage and patience," she says, "are wanted for every life that
aims to produce anything!" "In authorship I hold carelessness to be
a mortal sin." "I took unspeakable pains in preparing to write
For this one book, on which she spent a year and a half, _Cornhill
Magazine_ paid her the small fortune of thirty-five thousand dollars.
She purchased a pleasant home, "The Priory," Regent's Park, where she
made her friends welcome, though she never made calls upon any, for
lack of time. She had found, like Victor Hugo, that time is a very
precious thing for those who wish to succeed in life. Browning,
Huxley, and Herbert Spencer often came to dine.
Says Mr. Cross, in his admirable life: "The entertainment was
frequently varied by music when any good performer happened to be
present. I think, however, that the majority of visitors delighted
chiefly to come for the chance of a few words with George Eliot
alone. When the drawing-room door of the Priory opened, a first glance
revealed her always in the same low arm-chair on the left-hand side
of the fire. On entering, a visitor's eye was at once arrested by the
massive head. The abundant hair, streaked with gray now, was draped
with lace, arranged mantilla fashion, coming to a point at the top
of the forehead. If she were engaged in conversation, her body was
usually bent forward with eager, anxious desire to get as close as
possible to the person with whom she talked. She had a great
dislike to raising her voice, and often became so wholly absorbed in
conversation that the announcement of an in-coming visitor failed to
attract her attention; but the moment the eyes were lifted up, and
recognized a friend, they smiled a rare welcome--sincere, cordial,
grave--a welcome that was felt to come straight from the heart, not
graduated according to any social distinction."
After much reading of Fawcett, Mill, and other writers on political
economy, _Felix Holt_ was written, in 1866, and for this she received
from Blackwood twenty-five thousand dollars.
Very much worn with her work, though Mr. Lewes relieved her in every
way possible, by writing letters and looking over all criticisms of
her books, which she never read, she was obliged to go to Germany for
In 1868 she published her long poem, _The Spanish Gypsy_, reading
Spanish literature carefully, and finally passing some time in Spain,
that she might be the better able to make a lasting work. Had she
given her life to poetry, doubtless she would have been a great poet.
_Silas Marner_, written before _Romola_, in 1861, had been well
received, and _Middlemarch_, in 1872, made a great sensation. It was
translated into several languages. George Bancroft wrote her from
Berlin that everybody was reading it. For this she received a much
larger sum than the thirty-five thousand which she was paid for
A home was now purchased in Surrey, with eight or nine acres of
pleasure grounds, for George Eliot had always longed for trees and
flowers about her house. "Sunlight and sweet air," she said, "make a
new creature of me." _Daniel Deronda_ followed in 1876, for which, it
is said, she read nearly a thousand volumes. Whether this be true
or not, the list of books given in her life, of her reading in these
later years, is as astonishing as it is helpful for any who desire
At Witley, in Surrey, they lived a quiet life, seeing only a few
friends like the Tennysons, the Du Mauriers, and Sir Henry and Lady
Holland. Both were growing older, and Mr. Lewes was in very poor
health. Finally, after a ten days' illness, he died, Nov. 28, 1878.
To George Eliot this loss was immeasurable. She needed his help and
his affection. She said, "I like not only to be loved, but also to
be told that I am loved," and he had idolized her. He said: "I owe
Spencer a debt of gratitude. It was through him that I learned to know
Marian,--to know her was to love her, and since then, my life has been
a new birth. To her I owe all my prosperity and all my happiness. God
Mr. John Walter Cross, for some time a wealthy banker in New York, had
long been a friend of the family, and though many years younger than
George Eliot, became her helper in these days of need. A George Henry
Lewes studentship, of the value of one thousand dollars yearly, was to
be given to Cambridge for some worthy student of either sex, in memory
of the man she had loved. "I want to live a little time that I may do
certain things for his sake," she said. She grew despondent, and the
Cross family used every means to win her away from her sorrow.
Mr. Cross' mother, to whom he was devotedly attached, had also died,
and the loneliness of both made their companionship more comforting.
They read Dante together in the original, and gradually the younger
man found that his heart was deeply interested. It was the higher kind
of love, the honor of mind for mind and soul for soul.
"I shall be," she said, "a better, more loving creature than I could
have been in solitude. To be constantly, lovingly grateful for this
gift of a perfect love is the best illumination of one's mind to all
the possible good there may be in store for man on this troublous
Mr. Cross and George Eliot were married, May 6, 1880, a year and a
half after Mr. Lewes' death, his son Charles giving her away, and went
at once to Italy. She wrote: "Marriage has seemed to restore me to my
old self.... To feel daily the loveliness of a nature close to me, and
to feel grateful for it, is the fountain of tenderness and strength
to endure." Having passed through a severe illness, she wrote to a
friend: "I have been cared for by something much better than angelic
tenderness.... If it is any good for me that my life has been
prolonged till now, I believe it is owing to this miraculous affection
that has chosen to watch over me."
She did not forget Mr. Lewes. In looking upon the Grande Chartreuse,
she said, "I would still give up my own life willingly, if he could
have the happiness instead of me."
On their return to London, they made their winter home at 4 Cheyne
Walk, Chelsea, a plain brick house. The days were gliding by happily.
George Eliot was interested as ever in all great subjects, giving five
hundred dollars for woman's higher education at Girton College, and
helping many a struggling author, or providing for some poor friend of
early times who was proud to be remembered.
She and Mr. Cross began their reading for the day with the Bible, she
especially enjoying Isaiah, Jeremiah, and St. Paul's Epistles. Then
they read Max Muller's works, Shakespeare, Milton, Scott, and whatever
was best in English, French, and German literature. Milton she called
her demigod. Her husband says she had "a limitless persistency in
application." Her health was better, and she gave promise of doing
more great work. When urged to write her autobiography, she said, half
sighing and half smiling: "The only thing I should care much to dwell
on would be the absolute despair I suffered from, of ever being able
to achieve anything. No one could ever have felt greater despair, and
a knowledge of this might be a help to some other struggler."
Friday afternoon, Dec. 17, she went to see _Agamemnon_ performed in
Greek by Oxford students, and the next afternoon to a concert at St.
James Hall. She took cold, and on Monday was treated for sore throat.
On Wednesday evening the doctors came, and she whispered to her
husband, "Tell them I have great pain in the left side." This was
the last word. She died with every faculty bright, and her heart
responsive to all noble things.
She loved knowledge to the end. She said, "My constant groan is that
I must leave so much of the greatest writing which the centuries have
sifted for me, unread for want of time."
She had the broadest charity for those whose views differed from
hers. She said, "The best lesson of tolerance we have to learn, is to
tolerate intolerance." She hoped for and "looked forward to the time
when the impulse to help our fellows shall be as immediate and as
irresistible as that which I feel to grasp something firm if I am
One Sunday afternoon I went to her grave in Highgate Cemetery, London.
A gray granite shaft, about twenty-five feet high, stands above it,
with these beautiful words from her great poem:--
"O may I join the choir invisible,
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence."
HERE LIES THE BODY
MARY ANN CROSS.
BORN, 22d NOVEMBER, 1819;
DIED, 22d DECEMBER, 1880.
A stone coping is around this grave, and bouquets of yellow crocuses
and hyacinths lie upon it. Next to her grave is a horizontal slab,
with the name of George Henry Lewes upon the stone.
[Illustration: My attached and obliged friend Elizabeth Fry]
When a woman of beauty, great wealth, and the highest social position,
devotes her life to the lifting of the lowly and the criminal, and
preaches the Gospel from the north of Scotland to the south of France,
it is not strange that the world admires, and that books are written
in praise of her. Unselfishness makes a rare and radiant life, and
this was the crowning beauty of the life of Elizabeth Fry.
Born in Norwich, England, May 21, 1780, Elizabeth was the third
daughter of Mr. John Gurney, a wealthy London merchant. Mrs. Gurney,
the mother, a descendant of the Barclays of Ury, was a woman of much
personal beauty, singularly intellectual for those times, making her
home a place where literary and scientific people loved to gather.
Elizabeth wellnigh idolized her mother, and used often to cry after
going to bed, lest death should take away the precious parent. In the
daytime, when the mother, not very robust, would sometimes lie down
to rest, the child would creep to the bedside and watch tenderly and
anxiously, to see if she were breathing. Well might Mrs. Gurney say,
"My dove-like Betsy scarcely ever offends, and is, in every
sense of the word, truly engaging."
Mrs. Fry wrote years afterward: "My mother was most dear to me, and
the walks she took with me in the old-fashioned garden are as fresh
with me as if only just passed, and her telling me about Adam and Eve
being driven out of Paradise. I always considered it must be just
like our garden.... I remember with pleasure my mother's beds of wild
flowers, which, with delight, I used as a child to attend with her; it
gave me that pleasure in observing their beauties and varieties that,
though I never have had time to become a botanist, few can imagine, in
my many journeys, how I have been pleased and refreshed by observing
and enjoying the wild flowers on my way."
The home, Earlham Hall, was one of much beauty and elegance, a seat of
the Bacon family. The large house stood in the centre of a well-wooded
park, the river Wensum flowing through it. On the south front of the
house was a large lawn, flanked by great trees, underneath which wild
flowers grew in profusion. The views about the house were so artistic
that artists often came there to sketch.
In this restful and happy home, after a brief illness, Mrs. Gurney
died in early womanhood, leaving eleven children, all young, the
smallest but two years old. Elizabeth was twelve, old enough to feel
the irreparable loss. To the day of her death the memory of this time
was extremely sad.
She was a nervous and sensitive child, afraid of the dark, begging
that a light be left in her room, and equally afraid to bathe in
the sea. Her feelings were regarded as the whims of a child, and her
nervous system was injured in consequence. She always felt the lack of
wisdom in "hardening" children, and said, "I am now of opinion that my
fear would have been much more subdued, and great suffering spared,
by its having been still more yielded to: by having a light left in my
room, not being long left alone, and never forced to bathe."
After her marriage she guided her children rather than attempt "to
break their wills," and lived to see happy results from the good sense
and Christian principle involved in such guiding. In her prison work
she used the least possible governing, winning control by kindness and
Elizabeth grew to young womanhood, with pleasing manners, slight and
graceful in body, with a profusion of soft flaxen hair, and a bright,
intelligent face. Her mind was quick, penetrating, and original. She
was a skilful rider on horseback, and made a fine impression in her
scarlet riding-habit, for, while her family were Quakers, they did not
adopt the gray dress.
She was attractive in society and much admired. She writes in her
journal: "Company at dinner; I must beware of not being a flirt, it is
an abominable character; I hope I shall never be one, and yet I fear I
am one now a little.... I think I am by degrees losing many excellent
qualities. I lay it to my great love of gayety, and the world.... I am
now seventeen, and if some kind and great circumstance does not happen
to me, I shall have my talents devoured by moth and rust. They will
lose their brightness, and one day they will prove a curse instead of
Before she was eighteen, William Savery, an American friend, came to
England to spend two years in the British Isles, preaching. The seven
beautiful Gurney sisters went to hear him, and sat on the front seat,
Elizabeth, "with her smart boots, purple, laced with scarlet."
As the preacher proceeded, she was greatly moved, weeping during the
service, and nearly all the way home. She had been thrown much among
those who were Deists in thought, and this gospel-message seemed a
revelation to her.
The next morning Mr. Savery came to Earlham Hall to breakfast. "From
this day," say her daughters, in their interesting memoir of their
mother, "her love of pleasure and the world seemed gone." She,
herself, said, in her last illness, "Since my heart was touched, at
the age of seventeen, I believe I never have awakened from sleep, in
sickness or in health, by day or by night, without my first waking
thought being, how best I might serve my Lord."
Soon after she visited London, that she might, as she said, "try all
things" and choose for herself what appeared to her "to be good." She
"I went to Drury Lane in the evening. I must own I was extremely
disappointed; to be sure, the house is grand and dazzling; but I
had no other feeling whilst there than that of wishing it over.... I
called on Mrs. Siddons, who was not at home; then on Mrs. Twiss, who
gave me some paint for the evening. I was painted a little, I had my
hair dressed, and did look pretty for me."
On her return to Earlham Hall she found that the London pleasure had
not been satisfying. She says, "I wholly gave up on my own ground,
attending all places of public amusement; I saw they tended to promote
evil; therefore, if I could attend them without being hurt myself, I
felt in entering them I lent my aid to promote that which I was sure
from what I saw hurt others."
She was also much exercised about dancing, thinking, while "in a
family, it may be of use by the bodily exercise," that "the more the
pleasures of life are given up, the less we love the world, and our
hearts will be set upon better things."
The heretofore fashionable young girl began to visit the poor and the
sick in the neighborhood, and at last decided to open a school for
poor children. Only one boy came at first; but soon she had seventy.
She lost none of her good cheer and charming manner, but rather grew
more charming. She cultivated her mind as well, reading logic,--Watts
on Judgment, Lavater, etc.
The rules of life which she wrote for herself at eighteen are worth
copying: "First,--Never lose any time; I do not think that lost which
is spent in amusement or recreation some time every day; but always be
in the habit of being employed. Second,--Never err the least in truth.
Third,--Never say an ill thing of a person when I can say a good thing
of him; not only speak charitably, but feel so. Fourth,--Never be
irritable or unkind to anybody. Fifth,--Never indulge myself
in luxuries that are not necessary. Sixth,--Do all things with
consideration, and when my path to act right is most difficult, put
confidence in that Power alone which is able to assist me, and exert
my own powers as far as they go."
Gradually she laid aside all jewelry, then began to dress in quiet
colors, and finally adopted the Quaker garb, feeling that she could
do more good in it. At first her course did not altogether please her
family, but they lived to idolize and bless her for her doings, and to
thankfully enjoy her worldwide fame.
At twenty she received an offer of marriage from a wealthy London
merchant, Mr. Joseph Fry. She hesitated for some time, lest her active
duties in the church should conflict with the cares of a home of her
own. She said, "My most anxious wish is, that I may not hinder my
spiritual welfare, which I have so much feared as to make me often
doubt if marriage were a desirable thing for me at this time, or even
the thoughts of it."
However, she was soon married, and a happy life resulted. For most
women this marriage, which made her the mother of eleven children,
would have made all public work impossible; but to a woman of
Elizabeth Fry's strong character nothing seemed impossible. Whether
she would have accomplished more for the world had she remained
unmarried, no one can tell.
Her husband's parents were "plain, consistent friends," and his sister
became especially congenial to the young bride. A large and airy house
was taken in London, St. Mildred's Court, which became a centre for
"Friends" in both Great Britain and America.
With all her wealth and her fondness for her family, she wrote in her
journal, "I have been married eight years yesterday; various trials
of faith and patience have been permitted me; my course has been very
different to what I had expected; instead of being, as I had hoped,
a useful instrument in the Church Militant, here I am a careworn
wife and mother outwardly, nearly devoted to the things of this life;
though at times this difference in my destination has been trying
to me, yet I believe those trials (which have certainly been very
pinching) that I have had to go through have been very useful, and
have brought me to a feeling sense of what I am; and at the same time
have taught me where power is, and in what we are to glory; not in
ourselves nor in anything we can be or do, but we are alone to desire
that He may be glorified, either through us or others, in our being
something or nothing, as He may see best for us."
After eleven years the Fry family moved to a beautiful home in the
country at Plashet. Changes had come in those eleven years. The father
had died; one sister had married Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, and she
herself had been made a "minister" by the Society of Friends. While
her hands were very full with the care of her seven children, she had
yet found time to do much outside Christian work.
Naturally shrinking, she says, "I find it an awful thing to rise
amongst a large assembly, and, unless much covered with love and
power, hardly know how to venture." But she seemed always to be
"covered with love and power," for she prayed much and studied her
Bible closely, and her preaching seemed to melt alike crowned heads
and criminals in chains.
Opposite the Plashet House, with its great trees and flowers, was a
dilapidated building occupied by an aged man and his sister. They had
once been well-to-do, but were now very poor, earning a pittance by
selling rabbits. The sister, shy and sorrowful from their reduced
circumstances, was nearly inaccessible, but Mrs. Fry won her way to
her heart. Then she asked how they would like to have a girls' school
in a big room attached to the building. They consented, and soon
seventy poor girls were in attendance.
"She had," says a friend, "the gentlest touch with children. She would
win their hearts, if they had never seen her before, almost at the
first glance, and by the first sound of her musical voice."
Then the young wife, now thirty-one, established a depot of calicoes
and flannels for the poor, with a room full of drugs, and another
department where good soup was prepared all through the hard winters.
She would go into the "Irish Colony," taking her two older daughters
with her, that they might learn the sweetness of benevolence,
"threading her way through children and pigs, up broken staircases,
and by narrow passages; then she would listen to their tales of want
Now she would find a young mother dead, with a paper cross pinned upon
her breast; now she visited a Gypsy camp to care for a sick child, and
give them Bibles. Each year when the camp returned to Plashet, their
chief pleasure was the visits of the lovely Quaker. Blessings on thee,
beautiful Elizabeth Fry!
She now began to assist in the public meetings near London, but with
some hesitation, as it took her from home; but after an absence of two
weeks, she found her household "in very comfortable order; and so far
from having suffered in my absence, it appears as if a better blessing
had attended them than common."
She did not forget her home interests. One of her servants being ill,
she watched by his bedside till he died. When she talked with him of
the world to come, he said, "God bless you, ma'am." She said, "There
is no set of people I feel so much about as servants, as I do not
think they have generally justice done to them; they are too much
considered as another race of beings, and we are apt to forget that
the holy injunction holds good with them, 'Do as thou wouldst be done
She who could dine with kings and queens, felt as regards servants,
"that in the best sense we are all one, and though our paths here may
be different, we have all souls equally valuable, and have all the
same work to do; which, if properly considered, should lead us
to great sympathy and love, and also to a constant care for their
welfare, both here and hereafter."
When she was thirty-three, having moved to London for the winter,
she began her remarkable work in Newgate prison. The condition of
prisoners was pitiable in the extreme. She found three hundred women,
with their numerous children, huddled together, with no classification
between the most and least depraved, without employment, in rags and
dirt, and sleeping on the floor with no bedding, the boards simply
being raised for a sort of pillow. Liquors were purchased openly at a
bar in the prison; and swearing, gambling, obscenity, and pulling each
other's hair were common. The walls, both in the men's and women's
departments, were hung with chains and fetters.
When Mrs. Fry and two or three friends first visited the prison,
the superintendent advised that they lay aside their watches before
entering, which they declined to do. Mrs. Fry did not fear, nor need
she, with her benign presence.
On her second visit she asked to be left alone with the women, and
read to them the tenth chapter of Matthew, making a few observations
on Christ's having come to save sinners. Some of the women asked who
Christ was. Who shall forgive us for such ignorance in our very midst?
The children were almost naked, and ill from want of food, air, and
exercise. Mrs. Fry told them that she would start a school for their
children, which announcement was received with tears of joy. She
asked that they select one from their own number for a governess. Mary
Conner was chosen, a girl who had been put in prison for stealing a
watch. So changed did the girl become under this new responsibility,
that she was never known to infringe a rule of the prison. After
fifteen months she was released, but died soon after of consumption.
When the school was opened for all under twenty-five, "the railing
was crowded with half-naked women, struggling together for the front
situations, with the most boisterous violence, and begging with the
Mrs. Fry saw at once the need of these women being occupied, but the
idea that these people could be induced to work was laughed at, as
visionary, by the officials. They said the work would be destroyed or
stolen at once. But the good woman did not rest till an association of
twelve persons was formed for the "Improvement of the Female Prisoners
of Newgate"; "to provide for the clothing, the instruction, and the
employment of the women; to introduce them to a knowledge of the Holy
Scriptures; and to form in them, as much as possible, those habits
of order, sobriety, and industry, which may render them docile and
peaceable whilst in prison, and respectable when they leave it."
It was decided that Botany Bay could be supplied with stockings, and
indeed with all the articles needed by convicts, through the work
of these women. A room was at once made ready, and matrons were
appointed. A portion of the earnings was to be given the women for
themselves and their children. In ten months they made twenty thousand
articles of wearing apparel, and knit from sixty to one hundred pairs
of stockings every month. The Bible was read to them twice each day.
They received marks for good behavior, and were as pleased as children
with the small prizes given them.
One of the girls who received a prize of clothing came to Mrs. Fry,
and "hoped she would excuse her for being so forward, but if she
might say it, she felt exceedingly disappointed; she little thought of
having clothing given to her, but she had hoped I would have given her
a Bible, that she might read the Scriptures herself."
No woman was ever punished under Mrs. Fry's management. They said,
"it would be more terrible to be brought up before her than before the
judge." When she told them she hoped they would not play cards, five
packs were at once brought to her and burned.
The place was now so orderly and quiet, that "Newgate had become
almost a show; the statesman and the noble, the city functionary and
the foreign traveller, the high-bred gentlewoman, the clergyman and
the dissenting minister, flocked to witness the extraordinary change,"
and to listen to Mrs. Fry's beautiful Bible readings.
Letters poured in from all parts of the country, asking her to come
to their prisons for a similar work, or to teach others how to work.
A committee of the House of Commons summoned her before them to learn
her suggestions, and to hear of her methods; and later the House of
Of course the name of Elizabeth Fry became known everywhere. Queen
Victoria gave her audience, and when she appeared in public, everybody
was eager to look at her. The newspapers spoke of her in the highest
praise. Yet with a beautiful spirit she writes in her journal, "I
am ready to say in the fulness of my heart, surely 'it is the Lord's
doing, and marvellous in our eyes'; so many are the providential
openings of various kinds. Oh! if good should result, may the praise
and glory of the whole be entirely given where it is due by us, and by
all, in deep humiliation and prostration of spirit."
Mrs. Fry's heart was constantly burdened with the scenes she
witnessed. The penal laws were a caricature on justice. Men and women
were hanged for theft, forgery, passing counterfeit money, and for
almost every kind of fraud. One young woman, with a babe in her
arms, was hanged for stealing a piece of cloth worth one dollar and
twenty-five cents! Another was hanged for taking food to keep herself
and little child from starving. It was no uncommon thing to see women
hanging from the gibbet at Newgate, because they had passed a forged
one-pound note (five dollars).
George Cruikshank in 1818 was so moved at one of these executions that
he made a picture which represented eight men and three women hanging
from the gallows, and a rope coiled around the faces of twelve others.
Across the picture were the words, "I promise to perform during the
issue of Bank-notes easily imitated ... for the Governors and Company
of the Bank of England."
He called the picture a "Bank-note, not to be imitated." It at once
created a great sensation. Crowds blocked the street in front of
the shop where it was hung. The pictures were in such demand that
Cruikshank sat up all night to etch another plate. The Gurneys,
Wilberforce, Sir Samuel Romilly, Sir James Mackintosh, all worked
vigorously against capital punishment, save, possibly, for murder.
Among those who were to be executed was Harriet Skelton, who, for the
man she loved, had passed forged notes. She was singularly open in
face and manner, confiding, and well-behaved. When she was condemned
to death, it was a surprise and horror to all who knew her. Mrs. Fry
was deeply interested. Noblemen went to see her in her damp, dark
cell, which was guarded by a heavy iron door. The Duke of Gloucester
went with Mrs. Fry to the Directors of the Bank of England, and to
Lord Sidmouth, to plead for her, but their hearts were not to be
moved, and the poor young girl was hanged. The public was enthusiastic
in its applause for Mrs. Fry, and unsparing in its denunciation of
Sidmouth. At last the obnoxious laws were changed.
Mrs. Fry was heartily opposed to capital punishment. She said, "It
hardens the hearts of men, and makes the loss of life appear light
to them"; it does not lead to reformation, and "does not deter others
from crime, because the crimes subject to capital punishment are
When the world is more civilized than it is to-day, when we have
closed the open saloon, that is the direct cause of nearly all the
murders, then we shall probably do away with hanging; or, if men and
women must be killed for the safety of society, a thing not easily
proven, it will be done in the most humane manner, by chloroform.
Mrs. Fry was likewise strongly opposed to solitary confinement,
which usually makes the subject a mental wreck, and, as regards moral
action, an imbecile. How wonderfully in advance of her age was this
Mrs. Fry's thoughts now turned to another evil. When the women
prisoners were transported to New South Wales, they were carried
to the ships in open carts, the crowd jeering. She prevailed upon
government to have them carried in coaches, and promised that she
would go with them. When on board the ship, she knelt on the deck and
prayed with them as they were going into banishment, and then bade
them a tender good by. Truly woman can be an angel of light.
Says Captain Martin, "Who could resist this beautiful, persuasive, and
heavenly-minded woman? To see her was to love her; to hear her was
to feel as if a guardian angel had bid you follow that teaching which
could alone subdue the temptations and evils of this life, and secure
a Redeemer's love in eternity."
At this time Mrs. Fry and her brother Joseph visited Scotland and the
north of England to ascertain the condition of the prisons. They found
much that was inhuman; insane persons in prison, eighteen months in
dungeons! Debtors confined night and day in dark, filthy cells, and
never leaving them; men chained to the walls of their cells, or to
rings in the floor, or with their limbs stretched apart till they
fainted in agony; women with chains on hands, and feet, and body,
while they slept on bundles of straw. On their return a book was
published, which did much to arouse England.
Mrs. Fry was not yet forty, but her work was known round the world.
The authorities of Russia, at the desire of the Empress, wrote Mrs.
Fry as to the best plans for the St. Petersburg lunatic asylum and
treatment of the inmates, and her suggestions were carried out to the
Letters came from Amsterdam, Denmark, Paris, and elsewhere, asking
counsel. The correspondence became so great that two of her daughters
were obliged to attend to it.
Again she travelled all over England, forming "Ladies' Prison
Associations," which should not only look after the inmates of
prisons, but aid them to obtain work when they were discharged, or "so
provide for them that stealing should not seem a necessity."
About this time, 1828, one of the houses in which her husband was
a partner failed, "which involved Elizabeth Fry and her family in a
train of sorrows and perplexities which tinged the remaining years of
They sold the house at Plashet, and moved again to Mildred Court, now
the home of one of their sons. Her wealthy brothers and her children
soon re-established the parents in comfort.
She now became deeply interested in the five hundred Coast-Guard
stations in the United Kingdom, where the men and their families led
a lonely life. Partly by private contributions and partly through
the aid of government, she obtained enough money to buy more than
twenty-five thousand volumes for libraries at these stations. The
letters of gratitude were a sufficient reward for the hard work. She
also obtained small libraries for all the packets that sailed from
In 1837, with some friends, she visited Paris, making a detailed
examination of its prisons. Guizot entertained her, the Duchess de
Broglie, M. de Pressense, and others paid her much attention. The
King and Queen sent for her, and had an earnest talk. At Nismes, where
there were twelve hundred prisoners, she visited the cells, and
when five armed soldiers wished to protect her and her friends, she
requested that they be allowed to go without guard. In one dungeon she
found two men, chained hand and foot. She told them she would plead
for their liberation if they would promise good behavior. They
promised, and kept it, praying every night for their benefactor
thereafter. When she held a meeting in the prison, hundreds shed
tears, and the good effects of her work were visible long after.
The next journey was made to Germany. At Brussels, the King held out
both hands to receive her. In Denmark, the King and Queen invited her
to dine, and she sat between them. At Berlin, the royal family treated
her like a sister, and all stood about her while she knelt and prayed
The new penitentiaries were built after her suggestions, so perfect
was thought to be her system. The royal family never forget her. When
the King of Prussia visited England, to stand sponsor for the infant
Prince of Wales, in 1842, he dined with her at her home. She presented
to him her eight daughters and daughters-in-law, her seven sons and
eldest grandson, and then their twenty-five grandchildren.
Finally, the great meetings, and the earnest plans, with their
wonderful execution, were coming to an end for Elizabeth Fry.
There had been many breaks in the home circle. Her beloved son
William, and his two children, had just died. Some years before she
had buried a very precious child, Elizabeth, at the age of five, who
shortly before her death said, "Mamma, I love everybody better than
myself, and I love thee better than everybody, and I love Almighty
much better than thee, and I hope thee loves Almighty much better than
me." This was a severe stroke, Mrs. Fry saying, "My much-loved husband
and I have drank this cup together, in close sympathy and unity of
feeling. It has at times been very bitter to us both, but we have been
in measure each other's joy and helpers in the Lord."
During her last sickness she said, "I believe this is not death,
but it is as passing through the valley of the shadow of death, and
perhaps with more suffering, from more sensitiveness; but the 'rock is
here'; the distress is awful, but He has been with me."
The last morning came, Oct. 13, 1845. About nine o'clock, one of her
daughters, sitting by her bedside, read from Isaiah: "I, the Lord thy
God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, thou worm
of Jacob, and ye men of Israel, I will help thee, saith the Lord, and
thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." The mother said slowly, "Oh! my
dear Lord, help and keep thy servant!" and never spoke afterward.
She was buried in the Friends' burying-ground at Barking, by the
side of her little Elizabeth, a deep silence prevailing among the
multitudes gathered there, broken only by the solemn prayer of her
brother, Joseph John Gurney.
Thus closed one of the most beautiful lives among women. To the last
she was doing good deeds. When she was wheeled along the beach in her
chair, she gave books and counsel to the passers-by. When she stayed
at hotels, she usually arranged a meeting for the servants. She was
sent for, from far and near, to pray with the sick, and comfort the
dying, who often begged to kiss her hand; no home was too desolate for
her lovely and cheerful presence. No wonder Alexander of Russia called
her "one of the wonders of the age."
Her only surviving son gives this interesting testimony of her home
life: "I never recollect seeing her out of temper or hearing her speak
a harsh word, yet still her word was law, but always the law of love."
Naturally timid, always in frail health, sometimes misunderstood, even
with the highest motives, she lived a heroic life in the best sense,
and died the death of a Christian. What grander sphere for woman than
such philanthropy as this! And the needs of humanity are as great as
ever, waiting for the ministration of such noble souls.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON BUTLER.
While woman has not achieved such brilliant success in art, perhaps,
as in literature, many names stand high on the lists. Early history
has its noted women: Propersia di Rossi, of Bologna, whose romantic
history Mrs. Hemans has immortalized; Elisabetta Sirani, painter,
sculptor, and engraver on copper, herself called a "miracle of art,"
the honored of popes and princes, dying at twenty-six; Marietta
Tintoretta, who was invited to be the artist at the courts of
emperors and kings, dying at thirty, leaving her father inconsolable;
Sophonisba Lomellini, invited by Philip II. of Spain to Madrid, to
paint his portrait, and that of the Queen, concerning whom, though
blind, Vandyck said he had received more instruction from a blind
woman than from all his study of the old masters; and many more.
The first woman artist in England was Susannah Hornebolt, daughter of
the principal painter who immediately preceded Hans Holbein, Gerard
Hornebolt, a native of Ghent. Albrecht Duerer said of her, in 1521:
"She has made a colored drawing of our Saviour, for which I gave her a
florin [forty cents]. It is wonderful that a female should be able
to do such work." Her brother Luke received a larger salary from King
Henry VIII. than he ever gave to Holbein,--$13.87 per month. Susannah
married an English sculptor, named Whorstly, and lived many years in
great honor and esteem with all the court.
Arts flourished under Charles I. To Vandyck and Anne Carlisle he gave
ultra-marine to the value of twenty-five hundred dollars. Artemisia
Gentileschi, from Rome, realized a splendid income from her work;
and, although forty-five years old when she came to England, she was
greatly admired, and history says made many conquests. This may be
possible, as George IV. said a woman never reaches her highest powers
of fascination till she is forty. Guido was her instructor, and one of
her warmest eulogizers. She was an intimate friend of Domenichino and
of Guercino, who gave all his wealth to philanthropies, and when in
England was the warm friend of Vandyck. Some of her works are in the
Pitti Palace, at Florence, and some at Madrid, in Spain.
Of Maria Varelst, the historical painter, the following story is told:
At the theatre she sat next to six German gentlemen of high rank, who
were so impressed with her beauty and manner that they expressed great
admiration for her among each other. The young lady spoke to them in
German, saying that such extravagant praise in the presence of a lady
was no real compliment. One of the party immediately repeated what he
had said in Latin. She replied in the same tongue "that it was unjust
to endeavor to deprive the fair sex of the knowledge of that tongue
which was the vehicle of true learning." The gentlemen begged to call
upon her. Each sat for his portrait, and she was thus brought into
The artist around whose beauty and talent romance adds a special
charm, was Angelica Kauffman, the only child of Joseph Kauffman,
born near Lake Constance, about 1741. At nine years of age she made
wonderful pastel pictures. Removing to Lombardy, it is asserted that
her father dressed her in boy's clothing, and smuggled her into the
academy, that she might be improved in drawing. At eleven she went to
Como, where the charming scenery had a great impression upon the young
girl. No one who wishes to grow in taste and art can afford to live
away from nature's best work. The Bishop of Como became interested
in her, and asked her to paint his portrait. This was well done in
crayon, and soon the wealthy patronized her. Years after, she wrote:
"Como is ever in my thoughts. It was at Como, in my most happy youth,
that I tasted the first real enjoyment of life."
When she went to Milan, to study the great masters, the Duke of Modena
was attracted by her beauty and devotion to her work. He introduced
her to the Duchess of Massa Carrara, whose portrait she painted, as
also that of the Austrian governor, and soon those of many of the
nobility. When all seemed at its brightest, her mother, one of the
best of women, died. Her father, broken-hearted, accepted the offer to
decorate the church of his native town, and Angelica joined him in the
frescoing. After much hard work, they returned to Milan. The constant
work had worn on the delicate girl. She gave herself no time for rest.
When not painting, she was making chalk and crayon drawings, mastering
the harpsichord, or lost in the pages of French, German, or Italian.
For a time she thought of becoming a singer; but finally gave herself
wholly to art. After this she went to Florence, where she worked from
sunrise to sunset, and in the evening at her crayons. In Rome, with
her youth, beauty, fascinating manners, and varied reading, she gained
a wide circle of friends. Her face was a Greek oval, her complexion
fresh and clear, her eyes deep blue, her mouth pretty and always
smiling. She was accused of being a coquette, and quite likely was
For three months she painted in the Royal Gallery at Naples, and then
returned to Rome to study the works of Raphael and Michael Angelo.
From thence she went to Bologna and beautiful Venice. Here she met
Lady Wentworth, who took her to London, where she was introduced at
once to the highest circles. Sir Joshua Reynolds had the greatest
admiration for her, and, indeed, was said to have offered her his hand
and heart. The whole world of art and letters united in her praise.
Often she found laudatory verses pinned on her canvas. The great
people of the land crowded her studio for sittings. She lived in
Golden Square, now a rather dilapidated place back of Regent Street.
She was called the most fascinating woman in England. Sir Joshua
painted her as "Design Listening to Poetry," and she, in turn, painted
him. She was the pet of Buckingham House and Windsor Castle.
In the midst of all this unlimited attention, a man calling himself
the Swedish Count, Frederic de Horn, with fine manners and handsome
person, offered himself to Angelica. He represented that he was
calumniated by his enemies and that the Swedish Government was about
to demand his person. He assured her, if she were his wife, she could
intercede with the Queen and save him. She blindly consented to the
marriage, privately. At last, she confessed it to her father, who took
steps at once to see if the man were true, and found that he was the
vilest impostor. He had a young wife already in Germany, and would
have been condemned to a felon's death if Angelica had been willing.
She said, "He has betrayed me; but God will judge him."
She received several offers of marriage after this, but would accept
no one. Years after, when her father, to whom she was deeply devoted,
was about to die, he prevailed upon her to marry a friend of his,
Antonio Zucchi, thirteen years her senior, with whom she went to Rome,
and there died. He was a man of ability, and perhaps made her life
happy. At her burial, one hundred priests accompanied the coffin,
the pall being held by four young girls, dressed in white, the four
tassels held by four members of the Academy. Two of her pictures were
carried in triumph immediately after her coffin. Then followed a grand
procession of illustrious persons, each bearing a lighted taper.
Goethe was one of her chosen friends. He said of her: "She has a most
remarkable and, for a woman, really an unheard-of talent. No living
painter excels her in dignity, or in the delicate taste with which she
handles the pencil."
Miss Ellen C. Clayton, in her interesting volumes, _English Female
Artists_, says, "No lady artist, from the days of Angelica Kauffman,
ever created such a vivid interest as Elizabeth Thompson Butler. None
had ever stepped into the front rank in so short a time, or had in
England ever attained high celebrity at so early an age."
She was born in the Villa Clermont, Lausanne, Switzerland, a
country beautiful enough to inspire artistic sentiments in all its
inhabitants. Her father, Thomas James Thompson, a man of great culture
and refinement, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, was a warm
friend of Charles Dickens, Lord Lytton, and their literary associates.
Somewhat frail in health, he travelled much of the time, collecting
pictures, of which he was extremely fond, and studying with the eye
of an artist the beauties of each country, whether America, Italy, or
His first wife died early, leaving one son and daughter. The second
wife was an enthusiastic, artistic girl, especially musical, a friend
of Dickens, and every way fitted to be the intelligent companion of
After the birth of Elizabeth, the family resided in various parts of
Southern Europe. Now they lived, says Mrs. Alice Meynell, her only
sister, in the January, 1883, _St. Nicholas_, "within sight of the
snow-capped peaks of the Apennines, in an old palace, the Villa de
Franchi, immediately overlooking the Mediterranean, with olive-clad
hills at the back; on the left, the great promontory of Porto Fino; on
the right, the Bay of Genoa, some twelve miles away, and the long
line of the Apennines sloping down into the sea. The palace garden
descended, terrace by terrace, to the rocks, being, indeed, less a
garden than what is called a _villa_ in the Liguria, and a _podere_
in Tuscany,--a fascinating mixture of vine, olive, maize, flowers,
and corn. A fountain in marble, lined with maiden-hair, played at the
junction of each flight of steps. A great billiard-room on the first
floor, hung with Chinese designs, was Elizabeth Thompson's first
school-room; and there Charles Dickens, upon one of his Italian
visits, burst in upon a lesson in multiplication.
"The two children never went to school, and had no other teacher than
their father,--except their mother for music, and the usual professors
for 'accomplishments' in later years. And whether living happily in
their beautiful Genoese home, or farther north among the picturesque
Italian lakes, or in Switzerland, or among the Kentish hop-gardens and
the parks of Surrey, Elizabeth's one central occupation of drawing was
never abandoned,--literally not for a day."
She was a close observer of nature, and especially fond of animals.
When not out of doors sketching landscapes, she would sit in the house
and draw, while her father read to her, as he believed the two things
could be carried on beneficially.
She loved to draw horses running, soldiers, and everything which
showed animation and energy. Her educated parents had the good sense
not to curb her in these perhaps unusual tastes for a girl. They saw
the sure hand and broad thought of their child, and, no doubt, had
expectations of her future fame.
At fifteen, as the family had removed to England, Elizabeth joined
the South Kensington School of Design, and, later, took lessons in oil
painting, for a year, of Mr. Standish. Thus from the years of five to
sixteen she had studied drawing carefully, so that now she was ready
to touch oil-painting for the first time. How few young ladies would
have been willing to study drawing for eleven years, before trying to
paint in oil!
The Thompson family now moved to Ventnor, in the Isle of Wight,
staying for three years at Bonchurch, one of the loveliest places in
the world. Ivy grows over walls and houses, roses and clematis bloom
luxuriantly, and the balmy air and beautiful sea make the place
as restful as it is beautiful. Here Elizabeth received lessons in
water-color and landscape from Mr. Gray.
After another visit abroad the family returned to London, and the
artist daughter attended the National Art School at South Kensington,
studying in the life-class. The head master, Mr. Richard Burchett, saw
her talent, and helped her in all ways possible.
Naturally anxious to test the world's opinion of her work, she sent
some water-colors to the Society of British Artists for exhibition,
and they were rejected. There is very little encouragement for
beginners in any profession. However, "Bavarian Artillery going into
Action" was exhibited at the Dudley Gallery, and received favorable
notice from Mr. Tom Taylor, art critic of the _Times_.
Between two long courses at South Kensington Elizabeth spent a summer
in Florence and a winter at Rome, studying in both places. At Florence
she entered the studio of Signor Guiseppe Bellucci, an eminent
historical painter and consummate draughtsman, a fellow-student of Sir
Frederick Leighton at the Academy.
Here the girlish student was intensely interested in her work.
She rose early, before the other members of the family, taking her
breakfast alone, that she might hasten to her beloved labor. "On the
day when she did not work with him," says Mrs. Meynell, "she copied
passages from the frescoes in the cloisters of the Annunziata,
masterpieces of Andrea del Sarto and Franciabigio, making a special
study of the drapery of the last-named painter. The sacristans of the
old church--the most popular church in Florence--knew and welcomed the
young English girl, who sat for hours so intently at her work in the
cloister, unheeding the coming and going of the long procession of
congregations passing through the gates.
"Her studies in the galleries were also full of delight and profit,
though she made no other copies, and she was wont to say that of all
the influences of the Florentine school which stood her in good stead
in her after-work, that of Andrea del Sarto was the most valuable and
the most important. The intense heat of a midsummer, which, day after
day, showed a hundred degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, could not make
her relax work, and her master, Florentine as he was, was obliged
to beg her to spare him, at least for a week, if she would not spare
herself. It was toward the end of October that artist and pupil
parted, his confidence in her future being as unbounded as her
gratitude for his admirable skill and minute carefulness."
During her seven months in Rome she painted, in 1870, for an
ecclesiastical art exhibition, opened by Pope Pius IX., in the
cloisters of the Carthusian Monastery, the "Visitation of the Blessed
Virgin to St. Elizabeth," and the picture gained honorable mention.
On her return to England the painting was offered to the Royal Academy
and rejected. And what was worse still, a large hole had been torn
in the canvas, in the sky of the picture. Had she not been very
persevering, and believed in her heart that she had talent, perhaps
she would not have dared to try again, but she had worked steadily
for too many years to fail now. Those only win who can bear refusal a
thousand times if need be.
The next year, being at the Isle of Wight, she sent another picture to
the Academy, and it was rejected. Merit does not always win the
first, nor the second, nor the third time. It must have been a little
consolation to Elizabeth Thompson, to know that each year the judges
were reminded that a person by that name lived, and was painting
The next year a subject from the Franco-Prussian War was taken, as
that was fresh in the minds of the people. The title was "Missing."
"Two French officers, old and young, both wounded, and with one
wounded horse between them, have lost their way after a disastrous
defeat; their names will appear in the sad roll as missing, and the
manner of their death will never be known."
The picture was received, but was "skyed," that is, placed so high
that nobody could well see it. During this year she received a
commission from a wealthy art patron to paint a picture. What should
it be? A battle scene, because into that she could put her heart.
A studio was taken in London, and the "Roll-Call" (calling the roll
after an engagement,--Crimea) was begun. She put life into the faces
and the attitudes of the men, as she worked with eager heart and
careful labor. In the spring of 1874 it was sent to the Royal Academy,
with, we may suppose, not very enthusiastic hopes.
The stirring battle piece pleased the committee, and they cheered when
it was received. Then it began to be talked at the clubs that a woman
had painted a battle scene! Some had even heard that it was a great
picture. When the Academy banquet was held, prior to the opening, the
speeches of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, both gave
high praise to the "Roll-Call."
Such an honor was unusual. Everybody was eager to see the painting. It
was the talk at the clubs, on the railway trains, and on the crowded
thoroughfares. All day long crowds gathered before it, a policeman
keeping guard over the painting, that it be not injured by its eager
admirers. The Queen sent for it, and it was carried, for a few hours,
to Buckingham Palace, for her to gaze upon. So much was she pleased
that she desired to purchase it, and the person who had ordered it
gave way to Her Majesty. The copyright was bought for fifteen times
the original sum agreed upon as its value, and a steel-plate
engraving made from it at a cost of nearly ten thousand dollars. After
thirty-five hundred impressions, the plate was destroyed, that there
might be no inferior engravings of the picture. The "Roll-Call" was
for some time retained by the Fine Art Society, where it was seen by
a quarter of a million persons. Besides this, it was shown in all the
large towns of England. It is now at Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth Thompson had become famous in a day, but she was not elated
over it; for, young as she was, she did not forget that she had
been working diligently for twenty years. The newspapers teemed with
descriptions of her, and incidents of her life, many of which were, of
course, purely imaginative. Whenever she appeared in society, people
crowded to look at her.
Many a head would have been turned by all this praise; not so the
well-bred student. She at once set to work on a more difficult
subject, "The Twenty-eighth Regiment at Quatre Bras." When this
appeared, in 1875, it drew an enormous crowd. The true critics praised
heartily, but there were some persons who thought a woman could not
possibly know about the smoke of a battle, or how men would act under
fire. That she studied every detail of her work is shown by Mr. W.
H. Davenport Adams, in his _Woman's Work and Worth._ "The choice of
subject," he says, "though some people called it a 'very shocking one
for a young lady,' engaged the sympathy of military men, and she was
generously aided in obtaining material and all kinds of data for the
work. Infantry officers sent her photographs of 'squares.' But these
would not do, the men were not in earnest; they would kneel in such
positions as they found easiest for themselves; indeed, but for the
help of a worthy sergeant-major, who saw that each individual assumed
and maintained the attitude proper for the situation at whatever
inconvenience, the artist could not possibly have impressed upon her
picture that verisimilitude which it now presents.
"Through the kindness of the authorities, an amount of gunpowder was
expended at Chatham, to make her see, as she said, how 'the men's
faces looked through the smoke,' that would have justified the
criticisms of a rigid parliamentary economist. Not satisfied with
seeing how men _looked_ in square, she desired to secure some faint
idea of how they _felt_ in square while 'receiving cavalry.' And
accordingly she repaired frequently to the Knightsbridge Barracks,
where she would kneel to 'receive' the riding-master and a mounted
sergeant of the Blues, while they thundered down upon her the full
length of the riding-school, deftly pulling up, of course, to avoid
accident. The fallen horse presented with such truth and vigor in
'Quatre Bras' was drawn from a Russian horse belonging to Hengler's
Circus, the only one in England that could be trusted to remain for a
sufficient time in the required position. A sore trial of patience was
this to artist, to model, to Mr. Hengler, who held him down, and
to the artist's father, who was present as spectator. Finally the
rye,--the 'particularly tall rye' in which, as Colonel Siborne says,
the action was fought,--was conscientiously sought for, and found,
after much trouble, at Henly-on-Thames."
I saw this beautiful and stirring picture, as well as several others
of Mrs. Butler's, while in England. Mr. Ruskin says of "Quatre Bras":
"I never approached a picture with more iniquitous prejudice against
it than I did Miss Thompson's; partly because I have always said that
no woman could paint, and secondly, because I thought what the public
made such a fuss about _must_ be good for nothing. But it is Amazon's
work, this, no doubt of it, and the first fine pre-raphaelite picture
of battle we have had, profoundly interesting, and showing all manner
of illustrative and realistic faculty. The sky is most tenderly
painted, and with the truest outline of cloud of all in the
exhibition; and the terrific piece of gallant wrath and ruin on the
extreme left, where the cuirassier is catching round the neck of his
horse as he falls, and the convulsed fallen horse, seen through the
smoke below, is wrought through all the truth of its frantic passions
with gradations of color and shade which I have not seen the like of
since Turner's death."
This year, 1875, a figure from the picture, the "Tenth Bengal Lancers
at Tent-pegging," was published as a supplement to the Christmas
number of _London Graphic_, with the title "Missed." In 1876, "The
Return from Balaklava" was painted, and in 1877, "The Return from
Inkerman," for which latter work the Fine Art Society paid her fifteen
This year, 1877, on June 11, Miss Thompson was married to Major, now
Colonel, William Francis Butler, K.C.B. He was then thirty-nine years
of age, born in Ireland, educated in Dublin, and had received many
honors. He served on the Red River expedition, was sent on a special
mission to the Saskatchewan territories in 1870-71, and served on the
Ashantee expedition in 1873. He has been honorably mentioned several
times in the House of Lords by the Field-Marshal-Commanding-in-Chief.
He wrote _The Great Lone Land_ in 1872, _The Wild North Land_ in 1873,
and _A Kimfoo_ in 1875.
After the marriage they spent much time in Ireland, where Mrs. Butler
painted "Listed for the Connaught Rangers" in 1879. Her later works
are "The Remnant of an Army," showing the arrival at Jellalabad, in
1842, of Dr. Brydon, the sole survivor of the sixteen thousand men
under General Elphinstone, in the unfortunate Afghan campaign; the
"Scots Greys Advancing," "The Defence of Rorke's Drift," an incident
of the Zulu War, painted at the desire of the Queen and some others.
Still a young and very attractive woman, she has before her a bright
future. She will have exceptional opportunities for battle studies in
her husband's army life. She will probably spend much time in Africa,
India, and other places where the English army will be stationed. Her
husband now holds a prominent position in Africa.
In her studio, says her sister, "the walls are hung with old
uniforms--the tall shako, the little coatee, and the stiff
stock--which the visitor's imagination may stuff out with the form of
the British soldier as he fought in the days of Waterloo. These are
objects of use, not ornament; so are the relics from the fields of
France in 1871, and the assegais and spears and little sharp wooden
maces from Zululand."
Mrs. Butler has perseverance, faithfulness in her work, and courage.
She has won remarkable fame, but has proved herself deserving by her
constant labor, and attention to details. Mrs. Butler's mother has
also exhibited some fine paintings. The artist herself has illustrated
a volume of poems, the work of her sister, Mrs. Meynell. A cultivated
and artistic family have, of course, been an invaluable aid in Mrs.
[Illustration: Florence Nightingale--From the "Portrait Gallery of
Eminent Men and Women."]
One of the most interesting places in the whole of London, is St.
Thomas' Hospital, an immense four-story structure of brick with
stone trimmings. Here is the Nightingale Training School for nurses,
established through the gift to Miss Nightingale of $250,000 by the
government, for her wonderful work in the Crimean War. She would not
take a cent for herself, but was glad to have this institution opened,
that girls through her training might become valuable to the world as
nurses, as she has been.
Here is the "Nightingale Home." The dining-room, with its three long
tables, is an inviting apartment. The colors of wall and ceiling are
in red and light shades. Here is a Swiss clock presented by the Grand
Duchess of Baden; here a harpsichord, also a gift. Here is the marble
face and figure I have come especially to see, that of lovely Florence
Nightingale. It is a face full of sweetness and refinement, having
withal an earnest look, as though life were well worth living.
What better work than to direct these girls how to be useful? Some
are here from the highest social circles. The "probationers," or nurse
pupils, must remain three years before they can become Protestant
"sisters." Each ward is in charge of a sister; now it is Leopold,
because the ward bears that name; and now Victoria in respect to the
Queen, who opened the institution.
The sisters look sunny and healthy, though they work hard. They have
regular hours for being off duty, and exercise in the open air. The
patients tell me how "homelike it seems to have women in the wards,
and what a comfort it is in their agony, to be handled by their
careful hands." Here are four hundred persons in all phases of
suffering, in neat, cheerful wards, brightened by pots of flowers, and
the faces of kind, devoted women.
And who is this woman to whom the government of Great Britain felt
that it owed so much, and whom the whole world delights to honor?
Florence Nightingale, born in 1820, in the beautiful Italian city
of that name, is the younger of two daughters of William Shore
Nightingale, a wealthy land-owner, who inherited both the name and
fortune of his granduncle, Peter Nightingale. The mother was the
daughter of the eminent philanthropist and member of Parliament,
Most of Miss Nightingale's life has been spent on their beautiful
estate, Lea Hurst, in Derbyshire, a lovely home in the midst of
picturesque scenery. In her youth her father instructed her carefully
in the classics and higher mathematics; a few years later, partly
through extensive travel, she became proficient in French, German, and
Rich, pretty, and well-educated, what was there more that she could
wish for? Her heart, however, did not turn toward a fashionable life.
Very early she began to visit the poor and the sick near Lea Hurst,
and her father's other estate at Embly Park, Hampshire. Perhaps the
mantle of the mother's father had fallen upon the young girl.
She had also the greatest tenderness toward dumb animals, and never
could bear to see them injured. Miss Alldridge, in an interesting
sketch of Miss Nightingale, quotes the following story from _Little
"Some years ago, when the celebrated Florence Nightingale was a little
girl, living at her father's home, a large, old Elizabethan house,
with great woods about it, in Hampshire, there was one thing that
struck everybody who knew her. It was that she seemed to be always
thinking what she could do to please or help any one who needed either
help or comfort. She was very fond, too, of animals, and she was so
gentle in her way, that even the shyest of them would come quite close
to her, and pick up whatever she flung down for them to eat.
"There was, in the garden behind the house, a long walk with trees on
each side, the abode of many squirrels; and when Florence came down
the walk, dropping nuts as she went along, the squirrels would run
down the trunks of their trees, and, hardly waiting until she passed
by, would pick up the prize and dart away, with their little bushy
tails curled over their backs, and their black eyes looking about as
if terrified at the least noise, though they did not seem to be afraid
"Then there was an old gray pony named Peggy, past work, living in
a paddock, with nothing to do all day long but to amuse herself.
Whenever Florence appeared at the gate, Peggy would come trotting up
and put her nose into the dress pocket of her little mistress, and
pick it of the apple or the roll of bread that she knew she would
always find there, for this was a trick Florence had taught the
pony. Florence was fond of riding, and her father's old friend, the
clergyman of the parish, used often to come and take her for a ride
with him when he went to the farm cottages at a distance. He was a
good man and very kind to the poor.
"As he had studied medicine when a young man, he was able to tell the
people what would do them good when they were ill, or had met with an
accident. Little Florence took great delight in helping to nurse those
who were ill; and whenever she went on these long rides, she had a
small basket fastened to her saddle, filled with something nice which
she saved from her breakfast or dinner, or carried for her mother, who
was very good to the poor.
"There lived in one of two or three solitary cottages in the wood
an old shepherd of her father's, named Roger, who had a favorite
sheep-dog called Cap. Roger had neither wife nor child, and Cap lived
with him and kept him, and kept him company at night after he had
penned his flock. Cap was a very sensible dog; indeed, people used to
say he could do everything but speak. He kept the sheep in wonderfully
good order, and thus saved his master a great deal of trouble. One
day, as Florence and her old friend were out for a ride, they came
to a field where they found the shepherd giving his sheep their night
feed; but he was without the dog, and the sheep knew it, for they were
scampering in every direction. Florence and her friend noticed that
the old shepherd looked very sad, and they stopped to ask what was the
matter, and what had become of his dog.
"'Oh,' said Roger, 'Cap will never be of any more use to me; I'll have
to hang him, poor fellow, as soon as I go home to-night.'
"'Hang him!' said Florence. 'Oh, Roger, how wicked of you! What has
dear old Cap done?'
"'He has done nothing,' replied Roger; 'but he will never be of any
more use to me, and I cannot afford to keep him for nothing; one of
the mischievous school-boys throwed a stone at him yesterday, and
broke one of his legs.' And the old shepherd's eyes filled with tears,
which he wiped away with his shirt-sleeve; then he drove his spade
deep in the ground to hide what he felt, for he did not like to be
"'Poor Cap!' he sighed; 'he was as knowing almost as a human being.'
"'But are you sure his leg is broken?' asked Florence.
"'Oh, yes, miss, it is broken safe enough; he has not put his foot to
the ground since.'
"Florence and her friend rode on without saying anything more to
"'We will go and see poor Cap,' said the vicar; 'I don't believe the
leg is really broken. It would take a big stone and a hard blow to
break the leg of a big dog like Cap.'
"'Oh, if you could but cure him, how glad Roger would be!' replied
"They soon reached the shepherd's cottage, but the door was fastened;
and when they moved the latch, such a furious barking was heard that
they drew back, startled. However, a little boy came out of the next
cottage, and asked if they wanted to go in, as Roger had left the key
with his mother. So the key was got, and the door opened; and there on
the bare brick floor lay the dog, his hair dishevelled, and his eyes
sparkling with anger at the intruders. But when he saw the little boy
he grew peaceful, and when he looked at Florence, and heard her call
him 'poor Cap,' he began to wag his short tail; and then crept from
under the table, and lay down at her feet. She took hold of one of his
paws, patted his old rough head, and talked to him, whilst her friend
examined the injured leg. It was dreadfully swollen, and hurt very
much to have it examined; but the dog knew it was meant kindly, and
though he moaned and winced with pain, he licked the hands that were
"'It's only a bad bruise; no bones are broken,' said her old friend;
'rest is all Cap needs; he will soon be well again.'
"'I am so glad,' said Florence; 'but can we do nothing for him? he
seems in such pain.'
"'There is one thing that would ease the pain and heal the leg all the
sooner, and that is plenty of hot water to foment the part.'
"Florence struck a light with the tinder-box, and lighted the fire,
which was already laid. She then set off to the other cottage to get
something to bathe the leg with. She found an old flannel petticoat
hanging up to dry, and this she carried off, and tore up into slips,
which she wrung out in warm water, and laid them tenderly on Cap's
swollen leg. It was not long before the poor dog felt the benefit of
the application, and he looked grateful, wagging his little stump of a
tail in thanks. On their way home they met the shepherd coming slowly
along, with a piece of rope in his hand.
"'Oh, Roger,' cried Florence, 'you are not to hang poor old Cap; his
leg is not broken at all.'
"'No, he will serve you yet,' said the vicar.
"'Well, I be main glad to hear it,' said the shepherd, 'and many
thanks to you for going to see him.'
"On the next morning Florence was up early, and the first thing she
did was to take two flannel petticoats to give to the poor woman whose
skirt she had torn up to bathe Cap. Then she went to the dog, and was
delighted to find the swelling of his leg much less. She bathed it
again, and Cap was as grateful as before.
"Two or three days afterwards Florence and her friend were riding
together, when they came up to Roger and his sheep. This time Cap was
watching the sheep, though he was lying quite still, and pretending to
be asleep. When he heard the voice of Florence speaking to his master,
who was portioning out the usual food, his tail wagged and his eyes
sparkled, but he did not get up, for he was on duty. The shepherd
stopped his work, and as he glanced at the dog with a merry laugh,
said, 'Do look at the dog, Miss; he be so pleased to hear your voice.'
Cap's tail went faster and faster. 'I be glad,' continued the old man,
'I did not hang him. I be greatly obliged to you, Miss, and the vicar,
for what you did. But for you I would have hanged the best dog I ever
had in my life.'"
A girl who was made so happy in saving the life of an animal would
naturally be interested to save human beings. Occasionally her family
passed a season in London, and here, instead of giving much time
to concerts or parties, she would visit hospitals and benevolent
institutions. When the family travelled in Egypt, she attended several
sick Arabs, who recovered under her hands. They doubtless thought the
English girl was a saint sent down from heaven.
The more she felt drawn toward the sick, the more she felt the need
of study, and the more she saw the work that refined women could do in
the hospitals. The Sisters of Charity were standing by sick-beds; why
could there not be Protestant sisters? When they travelled in Germany,
France, and Italy, she visited infirmaries, asylums, and hospitals,
carefully noting the treatment given in each.
Finally she determined to spend some months at Kaiserwerth, near
Dusseldorf, on the Rhine, in Pastor Fliedner's great Lutheran
hospital. He had been a poor clergyman, the leader of a scanty flock,
whose church was badly in debt. A man of much enterprise and warm
heart, he could not see his work fail for lack of means; so he set
out among the provinces, to tell the needs of his little parish.
He collected funds, learned much about the poverty and ignorance
of cities, preached in some of the prisons, because interested in
criminals, and went back to his loyal people.
But so poor were they that they could not meet the yearly expenses, so
he determined to raise an endowment fund. He visited Holland and Great
Britain, and secured the needed money.
In England, in 1832, he became acquainted with Elizabeth Fry. How one
good life influences another to the end of time! When he went back to
Germany his heart was aglow with a desire to help humanity.
He at once opened an asylum for discharged prison-women. He saw how
almost impossible it was for those who had been in prison to obtain
situations. Then he opened a school for the children of such as worked
in factories, for he realized how unfit for citizenship are those who
grow up in ignorance. He did not have much money, but he seemed able
to obtain what he really needed. Then he opened a hospital; a home for
insane women; a home of rest for his nurses, or for those who needed
a place to live after their work was done. Soon the "Deaconesses" at
Kaiserwerth became known the country over. Among the wildest Norwegian
mountains we met some of these Kaiserwerth nurses, refined, educated
ladies, getting in summer a new lease of life for their noble labors.
This Protestant sisterhood consists now of about seven hundred
sisters, at about two hundred stations, the annual expense being about
$150,000. What a grand work for one man, with no money, the pastor of
a very humble church!
Into this work of Pastor Fliedner, Florence Nightingale heartily
entered. Was it strange taste for a pretty and wealthy young woman,
whose life had been one of sunshine and happiness? It was a saintlike
taste, and the world is rendered a little like Paradise by the
presence of such women. Back in London the papers were full of
the great exhibition of 1851, but she was more interested in her
Kaiserwerth work than to be at home. When she had finished her course
of instruction, Pastor Fliedner said, since he had been director
of that institution no one had ever passed so distinguished an
examination, or shown herself so thoroughly mistress of all she had
On her return to Lea Hurst, she could not rest very long, while there
was so much work to be done in the world. In London, a hospital
for sick governesses was about to fail, from lack of means and poor
management. Nobody seemed very deeply interested for these overworked
teachers. But Miss Nightingale was interested, and leaving her lovely
home, she came to the dreary house in Harley Street, where she gave
her time and her fortune for several years. Her own frail health
sank for a time from the close confinement, but she had seen the
institution placed on a sure foundation, and prosperous.
The Crimean War had begun. England had sent out ship-loads of men to
the Black Sea, to engage in war with Russia. Little thought seemed to
have been taken, in the hurry and enthusiasm of war, to provide proper
clothing or food for the men in that changing climate. In the desolate
country there was almost no means of transportation, and men and
animals suffered from hunger. After the first winter cholera broke
out, and in one camp twenty men died in twenty-four hours.
Matters grew from bad to worse. William Howard Russell, the _Times_
correspondent, wrote home to England: "It is now pouring rain,--the
skies are black as ink,--the wind is howling over the staggering
tents,--the trenches are turned into dykes,--in the tents the water
is sometimes a foot deep,--our men have not either warm or
waterproof clothing,--they are out for twelve hours at a time in the
trenches,--they are plunged into the inevitable miseries of a winter
campaign,--and not a soul seems to care for their comfort, or even
for their lives. These are hard truths, but the people of England must
hear them. They must know that the wretched beggar who wanders
about the streets of London in the rain, leads the life of a prince,
compared with the British soldiers who are fighting out here for their
"The commonest accessories of a hospital are wanting; there is not
the least attention paid to decency or cleanliness; the stench
is appalling; the fetid air can barely struggle out to taint the
atmosphere, save through the chinks in the walls and roofs; and, for
all I can observe, these men die without the least effort being made
to save them. There they lie, just as they were let gently down on the
ground by the poor fellows, their comrades, who brought them on their
backs from the camp with the greatest tenderness, but who are not
allowed to remain with them. The sick appear to be tended by the sick,
and the dying by the dying."
During the rigorous winter of 1854, with snow three feet thick, many
were frozen in their tents. Out of nearly forty-five thousand, over
eighteen thousand were reported in the hospitals. The English nation
became aroused at this state of things, and in less than two weeks
seventy-five thousand dollars poured into the Times office for the
suffering soldiers. A special commissioner, Mr. Macdonald, was sent to
the Crimea with shirts, sheets, flannels, and necessary food.
But one of the greatest of all needs was woman's hand and brain, in
the dreadful suffering and the confusion. The testimony of the world
thus far has been that men everywhere need the help of women, and
women everywhere need the help of men. Right Honorable Sydney Herbert,
the Secretary of War, knew of but one woman who could bring order
and comfort to those far-away hospitals, and that woman was Miss
Nightingale. She had made herself ready at Kaiserwerth for a great
work, and now a great work was ready for her.
But she was frail in health, and was it probable that a rich and
refined lady would go thousands of miles from her kindred, to live
in feverish wards where there were only men? A true woman dares do
anything that helps the world.
Mr. Herbert wrote her, Oct. 15: "There is, as far as I know, only one
person in England capable of organizing and directing such a plan, and
I have been several times on the point of asking you if you would
be disposed to make the attempt. That it will be difficult to form
a corps of nurses, no one knows better than yourself.... I have this
simple question to put to you: Could you go out yourself, and take
charge of everything? It is, of course, understood that you will have
absolute authority over all the nurses, unlimited power to draw on the
government for all you judge necessary to the success of your mission;
and I think I may assure you of the co-operation of the medical
staff. Your personal qualities, your knowledge, and your authority in
administrative affairs, all fit you for this position."
It was a strange coincidence that on that same day, Oct. 15, Miss
Nightingale, her heart stirred for the suffering soldiers, had written
a letter to Mr. Herbert, offering her services to the government. A
few days later the world read, with moistened eyes, this letter from
the war office: "Miss Nightingale, accompanied by thirty-four nurses,
will leave this evening. Miss Nightingale, who has, I believe, greater
practical experience of hospital administration and treatment than any
other lady in this country, has, with a self-devotion for which I have
no words to express my gratitude, undertaken this noble but arduous
The heart of the English nation followed the heroic woman. Mrs.
Jameson wrote: "It is an undertaking wholly new to our English
customs, much at variance with the usual education given to women in
this country. If it succeeds, it will be the true, the lasting glory
of Florence Nightingale and her band of devoted assistants, that they
have broken down a Chinese wall of prejudices,--religious, social,
professional,--and have established a precedent which will, indeed,
multiply the good to all time." She did succeed, and the results can
scarcely be overestimated.
As the band of nurses passed through France, hotel-keepers would take
no pay for their accommodation; poor fisherwomen at Boulogne struggled
for the honor of carrying their baggage to the railway station. They
sailed in the _Vectis_ across the Mediterranean, reaching Scutari,
Nov. 5, the day of the battle of Inkerman.
They found in the great Barrack Hospital, which had been lent to the
British by the Turkish government, and in another large hospital near
by, about four thousand men. The corridors were filled with two rows
of mattresses, so close that two persons could scarcely walk between
them. There was work to be done at once.
One of the nurses wrote home, "The whole of yesterday one could only
forget one's own existence, for it was spent, first in sewing the
men's mattresses together, and then in washing them, and assisting the
surgeons, when we could, in dressing their ghastly wounds after their
five days' confinement on board ship, during which space their wounds
had not been dressed. Hundreds of men with fever, dysentery, and
cholera (the wounded were the smaller portion) filled the wards in
succession from the overcrowded transports."
Miss Nightingale, calm and unobtrusive, went quietly among the men,
always with a smile of sympathy for the suffering. The soldiers often
wept, as for the first time in months, even years, a woman's hand
adjusted their pillows, and a woman's voice soothed their sorrows.
Miss Nightingale's pathway was not an easy one. Her coming did not
meet the general approval of military or medical officials. Some
thought women would be in the way; others felt that their coming was
an interference. Possibly some did not like to have persons about who
would be apt to tell the truth on their return to England. But with
good sense and much tact she was able to overcome the disaffection,
using her almost unlimited power with discretion.
As soon as the wounded were attended to, she established an invalid's
kitchen, where appetizing food could be prepared,--one of the
essentials in convalescence. Here she overlooked the proper cooking
for eight hundred men who could not eat ordinary food. Then she
established a laundry. The beds and shirts of the men were in a filthy
condition, some wearing the ragged clothing in which they were brought
down from the Crimea. It was difficult to obtain either food or
clothing, partly from the immense amount of "red tape" in official
Miss Nightingale seemed to be everywhere. Dr. Pincoffs said: "I
believe that there never was a severe case of any kind that escaped
her notice; and sometimes it was wonderful to see her at the bedside
of a patient who had been admitted perhaps but an hour before, and
of whose arrival one would hardly have supposed it possible she could
already be cognizant."
She aided the senior chaplain in establishing a library and
school-room, and in getting up evening lectures for the men. She
supplied books and games, wrote letters for the sick, and forwarded
their little savings to their home-friends.
For a year and a half, till the close of the war, she did a wonderful
work, reducing the death-rate in the Barrack Hospital from sixty per
cent to a little above one per cent. Said the _Times_ correspondent:
"Wherever there is disease in its most dangerous form, and the hand of
the spoiler distressingly nigh, there is that incomparable woman sure
to be seen; her benignant presence is an influence for good comfort
even amid the struggles of expiring nature. She is a 'ministering
angel,' without any exaggeration, in these hospitals, and as her
slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's
face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical
officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have
settled down upon these miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed,
alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.
"With the heart of a true woman and the manner of a lady, accomplished
and refined beyond most of her sex, she combines a surprising calmness
of judgment and promptitude and decision of character. The popular
instinct was not mistaken, which, when she set out from England on her
mission of mercy, hailed her as a heroine; I trust she may not earn
her title to a higher, though sadder, appellation. No one who has
observed her fragile figure and delicate health can avoid misgivings
lest these should fail."
One of the soldiers wrote home: "She would speak to one and another,
and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it to all, you
know, for we lay there by hundreds; but we could kiss her shadow as it
fell, and lay our heads on our pillows again content." Another wrote
home: "Before she came there was such cussin' and swearin', and after
that it was as holy as a church." No wonder she was called the "Angel
of the Crimea." Once she was prostrated with fever, but recovered
after a few weeks.
Finally the war came to an end. London was preparing to give Miss
Nightingale a royal welcome, when, lo! she took passage by design on a
French steamer, and reached Lea Hurst, Aug. 15, 1856, unbeknown to
any one. There was a murmur of disappointment at first, but the
people could only honor all the more the woman who wished no blare of
trumpets for her humane acts.
Queen Victoria sent for her to visit her at Balmoral, and presented
her with a valuable jewel; a ruby-red enamel cross on a white field,
encircled by a black band with the words, "Blessed are the merciful."
The letters V. R., surmounted by a crown in diamonds, are impressed
upon the centre of the cross. Green enamel branches of palm, tipped
with gold, form the framework of the shield, while around their stems
is a riband of the blue enamel with the single word "Crimea." On
the top are three brilliant stars of diamonds. On the back is an
inscription written by the Queen. The Sultan sent her a magnificent
bracelet, and the government, $250,000, to found the school for nurses
at St. Thomas' Hospital.
Since the war, Miss Nightingale has never been in strong health,
but she has written several valuable books. Her _Hospital Notes_,
published in 1859, have furnished plans for scores of new hospitals.
Her _Notes on Nursing_, published in 1860, of which over one hundred
thousand have been sold, deserve to be in every home. She is the most
earnest advocate of sunlight and fresh air.
She says: "An extraordinary fallacy is the dread of night air. What
air can we breathe at night but night air? The choice is between pure
night air from without, and foul night air from within. Most people
prefer the latter,--an unaccountable choice. What will they say if it
be proved true that fully _one-half of all the disease we suffer from,
is occasioned by people sleeping with their windows shut?_ An open
window most nights of the year can never hurt any one. In great cities
night air is often the best and purest to be had in the twenty-four
"The five essentials, for healthy houses," she says, are "pure air,
pure water, efficient drainage, cleanliness, and light.... I have
known whole houses and hospitals smell of the sink. I have met just as
strong a stream of sewer air coming up the back staircase of a grand
London house, from the sink, as I have ever met at Scutari; and I have
seen the rooms in that house all ventilated by the open doors, and
the passages all _un_ventilated by the close windows, in order that as
much of the sewer air as possible might be conducted into and retained
in the bed-rooms. It is wonderful!"
Miss Nightingale has much humor, and she shows it in her writings. She
is opposed to dark houses; says they promote scrofula; to old papered
walls, and to carpets full of dust. An uninhabited room becomes full
of foul air soon, and needs to have the windows opened often. She
would keep sick people, or well, forever in the sunlight if possible,
for sunlight is the greatest possible purifier of the atmosphere.
"In the unsunned sides of narrow streets, there is degeneracy and
weakliness of the human race,--mind and body equally degenerating."
Of the ruin wrought by bad air, she says: "Oh, the crowded national
school, where so many children's epidemics have their origin, what
a tale its air-test would tell! We should have parents saying, and
saying rightly, 'I will not send my child to that school; the
air-test stands at "horrid."' And the dormitories of our great
boarding-schools! Scarlet fever would be no more ascribed to
contagion, but to its right cause, the air-test standing at 'Foul.' We
should hear no longer of 'Mysterious Dispensations' and of 'Plague and
Pestilence' being in 'God's hands,' when, so far as we know, He has
put them into our own." She urges much rubbing of the body, washing
with warm water and soap. "The only way I know to _remove_ dust, is to
wipe everything with a damp cloth.... If you must have a carpet, the
only safety is to take it up two or three times a year, instead of
once.... The best wall now extant is oil paint."
"Nursing is an art; and if it is to be made an art, requires as
exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter's or
sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or cold
marble compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of
God's Spirit? Nursing is one of the fine arts; I had almost said, the
finest of the fine arts."
Miss Nightingale has also written _Observations on the Sanitary State
of the Army in India,_ 1863; _Life or Death in India_, read before the
National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, 1873, with
an appendix on _Life or Death by Irrigation_, 1874.
She is constantly doing deeds of kindness. With a subscription sent
recently by her to the Gordon Memorial Fund, she said: "Might but the
example of this great and pure hero be made to tell, in that self no
longer existed to him, but only God and duty, on the soldiers who have
died to save him, and on boys who should live to follow him."
Miss Nightingale has helped to dignify labor and to elevate humanity,
and has thus made her name immortal.
Florence Nightingale died August 13, 1910, at 2 P.M., of heart
failure, at the age of ninety. She had received many distinguished
honors: the freedom of the city of London in 1908, and from King
Edward VII, a year previously, a membership in the Order of Merit,
given only to a select few men; such as Field Marshal Roberts, Lord
Kitchener, Alma Tadema, James Bryce, George Meredith, Lords Kelvin and
Lister, and Admiral Togo.
Her funeral was a quiet one, according to her wishes.
[Illustration: LADY BRASSEY.]
One of my pleasantest days in England was spent at old Battle Abbey,
the scene of the ever-memorable Battle of Hastings, where William of
Normandy conquered the Saxon Harold.
The abbey was built by William as a thank-offering for the victory, on
the spot where Harold set up his standard. The old gateway is one of
the finest in England. Part of the ancient church remains, flowers and
ivy growing out of the beautiful gothic arches.
As one stands upon the walls and looks out upon the sea, that great
battle comes up before him. The Norman hosts disembark; first come the
archers in short tunics, with bows as tall as themselves and quivers
full of arrows; then the knights in coats of mail, with long lances
and two-edged swords; Duke William steps out last from the ship, and
falls foremost on both hands. His men gather about him in alarm, but
he says, "See, my lords, I have taken possession of England with both
my hands. It is now mine, and what is mine is yours."
Word is sent to Harold to surrender the throne, but he returns answer
as haughty as is sent. Brave and noble, he plants his standard, a
warrior sparkling with gold and precious stones, and thus addresses
"The Normans are good knights, and well used to war. If they pierce
our ranks, we are lost. Cleave, and do not spare!" Then they build
up a breastwork of shields, which no man can pass alive. William of
Normandy is ready for action. He in turn addresses his men: "Spare
not, and strike hard. There will be booty for all. It will be in vain
to ask for peace; the English will not give it. Flight is impossible;
at the sea you will find neither ship nor bridge; the English would
overtake and annihilate you there. The victory is in our hands."
From nine till three the battle rages. The case becomes desperate.
William orders the archers to fire into the air, as they cannot pierce
English armor, and arrows fall down like rain upon the Saxons. Harold
is pierced in the eye. He is soon overcome and trampled to death by
the enemy, dying, it is said, with the words "Holy Cross" upon his
Ten thousand are killed on either side, and the Saxons pass forever
under foreign rule. Harold's mother comes and begs the body of her
son, and pays for it, some historians say, its weight in gold.
Every foot of ground at Battle Abbey is historic, and all the country
round most interesting. We drive over the smoothest of roads to a
palace in the distance,--Normanhurst, the home of Lady Brassey, the
distinguished author and traveller. Towers are at either corner and
in the centre, and ivy climbs over the spacious vestibule to the roof.
Great buildings for waterworks, conservatories, and the like, are
adjoining, in the midst of flower-gardens and acres of lawn and
forest. It is a place fit for the abode of royalty itself.
In no home have I seen so much that is beautiful gathered from all
parts of the world. The hall, as you enter, square and hung with
crimson velvet, is adorned with valuable paintings. Two easy-chairs
before the fireplace are made from ostriches, their backs forming the
seats. These birds were gifts to Lady Brassey in her travels. In the
rooms beyond are treasures from Japan, the South Sea Islands, South
America, indeed from everywhere; cases of pottery, works in marble,
Dresden candelabra, ancient armor, furs, silks, all arrayed with
One room, called the Marie Antoinette room, has the curtains and
furniture, in yellow, of this unfortunate queen. Here are pictures by
Sir Frederick Leighton, Landseer, and others; stuffed birds and
fishes and animals from every clime, with flowers in profusion. In
the dining-room, with its gray walls and red furniture, is a large
painting of the mistress of this superb home, with her favorite horse
and dogs. The views from the windows are beautiful, Battle Abbey ruin
in the distance, and rivers flowing to the sea. The house is rich in
color, one room being blue, another red, a third yellow, while large
mirrors seem to repeat the apartments again and again. As we leave the
home, not the least of its attractions come up the grounds,--a load of
merry children, all in sailor hats; the Mabelle and Muriel and Marie
whom we have learned to know in Lady Brassey's books.
The well-known author is the daughter of the late Mr. John Alnutt of
Berkley Square, London, who, as well as his father, was a patron of
art, having made large collections of paintings. Reared in wealth and
culture, it was but natural that the daughter, Annie, should find
in the wealthy and cultured Sir Thomas Brassey a man worthy of her
affections. In 1860, while both were quite young, they were married,
and together they have travelled, written books, aided working men and
women, and made for themselves a noble and lasting fame.
Sir Thomas is the eldest son of the late Mr. Brassey, "the leviathan
contractor, the employer of untold thousands of navvies, the genie of
the spade and pick, and almost the pioneer of railway builders, not
only in his own country, but from one end of the continent to the
other." Of superior education, having been at Rugby and University
College, Oxford, Sir Thomas was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in
1864, and was elected to Parliament from Devonport the following year,
and from Hastings three years later, in 1868, which position he has
filled ever since.
Exceedingly fond of the sea, he determined to be a practical sailor,
and qualified himself as a master-marine, by passing the requisite
Board of Trade examination, and receiving a certificate as a seaman
and navigator. In 1869 he was made Honorary Lieutenant in the Royal
Besides his parliamentary work, he has been an able and voluminous
writer. His _Foreign Work and English Wages_ I purchased in England,
and have found it valuable in facts and helpful in spirit. The
statement in the preface that he "has had under consideration the
expediency of retiring from Parliament, with the view of devoting an
undivided attention to the elucidation of industrial problems, and
the improvement of the relations between capital and labor," shows the
heart of the man. In 1880 he was made Civil Lord of the Admiralty, and
in 1881 was created by the Queen a Knight Commander of the Order
of the Bath, for his important services in connection with the
organization of the Naval Reserve forces of the country.
[Illustration: SIR THOMAS BRASSEY.]
In 1869, after Sir Thomas and Lady Brassey had been nine years
married, they determined to take a sea-voyage in his yacht, and
between this time and 1872 they made two cruises in the Mediterranean
and the East. From her childhood the wife had kept a journal, and from
fine powers of observation and much general knowledge was well fitted
to see whatever was to be seen, and describe it graphically. She
wrote long, journal-like letters to her father, and on her return _The
Flight of the Meteor_ was prepared for distribution among relatives
and intimate friends.
In the year last mentioned, 1872, they took a trip to Canada and
the United States, sailing up several of the long rivers, and on her
return, _A Cruise in the Eothen_ was published for friends.
Four years later they decided to go round the world, and for this
purpose the beautiful yacht _Sunbeam_ was built. The children, the
animal pets, two dogs, three birds, and a Persian kitten for the baby,
were all taken, and the happy family left England July 1, 1876. With
the crew, the whole number of persons on board was forty-three.
Almost at the beginning of the voyage they encountered a severe storm.
Captain Lecky would have been lost but for the presence of mind of
Mabelle Brassey, the oldest daughter, who has her mother's courage
and calmness. When asked if she thought she was going overboard, she
answered, "I did not think at all, mamma, but felt sure we were gone."
"Soon after this adventure," says Lady Brassey, "we all went to bed,
full of thanksgiving that it had ended as well as it did; but, alas,
not, so far as I was concerned, to rest in peace. In about two hours I
was awakened by a tremendous weight of water suddenly descending upon
me and flooding the bed. I immediately sprang out, only to find myself
in another pool on the floor. It was pitch dark, and I could not think
what had happened; so I rushed on deck, and found that the weather
having moderated a little, some kind sailor, knowing my love of fresh
air, had opened the skylight rather too soon, and one of the angry
waves had popped on board, deluging the cabin.
"I got a light, and proceeded to mop up, as best I could, and then
endeavored to find a dry place to sleep in. This, however, was no easy
task, for my own bed was drenched, and every other berth occupied.
The deck, too, was ankle-deep in water, as I found when I tried to
get across to the deck-house sofa. At last I lay down on the floor,
wrapped in my ulster, and wedged between the foot stanchion of our
swing bed and the wardrobe athwart-ship; so that as the yacht rolled
heavily, my feet were often higher than my head."
No wonder that a woman who could make the best of such circumstances
could make a year's trip on the _Sunbeam_ a delight to all on board.
Their first visits were to the Madeira, Teneriffe, and Cape de Verde
Islands, off the coast of Africa. With simplicity, the charm of all
writing, and naturalness, Lady Brassey describes the people, the
bathing where the sharks were plentiful, and the masses of wild
geranium, hydrangea, and fuchsia. They climb to the top of the lava
Peak of Teneriffe, over twelve thousand feet high; they rise at
five o'clock to see the beautiful sunrises; they watch the slaves at
coffee-raising at Rio de Janeiro, in South America, and Lady Brassey
is attracted toward the nineteen tiny babies by the side of their
mothers; "the youngest, a dear, little woolly-headed thing, as black
as jet, and only three weeks old."
In Belgrano, she says: "We saw for the first time the holes of the
bizcachas, or prairie-dogs, outside which the little prairie-owls keep
guard. There appeared to be always one, and generally two, of these
birds, standing like sentinels, at the entrance to each hole, with
their wise-looking heads on one side, pictures of prudence and
watchfulness. The bird and the beast are great friends, and are seldom
to be found apart." And then Lady Brassey, who understands photography
as well as how to write several languages, photographs this pretty
scene of prairie-dogs guarded by owls, and puts it in her book.
On their way to the Straits of Magellan, they see a ship on fire. They
send out a boat to her, and bring in the suffering crew of fifteen
men, almost wild with joy to be rescued. Their cargo of coal had been
on fire for four days. The men were exhausted, the fires beneath
their feet were constantly growing hotter, and finally they gave up in
despair and lay down to die. But the captain said, "There is One above
who looks after us all," and again they took courage. They lashed the
two apprentice boys in one of the little boats, for fear they would be
washed overboard, for one was the "only son of his mother, and she a
"The captain," says Lady Brassey, "drowned his favorite dog, a
splendid Newfoundland, just before leaving the ship; for although a
capital watchdog and very faithful, he was rather large and fierce;
and when it was known that the _Sunbeam_ was a yacht with ladies and
children on board, he feared to introduce him. Poor fellow! I wish I
had known about it in time to save his life!"
They "steamed past the low sandy coast of Patagonia and the rugged
mountains of Tierra del Fuego, literally, Land of Fire, so called from
the custom the inhabitants have of lighting fires on prominent points
as signals of assembly." The people are cannibals, and naked. "Their
food is of the most meagre description, and consists mainly of
shell-fish, sea-eggs, for which the women dive with much dexterity,
and fish, which they train their dogs to assist them in catching.
These dogs are sent into the water at the entrance of a narrow creek
or small bay, and they then bark and flounder about and drive the fish
before them into shallow water, where they are caught."
Three of these Fuegians, a man, woman, and lad, come out to the yacht
in a craft made of planks rudely tied together with the sinews of
animals, and give otter skins for "tobaco and galleta" (biscuit), for
which they call. When Lady Brassey gives the lad and his mother some
strings of blue, red, and green glass beads, they laugh and jabber
most enthusiastically. Their paddles are "split branches of trees,
with wider pieces tied on at one end, with the sinews of birds or
beasts." At the various places where they land, all go armed, Lady
Brassey herself being well skilled in their use.
She never forgets to do a kindness. In Chili she hears that a poor
engine-driver, an Englishman, has met with a serious accident, and at
once hastens to see him. He is delighted to hear about the trip of the
_Sunbeam_, and forgets for a time his intense suffering in his joy at
In Santiago she describes a visit to the ruin of the Jesuit church,
where, Dec. 8, 1863, at the Feast of the Virgin, two thousand persons,
mostly women and children, were burned to death. A few were drawn up
through a hole in the roof and thus saved.
Their visit to the South Sea Islands is full of interest. At Bow
Island Lady Brassey buys two tame pigs for twenty-five cents each,
which are so docile that they follow her about the yacht with the
dogs, to whom they took a decided fancy. She calls one Agag, because
he walks so delicately on his toes. The native women break cocoanuts
and offer them the milk to drink. At Maitea the natives are puzzled to
know why the island is visited. "No sell brandy?" they ask. "No."
"No stealy men?" "No." "No do what then?" The chief receives most
courteously, cutting down a banana-tree for them, when they express a
wish for bananas. He would receive no money for his presents to them.
In Tahiti a feast is given in their honor, in a house seemingly made
of banana-trees, "the floor covered with the finest mats, and
the centre strewn with broad green plantain leaves, to form the
table-cloth.... Before each guest was placed a half-cocoanut full of
salt water, another full of chopped cocoanut, a third full of fresh
water, and another full of milk, two pieces of bamboo, a basket of
poi, half a breadfruit, and a platter of green leaves, the latter
being changed with each course. We took our seats on the ground round
the green table. The first operation was to mix the salt water and
the chopped cocoanut together, so as to make an appetizing sauce, into
which we were supposed to dip each morsel we ate. We were tolerably
successful in the use of our fingers as substitutes for knives and
At the Sandwich Islands, in Hilo, they visit the volcano of Kilauea.
They descend the precipice, three hundred feet, which forms the wall
of the old crater. They ascend the present crater, and stand on the
"edge of a precipice, overhanging a lake of molten fire, a hundred
feet below us, and nearly a mile across. Dashing against the cliffs on
the opposite side, with a noise like the roar of a stormy ocean,
waves of blood-red, fiery liquid lava hurled their billows upon an
iron-bound headland, and then rushed up the face of the cliffs to toss
their gory spray high in the air."
They pass the island of Molokai, where the poor lepers end their days
away from home and kindred. At Honolulu they are entertained by the
Prince, and then sail for Japan, China, Ceylon, through Suez, stopping
in Egypt, and then home. On their arrival, Lady Brassey says, "How
can I describe the warm greetings that met us everywhere, or the crowd
that surrounded us; how, along the whole ten miles from Hastings to
Battle, people were standing by the roadside and at the cottage doors
to welcome us; how the Battle bell-ringers never stopped ringing
except during service time; or how the warmest of welcomes ended our
delightful year of travel and made us feel we were home at last, with
thankful hearts for the providential care which had watched over us
whithersoever we roamed!"
The trip had been one of continued ovation. Crowds had gathered in
every place to see the _Sunbeam_, and often trim her with flowers from
stem to stern. Presents of parrots, and kittens, and pigs abounded,
and Lady Brassey had cared tenderly for them all. Christmas was