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Florence Nightingale

  • Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.

  • ... diseases, as all experience shows, are adjectives, not noun substantives.

  • Never to allow a patient to be waked, intentionally or accidentally, is a sine qua non of all good nursing.

  • Volumes are now written and spoken about the effect of the mind upon the body. Much of it is true. But I wish a little more was thought of the effect of the body on the mind.

  • Averages ... seduce us away from minute observation.

  • Nature alone cures. ... what nursing has to do ... is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.

  • It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary nevertheless to lay down such a principle ...

  • How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Sir Edward Tyas Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale, vol. 1 ()
  • Heaven is neither a place nor a time.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Sir Edward Tyas Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale, vol. 2 ()
  • I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often the mustard seed germinates and roots itself.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Eleanor Frances Hall, Florence Nightingale ()
  • ... to understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Karl Pearson, The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, vol. 2 ()
  • I had so much rather live than write; writing is only a substitute for living ... I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • A hundred struggle and drown in the breakers. One discovers the new world. But rather, ten times rather, die in the surf, heralding the way to that new world, than stand idly on the shore!

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • Women never have an half-hour in all their lives (excepting before or after anybody is up in the house) that they can call their own, without fear of offending or of hurting someone. Why do people sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have 'no time in the day to themselves.'

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • We set the treatment of bodies so high above the treatment of souls, that the physician occupies a higher place in society than the school-master.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • The great reformers of the world turn into the great misanthropists, if circumstances or organization do not permit them to act.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • And so is the world put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts (which were meant, not for selfish gratification, but for the improvement of that world) to conventionality.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra" (1852), in Ray Strachey, "The Cause" ()
  • [On Thomas Babington Macaulay:] He was a most disagreeable companion to my fancy ... His conversation was a procession of one.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale ()
  • I attribute my success to this. I never gave or took an excuse.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale ()
  • I cannot remember the time when I have not longed for death. ... for years and years I used to watch for death as no sick man ever watched for the morning.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • letter (1881), in Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale ()
  • [Upon receiving the Order of Merit on her deathbed:] Too kind, too kind.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1910, in Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale ()
  • Hospitals are only an intermediate stage of civilization ...

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Sick-Nursing and Health-Nursing" (1893), in Lucy Ridgely Seymer, Selected Writings of Florence Nightingale ()
  • No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any definition of what a nurse should be than this — 'devoted and obedient.' This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It will not do [for a nurse].

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Victor Cohn, Sister Kenny ()
  • ... people have founded vast schemes upon a very few words.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Mary Poovey, ed., Cassandra and Other Selections From Suggestions for Thought ()
  • The 'kingdom of heaven is within,' indeed, but we must also create one without, because we are intended to act upon our circumstances.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae, eds., Suggestions for Thought ()
  • ... law is no explanation of anything; law is simply a generalization, a category of facts; law is neither a cause, nor a reason, nor a power, nor a coercive force; it is nothing but a general formula, a statistical table.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae, eds., Suggestions for Thought ()
  • Of all the fatal mistakes that have been made to impede the progress of the human race, this perhaps has been the most fatal, viz., the superstition that we have nothing to do but to exert the will, as it is called, and all former error will be rectified, all future good secured. ... If we believed that a man with one diseased lung has nothing to do but to will, in order to have two good ones; if we believed that a man when he is hungry has nothing to do but to will in order to eat, the human race would soon perish. Are not the laws of the spiritual world at least as numerous, important, and worthy of study as those of the physical?

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae, eds., Suggestions for Thought ()
  • ... a human being does not cease to exist at death. It is change, not destruction, which takes place.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae, eds., Suggestions for Thought ()
  • ... do not engage in any paper wars. You will convince nobody and arrive at no satisfaction yourself.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1853, in Lynn McDonald, ed., Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her Life and Family ()
  • Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.

  • What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior … jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Sir Edward Tyas Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale ()
  • The martyr sacrifices herself (himself in a few instances) entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for she (or he) make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • in Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard, eds., Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters ()
  • A small pet is often an excellent companion.

  • What it is to be 'read aloud to'? ... It is like lying on one’s back, with one’s hands tied and having liquid poured down one’s throat.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • "Cassandra," Suggestions for Thought ()

Florence Nightingale, English nurse, administrator, writer

(1820 - 1910)