Florence Nightingale

A Letter to the Workmen of Newcastle-on-Tyne

Original letter

Original letter

From The Life of Florence Nightingale by Sarah Tooley:
Letters of congratulations and expressions of esteem from all sorts and conditions of people poured in upon Miss Nightingale after it was known that she was settled in her Derbyshire home, and public associations and societies sent deputations. If Florence Nightingale could have been persuaded to hold a reception, it would have been attended by delegates from every representative body in the kingdom; but while such a national appreciation of her labours was very gratifying to our heroine, her chief desire now was to escape publicity, and her enfeebled health made quietude a necessity.

She was specially pleased by an address sent by the workmen of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and replied in the following beautiful letter:

Lea Hurst
Matlock , England
August 23/56

My dear friends
I wish it were in my power to tell you what was in my heart when I received your letter. Your welcome home, your sympathy with what had been happening while I have been absent, have touched me more than I can tell in words. May dear friends, the things that are deepest in our hearts are perhaps what is most difficult to us.

"She hath done what she could" those words I inscribe on the tomb of one of my best helpers whom I left in the grave yard at Scutari. It has been my endeavor in the sight of God to do as she has done. I will not speak of reward. When permitted to do our country's work it is what we live for. But I may say that I receive sympathy from affectionate hearts like yours is the greatest support, the greatest gratification that it is possible of me to receive from man.

I thank you all, the 1800, with grateful tender affection -- and I should have written before I do so -- were not the business which my return home has not ended, almost more than I can manage.

Pray believe me
My dear friends
Yours faith fully and gratefully,

Florence Nightingale

The original letter shown here was recovered from the scrapbook of Edward W. Bok.