2. “The more experience we gain, the more progress we can make.”

3. “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

4. “The night is given us to take breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening.”

5. “Never underestimate the healing effects of beauty.”

6. “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses. We must be learning all of our lives.”

7. “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”

8. “I attribute my success to this—I never gave or took any excuse.”

9. “Nature alone cures. What nursing has to do is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.”

10. “Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backwards.”

11. “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.’”

12. “The greatest things grow by God’s Law out of the smallest.”

13. “Live life when you have it.”

14. “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”

15. “The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe.”

16. “To live your life, you must discipline it. You must not fritter it away in fair purpose, erring act, inconstant will, but make your thoughts, your acts, all work to the same end and that end, not self but God. That is what we call character.”

17. “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head—not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but how can I provide for this right thing to always be done?”

18. “For us who nurse, our nursing is a thing, which, unless we are making progress every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back.”

19. “Life is a hard fight—a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed.”


20. “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.”

21. “For the sick, it is important to have the best.”

22. “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.”

23. “I use the word nursing for want of a better. It has been limited to signify a little more than the administration of medicines and the application of poultices.”

24. “The symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incident to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different—of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness, or of punctuality and care in the administration of diet, of each or of all of these.”

25. “I stand at the altar of murdered men, and, while I live, I fight their cause.”

26. “If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if he is sick after taking food, if he has a bed-sore, it is generally the fault not of the disease, but of the nursing.”

27. “Hospitals are only an intermediate stage of civilization, never intended to take in the whole sick population.”

28. “May we hope that the day will come when every poor, sick person will have the opportunity of a share in a district sick-nurse at home.”

29. “The specific disease doctrine is the grand refuge of weak, uncultured, unstable minds, such as now rule in the medical profession.”

30. “There are no specific diseases; there are specific disease conditions.”

31. “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.”

32. “Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color, and light, we do know this—that they have an actual physical effect. Variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients, are actual means of recovery.”

33. “All disease, at some period or other of its course, is more or less a reparative process, not necessarily accompanied with suffering—an effort of nature to remedy a process of poisoning or of decay, which has taken place weeks, months, sometimes years beforehand, unnoticed.”

34. “I am not yet worthy; and I will live to deserve to be called a Trained Nurse.”

35. “We know nothing of the principle of health—the positive of which pathology is the negative, except from observation and experience. Nothing but observation and experience will teach us the ways to maintain or to bring back the state of health.”

36. “It is often thought that medicine is the curative process. It is no such thing; medicine is the surgery of functions as surgery proper is that of limbs and organs.”

37. “No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other 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 would not do for a policeman.”

38. “The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried, is one of the commonest observations made at a sick bed.”

39. “When you see the natural and almost universal craving in English sick for their tea, you cannot but feel that nature knows what she is about. A little tea or coffee restores them. There is nothing yet discovered which is a substitute for the English patient for his cup of tea.”

40. “The very elements of what constitutes good nursing are as little understood for the well as for the sick.”

41. “The same laws of health, or of nursing, for they are in reality the same, are obtained among the well and among the sick. The account he gives of nurses beats everything that even I know of.”

42. “The craving for the return of the day, which the sick so constantly evince, is generally nothing but the desire for light.”

43. “The time has come when women must do something more than the domestic hearth—which means nursing the infants, keeping a pretty house, having a good dinner, and an entertaining party.”

44. “Let people who have to observe sickness and death look back and try to register in their observation the appearances which have preceded relapse, attack or death, and not assert that there were none, or that there were not the right ones.”

45. “Never to allow a patient to be woken, intentionally or accidentally, is a sine qua non of all good nursing.”

46. “A want of the habit of observing conditions and an inveterate habit of taking averages are each of them often equally misleading.”

47. “The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in water supply.”

48. “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.”

49. “I cannot remember a 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.”


50. “Our first journey is to find that special place for us.”

51. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

52. “Statistics is the most important science in the whole world, for upon it depends the practical application of every other science and of every art—the one science essential to all political and social administration, all education, all organization based on experience, for it only gives results of our experience.”

53. “To understand God’s thoughts, one must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose.”

54. “That religion is not devotion, but work and suffering for the love of God—this is the true doctrine of Mystics.”

55. “Starting a job and working hard is how to be successful.”

56. “For what is Mysticism? It is not the attempt to draw near to God, not by rites or ceremonies, but by inward disposition.”

57. “The next Christ will perhaps be a female Christ.”

58. “Mysticism—to dwell on the unseen, to withdraw ourselves from the things of sense into communion with God, to endeavour to partake of the Divine nature; that is, of Holiness.”

59. “Jesus Christ raised women above the condition of mere slaves, mere ministers to the passions of man, raised them by His sympathy, to be Ministers of God.”

60. “Religion was important to me. My family and I were very religious. I actually believe the work I did was a calling from God himself.”

61. “If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing. I have worked hard, very hard, that is all; and I have never refused God anything.”

62. “People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too.”

63. “Passion, intellect, moral activity—these three have never been satisfied in a woman. In this cold and oppressive conventional atmosphere, they cannot be satisfied. To say more on this subject would be to enter into the whole history of society, of the present state of civilisation.”

64. “Volumes are now written and spoken upon 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.”

65. “The true foundation of theology is to ascertain the character of God. It is by the aid of Statistics that law in the social sphere can be ascertained and codified, and certain aspects of the character of God thereby revealed. The study of statistics is thus a religious service.”

66. “A woman cannot live in the light of intellect. Society forbids it. Those conventional frivolities, which are called her ‘duties’, forbid it. Her ‘domestic duties’, high-sounding words, which, for the most part, are but bad habits which she has not the courage to enfranchise herself from, the strength to break through, forbid it.”

67. “When shall we see a life full of steady enthusiasm, walking straight to its aim, flying home, as that bird is now, against the wind, with the calmness and the confidence of one who knows the laws of God and can apply them?”

68. “Sublime in the highest style of intellectual beauty, intellect without effort, without suffering, not a feature is correct, but the whole effect is more expressive of spiritual grandeur than anything I could have imagined. It makes the impression upon one that thousands of voices do, uniting in one unanimous simultaneous feeling of enthusiasm or emotion, which is said to overcome the strongest man.”

69. “Averages seduce us away from minute observation.”

70. “I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women. No woman has excited passions among women more than I have.”

71. “In a sick-room or a bedroom, there should never be shutters shut.”

72. “The great reformers of the world turn into the great misanthropists, if circumstances or organization do not permit them to act.”

73. “Heaven is neither a place nor a time.”

74. “Newton’s law is nothing but the statistics of gravitation. It has no power whatsoever.”

75. “Let us get rid of the idea of power from law altogether. Call law tabulation of facts, expression of facts, or what you will; anything rather than suppose that it either explains or compels.”

76. “Christ, if he had been a woman, might have been nothing but a great complainer.”

77. “Religious men are and must be heretics now—for we must not pray, except in a form of words, made beforehand, or think of God but with a prearranged idea.”

78. “For it may safely be said, not that the habit of ready and correct observation will by itself make us useful nurses, but that without it we shall be useless with all our devotion.”

79. “Asceticism is the trifling of an enthusiast with his power, a puerile coquetting with his selfishness or his vanity, in the absence of any sufficiently great object to employ the first or overcome the last.”

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

81. “Diseases, as all experience shows, are adjectives, not noun substantives.”

82. “Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”

83. “Never give nor take an excuse.”

84. “A human being does not cease to exist at death. It is change, not destruction, which takes place.”

85. “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel abuse of care which can be inflicted on either the sick or the well.”

86. “Remember my name—you’ll be screaming it later.”

87. “May we hope that, when we are all dead and gone, leaders will arise who have been personally experienced in the hard, practical work, the difficulties, and the joys of organizing nursing reforms, and who will lead far beyond anything we have done!”

88. “People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.”

89. “The kingdom of Heaven is within, indeed, but we must also create one without, because we are intended to act upon our circumstances.”

90. “Woman has nothing but her affections, and this makes her at once more loving and less loved.”

91. “The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.”

92. “I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”

93. “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

94. “There is no part of my life upon which I can look back without pain.”

95. “It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick that, second only to their need of fresh air, is their need of light; that, after a closed room, what them most is a dark room and that it is not only light but direct sunlight they want.”

96. “By mortifying vanity we do ourselves no good. It is the want of interest in our life which produces it; by filling up that want of interest in our life we can alone remedy it.”

97. “The family uses people, not for what they are, nor for what they are intended to be, but for what it wants them for—its own uses. It thinks of them not as what God has made them, but as something which it has arranged that they shall be.”

98. “The martyr sacrifices themselves entirely in vain. Or rather, not in vain; for they make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower.”

99. “Women never have a 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.”

100. “I can expect no sympathy or help from my family.”

101. “Do not engage in any paper wars. You will convince nobody and arrive at no satisfaction yourself.”

102. “It is very good to say, ‘Be prudent. Be careful. Try to get to know each other.’ But how are you to know each other?”

103. “Moral activity? There is scarcely such a thing possible! Everything is sketchy. The world does nothing but sketch.”

104. “Marriage is the only chance, and it is but a chance offered to women for escape from this death and how eagerly and how ignorantly it is embraced.”

105. “There is a physical, not moral, impossibility of supplying the wants of the intellect in the state of civilization at which we have arrived.”

106. “At present, we live to impede each other’s satisfaction—competition, domestic life, society. What is it all but this?”

107. “I can stand out the war with any man.”

108. “I was very limited as a woman. Getting the men in the military to see that the medical facilities were unhealthy was very difficult, along with many other things such as getting a good education and also finding a good career.”

109. “People have founded vast schemes upon a very few words.”

110. “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.”

111. “Women have no sympathy, and my experience of women is almost as large as Europe.”

112. “Poetry and imagination begin life.”

113. “A child will fall on its knees on the gravel, and walk at the sight of a pink hawthorn in full flower, when it is by itself, to praise God for it.”

114. “Women dream till they no longer have the strength to dream those dreams against which they so struggle, so honestly, vigorously, and conscientiously, and so in vain, yet which are their life, without which they could not have lived; those dreams go at last.”

115. “Perhaps, if prematurely we dismiss ourselves from this world, all may even have to suffer through again—the premature birth may not contribute to the production of another being, which must be begun again from the beginning.”

116. “Patriotism is not enough, there must be no hatred or bitterness for anyone.”

117. “What cruel are sometimes made by benevolent men and women in matters of business about which they can know nothing and think they know a great deal.”

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