EASTERN HOSPITALS AND ENGLISH NURSES. * THE author of these volumes
is one of the ladies who, carrying their lives in their hands and making up their minds to bear with all offences, accompanied or followed Miss Nightingale to the East. The work contains some introductory matter, a brief ac- count of the voyage out and home with a few sketches of Con- stantinople and its neighbourhood. Its interest centres in the descriptions of the writer's experience and observations at the hospitals of Scutari and Koulali from January to November 1855, as well as in the incidental information she furnishes as to the condition.of these particular hospitals and the management of hospitals generally. "A Lady Volunteer" does not appear to have seen the hos- pitals at the very worst, nor does she furnish facts or opinions as to the causes of the great evils which at one time undoubtedly ex- isted. By contrasting the management of the Purveyor's depart- meat before and after the arrival of Mr. Robertson as chief, she leads it to be inferred that some of the mischief arose from want of activity, and a half-timid half-indifferent adherence to routine. She also seems to think that there was a stiffness as to forms and regulations on the part of some medical chiefs : and we dare say that all these causes were actively at work, with some deficiency, not perhaps in average ability, but in that power both mental and moral which sees how to deal with new difficulties, and will take the responsibility of so dealing. It must in fairness be ob- served, that about the time when the great favourable change in the hospitals took place, there was a great change in circumstances. The season was advancing, the patients were fewer in number, the cases less severe, the medical staff more numerous, and the country had forced the old ideas of economy to be disregarded. One great cause of the early state of the hospitals appears to have been the wholly unexpected number of patients that were forced upon them : and when twice or thrice the number provided for drop in even at a pleasure-party, inconvenience and discomfort follow. A good deal of what shocked and rightfully shocked visitors arose from a difference of mind. A civilian, fresh from the comforts of a luxurious home, would be startled at a state of things which was normal in war and to some extent in the homes of the poor. Had a medical officer of any service been kept from the sight of English newspapers for six months, and suddenly put down in the hospitals at Scutari, he would have opened his eyes, we fancy, at the luxury and profusion around him. The alleged superiority of the French hospital, which our author visited towards the close of her service, appears not to have impressed her so much as it did some people. "We had long been anxious to visit this hospital, having heard much of it from our very first arrival in the East. During the tune of distress in our own hospitals it had been spoken of in high terms as possessing all we then so much needed. This was probably the case ; but many months had passed, and now certainly we had outstripped our allies in the appearance of our hospital. However, it must be considered that during the summer, while our hospitals were empty, theirs had been crowded. The wards for both officers and men were inferior in cleanliness and general appearance of comfort to those at Koulali and Scutari; but of the management and routine of the French hospital we had, of course, no means of judging."
The great interest of the book lies less in its indications of mi- litary hospital management or mismanagement than in its sketches of individual characters and of the character of the soldiers in ge- neral. The patience under privation or severe sufferings, the gra- titude for slight attentions, the almost childish readiness to be amused by trifles and the manly feeling shrouded in homely Ian- , are continually turning up. Such traits are common, but particular persons have their own superadded. There appears dry humour, a somewhat inflated dignity, respectful forwardness, zealous timidity, and in some of the orderlies a habit of yielding to the bottle struggling with a love of approbation or a revived- or newborn sense of religion. Home feelings and the memory .of early scenes seemed to be the most universal : they form the choice if not the stimulus of pupils at a singing-school ; they well up in times of delirium ; they press upon the minds of the dying, and gather round the beds of the sick. "Sad it was to hear the tales they would tell, such mere boys as some of them were,—how they had enlisted in a moment of folly, and bitterly regret. ted it ; or to listen to their long accounts of friends at honie,—how they would describe every little incident relating to them as-if it were engraven on their hearts.
"Very often we wrote letters home for them from their dictation : we sat on their beds to do it, for there were no other seats of any kind. It often struck us the eagerness with which they accepted our offer to write a letter for any of them : they hardly ever asked us to do so; they seemed to be so resigned to everything, that it was quite a surprise to them to be able to have a sheet of paper and an envelope placed at their disposal, still more a friend's hand to write for them. And then they were so full of solicitude-.- 'Were we not too tired to do it ? or was it not uncomfortable sitting on that there bed ? ' "
This account of the arrival of penny sheets of paper with little prints at the top shows how easily the patients were pleased.
"One day a box for me arrived from England ; upon opening which, I found the contents to be writing-paper with views of the war—that pub- lished by Messrs. Rock, Brothers' Walbrook. A kind friend had sent me a large quantity, and Messrs. Rock themselves added a present of more. Its arrival created a great sensation in the hospital. The ladies and Sisters begged hard for a share. They could not all have it. I gave some to the General Hospital and the rest to the Barrack. It was a great pleasure to dis- • Eastern Hospitals and English Nurses: the Narratire of Tkelre Months' Ex- perience in the Hospitals of Koulali and Scutari. Ey a Lady Volunteer. In two volumes. Published by Hurst and Blacken. tribute them. I spread one of each different view out on the table and begged the soldiers to make their selection. Everybody who could walk at all crowded round the table. Orderlies and sergeants left their work to have a look, and even the medical officer was attracted by the crowd and came to look and admire. The different views were carried round to the patients in bed. The business of choosing took a long time. Each wanted some scene in which he had formed a part. Some had been with Colonel Chester when he so gallantly led on the Twentieth ; those who had been in the battle of the Alma wished for that ; those who had been at BalaklaVa another ; those again who had fought at Inkerman another. Some had seen General Strangways die, and wanted his last scene : others were less warlike, and chose the pretty views of the valley of the Alma before and after the battle ; while the comic pictures were not without their share of admirers. • "One sergeant was particularly struck by the Fresh Arrivals '—two young officers fresh from England., in all the pride of new uniforms and polished boots, meeting an old campaigner on a mule who had been out foraging for the mess-table and was bringing home his purchases. The sergeant held this up for the admiration of his comrades, and there was a shout of laughter instantly raised. "I much wish my friend and Messrs. Rock also could have seen the ex- treme pleasure these gifts were the means of giving—the delight it gave the soldiers to write home on these sheets of paper, or how they were treasured up and compared with each other day after day; and many a tale did the pictures elicit as they brought back more vividly to mind past scenes of Alma and Inkerman, &c."
There are some curious medical instances in the volumes, es- pecially the effect of hardships in giving an aged look—youths of twenty having the appearance of nearly fifty when they came from the Crimea. There are many curious and touching notices, bits of humble biography. Of the character of the soldiers the writer speaks very .highly. Nearly all seem to have exhibited an innate delicacy and even gentlemanliness of feeling, which contrast strikingly with their humble condition and the grammatical inac- curacies of their speech.
"This emergency passed away, and our life wax a regular routine of work and rest (except on occasions of extraordinary pressure) following each other in order ; but whether in the strain of overwork or the steady fulfilment of our arduous duty, there was one bright ray ever shed over it, one thing that made labour light and sweet,—and this was the respect, affection, and gratitude of the men. No words can tell it rightly, for it was unbounded, and as long as we staid among them it never changed. Familiar as our presence became to them, though we were in and out of the wards day and night, they never forgot the respect due to our sex and ,position. Standing by those in bitter agony, when the force of old habits is great, or by those in the glow of returning health, or walking up the wards among orderlies and sergeants, never did a word which could offend a woman's ear fall upon ours.. Even in the barrack-yard, passing by the guard-room or entrances, where stood groups of soldiers smoking and idling, the moment we ap- proached all coarseness was hushed ; and this lasted, not a week or a month, but the whole of my twelvemonth's residence ; and my experience is also that of all my companions. "With some brit exceptions, the manner in which the war has been conducted is a source of humiliation to England ; but yet she has something left to boast of in her noble sons—brave before their enemies, gentle to their countrywomen—yes, many a time have our hearts bounded with joyful pride in our countrymen. Many instances of their nobility of character might be given,. we select the most remarkable as we pass through each ward. "In No. 3 lower was M—; he was the only one seriously ill in the ward, so that a lady sat up one night for his sake only : this he knew, and he was quite distressed about it, and did nothing but cry, for he was very weak. Really, M—,' said she, it is useless for me to sit up if you are going to make yourself ill about it in this foolish way. I am quite strong enough to sit up till the morning, when I shall go to bed ; but it is mere waste of time to come if you are going to cry in this way all Right." I can't abeer it,' said he, to see you running about and tiring yourself for me.' At length she succeeded in quieting him ; and when the morning came, .finding him better, she left him. Shortly after the lady .of the ward came in to her daily work, when he eagerly inquired after his night-nurse - and though he was assured of her perfect health and wellbeing, again did his tears begin to flow at the remembrance of what he had taken into his head to fancy was such very hard work. lie was an orphan, and on his return to England had no home but the workhouse ; his constitution being shat- tered, we fear, for ever. Perhaps it was his lonely lot in this world that made him cling to us, and seem so astonished at any one caring for his com- fort. It was the look of surprise on his face when he first came down from the Crimea, at the least little act of kindness, that affected one more than anything : he had evidently not been much accustomed to receive it through life : but he always said, with a smile on his face, that it was All right— God knew best.'
"In this ward was Walter, a little drummer-boy about twelve : he was a pretty child, with a remarkably clear sweet voice, and had been admitted into the singing-class ; he was very much spoiled by the soldiers, and had grown saucy and conceited. Ile caught fever, and came into No. 3 lower. When he was getting better, he said to the lady, I have been a very naughty boy before I was ill, but I mean to change now. I promised father, when I came away, that I would read the Bible every day and say my prayers : and I have kept my promise in a sort of way,. for I always did it ; but then I chose out the very shortest chapters, and stud my prayers as fast as I could, just to get over it somehow : but I shan't do that again if I get well.'
"Afterwards he used to bring the lady beautiful flowers, as a childish mark of affection and gratitude for her having nursed him."
The Reverend Mr. Osborne, in his book on Scutari, raised the question of lady nurses as a permanent military institution, and rather leaned against the idea. Probably he was right; and, it should never be forgotten in speaking of the late war in the East, that it was altogether exceptional and peculiar. An army re- maining for upwards of a year in one fixed position like that be- fore Sebastopol, with a perfect command of the sea, and a per- fectly safe depot for its sick and wounded as at Scutari, is quite a different thing from an army engaged in an active campaign and led, hundreds of miles from its base. If a staff of may nurses were to undertake the work of nursing, Mr. Osborne's doubts, we suspect, are well-founded. From the book before us we should say, that the directing power of ladies introduces order and clean- liness, while their mere presence exercises a moral influence, which it would be vain to expect from any other source. The paid nurses that went out with the ladies mostly turned out badly, and had to be Sent home, for idleness, insubordination, drunk.- enness, or other misconduct. It is not only in military hospitals that some humanizing and lofty influence is needed.. In our home hospitals, orderly as they look to the eye, evil is at work, though our own correspondent" does not write about it. This is from the closing remarks of the writer. "Many who will read these pages have perhaps never passed within hospital walls ; many more, if they have done so, have paid their visit at appointed times, when all looked ita best. But others as well as myself have learnt our experience of hospital work from more authentic sources. We have lived in hospital wards, going there for the purpose of preparing our- selves—first, to undertake the nursing of the poor at home, and again when about to proceed to the East. "We placed ourselves under the hospital nurses, receiving our instruc- tion from them ; and thus, being possessed of no authority over them were admitted behind the scenes of -hospital life : and what we saw there of disobedience to medical orders and cruelty to patients, would fill pages, and make those who read them shudder ; shudder as we often have done, when we saw sonic little innocent child, who from some terrible accident had been brought into the hospital, exposed to that atmosphere of evil. More evil was heard in one hour in a London hospital than would meet one's ears dur- ing months passed in a, military one."