The name of Florence Nightingale lives in the memory of the  world by virtue of the heroic adventure of the Crimea. Had she  died – as she nearly did – upon her return to England, her  reputation would hardly have been different; her legend would  have come down to us almost as we know it today – that gentle  vision of female virtue which first took shape before the adoring  eyes of the sick soldiers at Scutari. Yet, as a matter of fact, she  lived for more than half a century after the Crimean War; and  during the greater part of that long period all the energy and all the  devotion of her extraordinary nature were working at their highest pitch. What she accomplished in those years of unknown labor could, indeed, hardly have been more glorious than her Crimean triumphs; but it was certainly more important. The true history was far stranger even than the myth. In Miss Nightingale’s own eyes the adventure of the Crimea was a mere incident – scarcely more than a useful stepping-stone in her career. It was the fulcrum with which she hoped to move the world; but it was only the fulcrum. For more than a generation she was to sit in secret, working her lever: and her real life began at the very moment when, in popular imagination, it had ended.

She arrived in England in a shattered state of health. The hardships and the ceaseless efforts of the last two years had undermined her nervous system; her heart was affected; she suffered constantly from fainting-fits and terrible attacks of utter physical prostration. The doctors declared that one thing alone would save her – a complete and prolonged rest. But that was also the one thing with which she would have nothing to do. She had never been in the habit of resting; why should she begin now? Now, when her opportunity had come at last; now, when the iron was hot, and it was time to strike? No; she had work to do; and, come what might, she would do it. The doctors protested in vain; in vain her family lamented and entreated, in vain her friends pointed out to her the madness of such a course. Madness? Mad – possessed – perhaps she was. A frenzy had seized upon her. As she lay upon her sofa, gasping, she devoured blue-books, dictated letters, and, in the intervals of her palpitations, cracked jokes. For months at a stretch she never left her bed. But she would not rest. At this rate, the doctors assured her, even if she did not die, she would become an invalid for life. She could not help that; there was work to be done; and, as for rest, very likely she might rest … when she had done it.

Wherever she went, to London or in the country, in the hills of Derbyshire, or among the rhododendrons at Embley, she was haunted by a ghost. It was the specter of Scutari – the hideous vision of the organization of a military hospital. She would lay that phantom, or she would perish. The whole system of the Army Medical Department, the education of the Medical Officer, the regulations of hospital procedure … rest? How could she rest while these things were as they were, while, if the like necessity were to arise again, the like results would follow? And, even in peace and at home, what was the sanitary condition of the Army? The mortality in the barracks, was, she found, nearly double the mortality in civil life. ‘You might as well take 1, 100 men every year out upon Salisbury Plain and shoot them,’ she said. After inspecting the hospitals at Chatham, she smiled grimly. ‘Yes, this is one more symptom of the system which, in the Crimea, put to death 16,000 men.’ Scutari had given her knowledge; and it had given her power too: her enormous reputation was at her back – an incalculable force. Other work, other duties, might lie before her; but the most urgent, the most obvious, of all was to look to the health of the Army.



  1. According to the author, the work done during the last fifty years of Florence Nightingale’s life was, when compared with her work in the Crimea, all of the following except
  • Less dramatic
  • Less demanding
  • Less well-known to the public
  • More important
  • More rewarding to the Ms Nightingale herself
  1. The ‘fulcrum’ refers to her
  • Reputation
  • Mental energy
  • Physical energy
  • Overseas contacts
  • Commitment to a cause


  1. Paragraph two paints a picture of a woman who is
  • An incapacitated invalid
  • Mentally shattered
  • Stubborn and querulous
  • Physically weak but mentally indomitable
  • Purposeful yet tiresome


  1. The primary purpose of paragraph 3 is to
  • account for conditions in the army
  • show the need for hospital reform
  • explain Miss Nightingale’s main concerns
  • argue that peacetime conditions were worse than wartime conditions
  • delineate Miss Nightingale’s plan for reform


  1. The series of questions in paragraphs 2 and 3 are
  • the author’s attempt to show the thoughts running through Miss Nightingale’s mind
  • Miss Nightingale questioning her own conscience
  • Miss Nightingale’s response to an actual questioner
  • Responses to the doctors who advised rest
  • The author’s device to highlight the reactions to Miss Nightingale’s plans


Analysis and answers

Question 1.

Correct Answer:B : Less demanding

Except’ questions need careful checking. Here you are looking for something thatcannot be said of Florence Nightingale’s work in the last fifty years of her life. If you re-read from line 11 “What she accomplished in those years of unknown labor could, indeed, hardly have been more glorious than her Crimean triumphs; but it was certainly more important…” you will find evidence that her work was ‘important’, ‘less well-known’, ‘less dramatic’, and also ‘rewarding’ to her. But you will not find evidence that it was ‘less demanding’, in fact it was arduous, and put a strain on her health. Therefore we choose answer B.

Question 2.

Correct Answer:A: Reputation

Re-read second half of the first paragraph. You will see that the ‘fulcrum’ was the ‘stepping stone’ she was to use to advance her aims. This stepping-stone was the reputation she had earned in the Crimea. Hence, answer A.

Question 3.

Correct Answer:D: Physically weak but mentally indomitable

Paragraph two reveals the poor state of health of Ms. Nightingale. (Her heart was affected; she suffered attacks of utter physical prostration etc.). But it also shows that she never gave up and could not be put off her work.(She would not rest; there was work to be done and she would do it etc.). Hence she was physically weak but mentally indomitable. Answer D.

Question 4.

Correct Answer:C : explain Miss Nightingale’s main concerns

The primary purpose of paragraph 3 is to explain what Ms. Nightingale wanted to do and why. Answer C. Note that answer D is too general – it refers to peacetime and wartime conditions but does not state that it is for the army, and so is unacceptable. Answer B is also too general – we are not concerned with hospitals in general, only the army.

Question 5.

Correct Answer:A : the author’s attempt to show the thoughts running through Miss Nightingale’s mind

The questions are a rhetorical device used by the author to try to give us a flavor of the thoughts that preoccupied Ms. Nightingale. Answer A. (If you re-read, you will see that they cannot be actual questions or responses.)