Do you agree with the view that Mary Seacole, and not Florence Nightingale was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ during the Crimean War I agree totally with the view that Mary Seacole was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ although I can understand why there may be some evidence suggesting that Nightingale warranted the title. Sources 2C and 2O agree with the view that Nightingale was the ‘Angel of Mercy’ whereas Source V gives evidence that shows Seacole deserved to herald the title.
The weight of evidence clearly supports the view seen in Source V saying Seacole was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ due to the provenance that surrounds the other two sources which support Nightingale. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Mary Seacole really was the angel of Mercy. This is very clearly supported in Source V which describes her work in comparison to that of Florence Nightingale. Source V, which is an extract from a book called “The Victorians” written by A. N.
Wilson and published in 2002, states how Seacole was very ‘attentive’ and was always ‘on hand for the troops’ so therefore of course showing Seacole in a very good light. The source was produced to show the readers what the modern day revisionist view is in regards to who the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ was and also how the work Nightingale did was minimal and had no positive effect on the soldiers. The author has clearly been well informed and has a strong agenda in wanting to play down the role of Nightingale in the Crimea.
When comparing this to Source O, we can clearly see the difference between the Jingoistic and Traditionalist view of Nightingale being almost angelic and even like the Virgin Mary compared to the revisionist view where she is criticised hugely. Source O may have a very different perspective on Nightingale’s role during the Crimean War, however it is still valid as it shows the view point of British people of Nightingale being a hero during Victorian times.
Also, Source 2C is a traditionalist view and we now know that many of the things stated within it are false such as the statement that she ‘tended the dying’. Furthermore, Seacole has to be considered as the real Angel of Mercy due to the great efforts she made just to get out to the Crimea in which she had to pay money herself to get there. She was previously turned down a position as a nurse under Nightingale’s leadership, which it is thought, could be to do with the fact she was black.
Her heroism was proven further through her setting up the ‘British Hotel’ in Scutari that tended to the troops. As well as giving them provisions when they were in need. In addition, we can clearly see the bravery she possessed from the fact she would minister to the wounded and the dying on the actual battlefield. She was willing to risk her life to save others. Seacole gave an honest recollection within her diaries of the things she did out in the Crimea and gave a description of her everyday life out there, which clearly involved so much hard work.
The Times journalist at the time William Howard Russell, who himself was out in the Crimea, backs up the opinion that Mary Seacole was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’, stating how ‘she doctors and cures all manner of men with extraordinary success’ just going to show the extent of the positive impact she had on the troops during the Crimean War. Moreover, Dr Reid, a surgeon in the Army at the time, who states how he met ‘a celebrated person ‘who’ did not spare herself if she could do any good to the suffering soldiers, furthers Russell’s opinion.
This once again goes to show the nature of the person she was and the impact she had which is seen in Source O. Therefore, there is strong evidence to suggest that Mary Seacole, and not Florence Nightingale, was in fact the true ‘Angel of Mercy’ during the Crimean War. There is also substantial evidence to suggest that Florence Nightingale, and not Mary Seacole was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ during the Crimean War. To begin with, both Source 2C and Source 2O show a great deal of support towards the view that Nightingale was a hero and was the true ‘Angel of Mercy’.
Source 2C states how ‘Florence Nightingale battled as valiantly as any soldier in the field to improve conditions’ giving us an impression as to the extreme effort she put in to helping out the British troops. It states how she worked with ‘incredible energy’ once more showing the amount of work she put in. This can be compared to Source 20 which also portrays Nightingale as being angelic and tending to the men for their every need. We now know that she didn’t actually treat the men herself and instead supervised whilst other nurses did this work. Source 2C was written by Denis Judd and is an extract from the 1975 book “The Crimean War”.
Judd clearly had an agenda to portray Nightingale well and perhaps hadn’t got the benefit of receiving all the evidence necessary to produce a completely truthful representation. It does however give us a perspective into the opinions people held until about ten years ago. Furthermore, there is a huge amount of evidence to suggest that Nightingale was in fact ineffective and perhaps even had a negative effect on the soldiers in The Crimea. This can clearly be seen due to the death rate rising to 42 per 1000 during her time at the Scutari between November 1854 and March 1855.
This is clearly down no the filthy conditions that the hospital managed to get into whilst she was there with the floors being covered in muck and “crawling with vermin” which obviously led to many diseases such as gangrene and in particular cholera. Cholera was the disease that resulted in the most deaths. Before Nightingale arrived, we know that the conditions were much better and were described as ‘sufficiently comfortable’ and ‘clean and airy’, but this changed and rapidly declined following Nightingale’s arrival thus meaning she cannot be considered as being the ‘Angel of Mercy’.
This view is furthered from the fact that following the arrival of sanitary commission, the conditions changed for the better and the death rate went down to 2 per 1000. In addition Nightingale was very arrogant and jealous of anyone who competed with her and even accused Mary Stanley of ‘plotting to set up an opposition’, which never would have happened, had Nightingale not have turned down her help. This once again shows how she was not the hero that Victorian society thought she was as seen in Source 2C and Source 2O. Thus, there is some evidence to suggest that Florence Nightingale was the ‘Angel of Mercy’ and not Mary Seacole.
However that evidence is very weak in comparison to the evidence suggesting that Seacole warranted the title of ‘Angel of Mercy’. To conclude, Mary Seacole and not Florence Nightingale was the real ‘Angel of Mercy’ due to a number of reasons addressed. In Sources 2C and 2O, although they describe and show Nightingale being angelic and having a huge impact on the soldiers lives positively, they can’t be seen as true because they were written at a time where Nightingale was seen as a hero and people held a much more traditionalist view.
This differs to Source V which is a revisionist view and was written by an author who was well informed in comparison to the ill-informed Dennis Judd and the artist who painted Source O. Overall, it is very clear that the evidence for Mary Seacole being the true ‘Angel of Mercy’ far outweighs that of Florence Nightingale deserving the name so therefore in my opinion Mary Seacole was the true ‘Angel of Mercy’. David Hughes-D’Aeth