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Cholera in the Apennines 11/03/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1890

We are all feeling pretty sober here about the cholera, which we do not fear for ourselves (having been in the way of it twice before, and Mammina knows exactly what to do, and is better than a dozen doctors), but it is dreadful to hear of it creeping all about the country, and now it is within six miles of Bassano, which, may the Lord preserve. Marina had been ill herself, but when she heard that there were some cases at Bessica, where the family estate is, she immediately went there (though none of her own people were as yet attacked), and is now busy nursing and doctoring. She writes to me, ‘They have blind faith in my care’ (as well they may have!), ‘and I trust that by taking precautions in time the danger may soon be removed’. A pleasant contrast, this, to what Signor Bortolo Zanchetta writes us of the poor contadini of Bassano, who are dying because they will not take the medicines offered them, ‘for fear of being poisoned’! Only think what sort of padroni they must have had, to feel so!

My poor Marina is all alone in her charitable work, for Silvia and Peppino have been called to Cesena to assist an old uncle, very ill. I heard this morning that he had died; the last one left of Peppino’s immediate family. I fear it will be a heavy grief to him. There have been a few suspected cases in Florence, but nothing for the last three days, so I hope our city may be spared. But they have organised the society of the Croce Rossa, to be prepared for any emergency, and one of the first to join it was Angelina’s niece, Rosita, who sent in her name without telling her uncle and aunt what she was doing, for fear that they would refuse their consent. If the cholera comes, she will be spared neither labour nor danger, and it is something that goes to all our hearts to see this young, beautiful woman, only twenty-five, and the mother of two little children, thus taking her life in her hand for people who do not belong to her. When Angelina spoke to her of the danger, she said; ‘I am not afraid; it is as much my business as anyone’s, and people should not be deserted because they are sick and poor: if I die you will take care of the children; or if you do not, my father and mother will’. And she said to me, when I spoke to her apart, ‘When we have a call everything is easy!’, raising her eyes to heaven as she spoke, with a look as though she heard the ‘call’ pretty plainly. As I wrote you once before, there is just this much comfort about the terrible visitations which, for some years past, have come so often to this poor country, that they do bring out so much of the best side of human nature!