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CHAPTER I - Part 1

[9]

CHAPTER I

Looking back over my early childhood, I experience a feeling of great dislike of it all. That is of course a bad note upon which to begin the story of one's life. It is what metaphysicians call a negative statement. But the statement is true. I do not like much that I remember about my childhood though many of my possible readers might think it all quite wonderful in comparison with the early years of countless thousands. Many people say that childhood is the happiest time of a person's life. I do not for one minute believe it. They were for me the years of greatest physical comfort and of luxury; they were years of freedom from all material anxiety but they were, at the same time, years of miserable questioning, of disillusionment, of unhappy discovery and of loneliness.

Yet as I write this, I am conscious of the fact that the miseries of childhood (and perhaps this is true of all life as a whole) loom unduly large and appear more terrific than they were in reality. There is a curious trait in human nature which loves to record and emphasise the unhappy moments and the tragedies but overlooks the moments of gaiety and joy and of uneventual peace and happiness. Our hours of stress and strain appear to affect our consciousness (that curious recording agent of all events) far more than do the untold hours of ordinary living. If we could but realise it, those placid, uneventful hours always, in the last analysis, predominate. They are the hours, days, weeks and months in which character forms, stabilises and becomes available for use in the crises—real, objective, and often momentous—with which we are at intervals down the years confronted. Then what we developed as character either stands the test [10] and indicates a way out, or fails and we go down, temporarily at least. It is in this fashion that we are forced to go on learning. As I look back over my childhood, it is not the countless hours of uneventful happiness, the moments of peaceful rhythm and the weeks in which nothing disturbing ever occurred which persist in my memory, but moments of crisis and the hours when I was utterly miserable and the times when life seemed ended and nothing worthwhile lay ahead.

I can recollect my eldest daughter reaching such a moment when she was in her early twenties. She felt that there was nothing to live for, and that life was a monotonous waste. Why was life so stupid? Why did she have to take it? Not knowing what to say, I fell back on my own experience and remember so well saying to her, "Well, darling, one thing I can tell you. You never know what lies just around the corner." I never found that religion, or commonsense platitudes—as usually dished out—help in a time of crisis. What lay for her around the corner was the man she married, to whom she became engaged within a week and with whom she has been happy ever since.

One needs to cultivate the awareness of the things of joy and happiness and not only register the things of sorrow and difficulty. The good, as well as the bad, are a total which matters and which warrants remembrance. The first enables us to retain our belief in the love of God. The second brings discipline and feeds our aspiration. The rapturous moments when a sunset arrests our amazed attention, or the silence, deep and unbroken, of the moors and country envelop one's spirit—those are points of remembrance; a skyline or a riot of color in a garden engrossing us to the exclusion of all else; friend calling to friend and a resulting hour of communion and of satisfying contact; some beauty of the human soul emerging triumphant in the face of difficulty [11] —these are the things which must not pass unrecognised. They constitute the great conditioning factors of life. They indicate the divine. Why is it that they are so often forgotten and the disagreeable, sad or terrible things remain fixtures in one's mind? I do not know. Apparently on this peculiar planet of ours, suffering is registered more acutely than happiness and seems more enduring in effect. Perhaps, also, we are afraid of happiness and push it away from us under the influence of man's great outstanding characteristic—FEAR.

In esoteric circles, there is much learned talk about the Law of Karma which is, after all, only the Eastern name for the great Law of Cause and Effect; the emphasis is ever upon evil karma and how to avoid it. Yet I would guarantee that, taking it by and large, there is far more general good karma than evil; I say this in spite of the world war, the unutterable horror by which we have been and are still surrounded and in spite of a real knowledge of the things with which all social workers constantly have to deal. The evil and the misery will pass but happiness will remain; above everything else will come the realisation that what we have so badly built must disappear and that ours is now the opportunity to build a new and better world. This is true because God is good, life and experience are good, and the will-to-good is eternally present. Always we are proffered the opportunity to right the wrongs which we have wrought and to put straight the crooked places for which we are responsible.

The details of my unhappiness are so remote that I cannot be specific and I do not intend to inflict upon you what I do remember. Many of the causes lay within myself, of that I am sure. From the worldly angle, I had no reason to be miserable and my family and friends would have been greatly surprised had they known my reactions. Have you [12] not many times in life wondered what goes on in the mind of a child? Children do have definite ideas on life and circumstances, and they do belong to themselves in a way with which no one can interfere but which is seldom recognised. I cannot remember the time when I was not thinking, and puzzling and asking questions and rebelling and hoping. Yet I was 35 years old before I really discovered that I had a mind and that it was something which I could use. Up to that time, I had been a bundle of emotions and feelings; my mind—what there was of it—had used me and not been used by me. At any rate, I was thoroughly unhappy until I broke away to live my own life around the age of 22. During those early years I was surrounded by beauty; my life was full of variety and I met many interesting people. I never knew what it was to want anything. I was brought up in the usual luxury of my day and class; I was watched over with the greatest care—but within myself I hated it all.

I was born on June 16th, 1880, in the city of Manchester, England, where my father was engaged on an engineering project connected with his father's firm—one of the most important in Great Britain. I was, therefore, born under the sign of Gemini. This always means a conflict between the opposites—poverty and riches, the heights of happiness and the depths of sorrow, the pull between the soul and personality or between the higher self and the lower nature. The United States and London are ruled by Gemini and therefore it is in that country and Great Britain that the great conflict between capital and labour will be solved; two groups which involve the interests of the very rich and the very poor.

Until 1908 I wanted for nothing; I never thought about money; I did and went as I chose. But from that time on I knew the depths of poverty. I lived once for three weeks on tea (without milk or sugar) and dry bread so that my three [13] children could have what was essential to eat. As a girl, I visited for weeks at a time in many great houses; yet I have worked as a factory hand to support the children. It was a sardine cannery and I still do not care to look a sardine in the eye. My friends (and I use the word in its true sense) have ranged all the way from the very lowest type of person on through all classes to include such people as the Grand Duke Alexander, the brother-in-law of the late Czar of Russia. I have never lived for any length of time in one place, for the Gemini person is always on the move. My small grandson (who is also a true Gemini) crossed the Atlantic twice and was through the Panama Canal on two occasions before he was four years old. From another angle, if I did not watch myself with the greatest care, I would always be either in the heights of happiness and exhilaration or overcome with despair and in the depths of depression. As the result of much experience I have learnt to repudiate both extremes and endeavour to live on a tableland. I have not altogether succeeded.

My major life conflict has been the battle between my soul and my personality and that still goes on. As I write this I am reminded of a meeting of a certain "Group Movement" to which I was inveigled in 1935 at Geneva, Switzerland. A smug, hard-faced, smiling "professional" Grouper was present as leader and there were a lot of people eager to testify to their wickedness and to the saving power of Christ, giving the impression that God was personally interested as to whether (as one of them testified) she apologised to her cook for rudeness. To me, good manners and not God should have been sufficient incentive. Anyway, a charming woman got up—elderly, smart and twinkling with humor. "I am sure you have a wonderful testimony to make," said the leader. "No," replied the lady, "no, the battle is still on between Christ and me and it's quite debatable who [14] will come out on top." That battle is always on and, in the case of a Gemini who is awake and serving, it becomes a very vital matter and also a rather private one.

Gemini people are also supposed to be chameleonlike in nature and changeable in quality and often double-faced. I am none of these, at least, in spite of many faults and it is possible that my rising sign saves me. Leading astrologers, to my amusement, assign different signs as my rising sign—Virgo, because I love children and cooking, and "mothering" an organisation; Leo, because I am very individual (by which they mean difficult and dominant) and also very self-conscious; and Pisces, because that sign is the sign of the mediator or the intermediary. I am inclined myself to Pisces, because I have a Pisces husband, because my very dear eldest daughter was also born in that sign and we always understood each other so well that we frequently used to quarrel. Also, I have definitely acted as an intermediary in the sense that certain teaching which the Hierarchy of Masters wanted to get out to the world during this century is contained in the books for which I have been responsible. Anyway, no matter what my rising sign, I am a true Gemini subject and that sign has apparently conditioned my life and circumstances.

My childhood general and rather inchoate unhappiness was founded on several things. I was the plainest of an exceedingly good looking family and I am not plain. I was always regarded as rather stupid when in the schoolroom and as the least intelligent of an intelligent family.

My sister was one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen and her brains are superlative. I have always been devoted to her though she has no use for me, being a most orthodox Christian and regarding anyone who has had the misfortune to get a divorce as quite without the pale. She is a doctor and was one of the first women in the long, long [15] history of Edinburgh University to win distinction and—if I remember correctly—she did this twice. She was quite young when she published three books of poetry and I have read reviews of these books in The London Times Literary Supplement, hailing her as England's greatest living poetess. A book she wrote on Biology and another on Tropical Diseases were, I believe, regarded as standard text books.

She married my first cousin, Laurence Parsons, who is a prominent ecclesiastic of the Church of England and was at one time Dean of Cape Colony. His mother was the guardian, appointed by the Courts of Chancery, to take care of my sister and myself. She was my father's youngest sister, and Laurence was one of her six boys with whom we spent much time as children. Her husband, my Uncle Clare, a somewhat hard and stern man, was the brother of Lord Rosse and son of the Lord Rosse of telescope fame, mentioned in The Secret Doctrine. As a child I was terrified of him, yet before he died, he showed me another side of his nature and one which is not well known. His exceeding kindness to me during the first world war when I was stranded in great poverty in America, I shall never forget. He wrote me helpful and understanding letters and made me feel that there were those in Great Britain who had not forgotten me. I want to mention this here, because I do not believe that his family or his daughter-in-law, my sister, had the faintest idea of the friendly and happy relationship which existed between me and my uncle towards the end of his life. He never spoke of it, I am sure, and I have not done so until now.

My sister later took up cancer research and has made herself a brilliant name in the field of this most needed work. I am very proud of her. I have never altered in my affection for her and should she ever read this autobiography, I want her to know this. Fortunately, I believe in [16] the great Law of Rebirth and she and I will some day work out, more satisfactorily, our definite relationship.

I suppose one of the greatest drawbacks in the life of any child is having no real home. The lack of it most certainly conditioned my sister and me. Both my parents died before I was nine years old and both died of tuberculosis (consumption, as it was called in those days). The fear of tuberculosis lay like an imminent threat over both of us in our early years and also our father's resentment over our existence, particularly, for some reason, over mine. He probably felt my mother would be alive if having two children had not drained her physical resources.

My father was Frederic Foster La Trobe-Bateman and my mother was Alice Hollinshead. Both were of very old stock—my father's family dating back for centuries, even antedating the Crusades, and my mother's forebears being descended from HoIlinshead, "the Chronicler," from whom it is claimed that Shakespeare got so many of his stories. Family trees and pedigrees have never seemed to me to be of very real importance. Everybody has them; only some families have kept records. As far as I know none of my ancestors did anything particularly interesting. They were worthy but apparently dull. As my sister once put it, "they sat among their cabbages for centuries." It was good, clean and cultured stock but none of the people attained any famous or infamous notoriety.

The family crest is, however, a very interesting one and, from the angle of esoteric symbolism, extraordinarily significant. I know nothing of heraldry or the correct terms in which to describe it. It consists of a rod with a wing at each end and between the wings are to be seen the five-pointed star and the crescent moon. The latter harks back, of course, to the Crusades in which some of my forebears must have apparently participated but I like to think of the whole [17] symbol as typifying the wings of aspiration, the Rod of Initiation and as portraying the goal and the means, the objective of evolution and the incentive which drives us all on towards perfection—a perfection which eventually receives the accolade of recognition by means of the Rod. In the language of symbolism the five-pointed star has always signified perfected man and the crescent moon is supposed to rule the lower or form nature. This is the a.b.c. of occult symbolism but it interests me to find it all brought together in our family crest.

My grandfather was John Frederic La Trobe-Bateman. He was a very well known engineer, consultant to the British Government and responsible in his day for several of the municipal water systems of Great Britain. He had a large family. His eldest daughter, my aunt Dora, married Brian Barttelot, brother of Sir Walter Barttelot of Stopham Park, Pulborough, Sussex, and as she was appointed our guardian on the death of our grandparents we saw much of her and her four children. Two of these cousins remained my close friends all through my life. They were both considerably older than I but we liked and understood each other. Brian (Admiral Sir Brian Barttelot) only passed over two years ago and it has meant a real loss to me and my husband, Foster Bailey. We were three close friends and his constant letters are greatly missed by us.

Another aunt, Margaret Maxwell, has perhaps meant more to me than any other relative in the world, and I have many. She was never my guardian but my sister and I spent every summer with her in her Scotch home for years and, until she died (well over 80 years old) she wrote to me regularly at least once a month. She was one of the great beauties of her period and the portrait of her which hangs today in Cardoness Castle, Kirkcudbrightshire, is of one of the loveliest women one can imagine. She married the "Younger [18] of Cardoness" (as the heir is sometimes called in Scotland), the eldest son of Sir William Maxwell, but her husband, my Uncle David, died before his father and, therefore, never inherited the title. To her I owe more than I can ever repay. She oriented me spiritually and though her theology was very narrow, yet she herself was very broad. She gave me certain keynotes for spiritual living which have never failed me and to the end, she herself never failed me. When I became interested in esoteric matters and gave up being an orthodox, theologically minded Christian, she wrote me that she could not understand but she certainly could trust me because she knew that I had a deep love for Christ and that no matter what doctrine I might renounce she knew I would never renounce Him. That was the exact truth. She was beautiful, lovely and good. Her influence was widespread throughout the British Isles. She had her own specially built and endowed cottage hospital; she supported missionaries in heathen countries and was president of the Y. W. C. A. in Scotland. If I have been of any service to my fellowmen and if I have done anything to bring people into some measure of spiritual realisation, it is largely because she loved me enough to start me right. She was one of the few people who cared for me more than they cared for my sister. There was a link between us which remains unbroken and will forever remain unbroken.

I have already mentioned my father's youngest sister, Agnes Parsons. There were two others; Gertrude, who married a Mr. Gurney Leatham, and my father's youngest brother, Lee La Trobe-Bateman, who is the only one now remaining alive. My grandmother was Anne Fairbairn, daughter of Sir William Fairbairn and niece of Sir Peter Fairbairn. My great-grandfather, Sir William, was, I believe, a partner of Watts (of steam engine fame) and one of the first railroad builders in the Victorian era. Through [19] my grandfather's mother (whose maiden name was La Trobe), I come from French Huguenot stock and the La Trobes of Baltimore are, therefore, related to me, though I have never looked them up. Charles La Trobe, my great-great-uncle, was among the first governors of Australia and another La Trobe was the first governor of Maryland. Edward La Trobe, still another brother, was an architect and was well known in Washington and Great Britain.

The Fairbairns did not belong to the so-called aristocracy of birth which is so much prized. Perhaps this was the salvation of the Bateman—Hollinshead—La Trobe stock. They belonged to the aristocracy of brains and that is of greater importance in these democratic days. Both William and Peter Fairbairn started life as the sons of a poor Scotch farmer in the 18th century. Both ended up as rich men and both gained titles. You will find Sir William Fairbairn's name in Webster's Dictionary and Sir Peter's memory is perpetuated in a statue in a square in Leeds, England. I remember a few years ago arriving in Leeds to lecture. As the taxi drove through a square there I noticed what I thought was a statue of a plain old man with a beard. The next day my husband went to look at it and I discovered I had been criticising my great-uncle! Great Britain was democratic even in those far off days and people had their chance to rise if they had that in them which warranted it. Perhaps the admixture of plebeian blood is responsible for the fact that my cousins and their children have been, many of them, notable men or good looking women.

My father did not care for me and when I see the picture of myself when small, I can scarcely wonder—skinny, scared and startled looking. I have no recollection of my mother for she died at the age of 29, when I was only six years old. I do remember her beautiful golden hair and her gentleness, but that is all. I also remember her funeral at [20] Torquay, Devonshire, because my major reaction to that event was summed up in my words to my cousin, Mary Barttelot, "See, long black stockings and 'spenders'"—the first I had ever had. I had been promoted from the sock stage. Clothes always matter, apparently, no matter what the age or the circumstance! I used to own a very large miniature case in silver which my father was in the habit of carrying everywhere with him and in it was the only portrait I ever had of my mother. In 1928, after carting it all over the world with me, it was stolen one summer when I was away from our house at Stamford, Conn., where we then lived, and with it went my Bible and a broken rocking-chair. It was the most curious choice of things to steal of which I have ever heard.

The Bible was the greatest personal loss. It was a unique Bible and had been my cherished possession for twenty years. It had been given me by a close, girlhood friend, Catherine Rowan-Hamilton, and was printed on thin writing paper with broad margins for notes. The margins were nearly two inches wide and on them you would have found recorded in microscopic writing (done with an etching pen) my spiritual history. It had in it tiny photographs of close friends and autographs of my spiritual companions on the Way. I wish I had it now for it would tell me much, remind me of people and episodes and help me to trace my spiritual unfoldment—the unfoldment of a worker.

When I was a few months old I was taken to Montreal, Canada, where my father was one of the engineers engaged in building the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. There my only sister was born. I have only two vital memories of that time. One was managing to get into serious trouble with my parents because I enticed my small sister into an enormous trunk in which our many, many toys were kept. We were lost for quite a while and nearly suffocated, [21] for the lid shut down on us. The second was that I made my first attempt to commit suicide! I just did not find life worth living. The experience of my five years made me feel that things were futile so I decided that if I bumped down the stone kitchen steps from top to bottom (and they were very steep) I would probably be dead at the end. I did not succeed. Bridget, the cook, picked me up and carried me (battered and bruised) upstairs where I met much comforting—but no understanding.

As I went on in life, I made two other efforts to put an end to things, only to discover it is a very difficult thing to commit suicide. All of these attempts were made before I was fifteen. I tried to smother myself with sand when I was around eleven years old, but sand in one's mouth, nose and eyes is not comfortable and I decided to postpone the happy day. The last time, I tried to drown myself in a river in Scotland. But again the instinct to self-preservation was too strong. Since then I have not been very interested in suicide, though I have always understood the impulse.

This constantly recurring misery was perhaps the first indication of the mystical trend in my life which later motivated all my thinking and activities. Mystics are people with a tremendous sense of dualism. They are ever seekers, aware of something which must be sought; they are always lovers, searching for something worthy of their love; they are ever conscious of that with which they must seek unity. They are governed by the heart and by feeling. At that time I did not like the "feel" of life. I did not appreciate what the world seemed to be or had to offer. I was convinced that better things lay elsewhere. I was morbid, full of self-pity, through loneliness, exceedingly introspective (which sounds better than self-centred) and convinced that no one liked me. Looking back, why on earth should they? I cannot blame them. I gave them nothing of myself. I was preoccupied [22] all the time with my reaction to people and circumstances. I was the unhappy, self-dramatised centre of my little world. This sense of better things somewhere and a capacity to "feel" into people and circumstances and to know often what they were thinking or experiencing was the beginning of the mystical phase of my life and out of it emerged much good that I later found.

Thus I began consciously the age old search for the world of meaning which must be found, if any answer to the perplexities of life and the sorrows of humanity is to be discovered. Progress is rooted in the mystical consciousness. A good occultist must be, first of all, a practicing mystic (or do I mean a practical mystic—perhaps both) and the development of the heart response and the power to feel (and to feel accurately) should naturally and normally precede the mental approach and the power to know. Surely spiritual instinct must precede spiritual knowledge, just as the instincts of the animal, the child and of the undeveloped person always precede intellectual perception. Surely vision must come before the mode to make the vision a reality is mastered. Surely questioning and a blind feeling after God must antedate the conscious treading of "The Way," which leads to revelation.

Perhaps the time will come when our adolescent boys and girls will receive some attention along the lines of capitalising on their normal, mystical tendencies. These tendencies are so often dismissed as adolescent fancies which will ultimately be outgrown. To me, they indicate parental and tuitional opportunities. This period could be utilised in a most constructive, directional manner. The orientation of the life could be determined and much later miseries offset, if the cause and the purpose of the questioning, of the inarticulate longings, and of the visionary aspirations were grasped by those responsible for young people. It could be [23] explained to them that a process was working in them which was normal and right, which was the result of past lives of experience, which indicated that the mental side of their nature should receive attention. Above all, the soul, the inner spiritual man, could be indicated, as seeking to make its presence felt. The universality of the process should be emphasised, thus dismissing the loneliness, and the false sense of isolation and peculiarity which are such disturbing features of the experience. I believe that this method of capitalising on the adolescent urges and dreams will later receive more attention. I regard the silly adolescent miseries through which I passed as simply the opening of the mystical phase in my life which—in time—gave place to the occult phase, with its greater assurance, its understanding and its unalterable convictions.

After we left Canada, my mother got seriously ill and we went to Davos, Switzerland, and were there for several months until my father brought her back to England to die. After her death we all went to live with my grandparents at their place, Moor Park, Surrey. My father's health was by that time seriously impaired. Living in England did not help him and a short time before his death we children were moved with him to Pau in the Pyrenees. I was eight years old by that time and my sister was six. The disease was, however, too far progressed and we came back to Moor Park and were left there whilst my father (with a nurse-valet) went on a long sea voyage to Australia. We never saw him again as he died en route to Tasmania from Australia. I remember well the day when word came to my grandparents of his death and I remember also later when his valet turned up with his things and valuables. It is curious how little details such as this man handing over my father's watch to my grandmother remain in one's memory whilst things of greater importance seem lost to recollection. [24] One wonders what it is that conditions the memory in this way; why some things register and others do not.

Moor Park was one of those large English houses which should not be homey in any way and yet manage to be so. It was not particularly old, having been built in the time of Queen Anne by Sir William Temple. He it was who introduced tulips into England. His heart—enclosed in a silver casket—was buried under the sundial in the middle of the formal garden, outside the library windows. In its way Moor Park was a show place and on certain Sundays was thrown open to the general public. I have two recollections of that library. I remember standing at one of its windows and trying to picture the scene as Sir William Temple must have seen it—with its formal gardens and terraces, peopled by great lords and ladies in the dress of the period. And then another scene, this time not imaginary; I saw my grandfather's coffin in which he lay in state with only one great wreath upon it, sent by Queen Victoria.

The life of my sister and myself at Moor Park (where we lived till I was nearly thirteen) was one of great discipline. We had had lives of travel and change and I am sure the discipline was badly needed. The various governesses we had applied it. The only one I remember in those early days was called by the peculiar name, Miss Millichap. She had lovely hair, a plain face, wore dresses of great prudery, buttoned up tight from the hem to the throat and she was always in love with the current curate; a hopeless love, for she never married any of them. We had an immense schoolroom at the top of the house where a governess, a nurse and a maid were responsible for the two of us.

The discipline, then applied, continued until I was grown up and looking back now I can realize how frightfully severe it was. Every thirty minutes of our lives were arranged for and even today I can see the chart hung on the wall of [25] our schoolroom, indicating the next duty. How well I remember going over to it and asking myself: "What now?" Up at 6 a.m., rain or shine, summer or winter; practicing scales for an hour or preparing the day's lessons if it was my sister's turn for the piano; breakfast at 8 a.m. sharp, in the schoolroom, and then down to the dining room at 9 for family prayers. We had to start the day right with a recollection of God and, in spite of the austerity of the family faith, I think it is a good habit. There sat the head of the household with the family Bible in front of him and the family and guests gathered around him; then the servants filed in according to their duties and rank—the housekeeper, the cook, the ladies' maids, the head housemaid and the under housemaids, the kitchen maid, the scullery maid, the footmen, and the butler to close the door. There was real devotion there and much revolt, true aspiration and intense boredom, for such is life. The sum total of the effect, however was good and we could do with a little more recollection of divinity these days.

Then from 9.30 till noon we worked at our lessons with our governess and this was followed by a walk. We were allowed to have lunch in the dining room but were not permitted to speak and our good behavior and silence were under the anxious eyes of our governess. To this day I can remember going off into a reverie or day dream (as all children do) with my elbow on the table and gazing out of the window. I was suddenly brought back to everyday life by hearing my grandmother say to one of the footmen, waiting at table: "James, fetch two saucers, please, and put Miss Alice's elbows into them." This James obediently did and for the remainder of the meal there my elbows had to be. I have never forgotten the humiliation and even today, more than fifty years later, I am still conscious that I am breaking rules if I put my elbows on the table-which I do. After [26] lunch we had to lie on a flat sloping board for an hour whilst our governess read aloud some improving book and then again a walk followed, after which we did our lessons till five o'clock.

At that hour, we had to go to the bedroom where the nurse or maid got us ready to go down to the drawing room. White frocks, colored sashes, silk stockings and well brushed hair were the order and then, hand in hand, we had to go to the drawingroom where the house party were sitting after tea. There we stood in the doorway and made our curtsies and thus endured the misery of being talked to and inspected until our governess came to fetch us. Our own schoolroom supper was at 6:30 and after it was finished we again had our lessons to do till 8 p.m., bedtime. There was never any time in those Victorian days to do anything which we, as individuals, might want to do. It was a life of discipline, rhythm and obedience, varied occasionally by spurts of rebellion and consequent punishment.

As I have watched the life of my own three girls in the United States, where they were born and lived until in their late teens, and as I saw them go through the public school system of the country, I have wondered how they would have liked the regimented life I and my sister lived. With more or less success, I have tried to give my daughters a happy life and when they grumbled over the hardness of life—as all young people normally and naturally do—I have been forced to recognise what a perfectly wonderful time they have had compared to the girls of my generation and social background.

Until I was twenty my life was completely disciplined by people or by the social conventions of the time. I could not do this; I could not do that; such and such an attitude was incorrect; what will people think or say? You will be talked about if you do so and so; that is not the sort of person you [27] can know; do not talk to that man or woman; nice people do not speak or think like that; you must not yawn or sneeze in public; you must not speak unless you are spoken to, and so on and so on. Life was entirely hedged in by things impossible to do and conducted under the most minute rules governing every possible situation.

Two other things stand out in my recollection. From the earliest possible time we were taught to care about the poor and the sick and to realise that fortunate circumstances entailed responsibility. Several times a week when it was time to go for a walk we had to go to the housekeeper's room for jellies and soup for some sick person on the property, for baby clothes for the new baby at one of the lodges, for books for someone who was confined to the house to read. This may be an instance of the paternalism and the feudalism of Great Britain but it had its good points. It may be a good thing that it has disappeared—personally I believe it is—but we could do with that trained sense of responsibility and of duty to others among the wealthy in this land. We were taught that money and position entailed certain obligations and that these obligations must be met.

The other thing I remember vividly was the beauty of the countryside and the flowery lanes and the many woods through which my sister and I drove our little pony carriage. It was what was called in those days "a governess cart," designed, I presume, specially for small children. On summer days my sister and I used to take it out, accompanied by a little page boy in uniform and buttons and a cockaded hat, standing on the step. I wonder sometimes if my sister ever thinks of those days.

After my grandfather's death, Moor Park was sold, and we went for a short while to live with our grandmother in London. My major recollection of that time is driving round and round the park with her in a Victoria (as it was [28] called) with a pair of horses and coachman and footman in livery on the box seat. So dull and so monotonous it was. Then other arrangements were made for us but until her death, my sister and I spent much time with her. She was then a very old lady but showed signs even then of beauty; she must have been very good looking in her day, as a portrait of her, painted at the time of her marriage early in the 19th century, proves. The second time I came to the States after taking my eldest daughter, then a baby, home to see my people, I arrived in New York tired, ill, miserable and homesick. I went to the Gotham Hotel, Fifth Avenue, for lunch. Sitting in the lounge there, feeling very blue and depressed, I picked up an illustrated magazine. Opening it in idle fashion, to my surprise I saw my grandmother's portrait and the portraits of my grandfather and great-grandfather looking at me. It was such a surprise that I wept, but I did not feel so far away from all of them after that.

From the time of leaving London (when I was around thirteen) until our education was supposed to be completed, my whole life was one of change and constant movement. Neither my sister's health nor mine was considered very good, and we spent several winters abroad on the French Riviera where a small villa would be taken for us, close to the larger one of an uncle and aunt. There we had French teachers as well as a chaperoning resident governess and all our lessons were done in French. The summers we spent in another aunt's house in the south of Scotland, going back and forth from her home to visit other relatives and connections in Galloway. I can realise now what a rich life of contacts it was; there was much leisured beauty those days and very real culture. There was time to read and hours for interesting conversation. In the autumn, we would be down in Devonshire, accompanied everywhere by a governess, [29] Miss Godby, who came to us when I was twelve years old and who stayed with us until I went to a finishing school in London at the age of eighteen. She was the one person to whom I felt "anchored." She gave me a sense of "belonging" and was one of the few people in my life at that time who I felt truly loved me and believed in me.

Three people at that time gave me this feeling of confidence. One of these was my aunt, Mrs. Maxwell, of Castramont, of whom I have earlier spoken. We used to spend every summer with her and she was—as I look back—one of the basic, conditioning forces in my life. She gave me a keynote for living so that I feel to this very day that any achievement which I may have had can be traced back to her deeply spiritual influence. Until she died she kept in close touch with me, even though I had not seen her for twenty years prior to her death. The other person who always gave me understanding was Sir William Gordon of Earlston. He was not a blood relation but a connection by marriage and to all of us just "Uncle Billie." He was one of the men—a young lieutenant at the time—who led the "Charge of the Light Brigade" at Balaklava and rumor said he was the only man who came out of the charge, "carrying his head under his arm." I have often, as a child, felt the gold clasps which the surgery of that time had inserted in his skull. Anyway, he always stood up for me, and I can hear him now telling me (as he frequently did), "I bank on you, Alice. Go your own way. It will be all right with you."

The third person was this governess of whom I have told you. I had always kept in touch with her and saw her shortly before her death around 1934. She was then an old lady but seemed to me just the same. Two things interested her at that time. She asked my husband whether I still believed in Christ and seemed greatly reassured when he told her I most certainly did. The other thing she [30] took up with me concerned a shockingly naughty episode in my life. She wanted to know whether I remembered throwing every piece of jewelry she possessed down the toilet one morning, when I was about fourteen, and then pulling the plug. I most certainly did. It was a deliberate crime. I was furious with her about something, though I have quite forgotten what it was. I went to her room; I collected everything she had of value—wrist watch, brooches, rings, etc., etc., and disposed of them irretrievably. I thought that she could not possibly know that I had done it. But I discovered that she valued me and my development more than her own possessions. I was not, as you can see, a nice child. Not only did I have a temper but I always wanted to know how people ticked and what made them work and behave as they did.

Miss Godby used to keep a self-examination book in which, every evening, the record of the day's failures was entered and somewhat morbidly (from my present attitude to life) she analysed her words and actions each day in the light of the question: "What would Jesus have done?" I had discovered this book one day in the course of my inquisitive prowling and made a practice of carefully reading her record. In this way, I found out that she did know that I had taken all her jewelry and destroyed it but that—as a matter of discipline for herself and in order to help me—she was not going to say one word to me until my own conscience prompted me to confess. She knew I inevitably would confess, as she had confidence in me—why I cannot imagine. At the end of three days I went to her and told her what I had done, only to discover that she was more distressed at my reading her private papers than she was over my destroying her jewelry. I made a full confession, you will note. That reaction of hers gave me a new sense of values. It made me furiously [31] to think, which was good for my soul. For the first time I began to differentiate between the spiritual values and the material. To her, it was a greater sin to be dishonest enough to read private papers than it was to destroy material things. She gave me my start in the first great lesson of occultism; to distinguish between the Self and the not-Self and between the intangible values and the tangible.

Whilst she was with us she came into money—not a great deal but enough to release her from earning a livelihood. But she refused to leave us, feeling (as she told me later when I was older) that I personally needed her care and understanding. I have been fortunate in my relationships, have I not, and primarily because people are so lovely, good and understanding. I want to go on record that she and my aunt, Margaret, gave me something of such true spiritual significance that to this day I attempt to live by the note that they struck. They were very different. Miss Godby was plain, quite ordinary in background and equipment, but sound and sweet. My aunt was exceedingly beautiful, well-known for her philanthropies and religious views but equally sound and sweet.

At 18 years of age I was sent to a finishing school in London, whilst my sister again went to the south of France with a governess. It was the first time we had ever been separated and the first time I was ever on my own. I do not think I was a great success at school; I was good at history and literature, really very good. I had been given a good classical education and there is something to be said for the intensive and individual training acquired if the child is taught by a good and cultured private teacher. But when it came to mathematics, even ordinary arithmetic, I was hopelessly bad—so bad that at this school it was dropped from my curriculum altogether as it was thought [32] impossible to permit a tall girl of 18 to do sums with the 12 year olds. I expect I am remembered (if I ever am, which is doubtful) as the girl who collected all the feather pillows and dropped them from the third floor on to the heads of the guests of the Headmistress as they marched in solemn procession into the dining-room on the ground floor. This I did to the admiring whispers of the other girls.

Then followed an interval of a couple of years of very humdrum ordinary living. Our guardian rented a small house for us in a small town in Hertfordshire near St. AIbans, installed us there with a chaperone and then left us to our own devices. The first thing we both did was to purchase the best bicycles to be then procured and to proceed to investigate the country side. To this day, I remember our intense excitement when the two crates arrived and we unpacked these pieces of shining mechanism. We rode everywhere and had a good time. We explored the district which was then pure country and not the citified suburb it has now become. I think that it was in this period I acquired my taste for mystery, later to be developed into a great love for detective and mystery stories. Pushing our bicycles up a very steep hill one sunny morning, two men on bicycles coasted down the hill and passed us. As one of them did so, he called back to his companion: "But I assure you, my dear chap, it stood on one leg and went like the devil." I am still pondering that mystery and have not yet arrived at any solution.

It was during this period that I made my first attempt at teaching. I took a class of boys in Sunday School. They were in their teens and were reported to be quite unmanageable. I stipulated that I was to teach them in an empty hall near the church but not in the Sunday School itself; that I was to be left alone whilst doing so. We had an exciting time. We started with a riot and me in tears, but [33] at the end of three months we were a close group of pals. What I taught and how I taught it is quite forgotten. All I remember is a lot of laughter and noise and much friendship. Maybe I did lasting good; I do not know: I do know that I kept them out of mischief for two hours each Sunday morning.

During those days and until I was 22 and became the mistress of my own small income (as did my sister), we lived the lives of society girls; we had what is called three "London seasons," participating in the usual round of garden parties, teas and dinners and being definitely in the marriage market. I was, at that time, deeply religious but had to go to dances as I did not want my sister to go to such wicked things without me. How I was tolerated by the people I met I do not know. I was so religious and so imbued by the mystical consciousness and my conscience was so morbidly sensitive that it was then impossible for me to dance with a man or sit next a person at dinner without ascertaining whether they were "saved" or not. I think the only thing that saved me from complete abhorrence and violent dislike was the fact of my sincerity and obvious hatred of having to enquire. Also, I was very young, very silly, very good looking and well dressed and—in spite of my ostentatious holiness I was smart, intelligent, well educated and sometimes interesting.

I have a sneaking respect for myself as I look back for I was so painfully shy and reticent that I suffered untold agonies as I screwed myself up to express this concern for the souls of strangers.

Apart from the fact that my aunt and my governess were religious people, what was it that made me so fixed in my spiritual aspiration and my determination to be straight good? That this determination took colouring from my religious environment has no real bearing on the question; [34] I knew nothing different than to express my spirituality in attending the early communion service every day, if possible, and in trying to save people. That particular expression of religious service and enterprise could not be helped and I eventually outgrew it. But what was the factor that changed me from a very bad tempered, rather vain and idle young girl into a worker and—temporarily—into a fanatic?

On June 30th, 1895, I had an experience which has made that date for me one that I never forget and always keep. I had been for months in the throes of adolescent miseries. Life was not worth living. There was nothing but sorrow and trouble on every hand. I had not asked to come into the world but here I was. I was just 15. Nobody loved me and I knew I had a hateful disposition and so was not surprised that life was difficult. There was no future ahead of me, except marriage and the humdrum life of my caste and set. I hated everybody (except two or three people) and I was jealous of my sister, her brains and good looks. I had been taught the narrowest kind of Christianity; unless people thought as I did, they could not be saved. The Church of England was divided into the High Church party which was almost Anglo-Catholic and the Low Church party which believed in a hell for those who did not accept certain tenets and a heaven for those who did. I belonged for six months of the year to one party and for six months of the year (when I was not in Scotland and under the influence of my aunt) to the other. I was torn between the beauties of ritual and the narrowness of dogma. Missionary work was dinned into my consciousness by both groups. The world was divided into those who were Christians and worked hard to save souls and those who were heathen and bowed down to images of stone and worshipped them. The Buddha was a stone [35] image; and it never dawned on me then that the images of the Buddha were on a par with the statues and images of the Christ in the Christian churches with which I was so familiar on the continent of Europe. I was in a complete fog. And then—at the height of my unhappiness and in the very middle of my dilemma and questioning—one of the Masters of the Wisdom came to me.

At the time of that happening and for many years after, I had not the remotest idea Who He was. I was scared stiff at the occurrence. Young as I was, I was intelligent enough to know something about adolescent mysticism and religious hysteria; I had heard religious workers discussing it. I had attended many revival meetings and had seen people "losing control" of themselves, as I called it. I, therefore, never mentioned my experience to any one for fear that they would class me as a "mental case" and one who would have to be carefully watched and handled. I was intensely alive spiritually. I was conscious of my faults to an abnormal degree. I was stopping with my Aunt Margaret at Castramont, in Kirkcudbrightshire, at the time and the atmosphere was exactly right.