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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter III
Chapter III

It is very difficult to write about the next few years or to know just how to handle the next phase in my life. Looking back, I am conscious of the fact that my sense of humor temporarily failed me, and when that happens to someone who can usually laugh at life and circumstances it is rather terrible. When I say "humor" I don't think I mean a sense of fun but an ability to laugh at oneself and events and circumstances as they are seen in relation to one's setting and equipment. I don't think I have a real sense of fun; I simply do not understand the "Comics" in the Sunday papers and I can never remember a joke; but I have a sense of humor and have absolutely no difficulty in making an audience - large or small - roar with laughter. I can always laugh at myself, too. But for the next few years of my life I found nothing amusing and my problem is how to cover this cycle without being either deadly dull, or presenting a woeful picture of a miserable woman. For that was what I was. I shall just have to get ahead and tell my story with its sorrows and pain and distress as best I can, asking you to be patient. It was just an interlude between twenty-eight happy years and another twenty-eight happy years - years which are still going happily along.

Up to 1907 I had had my troubles and worries but they were basically superficial. I was doing work that I loved and I was successful at it. I was surrounded by people who liked and appreciated me and, as far as I know, I had had absolutely no problems between myself and my co-workers. I did not know what it was to want financially for anything. I could travel where I wished in India and go back to Great Britain when I wanted without a single [101] thought. I really had had no personal difficulties to face.

But we now come to a cycle of seven years in my life during which I knew nothing but trouble that left no part of my nature unaffected. I was entering a period of great mental distress; I was to be faced with situations that exacted the last atom of emotional reaction of which I am capable and, physically, life became exceedingly hard. I believe these periods are necessary in the lives of all active disciples. They are hard to take but as they are, I am firmly convinced, entered into with the full knowledge and determination of the soul, the strength to master circumstance is inevitably present. The result then is always (in my case and in the case of all who endeavor to work spiritually) a greater capacity to meet human need, and to be "a strong hand in the dark" to other fellow pilgrims. I have stood by one of my daughters as she went through a terrible experience, and I watched her - as a result of five years patient endurance - come through to a measure of usefulness that would otherwise be impossible, and she is still young, with a useful and constructive future ahead of her. I could not have done this had I not been through the fire myself.

When the six months on my back were over, arrangements were made for my marriage. What little money I had was legally arranged in a trust that Walter Evans could not touch, had he wanted to. "Aunt Alice" sent him the money to outfit himself and come to Scotland to fetch me. I was then living with my aunt, Mrs. Maxwell, of Castramont. I was married in a private chapel of a friend's house by a Mr. Boyd-Carpenter. My father's eldest brother, William La Trobe-Bateman (also a clergyman) gave me away.

I went immediately after the wedding to stop with Walter Evan's people in the north of England. A connection [102] of mine by marriage who was at the wedding and who is related to half of England took me aside when I said good bye and said,

"Now, Alice, you've married this man and you are going from here to visit his people. You will not find that they are your people and it will be your duty to make them feel that you believe they are. For Heaven's sake, don't be a snob."

With these words, she ushered me into a period of my life in which I left caste and social position behind and suddenly discovered humanity.

I am not one of the people who believe that only the proletarian are good and right and that the middle classes are the salt of the earth, whilst the aristocracy are absolutely useless and should be gotten rid of. Neither do I accept the position that only the intelligentsia can save the world, though that is a sounder position because the intelligentsia can come out of all classes. I have met frightful snobs from the so-called lower classes. I've met them, also, of an equally virulent kind among the aristocracy. The prudery and the conservatism of the middle classes is a great balancing force in any nation. The push and the rebellion of the lower classes promotes the growth of a people, whilst the tradition, culture and noblesse oblige of the aristocracy is a great asset to the nation that possesses it. All these factors have a right and sound usefulness but all can be equally well misused. Conservatism can be dangerously reactionary; a right rebellion can turn into a fanatical revolution, and a sense of responsibility and superiority frequently evidenced by the "upper classes" can degenerate into a stupifying paternalism. There is no nation without its class distinctions. There may be an aristocracy of birth in Great Britain but in the United States there is an aristocracy of money equally as distinctive, exclusive, and rigid in its barriers. Who shall settle the quarrel, which is best [103] or which worst? I had been brought up in a very rigid caste system and nothing in my life had tended to throw me on equal terms with those not of my own caste. I had yet to discover that behind all the class distinctions of the Occident and the caste systems of the Orient there is a great entity which we called Humanity.

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