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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter I
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 governess 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.

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