This I Believe

Astor, Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess


  • Viscountess Astor recounts growing up in Virginia and being influenced by the faith of her African American nurse, and states her belief that the English-speaking people are the hope of the world because the Bible has been translated into their common language, that individuals don't start life on an equal plane because of socioeconomic disadvantages, that one needs the doctrine of the fatherhood ... read more
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. It is not wholly surprising that the first woman member, in the history of the British Parliament, was born an American. In 1906, Nancy Langhorne of Greenwood, Virginia, married the second Viscount Astor, and as Lady Astor, became the center of a brilliant intellectual circle, which included among other famous figures the late George Bernard Shaw. She also became one of the most hard-hitting debaters in the British Parliament, and a fiery advocate of many and divers causes. This is what Lady Astor believes.
If anybody had told me as a child in Virginia that one day I was going to be the first woman to sit in the House of Commons, I would have thought them daft. But if I had told people the things I prayed for as a child in Virginia, they’d have thought me daft.
I can never remember the time that I didn’t pray. I had a blind faith in God, and I believed in goodness and I saw it so much around about me: first, the unselfish goodness of my mother; and then the goodness of my old Mammy who was on intimate terms with Jesus. She’s always talking to “Mr. Jesus,” and she made me believe that I could talk to “Mr. Jesus.” She was one of the best people that ever lived.
And then another thing: I believe in discipline. I was early taught that crime didn’t pay. I was spanked, put to bed, and made to
know right from wrong; and yet I don’t remember ever having any resentment against my parents.
But my basic beliefs have always been two things: in the Bible and in the mission of the English-speaking people. You ask me, “That’s why?” Well, I’ll tell you why, because I was taught the Bible from the time I was a child, and I was also taught that why the English people were what they were is because they translated the Bible into the common language, and then they became an uncommon people.
And I believe that the English-speaking people are the hope of the world today. I know it’s not a popular belief; and, all right, it’s just like the popular belief that all men were born equal. I don’t believe that all men were born equal. Anything more unequal
than man, the world’s never seen. I mean, I don’t…they haven’t got the same parents; they haven’t got the same environment. Nor do I believe in the common man. I believe in the uncommon man, and I believe that’s the whole of the Christ’s message. You’ve got the right to be what you want if you claim the Fatherhood of God, but until you do you won’t get the Brotherhood of Man. And you may be God’s child, but if you don’t claim it what’s the good? You might be a millionaire’s child, but if you don’t know him you may be a pauper. And the world’s full of paupers because they don’t believe in God.
I don’t believe that this is a dark age at all. It may be a very light age; it might be the best age that we’ve ever had. Bernhard Shaw reminded me, once, that “more people had heard about God and religion than ever before in the history of man, because there
were more people who read, could read now than ever before, and they got it on the radio and now on the television." Well, that’s encouraging.
And the second encouraging thing is that the two bestsellers in the world today are the Bible; and the second one, Science And Health With Key To The Scripture by Mary Baker Eddy, an American woman of a Scotch descent whose vision has brought light and understanding to the world and restored the healing of sickness and sin. Now this is a scientific age, and
people will only believe what they can prove, and they’re quite right. There’s no good believing in mathematics until you can understand it and do the sum.
People throughout the world, in all countries, are reaching out for something, and God’s there. And someday, and it may be nearer than we know, when we realize the Fatherhood of God, we’ll get the Brotherhood of Man and then you will have peace on Earth. I do not believe civilization is going to fail, if it’s based on the Christ’s message.
There the creed of Viscountess Astor, an American-born English lady of international renown.