Possum Gully, near Goulburn, N.S. Wales, Australia, 1st March, 1899
Just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myself--for no other purpose do I write it.
I make no apologies for being egotistical. In this particular I attempt an improvement on other autobiographies. Other autobiographies weary one with excuses for their egotism. What matters it to you if I am egotistical? What matters it to you though it should matter that I am egotistical?
This is not a romance--I have too often faced the music of life to the tune of hardship to waste time in snivelling and gushing over fancies and dreams; neither is it a novel, but simply a yarn--a real yarn. Oh! as real, as really real--provided life itself is anything beyond a heartless little chimera--it is as real in its weariness and bitter heartache as the tall gum-trees, among which I first saw the light, are real in their stateliness and substantiality.
My sphere in life is not congenial to me. Oh, how I hate this living death which has swallowed all my teens, which is greedily devouring my youth, which will sap my prime, and in which my old age, if I am cursed with any, will be worn away! As my life creeps on for ever through the long toil-laden days with its agonizing monotony, narrowness, and absolute uncongeniality, how my spirit frets and champs its unbreakable fetters--all in vain!
You can dive into this story head first as it were. Do not fear encountering such trash as descriptions of beautiful sunsets and whisperings of wind. We (999 out of every 1000) can see nought in sunsets save as signs and tokens whether we may expect rain on the morrow or the contrary, so we will leave such vain and foolish imagining to those poets and painters--poor fools! Let us rejoice that we are not of their temperament!
Better be born a slave than a poet, better be born a black, better be born a cripple! For a poet must be companionless--alone! fearfully alone in the midst of his fellows whom he loves. Alone because his soul is as far above common mortals as common mortals are above monkeys.
There is no plot in this story, because there has been none in my life or in any other life which has come under my notice. I am one of a class, the individuals of which have not time for plots in their life, but have all they can do to get their work done without indulging in such a luxury.
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