Dear Reader: There is a tradition amount Australians that three classes of story-tellers exist—Liars, D— —d liars, and Mining Experts.
There are also three kinds of fools: Plain Fools, D— —d fools, and "New Chums."
I have been a Mining Expert, and every kind of fool, including the New Chum. Now I have fairly warned you.
If you care to read farther through these pages you will find both my confessions verified.
Fiction is greater than fact—because, one has to invent fiction, and fact just happens without your being obliged to bother about it.
"In medias tutissimus ibis." With this proverbial philosophy in my mind, I have steered the middle course between the two.
There are many people in the corners of the Earth to which Fate has led me, should this volume ever fall into their hands, who will recognize the incidents herein set down and the occasions of their. They will probably content themselves with classing me somewhere in the category ending with "Mining Experts."
Every reader I feel confident will put me down a fool, perhaps a D— —d fool or worse. It is my privilege to forestall all, and accept the situation, you see, as gracefully as I can, contenting myself with the satisfaction of a conscience cleared by the confession of my shortcomings.
If it amuses you, dear reader, to say with the immortal Rosalind, "These are all lies"—Say it and be happy. If, on the other hand, it contents you to believe these sketches, "Mainly about Myself," are true,—you will do yourself "no harm" and me "no wrong."
I pretend to no literary excellence or style. In these pages I talk to you in the language of men on the quarter-deck, in the reporter's room, 'round the camp-fire, in the bush, in the theatre and in everyday life.
My i's are not dotted nor my t's crossed any more than they would be were I recounting these stories. Such niceties are the attributes of fiction rather than fact. But if I have helped in these pages, to lighten the dullness of even a minute of your time, I shall have done well, and so I leave you to go ahead and read my book, or not, just as you please.