Privately Printed by
THE SHAKESPEARE PRESS
114-116 East 28th Street,
Copyright, 1912, by
FRANK A. CONNOR
New York City, Sept. 1st, 1911.
My Dear Frank:—
You, who know me best, accept this little book. I dedicate it to you. Shakespeare calls me an "abstract and brief chronicle of the time." Marie Corelli says I am only a "Monkey." Dead or alive, "Some one has blundered" in Stratford.
Many estimable persons in the calling I use to get my living, and a few profound critics of matters relative to that calling, declare their admiration of me for "My kindness to my relations," but deplore my inability to sustain my title to any professional aptitude whatever, whilst other equally estimable persons and critics in and out of my calling, declare I am "Great."
So I am in a quandary how to nominate myself. Accept me then as my Mother brought me into the World—and as the World knows me—plain Kyrle Bellew—and your Friend.
I have been many things, amongst others, a Sailor, an Australian Station-hand, a Gold miner, a Cattle drover, a Grave digger, an Explorer, a Book-keeper, a Journalist, a Dramatic Critic (God forgive me) an Author of many fugitive contributions to various and varied periodicals; have perpetrated a few successful plays, and a few others. Have wandered the World over; done all the unwise things men do; repented of many of them; shall live I hope to repent of many more. Have not any claim to the veracity of George Washington or the equally unconventional attributes of St. Anthony. Good, bad, and indifferent labels have been ticketed throughout the world upon the back of my character and I stand as a kind of Signpost to many whom I know, and heaps whom I don't, warning them from those paths of dalliance which I have trod, sometimes choked with thorns, have so often been strewn with roses; and from which I could always at least admire another, which they told me I should have trod. A path along which my eyes were never blinded to any wayfarer and along which it has been a joy to see you so steadfastly trudge.
Friend: This chamber is pleasant where we have often sat, surrounded by trophies that mark the milestones of my life. Neither you, nor I, can look round its walls, or into its cabinets, or on its book-shelves without recalling incidents that are dear, some sacred to us. Among those oft told, a few have served to interest our intimates by the telling; and in thought of the joy of your companionship as the tales were told, I have jotted down a few of them here, that perhaps some day, somewhere, when I am gone, they may remind you of the laborer who has rejoiced and suffered, lost and won, by your side, and whose greatest happiness in life, is to be sufficiently worthy in your eyes to exchange with you in all trueness and sincerity that holiest, most sacred name on Earth: The name of "Friend."