The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
Butler & Tanner, Frome and London,
Angus & Robertson, Ltd.
London Agents: The Oxford University Press,
Amen Corner, E.C.
The Author desires to acknowledge the previous publication in "The Bulletin," Sydney, of all the verses here printed, with the exception of numbers XII and XIV, which are now published for the first time.
Dramatic, Cinema and all other Rights are Reserved.
Mr. and Mrs. J. G. ROBERTS
La vie est vaine:
PREFACE TO THE FIFTY-FIRST THOUSAND
Nearly a year ago Henry Lawson wrote in his preface to the first edition of these rhymes: "I think a man can best write a preface to his own book, provided he knows it is good."
Now, and at the end of some twelve months of rather bewildering success, I have to confess that I do not know. But I do know that it is popular, and to write a preface to the fifty-first thousand of one's own book is rather a pleasant task; for it is good for a writer to know that his work has found appreciation in his own land, and even beyond.
But far more gratifying than any mere record of sales is the knowledge that has come to me of the universal kindliness of my fellows. The reviews that have appeared in the Australasian and British Press, the letters that have reached me from many places—setting aside the compliments and the praise—have proved the existence of a widespread sympathy that I had never suspected. It has strengthened a waning faith in the human-kindness of my brothers so that, indeed, I have gained far more than I have given, and my thanks are due twofold to those whose thanks I have received.
I confess that when this book was first published I was quite convinced that it would appeal only to a limited audience, and I shared Mr. Lawson's fear that those minds totally devoted to "boiling the cabbitch stalks or somethink" were many in the land, and would miss something of what I endeavoured to say. Happily we were both mistaken.
These letters of which I write have come from men and women of all grades of society, of all shades of political thought and of many religions. But the same impulse has prompted them all, and it is good for one's soul to know that such an impulse moves so universally. I created one "Sentimental Bloke" and he discovered his brothers everywhere he went.
Towards those English men of letters who have written to me or my publishers saying many complimentary things of my work I feel very grateful. Their numbers, their standing and their unanimity almost convince me that this preface should be written. But even the flattering invitation of so great a man as Mr. H. G. Wells, to come and work in an older land, does not entice me from the task I fondly believe to be mine in common with other writers of Australia. England has many writers: we in Australia have few, and there is big work before us.
But when I stop and read what I have written here the thought occurs to me that, even in this case, the man has not written a preface to his own book, and Mr. Lawson's advice is vain. For I have a picture before me of a somewhat younger man working in a small hut in the Australian bush, and dreaming dreams that he never hopes to realise—dreams of appreciation from his fellow countrymen and from great writers abroad whose works he devours and loves.
And I, the recipient of compliments from high places, of praise from many places, of publisher's reports about the book that bears my name—I, who write this preface, have a kindly feeling for that somewhat younger man writing and dreaming in his little bush hut; and I feel sorry for him because he is out of it. Later perhaps, when strenuous days are over, I shall go back and live with him and tell him about it, and find out what he thinks of it all if I can find him ever again.
Melbourne, 1st September, 1916.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
My young friend Dennis has honoured me with a request to write a preface to his book. I think a man can best write a preface to his own book, provided he knows it is good. Also if he knows it is bad.
The "Sentimental Bloke," while running through the Bulletin, brightened up many dark days for me. He is more perfect than any alleged "larrikin" or Bottle-O character I ever attempted to sketch, not even excepting my own beloved Benno. Take the first poem for instance, where the Sentimental Bloke gets the hump. How many men, in how many different parts of the world—and of how many different languages—have had the same feeling—the longing for something better—to be something better?
The exquisite humour of the "Sentimental Bloke" speaks for itself; but there's a danger that its brilliance may obscure the rest, especially for minds, of all stations, that, apart from sport and racing, are totally devoted to boiling
"The cabbitch stalks or somethink"
in this social "pickle found-ery" of ours. Doreen stands for all good women, whether down in the smothering alleys or up in the frozen heights. And so, having introduced the little woman (they all seem "little" women), I "dips me lid"—and stand aside.
Sydney, 1st September, 1915.
|I.||A SPRING SONG||PAGE|
|III.||THE STOUSH O' DAY|
|VI.||THE STROR 'AT COOT|
|XIV.||THE MOOCH O' LIFE|