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This book is a record of the thoughts and imaginations in whose companionship I have lived and worked during twentyfour years of eventful life in the Colony of Victoria. They have been with me in the gold-mine, by the camp-fire, in the backwoodsman's hut, and the schoolmaster's cottage, and as I forged the chain of life link by link out of the circumstances which Providence afforded day by day, and in my boyhood won bread for those able no more to earn it for themselves and me, the memory of many a valiant English word and deed strengthened me for the toil and the conflict which lay ahead. I left England in my eighth year, but my mother taught me in the depth and loneliness of the Australian bush to love England, and be loyal to the sturdy virtues of English character and story. The interest she awakened in me has become a deep and abiding passion, and rather than forget England, or prove unworthy of her, I would that “my right hand might forget its cunning." For love of England I have tried to represent and sing some parts and snatches” of her story, joyfully, yet laboriously, for the past is like a painted window which has been broken, and out of whose flawed and disordered fragments, history strives to construct the truest image that she can, happy, if the most essential parts of the picture have not perished among the rubbish which later generations have heaped over them.
This love of worthy English memory and deed has been to me a safeguard and a help; it has filled me with“ vital feelings of delight.” What it has been to me I trust it may one day