Epigraph: Le livre de la vie est le livre supreme Qu'on ne peut ni fermer ni rouvrir a son choix; Le passage attachant ne s'y lit pas deux fois, Mais le feuillet fatal se tourne de lui-meme: On voudrait revenir a la page ou l'on aime, Et la page ou l'on meurt est deja sous nos doigts! A. De Lamartine.
Editor's note: I venture to publish this selection from letters which in the main are love-letters written to me, a woman he had never seen, by my cousin Dowell O'Reilly, during the years preceding our marriage, in order to preserve the memory of one dear to me. His was a disappointed life - perhaps disappointing - but the thought and deep feeling expressed in the letters, and the personality they reveal, I believe to be worthy of record. They were written during the years 1913-1917, from Australia, where he was born, July 18th 1865, and where his life was spent; but they are linked to far earlier correspondence begun with my mother, after he had visited England when he was fourteen years of age...she had early recognized and encouraged his literary efforts, and great sympathy grew up between them....Throughout the book Dowell is shown in beautiful relation to his children; and gradually the letters become a diary of his life, its ordinary little incidents often very humorously described.' (vii).