My life did not interest me very much in itself, nor my days as they passed. I thought of myself most of the time, as I believe is customary, but I did not think much of myself.
Still, for all this, quite often it occurred to me (after 1900) that when I was older -- much older -- I might like to recall some of my doings, feelings and the rest, if only to see whether it had been all chaff blown by the wind, all a vale of tears, all a triumphal progress, or what it might all be about.
Then it was that I began to scribble down dates and facts. I kept all sorts of notebooks: the earliest were 1901-2-3. In 1910 I kept a kind of daybook, and from 1930 to 1955 a regular day- book. And now I find these books very useful to me -- now and again interesting, maybe, to others.
In each land, in each town, I have come across people of note, famous for their wealth or character, beauty or brains or genius: but if now and again some of these have proved good friends, and a few of them very dear friends, there have always (almost always) been some quite unknown persons in humbler positions who have seemed to me so especially delightful that I have seen all I could of them, and count these as forming a chain of friends unlike any richer chain. Of these other, almost forgotten men and women I can write a word or two, leaving to better writers the more famous men. The famous ones of my days, I see their qualities, I can only guess at their defects, if they have any. With famous people I am at once out of my depth. And you? You know all about it? Good! I am unable to know, and can only guess. Whereas I do know myself fairly well. Here I am reminded of Wilde's statement in The Critic as Artist, that 'When people talk to us about others, they are usually dull. When they talk to us about themselves, they are nearly always interesting.' Maybe it is in this thought that I write these chapters as I do.