My father charged me to write his life. He knew that I did not propose to make a critical study of his work. So many critics and men of letters, especially in America, have written books and pamphlets about his plays and books, and they are far better qualified than I am. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a daughter to be an impartial critic, but I do not believe any member of his family or any of his friends knew and understood my father better than I did. I have told the truth, and I have endeavoured to avoid stating my own opinions, or to offer any criticisms except when they spring from deep conviction. I want to show my father as the man he was--courageous, persevering, and industrious. These outstanding traits in his character were indissolubly linked with a supreme, deep, and abiding love for and devotion to his art. He was a most dutiful son, a highly appreciative husband, and, although he was not a model father, he was always a devoted and indulgent parent and grandparent.
Although I never told him, when I knew I was to write his life, I made a habit, especially when his old friends came to see him, of sitting behind his big armchair to take down in his own words what he felt and thought about the many interesting people and events he had known during his life. I christened this little book "H. A. J.'s Table Talk," and the quotations I have made from it throughout the book give a most valuable insight into his character.
In writing my father's life I have borne in mind the following passage from his book, as yet unpublished, The Shadow of Henry Irving:
"Who would wish after death to be decorated with