Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/18

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xii
THE CHINESE EMPIRE

it be mentioned that the aggregate number of years spent in China by the writers of this book amounts to five hundred and fifty, it will readily be perceived that the book is the work of those who may be regarded as qualified to speak with authority.

While the general basis of the work as laid before each author was, the preparation of an article giving a geographical, historical, and missionary survey of his Province or Dependency, it was but natural that among so many writers there should be some slight variety of treatment and some variation as to length. Although the majority of the contributors exceeded the Limits suggested, in only two or three cases has it been necessary to seriously condense or abbreviate. The lenient treatment of those who exceeded the limits originally suggested is recognised as possibly somewhat unfair to those who conformed to the original programme, and to these the Editor would offer his apology. Many of the longer articles were so valuable that they have only been curtailed where abbreviation appeared absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, all were not able to supply the provincial statistics as suggested.

The order in which the provinces have been arranged has been determined approximately by the date missionary work was commenced in them. Thus Kwangtung comes first, the coast provinces next, and the inland provinces last. It should be explained that although Formosa is not now part of the Chinese Empire, an article upon that Island has been included as the history of Missions there is so closely connected with the mainland.

It was intended to publish this book and the new Atlas of the Chinese Empire together, as companion volumes. An unexpected delay, which will be shortly explained, has, however, made it impossible, without serious loss to the