Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/7

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FOREWORD

 

There is much to he done in bringing the history of China to the knowledge of the Western world which thus far has been content with information acquired mainly through imperfect summaries of her annals. As is the ease with Chinese painting, the beauty and importance of which have quite recently been disclosed to students of art, the material for a proper understanding of Chinese history is abundant and adequate for research by scholars equipped for the work. The importance of the task is a challenge to the scholarship of the coming generation. Dr. Hail's study of the Taiping Revolt only makes a beginning; it stands by itself thus far as an example of what may be accomplished by applying the science of historical method, developed wholly in the West, to a subject the material on which is entirely Chinese. No one without the advantage of his double equipment—in the handling of the matter and understanding of the language—could hope for the success he has achieved in this volume. Its importance to Chinese scholarship is as great as its contribution to Western comprehension, for in the examination of the evidence and its dispassionate presentation he reveals to the Chinese a chapter in their own history in a way emphatically unlike their accustomed records. Moreover, it must be added, twenty years' residence and study in China have endowed him with both sympathy and soundness of judgment. The criticism of Young China is disarmed here when it discovers an impartiality that discredits at once the exist-