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PREFACE.

The literature of all European nations is rich in works upon the Chinese empire, but they are either too bulky for the general reader's time, or too difficult to be obtained, even by most of those who have the leisure to peruse them; and though some works of travellers exist, of less dimensions, and more easy of access, yet the information of most such is necessarily meagre, on account of their size, and they frequently betray the prejudice and ill-feeling naturally excited in men who enter a country where they are regarded and treated more as spies and prisoners than visitors or guests.

I have sought to supply this deficiency, and to produce a work that might be read alike by the common novel reader and the student.

The former, however, I fear, will complain that my work is tedious ; the latter, I hope, will be more considerate, as he will find in the following pages information collected from a variety of sources, at the expense of considerable time and labour, which I have weaved into a tale of fiction, the principal characters of which are historical.

Though the period I have selected for my story — that of the conquest of the Chinese empire by the Moguls in the latter half of the thirteenth century-may appear as too remote to permit of the manners of a people of the present day being illustrated in the persons of their sires so many generations back, yet the reader must recollect that the customs and ideas of the celestial empire exist, at present, the same as in the remotest antiquity, and that the Chinese consider any variation from the habits of their ancestors as being a most dread impiety.

I will also take the opportunity that the preface affords me, of explaining that I do not wish it to be implied that all Chinese ladies are as deeply read and fitted for abstruse discourse as I have drawn Luseynah and Linpeytsin-on the contrary, their character is generally indolent and inactive; but the opportunity that a departure from this description afforded me to introduce many topics which I considered as interesting, I hope will be my apology. I have also to beg pardon for the abruptness with which my story may appear to terminate, as it is my intention, should this meet with the approval of the public, to publish a sequel.

It will also be necessary that I give here an historical summary, which I will endeavour to render as short as possible.

In the tenth century, the Chinese empire was divided between two dynasties--the Pehan, who reigned in the northern, and the Tcheyu, who reigned in the southern provinces.

The emperor of the Tcheyu died, leaving an infant son.

Immediately upon hearing this event, the Pehan and Kitans (vide Note 63) put themselves in motion, thinking the moment favourable for their aggressions. To counteract their designs, a general of the name of Tchao Kouang was dispatched by the ministers of the Tcheyu against them. He had already signalized himself, and attached to his person the affections alike of officers and soldiers.

As this general quitted Caifong-fu, the capital of the Tcheyu, the populace, assembled to witness

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