Historic China and Other Sketches - The following Sketches owe their existence chiefly to frequent peregrinations in Chinese cities, with pencil and note-book in hand. Some of them were written for my friend Mr. F. H. Balfour of Shanghai, and by him published in the columns of the Celestial Empire. These have been revised and partly re-written; others appear now for the first time.
It seems to be generally believed that the Chinese, as a nation, are an immoral, degraded race; that they are utterly dishonest, cruel, and in every way depraved; that opium, a more terrible scourge than gin, is now working frightful ravages in their midst; and that only the forcible diffusion of Christianity can save the Empire from speedy and overwhelming ruin. An experience of eight years has taught me that, with all their faults, the Chinese are a hardworking, sober, and happy people, occupying an intermediate place between the wealth and culture, the vice and misery of the West.