From the author's INTRODUCTION.
The Chinese have the reputation of being a strange people, with a peculiar language, peculiar institutions, customs, and manners, utterly different from those of our Western countries.
Since Chinese ports were thrown open to foreigners, the influx of visitors of all kinds has continually" increased. Missionaries, diplomats, travelers - some led there by duty, others attracted by the prospect of a new field for studies, and others guided by mere curiosity - have crossed the country in all directions. From these visits has resulted a large number of books - relations of travels, descriptions of country, customs, and manners - books on any subject, all tending to acquaint Western nations with the wonderful Celestial Empire, and, principally, to point out the immense difference existing between Chinese and European ideas.
Amongst the subjects which have been treated with the least success by foreign writers, Chinese Music ranks prominently. If mentioned at all in their books, it is simply to remark that "it is detestable, noisy, monotonous; that it hopelessly outrages our Western notions of music," etc. I do not wish to create any discussions by contradicting these and many other erroneous statements found in descriptions of Chinese Music: it would take too long a time.
In the description I give here I will endeavour to point out the contrasts or similarity between Western and Chinese Music, to present abstruse theories in the least tiresome way, to add details never before published, and to give a short yet concise account of Chinese Music.
I am not pretentious enough to think that my work will be utterly irreproachable. Mistakes are so easily made; and if I have just alluded to the many mistakes which are found in books, it is merely with the intention of showing how careful we must be when writing, and, much more, how indulgent we need be towards the writings of others.
I should deem it unfair not to mention that Mr. Hippisley, one of our Commissioners of Customs, is entitled to my most sincere gratitude for his kindness in reading the manuscript and correcting the many faults which ordinarily slip from one's pen when attempting to write in any but one's own language.show more