In the following pages I have endeavored to give the results obtained during a journey of several thousand miles through a very imperfectly known portion of the Chinese Empire My object has been to supply facts concerning the country, of an historical, geographical, and ethnographical nature, and not to attempt to turn out a well-finished bit of literary work.
Besides the notes collected on my journey, I have been able to prove and complete my work in many eases by those made during a four years’ residence in Peking, when I was in daily and intimate intercourse with natives from various parts of Tibet and the border-land of Kan-su. Chinese literature, so rich in geographical and anthropological lore, has also been of great service to me, having supplied me with many facts, and has enabled me to offer explanations of customs, names, etc., which, while they may not always turn out to be correct ones, cannot fail to be of value.
In transcribing native words, whether Chinese, Tibetan, or Mongol, I have used as far as possible the system of transcription of Chinese imagined by Sir Thomas Wade, in which the letters have pretty much the same value as in French. As regards Tibetan, in which language there are a number of sounds foreign b Chinese, I have thought fit to accent some of the vowels, but all, as in the Wade system, are to be pronounced as in French. Tibetan is not, as most Asiatic languages, pronounced as it is written, so I had either to transcribe the written characters, which would have afforded to those unacquainted with the language only absolutely unpronounceable words, or else to give the sounds as heard in the spoken language. I have selected the latter course; those who know Tibetan can easily find the native words thus transcribed, and those who have no knowledge of this language will be spared much trouble, and be able to pronounce dunce the words with the softest of Tibetan accents, that of Lh’asa.
I have passed over as rapidly as possible my journey through China, for the country I traversed has been in great part studied before me by other travelers who have told better than I could possibly do, of its beauty or dreariness, of its resources, of the customs and legendary lore of the people.
The route map is -a reduction from my survey on a quarter- inch scale, made with prismatic compass, hypsometer and aneroid; and while I claim no very great degree of exactitude for it, I used every care in its preparation, and I believe it will prove of some value in adding to our knowledge of the topography of the country I traversed and in correcting a few errors of the only two travelers who have, previous to my journey, been over parts of it, General Prjevalsky and Pundit Kishen Singh.
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