Of all the "Chinese puzzles," politics seems the greatest. The lack of scientific treaties on past political institutions makes a solution of this great puzzle much more laborious. It is chiefly for the purpose of presenting a clear background of the present political organization, and thus facilitating the study of the present government, (the actual working of which is largely based on the institutions of the past), that this volume is prepared.
The writer is contented with discussing principally the organization of the government, and only occasionally touching upon its operation. He regrets that he cannot further deal with the real working of the Manchu governing machinery, as the imperial archives are not accessible to him. Also for fear of making this work too lengthy for a handy volume, he has had to avoid going into too much of the detailed regulations of that administrative hierarchy. In the preparation of this volume, he is confronted with the danger of making it too technical for those who are not well. acquainted with Chinese political institutions and yet at the same time not technical enough for those who are better informed.
To Dr. H. H. Chang and Dr. S. K. Hornbeck, the author feels deeply grateful for their help in reading over the manuscript and making a number of valuable suggestions. To Prof. W. W. Willoughby he is greatly indebted for constant advice, criticism and encouragement.
P. C. H.
Peking, October, 1924.