A serious and valuable account of the Chinese court, covering the Ming and Manchu dynasties.
About the book (from the introduction):
The purpose of the present work is to present a faithful picture of life at the Court of Peking, beginning with the period at which the decline of the Ming dynasty had definitely set in and the rise of the Manchu power had begun that is to say, from the middle of the sixteenth century down to the passing of the Manchus, to the chaos of degeneration and disruption, which obtains in China
to-day under the name of a Republic. We have not attempted to construct a consecutive chronological record of the Empire’s internal history or foreign relations, but only to present a series of impressions, taken from life, serving to illustrate the personal and domestic relations of China’s rulers with their Court, and of the Court itself with the government of the country; to trace
in these relations (vitally important under China’s patriarchal system) alternating causes of national growth and decay; to watch, during the space of a few generations, the sowing of the seeds, and the reaping of the harvests, of good and evil.
Our object being to reproduce as fully and as truthfully as possible the atmosphere of the Court of Peking, throughout the period which has culminated in the present paroxysm of demoralisation, we have allowed the narratives of Chinese writers to stand, as a rule, without attempting to amend or curtail them to meet the conventions of reticence imposed, in certain directions, upon European writers. Here and there (notably in the narrative of the sack of Yang Chou-fu) we have thought it advisable to omit some of the worst details of horrors inseparable from the orgies of bloodshed and lust which mark the rise and fall of power in China. As a whole, however, we have assumed that the student of history prefers to see things as they are, rather than as the moralist would prefer them to be; that he can, and will, approach this study of Eastern life, described by Orientals, in the same spirit of detachment, with the same recognition of fundamental humanities and moralities, as that with which we approach the brutal frankness of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel things written for our learning.
About the previous owner:
The book previously belonged to a famous member of the US Foreign Services staff, Cabot Coville and his wife, Lilian Grosvenor Coville.
Mr. Coville began his career in the Foreign Service in 1926 and went overseas three years later as vice consul in Kobe, Japan. Between 1931 and 1939, his posts included those of consul in Tokyo and in Harbin, Manchuria, and of second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
After serving two years on the Japan desk in Washington, he went to the Philippines in 1941, where he was assigned to the office of U.S. high commissioner. After Japan attacked the Philippines, he escaped from Corregidor to Australia. During World War II, he served in Latin America, Stockholm and London, where he became embassy first secretary.
He also participated in the 1945 San Francisco United Nations Conference. After the war, he became a political adviser to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who directed the occupation forces in Japan. At the time he retired in 1953, Mr. Coville was consul general in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He was a past president of the Japan-American Society of Washington. He was a member of Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired), and the Cosmos, Chevy Chase and Metropolitan clubs. He also was a member of the Friends Meeting of Washington.
Mr. Coville, who was born in Washington, was a graduate of Central High School and Cornell University.
His marriage to the former Lilian Grosvenor ended in divorce.