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This book tries to present, within a small compass, an
The present book distils into one volume the essence
of completeness in detail, than it was in my power
I have elsewhere explained the mechanism by which
Continuous condensation, although convenient to the reader, has its perils for the author.
1 See Preface to Volume I. of The Imperial Gazetteer of India. I regret to observe that, in regard to the Madras Presidency, I alluded only to the local accounts prepared by the District officers, without specifically mentioning the assistance which I derived from Mr. M‘Iver, of the Madras Civil Service. I gladly avail myself of this earliest opportunity to thank him for the aid which he rendered by the compilation of many of the Madras articles for The Imperial Gazetteer.-W. W. H.
nations than Europe, in every stage of human development, from the polyandric tribes and hunting hamlets of the hill jungles, to the most complex commercial communities in the world. When I have had to expose old fables, or to substitute truth for long accepted errors, I clearly show my grounds for doing SO. Thus, in setting aside the legend of Mahmúd the Idol-Breaker, I trace back the growth of the myth through the Persian Historians, to the contemporary narrative of Al Biruni (970–1029 A.D.). The calumnies against Jagannath are corrected by the testimony of three centuries, from 1580, when Abul Fazl wrote, down to the police reports of 1870. Macaulay's somewhat fanciful story of Plassey has been told afresh in the words of Clive's own despatch.
But almost every period of Indian history forms an arena of controversy. Thus, in the early Sanskrit era, each date is the result of an intricate process of induction; the chapter on the Scythic inroads has been pieced together from the unfinished researches of the Archæological Survey and from local investigations; the growth of Hinduism, as the religious and social nexus of the Indian races, is here for the first time written.
In attempting to reconstruct Indian history from its original sources in the fewest possible pages, I beg oriental scholars to believe that, although their individual views are not always set forth, they have been respectfully considered. I also pray the English reader to remember that, if he desires a more detailed treatment of the subjects of this volume, he may find it in my larger works.
W. W. H.
Weimar, October 1881.