THIS book is written from no desire for mere personal advertisement, though necessarily it contains very much of my own personal adventures and experiences during my long residence in Burma.
It is the outcome of reiterated demands and urgent requests alike from personal friends and from those whom it has been my duty and privilege to address from the platform or pulpit during my visits to this country, and also, latterly, during my enforced stay at home on account of health, which prevented me returning to my residence and work in the East.
I am well within the mark in saying that I have given more than a thousand such sermons, addresses and lectures, and I am unable to recall a single instance in which such an effort has not been received with deep interest and attention by my audience, whether consisting of ordinary congregations, of University and college assemblies, of Public or Private schools, or gatherings of children of all ages, or even of City merchants.
From nearly every one of these audiences a request has come to me that I should embody in book form the story in which my hearers have been so interested.
Newspaper reports more or less accurate--generally the latter--only whetted this desire.
I have long felt that I ought to comply therewith, and have determined so to do, but my constant absence from home on deputation has afforded me very little leisure for such a task; and, moreover, I have delayed in the earnest hope that with renewed health and vigour, I might be permitted to overcome the scruples of the doctors and obtain their permission to pay a farewell visit to the country that I love so well, and there arrange in order the materials for this work. Unhappily the decision of those to whose verdict I ought to bow has finally shattered the hope of my ever being able to return to Burma, and so I feel that now or never must be my motto if I would write my story.
This, therefore, is the raison d'être of my book, which I now send forth with the trust and belief that the kind interest and indulgence which have ever been given to my spoken addresses, will be extended to my narrative in its present form.
I do not undervalue, nor seek to enter into competition with the many able writers--among whom I reckon some of my most valued personal friends--whose works on Burma, from various points of view, are before the public. Necessarily, for the completion of this book, I must traverse much of the ground already covered by them, but I trust that there will be no unnecessary overlapping.
After all, the story which I have to tell is a personal one, and without undue egotism, I have constantly felt, and as constantly been assured by others, that it is the personal element which gives the greatest interest to such a narrative as mine, whether spoken or written. It is a story, not of what I have read or heard of, but of personal experience: of what I myself have done or tried to do, or in which I have participated.
J. E. M.