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As a piece of psychology it must always have a certain interest, and it may on occasions become of enormous practical importance.
If, for instance, in 1857 certain persons, whose con- cern it was, had paid more attention to facts of this kind, possibly the Indian Mutiny could have been prevented, and probably it might have been foreseen, so that precautionary measures could have been taken in time to minimise the extent of the catastrophe.
It is not suggested that the matters dealt with in this book are ever likely to involve such serious issues ; but, speaking generally, there can be no doubt PREFACE ix that an understanding of the ideas and modes of thought of an alien people in a relatively low stage of civilisation facilitates very considerably the task of governing them ; and in the Malay Peninsula that task has now devolved mainly upon English- men.
Moreover, every notion of utility implies an end to which it is to be referred, and there are other ends in life worth considering as well as those to which the "practical man" is pleased to restrict himself.
I remember my old friend and former teacher, Wan viii PREFACE 'Abdullah, a Singapore Malay of Trengganu extrac- tion and Arab descent, a devout and learned Muham- madan and a most charming man, objecting to them on the grounds, first, that they were useless, and, secondly, which, as he emphatically declared, was far worse, that they were perilous to the soul's health.
Of these a great number has been here collected, and in the translation of such of the more interesting ones as are quoted in the text of the book, every effort has been made to keep to literal accuracy of rendering.When one passes from the practical to the speculative point of view, it is almost impos- sible to predict what piece of knowledge will be fruitful of results, and what will not ; prima facie, therefore, all knowledge has a claim to be con- sidered of importance from a scientific point of view, and until everything is known, nothing can safely be rejected as worthless.