THE subject of Foreign Missions is so prominent on all sides in the present day that no apology is needed for the publication of a book dealing with a remote field, concerning which little is known beyond the limited circle of those who read Missionary magazines and newspapers. Some apology, however, may be needed for the author who has compiled the following pages. Conscious of lack of power; ignorant, as far as experience goes, of all the conditions of Eskimo life; personally unacquainted, until a short time ago, with any of the missionaries engaged in evangelistic work among the Arctic people; the book was taken in hand at the request of the Rev. E. J. Peck, whose sole desire was to quicken interest in missionary work and to deepen the sense of responsibility in the Church of Christ concerning the great commission with which it has been entrusted.
A large amount of matter had previously been collected by one of Mr. Peck's friends, who wishes to remain anonymous. To this gentleman the thanks of the author are due not only for numerous selections from Mr. Peck's diaries, but also for many original passages which have been incorporated in the narrative, especially in the earlier chapters.
That there are many blemishes in the following pages the author himself is conscious, but he hopes that the reader will be lenient when he remembers that there was no possibility of consulting those who alone could have given help, had they been at hand--the missionaries. Working, as they are, among the Eskimos, they are hopelessly cut off from the outer world. How complete is their isolation may be well illustrated by what is passing in the author's mind as he writes this preface. In July, 1903, Mr. Peck sailed from Peterhead on the return voyage to Blacklead Island. About three or four weeks later, on August 13, his little daughter died at Boscombe. He has not yet (August 3, 1904) received any news of his terrible loss. The annual ship has sailed once more, but still some weeks must elapse before he hears that Jesus has called the little child unto Himself, for "of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Among other things, this isolation has made it necessary for the author to assume responsibility in certain matters which certainly would otherwise have been submitted for approval to those most concerned. One of them in particular is the title of the book. Mr. Peck's earnest wish was that his name should be kept as far as possible in the background. His one desire was that all glory should be given to God, and the human instrument remain unhonoured. He had hoped that this volume would have gone forth under another title.
But reasons which appeared to be irresistible were brought forward for overruling these wishes, and it was decided accordingly to make use of Mr. Peck's name. When, however, he discovers this, more than a year hence, it will probably be another cross added to his life, which, it is hoped, he will cheerfully bear for the Master's sake. And so, such as it is, this biographical sketch is sent forth to the public, with the earnest prayer that though mistakes of authorship and errors of judgment in editorship may be detected and condemned, God's Name may be glorified, interest in the extension of Christ's kingdom may be deepened, and the power of the Holy Ghost in convicting of sin and imparting newness of life may be recognised.
LITTLE BREDY, DORSET.
PS.--It should be stated that a portion of the first chapter, illustrating the life of a seaman on a British man-of-war more than thirty years ago, has been printed, by kind permission, from Life's Look-out by Sydney Watson.