Neither the author nor his book stands in need of any introduction to the public. But having been asked for such, I cheerfully respond. During his long residence in the North-Western Provinces of India, where I myself happened to reside, ample opportunities were afforded me of knowing and observing the Rev. Jas. Kennedy and his work. And I am therefore able, and glad, to say that no man was ever better placed than he was for gaining a thorough acquaintance with Hindustan and the various races inhabiting it, during the four decades of which he treats. I have met with none whose calm and sagacious judgment might more surely enable him to form correct conclusions, nor whose high and scrupulous principle should impart to the reader greater confidence in the fair and truthful statement of them.
I regard this book as possessing a rare interest, not only for the missionary student, but equally so for the general reader. The amount of information it contains, descriptive, social, evangelistic, and even political, is astonishing; and the discursive and, in part, autobiographical form in which it is written, renders it so easy, that he who runs may read. The contrast is drawn graphically, and with a light and lively pen, between the state of things fifty years ago and that which now prevails: the exchange of slow and cumbrous means of conveyance for those which enable you in these days to perform the journey of weeks in, you might say, as many hours; and the not less marked advance in education and intelligence. The retrospect, material as well as moral, social, and religious, is useful in many ways.
But that which lends its chief value to this work is the faithful picture of missionary labour -- its trials and difficulties, its results, rewards, and prospects. During the considerable period brought under review, standing by, as I did, and looking carefully on, I can unhesitatingly attest, as a whole, the correctness of my friend's statements, and the reasonableness of the lessons he would draw therefrom. This book should be read by every one who wishes to acquaint himself with the attitude of Christian agencies towards the people of India, and of these towards the Gospel. There is here a fertile field of facts and materials for thought. The author resorts to no roseate colouring, nor any kind of varnish. Nothing is unduly sanguine. All is tempered by sound judgment and wise discretion.
If I may add a word from my own experience, it is this -- Let my fellow-countrymen and countrywomen in India give their countenance to the Missionaries labouring around them. They well deserve it, but too often are allowed to stand alone. The loss is theirs who keep aloof, and neglect the man and his work. While our people are running to and fro in the busy whirl of Indian life -- some hasting to be rich, others engrossed in the labours of administration -- higher things are too frequently forgotten. The spiritual life is prone to fade and droop. Many men -- and women as well as men -- who would at home be cultivating some corner of the Master's vineyard, begin to forget that similar obligations follow after them in their private walk and life abroad. Against these deteriorating tendencies, to mingle with the missionary band affords a wholesome antidote. For myself, I can never be thankful enough that in my early Indian life I found valued friends in the missionary circle, not only of the highest mental culture, but of a devoted Christian heart; and was privileged with their intimacy to the end. Among them I cannot refrain from naming such noble Missionaries as Perkins, Smith, and Leupolt, French, Stuart, Welland, and Shackell, Owen, Humphrey, Budden and Watt, Hoernle, and Pfander -- that grand apologist to the Mahometans -- all of whose friendship I enjoyed, as well as that of the Author himself. If some of these were men the like of whom we may not soon look upon again -- a galaxy of rare appearance -- yet, as we may learn from these pages, the field is in the present day stocked even more plentifully than ever it was before. Opportunities of cultivating in this field Christian friendship -- and may I not add Christian work, and that for Ladies also -- are happily multiplying all around; and I can promise an ample reward to such as make a faithful use of them.
In conclusion, I will only say that I am much mistaken if this work fails to take its place as a standard book of reference in every library of missionary labour and Christian work abroad.
16th September, 1884.