IT is with mingled feelings of pleasure and pain that I have consented to write a few words of introduction to these memorials of a consecrated and useful life: of pleasure, because the task recalls days of delightful intercourse with one whom to know was to esteem and love; and of pain, because it revives the sorrow caused by the tidings of his tragic end.
Among those who have "served their generation by the will of God," few names are more worthy of remembrance than that of George McDougall. He was emphatically a man of one work. To carry the gospel to the heathen, to seek out the Indian in his wigwam, and, by the story of the Cross, win him to a better life, was the Christ-like task to which his energies were consecrated ; and having put his hand to the plow he never looked back. Unlike many whose zeal abated in presence of the hardships and isolation of missionary life, he never wavered from his first love, but lived and died an Indian missionary. Hard ships and sorrows, in no stinted measure, fell to his share, but he was never known to murmur or complain. The dark side of missionary experience he seldom referred to, and then only to show, by vivid contrast, the power of the gospel to comfort and sustain. In all his efforts to evangelize the Indians he was admirably seconded by his devoted wife, whose name, with his, will ever be held in loving remembrance.
In early life George McDougall enjoyed but few educational advantages, and when converting grace awakened, as it always does, a thirst for knowledge, adverse circumstances gave but slight opportunity to repair the defects of the past. Even when, in the face of obstacles that would have daunted less resolute men, he forced his way to college, the needs of the mission field allowed him but a few mouths' respite before he was called away to an Indian station. From that time onward his life was one of incessant toil, but by the diligent use of odd moments in his humble home, or by the camp-fire in forest or prairie, he amassed no small store of useful knowledge, and became a workman who needed not to be ashamed. He possessed, as his letters show, intellectual powers of no mean order, while as a missionary pioneer lie had few equals, and, perhaps, no superior. At Rama, at Garden River, at Norway House, and in the far West, his name, among the Red men, is still "as ointment poured forth," while his heroic labors and tragic end have embalmed his name in the memory of the Church forever.
Although the greater part of George McDougall's life was spent on the frontiers, and in thinly-peopled regions, yet his days were full of stirring incident "by flood and field," and one could wish that a much larger number of these had been interspersed throughout the narrative. But as the author's aim has been to present a plain, un adorned portrait of the man, he has wisely allowed him to tell his own story in extracts from reports, and journals, and letters, some of which were written with the freedom of personal friendship, without any thought of publication. These memorials will be read with eagerness throughout the Church, and w ill, by the blessing of God, be an inspiration in missionary effort. They are commended, more especially, to the study of our rising ministry, with the earnest prayer that they may lead some to tread in George McDougall's footsteps, and win a like imperishable renown.
Toronto, May 10, 1888.