Prologue

In these stern times of ours, when crimson strife
Throws shade on every thoroughfare of life,
Disfigures comely countries with its gore,
And sends back mangled heroes to our shore,
The gift of gifts is sturdy hardihood,
That holds it firm through each vicissitude,
Not only hour by hour, but year by year,
If need be, till life's lurid skies are clear.

Arrested by perceptions such as this,
We gather that it may not be amiss,—
During the few brief minutes you can spare
From the innumerous claims that call your care,—
To raise up visions of historic wars
Which taxed the endurance of our ancestors;
That such reminders of the feats they did
May stouten hearts now strained by issues hid;

Therefore have we essayed to represent,
By our faint means, event upon event
That Europe saw a hundred years ago. . . .
—What matters that Napoleon was our foe?
Fair France herself had no ambitious ends;
And we are happy in a change that tends
To make of nearest neighbours closest friends.
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