The Knights of the Cross

Henryk Sienkiewicz
The Knights of the Cross (or, Krzyzacy) (tr Samuel A. Binion) [with accents]

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Title: The Knights of the Cross
Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz
Release Date: December, 2005 [EBook #9473] [This file was first posted on October 3, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Thomas Berger, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Historical Romance
Author Of "Quo Vadis," "The Deluge," "With Fire And Sword," "Pan Michael," Etc., Etc.
Translated From The Original Polish By Samuel A. Binion
Author Of "Ancient Egypt," Etc. Translator Of "Quo Vadis," Etc.


Commissioner of Education
My Dear Doctor:--
This translation, of one of the greatest novels of Poland's foremost modern writer, Henryk Sienkiewicz, I beg to dedicate to you. Apart for my high personal regard for you, my reason for selecting you among all my literary friends, is: that you are a historian and philosopher, and can therefore best appreciate works of this kind.
New York City.

To the Reader.
Here you have, gentle reader--old writers always called you gentle--something very much more than a novel to amuse an idle hour. To read it will be enjoyable pastime, no doubt; but the brilliant romance of the brilliant author calls upon you for some exercise of the finest sympathy and intelligence; sympathy for a glorious nation which, with only one exception, has suffered beyond all other nations; intelligence, of the sources of that unspeakable and immeasurable love and of the great things that may yet befall before those woes are atoned for and due punishment for them meted out to their guilty authors.
Poland! Poland! The very name carries with it sighings and groanings, nation-murder, brilliance, beauty, patriotism, splendors, self-sacrifice through generations of gallant men and exquisite women; indomitable endurance of bands of noble people carrying through world-wide exile the sacred fire of wrath against the oppressor, and uttering in every clime a cry of appeal to Humanity to rescue Poland.
It was indeed a terrible moment in history, when the three military monarchies of Europe, Russia, Austria and Prussia, swooped down upon the glorious but unhappy country, torn by internal trouble, and determined to kill it and divide up its dominions. All were alike guilty, as far as motive went. But Holy Russia--Holy!--since that horrible time has taken upon herself by far the greatest burden of political crime in her dealings with that noble nation. Every evil passion bred of despotism, of theological hatred, of rancorous ancient enmities, and the ghastliest official corruption, have combined in Russian action for more than one hundred and fifty years, to turn Poland into a hell on earth. Her very language was proscribed.
This is not the place to give details of that unhappy country's woes. But suffice it to say, that Poland, in spite of fatuous prohibitions, has had a great literature since the loss of her independence, and that literature has so kept alive the soul of the nation, that with justice Poland sings her great patriotic song:
"Poland is not yet lost As long as we live...."
The nation is still alive in its writers and their works, their splendid poetry and prose.
It is a pity that so few of these great writers are widely known. But most people have heard of Jan Kochanowski, of Mikolaj Rey, of Rubinski, of Szymanowicz, of Poland's great genius in this century, one of the supreme poets of the world, Adam Mickiewicz, of Joseph Ignac, of Kraszewski, who is as prolific in literary and scientific works as Alexander von Humboldt, and of hundreds of others in all branches of science and art, too numerous to mention here.
And it is remarkable that the author of this book, Henryk Sienkiewicz, should of late have attained such prominence in the public eye and found a place in the heart of mankind. It is of good omen. Thus, Poland,
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