My Dear Lads,
Had I attempted to write you an account of the whole of the
adventurous career of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, it would, in
itself, have filled a bulky volume, to the exclusion of all other
matter; and a youth, who fought at Narva, would have been a
middle-aged man at the death of that warlike monarch, before the
walls of Frederickshall. I have, therefore, been obliged to confine
myself to the first three years of his reign, in which he crushed
the army of Russia at Narva, and laid the then powerful republic of
Poland prostrate at his feet. In this way, only, could I obtain
space for the private adventures and doings of Charlie Carstairs,
the hero of the story. The details of the wars of Charles the Twelfth
were taken from the military history, written at his command by his
chamberlain, Adlerfeld; from a similar narrative by a Scotch
gentleman in his service; and from Voltaire's history. The latter
is responsible for the statement that the trade of Poland was
almost entirely in the hands of Scotch, French, and Jewish
merchants, the Poles themselves being sharply divided into the two
categories of nobles and peasants.
G. A. Henty.
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