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PRE FA C E.
IT has become a commonplace remark that fact is often stranger than fiction. It may be said, as a variant of this, that history is often more romantic than romance. The pages of the record of man's doings are frequently illustrated by entertaining and striking incidents, relief points in the dull monotony of every-day events, stories fitted to rouse the reader from languid weariness and stir anew in his veins the pulse of interest in human life. There are many such,-dramas on the stage of history, life scenes that are pictures in action, tales pathetic, stirring, enlivening, full of the element of the unusual, of the stuff the novel and the romance are made of, yet with the advantage of being actual fact. Incidents of this kind have proved as attractive to writers as to readers. They have dwelt upon them lovingly, embellished them with the charms of rhetoric and occasionally with the inventions of fancy, until what began as fact has often entered far into the domains of legend and fiction. It may well be
that some of the narratives in the present work have gone through this process. If so, it is simply indicative of the interest they have awakened in generations of readers and writers. But the bulk of them are fact, so far as history in general can be called fact, it having been our design to cull from the annals of the nations some of their more stirring and romantic incidents, and present them as a gallery of pictures that might serve to adorn the entrance to the temple of history, of which this work is offered as in some sense an illuminated ante-chamber. As such, it is hoped that some pilgrims from the world of readers may find it a pleasant halting-place on their way into the farextending aisles of the great temple beyond.