The book before us gives pictures of Polish character and life on the eve of the second great siege of Vienna.
Twice was that city beleaguered by Turkey. The first siege was commanded by Solyman, that Sultan who was surnamed Magnificent by western nations; to Turks he was known as the Lord of his Age and the Lawgiver.
The first siege was repelled by the bravery of the garrison, by the heroism of Count Salm its commander, by the terrible weather of 1529, and also through turbulence of the Janissary forces. The second siege was crushed in 1683 by Sobieski's wise strategy, the splendid impetus of the Poles, and the firmness of the allies.
Had the Polish king not appeared the Sultan would have triumphed, hence Sobieski and his men are hailed ever since as the saviours of Vienna.
The enthusiasm of the time for Sobieski and his force was tremendous.
"There was a man sent from God whose name was John," this was the Gospel read at the Thanksgiving Mass in Saint Stephen's, the cathedral, the noble old church of that rescued and jubilant city. Some Poles went to Rome after that to get relics; the Pope gave this answer: "Take earth steeped in blood from the field where your countrymen fell at Vienna."
Many times have men here in America asked me: Are the Poles really held by such an intensity of passion?