Gerard’s heroic deeds embrace the entire history and geography of the Napoleonic Wars, taking place in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Russia, England, and, finally, on St. Helena. No matter where he finds himself, however, the Brigadier always thinks like a hussar: ‘Of all the cities which we visited Venice is the most ill-built and ridiculous. I cannot imagine how the people who laid it out thought that the cavalry could maneuver.’ As for Waterloo, that plain of sorrows, he writes: ‘On the one side, poetry, gallantry, self-sacrifice—all that is beautiful and heroic. On the other side, beef. Our hopes, our ideals, our dreams—all were shattered on that terrible beef of Old England.’
- Michael Dirda on The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard, the adventure short stories that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote directly after killing off Sherlock Holmes, from his recently published book On Conan Doyle.