“To die beneath the hoofs of trampling
That is the lot of heroes upon earth!”
He that commends me to mine own content,
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water,
That in the ocean seeks another drop;
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.
Comedy of Errors.
Three eventful years have passed, and a general peace is giving rest to exhausted Europe. The war has cut off many a brave man; but it remained for peace to terminate the military career of a rising soldier in L’Isle’s person; and sad to say, before he was either Major general or knight of the Bath; though sought in many a dangerous path, he had not found his golden spurs.
Regiments have been disbanded, his comrades are scattered, and he himself has nothing to do, not even the poor resource of having to study economy on half-pay, or of looking for more additional means to eke out a living.
It is the curse of those entirely engrossing pursuits, which excite all our enthusiasm, and task every energy, and of which the statesman’s and the soldier’s callings are the best examples, that, when they fail us, we can find no substitute. All things else are, by comparison, stale, flat, and unprofitable. Can the brandy drinker cheer himself with draughts of small beer? Screw up his nervous energies to their accustomed tone with slops?
Tired to death of fox-hunting, pleasant shooting, and country neighbors; all the means of excitement around him exhausted, L’Isle lounged in the library at C——d Hall, with half a dozen open but discarded volumes before him, revolving in his mind all possible means of occupation. At one time he would resolve to travel the world over, and get up a personal narrative, attractive as that of Humboldt, and views of nature, that should look through nature’s surface to the recognition of Nature’s God, whom the philosopher seems never to have found in all his works. At another time, in order more effectively to counteract the ill effects, on mind and habits, of the soldier’s exciting and unsettled life, he resolves to subject himself to still severer regimen: not to go rambling about the world, an idling philosopher, but to tie himself down to one spot, and take violently to a course of high farming; grow the largest turnips, breed the fattest South-downs, and the heaviest Devonshires, and carry off agricultural prizes as substitutes for additional Waterloo medals.