BOOK IV. THREE LOVE PROBLEMS.
35. CHAPTER XXXV.
"Non, je ne comprends pas de plus charmant plaisir
Que de voir d'heritiers une troupe affligee
Le maintien interdit, et la mine allongee,
Lire un long testament ou pales, etonnes
On leur laisse un bonsoir avec un pied de nez.
Pour voir au naturel leur tristesse profonde
Je reviendrais, je crois, expres de l'autre monde."
--REGNARD: Le Legataire Universel.
When the animals entered the Ark in pairs, one may imagine that allied
species made much private remark on each other, and were tempted
to think that so many forms feeding on the same store of fodder
were eminently superfluous, as tending to diminish the rations.
(I fear the part played by the vultures on that occasion would be too
painful for art to represent, those birds being disadvantageously
naked about the gullet, and apparently without rites and ceremonies.)
The same sort of temptation befell the Christian Carnivora who formed
Peter Featherstone's funeral procession; most of them having their minds
bent on a limited store which each would have liked to get the most of.
The long-recognized blood-relations and connections by marriage
made already a goodly number, which, multiplied by possibilities,
presented a fine range for jealous conjecture and pathetic hopefulness.
Jealousy of the Vincys had created a fellowship in hostility among
all persons of the Featherstone blood, so that in the absence of any
decided indication that one of themselves was to have more than
the rest, the dread lest that long-legged Fred Vincy should have
the land was necessarily dominant, though it left abundant feeling
and leisure for vaguer jealousies, such as were entertained towards
Mary Garth. Solomon found time to reflect that Jonah was undeserving,
and Jonah to abuse Solomon as greedy; Jane, the elder sister,
held that Martha's children ought not to expect so much as the
young Waules; and Martha, more lax on the subject of primogeniture,
was sorry to think that Jane was so "having." These nearest of kin
were naturally impressed with the unreasonableness of expectations
in cousins and second cousins, and used their arithmetic in reckoning
the large sums that small legacies might mount to, if there were
too many of them. Two cousins were present to hear the will,
and a second cousin besides Mr. Trumbull. This second cousin was
a Middlemarch mercer of polite manners and superfluous aspirates.
The two cousins were elderly men from Brassing, one of them
conscious of claims on the score of inconvenient expense sustained
by him in presents of oysters and other eatables to his rich
cousin Peter; the other entirely saturnine, leaning his hands
and chin on a stick, and conscious of claims based on no narrow
performance but on merit generally: both blameless citizens
of Brassing, who wished that Jonah Featherstone did not live there.
The wit of a family is usually best received among strangers.