Finally, his friends loved him for his very feebleness. Mrs. Weldon regarded him as her child--a large elder brother of her little Jack.
It is proper to add here that Cousin Benedict was, meanwhile, neither idle nor unoccupied. On the contrary, he was a worker. His only passion--natural history--absorbed him entirely.
To say "Natural History" is to say a great deal.
We know that the different parts of which this science is composed are zoology, botany, mineralogy, and geology.
Now Cousin Benedict was, in no sense, a botanist, nor a mineralogist, nor a geologist.
Was he, then, a zoologist in the entire acceptation of the word, a kind of Cuvier of the New World, decomposing an animal by analysis, or putting it together again by synthesis, one of those profound connoisseurs, versed in the study of the four types to which modern science refers all animal existence, vertebrates, mollusks, articulates, and radiates? Of these four divisions, had the artless but studious savant observed the different classes, and sought the orders, the families, the tribes, the genera, the species, and the varieties which distinguish them?
Had Cousin Benedict devoted himself to the study of the vertebrates, mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes?
Was it to the mollusks, from the cephalopodes to the bryozoans, that he had given his preference, and had malacology no more secrets for him?
Not at all.
Then it was on the radiates, echinoderms, acalephes, polypes, entozoons, sponges, and infusoria, that he had for such a long time burned the midnight oil?
It must, indeed, be confessed that it was not on the radiates.
Now, in zoology there only remains to be mentioned the division of the articulates, so it must be that it was on this division that Cousin Benedict's only passion was expended.
Yes, and still it is necessary to select.
This branch of the articulates counts six classes: insects, myriapodes, arachnides, crustaceans, cirrhopodes, and annelides.
Now, Cousin Benedict, scientifically speaking, would not know how to distinguish an earth-worm from a medicinal leech, a sand-fly from a glans-marinus, a common spider from a false scorpion, a shrimp from a frog, a gally-worm from a scolopendra.
But, then, what was Cousin Benedict? Simply an entomologist--nothing more.
To that, doubtless, it may be said that in its etymological acceptation, entomology is that part of the natural sciences which includes all the articulates. That is true, in a general way; but it is the custom to give this word a more restricted sense. It is then only applied, properly speaking, to the study of insects, that is to say: "All the articulate animals of which the body, composed of rings placed end to end, forms three distinct segments, and which possesses three pairs of legs, which have given them the name of hexapodes."
Now, as Cousin Benedict had confined himself to the study of the articulates of this class, he was only an entomologist.
But, let us not be mistaken about it. In this class of the insects are counted not less than ten orders:
1. Orthopterans as grasshoppers, crickets, etc. 2. Neuropters as ant-eaters, dragon-flies or libellula. 3. Hymenopters as bees, wasps, ants. 4. Lepidopters as butterflies, etc. 5. Hemipters as cicada, plant-lice, fleas, etc. 6. Coleopters as cockchafers, fire-flies, etc. 7. Dipters as gnats, musquitoes, flies. 8. Rhipipters as stylops. 9. Parasites as acara, etc. 10. Thysanurans as lepidotus, flying-lice, etc.
Now, in certain of these orders, the coleopters, for example, there are recognized thirty thousand species, and sixty thousand in the dipters; so subjects for study are not wanting, and it will be conceded that there is sufficient in this class alone to occupy a man!
Thus, Cousin Benedict's life was entirely and solely consecrated to entomology.
To this science he gave all his hours--all, without exception, even the hours of sleep, because he invariably dreamt "hexapodes." That he carried pins stuck in his sleeves and in the collar of his coat, in the bottom of his hat, and in the facings of his vest, need not be mentioned.