"Death plucked down some virtuous elder brother, on whose whistling daily toil solely hung the responsibilities of some other family, and left the worse than useless old man standing, till the hideous rot of life should make him easier to harvest."
Musing: Wow - what writing! This is the story of the ship's blacksmith. Because of his drinking, the blacksmith loses his family, his home, his business - everything. His life was crap - and - Melville tells us - all of his own doing. Many passages in the book allude to the notion that sometimes death and madness are kindnesses for those who screw up their lives. But death and madness often come for the ones who work the hardest instead. This leaves the worst of us to live cognizant of our pain forever. Nice.