They had to be protected; and their horses, carriages, houses, servants had to be protected; and the source of their wealth had to be protected in the heart of the city and the heart of the country; the whole social order favourable to their hygienic idleness had to be protected against the shallow enviousness
of unhygienic labour.
Francesco Guicciardini has noted the enviousness
of the Medici; about Lorenzo specifically, he writes "Appeti la gloria e la eccellenzia piu che alcuno altro; in che si puo riprendere avere avuto troppo questo appetito nelle cose eziandio minime, pel quale non voleva eziandio ne' versi, ne' giuochi, negli esercizi essere pareggiato o imitato da alcuno cittadino" (206n67; Storia fiorentina 75; my emphasis).
But Verloc is a "family man"; he reflects that "the whole social order favourable to [the upper class's] hygienic idleness had to be protected against the shallow enviousness
of unhygienic labour" (12); he views his "mission in life" as "the protection of the social mechanism" (15).
Sin is the root cause, while enviousness
and jealousy are the consequences which led to the crime being committed.
If (as I firmly believe) a certain abnegation of self, a certain rejection of enviousness
, is the condition of entry into the kingdom of heaven, then Ralph has an excellent chance of final ascension.
Although there are no objective criteria for what prompts envy, to the extent that competence and hard work play a role in each of the opening vignettes, enviousness (as opposed to unfairness) is at play.
Finally, even though enviousness may result from feelings of having been "underrewarded," comparing our own outcomes relative to others' outcomes proportional to inputs ("I worked harder than she did, but she got more") is not a necessary prerequisite for experiencing envy.
In fact, notwithstanding Verloc's birth to humble "industrious parents," he disdains the "shallow enviousness
of unhygienic labour," and is "constitutionally averse [to] every superfluous exertion" (52).