A description of the Reverend Irwine, whose sisters are elsewhere described as being entirely superfluous. He is the only person who doesn’t seem to think them so, due to his sweet nature. Yet, that ‘epicurean’ is part of a larger flabby self-indulgence, and you have the impression of someone whose job is more a source of social standing, and ample, hearty breakfasts; a person not entirely suited to saving the souls of his flock.
‘… for his was one of those large-hearted, sweet-blooded natures that never know a narrow or a grudging thought, epicurean, if you will, with no enthusiasm, no self-scourging sense of duty.’
Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 (1859)), p. 111