"How can the physique be braced if no fresh breath from the outer world is suffered to permeate the languid, enervating air of the drawing-room? How can the grasp of the mind be vigorous, without action? Daughters of inherited wealth, or accumulated labor! the wide door of philanthropy is open peculiarly to you! Your life-work lies beyond your threshold: your wealth has placed you above the sorrowful struggle for daily bread which takes up the whole time of so many of your brothers and sisters. You are the almoners of God. A double accountability is yours."
"Material advancement has its share in moral and intellectual progress. Becky Sharp's acute remark that it is not difficult to be virtuous on ten thousand a year has its applications to nations; and it is futile to expect a hungry and squalid population to be anything but violent and gross."
"You have lived longer than I have and perhaps may have formed a different judgment on better grounds; but my observations do not enable me to say I think integrity the characteristic of wealth. In general I believe the decisions of the people, in a body, will be more honest and more disinterested than those of wealthy men."
"Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain't no good, and they die out. But we keep a-comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out. They can't lick us. And we'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."
"I was a sophomore in college when everything went down the drain. I never thought it would happen. It was like the end of the world. We had those great plush years. I remember the house. The kid's [sic] say, "Is that your house?" The schools we went to, Palm Springs, inviting your friends down for the weekends, swimming pools, fancy dresses. It was all tied up with my father. Finally I had to face my father being a real person."
"A good many causes tend to make good masters and mistresses quite as rare as good servants.... The large and rapid fortunes by which vulgar and ignorant people become possessed of splendid houses, splendidly furnished, do not, of course, give them the feelings and manners of gentle folks, or in any way really raise them above the servants they employ, who are quite aware of this fact, and that the possession of wealth is literally the only superiority their employers have over them."
"The plodding thrift and scrupulous integrity and long-winded patient industry of our business men of the last century are out of fashion in these "giddy-paced" times, and England is forgetting that those who make haste to be rich can hardly avoid much temptation and some sin."
"The psychological pain--and the ethical shame--of American poverty are made greater by the fact that this country possesses the wealth and the energy to raise all children to a minimally decent standard of living."
"When the philosophers despised riches, it was because they had a mind to vindicate their own merit, and take revenge upon the injustice of fortune by vilifying those enjoyments which she had not given them."
"Once there was a man who had lost his way in the high mountain passes of Switzerland. It was cold and the shadows of night were closing in upon him. Just then a little peasant boy appeared and the stranger asked of him, "My boy, can you tell me where is Kandersteck?" And the boy replied, "I do not know where Kandersteck is, sir, but yonder lies the road." In the same spirit I have written this book. I do not know the way to the Kandersteck of success, but certain paths lead there, and that woman is rich indeed who follows them."
"No man, however benevolent, liberal, and wise, can use a large fortune so that it will do half as much good in the world as it would if it were divided into moderate sums and in the hands of workmen who had earned it by industry and frugality. The piling up of estates often does great and conspicuous good.... But no man does with accumulated wealth so much good as the same amount would do in many hands."
"Finishing schools in the fifties were a good place to store girls for a few years before marrying them off, a satisfactory rest stop between college weekends spent husband hunting. It was a haven for those of us adept at styling each other's hair, playing canasta, and chain smoking Pall Mall extra-long cigarettes."