C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


A great fortune is a great servitude.


We all covet wealth, but not its perils.

La Bruyère.

Lack of desire is the greatest riches.


These riches are posses’d, but not enjoy’d.


I envy none the gilding of their woe.


All wealth is the product of labor.


Riches seldom make their owners rich.

Dr. Johnson.

Wealth is the least trustworthy of anchors.

J. G. Holland.

Worldly wealth is the devil’s bait.

Robert Burton.

Golden roofs break men’s rest.


Base wealth preferring to eternal praise.


Wants keep pace with wealth always.

J. G. Holland.

The wealth of society is its stock of productive labor.

Sir James Mackintosh.

How i’ the name of thrift doth he rake this together?


Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.


Poverty treads close upon the heels of great and unexpected wealth.


Without a rich heart wealth is an ugly beggar.


For they say, if money go before, all ways do lie open.


Can wealth give happiness? look round and see, what gay distress! what splendid misery!


Conscience and wealth are not always neighbors.


Well-gotten wealth may lose itself, but the ill-gotten loses its master also.


Wealth is nothing in itself; it is not useful but when it departs from us.

Dr. Johnson.

Our wealth is often a snare to ourselves, and always a temptation to others.


It is far more easy to acquire a fortune like a knave than to expend it like a gentleman.


The million covet wealth, but how few dream of its perils?

John Neal.

Property is like snow; if it falleth level to-day, it will be blown into drifts to-morrow.


It is only when the rich are sick that they fully feel the impotence of wealth.


The most brilliant fortunes are often not worth the littleness required to gain them.

La Rochefoucauld.

  • Get place and wealth, if possible, with grace
  • If not, by any means get wealth and place.
  • Pope.

    Wealth is the smallest thing on earth, the least gift that God has bestowed on mankind.

    Martin Luther.

    That man has the fewest wants who is the least anxious for wealth.

    Publius Syrus.

  • What makes the breaking of all oaths
  • A holy duty?—food and clothes.
  • Butler.

    Less coin, less care; to know how to dispense with wealth is to possess it.


    A man can no more make a safe use of wealth without reason than he can of a horse without a bridle.


    Wealth cannot purchase any great private solace or convenience. Riches are only the means of sociality.

    Henry D. Thoreau.

    Wealth is an imperious mistress; she requires the whole heart and life of man.


    Wealth may be an excellent thing, for it means power, it means leisure, it means liberty.


    Old gold has a civilizing virtue which new gold must grow old to be capable of secreting.


    If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting.

    Benjamin Franklin.

    Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better.


    He that is proud of riches is a fool. For if he be exalted above his neighbors because he hath more gold, how much inferior is he to a gold mine!

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Wealth hath never given happiness, but often hastened misery; enough hath never caused misery but often quickened happiness.


    The way to wealth is as plain as the road to market. It depends chiefly on two words,—industry and frugality.


    Wherever there is excessive wealth, there is also in the train of it excessive poverty; as where the sun is brightest the shade is deepest.


    One cause of the insufficiency of riches (to produce happiness) is, that they very seldom make their owner rich.


    As riches and favor forsake a man, we discover him to be a fool, but nobody could find it out in his prosperity.

    La Bruyère.

    Seek not proud wealth; but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly.


    Wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much but wants more.


    There is no society, however free and democratic, where wealth will not create an aristocracy.


    The accumulation of wealth is followed by an increase of care, and by an appetite for more.


    The proverb is true, that light gains make heavy purses; for light gains come often, great gains now and then.


    When wealthy, show thy wisdom not to be to wealth a servant, but make wealth serve thee.

    Sir J. Denham.

    Seneca devoted much of his time to writing essays in praise of poverty, and to lending money at usurious rates.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Much learning shows how little mortals know; much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy.


    Sovereign money procures a wife with a large fortune, gets a man credit, creates friends, stands in place of pedigree, and even of beauty.


    There is nothing keeps longer than a middling fortune, and nothing melts away sooner than a great one.

    La Bruyère.

    In goodness, rich men should transcend the poor, as clouds the earth; raised by the comfort of the sun to water dry and barren grounds.


    The possession of wealth is, as it were, prepayment, and involves an obligation of honor to the doing of correspondent work.

    George MacDonald.

  • For wealth, without contentment, climbs a hill,
  • To feel those tempests which fly over ditches.
  • Herbert.

  • Through life’s dark road his sordid way he wends,
  • An incarnation of fat dividends.
  • Sprague.

    But wealth is a great means of refinement; and it is a security for gentleness, since it removes disturbing anxieties.

    Ik Marvel.

  • O what a world of vile ill-favour’d faults
  • Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!
  • Shakespeare.

  • Know from the bounteous heavens all riches flow;
  • And what man gives, the gods by man bestow.
  • Homer.

  • Let none admire
  • That riches grow in hell; that soil may best
  • Deserve the precious bane.
  • Milton.

    It requires a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune; and when you have got it, it requires ten times as much wit to keep it.


    Wealth is a weak anchor, and glory cannot support a man; this is the law of God, that virtue only is firm, and cannot be shaken by a tempest.


    Many a beggar at the crossway, or gray-haired shepherd on the plain, hath more of the end of all wealth than hundreds who multiply the means.


    Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use.


    That plenty should produce either covetousness or prodigality is a perversion of providence; and yet the generality of men are the worse for their riches.

    William Penn.

    People who are arrogant on account of their wealth are about equal to our Laplanders, who measure a man’s worth by the number of his reindeer.

    Fredrika Bremer.

    Many in hot pursuit have hasted to the goal of wealth, but have lost, as they ran, those apples of gold, the mind and the power to enjoy it.


    Riches are gotten with pain, kept with care, and lost with grief. The cares of riches lie heavier upon a good man than the inconveniences of an honest poverty.


  • Can wealth give happiness? look round, and see
  • What gay distress! what splendid misery!
  • Whatever fortune lavishly can pour,
  • The mind annihilates, and calls for more.
  • Young.

  • We frequently misplace esteem,
  • By judging men by what they seem,
  • To birth, wealth, power, we should allow
  • Precedence, and our lowest bow.
  • Gay.

    If thou art rich, thou art poor; for, like an ass whose back with ingots bows, thou bearest thy heavy riches but a journey, and death unloads thee.


    If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure in our own coffers.


    The greatest and most amiable privilege which the rich enjoy over the poor is that which they exercise the least,—the privilege of making them happy.


    One man pursues power in order to possess wealth, and another pursues wealth in order to possess power; which last is the safer way, and generally followed.


    Of all pure things, purity in the acquisition of riches is the best. He who preserves purity in becoming rich is really pure, not he who is purified by water.


    The ideal social state is not that in which each gets an equal amount of wealth, but in which each gets in proportion to his contribution to the general stock.

    Henry George.

  • Who hath not heard the rich complain
  • Of surfeits, and corporeal pain?
  • He barr’d from every use of wealth,
  • Envies the ploughman’s strength and health.
  • Gay.

  • I have mental joys and mental health,
  • Mental friends and mental wealth,
  • I’ve a wife that I love and that loves me;
  • I’ve all but riches bodily.
  • Wm. Blake.

    Poverty breeds wealth; and wealth in its turn breeds poverty. The earth, to form the mould, is taken out of the ditch; and whatever may be the height of the one will be the depth of the other.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

  • There are, while human miseries abound,
  • A thousand ways to waste superfluous wealth,
  • Without one fool or flatterer at your board,
  • Without one hour of sickness or disgust.
  • Armstrong.

  • Wealth in the gross is death, but life diffus’d;
  • As poison heals, in just proportion us’d;
  • In heaps, like ambergrise, a stink it lies,
  • But well dispers’d, is incense to the skies.
  • Pope.

    There is a burden of care in getting riches, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burden of account at last to be given up concerning them.

    Matthew Henry.

    What a man does with his wealth depends upon his idea of happiness. Those who draw prizes in life are apt to spend tastelessly, if not viciously; not knowing that it requires as much talent to spend as to make.


    Gross and vulgar minds will always pay a higher respect to wealth than to talent; for wealth, although it be a far less efficient source of power than talent, happens to be far more intelligible.


  • What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
  • About two hundred pounds a year,
  • And that which was prov’d true before,
  • Prove false again? two hundred more.
  • Butler.

    Many men want wealth,—not a competence alone, but a five-story competence. Everything subserves this; and religion they would like as a sort of lightning-rod to their houses, to ward off by and by the bolts of Divine wrath.


    Leisure and solitude are the best effect of riches, because mother of thought. Both are avoided by most rich men, who seek company and business, which are signs of being weary of themselves.

    Sir W. Temple.

    What real good does an addition to a fortune, already sufficient, procure? Not any. Could the great man, by having his fortune increased, increase also his appetites, then precedence might be attended with real amusement.


    Worldly wealth is the Devil’s bait; and those whose minds feed upon riches recede, in general, from real happiness, in proportion as their stores increase; as the moon, when she is fullest, is farthest from the sun.


  • Money, thou bane of bliss, and source of woe,
  • Whence cam’st thou, that thou art so fresh and fine?
  • I know thy parentage is base and low:
  • Man found thee poor and dirty in a mine.
  • Herbert.

  • The rich man’s son inherits cares;
  • The bank may break, the factory burn,
  • A breath may burst his bubble shares,
  • And soft, white hands could hardly earn
  • A living that would serve his turn.
  • Lowell.

    Let us not envy some men their accumulated riches; their burden would be too heavy for us; we could not sacrifice, as they do, health, quiet, honor, and conscience, to obtain them: it is to pay so dear for them that the bargain is a loss.

    La Bruyère.

    What does competency in the long run mean? It means to all reasonable beings, cleanliness of person, decency of dress, courtesy of manners, opportunities for education, the delights of leisure, and the bliss of giving.


  • That I might live alone once with my gold!
  • Oh ’t is a sweet companion! kind and true!
  • A man may trust it, when his father cheats him,
  • Brother, or friend, or wife. O wondrous pelf,
  • That which makes all men false, is true itself.
  • Jonson.

    If wealth come, beware of him, the smooth, false friend! There is treachery in his proffered hand; his tongue is eloquent to tempt; lust of many harms is lurking in his eye; he hath a hollow heart; use him cautiously.


  • Poor worms, they hiss at me, whilst I at home
  • Can be contented to applaud myself,***with joy
  • To see how plump my bags are and my barns.
  • Ben Jonson.

  • Since all the riches of this world
  • May be gifts from the devil and earthly kings,
  • I should suspect that I worshipped the devil
  • If I thanked my God for worldly things.
  • Wm. Blake.

    What money creates, money preserves: If thy wealth decays, thy honor dies; it is but a slippery happiness which fortunes can give, and frowns can take; and not worth the owning which a night’s fire can melt, or a rough sea can drown.


    Wealth is not acquired, as many persons suppose, by fortunate speculations and splendid enterprises, but by the daily practice of industry, frugality, and economy. He who relies upon these means will rarely be found destitute, and he who relies upon any other will generally become bankrupt.


  • We know that wealth well understood,
  • Hath frequent power of doing good;
  • Then fancy that the thing is done,
  • As if the power and will were one;
  • Thus oft the cheated crowd adore
  • The thriving knaves that keep them poor.
  • Gay.

  • These grains of gold are not grains of wheat!
  • These bars of silver thou canst not eat;
  • These jewels and pearls and precious stones
  • Cannot cure the aches in thy bones,
  • Nor keep the feet of death one hour
  • From climbing the stairways of thy tower.
  • Longfellow.

    An accession of wealth is a dangerous predicament for a man. At first he is stunned, if the accession be sudden; he is very humble and very grateful. Then he begins to speak a little louder; people think him more sensible, and soon he thinks himself so.


  • And to hie him home, at evening’s close,
  • To sweet repast, and calm repose.
  • *****
  • From toil he wins his spirits light,
  • From busy day the peaceful night;
  • Rich, from the very want of wealth,
  • In heaven’s best treasures, peace and health.
  • Gray.

    Men pursue riches under the idea that their possession will set them at ease, and above the world. But the law of association often makes those who begin by loving gold as a servant finish by becoming themselves its slaves; and independence without wealth is at least as common as wealth without independence.


    Wealth brings noble opportunities, and competence is a proper object of pursuit; but wealth, and even competence, may be bought at too high a price. Wealth itself has no moral attribute. It is not money, but the love of money, which is the root of all evil. It is the relation between wealth and the mind and the character of its possessor which is the essential thing.


    Whosoever shall look heedfully upon those who are eminent for their riches will not think their condition such as that he should hazard his quiet, and much less his virtue, to obtain it, for all that great wealth generally gives above a moderate fortune is more room for the freaks of caprice, and more privilege for ignorance and vice, a quicker succession of flatteries, and a larger circle of voluptuousness.


  • To purchase Heaven has gold the power?
  • Can gold remove the mortal hour?
  • In life can love be bought with gold?
  • Are friendship’s pleasures to be sold?
  • No—all that’s worth a wish—a thought,
  • Fair virtue gives unbribed, unbought.
  • Cease then on trash thy hopes to bind,
  • Let nobler views engage thy mind.
  • Dr. Johnson.

  • Perhaps he hath great projects in his mind,
  • To build a college, or to found a race,
  • An hospital, a church—and leave behind
  • Some dome surmounted by his meagre face,
  • Perhaps he fain would liberate mankind
  • Even with the very ore which makes them base;
  • Perhaps he would be wealthiest of his nation,
  • Or revel in the joys of calculation.
  • Byron.

  • See what money can do: that can change
  • Men’s manners; alter their conditions!
  • How tempestuous the slaves are without it!
  • O thou powerful metal! what authority
  • Is in thee! thou art the key to all men’s
  • Mouths: with thee, a man may lock up the jaws
  • Of an informer; and without thee, he
  • Cannot open the lips of a lawyer.
  • Richard Brome.

  • Why dost thou heap up wealth, which thou must quit,
  • Or what is worse, be left by it?
  • Why dost thou load thyself when thou ’rt to fly,
  • Oh, man! ordain’d to die?
  • Why dost thou build up stately rooms on high,
  • Thou who art under ground to lie?
  • Thou sow’st and plantest, but no fruit must see,
  • For death, alas! is reaping thee.
  • Cowley.

    When the desire of wealth is taking hold of the heart, let us look round and see how it operates upon those whose industry or fortune has obtained it. When we find them oppressed with their own abundance, luxurious without pleasure, idle without ease, impatient and querulous in themselves, and despised or hated by the rest of mankind, we shall soon be convinced that if the real wants of our condition are satisfied, there remains little to be sought with solicitude or desired with eagerness.

    Dr. Johnson.