Quotes on Greed
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Virtue and Vice

341. Bribery; Corruption; Greed

But scarce observed, the knowing and the bold
Fall in the general massacre of gold;
Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfined,
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind;
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heaped on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys,
The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
Johnson: The Vanity Of Human Wishes

372. Greed
"The commodiousness of money is indeed great; but there are some advantages which money cannot buy, and which therefore no wise man will by the love of money be tempted to forego."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland

488. Bribery; Greed
"Avarice is a uniform and tractable vice: other intellectual distempers are different in different constitutions of mind; that which soothes the pride of one will offend the pride of another; but to the favor of the covetous there is a ready way; bring money, and nothing is denied."
Johnson: Rasselas [Pekuah, the princess' maiden]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.

596. Greed
"...in time, want is enlarged without bounds; an eagerness for increase of possessions deluges the soul, and we sink into the gulfs of insatiability, only because we do not sufficiently consider that all real need is very soon supplied, and all real danger of its invasion easily precluded; that the claims of vanity, being without limits, must be denied at last; and that the pain of repressing them is less pungent before they have been long accustomed to compliance."
Johnson: Rambler #38 (July 28, 1750)

678. Greed; Wealth
"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."
Johnson: Rambler #58 (October 6, 1750)

1,081. Greed; Patronage; Toadies; Vanity
"It is dangerous for mean minds to venture themselves within the sphere of greatness. Stupidity is soon blinded by the splendour of wealth, and cowardice is easily fettered in the shackles of dependence. To solicit patronage is, at least, in the event, to set virtue to sale. None can be pleased without praise, and few can be praised without falsehood; few can be assiduous without servility, and none can be servile without corruption."
Johnson: Rambler #104 (March 16, 1751)

1,178. Greed; Wealth
"Wealth is the general centre of inclination, the point to which all minds preserve an invariable tendency, and from which they afterwards diverge in numberless directions. Whatever is the remote or ultimate design, the immediate care is to be rich; and in whatever enjoyment we intend finally to acquiesce, we seldom consider it as attainable but by the means of money. Of wealth, therefore, all unanimously confess the value, nor is there any disagreement but about the use."
Johnson: Rambler #131 (June 18, 1751)

1,180. Greed
"We do not find that any of the wishes of men keep a stated proportion to their powers of attainment. Many envy and desire wealth who can never procure it by honest industry or useful knowledge. They therefore turn their eyes about to examine what other methods can be found of gaining that which none, however important or worthless, will be content to want."
Johnson: Rambler #131 (June 18, 1751)

1,181. Greed
"The prospect of gaining speedily what is ardently desired, and the certainty of obtaining by every accession of advantage an addition of security, have so far prevailed upon the passions of mankind that the peace of life is destroyed by a general and incessant struggle for riches."
Johnson: Rambler #131 (June 18, 1751)

1,381. Action/Inaction; Greed
"Many there are who openly and almost professedly regulate all their conduct by their love of money: who have no reason for action or forbearance, for compliance or refusal, than that they hope to gain more by one than by the other. These are indeed the meanest and cruelest of human beings, a race with whom, as with some pestiferous animals, the whole creation seems to be at war; but who, however detested or scorned, long continue to add heap upon heap, and when they have reduced one to beggary, are still permitted to fasten on another."
Johnson: Rambler #175 (November 19, 1751)

1,776. Greed
"Avarice is always poor, but poor by her own fault."
Johnson: Idler #73 (September 8, 1759)

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