A.S. Byatt in The Children's Book (2009) answers:
Money was freedom. Money was aesthetic. Money was Arab stallions, not rough cobs. Money was not being shouted at. [...] Money was freedom. Money was life. -p. 59
How poor can one get?
'I once walked through Poplar behind two ragged men. They bent continuously to the pavement, picking up orange peel and apple cores, grape stems and crumbs. They cracked the pits of plums between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked single undigested oats out of horse dung. Can you imagine?' - p. 58
'How can these people bear to go to church and then go about in the streets and see what is there for everyone to see - and get told what the Bible says about the poor - and go on riding in carriages, and choosing neckties and hats - and eating huge beefsteaks - I can't see it.' -p. 170
More from this book.