This quotation can be viewed in the context of a book
"One cannot but wonder at this constantly recurring phrase getting something for nothing, as if it were the peculiar and perverse ambition of disturbers of society. Except for our animal outfit, practically all we have is handed us gratis. Can the most complacent reactionary flatter himself that he invented the art of writing or the printing press, or discovered his religious, economic, and moral convictions, or any of the devices which supply him with meat and raiment or any of the sources of such pleasure as he may derive from literature or the fine arts? In short, civilization is little else than getting something for nothing."