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In this quote, George Gissing is expressing the view that money represents or equates to time. Specifically, he suggests that by having money, one is able to purchase or “buy” time that would otherwise not be available to them.
Gissing notes that without money, people must spend their hours working to survive, making them “bondsmen” or slaves to the demands of simply earning a living. However, wealth allows one to free up time from work obligations and instead spend it on “cheerful use” or leisure activities they find fulfilling.
The best interpretation is that Gissing believed money affords people a sense of freedom and control over their hours by enabling discretionary time not dominated by work. From this perspective, money quite literally translates into additional time available for enjoyment and self-determination rather than being “miserably” beholden to others’ schedules and needs.