Portrait of Henry James (1913)
Public DomainPortrait of Henry James (1913) - Credit: John Singer Sargent

This is a line from Henry James's play The High Bid, a three-act comedy which was first performed in London in 1907.

In the section of the first act from which the quote is taken, a character called Captain Yule is talking to Chivers, a butler in an English country house:

YULE  ... What are you, my dear man?

CHIVERS (As if he really has to think a bit) Well, sir, I'm not quite that (Appealing to his friend's indulgence) Whatever in the world has there been to make me?

YULE (Washing his hands of it) I mean to whom do you beautifully belong?

CHIVERS (Who has really to think it over) If you could only just tell me, sir! I seem to quite waste away - for someone to take orders from.

YULE (Looking at him in compassion) Who pays your wages?

CHIVERS (Very simply) No one at all, sir.

YULE (Taking from his waistcoat pocket a gold coin, which he places with a little sharp click on a table near at hand) Then, there's a sovereign.