Quotes from The Forsyte Saga

John Galsworthy ·  872 pages

Rating: (16.7K votes)


“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“Love is not a hot-house flower, but a wild plant, born of a wet night, born of an hour of sunshine; sprung from wild seed, blown along the road by a wild wind. A wild plant that, when it blooms by chance within the hedge of our gardens, we call a flower; and when it blooms outside we call a weed; but, flower or weed, whose scent and colour are always, wild!”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“One's eyes are what one is, one's mouth is what one becomes.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“He might wish and wish and never get it - the beauty and the loving in the world!”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“Youth to youth, like the dragon-flies chasing each other, and love like the sun warming them through and through.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga



“Men are in fact, quite unable to control their own inventions; they at best develop adaptability to the new conditions those inventions create.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“When a Forsyte was engaged, married, or born, the Forsytes were present; when a Forsyte died — but no Forsyte had as yet died; they did not die; death being contrary to their principles, they took precautions against it, the instinctive precautions of highly vitalized persons who resent encroachments on their property.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“An epoch which had gilded individual liberty so that if a man had money he was free in law and fact, and if he had not money he was free in law and not in fact. An era which had canonized hypocrisy, so that to seem to be respectable was to be.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“Memory heaps dead leaves on corpse-like deeds, from under which they do but vaguely offend the sense.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“In choosing, moreover, for his father an amiable man of fifty-two, who had already lost an only son, and for his mother a woman of thirty-eight, whose first and only child he was, little Jon had done well and wisely. What had saved him from becoming a cross between a lap dog and a little prig, had been his father's adoration of his mother, for even little Jon could see that she was not merely just his mother, and that he played second fiddle to her in his father's heart: What he played in his mother's heart he knew not yet.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga



“Really," said Winifred suddenly; "it almost seems like Fate. Only that's so old-fashioned.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“There are two irreconcilable ideas of God. There′s the Unknowable Creative Principle---one believes in That. And there′s the Sum of altruism in man---naturally one believes in That...The sublime poem of the Christ life was man′s attempt to join those two irreconcilable conceptions of God. And since the Sum of human altruism was as much a part of the Unknowable Creative Principle as anything else in Nature and the Universe, a worse link might have been chosen after all! Funny---how one went through life without seeing it in that sort of way!”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“There are houses whose souls have passed into the limbo of Time, leaving their bodies in the limbo of London. Such was not quite the condition of "Timothy's" on the Bayswater Road, for Timothy's soul still had one foot in Timothy Forsyte's body, and Smither kept the atmosphere unchanging, of camphor and port wine and house whose windows are only opened to air it twice a day.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“James and the other eight children of 'Superior Dosset,' of whom there are still five alive, may be said to have represented Victorian England, with its principles of trade and individualism at five per cent, and your money back - if you know what that means. At all events they've turned thirty thousand pounds into a cool million between them in the course of their long lives. (...) Their day is passing, and their type, not altogether for the advantage of the country. They were pedestrian, but they too were sound.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“With the years his dislike of humbug had increased; the orthodoxy he had worn in the 'sixties', as he had worn side-whiskers out of sheer exuberance , had long dropped off, leaving him reverent before three things alone - beauty, upright conduct, and the sense of property; and the greatest of these now was beauty.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga



“Swithin! And the fellow had gone and died, last November, at the age of seventy-nine, renewing the doubt whether Forsytes could live for ever, which had first arisen when Aunt Ann passed away.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“We are a breed of spoilers!’ thought Jolyon, ‘close and greedy; the bloom of life is not safe with us. Let her come to me as she will, when she will, not at all if she will not. Let me be just her stand-by, her perching-place; never-never her cage!”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“-but deep down he knew that change was only the interval of death between two forms of life, destruction necessary to make room for fresher property. What though the board was up, and cosiness to let?--someone would come along and take it again some day.
And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there--the melancholy craving in his heart--because the sun was like enchantment on his face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind's rustle was so gentle, and the yew-tree green so dark, and the sickle of a moon pale in the sky.
He might wish and wish and never get it--the beauty and the loving in the world!”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“Soames screwed up his eyes; he seemed to see them sitting there. Ah! and the atmosphere—even now, of too many stuffs and washed lace curtains, lavender in bags, and dried bees’ wings. ‘No,’ he thought, ‘there’s nothing like it left; it ought to be preserved.’ And, by George, they might laugh at it, but for a standard of gentle life never departed from, for fastidiousness of skin and eye and nose and feeling, it beat to-day hollow—to-day with its Tubes and cars, its perpetual smoking, its cross-legged, bare-necked girls visible up to the knees and down to the waist if you took the trouble (agreeable to the satyr within each Forsyte but hardly his idea of a lady), with their feet, too, screwed round the legs of their chairs while they ate, and their “So longs,” and their “Old Beans,” and their laughter—girls who gave him the shudders whenever he thought of Fleur in contact with them; and the hard-eyed, capable, older women who managed life and gave him the shudders too. No! his old aunts, if they never opened their minds, their eyes, or very much their windows, at least had manners, and a standard, and reverence for past and future.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“No one has told Jon's wife that he and I were once in love, I suppose?"
Holly shook her head.
"I'd rather they didn't, then."
"of course not, my dear. I'll see to it. The child's nice, I think."
"Nice," said Fleur, "but not important.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga



“...that secret hostility natural between brothers, the roots of which --little nursery rivalries--sometimes toughen and deepen as life goes on, and, all hidden, support a plant capable of producing in season the bitterest fruits.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


“- Скажіть, як вам пощастило зберегти молодість, Айріні?
- Хто не живе, той добре зберігається.”
― John Galsworthy, quote from The Forsyte Saga


About the author

John Galsworthy
Born place: in Kingston, Surrey, The United Kingdom
Born date August 14, 1867
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