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The Forsyte Saga


Saga, it cannot be absol ved from the charge of embalming the
upper-middle class. As the old Egyptians plac ed around their
mummies the necessaries of a future existence, so I have
endeavoured to lay beside the, figures of Aunts Ann and Juley and
Hester, of Timothy and Swithin, of Old Jolyon and James, and of
their sons, that which shall guarantee them a little life here -
after, a little balm in the hurried Gilead of a dissolving
”Progress.”
If the upper-middle class, with other classes, is destined to
”move on” into amorphism, here, pickled in these pages, it lies
under glass for strollers in the wide and ill-arranged museum of
Letters. Here it rests, preserved in its own juice: The Sense
of Property.
1922.
THE MAN OF PROPERTY
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by JOHN GA LSWORTHY
”........ You will answer
The slaves are ours .....”
-Merc hant of Venice.
TO EDWARD GARNE TT
PART I
CHAPTER I
’AT HOME’ AT OLD JOLYON’S
Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the
Forsytes have seen that charming and instructive sight–an upper
middle-class family in full plumage. But whosoever of these
favoured persons has possessed the gift of psychological analysis
(a talent without monetary value and properly ignored by the
Forsytes), has witnessed a spectacle, not only delight ful in
itself, but illustrative of an obscure human problem. In plainer
words, he has gleaned from a gathering of this family–no branch
of which had a liking for the other, between no three members of
whom existed anything worthy of the name of sympathy–evidence of
that mysterious concrete tenacity which renders a family so
formidable a unit of society, so clear a reproduction of society
in miniature. He has been admitted to a vision of the dim roads
of social progress, has understood something of patriarchal life,
of the swarmings of savage hordes, of the rise and fall of
nations. He is like one who, having watched a tree grow from its
planting–a paragon of tenacity, insulation, and success, amidst
the deaths of a hundred other plants less fibrous, sappy, and
persistent–one day will see it flourishing with bland, full
foliage, in an almost repugnant pros perity, at the summit of its
eorescence.
On June 15, eighteen eighty-six, about four of the afternoon, the
observer who chanced to be present at the house of old Jolyon
Forsyte in Stanhope Gate, might have seen the highest
eorescence of the Forsytes.
This was the occasion of an ’at home’ to celebrate the engagement
of Miss June Forsyte, old Jolyon’s granddaughter, to Mr. Philip
Bosinney. In the bravery of light gloves, bu waistcoats,
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feathers and frocks, the family were present, even Aunt Ann, who
now but seldom left the comer of her brother Timothy’s green
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