The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"One's right in such a matter is not measured by the time, Miss Archer; it's measured by the feeling itself. If I were to wait three months it would make no difference; I shall not be more sure of what I mean than I am to-day. Of course I've seen you very little, but my impression dates from the very first hour we met. I lost no time, I fell in love with you then. It was at first sight, as the novels say; I know now that's not a fancy-phrase, and I shall think better of novels for evermore. Those two days I spent here settled it; I don't know whether you suspected I was doing so, but I paid – mentally speaking I mean – the greatest possible attention to you. Nothing you said, nothing you did, was lost upon me. When you came to Lockleigh the other day – or rather when you went away – I was perfectly sure. Nevertheless I made up my mind to think it over and to question myself narrowly. I've done so; all these days I've done nothing else. I don't make mistakes about such things; I'm a very judicious animal. I don't go off easily, but when I'm touched, it's for life. It's for life, Miss Archer, it's for life," Lord Warburton repeated in the kindest, tenderest, pleasantest voice Isabel had ever heard, and looking at her with eyes charged with the light of a passion that had sifted itself clear of the baser parts of emotion – the heat, the violence, the unreason – and that burned as steadily as a lamp in a windless place. (12.7)
Oh, sigh. Nothing is better than Lord Warburton – he is, as he himself might say, a capital fellow. Here, we see him justify his love for Isabel; even though he’s talking about something as idealistic as love at first sight, we believe every word he says, and we believe, as Isabel does, in his constant, kind, and altogether trustworthy and good nature. However, despite all of this, Isabel still doesn’t love him.
"I’m capable of nothing with regard to you," he went on, "but just of being infernally in love with you. If one’s strong one loves only more strongly." (16.11)
Again, Caspar demonstrates that love takes up all of his energy – and he certainly has a lot of energy to give. He suggests that he wishes he could stop loving Isabel, but it’s impossible. Like Isabel herself, he cannot control his own thoughts or emotions.
The tears came into her eyes: this time they obeyed the sharpness of the pang that suggested to her somehow the slipping of a fine bolt – backward, forward, she couldn't have said which… "Oh don’t say that, please," she answered with an intensity that expressed the dread of having, in this case too, to choose and decide. What made her dread great was precisely the force which, as it would seem, ought to have banished all dread – the sense of something within herself, deep down, that she supposed to be inspired and trustful passion. It was there like a large sum stored in a bank – which there was a terror in having to begin to spend. If she touched it, it would all come out. (29.11)
Talking to Osmond, of all people, Isabel suddenly feels something change. She knows vaguely that she is capable of a great deal of passion, but she’s afraid to let it out.