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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady


by Henry James

Mr. Touchett Timeline and Summary

  • Mr. Touchett relaxes comfortably on the spacious lawn of Gardencourt with Ralph and Lord Warburton.
  • Mr. Touchett is a retired banking big-shot, but Ralph jokingly says that he is not very rich, since he gives all his money away.
  • The three men discuss the benefits of having a lady to love, and Mr. Touchett jokes that Lord Warburton better not fall in love with his niece.
  • Mr. Touchett says that anything he’s learned was by observation and participation, not from second-hand sources.
  • Mr. Touchett brings Lord Warburton up when he sits with Isabel in the afternoon. He warns her not to fall in love with him, and she obligingly says that she would only fall in love with someone he approves of.
  • Mr. Touchett hopes that people like Lord Warburton wait until he’s dead to start a revolution in England. Mr. Touchett lists all of Lord Warburton’s most prestigious social roles and says that, even if there were a revolution, no one would hurt Lord Warburton because everyone’s too fond of him.
  • Mr. Touchett already knows about the proposal because Lord Warburton wrote him a letter stating his intentions.
  • Mr. Touchett figures that Isabel is waiting to see if a better man comes along.
  • Mr. Touchett tells Mrs. Touchett about the proposal.
  • Mr. Touchett falls ill. Ralph, Isabel, and Doctor Hope go to Gardencourt to be with him.
  • Mr. Touchett calls Ralph in to have a private talk before his death. He hopes that Ralph and his mother will be looked after.
  • Mr. Touchett wishes for Ralph to think better of himself and marry Isabel.
  • Mr. Touchett acquiesces to Ralph’s request that his inheritance be split in two: one half to Ralph, the other to Isabel. Mr. Touchett has his doubts as to the intelligence of this plan, as he predicts it may victimize her to gold diggers, but he goes along with it. Ever the good-humored guy, he sees the somewhat cruel humor in leading his lawyer to believe that he and Ralph had a fight, as Ralph suggests.
  • The will is changed.
  • Mr. Touchett dies.