The Portrait of a Lady HTML version

Chapter 8
As she was devoted to romantic effects Lord Warburton ventured to express a
hope that she would come some day and see his house, a very curious old
place. He extracted from Mrs. Touchett a promise that she would bring her niece
to Lockleigh, and Ralph signified his willingness to attend the ladies if his father
should be able to spare him. Lord Warburton assured our heroine that in the
mean time his sisters would come and see her. She knew something about his
sisters, having sounded him, during the hours they spent together while he was
at Gardencourt, on many points connected with his family. When Isabel was
interested she asked a great many questions, and as her companion was a
copious talker she urged him on this occasion by no means in vain. He told her
he had four sisters and two brothers and had lost both his parents. The brothers
and sisters were very good people--"not particularly clever, you know," he said,
"but very decent and pleasant;" and he was so good as to hope Miss Archer
might know them well. One of the brothers was in the Church, settled in the
family living, that of Lockleigh, which was a heavy, sprawling parish, and was an
excellent fellow in spite of his thinking differently from himself on every
conceivable topic. And then Lord Warburton mentioned some of the opinions
held by his brother, which were opinions Isabel had often heard expressed and
that she supposed to be entertained by a considerable portion of the human
family. Many of them indeed she supposed she had held herself, till he assured
her she was quite mistaken, that it was really impossible, that she had doubtless
imagined she entertained them, but that she might depend that, if she thought
them over a little, she would find there was nothing in them. When she answered
that she had already thought several of the questions involved over very
attentively he declared that she was only another example of what he had often
been struck with--the fact that, of all the people in the world, the Americans were
the most grossly superstitious. They were rank Tories and bigots, every one of
them; there were no conservatives like American conservatives. Her uncle and
her cousin were there to prove it; nothing could be more medieval than many of
their views; they had ideas that people in England nowadays were ashamed to
confess to; and they had the impudence moreover, said his lordship, laughing, to
pretend they knew more about the needs and dangers of this poor dear stupid
old England than he who was born in it and owned a considerable slice of it--the
more shame to him! From all of which Isabel gathered that Lord Warburton was a
nobleman of the newest pattern, a reformer, a radical, a contemner of ancient
ways. His other brother, who was in the army in India, was rather wild and pig-
headed and had not been of much use as yet but to make debts for Warburton to
pay--one of the most precious privileges of an elder brother. "I don't think I shall
pay any more," said her friend; "he lives a monstrous deal better than I do,
enjoys unheard-of luxuries and thinks himself a much finer gentleman than I. As
I'm a consistent radical I go in only for equality; I don't go in for the superiority of
the younger brothers." Two of his four sisters, the second and fourth, were
married, one of them having done very well, as they said, the other only so-so.