“It may be affirmed without delay that Isabel was probably very liable to the sin of self-esteem; she often surveyed with complacency the field of her own nature; she was in the habit of taking for granted, on scanty evidence, that she was right; she treated herself to occasions of homage. Meanwhile her errors and delusions were frequently such as a biographer interested in preserving the dignity of his subject must shrink from specifying.”
“Her nature had, in her conceit, a certain garden-like quality, a suggestion of perfume and murmuring boughs, of shady bowers and lengthening vistas, which made her feel that introspection was, after all, an exercise in the open air”
“I don’t know whether she is a gifted being, but she’s a clever girl—with a strong will and a high temper. She has no idea of being bored. … I know the sort of girl she is. She’s very frank, and I’m very frank. … She thinks she knows a great deal of [the word:] … like most American girls; but like most American girls she's ridiculously mistaken.”
“You seemed to me to be soaring far up in the blue—to be, sailing in the bright light, over the heads of men.”
“I hope you'll never become grossly sensual; but I'm not afraid of that. The peril for you is that you live too much in the world of your own dreams. You're not enough in contact with reality—with the toiling, striving, suffering, I may even say sinning, world that surrounds you. You're too fastidious; you've too many graceful illusions.”
"The Countess was not very exact at measurements, but it seemed to her that if Isabel should draw herself up she would be the taller spirit of the two."
Mrs. Norton was a popular poet, novelist, and a beautiful English socialite who attempted to separate from her husband in 1836. After leaving her marital home, her husband prevented her from seeing their three sons and severed her financial support. After her husband's unsuccessful attempt to prove her guilty of an adulterous affair, Caroline filed for divorce on the ground of cruelty. Her claim was rejected, as English law did not recognize cruelty as just cause for divorce. Caroline Norton had no rights to sue for divorce, and could not force her husband to maintain her financial support. She was also unable to gain access to any of the marital property. Abandoned financially by her husband, Caroline Norton began writing to support herself. However, because she was still married, her husband was legally able secure much of her earnings for himself.
"She [Isabel:] was a person of great good faith, and if there was a great deal of folly in her wisdom those who judge her severely may have the satisfaction of finding that, later, she became consistently wise only at the cost of an amount of folly which will constitute almost a direct appeal to charity."
“You don’t know where to turn. Turn straight to me. I want to persuade you to trust me,” Goodwood repeated. And then he paused with his shining eyes. “Why should you go back--why should you go through that ghastly form?”“To get away from you!” she answered. But this expressed only a little of what she felt. The rest was that she had never been loved before. She had believed it, but this was different; this was the hot wind of the desert, at the approach of which the others dropped dead, like mere sweet airs of the garden. It wrapped her about; it lifted off her feet, while the very taste of it, as of some sweet thing potent, acrid and strange, forced open her set teeth. …Isabel gave a long murmur, like a creature in pain; it was as if he were pressing something that hurt her. “The world’s very small,” she said at random; she had an immense desire to appear to resist. She said it at random, to hear herself say something; but it was not what she meant. The world, in truth, had never seemed so large; it seemed to open out, all round her, to take the form of a mighty sea, where she floated in fathomless waters. She had wanted help, and here was help; it had come in a rushing torrent. I know not whether she believed everything he said, but she believed just then that to let him take her in his arms would be the next best thing to her dying. This belief, for a moment, was a kind of rapture, in which she felt herself sink and sink. In the movement she seemed to beat with her feet, in order to catch herself, to feel something to rest on. …“Do me the greatest of kindness of all,” she panted. “I beseech you to go away!”… “As you love me, as you pity me, leave me alone!”He glared at her a moment through the dusk, and the next instant she felt his arms about her and his lips on her own lips. His kiss was like white lightning, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed; and it was extraordinarily as if, while she took it, she felt each thing in his hard manhood that had least pleased her, each aggressive fact of his face, his figure, his presence, justified of its intense identity and made one with this act of possession. So had she heard of those wrecked and under water following a train of images before they sink. But when darkness returned she was free. … She had not known where to turn; but she knew now. There was a very straight path.
“Whatever happens to me let me not be unjust,” she said; “let me bear my burdens myself and not shift them upon others!” … Her poor winged spirit had always had a great desire to do its best, and it had not as yet been seriously discouraged. It wished, therefore, to hold fast to justice—not to pay itself by petty revenges.
Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.