Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

Isabella Thorpe Character Analysis

A conniving, beautiful, and charming social-climber of twenty-one, Isabella befriends Catherine because Isabella believes the Morlands to be as wealthy as their neighbors the Allens, and she wishes to marry Catherine’s brother James. Isabella often uses reverse psychology, saying the opposite of what she means to influence others to do what she wants them to do. Isabella’s hypocrisy and desire to marry for money are clear to those, like the Tilney siblings, who are more experienced than Catherine.

Isabella Thorpe Quotes in Northanger Abbey

The Northanger Abbey quotes below are all either spoken by Isabella Thorpe or refer to Isabella Thorpe. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Northanger Abbey published in 2003.
Volume 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

Miss Thorpe, however, being four years older than Miss Morland, and at least four years better informed, had a very decided advantage in discussing such points; she could compare the balls of Bath with those of Tunbridge; its fashions with the fashions of London; could rectify the opinions of her new friend in many articles of tasteful attire; could discover a flirtation between any gentleman and lady who only smiled on each other; and point out a quiz through the thickness of a crowd. These powers received due admiration from Catherine, to whom they were entirely new; and the respect which they naturally inspired might have been too great for familiarity, had not the easy gaiety of Miss Thorpe's manners, and her frequent expressions of delight on this acquaintance with her, softened down every feeling of awe, and left nothing but tender affection.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, Isabella Thorpe
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 32
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Volume 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

Isabella was very sure that he must be a charming young man and was equally sure that he must have been delighted with her dear Catherine, and would therefore shortly return. She liked him the better for being a clergyman, “for she must confess herself very partial to the profession” and something like a sigh escaped her as she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of that gentle emotion—but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence should be forced.

Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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Volume 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

These manners did not please Catherine; but he was James's friend and Isabella's brother; and her judgment was further bought off by Isabella's assuring her, when they withdrew to see the new hat, that John thought her the most charming girl in the world, and by John's engaging her before they parted to dance with him that evening. Had she been older or vainer, such attacks might have done little; but, where youth and diffidence are united, it requires uncommon steadiness of reason to resist the attraction of being called the most charming girl in the world, and of being so very early engaged as a partner; and the consequence was, that, when the two Morlands, after sitting an hour with the Thorpes, set off to walk together to Mr. Allen's, and James, as the door was closed on them, said, “Well, Catherine, how do you like my friend Thorpe?” instead of answering, as she probably would have done, had there been no friendship and no flattery in the case, “I do not like him at all;” she directly replied, “I like him very much; he seems very agreeable.”

Page Number: 48
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Volume 1, Chapter 15 Quotes

“Morland says exactly the same,” replied Isabella; “and yet I dare not expect it; my fortune will be so small; they never can consent to it. Your brother, who might marry any body!”
Here Catherine again discerned the force of love. “Indeed, Isabella, you are too humble.—The difference of fortune can be nothing to signify.”
“Oh! my sweet Catherine, in your generous heart I know it would signify nothing; but we must not expect such disinterestedness in many. As for myself, I am sure I only wish our situations were reversed. Had I the command of millions, were I mistress of the whole world, your brother would be my only choice.”
This charming sentiment, recommended as much by sense as novelty, gave Catherine a most pleasing remembrance of all the heroines of her acquaintance; and she thought her friend never looked more lovely than in uttering the grand idea.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Isabella Thorpe (speaker), James Morland
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
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Volume 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

“It is not on my own account I wish for more; but I cannot bear to be the means of injuring my dear Morland, making him sit down upon an income hardly enough to find one in the common necessaries of life. For myself, it is nothing; I never think of myself.”
“I know you never do, my dear; and you will always find your reward in the affection it makes every body feel for you. There never was a young woman so beloved as you are by every body that knows you; and I dare say when Mr. Morland sees you, my dear child—but do not let us distress our dear Catherine by talking of such things. Mr. Morland has behaved so very handsome you know. I always heard he was a most excellent man; and you know, my dear, we are not to suppose but what, if you had had a suitable fortune, he would have come down with something more, for I am sure he must be a most liberal-minded man.”
“Nobody can think better of Mr. Morland than I do, I am sure. But every body has their failing you know, and every body has a right to do what they like with their own money.” Catherine was hurt by these insinuations. “I am very sure” said she, “that my father has promised to do as much as he can afford.”

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Isabella Thorpe (speaker), Mrs. Thorpe (speaker), James Morland, Mr. Morland
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
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Volume 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

“A little harmless flirtation or so will occur, and one is often drawn on to give more encouragement than one wishes to stand by. But you may be assured that I am the last person in the world to judge you severely. All those things should be allowed for in youth and high spirits. What one means one day, you know, one may not mean the next. Circumstances change, opinions alter.”
“But my opinion of your brother never did alter; it was always the same. You are describing what never happened.”
“My dearest Catherine,” continued the other without at all listening to her, “I would not for all the world be the means of hurrying you into an engagement before you knew what you were about. I do not think any thing would justify me in wishing you to sacrifice all your happiness merely to oblige my brother, because he is my brother, and who perhaps after all, you know, might be just as happy without you, for people seldom know what they would be at, young men especially, they are so amazingly changeable and inconstant.”

Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
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Volume 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

“My dear Miss Morland,” said Henry, “in this amiable solicitude for your brother's comfort, may you not be a little mistaken? Are you not carried a little too far? Would he thank you, either on his own account or Miss Thorpe's, for supposing that her affection, or at least her good-behaviour, is only to be secured by her seeing nothing of Captain Tilney? Is he safe only in solitude?—or, is her heart constant to him only when unsolicited by any one else?—He cannot think this—and you may be sure that he would not have you think it. I will not say, 'Do not be uneasy' because I know that you are so, at this moment; but be as little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of the mutual attachment of your brother and your friend; depend upon it therefore, that real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that no disagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open to each other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what is required and what can be borne; and you may be certain, that one will never tease the other beyond what is known to be pleasant.”

Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
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Volume 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

“I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right:—he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me. I will not say all that I could of the family you are with, because I would not be ungenerous, or set you against those you esteem; but it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two days together. I rejoice to say, that the young man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who, as you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me, before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were such attentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regiment two days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again.”

Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 202-203
Explanation and Analysis:
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Isabella Thorpe Character Timeline in Northanger Abbey

The timeline below shows where the character Isabella Thorpe appears in Northanger Abbey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Chapter 4
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...her eldest brother spent time at the Thorpes’ house over Christmas. The oldest Miss Thorpe, Isabella, offers to walk around the room with Catherine, and they strike up a friendship, discussing... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 5
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That evening at the theater, Catherine nods pleasantly across the room to Isabella, while also looking for Mr. Tilney. She looks for him again the next day, which... (full context)
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...talks only of her clothing while Mrs. Thorpe talks only of her children. Catherine and Isabella quickly become the best of friends, calling each other by their Christian names, spending all... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 6
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Isabella and Catherine meet in the Pump-room and have a warm and affectionate conversation. Isabella says... (full context)
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Isabella says that Miss Andrews is beautiful but men never appreciate her beauty, and adds that... (full context)
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Isabella says she thinks it odd that Catherine has never read Udolpho before, but says that... (full context)
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Isabella asks Catherine what she will wear that evening, because she wants to dress exactly like... (full context)
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Isabella says that she sees two young men staring at them and that they ought to... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 7
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Catherine and Isabella follow the two young men, but are prevented from crossing the street by traffic. Isabella... (full context)
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John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother, approaches the other three. He is stout and not very tall, and acts as... (full context)
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...gentlemen then decide that they will escort the two ladies back to the Thorpes’ lodgings. Isabella pays such complete attention to James that she only looks at the two young men... (full context)
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...son. Catherine does not like John Thorpe’s manners, but she reserves judgment because he is Isabella's brother and James's friend, and because he asks her to dance at a ball that... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 8
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That night at the ball, the Thorpes and Allens meet. James wants to dance with Isabella, but Isabella declares that she will not dance with James until Catherine can dance with... (full context)
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...dance with Mr. Tilney, and looks back at him frequently. Catherine is also separated from Isabella and James and reflects that she was mistaken in believing herself lucky to go to... (full context)
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Isabella approaches and grabs Catherine’s arm, complaining that James kept her from coming to find Catherine... (full context)
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...people. The rest of the night, she hardly sees Mr. Tilney or Miss Tilney, and Isabella gives her very little attention. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 9
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...and tells Catherine to hurry and get ready to go on a drive with him, Isabella, and James. Catherine is surprised, because they had not planned to go on a drive.... (full context)
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Catherine goes out and greets Isabella, who complains that Catherine kept them waiting, praises the ball, and says she has so... (full context)
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...his amazing feats as a coachman and a hunter. Although he is James’s friend and Isabella’s brother, Catherine “boldly” surmises that based on how tiresome she finds his company, he may... (full context)
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When they arrive back at the Allens, Isabella expresses regret that it is too late for her to accompany Catherine in. She laments... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 10
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That night at the theater, Isabella sits between Catherine and James. She tells the latter that she will not talk to... (full context)
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...determined to meet Miss Tilney in the Pump-room. She walks apart from the others with Isabella and James, but begins to feel that this is not very much fun, since they... (full context)
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...again, making it impossible for her to accept Mr. Tilney’s offer if he asks her. Isabella says that, despite how improper it may seem, she is going to dance with James... (full context)
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...The Tilneys are to call for Catherine at noon. And although Catherine saw little of Isabella for the rest of the evening, her joy at that evening’s events is not diminished... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 11
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...raining and Catherine is wondering whether the Tilneys will still come for their walk, when Isabella, John, and James arrive in two carriages. Catherine declares that she cannot go on a... (full context)
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John objects that she should come anyway, and then Isabella comes in to encourage her. Isabella says that she and James had the idea at... (full context)
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...Thorpes, asked if she had left a note. Catherine is filled with regret. That evening Isabella seems undisturbed by the fact that they did not make it to their destination. Catherine... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 12
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...play, which is entertaining, and because she does not see the Tilneys in the theater. Isabella has told her that anyone who has been to the theater in London will find... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 13
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Walking on the Crescent, Isabella and James decide that, tomorrow, they should continue their carriage ride that they had cut... (full context)
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...if they could postpone their walk until Tuesday, and that Miss Tilney agreed. James and Isabella are glad to hear this, but Catherine says she will go after the Tilneys and... (full context)
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...that Catherine should not drive with John Thorpe any more. Catherine begins to worry about Isabella. She asks Mr. Allen whether she ought to warn Isabella that she is doing something... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 14
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...Catherine can barely hide how happy she is. Later in the day, Catherine runs into Isabella’s sister Anne. Anne tells Catherine that John drove her sister Maria and Isabella and James... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 15
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The next day Catherine receives a note from Isabella, who asks Catherine to come to her lodgings as quickly as possible. When Catherine arrives,... (full context)
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Isabella comes into the room and says she knows Catherine guessed the meaning of her letter.... (full context)
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Isabella gushes about her love of Catherine and James, saying she will love Catherine much more... (full context)
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Isabella says that James will go to Fullerton to get his parents’ consent and that she... (full context)
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...say goodbye before he sets off to see his parents, but is frequently detained as Isabella calls him back to her, all the while urging him to make haste and leave.... (full context)
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The next day Catherine returns to the Thorpes’ place. Isabella is very agitated as she awaits the letter. When it comes, it is just a... (full context)
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...thing in existence.” Then she leaves, rushing off to tell the Allens that James and Isabella have gotten her parents’ consent. John feels quite satisfied that Catherine is interested in him... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 1
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When Catherine tells Isabella about her time at the Tilneys’, Isabella chalks their behavior up to pride, saying that... (full context)
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Catherine does not let Isabella’s assessment influence her, and she is happy to be asked to dance by Henry and... (full context)
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Captain Tilney asks Henry to ask Catherine if she thinks Isabella would object to dancing with him. Catherine says she is sure Isabella does not want... (full context)
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Catherine is very shocked to see Isabella dance with Captain Tilney. Henry Tilney observes her surprise but says that he is not... (full context)
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When Catherine and Isabella next meet, they discuss the letter from James explaining what he and Isabella will receive... (full context)
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Catherine congratulates Isabella warmly. Isabella and Mrs. Thorpe praise Mr. Morland’s generosity, saying that although four hundred pounds... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 2
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...to new people whom she likes and has succeeded in making them like her too. Isabella will become her sister-in-law, while the Tilneys have gone above and beyond by inviting her... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 3
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Catherine realizes that she has not seen her friend Isabella in several days, nor has she missed her very much, because she has been so... (full context)
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Catherine asks what Isabella wanted to speak to her about. Isabella reveals that she has had a letter from... (full context)
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Catherine says that Isabella knows that John is not the man whom she has feelings for, but says that... (full context)
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At this moment, Captain Tilney enters the room. Isabella says he will not see them, but she fixes her eyes on him and he... (full context)
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...and listen to this flirtation, though, and with great uneasiness she leaves Captain Tilney and Isabella sitting alone together. She feels sure that Captain Tilney is falling in love with Isabella... (full context)
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...while to fancy himself in love with her.” She hopes that many of the things Isabella said in their conversation will never be said again. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 4
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Catherine watches Isabella’s behavior over the next few days. Isabella gives just as much attention to Captain Tilney... (full context)
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Catherine speaks to Henry Tilney and asks him to tell Captain Tilney that Isabella is engaged to James. Henry says that his brother knows of the engagement, and then... (full context)
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Catherine agrees that Isabella’s behavior has been bad, but insists that Isabella loves James very much. Henry will not... (full context)
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Catherine is also comforted by her last meeting with Isabella before she leaves. Isabella seems to express more affection towards Catherine than she does towards... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
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Catherine soon begins to be anxious to hear from Isabella about Bath. She finds Isabella’s silence extremely strange because Isabella had promised to write, and... (full context)
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...meeting him. Eleanor is very surprised. Henry guesses that this has something to do with Isabella. Catherine pours out the entire truth: Isabella has abandoned her brother and will marry theirs.... (full context)
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...not envy Frederick’s situation “either as a lover or a son.” Eleanor asks Catherine about Isabella’s background and fortune. Catherine says that Isabella has no fortune, but that this will not... (full context)
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Catherine says that perhaps Isabella will be loyal to Frederick. Henry says she will certainly be loyal unless she meets... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 11
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Catherine, Henry, and Eleanor speak frequently about the possibility that Frederick and Isabella will marry. Henry and Eleanor believe that General Tilney will not accept Isabella as a... (full context)
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...that Henry ought to warn his father about what has occurred between her brother and Isabella so that the General will be able to build a case against Frederick’s engagement with... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 12
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Catherine receives a letter from Isabella the next morning. Isabella apologizes for failing to write Catherine. She writes that she is... (full context)
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Catherine reads the letter aloud to Henry and Eleanor and denounces Isabella, saying she wishes she had never known her. She congratulates them that their brother has... (full context)
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...truly stand up for her brother, she would be glad that he found out about Isabella’s character before it was too late, but her “mind is warped by an innate principle... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 13
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...Tilney and to give him a second chance. She is sure he will not mention Isabella Thorpe. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 14
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...and such a quick end to the relationship. She says Catherine was also mistaken about Isabella’s character. She says she hopes that the next friends Catherine makes “will be better worth... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 15
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...refusal of him and even angrier at having found himself unable to reconcile James and Isabella, so he told the General the exact opposite of what he had said before. John... (full context)