Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Devonshire Progeny: Little G
After many years of miscarriages, Georgiana was finally round with a nine-month pregnancy. Her sister Harriet had given birth to her second boy a week before and Georgiana was hoping for the same thing, or at least for a healthy delivery. The Duke was less than optimistic and had already convinced himself that the much-awaited for child would be a girl. His premonition proved to be correct and on July 12, 1783 a healthy baby girl was born to the couple. The labour was stressful for both, and while the Duke watched, Georgiana was in near hysterics after thinking she had delivered a dead baby. Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish was born to her mother's cries of, "only let it be alive!" Despite Little G, as she was to be called, not being the heir that both parents wished for, they both doted on her, especially Georgiana. At first, a wet nurse had been hired but when she came to work after a bender and puked and fell down the stairs, Georgiana thought it best if she breastfed her child herself, something extremely unusual among the aristocracy.
Little G may have been her mother's namesake but she never seemed to inherit her mother's outgoing nature. She was more introverted like her father and this seemed to translate into quiet shyness. Her mother's exile after the affair with Charles Grey also seemed to have a damaging impact on Little G. Georgiana returned to find her even more reserved and now insecure; she followed Georgiana wherever she went, worried that she would disappear again if left out of her sight. She had also developed a crippling fear of being sinful. Despite these reserves she was a clever girl and a bibliophile. She was probably her mother's favourite child of her three/four.
After Little G's coming out, she had two notable admirers, The Duke of Bedford and the young Lord Morpeth. The 35 year old Bedford was a Whig, which recommended him to Georgiana, but he already had a slew of illegitimate children and kept two mistresses, one being Lady Melbourne. Morpeth, at 27, was a fine choice, but Georgiana had a difficult time envisioning her favourite child married off to a Tory. In the end, the Tory won the heart and hand of Little G and she became the Countess of Carlisle. As it turned out, Little G spent her marriage in much different way than her mother: having lots of children and avoiding the spotlight. One of her daughters even married a son of Charles Grey....kind of weird.
Georgiana's death in 1806 devastated her daughter, who seemed to have codependency issues and also saw her mother as her best friend. In her portrait above she holds a miniature of her beloved mother and looks to her in the heavens.