Thursday, November 5, 2009
Devonshire Progeny: Caro Ponsonby (Lamb)
One of the pitter-pattering sets of little feet scampering around Devonshire House were those of the future Lady Caroline Lamb. Caro was the youngest child of Harriet, Georgiana's beloved sister. Therefore much of Caro's childhood was spent with Aunt Georgiana, Uncle William and the rest of the Devonshire Progeny.
Caro's odd behaviour, which was to make her notorious, didn't just spring up in adult-hood. There was always something a bit off about the child. First of all, she differed greatly (in fact, she looked impish), in appearance and otherwise, from her two brothers; which is likely due to her actually being their half-sister. Although this cannot be solidly proved, it is a likely explanation for the differing personalities.
The formidable Lady Spencer described her granddaughter as "one of the most difficult children to manage." She was bratty, unpredictable, and needed constant attention or else she would become increasingly difficult in order to achieve it, asking silly questions and so forth. At least one time this earned her a spanking from grandma! Even Georgiana recorded that she was tempted to slap Caro after she was rude to Harriet on one ocassion.
A lovely reader, Kristi, and I have discussed Caroline's unique personality and she brought up how Caro had many autistic traits, which I found to be a brilliant theory and one that made a lot of sense. Once when Caro was a young teen, she was traveling by carriage with her parents. Somehow the party got lost in the dark and like many a family vacation of mine, Bessborough (Caro's er...Dad) got angry at Harriet and Caro for being frightened. Shortly afterward the horses got spooked and while Bessborough went to calm them, Harriet realized they were about to fall down a pit, hence the frantic horses. When the dust cleared, figuratively speaking, Caro was gone. She was running through the dark fields to the closest town to get help. The papers had a field day.
Caro was very close to her mother and her dutiful brothers were protective of her. Her unpredictable personality made it difficult for her to make friends. The closest Caro seemed to come with childhood friends was Georgiana's daughter Harryo and Bess' daughter Caroline St Jules, who were all very close in age. Both girls had little patience for Caro's antics and commonly found themselves stuck with Caro on long trips across the continent. It was noticed that Caro seemed to behave better when around Caro St Jules' good influence.
When Harryo got married she neglected to invite Caro, who was very put out. Meanwhile Caro St Jules would forever be glued to her foil when the two both married the Lamb brothers. But that part of Caroline's story is of a more tartly nature.