Friday, August 8, 2008
Tart of the Week: Lavinia Countess Spencer
This feisty Irish temptress may not fully deserve to be categorized as a tart per se, but her personality certainly does leave a sour taste in your mouth! Georgiana may be getting credited as an ancestor of Princess Diana, but Lavinia was Di's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother.
When the 22 year old George Spencer met the gorgeous Lavinia Bingham he became "out of his senses" for her. And why not? She was a blonde with blue eyes, intelligent, personable, and had memorized the book on etiquette (a real win-over for Lady Spencer). Despite his young age and her lack of wealth, Georgiana's brother and Lavinia wed. Now instead of being a daughter of a mere Irish peer she was destined to be the Countess Spencer.
But the monster that lay within Lavinia was vicious; she was two-faced and a hypocrite. She also was very territorial of her man. Anything that came between her and George met the wrath of Lavinia, and this included his two sisters. She made scathing remarks about Georgiana's part in the Westminster election and like a competing child in the schoolyard, seemed to relish in Charles Fox's defeats. Like Georgiana, Lavinia followed politics. Instead of bonding with her sister-in-law over their similar interests, Lavinia spent a lot of her time criticizing her. George must have dearly loved her, for her letters to him throughout their marriage are scathingly critical of Georgiana. It was likely she was just envious of her popularity. Lavinia had made attempts at being a successful socialite. She once tried to rile woman together to erect a statue of a nude Achilles in tribute to the Duke of Wellington. Interesting choice of tribute, Lady S...
She had her opinions on Bess as well, "I really look upon her in every light as the most dangerous devil..." Bess, who usually complimented everyone in her web a manipulation, felt similarly about Lavinia, "Lady S seemed to raise herself three feet in order to look down with contempt on me..." The bitter Lavinia, years later, even went as far as insulting Bess' son, claiming he was "dull as a post." Meow! I'm sure there was a couple rakes who would have loved to see a cat fight break out between those two!
Despite Lavinia previously complaining about London being so odious due to the importance that was put on parties (she was probably put out by not being invited to Georgiana's) she seemed to have finally buried the hatchet with her sister-in-law in the final years of Georgiana's life in order to plan one. The two ladies threw a political ball, finally bringing their similar interests together. When the Duke went on to marry Bess after Georgiana's death, it was Lavinia who insisted they sever all ties. Of course she was probably just happy to finally have an excuse!