William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, who married the lively socialite Georgiana Spencer, was a reserved and distant man. Here’s how Whig politician Nathaniel Wraxhall describes him:
“Constitutional apathy formed his distinguished characteristic. His figure was tall and manly, though not animated or graceful, his manners, always calm and unruffled. He seemed to be incapable of any strong emotion, and destitute of all energy or activity of mind. As play became indispensable in order to arouse him from his lethargic habit, and to awaken his torpid faculties, he passed his evenings usually at Brooke’s, engaged at whist or faro.”
The Duke kept his distance from his children too. But he was very fond of dogs and it was through them that he communicated with his offspring, like one of his daughters jokingly recollected:
The whole of tea and again at supper, we talked of no one subject but the puppies… I quite rejoice at having one in my possession, for it is never a failing method of calling his attention and attracting his notice.
Georgiana: Duchess Of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman