Biographical Information


[Scanned from page 18 of The Old Cause] 

….Until about 1740 Dodington stands, though not always steadily, in Walpole’s phalanx. After it, as an independent politician, he betrays many of the features of the political generation that followed him. Although in one sense he was quite unimpressed by rank, and was not to be deterred by threats or tantrums from the Prince of Wales in political discussions, he was nevertheless, like Burke, a simple and sincere snob. In his diary royalty is commonly honoured by a formal enlargement of his handwriting, his delight at receiving the Princess of Wales at his Hammersmith villa was quite unconcealed, and one of his dearest ambitions was a title. When the coffee-house society of London begins to crystallize into exclusive clubs, we find him a founding member of White’s. A little later he was a member of the Society of Dilettanti. Perhaps the other, the sentimental, side of Dodington’s character can be traced to his long travels on the Continent as a young man, and to his enduring love of Italy. It is a side that must not be neglected. One Dodington is the hard-headed politician, shrewd and calculating under his grotesque exterior: a man who would not fail on his Southern travels to draw comparisons between the mercantile city states of the Renaissance, and the situation of his own trading island. 

The other is the tender-hearted, affable, sentimental litterateur. His patronage of Young, Fielding and Thomson, his long-standing friendship with Voltaire, may have been politic ally handy, and certainly ministered to his sense of importance; but they were valued for themselves as well. The man of feeling sometimes mastered the man of business on his own ground. Political interest was secondary if not absent in his consistent opposition to the death penalty for military offences; in his “bold and pathetic” speech for Byng; in his intercession for Lord George Germain. These were the actions that explain why the man who was despised by Horace Walpole, was dear to Voltaire.


[scanned from page 137 of “The Old Cause”] 

George Dodington was typical of the men who had done well out of the Revolution, though he might have done equally well out of the Restoration: not completely a money-inflated parvenu, for he came of a respectable Somersetshire county family, whose native village, Dodington, lies at the foot of the Quantocks ten miles west of Bridgwater; a borough in which the family had considerable influence. He stood well with the Dukes of Beaufort and of Somerset. As a man we know little of him. He has the facelessness of one whose habits are businesslike. But he had at least one passion; the perpetuation of his name and memory, and he adopted means for satisfying it which had important consequences. The instrument of his glory was a palace, planned on his orders by Vanbrugh on a scale second only to Blenheim itself, and to be built on an estate in Dorset which he had acquired in 1709, at the zenith of whig power. Since George Dodington had no children, he adopted as the palace’s future tenant George Bubb, his sister’s son. The Bubbs could not, it is true, be called a distinguished family, ranking as they did far below the Dodingtons, but they were not so bad as they sounded, and impeccably whig. 

Another branch of the family was established at Horsington in the Vale of Blackmore, where their estates were extensive. Even as late as 1873 they owned nearly 3,000 acres. There was also a Horsington Indiaman.


[scanned from page 239 of “The Old Cause”] 

…..It were better, he said, than lose the domination of the Ocean, that the Ocean should overwhelm us: for what Briton could wish to leave a posterity crawling upon this island, only to feel the tyranny, and swell the victories, of France. 

So he had always believed, no doubt the more vigorously at this moment, when the Dodington Indiaman, in company with the Houghton, Pelham, Streat ham and Hedgecourt, was in the Downs making ready for the high seas. They sailed in April, when the Dodington, emulating her owner, tried to outsail her companions, and was lost off the Cape of Good Hope. Out of her crew of 270, 23 reached Delagoa Bay in a boat of their own making nearly a year after they had sailed from England. 

The rivalry between Pitt and Fox, which developed in spring from self-interested alliance to open hostility, and the certainty of war with France, dominate the last act of Dodington’s long exile from office. All that summer he was in touch with both aspirants, collecting official news from one, and agreeing on policy with the other. Pitt, moving by the rules of the game, was trying to make an interest for himself in the rival Court, by applying to the Princess of Wales; but Dodington, who was well aware that no points were to be scored there for the time being, Calculated correctly in the short run that Fox would gain the upper hand, while extreme personal dislike made it easier for him to resist the Great Commoner at his greasiest:

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