RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/1
Former ReferenceD3311/8/1/12
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, while he is still undertaking his first Arctic land expedition
Date23 May 1821
DescriptionSending him her news, leaving it to Mr Moore and others to to write fuller accounts on what has happened in England; she has finished Captain Parry's account of his last expedition, it not being quite as interesting as she had expected, partly because the information had already filtered out, partly because of the technical navigational details; Franklin had scolded her for laughing at Captain Ross, but she will not now, rather pitying him, even though he must have known what he was saying was untrue [on the imaginary Croker mountains]; they went to Deptford to see the ships Fury and Hecla before they left; she does not like the route planned for the expedition, wishing it would explore Wellington Channel instead; she believes it is unfair to send Captain Lyon having been in Africa, but his book and that of Captain Parry impressed her on the similarities between the hottest and coldest places on earth (vegetation and effects of refraction); excitement on discoveries made by Barlow and to be made in the future about magnetism; thanks for his interesting letter, including reference to a buffalo, similar to a bonassus exhibited in London; she suspects he will be disappointed in his hope of returning next October; last winter they had little snow, but a few days in January were severe, fatal to some in northern England. PS: mention of Dr Thomson, who often speaks of Franklin, and his having been there with his wife for a dance.
Endorsed as being answered 2 Oct 1822, Atlantic Ocean
Extent1 sheet
Browse this collectionThis entry describes an individual archive record or file. Click here to browse the full catalogue for this collection
SenderEleanor Anne Porden
Sender LocationBerners Street
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationHudsons Bay or elsewhere
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexBerners Street May 23rd 1821
Dear Sir,
As paper is happily not quite so scarce in this island as it was with you when you last addrest Mr Moore, I am not disposed to be content with the scanty limits which my father may leave me, and have therefore seized a fresh sheet for myself, not however binding myself entirely to fill the same. Mr Moore has been threatening for the last three months, to stay at home for a fortnight, and moreover to sit up till four o clock every morning, that he may write you a full, true and particular account of all that has occurrred in England since your departure. Now were it not for the fear that these pompous promises may evaporate in a short and hurried epistle, and the certainty that he could not survive so unnatural a confinement, I would, in pity to you, forbear to add to such a mass of intelligence but as I think it highly probable that you willl have abundant time to read all that your friends can find time to write, and since like gunpowder plot and Mayday, your letters come but once a year, I will even venture to add my mite of news to the heap, not without some feeling of pride at the thought that my letter may perchance be received and read in some region whose new baptized name has not yet travelled to our English ears.
I have just finished Captn Perry’s account of the last Expedition, an Expedition which leaves little doubt of the success of yours, and that you may possibly ere this have reached Cape Franklin itself, or at least have disinterred some of the bottles buried for your information in various places. I do not find the work quite so interesting as I expected, partly from the publication having been delayed till the most material information has, as it were, filtered into conversation, and partly from the number of soundings and bearings, which though highly valuable to navigators, have little amusement for a miscellaneous reader. Nevertheless I like it on the whole and it proves him to have been admirably fitted for such a command. You scolded me formerly for laughing at Captn Ross- I will not laugh at him now, for I can even find it in my heart to pity him, notwithstanding that he must have known the falsehood of what he asserted; but I have heard that pity is akin to contempt, and hope to be forgiven if on this occasion I acknowledge the relationship.
We went to Deptford to see the Fury and Hecla previous to their departure last month. It was one of the very few holidays we have had this season, and the admirable preparations for the [?] preservation of heat on board, formed a striking contrast with our own feelings at the time. I cannot say that I entirely like the route now proposed for the Expedition and wish much that Wellington Channel had been explored instead. I only hope that their success may prove me wrong. I think it a little hard on poor Captn Lyon to send him directly from the depths of Africa to the Arctic Seas, but as his book, and Captn Perry’s, read consecutively, have impressed me more than ever with the strong resemblance existing in many points (particularly the absence of vegetation and the extraordinary effects of refraction), between the hottest, and the coldest regions of the earth, I will hope that the same frame may be calculated to withstand both, or at least that he may have laid in, while on one voyage, a sufficient quantity of heat for his use during the other.
I presume that such works as would be of use or interest to you have been sent out- and therefore I will not enter into any detail of Mr Barlow’s discovery that there is a plane in which the proximity of any mass of iron ceases to affect the direction of the needle; the plane of no variation being at right angles with the dip- or of the fact that the conducting wires of the Voltaire Battery are possessed of magnetic virtue during the contact, but lose it the moment that is broken, this power of becoming magnetic by Voltaire electricity being possessed by all the metals, though in various proportions. One of the most curious circumstances connected wth this fact seems to be the triumph of electricity over magnetic repulsion as, if the circuit be formed by two wires instead of one, they both acquire magnetism, the two North poles being at one end of the Battery and the two South at the other, but I do not find that it is yet ascertained whether the North or South Pole be in contact with the positive end of the Battery. I seem to feel that we are on the Eve of some important discoveries in magnetism and am in hopes that we may owe much new light to you.
I have not yet offered any portion of thanks for your [very] interesting letter which reached us at Ramsgate in August. I have some suspicion that an animal now exhibiting here under the name of the Bonassus, and which was caught on the Appalachian mountains, is the same with your Buffalo. The forepart of the animal is exceedingly large and powerful, and his strength is said to be very great. He was very young when taken, after a chase of seven days, and has not yet attained his growth. He appears tolerably docile but must be a formidable foe. The hair is very long.
I suspect that you will be disappointed in your calculation of returning in October next, but we shall be happy to welcome both yourself and quarto, unembellished though it be, and in the meantime commend you to the care of Providence, wishing you as much success and as little inconvenience as possible. I rather think that you stole our last winter’s snow, for we had scarcely “enough to swear by”; the winter before was short but had two or three days in the beginning of January far more severe than any in 1814. I understand that the cold was so intense as to be fatal to many persons in the North of England, who were not prepared for it. My sister and family are well, and would I am sure desire to be remembered to you. Believe me , dear Sir, yours sincerely, Eleanor Anne Porden
I have closed my letter most uncivilly, without once mentioning Dr Thomson, & I ought not to have done so, for he seldom fails to speak of you. He and Mrs Thomson were here at a little dance about a fortnight since, and seemed to be both very well. I wish that you too could have joined our quadrilles. But perhaps the doctor has written to you , and you know much more about him than I do.

Show related Persons records.

Related Names
Name (click for further details)
Thomson; Thomas (1775-1853); physician
Add to My Items