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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/17
Former ReferenceD3311/8/3/8
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, in playful mood, while he is visiting his family in Lincolnshire
Date9 May 1823
DescriptionAddressed to 'Most magnanimous Harry the Fourth'. Describes her writing position and situation. Hopes that he is enjoying "the frogs and fens" of Lincolnshire. She has been to see her sister, and to Kensington with Dr and Mrs. Thomson. Tells John that a certain gay widow must be in love with him. References herself as a tone-deaf 'Ophelia'. Generally overjoyed with her returning health and the beautiful spring. Mrs. Kay has recovered; however, Mr. Kay has become ill. There are concerns about the health of Eliza (John's favourite) after bout of illness. Has looked at two houses in the neighbourhood and neither will do. There is a house for £800 p/a of a good size (with 11 attics). Wishes to be remembered to Dr. and Mrs. Richardson.Wants to hear news of his relations in future.
Extent1 sheet
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
SenderEleanor Anne Porden
Sender LocationUpper Portland Place
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationBolingbroke, Lincolnshire
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexUpper Portland Place
Friday May the 9th 1823
Most Magnanimous Harry the Fourth
(For since you have in some sort identified yourself with the “Princely Bolingbroke”, I dare not address you by any title less distinguished.) I am really much at a loss what to say to your Highness, having neither news to tell, nor novelty to describe, but as you have laid your commands on me not to wait for your letter, I, as a dutiful subject, am bound to obey. Here then I am, in the same room you wont to see me, sitting on the same sofa, facing the same unlike likeness of my friend Pomona, and writing, if not with the same pen, yet at the same desk, and on the same quire of paper. How then shall I find a little variety to entertain you with in your Country Retreat? Had I been your journey, I would have filled you half a dozen sheets with pleasure; but as it is, I must e’en be content with hoping that you have had an agreable trip, and that you have found all you love as well and as happy to see you as you could wish. That the smiles of the sun have made Cambridge delightful, and, (as one’s native air is always endowed with magic virtue) that you may derive incalculable benefit from the frogs and fens of Lincolnshire, though I never heard that county was famous for anything but handsome stone spires, and indifferent mutton. To some of the former you may present my compliments, and say that I hold them in affectionate remembrance though it be eleven years since I saw their glittering vanes.
I have been walking out and riding out. Have been to see my Sister, and been to Kensington with Dr & Mrs Thomson. By the bye she says that a certain gay widow, who wanted to take better care of your health at their dinner than you were inclined to permit has since made so many and such particular enquiries after you, and launched forth so much in your praise, that she must certainly have lost her heart altogether. I do not know that I have any business to send you this intelligence, but beg you will at least applaud my generosity, and give me notice when I am to look out for a murmuring brook and a weeping willow. Unluckily I cannot sing, so I shall make but a bad Ophelia – but then I can carve verses upon every tree, at the risque of being taken up for destroying the bark <under the Statute of Edward the 3d for cutting and maiming young trees>. In which case a hempen cord may probably be substituted for a garter, or a voyage to Botany Bay for the Lover’s Leap.
Perhaps you may surmise, from the tone of my letter, that I am not the worse since you left me. I suppose it is very indecorous to be merry when you are away, but I cannot resist returning health and the opening Spring, and when I see the Lilacs bursting into bloom, with the Tulips and Narcissuses, (which I hang over as fondly as their namesake over his own shadow) I quite forget that I ever had care or illness to trouble me. The last I saw of Nature was in her Winter garb of frost and snow, so that the charge now comes on me with all the fascination of an Arctic Summer, of which you know more that I do.
I wish I could give as satisfactory an account of Gower Street. My sister is certainly better, and is gone today for change of air to Millhill till Monday, when I am to succeed her for a few days. Mr Kay however is not well, and appears in great danger of a return of the severe illness he had last Spring. I fervently hope that this may be averted, for his health is particularly important to his family at this moment. Your little favourite Eliza, is also a source of uneasiness to us. She has either suddenly become deaf, or is seized with a stupidity the more remarkable from her former liveliness of intellect. She certainly knew no one for many days during her illness, but that we did not regard, but the same obtuseness of sense seems to shew itself again now, and I understand that the few minutes which she passed with me after you were gone on Sunday were the only … [paper torn way] in which she has for some time past, shewn anything like [?her] former vivacity or memory. I hope there is [?no] danger of hydrocephalus. I have often when thinking of h[er] been reminded of Parnell’s Hermit, for I felt that we were all growing too fond of the Child. I was at least, she was so like my Mother.
I have absolutely managed to look at two houses in this neighbourhood, but they would not do. The only thing which at present offers is the Corner House over the way, for which only £800 per annum is demanded, and which would suit your ideas of size to a hair. <It has 11 Attics, so you may imagine the rest.> Miss Appleton and I have had thoughts of taking it for a Convent, but as we cannot agree which is to be Lady Abbess, or who the visiting Friar, I fear we are likely to remain a little longer among the pomps and vanities of this wicked world.
I would ask to be remembered to Dr and Mrs Richardson, but suppose they will not know of my letter, and as your friends are probably ignorant of my existence, I need send no message to them, but I hope they are all well and especially your father, whom I feel strongly disposed to like. I know not whether it be from having always been much with those older than myself but I have an instinctive love of age, when it is what age ought to be. By the bye, if you ask me to find room in my heart for such a number of new relations as you appear to have <to present me to,> you ought to give me some account of them, and that will furnish matter for your letters, when you can find none other. I am sure I have shewn you a good example, for here is a full sheet about nothing. I am not quite certain whether letters about nothing are not sometimes the pleasantest, but you may be of a different opinion <in which case my next shall wait till I have something to tell.> I shall watch the Post on Monday Morning for a full history of your proceedings and in the meantime remain
your ever affectionate
Eleanor Anne Porden.
Saturday morning – May 10

[Addressed to]
Captain Franklin R.N.
[Postmark] W10MY1823

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