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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/2
Former ReferenceD3311/8/1/14
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, while he is still undertaking his first Arctic land expedition
Date21 May 1822
DescriptionHis father unable to write because of rheumatism; they missed the chance to send letters; Barrow believes Franklin and Parry will have met; concerns of Dr Thomson and Dr Hutton about him in his absence; she will leave politics to the men, with little having happened since the Coronation; the weather has been mixed up, with very little snow but plenty of floods and storms, several instances being named; she has just sent off the final part of her "Coeur de Lion", which she was engaged on when he was in England, although she cannot remember if she had told him; she has sent him her Ode on the Coronation; last year they went to Normandy, having an unpleasant journey on the Channel back; her sister and Mrs Kay have been invalids. PS: she had omitted mentions of a family of laplanders and herd of reindeer being exhibited on Bagshot Heath, the Spitzbergen panorama having been converted into the Bay of Naples, with his portrait now swallowed in Mount Vesuvius, and on other unusual weather phenomena in the world.
Endorsed as being answered 2 Oct 1822, Atlantic Ocean
Extent2 sheets
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
SenderEleanor Anne Porden
Sender LocationBerners Street
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationNo address
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexBerners Street May 21st 1822
Dear Sir
My father’s arm is at present so much benumbed by rheumatism, that I am afraid you will this year be obliged to accept me as your principal correspondent in our family. Indeed I fear you have ere now reproached us with forgetfulness; but the fact is, that having never before had to watch the sailing of a fleet, we last season contrived to be just too late, and had our little packet returned to us, with the mortifying intelliegnce that it could not be dispatched for twelve months. In the meantime your friends have been anxiously looking for news from you , and having received none last Autumn, are either amusing or alarming themselves with various speculations. Mr Barrow is ready to lay a wager that you and Captain Parry have met, Dr Thomson complains that you have been due these six months, and Dr Hutton is in great terror for your safety. I content myself with hoping that next October will bring you to answer all questions satisfactorily.
I shall leave all disquisitions on politics to the gentlemen; since the Coronation and the Queen’s death there has been little of much interest; and besides, you will have public news from public sources. But if the moral world be tolerably peaceful, the elements are in sad confusion. I should think that the mean temperature of last year was pretty nearly what it ought to be, but the seasons were all mixed together, and not well mixed neither; we had neither Spring nor Autumn, Winter nor Summer. Only two nights greeted us with the agreeable novelty of a frost, and the consequence was that a friend of ours saw the armies of two rival confectioners fighting for the thin cake of ice on a pond behind his house. As for snow, I think you had best bring a little home in a bottle, to shew as a curiosity to those who may have forgotten its colour. Of flood and storm, however, we had more than enough. The gentle Zephyrus has become the most boisterous of the winds of heaven, and we can only conjecture that he has been exasperated by your invasion of his native regions and comes to wreak his vengeance on our devoted isle. For more than three months we had a continual succession of storms, such as I never remember. Trees were torn up, and houses blown down, and from the coasts the accounts were dreadful- three Indiamen were lost in sight of land. So much for wind: but water was worse. At Christmas the Thames was innundating Westminster and Vauxhall forcing numbers of inhabitants to take refuge in the upper rooms of their houses, till they could be carried away in boats. At Staines it is said that the water was rushing in torrrents through every house, and parts of Windsor were in similar condition. On the Bath road the Coaches were stopped and the mailbags ferried over, while many who were going to spend their Christmas holidays in London or the Country, mutually returned with the declaration that they had no intention of making a sea voyage. To complete my catalogue of marvels, in less than three months after, a strong south wind so drove back the waters of the Thames, that aided by a neap tide the channel was left nearly dry, and it was crost on foot between London and Blackfriars bridges, almost in the spot where an ox had been roasted whole on the ice just 8 years before. Many curiosities were picked up, which it is supposed had been thrown overboard to escape the Custom House. At Rochester a poor man recovered a boat which he had lost five years before, and which he found under one of the arches of the bridge, half full of stones, shewing that it had been sunk in malice. He had till then believed it stolen. I understand that the tide afterwards flowed with unusual force for 3 days, and it has been thought that the extraordinary shape of the river must have been connected with some volcanic phenomenon. By way of conclusion- this week we were shivering over a fire, and now the thermometer is at 81⁰ in the shade.
Were you in England I am sure you would congratulate me for I yesterday sent out to the Press the last sheet of my poem of Cour de Lion, which I was engaged on when you were in England, but I do not remember whether you were in my confidence or not. Next Monday will complete my labours by its publication in 2 Vols 8 vo but I can assure you that this recent experience of the delights of printing has by no means increased my predilection for it. Your time is to come.
I send you a little ode on the Coronation, not because I have the vanity to think it worth sending across the Atlantic but because certain Northern Expeditions are alluded to, and though you will as usual laugh at me for being so sanguine yet in a clime where there is not such an overflow of new publications as in England, it may perhaps amuse you for a moment.
Our movements this summer are uncertain and whether we shall migrate to more southern regions, or only to the shores of our own isle remains for time to settle. Last year we made a trip to Normandy, and had on the whole a pleasant journey but I believe a very unpleasant passage from Calais to Deal (Dover it should have been) laid the foundation of much subsequent illness during the winter. You may smile at the perils of crossing the channel but we might have sailed to India with less of danger than we encountered, and less of suffering. My sister & Mrs Kay have also been invalids. They do not yet know I am writing but I venture to anticipate their wish of being kindly remembered to you. Whatever may be our wanderings I trust that we shall be able to welcome you on your return and in the meantime remain
Yours sincerely, Eleanor Anne Porden
P.S. In talking over my letter with Papa we find that I have made some important omissions.
First, Mr Bulloock has been exhibiting for some months a family of Laplanders, and a herd of reindeer- fed on Lapland moss, from Bagshot Heath. They have been unlucky in their visit, for like the Greenlanders who wintered in Copenhagen, they could find no reasonable degree of cold. When I went to see them in February, the heat was almost suffocating.
2d The Panorama of Spitzbergen has been converted into the Bay of Naples- and your portrait, which you were so proud of, is swallowed in Mount Vesuvius.
3d The newspapers inform us that, last winter while the thermometer was some degrees above freezing point at St Petersburg, persons were driving traineaux at Madrid and many were frozen to death in the streets of Lisbon. As the world is thus certainly turned upside down, I hope you have enjoyed a tropical climate.
The last letter which we saw from you , you said was written on your last sheet of paper. Is that the reason we have since had no intelligence- or have you been beyond the reach of conveyance?

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Thomson; Thomas (1775-1853); physician
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