RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/22
Former ReferenceD3311/8/3/15
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, while he is visiting his family in Lincolnshire, including on the religious differences between them
Date28 May 1823
DescriptionExpresses delight in teasing John for his written discrepancies and marvels that he hasn't realised this already. Had a busy three days, walking at Mr. and Mrs. Kay's, sorting business to do with Berner's Street and then attending a ball at the D'Israelis. Feels guilty that she has been unable to keep company with her friends as she cannot 'with propriety' do so without John present. Almost did not attend the party as she had no chaperone; however, she found the reception good and her health better. Met with an old aquaintance who asked after John and whose wife Eleanor knew as a girl. Tired from a hard morning's walk. Considers their religious differences fairly minor but that her own beliefs are more tolerant than his. More religious narrative and a condemnation of religious texts other than 'the scriptures'.
Extent1 sheet
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SenderEleanor Anne Porden
Sender LocationPortland Place
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationBolingbroke, Lincolnshire
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexPortland Place, May 28th 1823
My Dear Sir
I am glad to find you are not quite weary of my letters, & shall be still more so if I may venture to believe that you begin to find pleasure in writing to me. Is it possible though that you take my “Lectures” seriously? If so you mistake them altogether. Cannot you take a joke? and do you not understand me yet? The likeness of the part of Lincolnshire you were in & the Barren grounds of America struck me in your description before you compared them, but the discrepancies rose to view in the next moment, and so I was determined to play with you a little. You know I dearly love to turn anyone’s meaning inside out!
I have been busily employed the last three days. On Monday I was up an hour and half before Mr & Mrs John Kay; packed all my things & took a walk in the plantation before breakfast. After that I came to town, and was still so little fatigued as as [sic] to dine in Gower Street. Yesterday I was in a bustle all the morning, receiving back poor Berners Street, and finished the evening with a Ball at the D’Israelis’ – I see you shake your head Sir! but I had Dr Thomson’s full permission to go, and I am not a pin the worse for it. I certainly was anxious to be there for I have lost sight of most of my friends for nearly a twelvemonth and they all have shewn me so much real kindness and sympathy that I do not like to appear ungrateful. I should have invited some of them at Christmas. Indeed it was a favourite day dream of mine to see them once again at Berners Street, but you were then too much occupied with your Book, and withal too anxious not to be seen for me to hope the honour of your presence, and of course I could not with propriety receive any company of which you did not form a part. As you got more at leisure I got ill – and so -
I believe it is the first time I ever had to go to a party without either someone with me or a servant of my own to protect me, and I had an uncomfortable sense of desolation when I set out, which but for the reasons aforesaid, would have determined me to stay at home. But it would not be in human nature to be otherwise than gratified at the reception I met with. Half a dozen hands were held out to me as I entered the room, so that I knew not which to take first. I must surely be really strong, for neither the bustle of numbers, nor the lights, nor the music affected me, though it be many months since I have shared in a similar scene, and I tripped about from one kind friend to another as gaily as I was wont to do in days of yore. A quondam admirer of mine made many enquiries concerning you. I could not help being amused on reflexion. It was about the first social conversation he and I had had for some years, and had I been previously told he would have asked such and such questions, I could not have believed I should feel them other than impertinent. As it was, I was much pleased with the evident friendliness of feeling which prompted them – the more so perhaps as I am conscious I once cut his acquaintance with rather less civility than was due to him. He has no cause of quarrel with me now however, for in simple sincerity, he has done much better. His wife is one of the loveliest women I ever knew. I should be inclined to say I never saw one
“Where Nature’s legend so distinctly tells
In this fair shrine a fairer spirit dwells”.
I liked her as a girl and think I like her still better as a matron. By the bye, you had best come back and look after me for fear I should be run away with. I heard myself bestowed on two fresh gentlemen the other day, making with yourself, eleven since Xmas !!! as my friends seem to have no other employment than considering how I am to be provided for, I trust they will not stop at such an illomened number!
I am now as you say, on my wonted sofa, and heartily tired with a hard morning’s work in Berners Street & with talking for a long time to Uncle who I think is deafer than ever. Tomorrow the Books are to be moved, but I have <had> great difficulty in getting a room for them. I feel fresh reason to wish that one remove would have sufficed.
If you expect a perfect conformity in our religious opinions you expect what Education and Habit have alike forbidden in our care, and what I consider fundamentally impossible. It has been well remarked that while it is the triumph of Man’s ingenuity to produce a number of objects exactly alike, the omnipotence of the Creator is shewn in the infinite diversity of his Works. As no two bodies are cast in precisely the same mould, so do I believe that no two minds were ever altogether similar, and that no two persons ever thought <exactly> the same on any subject – even as Science tells us that no two spectators see the same Rainbow. This must be particularly the case in matters of religious belief; but as I trust you are neither Catholic nor Methodist I presume you are not bound to consider me as eternally condemned if it should turn our that we differ on some point of faith equally above the comprehension of either. For if we are both sincere disciples of our English Church it can be only on such that we differ, and such difference should it exist, can only call on us to begin at home with <something of> that spirit of toleration which we profess towa[rds] all the world. But I warn you that you will not find ... [paper torn by seal] over ready to discuss such subjects. I always remember
“That fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and consider such discussions not only as the bane of society, in leading to the endless multiplication of Sects, but as almost inconsistent with a Christian’s humility. I should be inclined to say that my religion like my character, was of a gayer nature than yours. I believe I love my Creator almost too well to fear him, and I consider that to receive all his dispensations with cheerfulness is the only return we can make for innumerable blessings. I can truly say that I never yet met an apparent misfortune which I had not afterwards some reason to be thankful for, and it is my constant endeavour that no circumstances shall depress me. Nine tenths of the world’s misery is its own making. I certainly do not quarrel with you for not writing letters on a Sunday, though I should not scruple to do it in a case of urgency, but I never was accustomed to lay aside any book on account of that day, and as for such as you would perhaps put into my hands, I believe I never read one of them in my life. My father would have taken them from me, and bade me read my Bible. For the same reason he never admitted a Comment on the Scriptures into his House. I think that having witnessed in his youth much of the evils of Sectarianism led him to carry his system too far, for I know I often felt in want of Historical notes, and am afraid you will frequently be shocked at my ignorance. But on the whole I think him right. The simpler our Religion is, the better. To love our God and obey his commands with cheerfulness is almost the only precept we require in our duty towards Heaven, and to do in all as we would be done by assuredly comprises all that can be taught of our duties to our fellow creatures. I hate Books that call themselves <Evidences> of Christianity – to me it needs no Evidence but the Scriptures, and such writers to my mind only serve to raise a doubt which I have frequently been obliged to resort to them to dispel – and as for Books of Moral Instruction, they are generally mere dilutions of the Sacred Text. I own I consider my time more profitably employed in drawing my own deductions from a work of History – Still less do I agree with you in any idea of seclusion on a Sunday, though believe me I would have it no day of dissipation. I could be by myself from Monday morning till Saturday Night, and never feel I was alone – but if I see no friendly face on a Sunday I could almost fancy myself an outcast of heaven. The more earnestly I have joined in the worship of my God, the more do I desire to shew my sense of his goodness by letting my heart expand in love & kindness towards his creatures, and to me the Sunday is perhaps particularly dear from its bringing those who have been my best loved companions and who filled that place in my heart which I had neither brother, nor sister of my own age to occupy. Pardon me if I say that I almost consider the wish of seclusion on that day as partaking of the same aberration of religious zeal which drove many of the early Christians to the deserts of Egypt. Did you pick it up in N. America? But mark me well, I am not confounding it with the Spirit of Catholic Monachism, which to my view is perfectly distinct.
I can imagine your feelings in parting from Dr R. Pray give them my farewell. though I trust we shall often meet again. Believe me ever your affectionate
Eleanor Anne Porden.

[Addressed to]
Captain Franklin R.N.
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