|Recipient Location||Mrs Burnside, Castle Gate, Nottingham|
|Transcript or Index||Berners Street – Wednesday June 4th 1823|
Having taken out my brains and washed them, as the Cook does by a Calf’s head, and laid them in the sun to dry, and <finally> put them in their place again, I trust that Captain Franklin will find their effusions somewhat cleaner and sweeter than the last. If he was not ashamed to receive that same “interesting communication“ I was to send it, and had the Postman allowed me a minute for reflexion, I believe it would have gone into the fire instead of his bag. I am confined here on a wet Evening, in desperate want both of Books and Society, so that I am fain to write letters by way of occupation, and since you are so kind as to feel pleasure in reading mine I will not apologize for bestowing some of my tediousness on you. You will however readily believe that I had rather chat the same hour away with your living self; there is plenty of room on the sofa, and I am just tired enough to wish for such a quiet social friend to whom I might talk of everything that rose in my mind, without ceremony or reserve.
For these last two or three days I have been wrestling manfully with my affection for coeval chairs and tables, and am at last heroic enough to resign them to their fate. You have no taste for inconveniences, or I would that you had dined with me one of these last three days. Every article of crockery that was sound has been packed up for removal and I have left out nothing for use but what is not in a condition to be used – being either cracked, or having a piece bit out. We have a magnificent variety of China, blue, brown, red, and white, gold edged and broken edged; something like Falstaff’s regiment, agreeing in no one thing but their unfitness for service. The provision, however, I would venture to promise would be better than the China, and the welcome than either, so that I should not fear your making a good meal.
I believe I have been exerting myself rather too much, for I was not very well yesterday, and have been obliged to lay by a little today. On the whole, I have more reason to wonder at my strength than complain of my weakness, and as my fatigues are almost at a close I think you may congratulate me on getting through them so well.
Tomorrow Mr Millington gives his Lecture on Electro-Magnetism. I feared I had missed it during my illness, but since by good luck it is yet to come I shall make a point of being there, and of taking all the notes I can for you – so that you see I shall be providing materials not only for my next letter, but for yours, since I shall hope to be indulged with your remarks upon the new discoveries. I fear I must at the same time, or at least very shortly, prepare myself to take leave of the Royal Institution. Dr Roget tells me that it is about to die a natural death, being completely worn out with Old Age. Its constitution you know, has been crazy for some years, and only patched up from time to time, but I own I shall be sincerely sorry for its dissolution, and having attended it constantly since I was nine years old, am doubly sorry to have been compelled to desert it almost entirely in its last moments. It is certainly within its walls that I have imbibed a great part of the knowledge I possess, and above all that habit of blending Science with Literature, which I think I may say first led to our acquaintance, and I shall feel the loss of my Alma Mater, though perhaps I could not have expected to have been henceforward so diligent a Scholar. I should however have very much liked to attend the Lectures there for one season with you and am even vain enough to think that so doing might have been profitable to both. I am at least sensible that I lost much when my father was compelled to give them up, from not having any one with whom to talk them over on my return.
My sister I am happy to say is better than she was, but she must not expect any thing like health just at present. I am still more rejoiced to be able to say that Eliza is herself again. Miss [?] Moget is gone and it now appears that she had been the cause of the change which I mentioned to you in our little darling, having taught her all sorts of horrible hymns (if I may so misuse the word) and filled her head with the most gloomy ideas, till the poor little creature was absolutely frightened out of her wits. What dreadful fanaticism which could not leave, even to so tender an age, the enjoyment of its native innocence and gaiety! Since her new preceptress, Miss Burroughs, was with her she appears again to see what she is looking at, and hear what is said to her: before she seemed as if all at once deprived of the use of her senses, or more properly as if every faculty was stupefied, like one under the influence of opium, and my sister says I never saw her while at the worst.
I am sure that both Sister and Mr Kay would beg to be kindly remembered to you if they knew of my letter – but to own the truth I am a bad hand at either giving or taking such messages, and frequently forget them where I ought not. I am glad to hear you have been so gay and enjoyed yourself so much, but I will not have poor London blamed as the source of every evil. I am as staunch to it as you to your own Lincolnshire. After all it m...[paper torn by seal] not where our early affections and associations have been e...[paper torn by seal] but that will always be the home of our feelings, and the dear[est] as we grow older. Some persons seem to be fond of new friends, and I own I am always glad to add to the number any whose society promises pleasure or improvement; but certainly my regard grows stronger for keeping, and in most cases I could measure its degree by the years I have known this or that person. May our attachment thus improve by time, my dearest and best, though not yet my oldest friend.– I believe I am writing truisms all this while, and you are smiling at me; but I do not care how broad the smile is, if you do not yawn.
I think you have a little misunderstood my former letter, or have carried my expressions at least somewhat beyond my meaning but we will if you please wait until we can talk. Indeed I trust we shall not now have very long to wait, but it will require an effort for me to speak upon the subject, & I should not wonder if you find me tongue tyed [sic]. Of one thing I feel assured, that with an earnest wish to perform our duty towards our God & towards each other, and as I believe and trust, a strong mutual regard to rest upon, there never can be much between us to interfere with the comfort of either. If in many things you should find me a sad spoiled child, will you be very harsh with me? I think not, and I do even venture to think that as you know me better I shall win more and more of your confidence. At present I feel that I have it not – at least not to the degree in which I possessed that of my parents. But I have not yet earned it. All I can assure you is, that it shall be my unremitting endeavour to deserve it, and I can only pray that when my last hour does come I may feel as ready to meet it as when I lately believed it nigh, and that I may close my eyes in the sweet assurance that you have been as well contented with my conduct as a wife, and perhaps a mother, as those who are gone were with my attentions as a daughter. There are some recollections connected with the latest moments of both so precious that I think nothing would compensate for the loss of them. Pardon me – I am on the old subject again, but do not think me out of spirits when I indulge in this train of thought. I am far from it, and could do write thus to none but you.
Alllways [sic] affectionately yours, Eleanor Anne Porden.
My sheet is so full that I think you ought to pay double postage for it. What does your conscience say? Is it not cheating the Revenue to cram a letter so?
Captain Franklin R. N.
L 5 JU 1823