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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/25
Former ReferenceD3311/8/3/21
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, on her leaving Berners Street, social life in London and lectures at the Royal Institution
Date7 Jun 1823
DescriptionLast letter ever to be written from her Berners Street address. Jests that she has to leave before she is auctioned off. Has been enjoying much society in his absence - went to two parties yesterday. Her health has mirrored the state of the weather. Has seen Mr. Moore at Mr. Guillemard's, but he was busy with a Miss Huggins, aged 50 and marked with smallpox. Disappointed with the lecture given by Mr. Millington as it was an old matter, and she scolded him for bringing her out in wet weather. The next lecture will likely be by Mr. Savant on the effects of heat on magnetism. Sadly her notes on the subject will not illustrate matters for John as well as the live lecture would. Speaks of mounds that are not markers of burials, but that are sites of ancient signal posts for long-distance communication.
Extent1 sheet
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
SenderEleanor Anne Porden
Sender LocationBerners Street
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationMrs Burnside's, Castle Gate, Nottingham
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexBerners Street. June 7th 1823.
My Dear Sir,
[Written faintly in between lines] I have had to fetch my Ink by penfuls from the men who had got our only Ink glass!
As far as future events can be foreseen, this is the last letter which I shall ever date from Berners Street. The Auctioneer’s men are at this moment in the House, lotting the Furniture, and I not intending to dispose of myself as a part of it, must decamp forthwith, under penalty of coming under the hammer, which I think would be even a worse fate than being sold with a halter round my neck, if you should at some time or other, think it well so to bring me to market. Poor little I! I am afraid no one would bid much for me from mere exterior, and as to the inside, perhaps it is not better. – I have another reason for writing to day which is, that although you beg to hear from me frequently you take care not to inform me where I am to address after this, but you shall not escape so, for if your next epistle be not more communicative, I shall direct to the Post Office Matlock. I have followed your advice, as to relieving my bustle and anxiety by enjoying as much society as I can – (More than you did though when I gave it) I went to two parties yesterday Evening, and had much pleasure in both. I am sorry to say that I am still somewhat of a Barometer – Thursday was a wet chill disagreeable day, and in consequence I rose with a bad cold in my head, and felt so unwell on my return from the Lecture, as to go to bed very early – for a burnt child dreads the fire, and I thought it best to nurse at once. Yesterday morning the same weather continued and I determined to send excuses to both places; but at noon the clouds blew away, and all my ailments with them, so that I reversed my intention, and have suffered no inconvenience from so doing. I had the honour of seeing Mr Moore again at Mr Guillemards, but he was too closely devoted to a Miss Huggins, a damsel of about 50, and deeply marked with smallpox, to waste much attention on me. If you think my description not very attractive, you may ascribe it to jealousy if you will! Mr Guillemard told me that Dr Pearson, whom I suppose you know, would persist in taking him for you <a day or two since> and was not to be convinced that though he had been much at Constantinople, he had never visited the Arctic Circle in his life. The mistake, personally, was not very flattering to you, but that I should think you have magnanimity to forgive, and he seemed to be highly entertained at it.
Mr Millington cheated me as to the Lecture last Thursday and I scolded him for bringing me out such a wet day. It was nothing but the old matter about the affection of the compass by the iron in the Ship, and the direction of the Ship’s head; with Barlow’s discovery of the plane of no variation existing in every mass of iron and every magnetic body, all which I wrote you word about if I remember right, while you were <in> America, and <at> any rate you know it better than I do by this time. He finished with some remarks on local and diurnal variation; from the latter of which he inferred that magnetic phenomena are to be considered as an effect of the light and heat of the sun acting upon the Globe. The next Lecture, (on Thursday next) will probably be occupied by M. Savart’s experiments on the effect of heat in rendering bodies magnetic which are not so at other times, but Mr Millington fears that he shall not be able to get the Apparatus for illustrating the connection of Magnetism and Electricity so as to include it in that Lecture – in which case the subject must be deferred till the Thursday after, when Mr Barrow has promised to lend his Apparatus if the other be not completed. I was therefore in hopes that you might have been in town so as to have been present at this part, which [I] really think you ought to have heard. However your la[st] letter says that will not be, and so you must be confronted with the best account that I can give; but any notes taken must be very different from hearing the Lecture and seeing the Experiment at the same time; besides which Millington renders every thing so clear that one is in full possession of what he treats of ever after.
I know little of Lincolnshire, and the events you speak of are almost of too recent date to be within my scope of information. Your mention of the Solitary Tower reminds me of a fact stated by those who have investigated the Primitive Antiquities of our island. You know the Barrows, or sepulchral mounds which are generally considered as the Tombs of British Chieftains and marking the fields of their battles. But it is stated that there are likewise other similar mounds, not sepulchral, scattered over the greatest part of England, in every direction, and invariably so situated that <one is exactly in the horizon of the next so that> any one of these would be observed and answered immediately by its correspondents and intelligence thus conveyed in a very short time all over the island. One of these mounds is in Kensington Gardens, and the chain may be traced through a great many counties, in which though some of them have been broken up, their former existence is known. In those parts however where stone is abundant, and Lincolnshire is particularly named among them, the place of the mound is supplied by a small solitary round or square tower likewise so placed as that each may communicate by signal with the other. These are all supposed to be antient [sic] British <or Phenician [sic], stations, and I want to ask if you have any knowledge of the subject, or can give me any information. You will say I am quite in my element, having got back before the Roman Conquest! – I am sorry you have so many Invalids in your family. You will begin to think Ladies have nothing to do but to be ill. Much of sickness is indeed our inheritance but I am apt to think we enjoy our hours of health the more for it. <I sincerely hope the journey will have all the good effect you anticipate.> Mr Kay got his formal appointment to Greenwich yesterday – I get a little quizzing now and then, as well as you, but on the whole “our affairs” as you call them seem to be so generally known that I escape with a grave enquiry after you. At first my own feelings would have led me to wish that all had been secret and unsuspected, but situated as I am, I now feel it a relief that the circumstance is known, especially as I cannot but be conscious that some of those I meet had views similar to your own. Miss Griffin told me the other day that as she was going out of town for the summer on Monday, she supposed she must take an everlasting farewell of Miss Porden. I laughed – but as I was in the Carriage, I could not embrace her or make a scene which I should [?]else have liked. Farewell. I should not wonder if the pen I now use wrote a part of Coeur de Lion, for my pens last almost forever & this which I found somewhere about the house is a perfect [?]stump. ever [your] affectionate
[Elea]nor Anne Porden

[Addressed to]
Captain Franklin, R. N.
Mrs Burnside’s
Castle Gate

[Postmark] P 7 JU 1823

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