RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/46
Former ReferenceD3311/8/4/8
TitleLetter from Eleanor Anne Franklin to her husband John Franklin, on the subject of the observance of the Sabbath, carrying on their disagreement the previous year about it
Date13 Sep 1824
DescriptionFirst part of letter is in French. Thanks for his letter; they have arrived since he left; she is feeling very well and the hours dont' seem so long; on Sunday she and Emily went for a walk to the church where Mr Benson gave them a superior discourse. Back in to English; She wished Franklin had heard him on their Saviour having healed the sick on the Sabbath day, the main point of the sermon being not to look with malevolence on others; although the Jews had felt he had transgressed, it had been an act of mercy; the sermon was gratifying in that it ran parallel to what she had written to him in a letter last year, the only subject which has been an issue between them. She writes that there is not that openness that there ought on religious subjects; the present fashion is towards robbing it of its innocent recreation and returning to Puritanism; on the continent they follow worship with recreation, their Sunday being a holiday for the poor; she ws brought to guard against sentiments like his with regard to Sunday; to her he seems to be guided by an impulse foreign to his nature, which she once ascribed to the influence of Dr Richardson, but she has since seen how little they differ; sometimes his looks and voice have terrified her; she does not want to weaken his piety, but she feels he has not done her justice and cannot be easy until he does. It is now 11 o'clock and she is sleepy. She attended Mr Wood's lecture today, which would not do for the Royal Institution, but gave a great deal of information to most of his audience; he is a worthy man who brought up 14 children.
Extent1 sheet
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SenderEleanor Anne Franklin
Sender LocationVale Cottage, Tunbridge Wells [Kent]
RecipientJohn Franklin
Recipient LocationNo address
Archive CreatorSir John Franklin (1786-1847)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Transcript or IndexVale Cottage, Tonbridge Wells.
Septr 13th 1824

Mon très cher bon homme.

Votre letter vant mille remercimens. Autrefois il vous fallut huit jours pour concocter autant de lignes, goutte à goutte, de très mauvais humeur, et à present vous ne pouvez vous eloigner de moi quarant huit heures, sans me faire part de vos nouvelles. Je m’en felicite, de tout mon coeur; et dites moi franchement si je ne predisait pas ce rèsultat, il y a plus d’un an. Il faut de pareille maniere vous instruire de ce qui nous ont arrivè depuis votre depart. Pour commencer comme veritable egoïste, (si ce n’était que je sais que l’assurance de mon bien vous fait toujours plaisir,) je me porte à merveille. Je ne puis vous en donner une preuve plus éclatante que le simple fait que, quoique privée de vous, les heures ne m’ont pas paru longues. Le Dimanche même, ce Dimanche larmoyant, les momens ont glissés presque sans être apercus. Je commence à retrouver le pouvoir de m’occuper, et être occupé, n’est <ce> pas toujours d’être heureux? Le matin, comme vous pouvez croire, c’était impossible de sortir. Le longueur du jardin aurait suffit pour se mouillir entierement, mais l’après midi Emilie et moi ont <même> pu prendre une petite promenade, avant de nous rendre à l’eglise, où Monsieur <Benson> nous donnait une discours superieure, mais quoique je trouve dans ce moment une egale facilité dans les deux langues, je quitterai sur ce sujet mon français, pour m’exprimer dans mon Anglais paternal, à crainte d’être mal conçu.

[Translation of above passage
My very dear good man
Your letter is worth a thousand thanks. In the past you needed eight hours to concoct as many lines, drop by drop, in a very bad temper, and now you can’t be away from me for forty eight hours without announcing your news. I am pleased with all my heart; and tell me frankly if I did not predict this result more than a year ago. In the same way I have to let you know what has happened to us since your departure. To start like a real egoist (if it was only that I know that assurances of my well-being always make you pleased), I am bearing up wonderfully well. I can’t give you proof any more astonishing that the simple fact, in spite of being deprived of you, the hours have not seemed long, This Sunday, this tearful Sunday, moments slipped by without being noticed. I am starting to find the ability again to keep myself busy, and to be busy, isn’t it always to be happy? This morning, as you can believe, it was impossible to go out. The length of the garden would have been enough to get entirely soaked, but after midday Emily and I have even been able to take a little walk, before taking ourselves to church, where Mr Benson gave us a very superior sermon, but although I find myself being equally fluent in both languages, on this subject I will stop my French to express myself in my native English, in fear of being misunderstood.]

I wish very much that you had heard him. His subject was our Saviour’s healing the palsied man on the Sabbath day, and the main object of his sermon was to exhort us not to look with malevolence on the actions of others, to shew mercy, as we would ourselves expect it. How often might that which appeared a crime to the casual observer be in the eyes of Him who sees not only actions but motives, and exertion of superior virtue – or if a crime, already atoned for by secret penitence, for ever invisible to his fellow creatures. Yet how apt were we to condemn a man upon such solitary action, imperfectly understood, and viewed through the jaundiced eye of jealousy, when we ought rather to contemplate the excellence of his general character, his piety, his benevolence, and if we detected a blemish, to lament over the frailty of our nature and to receive it as a warning. “The son of man was Lord also of the Sabbath,” and if he, in the strict eyes of the Jews transgressed by the performance of an action which might as well have been performed on another day, it was a work of mercy a work which in itself ennobled the moment – a miracle which attested his divinity. He then adverted to the different mode in which many of equally pious feelings were disposed to spend that day, some considering it as one of unmixed solemnity, and others diffusing over it their native cheerfulness – I did not like this part of his discourse the less that he pursued a course exactly parallel to that which I ventured to hold in a letter of last year, and which I think you have not forgotten; and while I feel deeply gratified by the support of a man like him <thus far,> on almost the only subject which has ever been at issue – between <us>, it is but just to confess that in the course of his address, I felt many admonitions which I trust to be the better for while I live. <If half our Clergy had the ability and the industry of Mr Benson, we should soon have neither sectaries, nor fanatics, nor Infidels.> He regretted that this was a subject on which of all others we were least inclined to be equitable towards our neighbour, and he concluded by repeating the exhortation that we would be merciful to others as we ourselves hoped for Mercy.
I have gone into this matter principally because I feel that there is not between us on religious subjects that openness and confidence which there ought to be. You seem to think me unworthy of it, and I feel that you are unjust. To you I have been perfectly open, & have even thought it more my duty from the consciousness that we differed. I cannot agree with you respecting Sunday. Last year you would have spent it like an Anchorite. If I have read my Bible right, God blessed the seventh day. What else could you do if he had cursed it? The present fashion seems to be, to rob it of every innocent recreation, and to return us to the Puritanism of <the Commonwealth> but when I have seen on the Continent, the whole population, their hearts lightened by the recent adoration of a bounteous Maker enjoying the remainder of their day of leisure in those recreations for which they had no other moment; when I have seen the whole land wearing as it were one universal face of gladness and thanksgiving, I have felt that there Sunday was as it ought to be, the holiday of the poor; and I cannot think those their friends who would rob them of their brief hour of mirth even for what they might deem superior religious instruction. The times have proved that nature will have its vent – its excitement – and in my mind, the village dance, the social concert, or the cricket match are preferable to gloomy seclusion, to the ale house, or the conventicle. I think I can truly say that it is not the hankering after such amusements in my own person which prompts me <I should innocently join them, but > I have every day to indulge in them, <and> the poor have not. In such sentiments at least was I brought up, while from such as yours I was vigilantly guarded, <so that I am perhaps hardly likely to be quite impartial but> though the opinion of my parents ought not to weigh against my conscience, I think you will acknowledge it an additional reason for not yielding without conviction. After the maturest deliberation I cannot agree with you, and I could not teach a child to do so. Shall I tell you the truth. I have studied you much, and have thought that on some points of this subject you seemed to be guided by an impulse foreign to your general nature, as fierce as it was unnatural <and seeming rather to have been engrafted than native.* > Mild as you usually are, your looks and voice have actually terrified me, and the first time left an impression which I cannot recover. There is nothing which I should so much dread as the idea of weakening in your mind, one feeling of genuine piety, one habit which was acceptable with God, but I feel that you have not done me justice, and I cannot be easy till you do. I had much to say on other topics but it is eleven o’clock & I am sleepy. I enclose you a note to which I thought it civil to reply, and have copied what I wrote. Your being in town allows you an easy means of declining, if you wish to avoid being made a shew of here. We went to Mr Wood’s Lecture today, which though it would not do for the Royal Institution <where he lectured nevertheless with fair success some years since.> I have no doubt gave a great deal of information to most of his audience. I found it was my old acquaintance and therefore spoke to him. Having to introduce myself by a new name, I did not chuse to shew him my card without yours, so that it is possible he may call, where the matter may end. He is a worthy man, who by his industry has creditably brought up 14 children, but I do not suppose him one with whom it would suit you to have farther intercourse. His Lectures may be attended piecemeal, so you can hear him once or twice if you think fit. Good Night & sleep sound
ever your affectionate wife
Eleanor Anne Franklin.

* Shall I acknowledge I once ascribed this to the influence of Dr Richardson, to whose Church it might naturally have belonged, but I have since perceived that he and I should differ little.
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