Francis, Dr. John Wakefield (1789-1861)
Small collection of 18 letters written by and to Dr. Francis and his wife, Maria Eliza Cutler Francis: 6 to Francis from colleagues (including his mentor David Hosack and Columbia President W.A. Duer); 5 from Francis to his brother, travelling in Europe as companion to young Sam Ward; 7 to Mrs. Francis from her mother, brother, sister and a friend.

18 letters, 28 manuscript pages, mainly quarto and folio, some old tape repairs at fold joints, generally in good legible condition, despite the idiosyncratic handwriting of Francis and several of the correspondents in the collection.

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John Wakefield Francis was born in New York City, the son of a German immigrant. His father’s death at an early age forced Francis to apprentice himself to George Long, a printer. After tutoring by two Irish clergymen he was able to enter Columbia College in 1807, with advanced standing. Upon his graduation in 1809 he at once began the study of medicine under David Hosack. Entering the new College of Physicians and Surgeons he became its first graduate in 1811 and entered into partnership with Hosack, which continued until 1820. Appointed lecturer in medicine and materia medica in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, he voluntarily served without fees. When the school merged with the Medical Department of Columbia, he was given professorships in both subjects, and spent the year 1816-17 studying in Europe. Upon his return he was given a third chair, that of forensic medicine, to which was added in 1819, a fourth, obstetrics. Meanwhile, from 1810 to 1814, with Hosack, he edited the American Medical and Philosophical Register. On the way to becoming New York’s foremost obstetrician, he published in 1821 an edition of Thomas Denman’s Introduction to the Practice of Midwifery. In 1826, with four others, he entered upon the work of establishing the new Rutger’s Medical College but, owing to litigation, the venture was short-lived. During the four years of the school’s existence, however, he taught obstetrics and forensic medicine. On November 16, 1829, he married Maria Eliza Cutler of Boston. His income now had reached over $ 15,000 annually and probably never fell below that figure. In 1830 he formally retired from teaching and for some years remained devoted to his practice and numerous avocations. He was interested in many different attempts to promote the general welfare; with Drs. Mott and Stearns, he founded the New York Academy of Medicine (1846) and was its second president (1847-48); in the fifties he lent James Marion Sims the aid which made it possible to establish the Woman’s Hospital; he was largely responsible for the founding of the State Inebriate Asylum at Binghamton; toward the close of his career, shortly before the opening of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, he gave clinical instruction in the wards of Bellevue Hospital. He was pronounced by Dr. Marshall Hall while on a visit to New York, the most representative physician of his generation.

           Outside the field of his profession, his prominence as an officer or honorary member of ethnological, fine arts, historical, typographical, horticultural, and antiquarian societies, and his countless personal charities, made “our learned and jolly Dr. Francis” (The Diary of Philip Hone, 1889, II, 210) one of the best-known and best-loved figures in New York. Compared by contemporaries both to Dr. Johnson and to Dr. Franklin, he possessed remarkable powers of observation and memory, was enthusiastically interested in the progress of science, and a devoted lover of letters. Though he had little time for methodical reading, he bought books constantly, delighted in literary conversation, “and seemed to regard attendance, without fee or reward, upon authors, artists, and actors, the highest privilege of his profession”. (Tuckerman, Old New York, post, p. xli). His own writings, in addition to several medical papers, consisted largely of biographical sketches and occasional addresses. His anniversary discourse, delivered before the New York Historical Society, Nov. 17, 1857, was published in enlarged form under the title Old New York; or, Reminiscences of the Past Sixty years (1858; 1866). Reflecting as it does his many literary friendships, it is a valuable source for the social and literary history of the city during the period of his lifetime. Samuel Ward Francis was his son.

 

       A much livelier biographic summary was written by none other than Edgar Allan Poe, one of Francis’ many famous friends and patients. In an 1846 series of articles on the “Literati of New York City”, Edgar Allan Poe paid tribute to his personal physician, “by no means a littérateur”, but:

     “In his capacity of physician and medical lecturer he is far too well known to need comment. He was the pupil, friend and partner of [David] Hossack…connected in some manner with everything that has been well said or done medicinally in America. As a medical essayist he has always commanded the highest respect and attention”, including “his Anatomy of Drunkenness, his views of the Asiatic Cholera, his analysis of the Avon waters of the state, his establishment of the comparative immunity of the constitution from a second attack of yellow fever, and his pathological propositions on the changes wrought in the system by specific poisons through their assimilation…in unprofessional letters Doctor Francis has also accomplished much…his biography of Chancellor Livingston, his Horticultural Discourse… (each in its way) models of fine writing, just sufficiently toned down by an indomitable common sense…His philanthropy, his active, untiring beneficence will forever render his name a household word among the truly Christian of heart. His professional services and his purse are always at the command of the needy; few of our wealthiest men have ever contributed to the relief of distress so bountifully — none certainly with greater readiness or with warmer sympathy. His person and manner are richly peculiar. He is short and stout, probably five feet five in height,  limbs of great muscularity and strength, the whole frame indicating prodigious vitality and energy…His head is large, massive — the features in keeping; complexion dark florid; eyes piercingly bright; mouth exceedingly mobile and expressive; hair gray, and worn in matted locks about the neck and shoulders — eyebrows to correspond, jagged and ponderous…His general appearance is such as to arrest attention. His address is the most genial that can be conceived, its bonhommie irresistible. He speaks in a loud, clear, hearty tone, dogmatically, with his head thrown back and his chest out; never waits for an introduction to anybody; slaps a perfect stranger on the back and cells him “Doctor” or “Learned Theban;” pats every lady on the head… (if she be pretty and petite)…His conversation proper is a sort of Roman punch made up of tragedy, comedy, and the broadest of all possible farce. He has a natural, felicitous flow of talk, always overswelling its boundaries and sweeping everything before it right and left. He is very earnest, intense, emphatic; thumps the table with his [fist]; shocks the nerves of the ladies. His forte, after all, is humour, the richest conceivable — a compound of Swift, Rabelais, and the clown in the pantomime…”

    Poe may have thought less of Francis’ medical expertise as he pooh-poohed the Doctor’s warning that his alcoholism would be fatal - Poe died in an alcoholic stupor three years later. A year after his demise, a New York journalist described Dr. Francis’ home at No.1 Bond Street as the “center for the intellectual galaxy of this metropolis”, where various literati – including young Herman Melville, whose parents were patients of Francis – often appeared.

    One of the letters in this collection was written to Francis by David Hosack, mentioned (with misspelling) by Poe - preeminent American physician and botanist of the early 19th century, who tended to the fatal injuries of Alexander Hamilton after his duel with Aaron Burr, established the Elgin Botanic Garden, and, with Francis, co-founded the short-lived medical school at Rutgers University.

    The letters also indicate Dr. Francis’ close connection with the Ward family of New York financiers. Francis’ fiancée and then wife, Eliza Cutler, was the sister of Julia Cutler, who had married banker Samuel Ward III, but died of tuberculosis at age 27 in 1824, leaving four children, including 5-year old Julia (future author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) and 10 year-old Sam (later “King” of Washington lobbyists after the Civil War).  Eliza took maternal responsibility for the children, and after she became engaged to Dr. Francis, he too began to consider himself their paternal guardian.

       Summary and partial transcript of the John W. Francis (JWF) Papers:

1.     July 12, 1825. Joseph Muenscher. 2pg. To Miss Eliza Cutler, Quincy, Mass.

2.     Nov. 3, 1826. John N. Brinckerhoff. Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NY. 1pg. to JWF

3.     Marsh 23, 1827. Mrs. [Sarah] Cutler. 1pg. To her daughter, Eliza, c/o Prime, Ward King & Co., NY

4.     Aug. 23, 1828. Mrs. [Sarah] Cutler. 1pg. To her daughter, care of H. B. Gibson, Canandaigua, NY.

5.     April 21, 1829.?  to JWF, 1 pg. at L. Crittenden’s, Capitol Hill, Albany.

6.     Feb. 24, 1830. D. Hosack. 1pg. To JWF.

7.     (Aug. 4, 1831). B. C. Cutler.  1pg. To her sister, Mrs. JWF. c/o Prime Ward, King & Co., NY

8.     Feb. 27, 1832. Gurdon? Pellet . 2pp. To JWF

9.     Nov. 30, 1833. JWF to his brother Henry, Paris. 1pg.

10.  April 16, 1834. JWF, 2pp. To his brother Henry, Paris (Heidelberg).

11.  May 1, 1834. JWF. NY. 2pp.To his brother Henry, Paris (Heidelberg).

12.  Oct. 24, 1834. JWF. 1pg. To his brother Henry, Brussels.

13.  Nov. 24, 1834. JWF (signed with initials). NY, partial letter, missing lower half of first page; 2nd page intact. 2pp. To his brother Henry, Paris.

14.  June 28, 1844. Stephen W. Williams. 1pg. To JWF .

15.  Feb. 20, 1845. W. .A. Duer. 1pg. To JWF

16.  Jan. ?, 1856. ? , Paris. To sister, Mrs. JWF

17.  April 21, 1856 ? . Paris. To  sister, Mrs. JWF, 3pp.

18.  Sept. 20, 1856? E.M.Reige/Reize. Cortemaggiore? (postmarked Austria and Parma?) 4pp.

 

1.     July 12, 1825. Joseph Muenscher, So.Leicester, Mass. 1pg. To Miss Eliza Cutler, Quincy, Mass.:

“My Dear Friend, It is painful to me to say that my duty requires me to forego the pleasure which I am sure I should derive from an excursion with you to Northampton. In declining your kind invitation I act from dire necessity and inflict on myself an act of self-denial greater I think that any I ever suffered. But I hope to be in a measure compensated for it by receiving from you a visit or at least a call on your return from it. Do think of this and let me hear from you again on the subject. Miss Howe’s health is not worse than when I wrote before, but her mother depends entirely on me to administer her medicine and to regulate her diet. Tomorrow I will write again.”

This letter seems to be written by a would-be suitor of Eliza Cutler before her engagement to Dr. Ward the following year; they did not marry until 1829.

 

2.     Nov. 3, 1826. John N. Brinckerhoff, Secretary of the Peithessophian Society of Rutgers College, New Brunswick New Jersey. 1pg. to JWF. Francis is made an honorary member of the Society.

 

3.     March 23, 1827. Mrs. Cutler (signed Mother).  Cedar Grove, [Georgia - Eliza Cutler’s mother and sister moved to Savannah, Georgia by 18261] 1pg.to Eliza Cutler, care of Prime, Ward, King & Co., New York. By Ship Staria, Capt. Wood.:

 

“I had written you a long letter to go by the Statira and sent it into Town. But as Lousia was just come out to spend several days with us, with the information that she has not yet sailed and having brought me the long expected letter from Mr. Matlock? I hasten to inclose it to you. In preference to Frances, from the uncertainty I am in – whether he may not, when it arrives – be absent from NY – and as you will know, where he may be – You can better direct to him than myself. You will see that Mr. M has conducted himself like a perfect gentleman on the occasion.  I send it for your and F’s satisfaction but he has no part to act in it. But to wait patiently the dismissal of the Lady, who no doubt by this time has obeyed the injunction of her Father. I think he ought to observe great delicacy in not making known to anyone that his releasement was sought for. I could scribble you another long letter but as your Sister has just come out I cannot longer be absent from her. Request F. to preserve this letter, give much love to him, form his and your truly affect. Mother”

 

1.     Eliza Cutler’s mother and sister moved to Georgia around 1826

 

4.     Aug. 23, 1828. Mrs. Cutler. Quincy, [Mass. – home of Eliza’s brother Rev. Benjamin Clarke Cutler] mailed from New York. To her daughter Eliza Cutler, care of H.B. Gibson (care of S. Ward Jr.) Canandaigua, New York, folio, 1pg.:

 

    “Our dear L. thinks that a few lines from me will give a double welcome to her letter but I feel less pleasure in writing you at this time than when you are stationary. It is like a random shot that will ten to one not hit you while you are on the wing. I wrote you, and directed my letter to ‘Saratoga Springs’ not dreaming that your stay  would be so short at that place, which letter was sent on the day your last was dated which informed me that you were to leave the Springs the next day, from which circumstance I am led to believe that it has not reached you. It would have informed you of the deep tribulation I have been in – from the extreme illness of our ‘dear little Hall’ whose life was despaired of for nearly a week as he appeared to every one to be on the very brink of … [words missing]. My feelings were on this trying occasion, you will have [word missing] description of – should my letter ever reach you – you may easily imagine how ill he was – when I sent for Doct. Warren to see him his dear mother (when she arrived) found him convalescing – in which way he continued for ten days – when he was again seized with another attack of the “croup’ which has been attended with much fever – but which left him the last evening – and today we have the happy assurance from the physician that he is again out of danger and will probably soon recover. - In the midst of all this trouble, my dear Lou has the painful suspence to endure from not hearing from her Husband. She has written to him every other day for a fortnight and cannot get a reply to one of her letters. He must be either strangely neglectful – or his letters must have miscarried. If he is within your reach, pray urge him to write to his disconsolate wife. With my best regards to Doct. Francis – thank him for me, for the kind letter of advice – which I shall fully attend to. My complaint is very little abated. I am still confined above stairs – and to my ‘easy on all’” but I have reason to be thankful that my disease has not reached its extremity but continues about the same. I hope you…and the Doct. All well.Adieu. May the Lord preserve you all…Harriet left us five days ago for Montreal. I hope that you may meet each other.”

 

 

5.     Tuesday April 21, 1829. [ signed with undecipherable initials] New York. To JWF at L. Crittenden’s, Capitol Hill, Albany. 1pg.

 

“…saw Judge Woodward this morning...says he has pretty much made up his mind to vote for your Bill, intimating that his vote would determine it. I said a few words to encourage him to persevere in such good resolution, making my plea for calling on him partly to send a small Package…We are all doing well in [Bond?] My Father a slight chill yesterday, comfortable this morning. Richard relieved. Eliza taking good care of herself. All right at the Den where my visits are regularly made. Well myself, but in one of those veins which renders scribbling the most irksome of all possible tasks…”

 

Dr. Francis was then attempting to get a state charter for a new medical college, having resigned, together with David Hosack and most of the other medical faculty at Columbia.

 

6.     Sept. 8, 1829. JWF . Fragment. New York by Steamboat To “my precious G”?, Mrs. J.W. Francis, care of Samuel Ward, Jr. Newport, Rhode Island: Text torn off.

JWF married Eliza Cutler of Boston on Nov. 16, 1829

 

7.     Feb. 24, 1830. D.[avid] Hosack. New York, 1pg. To JWF:

“My son has informed me that he and his wife are going to Charleston and has applied to me for money…This and other urgent call impel me, contrary to my wishes (lest it should put you to inconvenience ) to ask for a Taillement of your Bond – as you informed me lately that you would do it in a few days, I hope you will be enabled now to do it and prevent a Necessity on my part of making sacrifices to raise what is now necessary to meet the demands upon me and the call now made by my son.”

 

8.     [Aug. 4, 1831]. B.[enjamin] C.[larke] Cutler.  [Quincy?] 1pg. To his sister, Mrs. Francis. c/o Prime Ward, King & Co., New Yotk, 1pg.:

 

“Harriet and I arrived here this morning at 3 AM in the Steam Boat. She has been improving every day, not with standing the fatigue of the journey and by the time you see her may have but small traces of her later illness. Thanks be to a merciful God. We left Leesburg on Tuesday morning at 5 oclock and reached Washington to dinner. Capt. B was with us and two ladies were under my care.  We had a good resting at Gadsbys that evening and night. The next morning at 5 oclock we took the mail stage by our selves and reached Baltimore [words missing] We drove directly to the Steam boat and quietly [words missing] and reached this place during the night. Harriet had a good nights rest on board the boat which left at 6 this morning and are now staying at Capt. B’s We travelled in company with a Mr. Moreton of Bordeaux who was much pleased with the young lady who was under our care, a Miss McLeod of New York, who became a member of the Church in Leesburg last Sunday. Your letter of Monday my dear Eliza we received today on our arrival. We are really grieved to think of your anxiety and about blame ourselves for exciting it. Harriet begs that you will not for a moment think of waiting in New York for us. She says you must not think of it. For we intend to proceed directly to Newport. We expect to leave here on Monday, but something may prevent, do not expect us until Tuesday evening Give our best love to dear mother…also to the Dr…”

 

9.     Feb. 27, 1832. [Dr.] Gurdon Pellet. Lynn, Mass. 2pp. To JWF, NY:

 

“…I am very sorry to have to make an excuse but so it is. I could not pay you at this time if my life depended upon it, but I will send you the first money I get that is worth your attention. I shall be in NY in the course of a few months and settle with you and tell you how much I am obliged. Since my return from your city, I have lost my wife’s father, Dr. Gardner of this place, we are all in trouble…allow me to remain a little longer in your debt… With great respect and gratitude…”                       

At age 18, in October 1832, Sam Ward sailed for Europe to begin a year of higher education, earning a medical degree from a German university and then devoting another three years to “widening his worldly horizon and having a good time.” His spendthrift habits so irked his financially straight-laced father in New York that Dr. Francis, who still considered Sam his responsibility, apparently suggested sending his brother Henry, also a Doctor – though something of a wayward eccentric as well as a political heretic, sympathetic to Jacksonian democracy; Longfellow called him, perhaps jokingly, “The Philosopher” – to travel with the young man as elder companion. Before long, Henry had acquired the same spendthrift habits, much to the disgust of his brother, who was paying for his brother’s extravagance. The two biographies of Sam Ward  - by Maud Howe Elliott in 1938, and Lately Thomas in 1965 – describe the trip, including Henry’s heated disagreements at a distance with his brother, in detail – but the following five letters add a different perspective, and the important news JWF passed along about his own accomplishments in New York, although JWF’s hurried scribble is sometimes indecipherable.

10.  Nov. 30, 1833. JWF, New York, (signed with initials) To his brother Dr. Henry M. Francis, Paris. 1pg.:

 

“… Pardon me for merely stating that I and all of us are well. This is the whole I can state you just now. I am most busy practically, but shall rejoice more than if I had a thousand patients to hear of your success in Thomas and your advance in study...I must in a few days write you many matters. Saml. ? is well”

 

11.  April 16, 1834. JWF, New York. 2 pp. To his brother Henry, Paris (Heidelberg):

 

    “I am well – and as busy as usual. The political atmosphere is much changed since you was with us and I think that even you would be somewhat inclined to think that Jacksonism is on the wane. The public papers will tell you all. Let me then at this moment state to you that I toil hard as ever and find it very difficult to receive one half of the proceeds of last year, such is the pressure. But I am content. I must now inform you that the affairs of Mr. Knapp have reached that crisis that he has given up Greenwich and all and poor Maria with her little saved means lives in Stanton St. I am now endeavouring to save that house from a forced sale by holding a claim on it for the 2,000 you know he took from us, what Mr. Ward held at 5 percent.

      I will make every effort after a while to give you something as a douceur or present or what you please. But when I have settled all the claims – the sea voyage and the 700 you will have taken out least 1000 for the year. This you know costs me much severe labor & many restless nights. Dear little Jonney Lee has been quite ill – but is now better. I recd. your letter for Mr. Knapp. Remember me most kindly to good Sam.

I am sorry you don’t write more freely and frequently to me.

C.D. Colden is dead …”

 

12.  May 1, 1834. JWF. NY. 2pp.To his brother Henry, Paris (Heidelberg):

 

“I write a line on this occasion. I am well – little Johnney well and flourishing. Mrs. F the mother of another Johnney – all well – This second (Mother) born April 25, 1834 at 10 o’clock PM. [text crossed out] My dear Brother, why do you not write more frequently and fully to me – why not tell me your plans – Why? Remember me most kindly to Samuel – tell him all well. I am happy – but for what – to meet enormous demands, but nothing is so gratifying to me as to contribute my ? to your satisfaction – but you can surely get along with the present arrangement – can’t you…We send to the good Capt. DePeyster?

 

13.  October 24, 1834. JWF. New York, 1pg. To his brother Henry, Brussels:

 

“… I have recd. two or three of your letters without writing save once. I have not been able to do otherwise. I now tell you I am well – busy. Mrs. F. and little John and little Mott well and the last named charming to a [miracle?] [text crossed out] I am well indeed, but not calm a moment. You will receive this a paper on the Avon Waters [Observations on the New York mineral waters, New York Mirror, Vol. 12, Nov. 4] which I hope you will have printed in the German. It is a most precious water. I send you a Mirror with my life. The author of it is Col. Knapp.  It has met with the most extraordinary regard – being read and admired everywhere, save in one or two places and by one or two individuals. The papers have all said it was a great tribute to a good Citizen. [text crossed out] Tell dear Saml., now Dr. Ward, I give him joy with my whole heart. I have not been able to write to him but will in a few days.

     The New York University is going on pretty well - I have positively destined all Professors at Union to any Medical faulty whatever. The great political contest is Jackson or Van Buren. Today it says Ohio will go against them …”

 

14.  Nov. 24, 1834. JWF (signed with initials). New York, partial letter [missing lower half of first page; 2nd page intact]. 2pp. To his brother Henry, Paris:

 

“…I have recd. your letter of 27th Sept. in which you state your intention to leave Heidelberg for Munich and I believe all the preceding ones. I am well – busy. The 2 little boys well and dear Eliza. Mr. Knapp is status quo as to his settlements and as to business. His children well. John and George work at the Turners & I continue the same severe drudge: trying to go ahead and to preserve what I can. You I am glad to hear are well. I last night by accident met Dr. Lee Wolfe in the street, he told me a little of you, but this day I expect to see him at my office and her all the news of you. I send you but a later opportunity a Mirror with my Biography

 [text removed, missing lower half of sheet]

      …I can only say that from the moment you left me to this hour I have sighed for time and means to answer certain ends. That I have written & published several things – that I do most sincerely wish the paper on Cholera & Avon Springs and the life to be published in some way or other in Germany. I will try to send some thing out to you - I beg you to hold on. I hope you can get along with your means. I wish I could double them.

      Little Mott is a possible man, sweet and beautiful than John. Let me hear oftener of you and from you…”

 

15.  June 28, 1844. Stephen W. Williams. Deerfield, Massachusetts, to JWF, New York, 1pg.:

 

“…  I have this moment seen the publisher of my Medical Biography who informs me that they shall be ready to commence the printing of the work immediately, as they are obliged to suspend operations on the work on which they are engaged for a while. I am therefore obliged to send for the manuscript earlier than I expected. I regret this as it has given you but little time to correct it. For whatever you have done, I am under the deepest obligations to you and hope to be able to reward you for your trouble. I shall pay the utmost deference to your suggestions. I wrote you a few days ago by my friend Mr. William Barnard from this town. In that letter I put several queries to you in relation to the execution of the portraits of Dr. Hosack, Post, Physick and Linn which I hope you will be able to answer when you send the manuscript. The other portraits will be executed in Boston. I hope you and Dr. Lee will be able to furnish the biographies you mention without fail. Give my best regards to Dr. Lee and also to Dr. Mott. You will see that Dr. Mott has furnished me with a biography of Dr. Post. If you will see that my manuscript with the portraits is safely tied up and put into Hamden’s Express…very soon I shall receive it in a day or two and I shall be greatly obliged to you…”

 

16.  February 20, 1845. William Alexander Duer. Morristown, New Jersey, 1pg. To JWF, New York:

 

“I have engaged with Mr. Sparks to furnish a Memoir of Lord Sterling’s life for the ‘American Biography’ and beg leave to solicit your assistance in the selection of materials. I have obtained from the Historical Society the papers deposited there – but I find nothing among them respecting his father – James Alexander – and request you will ascertain whether there is in the library of the Society any papers of his separately bound. There certainly was many such among those of my Grandfather’s a part of which only were received by you.  I believe you or Dr. Hosack contributed an Article on Ld. Sterling to an Editor of the Encyclopedia - You would oblige me by giving me a reference to it – and to any other publication of the kind in relation either to him or his father.”

Revolutionary War General William Alexander (Lord Sterling) was the grandfather of Columbia University President William Alexander Duer

17.  Sept. 20, 1846? E.M.Reige/Reize. Cortemaggiore [northern Italy] (postmarked Austria and Parma?) 4pp. To Mrs. Francis. Care of Dr. Francis, Bond Street, New York.

 

18.  Jan. 1856. Louisa Cutler, South of France. 4pp. To her sister, Eliza Francis, New York:

 

 Your letter to Ward arrived today direct to us all – Poste Restante, Paris South of France. Well we received your letter at breakfast and all were happy to hear its contents. Letters are very scarce, Julian seldom writes, Has Julian received the box old Mr. Maillard sent for me by some means from Bordenton, who carried books to Adolph, to avoid giving him trouble…..am afraid those Custom houses officers will pull every thing to pieces when there is nothing I could not have taken into France, all my private recollections, old clothes and Dolly’s picture….Your news of Dewey Warren is affecting, my only hope is that he will not come here to revive his youth, about the letters do not annoy the boys they must have been sent to California, they would hardly make the rule of prepaying extend to that far country. Robt Walsh is not going back until the summer …we have at last got settled. … My room fixed for our mother, as snug as Mrs. Fuller herself we have chickens every day and Tally does make me a little fire, but Caroline a stout English girl makes the faggots blaze on the hearth. Dolly has her bed in the same room with white curtains. My room is the picture of comfort but think tis on the lower story on the street and not a man…who is far off on the same story. I think of the thousand stories you were kind enough to tell me and almost turn child and cover my head from fright… [there follows a story about a maid who strangled an old lady and was imprisoned]  …The region is abundant. Twice a week they pour down from the mountains with poultry, woodcocks, every thing, our table is sumptuous and when you add the fine Bordeaux wines so cheap in this region, tis a table fit for a king. The Judge is so delicate he delicate cold sleeping on the lower floor and his throat looks had again. Dolly has got over her cold, looks the picture of health, she & Marion ride on horseback every fine day. We have had a rainy week, but the sun shone today.

Mr & Mrs Carey called, do tell Mr. Cogswell Mrs. Carey looks so well, she is out at balls two or three times a week – Sarah & Dolly are delighted with Mr. Carey, and the darling little girl is lovely… Tell Mrs Astor not to feel uneasy, I will do all in my power and Mrs Carey looks so well I do not think Mrs. Astor need feel uneasy about her confinement … until we hear of Mr. Mcallisters arrival in Washington, … and then to wait his orders….we are not unmindful of you and your heavy days, no Ward feels a great deal and tells me a great deal…”

 

19.  April 21, 1856. Louisa Cutler, Paris., 3pp.  To her sister, Eliza Francis c/o Dr. John W. Francis, New York:

 

“Came home Friday night from an excursion of three days to receive your two delightful letters and one from darling Julia, one from my husband, very precious Husband, oh what a thrill of joy rang thru my heart as Ward gave the Joyful Doings , ‘father has arrived’, then came the opening of the letters, the exquisite enjoyment in reading them, the delightful assurance that your eyes had seen my dear Husband that he looked well, but then, these my anxious fears started up and the yearning to see him face to face. Julia’s letter, his, & yours, were devoured and them we talked over their contents, then we knelt and offered up our thanksgivings to that Almighty Father who in infinite mercy, had protected, had brought in safety and then arose the question, what are we to do, what does he with us, how can we best acts and Ward was  radiant with delight at the idea that his father would wish us to remain longer abroad and he put the case in so strong a light that I hardly know what to write my dear Husband. Dollys Italian master is at my side and I cannot collect my thoughts now but take up your letter to answer. I am sorry to hear of the Doctor’s rheumatism & delighted, comforted with the picture of your little nurse, sleeping in your room to prevent you getting up in the night, this is a new source of happiness to me. I am glad to hear the news of Annies child and have written to tell Pen Maillard all you said, your picture of Sam’s attention to Mott was most touching, poor dear Mott. I think his day is brightening, atlho shadows rise on his path, do tell him how much obliged I am for his kindness about the picture which I think you must forget the existence of, or it will distress me.  Louisa Crawford knows it well & could easily recognize it, the Madonna with the Savior … a copy of Raffael’s celebrated donne del Legggiolo, but forget all about it. Do forgive the trouble it has given. I have received the Musical discourse and the music and the dear Doctor’s address and have written you about them, the engagements were startling. Miss Farbe is beyond belief - I fear my letters do not all arrive, for Dolly wrote to meet her father in New York and two letters, feels very badly that he did not receive them. I received and enjoyed the letters you enclosed. Poor little Mary Parker. I will describe the picture for Weensler will know it. It was about a foot and a half square. The Virgin an infant and a little boy St. John, … we are perfectly satisfied and now how grieved I am that you got cold, but thought you would in March, tis so bleak, your letters are delicious, we feast on them, they make us see you and now darling only think of our joy yesterday morning, in receiving the memoir from Baring, last oh! It has brought the past into the present, the shadow has fallen over reality is brought again before me and my heart weeps afresh. I see, feel, I know every word wakes a recollection, I go back and live over every line, dear precious, afflicted one again, again is my heart wrung for you, your  sorrows lie heavy upon me, I loved oh how little did I dream, how deeply, how intensely, little did I know that he was woven in my heart so closely. I can hardly dare trust myself to read all. Dolly lived with it all yesterday in her heart. I feel afraid I should lose it again, dear sister, tis a burden to me, but the blank, the blank, darling God be merciful, may God sustain you. We had a sermon yesterday on Guardian angels, that see the fear of our father in heaven, they are felt but not seen, it was  commanding and twas a sweet succor to my soul two excellent sermons and now darling must go out to get something for Lucie Crawford and it looks like rain, … Dolly says she would not care about the Romanism. And now darling, I can sit down on your big sofa … and tell you exactly how I feel. I am in heart, homeward bound. Dolly says since your illness she has felt that she must see her father & Julian & Lizzie, all of which I do also, but there are two thing to be considered, first what are  the … circumstances, we can live in Europe on so moderate a sum and if we come home will it not cost a great deal? Dolly has lost this winter she has been at a stand still, the thing gained is her health, which is a great thing, avoiding her  usual attack of rheumatism, but she has had no advantages, we have been cooped up with nothing around us to interest, no happy home but a constant succession of disagreeable excitements, I have at times felt I could not bear it & this accounts for my constant visits to the mountains & Aunt has not had even the pleasure of playing with the children, they have been like things are might look at in passing but this was all. I feel really that I owe it to myself to get away as soon as I can , but I have waited to hear from Husband and…& suppose will decide … should he come out, I shall remain with him as I could not let him be in Europe without me. … I can only pray my God to direct me and carry me in safety. I had a letter from Louise Crawford in Paris and she begs I will  write her Uncle Ben and get him to have prayers in his church for her which on her voyage she expects to sail the 7th of May, she says it will be such a comfort to her will you also ask dear J to have them & my Brothers will. I know at his family altar. Louisa is a noble, lovely being and hopes to make you all happy, dear Sister, I want you to love Annie, be kind and affectionate to her and she is lovely, very intelligent. … and not to mind the little saucy things she says, but really she is a person to enjoy, she is so full of mind, then, my lovely Mag to me very dear, I am you will love her, … Dolly has been writing long and begs you will give her the enclosed also Sarah I wrote the Phillips what I thought would put all parties that she might have Sarah for the summer and then make up her mind as it was no trifling thing to take a person for life. I did not wish her to feel obliged if the changed her interest to adhere to her offer. Do write me all about my Husband and of Cutler’s coming, Marion only wants care to restore him. I think when he takes care his throat looks well but it too tender yet for the exercise of his voice, a little reading aloud soon brings back the yellow streaks. I think he when the weather is warm enough I shall take him to Carterets to drink the waters, which are thought so fine for bronchial affections. Mrs. Farrar is going there. If I only had Dr. Francis here I feel that these waters might do Dolly’s rheumatism a world of good…but the English physicians do not appear to understand them and the French are so different in their views I do not like to trust them and now sweet sister remember about Louisa and prayers Love to the dear Doctor, Sam, Mott, Annie, Julia your own affect Louisa and dolly sends love to all…”

 

Francis’ correspondence is not common. The only large institutional collection is held at the New York Public Library, while the Clements Library holds only 4 letters received by Francis, 6 received by his wife and 4 by his mother-in-law.

 

Dictionary of American Biography, volume III, part two, p. 581