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[26]

In 1829 Eliza Cutler married Dr. John Wakefield Francis, the historian of Old New York, the beloved physician of a whole generation. He was already, as has been seen, a member of the Ward household, friend and resident physician. His tremendous vitality, his quick sympathies, his amazing flow of vivid and picturesque language, made him the delight of the children. He called them by singular pet names, “Cream cheese from the Dairy of heaven,” “Pocket edition of lives of the saints,” etc., etc. He sang to them odd snatches of song which were to delight and exasperate later generations:--

To a woodman's hut one evening there came
A physician and a dancing-master:
The wind did blow, io, io,
And the rain poured faster and faster.

Edgar Allan Poe said of Dr. Francis that his conversation was “a sort of Roman punch, made up of tragedy, comedy, and the broadest of all possible farce.”

In those days “The Raven,” newly published, was the talk of the town. Dr. Francis, meeting Poe, invited him to come to his house on a certain evening, and straightway forgot the matter. Poe came at the appointed time. The Doctor, summoned to the bedside of a patient, left the drawing-room hastily, and in the anteroom ran into a tall, cadaverous figure in black. Seizing him in his arms, he carried him into the drawing-room and set him down before his wife. “Eliza, my dear — the Raven!” and he departed, leaving guest and hostess (the latter had never heard of “The Raven” !) equally petrified.

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