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[p. 150]

‘Maria del Occidente.’

[A paper read before the Medford Historical Society, Nov. 21, 1898, by Miss Caroline E. Swift.]

BUT little is known of the early life of ‘Maria del Occidente.’ She was a daughter of William and Eleanor (Cutter) Gowen,1 and was born in Medford in 1794. Her father was a man of cultivated tastes; he had many literary and professional friends, and held various public offices in Medford. He was a goldsmith by profession, and seems to have been in reduced circumstances the last years of his life. The family moved to Boston while Maria was an infant. Her father died when she was fourteen, and at the age of sixteen she became the second wife of John Brooks, a merchant tailor of Boston, who had previously married Lucretia Gowen, an older sister, and had educated Maria. The marriage took place August 26, 1810, about three years after the death of his first wife. Two children were born to them: Edgar, Nov. 25, 1811, and Horace, Aug. 12, 1813. Mr. Brooks met with reverses in business, and at his death, in 1823, left his young wife of twenty-nine and his children almost penniless.

The year of her husband's death she removed to Cuba, making her home with her brother, William Cutter Gowen. By his death, a few years later, she came into possession of considerable property, and was able to devote herself to literary pursuits and to travel.

She passed the years 1826-7-8 and 9 mainly in Cuba. In 1829 she was in Hanover, N. H., interested in fitting her son Horace for Dartmouth. In a letter to [p. 151] Mrs. Gustafson, in answer to inquiries concerning his mother,2 he writes: ‘My mother's special characteristic was individuality. She generally succeeded in her endeavors. For instance, she applied to have me sent to West Point, and sent me to Washington, in 1829, with letters, etc. The appointment was promised, but by some influence was overruled. She then took me to Hanover, N. H., with a view to my entering Dartmouth College. In the meantime she went with her brother Hammond, of Quebec, to Europe, 1830, where she visited Southey, and by his advice got out a London edition of “Zophiel.” She was introduced to Lafayette, who was so pleased with her that he asked if he could be of any service to her. “Yes,” said she, “you can get my son into West Point.” Upon this Lafayette wrote to Bernard, our then chief engineer, and the appointment of a cadet came to me.’

Horace entered West Point in 1831, and graduated in 1835.

Mrs. Brooks lived with him at West Point, when he was Lieutenant Brooks, from 1836 to 1839. In 1840 she was with him at Fort Hamilton, N. Y.

She sailed for Cuba, the last time, in December, 1843.

She died at Matanzas, Cuba, Nov. 11, 1845, and was buried at Limonal, Horace says, ‘by the side of my two brothers.’ It is probable that one of these was a half-brother, son of her sister, Lucretia.

Mrs. Brooks' son Edgar became a planter in Cuba, and died during the life of his mother. (See her Ode.)

Horace, after going through ‘the Mexican War, the Kansas War, and the Rebellion,’ retired from active service in 1877, having reached the age limit. He was brevetted Major and Lieutenant-Colonel for his services in the Mexican War. He died in 1894.

Mrs. Brooks' first publication was made during the life [p. 152] of her husband, in 1820. In 1825 the first canto of ‘Zophiel’ was published. In 1826-7-8 and 9 she worked at intervals on ‘Zophiel.’ The whole poem was published in 1833-4. In 1843 ‘Idomen’ appeared. Mrs. Brooks' baptismal name was not Maria, but Abigail. In 1819 the General Court allowed her to take the name of Mary Abigail Brooks, by which name she was baptized at King's Chapel, Boston, July 31, 1819. With the publication of ‘Zophiel,’ in 1833, she assumed the nom de plume of ‘Maria del Occidente,’ and signed her prefaces ‘Maria Gowen Brooks.’ The romantic temperament indicated by her change of name and norm de plume finds corroboration in letters of contemporaries concerning her.

Her niece, Mrs. Ellen Parker, of Boston, writes: ‘In all my life I never passed more than a few months in the society of my aunt, Mrs. Brooks; but to my girlish vision she always appeared a being of the most romantic loveliness and grace. She always dressed in white or gray, wearing transparent sleeves, through which her beautiful arms were seen, and her hands were almost always covered with white kid gloves. She seemed to reverence her own personal charms, and felt it a duty to preserve her own sweetness. When past the meridian of life, her hair and teeth were as beautiful as those of a young girl. I should say that a keen sense of truth and justice, and the most delicate perceptions, and actual worship of beauty, were the predominant traits of her character.’

As residents of Medford, the lapse of years seems to be bridged, and we join hands in a nearer and more personal introduction to Mrs. Brooks, through a letter from Miss Lucy Osgood. She writes: ‘I have a dim recollection of a lady walking out at odd hours, and dressed in white at odd seasons, and of being told she was Mrs. Brooks, of the Gowen family, a poetess. She and her family soon disappeared, and I afterward found, chiefly through a long, respectful article in one of the [p. 153] English reviews, that we had a flower of genius among us, and in our stupidity knew it not.’

Miss Eunice Hall also describes her as ‘a very handsome lady of winning manners, purest blonde complexion, blue eyes, abundant pale golden hair, who wrote poetry and sang very sweetly.’

And her son, Capt. Horace Brooks, writes: ‘Whatever charm there may be in “Zophiel,” and whatever talent it may portray, much, undoubtedly is due to the miniature temple3 where the poem was imagined, and its verse constructed, by a nature as passionate as the name of the flower would indicate, which she always wore in her hair,—the only simple adornment of naturally thick and beautiful tresses. A lady of position recently visited this fort, and spoke to me of recollecting my mother's peculiarity of dressing always in white, even to white silk stockings and slippers.’

Captain Brooks also pays a tribute to his mother's scholarship, especially rare in a woman at that time:

My mother was quite a linguist. She read and wrote fluently in French, Spanish, and Italian; she also sang many songs in these tongues. She was a hard student and a woman of much research, and very particular to obtain her authority from the original; and often attempted, with the assistance of some friend, the translation of obscure languages. I remember how she kept by her a Persian grammar, and often referred to it. She was also quite an artist, and several pieces painted by her in water-colors were hanging up about her rooms.

She was a constant attendant at church, and always carried with her an English edition of the services of the Church; but she detested all cant and hypocrisy. She was very particular about her own language, disliked all interpolations, and always referred to Johnson [p. 154] and Walker. It was delightful to hear her converse. Her knowledge of present and past events, and of the prominent characters of history, was astonishing. She would tell anecdotes of persons so varied and interesting that her quiet and unassuming conversation was sought and listened to by many distinguished persons. I remember of her travelling with her brothers several miles in order to see an Indian chief, and get the precise accent and signification of an Indian word.

That she had a remarkable memory and a natural aptitude for knowledge, we learn also from Griswold,4 her sympathetic friend and admirer.

Her notes on ‘Zophiel’ mark her as a student of wide and accurate information, capable of thought and research quite unusual for a woman of her time.

On ‘Zophiel; or, The Bride of Seven,’ Mrs. Brooks' fame as a poetess rests. Southey,5 after quoting from this poem, adds: ‘So sings Maria del Occidente, the most impassioned and most imaginative of poetesses.’

‘Zophiel’ is an Oriental epic. Mrs. Brooks finds the suggestion for her plot in the ‘Apocrypha.’ Sara, a beautiful maiden, suffers persecution because the seven husbands to whom she was successively married were mysteriously killed on the wedding-night by the wicked spirit Asmodeus. Finally the unhappy Sara prays for death, or, if she must live, she begs some pity may be shown her. In answer to this prayer the angel Raphael brings Tobias to the house of Raguel, Sara's father. Tobias, nothing daunted by the sad fate of the seven who preceded him, becomes the eighth aspirant to Sara's hand, and begs for an immediate marriage. Since Tobias is the one man foreordained and predestinated to be Sara's mate, the spell of the wicked Asmodeus is overcome, and the marriage safely and happily consummated. On this ancient myth Mrs. Brooks enlarges in her poem ‘Zophiel.’ [p. 155]

The first canto gives somewhat of an outline of the whole poem, and introduces Egla, the bride of seven. Egla is reclining in a grove when her mother, Sephora, approaches her and begs her to choose a husband before her youth and beauty fade. Egla confesses to her mother that in a vision an old man had appeared to her and assured her that a bridegroom would one day come to her from the Euphrates. He emphasized his prophecy by revealing himself just before vanishing in the shape of the angel Raphael.

Sephora, however, discredits Egla's vision, and begs her not to waste her charms on a ‘thought-love.’

Egla yields a sad obedience to her mother's wishes, and Meles is named for her husband. ‘The Mede I'll wed,’ says Egla, ‘but yet, why will these tears gush forth thus—in thy presence, too?’ Sephora held her to her heart while grief had its way; then kissing her blue eyes, left her to slumber through the fervid noon.

While Egla was thus reclining in her bower—

It chanced that day, lured by the verdure, came
Zophiel, a spirit sometime ill, but, ere
He fell, a heavenly angel.
And now he wanders on from glade to glade
To where more precious shrubs diffuse their balms;
And gliding through the thickly-woven shade,
Where the soft captive lay in all her charms,
He caught a glimpse. The colors in her face,
Her bare, white arms, her lips, her shining hair,
Burst on his view. He would have flown the place,
Fearing some faithful angel rested there,
Who'd see him, reft of glory, lost to bliss,
Wandering, and miserably panting, fain
To glean a joy e'en from a place like this;
The thought of what he once had been was pain
Ineffable. But what assailed the ear?
A sigh? Surprised, another glance he took;
Then doubting, fearing, softly coming near,
He ventured to her side, and dared to look,
Whispering, Yes, 'tis of earth; so new-found life
Refreshing, looked sweet Eve, with purpose fell,
When first Sin's sovereign gazed on her.

[p. 156]

Zophiel approaches and bends over the maid; he tries to whisper in her ear, but

a higher power that loved her, and would keep her innocent, repelled his evil touch. He follows her, however, to the bridalchamber, where, sad and reluctant, she awaits the coming of Meles. He whispers words of love to her, decks her with precious jewels, paints Meles as unworthy of her love, and strives by all subtle art to win her.

As the little reptile in some lonely grove,
With fixed bright eye, of fascinating flames,
Lures on by slow degrees the plaining dove,
So nearer, nearer still, the bride and spirit came.
Success seemed his; but secret, in the height
Of exultation, as he braved the power
Which baffled him at morn, a subtle light
Shot from his eye, with guilt and treachery fraught.
The spell was broke; and doubts and terrors prest
Her sore. While Zophiel! “ Meles' step I hear!— He's a betrayer! Wilt receive him still?

She said in accents faint but firm, “ I will.”

Meles enters: ‘He stopt; a groan was heard; he gasped and fell, low by the couch of her who widowed lay.’

Meles was a favorite of Sardius, the young king of Media. Egla, with her parents, is bidden to his court to answer for the murder of Meles. Here, though treated with kindness, she is kept under close surveillance. Ere long the king falls in love with her. But Idaspes, the chief councillor, fears lest in winning Egla he suffers the mysterious fate of Meles; and so advises: ‘And, ere this dangerous beauty be thy bride, let him who loves thee best come forth and prove the peril first.’ One brave warrior after another sues for the hand of Egla, only to find death, as did Meles, on the bridal eve. The last of the suitors is the beautiful youth, Altheetor, the favorite of the court and of the king. His death resulted in the banishment of Egla. [p. 157] So, ‘Dejected Egla went with all her house. She seeks her own acacia grove.’

In the third canto we travel with Zophiel to the Palace of the Gnomes, there to seek the powerful elixir, a drop of which will give to Egla eternal life. With this precious drop enclosed in a crystal spar, he sets out with his guide, Phraerion, to return from the seadeeps to the earth's surface. They encounter a most violent submarine storm; the potent crystal drop which was to perpetuate the youth and beauty of Egla is lost, and Zophiel's daring quest is of no avail.

Canto fifth tells us of the hapless Zameia, whom Meles had wooed and won, and then heartlessly deserted. Zameia leaves her home to seek her faithless lover, and learns of his mysterious death as the bridegroom of Egla.

In the sixth and last canto we again find Egla in her acacia grove, and here in the solitude of the soft twilight, longing for the presence of Zophiel, she sings that song which Southey quotes with such delight in ‘The Doctor,’ claiming that ‘it is not only equal but superior to Sappho's famous Ode to Aphrodite.’

Day in melting purple dying,
Blossoms all around me sighing,
Fragrance from the lilies straying,
Zephyr with my ringlets playing,
Ye but waken my distress!
I am sick of loneliness.

Thou to whom I love to hearken,
Come ere night around me darken,
Though thy softness but deceive me,
Say thou'rt true, and I'll believe thee.
Veil, if ill, thy soul's intent:
Let me think it innocent!

Save thy toiling, spare thy treasure:
All I ask is friendship's pleasure:
Let the shining ore lie darkling;
Bring no gem in lustre sparkling; [p. 158]
Gifts and gold are nought to me;
I would only look on thee;

Tell to thee, the high-wrought feeling,
Ecstasy but in revealing;
Paint to thee the deep sensation,
Rapture in participation,
Yet but torture, if comprest
In a lone unfriended breast.

Absent still? Ah, come and bless me!
Let these eyes again caress thee.
Once, in caution, I could fly thee,
Now I nothing could deny thee.
In a look if death there be,
Come, and I will gaze on thee!

Zophiel, just returned from his subterranean search, approaches Egla as the song is concluded and, with rapture, he hears her breathe his own name. ‘The joy of a whole mortal life he felt in that one moment.’ He was about to make his presence known when the half-crazed Zameia rushes in and accuses Egla of the murder of her lover, Meles. Zameia falls dead, in the attempt to kill Egla.

The long-suffering Egla, weary at last of the repeated horrors of which she is the innocent cause, prepares to take her own life.

Alas for Egla! Now her hands intwine
The guilty knot: she springs! “Hold, hold! thy life, Maiden, is not thine own but God's and mine!

'Twas Helon's voice.

Helon, Egla's predestined bridegroom, is brought in at this opportune moment by the angel Raphael, and while the unhappy Zophiel is held in combat with ‘the dark spirit of the storm,’ Helon and Egla plight a solemn troth before the Almighty—and Egla, freed from the unholy influence of Zophiel, prays Heaven [p. 159] to spare Helon to her, since she ‘ne'er can live other than his idolatress.’

Helon is the seventh bridegroom, and with this plighting of his troth to Egla the poem ends.

Although ‘Zophiel’ has remained almost wholly unknown to the reading public, it did not fail of recognition on its publication. Mr. Griswold calls Zophiel the finest fallen angel that has come to us from the hand of a poet. ‘Milton's outcasts from heaven,’ he says, ‘are utterly depraved and abraded of their glory, but Zophiel has traces of his original virtue and beauty, and a lingering hope of restoration to the presence of the Divinity.’

Mrs. Gustafson claims that neither in the ‘Loves of the Angels’ nor in ‘Lalla Rookh’ does Thomas Moore's flowing measure equal the musical cadences of ‘Zophiel,’ and that there is greater beauty of scene and bloom lavished on the single acacian bower where Zophiel wistfully watches over Egla's sleep than on the whole journey of the beautiful Lalla.

She also adds: ‘In the Choric Song of Tennyson's Lotos-Eaters the mosaic detail of sensuous description, though as delicate, is not as thoughtful nor so warm in feeling;’ and again, ‘Milton's presentment of Satan, though a grand is a somewhat coarse appeal to our physical perceptions—Zophiel a sombre presence of mystic power and beauty, infused with evil and impressive by the distinctively spiritual significance of the vision.’

Southey's enthusiastic appreciation is well known. Charles Lamb rose from the reading of ‘Zophiel’ with the exclamation: ‘Southey says it is by some Yankee woman; as if there had ever been a woman capable of anything so great!’ And still ‘Zophiel’ remains unread and even unknown by name to the general reader.

And yet, although the machinery is cumbersome, the lines often weak and the meaning obscure, the situations, even when dramatically conceived, lacking that [p. 160] touch of realism which stirs the heart, a sympathetic reader cannot fail to find pleasure and at times a true poetic delight in the perusal of the poem.

In the poems ‘Judith and Esther’ Mrs. Brooks has merely attempted the description of two young women differing in mind and person, yet equal in excellence: ‘Judith, embodying the idea of prudence, fortitude, decision; Esther, a soul painfully alive to every tender emotion, a mind of great nobility, but of natural softness and humility.’

These poems seem not of a nature to require special mention, and the same is true of her shorter poems— fugitive pieces suggested by circumstances in her life or associations: ‘To venerated friends,’ ‘To places visited,’ ‘To——,enclosing a lock of hair,’ ‘To one who had taken laudanum to enliven himself.’ This last she wisely advises to drink, instead, ‘the young blooming morning's fragrant breath.’

Mrs. Brooks' one novel, ‘Idomen,’ is interesting not only as a book of fiction, but as being undoubtedly in essential particulars a thinly-veiled account of the author's own life. It belongs, of course, to the sentimental school of romance, and will scarcely appeal to the novel readers of the present generation, familiar with the somewhat tiresomely real men and women of Thomas Hardy or William Dean Howells.

The hero of ‘Idomen’ we can worship afar off, as a creature of another sphere. We have never met his like in our work-a-day world. Our reverence for him is tempered by the delightful hope that the common flesh-and-blood men we know may some day evolve into Ethelwalds, retaining only just enough gross human nature to keep them upon earth.

‘Ethelwald's complexion was so fair as to seem almost preternatural; but the expansion of his forehead, a certain stateliness of carriage, the turn of his neck, and the noble outline of his whole person, preserved him, despite his uncommon softness, from the slightest [p. 161] appearance of effeminacy. A smile of voluptuous sweetness played, as he spoke, about his exquisite mouth, and disclosed rows of teeth as white and free from stain or blemish as bleached pearls newly taken from the oyster. Still, a purity and even anxiety of expression relieved at intervals the mild brilliancy of his eyes, and a strength of arm almost gigantic was forgotten in the delicacy of his manners, and a certain indescribable grace which seemed beaming and floating, as it were, over his whole person. He sang, and his soul seemed to warm every note and word; he looked up, and his curling hair, of a pale golden brown, shone so brightly between the flames of two waxen tapers that it was not difficult to imagine a halo round his forehead like that sometimes given by painters to the god of verse and the lyre.’

What wonder that the poor little wife, married at the age of fourteen to a man thrice her years, heavy, dull, uncongenial, should fall in love with this seraphic being!

She says to him: ‘Well may I desire you to remain; you seem to me like an incarnation of the sun, like a living Apollo. In your presence I forget there is anything like a pain in existence; when I look on you and hear you speak, I feel transported to the region of beauty and music.’

Idomen, however, remembers her duty as a wife, and Ethelwald leaves her.

Her husband, Burleigh, loses his property; things go from bad to worse; among worse she mentions ‘the disgusting lamp, with its oil of sea-animals, which took the place of my neat waxen tapers.’

Burleigh finally dies of fever, faithfully nursed to the last by Idomen. After his death she goes to Cuba, at the invitation of her uncle. Her first sight of Havana fills her with interest. ‘It was noon when we entered the fine harbor of Havana, and the first day of the week; the scene that rose before us seemed too wildly [p. 162] picturesque for reality. Beings of all tints and complexions, between the light Spanish olive and the jetty black of Africa, seemed crowded to gaze on our arrival; arrayed in clean white garments, they looked as if prepared for a festival. The day was warm, but not oppressive. The castles, Moro and Punto, rose gilded with the sun on each side, and about the dark ledges of the wave-worn cliffs that support them, stood men and boys angling, as if for past time, in the waters of the bay beneath them. Their unsoiled linen dresses were relieved by the color of the rocks, and the whole seemed like a sketch from the vivid fancy of some painter.’

Mrs. Brooks seemed not to have had the spirit of the reformer. Living in the early days of Abolition, she looked upon the movement as harmful to black and white alike, calculated to ‘deface with barbarism the fairest countries.’ ‘As regards the jetty African of Cuba,’ she says, ‘provide plentifully for his meals, give him the female he prefers, let him have means to procure a few trinkets and ornaments, and above all, exact no task beyond his strength or capacity. Thus provided for, the brilliant rows of ivory between his pouting lips are disclosed by as much happiness as he is capable of tasting.’ ‘The limbs of the negroes that passed to and fro among the trees were round and glossy with health, their labors were light and cheerful, and their far native land forgotten; singing in low hum rude songs of their own composing, they lived all day among the flowers of an eternal spring, plucking the red berries of the coffee-fields, or trimming broad hedges of lime-trees.’ Ripe fruits were their nightly repast; their sports music and dancing. The few wants they knew in a state so near to that nature were promptly and easily supplied, and they lived careless of tomorrow, as the birds that feasted on their orange-trees.

Idomen's uncle grows cold because she refuses offers [p. 163] from two neighboring planters, and for this reason she leaves Cuba and journeys to Canada.

Here she again meets Ethelwald. ‘My soul as he spoke drank a nectar of music and of beauty too potent for one so weak. His age was now within two years of thirty; but the fabled Venus, as she stepped from her shell, could not have been imagined more exempt from blemish and discolor. Ethelwald, for a moment, observed my attention. “When you last saw me,” he said, “you likened me to Apollo; but now you see me a mortal, almost an old man.” My quick answer was: “What then am I? ” “When your hair is gray,” he returned, “mine will be white, and in that thought there is comfort.” Such a speech from such a creature, how could I do otherwise than feel it as I did,’ says Idomen. Unfortunately there is nothing in the context to tell us just how she did feel it, and it seems difficult to imagine why she should seem so hysterical about it. Between ordinary mortals it would appear a very trivial speech. From an Ethelwald it must have conveyed to the sensitive soul of Idomen some mysterious overpowering thrill. She is invited to dine at a neighboring manor-house. ‘At table Ethelwald was beside me; I could not eat; pleasure had risen too high.’

Ethelwald, however, could eat. Idomen seems more surprised than the reader at this fairly well-recognized peculiarity of mortal man. She watched him ‘as his white hand passed to his lips, the white morsel of bird on the fork of silver,’ and thought: ‘Does he indeed nourish himself with food, and has he blood like mortals?’

Idomen is now, of course, free to marry Ethelwald. They meet often, and correspond with each other, but there seem to be strange misunderstandings and quite unnecessary reserves. Idomen, woman-like, constantly blames herself, but it is the impression of the reader that Ethelwald did not urge his suit with the warmth of the ordinary lover. Probably because he lived so near that [p. 164] sphere where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage.

He tells her at one time: ‘ “My fortune is small; if I go to India promotion may follow.” I would have gone with him to the ends of the earth; this I felt, but told him not; some adverse power restrained my tongue.’ Might not some of the ‘adverse power’ come from the simple fact that Ethelwald forgot to ask her? He says he will bring her his picture. ‘Have you got it?’ I ask with emotion; but something invisible restrained me, and I claimed not his promise in words. ‘Was not this the crisis of my destiny, and did not my evil fate prevail?’ Ethelwald writes to Idomen, but ‘came no more like a god of Grecian mythology to diffuse light and summer through my lone and wintry habitation.’ Finally she sends back to him music, papers, gloves, and every little proof of kindness that the beautiful Ethelwald had brought. Ere a day had passed came an answer from Ethelwald: ‘With a feeling, haply, like that of the savage warrior of the woods, whose death-song is composed, I broke the seal of this paper, traced by the hand of one far dearer and more charming to me than life to the hunter of the forest. After telling me his absence had been entirely the result of unavoidable circumstances, “How could you for a moment,” he continues, believe a report which would prove me, if true, a false friend, base in feeling and in character? Ought you not first to have considered? Everything once mine you have returned! Have I deserved this at your hands? You say, let us not meet again. I will not visit you if you desire it not, but if we meet by accident, I cannot be so inconsistent as not to continue to evince for you the regard I have felt and expressed.’ To the unprejudiced reader this seems the letter of an indifferent friend, a lukewarm lover—not quite free, even, from that conceited self-love which poses as a martyr, instead of welcoming the burden of the responsibility. [p. 165]

Not so thinks Idomen; she says: Thus wrote Ethelwald, a seraph in mind as in form, under circumstances where any other man would have shown both pique and resentment.

‘All excuse and self-complaisance forsook me. I felt as if unworthy of heaven or earth.’ And the exasperated reader is inclined to agree with her. From this time on, Idomen gives herself up to despair. She fully resolves on death, and is constantly devising means to be free from the world and its evils. She tries laudanum and arsenic, but finds in them only sickness, and not the death she seeks.

Her uncle in Cuba dies, leaving her some property, and she resolves to return to that dearly-loved land. In her journey through Canada she again meets Ethelwald. ‘A word or promise must have united our destinies, but neither word nor promise was spoken. Something both wished to impart seemed struggling to burst from our lips; but neither had the power of utterance. Our tongues were like tongues of the entranced.’

And so they part never to meet again. Ethelwald writes and asks her address, promising a full explanation. She answers: ‘I go, perhaps never to return. I ask no explanation. May every happiness attend you!’

She finds a secluded home in Cuba. A neighboring planter who had wished to marry her, urged by jealousy or some worse passion, told her that her present way of living was not only ruinous to herself, but disgraceful to her child, and to all her relatives in Canada.

This so affected the sensitive mind of Idomen that she was stricken with fever; and in a moment of frenzy evaded her attendants and threw herself into the River Yumuri, flowing through her lands.

As a story, ‘Idomen’ will find readers, to-day, only among the curious or among those who, like ourselves, are interested in whatever belongs to the Medford of long ago. It cannot, however, be considered merely as a story. Mr. Griswold, a dear and trusted friend, [p. 166] declares that ‘Idomen’ contains little that is fictitious except the names of the characters.

As an autobiography it has a pathetic interest, and taken in connection with the meagre account we have of her life, brings the personality of its author more clearly before us. Though written in the stilted phraseology of a bygone time, full of morbid sentimentality and forced situations, it is undoubtedly the heart-history of a Medford woman, ambitious, sensitive, denied the expression of that passionate love and self-sacrificing devotion which filled her soul. As such it is worthy of our deepest sympathy and most reverent interest.6

1 Her father, William Gowen, was a son of Hammond and Mary (Crosswell) Gowen, of Charlestown, and a grandson of Capt. Joseph and Elizabeth (Ford) Gowen, of Charlestown.

Her mother, Eleanor (Cutter) Gowen, was a lineal descendant of Richard Cutter, who with his mother, widow Elizabeth Cutter, was one of the early settlers of Cambridge.

2Maria Gowen Brooks,’ by Zadel Barnes Gustafson.—Harper's Monthly, January, 1879.

3 The Greek temple of limestone, with four white Doric columns, built for her by her brother, William Cutter Gowen, at the San Patricio coffee estate at Limonal.

4 Encyclopaedia of American Literature.

5 ‘The Doctor,’ Chapter 54.

6 Authorities and Bibliography.—The following authorities were consulted for the facts contained in this paper: ‘Harper's Magazine;’ ‘Southern Literary Messenger;’ Griswold's ‘Female Poets of America;’ Duyckinck's ‘Cyclopedia of American Literature;’ Medford town records; Boston Town Records; Medford church records; King's Chapel records; records of the Suffolk County Court; the Middlesex Probate and Registry of Deeds, East Cambridge; the Suffolk Probate and Registry of Deeds, Boston; Essex County Probate and Registry of Deeds, Salem; Charlestown records; Wyman's ‘Estates and Genealogies of Charlestown;’ Boston Town Directories from 1796 to 1823; the ‘Cutter Genealogy;’ ‘List of Graduates of West Point;’ and McCullum's ‘Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy.’

Judith, Esther, and other Poems. / By a Lover of the Fine Arts, / Boston: Cummings & Hilliard. / 1820.

Zophiel. / A Poem. By Mrs. Brooks. / Boston. / Published by Richardson & Lord. / 1825.

Zophiel; / or, / The Bride of Seven. / By / Maria del Occidente. / Boston, / Carter & Hendee, / 1833.

This edition was published simultaneously in London, by C. and W. Reynolds, Printers, Broad street, Golden square. 1833.

The second edition of the complete poem, ‘Zophiel,’ was published for the benefit of the Polish exiles, in Boston, 1834, by Hilliard, Gray & Co.

Idomen; / or, / The Vale of Yumuri, / by Maria del Occidente. / New York. / Published by Samuel Colmer. / 1843.

‘Idomen.’ Clearly a thinly-veiled account of Mrs. Brooks' own life; but it is impossible to separate satisfactorily the purely fictitious from the autobiographical parts; but enough remains to confirm statements gathered from other sources. Perhaps the peculiarly sentimental phases of her character are brought out in greater prominence, if possible, than in her previous works.

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