Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BROOKS, Maria Gowen, poet, born in Medford, Massachusetts, about 1795; died in Matanzas, Cuba, 11 November, 1845. She was descended from a Welsh family that settled in Charlestown before the revolution. Her father was a man of literary tastes, numbering among his friends several of the Harvard professors, and before she was nine years old his daughter had committed much poetry to memory, and was noted for the elegance of her conversation. Before she was fourteen her father died bankrupt, and Mr. Brooks, a Boston merchant, to whom she was already betrothed, completed her education and then married her. At first, she lived in affluence, but in a few years heavy losses reduced her husband to comparative poverty, and she began to write verses for consolation. At nineteen she had finished a metrical romance, which was never published, and in 1820, after several anonymous lyrics, she published "Judith, Esther, and other Poems, by a Lover of the Fine Arts." Mr. Brooks died in 1823, and his widow went to live with an uncle in Cuba, whose death soon afterward gave her a settled income. The greater part of her principal work, a poem entitled "Zophie1, or the Bride of Seven," was written here, and the first canto was published in Boston in 1825. After her uncle's death she returned to this country, and in 1830 visited France and England. She passed the spring of 1831 at Keswick, the home of Robert Southey, the poet, where the latter part of "Zophiel" was written. Southey admired her work, and gave her the name of "Maria del Occidente." In" The Doctor" ha speaks of her as "the most impassioned and imaginative of all poetesses," and under his care the completed poem was published (London, 1833). "Zophiel" has refits subject the love of a fallen angel for a beautiful Hebrew maiden, and is founded on the story of Sara, in the apocryphal book of Tobit. Returning to this country, Mrs. Brooks lived for some time near West Point, where her son was first a student and afterward assistant professor, and her house was a favorite resort of the officers of the academy. In 1834 she published in Boston an edition of "Zophiel" for the benefit of the Polish exiles in this country; but at the end of a month only twenty copies had been sold, and Mrs. Brooks withdrew the rest of the edition from the market. While living on Governor's island, New York harbor, where her son was then stationed, Mrs. Brooks published " Idomen, or the Vale of Yumuri" (1843), a work partaking of the nature of an autobiography.
In December of the same year she returned to her Cuban estate, where she remained till she died. One of her latest poems was an "ode to the Departed," written in 1843. At the time of her death she had planned an epic entitled " Beatriz, the Beloved of Columbus." A new edition of " Zophiel," edited by Zadel Barnes Gustaf-son, was published in Boston in 1879.--Her son, Horace, soldier, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 14 August, 1814, was appointed to the United States military academy, through the influence of Lafayette, whom his mother met abroad, and was graduated there in 1835. He served in the Seminole war of 1835-'6, receiving, 31 December, 1835, the brevet of first lieutenant for gallantry and good conduct. He was assistant professor of mathematics in the United States military academy from November, 1836, till August, 1839, and served on garrison and recruiting duty at various places till the Mexican war. On 18 June, 1846, he became captain in the 2d artillery, and served through Scott's campaign. For his services during the war he received two brevets--that of major, 20 August, 1847, for Churn-busco and Contreras, and that of lieutenant colonel, 8 September, 1847, for Molino del Key. From this time until the civil war he was stationed in various forts, taking part in the Utah expedition of 1855 and in quelling the Kansas disturbances of 1860-'1. On 28 April, 1861, he became major in the second artillery, and on 1 August, lieutenant colonel. He served in defense of Washington from February till March, 1861, at Fort Pickens, Florida, until October, and at Fort Jefferson, Florida, until March, 1862. From September, 1862, till September, 1863, at the time of the Morgan raid, he was chief mustering and pay officer for the state of Ohio, under Governor Todd, and during the year $1,000,000 passed through his hands without an error in his accounts. After this he served on various military boards at Washington and elsewhere, becoming colonel on 1 August, 1863, and brevet brigadier-general at the close of the war. From 1866 till 1868, and from 1869 till 1872, he commanded a regiment at Fort McHenry, Maryland, being at the head of the department of Washington in the interim. From 18 November, 1872, till 10 January, 1877, he commanded the presidio at San Francisco, and on the latter date was retired from active service, being over sixty-two years of age. He is now a resident of Baltimore, Maryland.
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