Woman of the Century/Mary Mathews Adams
ADAMS, Mrs. Mary Mathews, poet, born 23rd October, 1840. She is of Irish birth and parentage, but having come to this country when she was a mere child, she may easily claim America as her mental birthplace. Her father was a devout Protestant, and her mother an ardent Catholic; but MARY MATHEWS ADAMS. with fine breeding and a sincere and tender affection between them, the religious inheritance of the sons and daughters of John Mathews and his wife is rich in faith and tolerance. Their American home was in Brooklyn, N. Y., and there Mary, their oldest daughter, was educated, mainly at Packer Institute, from which she passed into a graded school, where for nine years she was a successful teacher. Her well-equipped mind and her winsome personality proving a rare combination of endowments for the work. After that period of successful effort Miss Mathews was married to C. M. Smith, and for five years her life was passed in a western city. At the end of that time she returned to Brooklyn, a childless widow, and again entered her favorite field of labor. Her enthusiasm as a student, which she always has been, finds its best result in her Shakespearian study. She has for years gathered about her, in her own home and elsewhere, classes of ladies, and her method of leadership is at once unique and inspiring. The refined literary appreciation manifested in this work reveals itself in her poems. The "Epithalamium" is perhaps the best known. Her verse is largely lyrical, and her themes include romance, heroism, and religion. In 1883 she became the wife of A. S. Barnes, the well-known publisher. He lived but a short time, and in London, in 1890, Mrs. Barnes was married to Charles Kendall Adams, the President of Cornell University, and at once assumed a position of intellectual, social, and moral responsibility for which her special mental gifts, her cultivation and her noble ideals of manly and womanly character fit her in a marked manner. There she has opportunity to impress the height and largeness of her standards upon college students of both sexes, from all points of the country and remote lands. Mrs. Adams is one of the highest types of her race. That she has written less than the public craves is partly due to her own under-estimation of her poetic gifts, and partly because she lives a religion of true hospitality and is an earnest home-maker, which talent is more time-consuming than that of a housekeeper. Above and beyond all charms of pen and speech, she is a practical and sincerely tolerant woman who transforms much of the prose of everyday life into poetry by her devotion to all beautiful works and things.