In my view, one of the best writers of all time is Frederic Swartwout Cozzens. He lived in America in the 1800’s and was wildly popular and much loved for many years for his contributions to newspapers and magazines in the middle of that century. Mark Twain had a signed edition of “The Sparrowgrass Papers” according to an old entry on a bookstore on the Internet.
I discovered this most famous of his books, “The Sparrowgrass Papers” and was delighted to find an author that could make me laugh out loud from the Victorian era. It was one of the first texts put up on Elfinspell. Being saddened to finish typing it, after bonding so completely with the ‘Sparrowgrassii,’ the search was on for more of his work and more information about him.
Sadly, there is little to find on the web about Cozzens. His own “Autobiographic Sketch,” and the information given by Donald G. Mitchell [aka Ik Marvel] about him in “Sayings, Wise and Otherwise.” is therefore welcome information. His “Preface” in “The Sayings of Dr Bushwhacker and Other Learned Men,”, adds more.
I was tickled pink to find these two books and put them up to accompany “The Sparrowgrass Papers” They represent a collection of his previous essays. In 1867, Cozzens himself selected the material for the first of these, “The Sayings of Dr. Bushwhacker and Other Learned Men” As he says in his Preface, he included many of his own previously published essays, along with some articles by other people. The other writers had contributed their pieces to his own monthly periodical, the “Wine Press”.
The second book, “Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” was published posthumously in 1870, by his son Frederick S. Cozzens, Jr. It contained the same material as the previous anthology, but incorporated eight more essays, the “Autobiographical Sketch,” and “The Sketch by Donald G. Mitchell.”
Both texts are now here on Elfinspell and adapted for the Internet, with corrections of the typos noted in the originals. Since these were hand-typed, not scanned, there is also a likely possibility that new and original typos may have been introduce. So if you notice any, please let me know.
Since both the other two texts mentioned above contain so much common to both, I have combined them. The latest text, “Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” is used to begin, with the edition of the Title Page and Preface to the earlier book after the Mitchell’s Sketch. In the Combined Table of Contents, the insertion of this Preface is noted and that the last 8 essays were not in the first collection.
The same plates must have been used for both books since the text that is common to both books, including the page numbers and typos, is exactly the same.
Cozzens’ own account of his life is fascinating, as is the essay about him, written after his death by Donald G. Mitchell, who knew and admired Cozzens. He describes his friendship with him with an appreciation, plus a brief biography. Any modern fan of the “Sparrowgrass Papers” will be grateful for these words from someone who felt exactly the same way about this charming man 150 years ago.
I hope to go visit the few libraries that have a few of the rarer works of Frederic S. Cozzens. Some day I also hope to find some archive with his letters or family records to add to the store of knowledge about this admirable, but undeservedly unsung, New Englander.
In the course of this research, maybe more can be found about Frederic Schiller Cozzens, his son, who was a well-known artist in his own right.
Without further ado, go to this anthology by Frederic S. Cozzens HERE. You are in for a great treat!
Oh!!! If you missed his wonderful “Sparrowgrass Papers,” go HERE.