Scope and Content
Title: Letters concerning George Harris' +A Philosophical
Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of Man+.,
Date (inclusive): 1873-1877
Collection number: 10
Creator: Harris, George
1 v. (various pagings) ; 22 cm.
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections
for the Sciences
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: George Harris (1809-1890) was a barister and judge
with strong interests in anthropology and psychology. During 1874-1876, George
Harris solicited comments and suggestions from many eminent philosophers,
theologians and naturalists concerning the ideas and language of his planned
treatise on the nature of man. This collection includes approximately 150
original manuscript letters sent him in reply by 31 correspondents, bound into
one octavo-sized volume. In 1876 Harris' work was published in two volumes
titled "A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of Man"; in it
he quoted from over 100 of these letters.
Physical location: History and Special Collections for the
Sciences, Biomedical Library, University of California, Los Angeles
Language of Material: Collection materials in English, French
Collection is available for use.
[Identification of item], Letters concerning George Harris' +A Philosophical
Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of Man+., 10, Louise M. Darling
Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University
of California, Los Angeles.
The volume bears a small sticker on the rear endpaper: "Ex Libris, C. K.
Ogden". Charles Kay Ogden (1889-1957), British psychologist, linguist, and
author of "Meaning of Meaning" among many other publications, amassed a vast
personal library. After his death, ca. 100,000 of these volumes were bought by
the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles.
George Harris (1809-1890) was articled to his solicitor father at age 16. He
subsequently became a partner in his father's firm in Rugby, but just before he
reached the age of 30 he left for London to pursue a literary career. After some
small success as journalist and editor, he decided to go back to the law and
entered the Middle Temple. After ten not very lucrative years as a barrister he
became a judge in county courts and finally the court of bankruptcy at
Manchester, from which he retired in 1868.
During all his years in the law, Harris continued writing and publishing:
e.g., "Life of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke", "Memoir of Lord Brougham", "The
Theory of the Arts", and his proposal "The Manuscript Treasures of this Country,
and the Best Means of Rendering them Available". He was a member of the
Anthropological Society of London, and one of the founders of the Psychological
In 1876 Harris published "A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature and
Constitution of Man", the work which elicited the letters described in this
collection. To quote from the "Dictionary of National Biography": it was "a work
on which he had been engaged intermittently for forty-three years. While many of
his theories were novel, his general treatment of the subject reverted to the
principles and terminology of the medieval schoolmen, and he completely ignored
the methods and conclusions of contemporary scientific psychology".
Scope and Content
The collection consists of 152 holograph letters, according to the numbering
which has been added at some time. This numbering is somewhat erratic, however;
an early cataloging record specifies "158 pieces". The letters have been folded
and are bound into a handsome octavo-sized volume, preceded by a publisher's
advertisement for the two-volume edition of "A Philosophical Treatise on the
Nature and Constitution of Man," by George Harris. London: George Bell and Sons,
1876. The 18 pages of printed introductory matter consist of: Contents;
Extracts; Opinions of the Press. A short paragraph after "Contents" states
"Eminent authorities...have been in correspondence with, and have been consulted
by the author...". This statement is followed by 24 names listed as "...among
the gentlemen who have so kindly aided the undertaking."
Following the printed introductory pages is a two-page handwritten list
headed "Letters from", giving the correspondent's name and the letter number or
numbers coming from that person. All letters are dated 1873 through 1877 (most
from 1874-1875). Letter no.l, from Charles Darwin, was probably missing from the
volume at the time it was bound.
The finding aid is organized by series, each series naming one of the
correspondents. The form of the names mostly follows the Library of Congress
name file. The titles attached to each name are those used by Harris in the
"Treatise..." and the identifying notes are mostly taken from the "Dictionary of
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Barclay, Hugh, 1799-1884, Mr. Sheriff
- Series 2. Beddoe, John, 1826-1911, Dr.
- Series 3. Blake, Charles Carter, 1840-1897, Dr.
- Series 4. Bloxam, John Rouse, 1807-1891, Rev. Dr.
- Series 5. Bogouschevsky, Nicolas Casimir de, Baron
- Series 6. Bray, Charles, 1811-1884, Mr.
- Series 7. Chaplain of Hanwell Lunatic Asylum (William Grey?)
- Series 8. Chapman, John, 1821-1894, Dr.
- Series 9. Clarke, Hyde, 1815-1895, Dr.
- Series 10. Coleridge, Derwent, 1800-1883, Rev.
- Series 10. Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911
- Series 11. Cox, Edward William, 1809-1880, Mr. Serjeant
- Series 12. Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882, Mr.
- Series 13. Galton, Francis, 1822-1911, Sir
- Series 14. Gladstone, W. E. (William Ewart), 1809-1898, Rt. Hon.
- Series 15. Huxley, Thomas Henry, 1825-1895, Prof.
- Series 16. Lubbock, John, 1834-1913, Sir
- Series 17. Maudsley, Henry, 1835-1918, Dr.
- Series 18. Newman, John Henry, 1801-1890, Rev. Dr.
- Series 19. Plumptre, Charles John, 1818-1887, Prof.
- Series 20. Quatrefages, A. de (Armand), 1810-1892, Prof.
- Series 21. Richardson, Benjamin Ward, Sir, 1828-1896, Dr.
- Series 22. Rogers, Charles (1825-1890), Rev.
- Series 23. Sainte Croix, Le Roy de
- Series 24. Seager, Charles (possibly 1808-1878), Prof.
- Series 25. Smee, Alfred, 1818-1877, Mr.
- Series 26. Sopwith, Thomas, 1803–1879, Mr.
- Series 27. Tagore, Ganendro Mohun, 1826 – 1890, Mr.
- Series 28. Vaughan, Charles John, 1816-1897, Rev. Dr.
- Series 29. Wake, C. Staniland (Charles Staniland), 1835-1910 , Mr.
- Series 30. Wallace, Alfred Russel, 1823-1913, Mr.
- Series 31. Wood, J. G. (John George), 1827-1889, Rev.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.