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Letters concerning George Harris' A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of Man, 1873-1877
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    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 1809-1890
    Extent: 1 v. (various pagings) ; 22 cm.
    Repository: 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Letters concerning George Harris' A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of Man (Manuscript collection 10). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6107864 

    Acquisition Information

    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 Society.
    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 National Biography".
    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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Darwin, Charles Robert, 1809-1882
    Harris, George, 1809-1890.
    English letters--19th century
    Philosophical anthropology