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    Portrait of James Harris (1709-1780)
James Harris
Born July 20, 1709
in Salisbury

Died December 22, 1780

English grammarian, author and politician, born in Salisbury. Educated at Salisbury and Oxford. He inherited a small fortune in 1733 upon the death of his father. In 1744 he published three treatises, to which Boswell refers in his London Journal,1 on art; on music, painting and poetry; and on happiness. In 1751 he published Hermes, a philosophical work concerning grammar. In 1761, he was elected MP for Christchurch, a seat he held until his death. From 1774 he was even Comptroller to the Queen. 

On December 22, 1780, Harris died at his home, Malmesbury House, a short distance from Salisbury Cathedral, where he was buried on December 28. 

His son, James Harris (1746-1820) became 1st Earl of Malmesbury and published (1801) the complete works of his father.

Life with Boswell

Boswell met James Harris Lord Eglinton's on December 7, 1762, and May 9, 1763. He clearly knew Harris' works in advance and referred to them in his journal. He may also be the Mr Harris at whose place Boswell dined on September 12, 1769.


Searches for Title: Hermes and Author: Harris at AbeBooks yields several copies of Hermes or a Philosophical Enquiry Concerning Universal Grammar, some of them original 1751 editions, others later reprints. His treatises are much harder to come by.