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'I am pledged to you in that matter and I should openly refuse their assistance'

Autograph Letter, signed (“R.F. Burton”), to J. Frederick Collingwood, dated 17 August 1876, deploring the state of the Anthropological Institute.

Trieste: 1876.

Price: $2,250.00

About the item

4 pages on a single folded sheet. 1 vols. 16mo. 'I am pledged to you in that matter and I should openly refuse their assistance'. Old folds. Fine. With an envelope postmarked London Oct 26 75, bearing Burton’s Arabic device on flap, and addressed to the Secretary of the Anthropological Institute in Burton’s hand. See Penzer, p. 233; Casada 50, 149, 170.

Item #367145

Burton’s correspondent, J. Frederick Collingwood, was secretary/librarian of the Anthropological Society of London, before its amalgamation with the Ethnological Society into the Anthropological Institute; Collingwood was also translator of Introduction to Anthropology by Theodor Waitz (1863).

Reading in part: “keep me alive as to the proceedings of the ‘Institute’, and tell me if you think I can do anything for you. I know that scoundrelly Mr. Park Harrison. They have now succeeded in getting rid of the last of the good old lot. What a melancholy contrast with the Anthrop. Soc. of Paris. Could you not draw up a comparison between the two the two and print it by way of shaming our mean proceedings? … Don’t be afraid of their humbugging about Waitz vol. II. I am pledged to you in that matter and I should openly refuse their assistance. … I’m off for a trip to Southern Istria ‘Castellieri’ hunting, but I shall offer the results to the Paris Society”.

Burton had been one of the founders of a short-lived splinter society, the London Anthropological Society, whcih published one volume journal Anthropologia (1873-5). Penzer notes “the breach was healed” but this letter suggests that some of the dissatisfaction lingered.

Rice notes that “Burton explored and excavated some of the mysterious prehistoric castellieri of Istria and visited the ‘wild People’ (as Isabel called them) in the countryside to learn their language, a dialect of old Venetian” (425). Burton had published an article in Anthropologia in 1874, “Notes on the Castellieri of the Istrian Peninsula”; and in February 1878 he published “More Castellieri. The Seaboard of Istria” in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute (crediting two italian scholars as co-authors), not in Paris after all.

An excellent Burton letter, evocative of controversy and exploration.