It seems to me that the time to publish any letters of mine that may be destined for that honour has not quite arrived. Wait until I am dead. My demise will be a good occasion for advertising for any epistles that anybody may possess. I will tell you in confidence—in case you or Mr. Buchler should wish then to undertake the task—that my principal continuous correspondence has been with Mrs. Crawford H. Toy, now living at 1 Waterhouse Street, Cambridge, Mass. I know she has preserved my letters; but she is an old lady, and may not survive me. So are most of my former correspondents—not ladies, but old—and heaven knows whether they have kept my letters, or whether their children or heirs have not burned them. However, I have written a vast number in all these years, and if they could be summoned to arise and gather themselves together at the blast of the trumpet, you would have a pretty task in reading them over.
However, there is another question involved, which is that of the advisability of printing any letters, the need of selecting the right ones, and of editing them judiciously, I don’t mean by altering them substantially (errors or slips might well be corrected) as in leaving out indiscreet words or trivial prattle. You, as I understand, are young, you haven’t known me personally, and I will tell you quite frankly that I don’t think you are the person to assume, as yet, that sort of responsibility towards the public and towards my reputation. If it were a question of merely philosophical letters, it would be different, because you and Mr. Buchler have proved, in Obiter Scripta, that you are admirable interpreters of my work. But almost all my letters, even if touching on public or theoretical questions, have been personal, and collecting and editing them would require special tact and special knowledge of my feelings about my friends.
Moreover, there is a literary executor already chosen to preside over my Nachlass, Daniel Cory; and it would naturally fall to him to collect my correspondence, as well as to edit my remaining manuscripts, if he thought it advisable. I hope, if I live long enough, to write my own life, so that a biography—especially as there are no events to record—would be superfluous.
From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Five, 1933-1936. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY