CiceroTo John McKinstry Merriam
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. November 15, 1945

My dear Merriam:

Senex ad senem de senectute scribo: yet we are much older than Cicero ever was and also much more recent, so that we have a double chance of being wiser, having more experience of life, individual and collective. And the charm I find in old age—for I was never happier than I am Now—comes of having learned to live in the moment, and thereby in eternity; and this means recovering a perpetual youth, since nothing can be fresher than each day as it dawns and changes. When we have no expectations, the actual is a continual free gift, but much more placidly accepted than it could be when we were children; for then the stage was full of trap doors and unimaginable transformations that kept us always alarmed, eager, and on the point of tears; whereas now we have wept our tears out, we know what can pop up of those trap doors, and what kind of shows those transformations can present; and we remember many of them with affection, and watch the new ones that still come with interest and good will, but without false claims for our own future.

So much for the philosophy of old age. As for current events, state of health or decrepitude, etc., I have little to say. I seem to be perfectly well, but like the One Horse Shay I am undoubtedly a little feeble all over, and less than an atomic bomb, if it struck me, would probably reduce me to a little heap of dust. Meantime I continue to write more or less every day, and have weathered the little discomforts of war and muddled peace without serious trouble. The Sisters here look after me nicely, I have a pleasant corner room with extensive views over green country and mean to remain here for the rest of my days. As to society, I have never received so many visits as the American soldiers in Rome have made me. It has been very pleasant to see so many young faces and to autograph so many books, which is what they usually ask me to do. As to memories of 1886, I have written them out, and need not repeat them, but wish the survivors a happy and peaceful sunset.

Yours sincerely,
G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Seven, 1941-1947.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006.
Location of manuscript: American Antiquarian Society, Worcester MA