Frank_JewettTo Frank Jewett Mather
Grand Hotel
Rome. November 29, 1940

Your letter gives me particular pleasure because you notice something central and radical in my views, not as most critics and correspondents do something accidental if not merely imputed. Spirit, both as an evident reality discoverable by analysis in the fact of experience and as a plane of moral life, lies too near to be clearly seen, when attention is called to external events, as it necessarily is in daily life and in science. We must be patient with those who deny spirit, or confuse it with psychic forces or historical movements. . . . Isn’t the intellectual world much in the position it was in during the Roman Empire? Won’t it move towards similar issues? People like T. S. Eliot or like Prof. Collingwood (have you read his interesting Essay on Metaphysics?) are calling people back to spiritual interests and spiritual judgments, even if they relapse, in so doing, into mythology. I don’t mind that. It is so transparent a fiction that it can hardly distort the truth, however poetically it may express it. And a correct and economical definition of the concept of spirit, however desirable, is of little importance compared with the presence or absence of spirituality in the lives of men. Probably you detest idols more than I do; you have been surrounded by ugly ones. If people will only make their idols beautiful, I would not take those idols away from them for the world. It is the beautiful that they are really worshipping through those forms, which is what I worship also.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Princeton University Libraries, Princeton NJ.