Dear Mr. von Hagen:
Your letter of October 9, addressed to the Hotel Bristol, has just reached me here, after travelling a good deal, for that hotel was pulled down two or three years ago, and though the shell is now rebuilt in a sky-scraper style, the place is not yet reopened. If I live long enough I shall probably return there, because the proprietor has all my books in storage, and the situation is convenient for my purposes. Being driven from there, just when the war was preparing, has unsettled me unpleasantly. The first winter I staid in Venice, a terribly bleak place at that season; the second winter (i.e. last winter) I lived at the Grand Hotel here in Rome; but this year I have come from there to the top of the Caelius, to a nursing home kept by an English Order of Sisters called the “Little Company of Mary”, not that I am particularly ill, but that I am short of funds, not because the source is dried up but because the conduit is stopped up, not yet entirely, but very seriously. These Sisters have establishments all over the English-speaking world, besides three in Italy. This is their Mother House, and a complete hospital, convent, and guest-house; and the Mother Superior has made a special arrangement with me, in view of my strange situation, by which I live here gratis, while a donation will be made for me, more or less equivalent, to their place near Chicago. I shall therefore have food and lodging even if my funds are blocked altogether. I found insuperable difficulties in the attempt to move to Switzerland or to Spain; this arrangement suits me better, in spite of some discomforts involved.
. . .
This war affects me, morally, much less than the other, although I think (and hope) that the consequences may be far more important and lasting: a really new era in human history, but not at all what people, on either side, think they are fighting for. Words and things were never further apart than in our uneducated times.
From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Seven, 1941-1947. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006.
Location of manuscript: Unknown