The Works of George Santayana

Author: David Spiech Page 1 of 283

Letters in Limbo ~ December 8, 1940

John-DeweyTo Daniel MacGhie Cory
Grand Hotel
Rome. December 8, 1940

Wheelock has sent me Edman’s review of the R[ealm] of S[pirit]. It is warm; he was evidently impressed; but he has no speculative intelligence and misses the logic of the System. Dewey’s philosophy is a part of that America which, as Caleb Wetherbee* said, is “the greatest of opportunities and the worst of influences”.

* Caleb Wetherbee is a character in The Last Puritan (see page 186).

From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY.

Letters in Limbo ~ December 7, 1939

005163To George Sturgis
Hotel Danieli
Venice, Italy. December 7, 1939

I was very glad to hear that Bob had got home again after an unconventional voyage that probably will make a pleasant memory. I remember with pleasure a voyage I once made in 16 days from London to New York in an empty cattle-ship. My money had given out, or nearly, and I went to some agency to ask which was the cheapest 1st. class accommodation to be had for America, and they suggested this, price £10. So I took it, was never sea-sick, and had to walk all day on deck, because there were no deck chairs, and I had neglected to bring one. I also made an interesting acquaintance with a man who had been before the mast but was a nice person and knew French. Something of him and of his experience of the sea went into The Last Puritan.

Scribner, by the way, has today exploded a bomb under me, most unexpectedly. Two young Jews, a few years ago, got out a collection of articles and lectures of mine called Obiter Scripta; and most of these were included in the big edition of my works. Now they have sued Scribner for reproducing their book without leave; and Scribner, fearing “considerable damages”, has settled the matter out of court by paying the Jews $690.00 Very well; but now comes the explosion. Scribner says that I am to pay those $690.00 or whatever I think “proper”. But there is a seamy side to this matter. Being pleased with the care and diligence of those two students, I asked Scribner to pay them whatever royalties might come to me from the book: but, according to them, Scribner never did so! That, I suppose, is why Scribner settled out of court. And now, I am to pay to get them out of the scrape! I have today answered Mr. Scribner as politely as I could, saying that while I do not, frankly, think it “proper” that I should pay for any part of that settlement, if I am legally in debt for the whole or a part of that sum of $690.00, will he please ask you for it. I hardly think he will have the face to do so, but if he does please pay whatever sum he names. There is a particular reason (besides putting him to shame) for doing it in this way, but too complicated to explain here.

From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Letters in Limbo ~ December 6, 1912

To Mary Williams Winslow
C/o Brown Shipley & Co.
123 Pall Mall, London.
Florence, Italy. December 6, 1912

My chief trouble has been the bronchitis, of which I had an attack in Madrid in April, and another in Paris during the summer—a very cold rainy summer it was—which lasted so long that I gave up going to England for the autumn and went to Naples to sun myself instead. I got well at once; but in Rome last month the cough came on again, and although I am free from it now, I begin to feel that it is necessary to think of it as a chronic affair, and to choose my winter habitat accordingly. It will make Madrid or Ávila impossible; and I don’t mean to go back there until the middle or end of March. From here I shall go to the Riviera and to Andalusia, and then join my sisters and the excellent Mercedes for a season, before returning “home” to Paris. There, at Strong’s, 9 avenue de l’Observatoire, I am delightfully established, with the books I have retained; we have a very nice apartment, a sunny large study, a dining-room and a nice room for each of us, including one—always empty—for Strong’s daughter Margaret. Francoise the bonne, gives us such meals as we wish to have at home, and she is an excellent cook; but I try to entice Strong to the boulevard and its restaurants, so as to vary the scene a little, and be entertained by the cinematograph of real life, and sometimes by the other cinematograph also; and when I am alone (Strong left me in July to go to America, so that his daughter might visit her grandparents during her long vacation: she is at school in England) I take both lunch and dinner out, enjoying that daily episode, even if the scene is not more gorgeous or novel than an établissement Duval in the boulevard Saint Michel. The only trouble with the situation in Paris is that the avenue de l’Observatoire is far from central, and that even the bus and the underground are not very convenient, and to get a cab it is necessary to send Francoise out in the rain, or else to go wading oneself until one can be found at some street-corner. Otherwise, the apartment is ideal, and so long as Strong keeps it, it will be my head-quarters. If he gives it up, when his villa in Fiesole is finished, I shall doubtless take a small apartment for myself in some more central place. Paris is, I am convinced, the point of stable equilibrium for my pendulum.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Letters in Limbo ~ December 5, 1906

indexTo Charles Augustus Strong
75 Monmouth Street
Brookline, Massachusetts. December 5, 1906

James asked me the other day to go and hear his lecture on “Pragmatism and Truth,” which he said would go over the heads of most of his audience, and he wished to have a few intelligent people to talk to. So flattered, of course I went; but I was disappointed. He made some concessions: logical truth is eternal, and prior to the discovery of it, he says: naturally he doesn’t dwell much on that point. Furthermore it appears that even material truth may belong to unimportant ideas; but who would care for such truth? So that the distinction seems to be accepted, though not made explicitly, between truth simple and pragmatic value or practical importance in ideas. After these concessions, James went on to repeat the old confusions and to protest against the want of imagination of those who take “Pragmatism” at its word. This lecture will not do what James says it is meant to do: it will not clear the air.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book One, [1868]-1909.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY

Letters in Limbo ~ December 4, 1941

220px-Victor_Von_Hagen_002To Victor Wolfgang von Hagen
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. December 4, 1941

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.

Yours sincerely,
G Santayana

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

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