Danieli-dandolo_2012-05-27_corr2To Boylston Adams Beal
Hotel Royal Danieli
Venezia. May 30, 1935

What Gordon Bell says in the History about us, and in particular about me, is all true enough, and sympathetically meant; but it misses the atmosphere of the ’90’s, or early ’90’s, when the Philistine mind had freshly discovered sport, art, literature, and religion, and was respectfully, but humorously, in love with them. Bob & Warwick Potter, you and I, were just that: dilettanti really delighting in the nice side of things: and the distance—the American and Protestant perspective inevitable for most of us—made the experience romantic and a little tragic at bottom. Probably the young men of today are better adapted to the age. Those I come across seem to me all alike, and rather uninteresting, unless they are caught in the political revolution. That is the living question now, not our questions, when we thought the material arrangements of the world had all become final and satisfactory, and there was time for thinking of higher things. Now there isn’t time or inclination or much sense of higher things to think about. But there is the great social army to lead and to keep in order. It is what the old Romans had to do.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Five, 1933-1936.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA


Millay_magnTo Daniel MacGhie Cory
Rome. May 29, 1931

After some vacillation I am sending you only your ordinary extraordinary budget for June. If the doctor’s bills, etc, make this insufficient, you will tell me frankly. I don’t want you to be skimped, but at the same time, if you have too much at once, you are tempted to make a splurge. On the other hand, this habit probably comes from the very fact that you have always been fed from hand to mouth, lived on the dole, as it were, which at your age is hardly normal. It would be better if you could have a fixed income and a bank account of your own, so that you could feel you were your own master.

Can you tell me whether “Edna St. Vincent Millay” is Miss or Mrs. and if the latter, what Mrs, or whose Missus? She has sent me a book of 52 sonnets, rather fluent, and only letting the cloven hoof peep out here and there from under the Elizabethan petticoat. But there are good-humoured inscriptions and comments of her own in pencil, which make me wish to write and thank her. Would you care to see the book?

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928-1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY


Santayana_2To Mr. Helder
Paris. May 28, 1906

Dear Mr Helder,
Your question about “Strong defenses” for individual immortality puzzles me a good deal—I can think of none. As to my personal opinion on the subject, you will find it expressed at length in the last two chapters of volume III of my book on “The Life of Reason”—the volume (which can be got separately) on “Reason in Religion”. But you will get little comfort out of it.
Yours truly,
G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book One, [1868]-1909.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Alderman Library, University of Virginia at Charlottesville


Luftbild_Davos (2)To Daniel MacGhie Cory
Rome. May 27, 1939

I have written to “Settembrini” explaining that I might not go to Cortina so that he shouldn’t be alarmed if he found me absent when he arrived. I call him “Settembrini” after a personage in Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain (about a nursing-home at Davos) who is a Freemason bursting with eloquence about the principles of 1789, and the rights of man and of reason. My friend’s real name is Michele Petrone, and he is professor of Italian literature at the University of Berlin; but in spite of his humanitarian principles he bitterly hates almost everything that human beings do. He is a dreadful bore, but so appreciative of my philosophy (he is translating Platonism and the Spiritual Life) that I have to accept his society with thanks; and as we speak Italian together, I get lessons gratis in that language which I am more and more clumsy in every day.

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


Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575To Benjamin Apthorp Gould Fuller
C/o Brown Shipley & Co 123 Pall Mall
Rome. May 25/6, 1931

After I had finished the proofs of your Aristotle, the two volumes arrived, and I have now read the Socrates and Plato. I am partly reconciled to your intentional American and jocular medium; for I see that really you are not writing a history of Greek Philosophy at all, but a review of what the professors—chiefly English or Scottish—now say about it. You might have carried the joke out, and composed a perfect satire on all these controversies, on the theme which you indicate in several places, that the two and seventy sects come out by the same door wherein they went. And this is always the back door. All these professors are outsiders and interlopers, and the first thing to do if you had wished to study the ancients themselves should have been to become a believer in them, and to have let all these modern egotistical critics lie buried in their own dust. Plato and Aristotle speak for themselves, if you trust them, and if you want guidance, you have it, within the school and its living traditions, in the Neo Platonists, the Arabians, and the Scholastics.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928-1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA