The Works of George Santayana

Category: LETTERS Page 3 of 274

Letters in Limbo ~ February 16, 1907

w.eliotTo Charles William Eliot
75 Monmouth Street
Brookline, Massachusetts. February 16, 1907

Dear Mr Eliot,

At a meeting of the Philosophical Division held this afternoon a question came up about a proposed course of mine which it was agreed should be submitted to you for decision.

Some time ago Professor Schofield asked me if I would offer some course in his department. I answered “Yes”, and suggested one on “Three philosophical poets—Lucretius Dante, and Goethe”—a half-course in which the conception of the world and the moral sentiment of the three should be described and compared. Professor Schofield accepted this idea. Now the Philosophical Department seems to be of opinion that this half-course should be given under their auspices, and not in the department of comparative literature. They add that if a part of my work is to lie in another department, a part of my salary too should be regarded as coming from that quarter, and a corresponding sum should be set free for the uses of the philosophical division.

To me it is a matter of indifference in which part of the pamphlet my proposed course figures, except that it is meant for the student of literature rather than for the technical philosopher, and that the requirement of a previous course in philosophy (usually made in offering our philosophical courses) would be out of place in this instance. Should I withdraw my offer made to Professor Schofield and should the proposed course be announced under the head of philosophy?

At our meeting this afternoon it was voted, as Professor Perry will doubtless report to you, that the Corporation be asked to appoint a well-known professor to fill Professor James’s place. I concur heartily in this desire, but if such an appointment were made “over my head” and previous to my own promotion, I should not regard my position as satisfactory.

Yours sincerely,

G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book One, [1868]-1909.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Harvard Archives, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Letters in Limbo ~ February 15, 1939

munsterbergTo George Washburne Howgate
Hotel Bristol
Rome. February 15, 1939

Your book about me is so appreciative—apart from the great compliment of writing a book about me at all—that I wonder you didn’t send it to me, and am a bit afraid that perhaps you sent it, and it went astray. This is one reason why I write, lest in that case you should think I was somehow displeased and refused to thank you. I am most highly pleased, and have to thank you not only for the boost you are giving to my reputation, but much more for your diligence and sympathy in reading everything, and doing such generous justice to everything I have written. I haven’t read every page of your long book: Narcissus himself couldn’t look at his image uninterruptedly without wishing to forget it; and your criticism is too objective and steadily just to be exciting or to reserve surprises to the subject of it. As far as I have seen there are absolutely no errors about matters of fact—none at least of your own. You quote some one who says I learned English at the age of thirteen: but as you indicate elsewhere, I was under nine when I began to learn it, and at ten went to a common school with boys of my age, and as far as I remember was not handicapped by the language. You also quote a ridiculous invention of Miss Münsterberg’s—or rather, it must have been, her mother’s—to the effect that I felt more at home at the Münsterbergs’ than at other Cambridge houses. I didn’t go about in Cambridge society, but more in Boston, except for one or two real friends; but the Münsterbergs took things sometimes into their own hands, and one had to go to their parties. Yet Miss Münsterberg herself has recorded, I believe, my consternation when I once found that I was in the same ship with them; and indeed, although I had another friend I had planned to sit with, Münsterberg came officiously to tell me that he had secured a place for me with them, at the Captain’s table. What was I to do? But this is stale gossip, and the matter is of no consequence.

As to your interpretation and criticism of my philosophy, I have nothing to object. What you say is not what I should say: if it were, why should you say it? But it is all reasonable and natural. If I were to demur at anything it would be at the excessive attention you give to my poetry. I am no poet in the English sense; and the function of my verses is simply to betray the under-currents of my mind in the formative period; or else, as in Lucifer (and some finished but unpublished plays of that period) to do fantastically what my novel has done realistically: study moral contrasts & possibilities. But as a whole, you are wonderfully intuitive and correct, and I don’t see how I could have had a better interpreter.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Collection of Mrs. George W. Howgate.

Letters in Limbo ~ February 14, 1928

2014-10-24-dissertations-620x350To George Sturgis
Hotel Bristol
Rome. February 14, 1928

Coming now to the disposal of the money at my death, there is the question raised by you, Shall the trust be continued, or dissolved? You evidently prefer to let it continue, and especially, that your sister’s share should be left in trust. Here we are on delicate ground. You have not told me your reasons, at least none that seemed serious: you suggested that some of her property might some day go to children that Raymond Bidwell might some day have by some other wife. I shouldn’t turn in my grave even if that happened. Money is not a pure good, to be reserved only to those we love: and even if it were, why should we reserve it for them? Money is a social commodity, and it has to be distributed conventionally, without asking whether people deserve it or will ultimately profit by having it. With my present lights, therefore, I see no reason for continuing the Trust after my death: but I am open to any suggestions which you may have to make to the contrary. The bequests to Harvard College and to people in Spain would in any case, I suppose, have to be made outright: so that little but Josephine’s share would remain to be in trust, except that yours would apparently be in trust too, under your own trusteeship. How safe, and how trusted, you would feel!

The principal other bequest is to be to Harvard College. I told you I had thought of making it a Spanish Fellowship, but I have repented of this. In the first place, there was a touch of vanity or egotism in it, as if I was coddling my own personality after it had been happily dissolved. Then I am afraid there are likely to be too many Spanish-speaking people flocking to the U.S. to be educated: and the reverse is provided for by the Hispanic Society of America and other foundations. Let my fellowship, then, be without local limitations. And I want it to be generous in amount, because I aspire to be like the magnanimous man of Aristotle, who seldom does anything, but when he does, it is something handsome.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 19281932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Letters in Limbo ~ [1942]

rome1To Mercedes de la Escalera
[Rome] [1942]

Many thanks for your having given me the message from George. When you write to him, tell him that I continue in good health, that I received (with seven months’ delay) the letter that came in care of the Spanish Embassy and that I am grateful for his efforts. I do not need money at present, and if I should need some, I believe that there would be means of getting it here as I have relations with some Italians who are familiar with my situation and who could supply me with the modest sums that I would need. In spite of everything I am contented, so much so that I believe that old age is the happiest part of my life.

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

Letters in Limbo ~ February 12, 1911

18th-and-castro-1910To Charles Augustus Strong
Colonial Club
Cambridge, Massachusetts. February 12, 1911

Thank you very much for repeating your generous offers; my plans about retirement continue unchanged; that is, I expect to leave (either resigning formally or getting an indefinite leave of absence) a year from next June, i.e. in June 1912. This summer I am sorry to say I shan’t see you, because I am going to California to give some lectures at Berkeley; the proposal came just in time, for if they had waited another year, it would have been too late. As it is, it seemed too pat to be refused; it gives me a chance of seeing the West for nothing and making a sort of farewell tour of the country.

By the time I retire I hope to have $2500 a year of my own; my unmarried sister (who is far better off) has offered to share her superfluities with me; so you see I shall be opulent according to my standards. Nevertheless I gladly accept your offers of a helping hand in spirit, and in fact also, if circumstances should require or justify it. You have eighteen months in which to make up your mind and experiment in places and houses; if you have settled down when I am free, I will come to make you a long visit, and we might (if your house was large enough) share it in a sense, if you would set aside a room for me where I might leave my books and other small belongings, and where I might come every year for a season. During my first winter—and you would probably be in Switzerland—I want to spend several months in Madrid, where I know I can be comfortable and amused at an old spinter friend’s. Then I am longing to revisit Italy; and my plan of writing a critical history of philosophy may take me to Oxford, London, & Paris, in order to have a large library to work in. But this consultation of books would (as you may well imagine) not be systematic, so that the greater part of my composition could be done in the wilderness, and would probably be all the better, as to tone and perspective, for being done there.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY.

Page 3 of 274

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén