YoltonTo John W. Yolton
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. April 27, 1952

Dear Mr. Yolton,

You were very good to send me the number of the Columbia Philosophical Journal chiefly devoted to comments on my recent book, including your own article. I have at once read this, and most of the others, and my general impression is of the great difference in interest and taste that separates American feeling now from me, due doubtless to my advanced age and to the excited and absorbing sentiment that the political anxiety of the moment naturally produces in the United States. You are less affected (as I gathered long ago from your letters) than most of the others by this preoccupation, and yet I seem to see traces of it, not so much in what you say as in the omission of a point in my view of rational government which I regard as important: the idea of “moral societies”. Individual psyches are surely the only seat of synthesis for political ideas; but these ideas are largely diffused and borrowed in their expression and especially in the emotion or allegiance that they inspire. Religion, especially, is traditional. In conceiving of a Scientific Universal Economy, with exclusive military control of trade, I expressly limited its field of action to those enterprises in which only economic interests and possibilities were concerned. Education, local government, religion, and laws regarding private property, marriage and divorce, as well as language and the arts, were to be in the control of “moral societies” possessed of specific territories. These would be governed in everything not economic, by their own constitutions and customs. Of course sentiment and habits would be social in these societies. Children would all be brought up to expect and normally to approve them; but any individuals rebelling against their tribe would be at liberty to migrate, and to join any more congenial society that would take them in, or remain in the proletariat, without membership in any “moral society”. My view is that civilizations should be allowed to be different in different places, and the degree of uniformity or variety allowed in each would be a part, in each, of its constitutional character. It would by no means be expected that every person would lead a separate life. What I wish to prevent is the choking of human genius by social pressure.

Yours sincerely,

G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Eight, 1948-1952.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008.
Location of manuscript: Unknown.

imagesCA0ULK2JTo George Sturgis
Hotel Bristol
Rome. April 26, 1924

America is now so obviously at the top of the tree, so far at least as prosperity goes, that you must all feel more than ever that it is the land of opportunity. Here too life seems pretty decent, and there are immense compensations for the comparatively small scale of business in the old world.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Three, 1921-1927.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

lucasp8To George Sturgis
9 Avenue de l’Observatoire
Paris. April 25, 1922

I have just returned to Paris from Italy, and am looking over my arrears of letters in order to start the season with a clear conscience. I am afraid I haven’t yet answered your interesting letter of February 20th in which you gave me an account of the various investments of which I am the happy but semi-conscious possessor. It all sounds very safe, prosperous, and up-to-date, and if I ventured to make any comments, they would be hopelessly trivial and unbusiness-like, and hardly worthy of an old editor of the Harvard Lampoon, since I can think of nothing but double meanings for American vitrified products preferred, and the furnishing of light heat and power to such important parts of the world as Saint Louis, Mo. not to speak of medicine for England Scotland and Wales. I am only sorry that I am not supplying a little medicine to Ireland also. I vaguely remember trying to furnish a little light to little groups of obscure minds in some dark corner of Sever Hall: but it never entered my thoughts to supply all Boston with heat and power as well. This only shows how we do our best actions without knowing it, and how we may be laying up pleasant surprises for ourselves against the Day of Judgement.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Three, 1921-1927.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.


To Charles Augustus Strong
Ávila, Spain. April 24, 1921

The six weeks I have just spent in Madrid have given me a very good impression of the place. It has the charms of an agreeable and affectionate woman who is not beautiful; my friend Mercedes made me feel at home at once; it was like living in the bosom of one’s own family, with somewhat greater freedom to the good. I should be quite content to spend most of the remainder of my life there, if circumstances made it advisable. This is just the conviction, one way or another, which I wished to acquire in my experimental visit this winter: so that I am quite happy about the result, especially as it is favourable, and leaves this pleasant possibility open for me in the future.

Your decision to build at Fiesole is quite exciting. I hope you will not be disappointed in the architect or in the time he takes to finish the house. I shall be most interested in hearing about it, and seeing the plans if you have them. Florence and its neighbourhood are delightful, perhaps the most delightful place where a pensive stranger could pitch his tent; but just for that reason if you live there you will be swallowed up in the Anglo-American colony, formed by the other pensive strangers who have come to the same conclusion as yourself. The moral climate, in consequence, is not so delightful as the landscape. That is why I should hardly choose Florence to live in permanently; but you may not feel the force of this objection, and in any case, it is a place anyone across would be glad to visit often.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Three, 1921-1927.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY.


Josiah_RoyceTo Josiah Royce
Florence, Italy.  April 23, 1897

I was very glad this morning to get your letter and to hear what the arrangements are for next year. The change from Phil I to Phil II is a gain for me, and gives me a more interesting and less exhausting task. The change of hour, however, in my morning course is very inconvenient, as I am never very fit in the early morning, and next winter, when I expect not to be living in Cambridge, it will involve getting up at an absurd hour. I don’t see the justice of the argument that eleven o’clock is filled up. Who fills it up, and why shouldn’t I be one of these, when that is the hour I have lectured at for seven years? I am sorry you have allowed yourself to be brow-beaten by the official sophistry, but I suppose there is no help for it now.

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.