A Brief History of the Hastings Aesthetics Notes

[The following is adapted from from “Santayana’s Lectures on Aesthetics,” Overheard in Seville: Bulletin of the George Santayana Society, 22, 2004, 23–28. See the original article for a summary of the contents of Hastings’ notes.]

When George Santayana wrote The Sense of Beauty, he had the benefit of consulting notes taken by a former student who had attended Santayana aesthetics lectures. Horatius Bonar Hastings, who graduated from Harvard University with an A.M. in 1893, was a student in Santayana’s 1892–93 aesthetics class. Santayana wrote to Hastings: “Mr. Henshaw showed me yesterday the very careful and full notes you took in Phil. 8. Might I borrow them long enough to have them copied? They will be very useful to me as they are much more full than the brief headings from which I lectured. I am thinking of publishing a little book based on these discussions, so that your notes will be invaluable to me” (“To Horatius Bonar Hastings, 14 April 1893”, LGS, 1:127).

Hastings’ notes are preserved on marbled paper between boards bound with a red leather spine, on which is printed the course number “Phil. VIII.” The book is about 8 1/2 by 7 inches and was bound by McNamee Binder in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There are 161 pages numbers by Hastings, which do not fill all the blank pages of the book. The letter from Santayana cited above was pasted into the front of the book. The notes are written in black pen and in pencil with marginalia that is written in red and black ink and in pencil. It is undetermined whether marginalia can be attributed to Santayana. John Cummings, a fellow student in the aesthetics class, wrote the notes for the 21 October 1892 lecture; and Hastings copied Geo. Turner’s notes into his own for the 24 October 1892 lecture. There also is a copy of a test that Santayana gave to the class pasted in near the end of the notes. Throughout the notes are pictures exemplifying topics or themes treated in the lectures.

Horatius’s son, John, received the notes from his father, and Horatius’s grandson Paul then made a gift the notes to the Santayana Edition in the late 1990s, when the Edition still was housed at Texas A&M University. Brenda Bridges transcribed the first half before the Edition moved to Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. Johanna Resler finished the initial transcription and began proofreading it with Kristine Frost. Proofreading and corrections and were completed by Adelea Willman.

Back to the notebook.