CharacterandOpinionTo Christopher George Janus
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. December 19, 1946

Dear Janus,

Several inquisitorial reporters, disguised in the lamb’s clothing of soldiers, have inveigled me into “interviews” which I took at first for innocent conversation. No great harm came of it, as far as I know, except that my English was transformed into the dialect of day. You can’t catch me so easily in writing. If people really cared to know what I think about politics in America, they would read the last chapter of my old “Character & Opinion in the U.S.”. . . . But people only want “copy”, and I think I might make them wait until the book on “Dominations & Powers” which I am at work on sees the light. I may not live to finish it, but enough is already written to make my position clear. It is independent of all parties, nations, or epochs: and this is easier for me than for most philosophers because my native Spanish attachments are not close (although I have scrupulously retained my legal Spanish nationality) and speculatively I am a naturalist.

Yours sincerely

G Santayana

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

george-santayana-4To Cyril Coniston Clemens
Hotel Bristol
Rome. December 18, 1936

Dear Clemens,

Thank you and your committee for your congratulations for still being in this world. It is a dubious privilege in itself, especially at the age of 73, but I am in good health and spirits, and willing to exist a little longer, Deo volente.

As to my medal, and the inscription you propose, I suppose, being from the Mark Twain Society, it is meant to humorous. But most people would laugh at us, not with us; and please choose something else, or (better) nothing at all. I have an imitation-gold medal from the Royal Society of Literature which says simply Honoris Causa and leaves the rest to the imagination. That at least is safe.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Five, 1933-1936.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham NC.

Susana 6To George Sturgis
Hotel Marini
Rome. December 17, 1921

What you tell me about your aunt Josephine wanting her whole income surprises me not a little, as I know how disinclined she is to undertake the burden of a more elaborate way of life–and the same thing happens to me. In our old age, she can only live like a younger daughter in the family, and I like a travelling student. Anything else is too much bother for us. I am writing to ask her what is up, if it isn’t a secret. She may be thinking of buying or setting up a separate house in Madrid or in Ávila, with the two little old ladies, whom we call las maestras, the teachers, because they once kept a school; this is the only new arrangement of which I have any inkling. I hardly think she wants her money in order to invest it in Spain: but that is natural in the case of your aunt Susan, or rather of her husband, because they count on distributing it some day among the Sastre boys, and it would be very cumbersome for them to have the capital in America. They are very deserving young men, and it is pleasant to think that they will be distinctly more comfortable for this inheritance when it comes to them, although, of course, they have no right to it, even morally, as their relation to their step-mother has never been more than correct.

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.

santayanabday12-16To Mary Potter Bush
Hotel Bristol, Rome
Rome. December 16, 1932

Dear Mrs. Bush

Thank you very much for your good Christmas wishes, which I reciprocate, and also for your address, which has enabled me to send off this morning three books of yours which I ought to have returned long ago. The Couchoud has made a great impression on me, and I have sent for others of the same series, to see what backing his views may really seem to have. I believe he is right in his religious psychology, that Christianity is an eschatological prophecy, not a personal morality corrupted into a theological system; but I am doubtful about the historical mixture of tradition, legend, & myth. Were it not that today being my 69th . . . birthday, I have made a good resolution to write no more articles and give no more lectures, at least until all my projected work is done, I might be tempted to write something on Couchoud & Co.: but I must abstain.

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.

venice1935-620x413To Rafael Sastre González
Hotel Danieli
Venice. December 15, 1939

Querido Rafael:

El hotel Bristol en Roma ha desaparecido, o casi, pues lo están derribando, con intención de volverlo a construir. Dicen que la obra durará dos años, de modo que yo estoy sin “domicilio.” Había pensado tomar una habitación en otra fonda de Roma; pero al estallar la guerra, cuando se temia que se extendiera a Italia, avisaron oficialmente a los ancianos y personas inútiles de evitar las poblaciones grandes del mediodía y oeste de Italia. Como yo estaba en Cortina y tenia que pasar por Venecia, se mi ocurrió quedarme aquí, donde me conocen de muchos años en esta fonda, y donde siempre lo he pasado bien. Tengo una habitación con vista al puerto y al mar, y no encuentro ningun inconveniente en que el invierno aquí sea algo mas húmedo y frío que en Roma. No lo es tanto cómo en Boston, ó como en Inglaterra, y a pesar de mis 76 años, que cumplo mañana, espero poderlo resistir.


Dear Rafael:

The hotel Bristol in Rome has disappeared, or almost, for they are tearing it down, with the intention of rebuilding it. They say that the project will take two years, so I am without “domicile.” I had intended to take a room in another hotel in Rome; but when the war broke out, when they feared that it would spread to Italy, they officially warned the elderly and people who were not needed to avoid the large towns of the south and west of Italy. Since I was in Cortina and had to pass through Venice, it occurred to me to stay here, where they have known me for many years in this hotel, and where I have always enjoyed it. I have a room with a view of the port and the sea, and it doesn’t bother me at all that the winter is a little more humid and cold here than in Rome. It isn’t so humid and cold as in Boston, or as in England, and in spite of my 76 years, which I celebrate tomorrow, I hope to be able to stand it.

From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Collection of Sra. Rafael (Adelaida Hernandez) Sastre, Ávila, Spain.