To George Sturgis
Better address: C/o Brown, Shipley & Co.
123, Pall Mall, London, S.W.1
Rome. June 16, 1939

Dear George,

Here is Mercedes’ receipt for your cheque. She writes in her most excited exaggerated style of thanks, but adds that you forgot to sign the letter, and that food is very dear, and many things are hard to find, in consequence of the after-war condition of business and finance. She has got the cheque, and hopes, by the help of influence, to get it cashed soon and favourably.

I am going in two days to Lugano, a new place for me; but I had reasons for not returning to Cortina this summer, and Switzerland is safer for communication with London (where I have a new edition of an old book in the press, viz. “Egotism in German Philosophy”) and also with America, in the improbable event of war. But I have chosen Lugano with forethought, and a double intention. It might be a good place all the year round. I have never seen it, but know what it looks like: a pretty lake region, where palms can grow, and Italian is spoken, and where my hotel will still be the “Hotel Bristol”. I might, therefore, return there eventually for good. The other day I saw my landlord Pinchetti; he is half paralyzed with arthritis–(if that is the word) and the clerk, afterwards assured me that it was serious and that presently all would be over: which tragic thought he expressed by imparting his blessing to the hotel ledger. So that apart from wars and rumours of war, I may before long be compelled to change my quarters; because I assume that on Pinchetti’s death this hotel will be pulled down, the whole new street now being of quite another character.

Cory, and perhaps Strong, are coming to see me at Lugano: but I may find it too warm there for my work (I have the last chapter of “Spirit” to compose) and may go higher up into the Alps.

Yours affly


From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937–1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript:  The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

To Daniel MacGhie Cory
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. June 14, 1947.

[Material things] are perceived just as they appear to each observer, according to his eyesight and other senses: and this is known to everybody without optics or epistemology. That there is a dynamic or material reality, on the same plane as one’s self or psyche (not transcendental spirit) is assumed and required, as you say, in action: and action includes any movement of alarm, attraction, or attention. Animal faith posits the rat in the hole, by smell, in the dog. That the smell, as a datum, is “in” the brain, I should not say, because in that capacity I think it is an essence, and non-existent anywhere: but the feeling or inarticulate intuition of it exists, and its organ is no doubt in the brain; although the intuition as a living act belongs to the realm of spirit, and is not in space.

This old analysis of mine, which I don’t think it worth while to reconsider, makes me feel that your position is unnecessarily paradoxical, resting on what seems to me the radical error of British empiricism, namely, having turned “ideas” from being essences, into being perceptions. The knowledge we have of the world is a system of ideas; but it is not our psychological life, which is only feeling diversified. It is the function of parts of that life, in its vital alertness, to be the signs of existent objects and of their virtual character in terms of our own possible experience. We live in imagination, which we regard, often virtually with sufficient justification, as knowledge. But it is all theoretical, poetical, vaguely and floatingly sensuous; and it is science, as you say, that refines and consolidates it into literal exact abstract knowledge of the “skeleton” of dynamic-nature.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Seven, 1941–1947.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006.
Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY.

To Charles Augustus Strong
Hotel Royal Haussmann
Paris. June 13, 1930

Dear Strong

I arrived here last night and hope to see you soon. My nephew George Sturgis came for two days to Avila, just before I left, and we made a part of the return journey together. He is at the Hôtel Foyot, and leaves for Cherbourg & New York in the middle of next week. I should be very much pleased if you could come to lunch with us (perhaps at the Foyot itself) or else let us come to see you at Versailles (he has a big motor), as I should like him to know you, and also Cory (is Cory here?), not that he is an intellectual, but because he is my nearest active relation. You know the good-natured business American: he is very American and very good natured.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928–1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY.

To Susan Sturgis de Sastre
The Cunard Steamship Company Limited
At sea. June 12, 1910

R.M.S. “Lusitania”.

Although I don’t expect to land for thirty-six hours, I take this opportunity to write a line, which will let you know that I have reached this side of the Atlantic. It has been a voyage remarkable for good weather and good food, and for a dreadful collection of passengers. The very nouveaux riches—the Chicago stock-brokers and dry-goods millionaires,—have “caught on” to these vessels, so that all the horrors of New America (it is not the America you knew) are here in full force.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910–1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Alderman Library, University of Virginia at Charlottesville.

To Cyril Coniston Clemens
Hotel Bristol,
Rome. June 11, 1937

Dear Clemens,

The quotation about a world that lets us laugh at it may be mine: I don’t remember where it is, but I am willing in any case to subscribe to the sentiment.

As to the medal and other honours, thank you for your flattering intention, but my one desire is to escape unobserved, as far as my old person is concerned. If people will crown my ideas in their own minds, that is a sufficient bond.

Yours sincerely

G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937–1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham NC.