To Nancy Saunders Toy
Hotel Bristol
Rome. Nov. 12, 1931

I feel so much the continual death of everything and everybody, and have so learned to reconcile myself to it, that the final and official end loses most of its impressiveness. I have now lost almost everybody that has counted for much in my life. You are almost the sole exception: because Strong, a lifelong if not at all a romantic friend, has developed an attitude towards me which is as unpleasant as it is unexpected. I have become, philosophically and intellectually, his bête noire.¹ Personally we are still good friends: we keep up appearances, and this summer and autumn he has actually followed me to Cortina and to Naples (where I have been for a month) and spent a few days near me at each place. But there is always a tension beneath. He has reverted to strict Puritanism in his moral sentiments, and regards his father (who had a very red nose and married again at 85) as a model of human character. And he has recovered also all his American pride, and feels that it is unseemly and unworthy that I shouldn’t endeavour to think and write like other American professors. My theory of “essence” is anathema to him, although for some years he innocently adopted it: he doesn’t like my last little book on The Genteel Tradition: and as to the novel, of which at his request I showed him the first three chapters, he told Cory that it ought to be burned. Cory has no doubt been the accidental cause of a part of this transformation. Cory at first was my friend only, and helped me with The Realm of Matter. When this was finished I was going to let him go home and look after himself: but Strong said he envied me such a secretary, and asked him to stay and work with him. And quite naturally, I suppose, Strong began to resent the fact that, in our technical divergencies (which have always existed, and not caused any serious trouble) Cory should follow me rather than himself: and he began to work to convert Cory, partly by persistently and overbearingly imposing his own view, and partly by doing all he could to disparage and condemn me. Isn’t it sad? Let me give you a sample of the process. In one page of an essay on Whitehead which Cory has written—he is partly Irish and has warm feelings—he had said that he was a “disciple” of mine, had called The Realm of Matter a “great book”, and had used the term “essence” once. Strong, in reviewing the essay with him, didn’t rest until “disciple” was changed to “person influenced by”, “great book” to “recent work”, and “essence” to “datum”. If you asked Strong how he could be so mean and ungenerous to his oldest and almost his only friend, I think he would say that he felt it his duty to protect Cory from making unfortunate slips which would discredit him as a critic among the professional philosophers: and that nobody would take him seriously if he began by saying that he was simply following me. There may be some truth in this, and I don’t regret at all that Cory should correct his essay as required. But what do you make out of such want of feeling, and such a bitter undercurrent of tyranny? Poor Margaret! I understand now better than ever what she must have suffered. Cory himself is very unhappy about it all: but what is he to do? Strong is supporting him, and has put him in his will.
I hope I am not indiscreet in telling you all this, but it is very much on my mind, and as I said, you are the only true friend left to
G. Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928-1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA

To Carlotta Russell Lowell
King’s College
Cambridge, England. November 11 1896

Many thanks for both your notes. When I got the first I never expected a second, as it is the part of prudence to thank an author for his book before reading it, so as to avoid the necessity of lying about it afterwards. That you should have written both before and after is very gratifying, as it seems to mean that you liked the book better than you expected, and at any rate well enough to say something nice about it when this was no longer necessary. I am delighted that you found most of the book intelligible and interesting, and that you agreed with most of it. That is all I can now say for it myself, as there are already several things I should like to see put otherwise in it.
My life here is very pleasant and interesting, and perhaps a little luxurious. I try to chasten myself, however, with some tough Greek—the Parmenides and Philebus of Plato, which I am reading carefully—and with long walks among the clouds, which in this country come down to the surface of the land and especially of the water. The afternoons are very lovely, and the river with its many boats, blazers, bicycles, and coaches on horseback is a gay and pretty sight. My friends at King’s have the flavour of their Port, sweet, mellow, and with lots of body, and it will be hard not to get so fond of them as to miss them when I go. . . .
Haven’t the Russells turned up? I should have been glad to have you meet, they are such nice people. He is mathematical and she humanitarian, but both are human at the same time.

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

To Horace Meyer Kallen
C/o Brown Shipley & Co.
123 Pall Mall, London
Cambridge, England. November 10, 1913

I should sympathize heartily with such revolutionary yearnings if it was only a question of destroying the snug and limping conventions under which we live. But I dread what might be substituted for them. One of the fatalities of my life has always been that the people with whom I agree frighten me, and I frighten those with whom I naturally sympathize. No: that isn’t it exactly, because I don’t sympathize with the old fogueys as they now are, nor with any stale convention; but I love the sentiment and impulse out of which these now stale conventions once arose, far better than the impulse and sentiment out of which springs the rebellion against them. Life, yes, but not this life. My eye has just fallen, by chance, on an article by the Infanta Eulalia of Spain about her childhood. It is full of hatred of Spain of Catholicism and of virtue, and slips into positive lies: it is a horrible expression of impiety, in every sense of that word. Well, the things the Infanta hates are, I agree, tyrannical conventions, and a straight-jacket for sanity—not to speak of the eroticism from which the lady evidently suffers. But imagine the treble horror of the tyrannical conventions which an inhuman impiety and low-mindedness, such as hers and that of her free-thinking circle is, would impose on mankind! I should rather have the Inquisition back again. I have also just finished a book, interesting to one of my generation, on the “Eighteen Nineties” by one Holbrook Jackson. It brings to a focus the rebellious, conceited, pessimistic aestheticism that was fashionable in my youth; I can see now that I was not unaffected by it, although the elements which these aesthetes added when, at the end, they were converted (most of them died Catholics) was always present in my background, and besides I was not clever enough to be nothing else. It is very interesting to compare with that spirit of the Eighteen Nineties that of the ‘Teens of the new century. It is a very different spirit—the Infanta Eulalia, thank Heaven, is an old woman now—and in Paris especially one feels it in every wind. It is unintellectual, virtuous, athletic, patriotic, cooperative; it accepts conventions with respect but without illusion, and it takes pains to find means to its ends, without giving to these ends a universal or exaggerated value. I like it. It is the spirit of an honest, modest, vigourous young artisan.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: American Jewish Archives, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati OH

To Robert Silliman Hillyer
C/o Brown Shipley & Co.
123 Pall Mall, London, S.W.1
Fiesole, Italy. November 9, 1923

My dear Mr Hillyer
That anyone should resent a change in one of my sonnets is in itself such exquisite flattery that I can’t resist telling you why that change was made. “Garden rear” has a ridiculous familiar sense—and only one—to an English mind, and as my new collection was made for the English edition (Scribner’s is only a reprint) it was imperative to avoid such a snag. Certainly the original, if the double entendre is not suggested, was better.  Nor is this the only case where I have been forced to make unwelcome changes in order to avoid comic effects.
Yours very truly,
G Santayana

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

To Richard Colton Lyon
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome, November 8, 1949

The most interesting thing in your letter is what you say about love, which seems singularly mature for your age. But I think, in regard to marriage, that what you say does not preclude true love or true happiness in that relation. Love, in English, is a very wide term. What poets and philosophers, at least of the classic school, talk about is the passion of love, the madness, divine madness, of Plato. But attraction, confidence, mutual delight, and complete devotion to a chosen mate is not madness at all: it is a phase, a settlement, of the sane affections of one human being to another, where all sane possible bonds, physical, domestic, social, intellectual, and religious bind the two together for life—common material interests and children being strong material buttresses to such a complete union in after years. More than once, at friends’ houses in England or in hotels, I have found myself divided only by a frail closed door from the bed in which an elderly pair were exchanging confidential judgments and ideas; and I have been impressed by the perfection of friendship and sympathy in such a union. The only advantage—for me important—that the ideal friendship has over such a happy wedlock is liberty. Friends need not agree in everything or go always together, or have no comparable other friendship of the same intimacy. On the contrary, in friendship union is more about ideal things: and in that sense it is more ideal and less subject to trouble than marriage is. But I am not a lover of life; I prefer it at a distance, or in the distances pictured in it. When it is actually tumbling over itself I feel that it is spoiling its own treasures.
I too, by chance, have been just rereading the whole of Byron’s Don Juan. Some parts bored me, the invectives especially; but as you say, he is witty and his rhymes sometimes surprisingly clever. But he did not respect himself or his art as much as they deserved.

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