To Llewelyn Powys
C/o Brown Shipley & Co.
123, Pall Mall, London, S.W.1
Glion-sur-Montreux, Switzerland. September 13, 1936
You have written the history of the cosmos in 120 pages, and naturally there has not been room to put in everything. As you know, I am in hearty agreement with your naturalism and with your affection for Epicurus. You are tender to “country-matters”, in every sense of these words; that is so much to the good; but perhaps it throws the intellectual and political sides of the life of reason too much into the shade. What you seem to leave out is expressed in one phrase by that free lance, Mr. De Casseres, in a booklet which, since it is dedicated to you, I suppose you must have seen. He says: (p. 49) “Repulsion, hatred, opposition—Room for me, or thou diest”—are the conditions of individuality! And I think that in history the power of words and doctrines is nothing to the power of circumstances and of biological impulses. For instance, in all ages some people have seen the fabulous character of religion: Giordano Bruno,
Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Bacon, not to speak of Montaigne and Rabelais, saw it, whereas Luther and Calvin were stone-blind: but society was not ready for light, and wanted to satisfy its national and economic ambitions under the cloak of superstition, suitably modified. At least, that is my diagnosis.
From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Five, 1933-1936. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven CT.