mouseTo Mary Whitall Smith Berenson
22 Beaumont St. Oxford
Oxford, England. Saturday, [September or October 1918]

Last night a mouse got into my bed, in which I have an ascetic preference for remaining alone, and it crossed my mind that perhaps the time was coming for a change of quarters: but I am somehow so anchored here, that it will take at least a second attack on the part of this rodent to part my cables.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Villa I Tatti, Settignano, Italy.


machiavellli_uffiziTo 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.


George_SantayanaTo Charles Augustus Strong
Bertolini’s Palace.
Naples, Italy. September 12, 1912

Some other day I may answer the part of your letter about psychology: today I am hardly in the mood. You are quite right in saying that we disagree about the existence of unfelt feeling. I am not sure, however, that an unfelt feeling is a fact and not a word. I agree that there is something in an animal before he is aware of it—a very great deal, in fact. This is what I meant by the fact on which we agreed and the words about which we disagreed.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY.


To Charles Augustus Strong
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. September 11, 1924

How classical you have become! No wonder, with your residence in Italy and your Latin reading. But aren’t you going rather far in condemning flying buttresses? No doubt the motive was only economy—economy in carrying out an extravagant plan; and you may condemn this as not worthy of Aristotle’s magnanimous man. But I have always believed that the frankness of exhibiting such a device, and using it decoratively, had been rewarded by the effect. Sometimes the light and shade play wonderfully among those buttresses, and the labyrinthine effect is in itself poetical. As to thin columns, I agree: I have never liked them. When people speak of “lightness” and “clarity of design” in Gothic churches, I feel that they are picking out the faults: the true beauties are loftiness, intricacy, mystery, and tenderness of detail, so that one lovely nook after another is found nestling in the vast ill-defined whole. “Clarity” should go not with “lightness” but with elegance and modesty on the human scale.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Three, 1921-1927.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.
Location of manuscript: Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow NY.


414GaK3MOML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_To Benjamin Apthorp Gould Fuller
22 Beaumont St. Oxford
Sunninghill, Berkshire, England. September 10, 1918.

It is a real pleasure to hear from you. I knew that you were in France officiating in some useful capacity, but had no definite address. Some six months ago I sent a pamphlet to you at Sherborn but I daresay it never reached you. The Harvard world seems far away and not very enticing: Heraclitus was right, I think, in believing that Dike presides over the lapse of things, and that when they pass away, it is high time they should do so. If you go round the world after the war, I hope it will not be at a hurried or an even pace, and that you will spend three quarters of the time of your journey in the places which after all are most interesting and where there is most (for us, at least) to discover—in western Europe. Then I shall hope to come across your path and perhaps even to make some excursion in your good company: this long confinement in England; though pleasant in itself, is beginning to grow oppressive, and I often think with envy of those in Paris or beyond. At the same time, I hate to face suspicious officials, and any unusual difficulties and complications in the machinery of travel; so I have remained in my Oxford headquarters now for three years, and expect not to abandon them until the war ends.

. . . My good friend Strong has had a bad time—laid up with a paralysis of the legs—and is still hardly able to walk. The attack fortunately came on when he was at Val Mont above the lake of Geneva, a place he likes and where the doctors inspire him with confidence. He hopes soon to return to Fiesole: meantime I have been separated from him and have missed him, for in his quiet dull way he is the best of friends and the soundest of philosophers—good ballast for my cockleshell. . . . I am . . . deep in a book to be called Dominations & Powers,–a sort of psychology of politics and attempt to explain how it happens that governments and religions, with so little to recommend them, secure such a measure of popular allegiance. Of course, behind all this, is the shadow of the Realms of Being, still (I am sorry to say) rather nebulous, although the cloud of manuscript is already ponderous and charged with some electricity in the potential state. I don’t know if any lightning or thunder will ever reach mortals from it.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Two, 1910-1920.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.