To Daniel MacGhie Cory
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
Rome. March 14, 1945

Dear Cory: I see by your letter of Jan. 29th, that you have been officially debasing my pure and legitimate English to conform with the vernacular. The substitution of on for in has been going on for ages, and no doubt is bound to go on further. We all say “on earth”, but King James’ Bible says “in earth;” and the immense difference appears more clearly in a line of Cary’s Dante: “I was a virgin sister in the earth.” That is lovely: a good translation of Io fui nel mondo vergine sorella. Imagine what a come-down if he had said “on earth”! As to passengers in ships, the Prayer Book prays only for them, not for those on ships: and I confess that, though we say “on board” and “on deck”, when I am in my cabin with perhaps three decks over my head, it seems absurd to say I am on the ship and not in her. But in (why not on?) America I suppose they would say that Jonah was three days and three nights on his whale and not in her; and she might confirm that view by complaining that he had got on her stomach.

I regard this edition of Persons & Places as a mutilated victim of war, and dream of a standard edition, which probably I shall never see, in which the original words, the omitted passages, and the marginal comments (not headings, as in the Triton edition) shall be restored and the portraits and other illustrations shall be well reproduced.

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 Justus Buchler and Benjamin P. Schwartz
Hotel Danieli,
Venice. March 13, 1940

The winter here, as elsewhere, has been extraordinarily severe: six snow-storms, continual fog, and occasional biting winds from Finnland. Now that peace seems to be returning at least there, we may hope for more balmy weather.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Brooklyn College Library, Brooklyn NY.

To Nancy Saunders Toy
Rome. March 12, 1932

I have just read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, on top of Benda’s disparaging view of all worlds, old and new. There seems to be a general change of tone, among the modern school, from the optimism of our time. It is not our old pessimism, either, but a sort of horror of mechanism, which I don’t feel, perhaps because I have always believed that the universe is mechanical, and that nevertheless the spirit can be, I won’t say at home in it, but supported by it.

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 Charles Augustus Strong
Hotel Bristol,
Rome. March 11, 1931

Dear Strong

It happens that Lord Russell and I had been exchanging letters during the last fortnight before his death, and this renewal of friendliness at the end softens very much for me the close of an enormously important chapter in my life. On Feb. 14 he wrote: “All that is the real part of me and my very extensive external activities are to me of the nature of Maya, or an illusion. They interest me, they are my —life job, and I do them, but they are not a part of my real life.”

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 Mary Whitall Smith Berenson
Hotel Bristol,
Rome. March 10, 1930

Dear Mrs Berenson

What! Do you propose that I should make a visit? It is a delusion of your excessive kindness to imagine that I might still be fit for such things. I am not; because although well enough in appearance, and still going strong in the solitude of my insides, I am deaf physically and intellectually, and incapable of society.

I have so long and so completely renounced all society that I don’t dare to go anywhere, and say nothing when I do.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928-1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: Villa I Tatti, Settignano, Italy.