Cover ArtJPEG_Essential Santayana_MSAm1371_6To William Cameron Forbes
Delta Phi Club.
Cambridge, Massachusetts. December 9, 1893.

Dear Cam

Next Saturday, December 16, is my thirtieth birthday, and I wish all my friends to come and console me at a beer night here at ten o’clock. If you have no more attractive engagement, won’t you come early and dine with me at half past six at the Colonial Club? I have been hoping to see you before this, but have been rather ill and full of engagements. I depend upon your coming, if not to dinner, at least afterwards, since nothing keeps up after twelve on Saturday night— Yours as ever

G Santayana

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.


st-thomasacquinasTo John Middleton Murry
Hotel Bristol
Rome. December 8, 1927

You are easily victorious in your article “Concerning Intelligence” in The New Criterion; at least a person who said long ago that religion is poetry can’t help thinking so. But it seems to me that you aren’t just to St. Thomas. Words had a precise meaning in his mind; “faith” excludes “reason” because it is a name for the supplement, beyond proof, in which our sensations are bathed: Praestet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui. 

Moreover, the whole world to him was like a children’s theatre, that could be delightfully pulled to pieces and put together again, not with a loss of illusion, but with a masterful knowledge of why and how the illusion came about, and was intended. The earthly and the heavenly, the rational and the miraculous made one tapestry: the distinctions were not arid, because they were internal to the work of God, and friendly.

From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Three, 1921-1927. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.
Location of manuscript: Collection of Richard A. Macksey, Baltimore MD.


scribners1930To Charles Scribner
Hotel Danieli,
Venice. December 7, 1939

Dear Mr. Scribner

I have never seen Mr. Buchler or Mr. Schartz and know them only as the very diligent and accurate compilers of Obiter Scripta and of the Bibliography attached. I supposed them to be poor young students and naturally wished to do what I could to help them. The phrase Obiter Scripta was used by me in the letter I wrote them when they sent me the MS of their proposed book, but it was itself an obiter scriptum and the idea of taking it for the title was their own.

Before Mr. Wheelock had written to me about the suit they were bringing against you, one of them had written to me on the subject, not making any complaint against me, but alleging that you had, in your contract with them, promised not to reproduce the matter in their collection. I replied that whatever might be the legal state of the case it seemed to me farfetched to object to the reproduction of papers that they themselves had merely reproduced, with a trifling note or two, and some omissions. If it had been a question of reproducing their Bibliography, which must have cost much labour, it would have been another matter. It had never occurred to me, in welcoming their collection, that I was debarred by it from using those essays again. Can a composition be copyrighed that has already been published without copyright? You say you think there was no fault on the part of either of us. I certainly think there was no fault on my part, and Buchler and Schwartz have not, to my knowledge, made any complaint against me or shown any ingratitude. They do, however, make a further complaint against you which, however groundless or explicable it may be, might have a marked effect on a jury; and perhaps it was this complaint that led your counsel to fear considerable damages. Now, if I understand the purport of your letter, which is not very clear to me, in order to avoid this danger of damages, you have agreed to settle the matter by paying them $69000 and suggest that this sum should be deducted from the royalties of about $1,60000 that I was to receive this month. I confess that this suggestion surprises me, and since you say that you will be governed by what I think proper, I will say frankly that I do not think it proper that I should be charged with any amount whatever in consequence of this litigation, in which I already feel that I have been a victim rather than an offender.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Six, 1937-1940.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Libraries, Princeton NY.


To Mary Williams Winslow
C/o Brown Shipley & Co.
123 Pall Mall, London.
Florence, Italy. December 6, 1912

My chief trouble has been the bronchitis, of which I had an attack in Madrid in April, and another in Paris during the summer—a very cold rainy summer it was—which lasted so long that I gave up going to England for the autumn and went to Naples to sun myself instead. I got well at once; but in Rome last month the cough came on again, and although I am free from it now, I begin to feel that it is necessary to think of it as a chronic affair, and to choose my winter habitat accordingly. It will make Madrid or Ávila impossible; and I don’t mean to go back there until the middle or end of March. From here I shall go to the Riviera and to Andalusia, and then join my sisters and the excellent Mercedes for a season, before returning “home” to Paris. There, at Strong’s, 9 avenue de l’Observatoire, I am delightfully established, with the books I have retained; we have a very nice apartment, a sunny large study, a dining-room and a nice room for each of us, including one—always empty—for Strong’s daughter Margaret. Francoise the bonne, gives us such meals as we wish to have at home, and she is an excellent cook; but I try to entice Strong to the boulevard and its restaurants, so as to vary the scene a little, and be entertained by the cinematograph of real life, and sometimes by the other cinematograph also; and when I am alone (Strong left me in July to go to America, so that his daughter might visit her grandparents during her long vacation: she is at school in England) I take both lunch and dinner out, enjoying that daily episode, even if the scene is not more gorgeous or novel than an établissement Duval in the boulevard Saint Michel. The only trouble with the situation in Paris is that the avenue de l’Observatoire is far from central, and that even the bus and the underground are not very convenient, and to get a cab it is necessary to send Francoise out in the rain, or else to go wading oneself until one can be found at some street-corner. Otherwise, the apartment is ideal, and so long as Strong keeps it, it will be my head-quarters. If he gives it up, when his villa in Fiesole is finished, I shall doubtless take a small apartment for myself in some more central place. Paris is, I am convinced, the point of stable equilibrium for my pendulum.

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.


death-of-socrates-ABTo Horace Meyer Kallen
60 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA. December 5, 1903

I see it has taken me more than a month to answer your letter, which I was really very glad to get. What you tell me is amusing, and makes me think that perhaps you are inwardly enjoying the horrors of Princeton. Of course Princeton is very far away—but we may ask, as the Westerner said on a similar occasion “Far away from where?”—and of course it is intensely provincial, as I hear President Harper of the University of Chicago says New York and the whole East is, and notably Boston. Why isn’t it very nice to have class spirit and respect for professors? And why isn’t it interesting to see puritanism and industrialism trying to express themselves in one philosophy? You shouldn’t mind the ugly symbols in which these things are expressed; now-a-days we have no taste in symbols. We have to ignore them as we should the style of a telegram or the drawl of a preacher, and try to attend only to the thing signified, the force embodied. Doesn’t Princeton embody a force? Isn’t it a better place than Harvard, for instance, in which to study America? And America is something worth a lot of trouble to understand. If I thought I could quite succeed, I think I could be brought to sit for half an hour in President Wilson’s pink parlor, and to breathe a pretty strong scent of religiosity even for a whole year. You remember what Socrates said to his son about Xanthippe’s bad temper? “If people used equally bad language at one another on the stage, would that disturb you? Then why should bad language, uttered without malice, disturb you in the real world?” The religious people merely use a bad language; what they mean, if they only knew what it was, would be all right.

James has sent me two of his new articles from the Columbia Journal. The one (or more) in Mind I have not yet seen. Dickinson writes to me from Cambridge. “I love W. James as a man. But what a singularly bad thinker he is!” James’ new statements do not seem to me to be bad insight, whatever may be thought of the logic of them. They point to materialism, which I believe may be destined before long to have a great rehabilitation. The material world is a fiction; but every other world is a nightmare.

I am enjoying myself hugely and reading a good deal more than usual. Friends of mine turn up at regular intervals, and the sun shines, and humanity smiles about me almost without hypocrisy. I feel at home.

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book One, [1868]-1909.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.
Location of manuscript: American Jewish Archives, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati OH.