Representative Men (1850)
[Notes from the Centenary Edition of Emerson's Complete Works, edited by his son, Edward Waldo Emerson.]
* Jacob Behmen, or Boehme, a Silesian of humble birth in the sixteenth century, a mystic whose writings later attracted much attention. Mr. Emerson was early interested in his works and often mentions them.
*(6) The constant security of Mr Emerson's belief in Evolution in its highest sense appears hear as elsewhere in his prose and verse, and also his belief in the genius of mankind, which is another word for Universal Mind.
*(15) What Mr. Emerson says here of Plato, and also earlier, "He cannot forgive in himself a partiality, but is resolved that the two poles of thought shall appear in his statement," cannot but recall his own method of presenting in turn different facets of the gem of truth. Churchman and Agnostic can easily find good weapons for argument in his works. Dr. Holmes says of this passage, "Some will smile at hearing him say this of another." It illustrates the felicity of the Doctor's remark that Emerson holds up the mirror to his characters at just such an angle that we see his own face as well as that of his hero.
*(21) Swammerdam... Boerhaave: Swammerdam, a brilliant Dutch naturalist of the 17th century, was especially noted for his minute studies of the viscera and system of injection of vessels. Leuwenhoek, his countryman and contemporary, made notable discoveries with regard to capillary circulation and the blood corpuscles of man and animals... Winslow was a Dane, but worked in Paris, and wrote on purely descriptive anatomy. Eustachius of Salerno was a brilliant investigator of human structure, especially of the ear and viscera, though less reputed that the great Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius, who was persecuted for daring to teach the real facts of human anatomy in face of the mistaken authority of Galen. Heister was also an anatomist. Herman Boerhaave (1688-1738), born in Holland and educated at the University of Leyden... He studied philosophy and medicine and became a distinguished practitioner and writer mainly on medical subjects.
*(28) The Proteus: Mr. Emerson recognized Nature's secret of Identity through all fugitive forms in the fable of the sea-god Proteus, who, when caught sleeping by a mortal, took shapes of beasts, of serpents, of fire, to disconcert his captor, yet, if held fast in spite of all, must answer his questions.
*(29) San Carlo: the valued friend here alluded to, Mr. Charles K. Newcomb, was of a sensitive and beautiful character, a mystic, but with the Hamlet temperament to such an extent that he was paralyzed for all action by the tenderness of his conscience and the power with which all sides of a question presented themselves to him in turn. He was a member of the Brooks Farm Community, a welcome but rare visitor at Mr. Emerson's house, and when he came he brought his writings, which interested his host greatly. I think they never came to publication, except a few papers in the Dial. His sense of duty sent him to the war for the Union in the ranks. He remained a bachelor all his life and in his last years lived much abroad.
*(30) The dates of Lydgate and Caxton show a mistake as to Emerson's use of them. Caxton, following Chaucer, when he introduced the printing press to England, printed his poems and those of Lydgate, who was younger than Chaucer.