Page 141, note 1. This healthy feeling of Emerson's about the petty or besmirching quality of alleged results of prying behind the great curtain is fully expressed in his early paper on "Demonology" which was posthumously published in Lectures and Biographical Sketches.
It may not be uninteresting to present here the letter received by Mr. Emerson from Mr. Wilkinson, the translator of Swedenborg, acknowledging his gift of Representative Men.
25 CHURCH ROW, HAMPSTEAD [ENGLAND], FEB. 5, 1850.
MY DEAR SIR,—
I have to thank you … for your Representative Men, read with delight a month ago. It is for me full of vistas and views, a regular exhibition of the optics of the soul. You show your men and things by new properties of light, hinting at all kinds of polarizations of these through which we see. … I am especially grateful to your Swedenborg, the Mystic, which to reverse will require some tough work at long arts and sciences. It seems to me, however, that there is yet to be a consideration of some things that you have dismissed. The spiritual world in the old ghostly and mythological sense, is deep in man's heart, and not easily to be shelved. There Page 334 are facts about it which, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must come gravely on the carpet during the experimental ages. In the presence of these, all backs feel cold streams, and all hair stands on end as of yore. … Swedenborg's allegations of his intercourse will, I believe, be found to be a genuine addition to knowledge, in no way created by those curious eyes which saw into another life. But as to any finality in Swedenborg, I give up the point at once, and concede that the spiritual world is not absolute, but fluxional or historical, and will be found changed and changing by each fresh traveller. Still I can by no means disallow it altogether. …
I need not say what I feel at your mention of me in your book. I feel now thoroughly hopeless and divided; there is the little man which is myself, and the Brocken shadow to which people are walking up. They will soon find out the truth, and say that in one instance at least you have too kindly believed in a shadow.
Yours most truly, J. J. G. WILKINSON.
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