Coleridge, The Friend (1809; 1812 edn.) - remarks on Giordano Bruno.

[Bibliographical note: t.p. - The Friend; series of essays / S. T. Coleridge [here epigram from Claudian] / London: / Printed for Gale and Curtis Paternoster Row / 1812. Copy in Duke UL available at Internet Archive - online. See also extract from the 1863 edition - attached.]

[See page image - as attached.]

Comment: The following quotation from Giordano Bruno, together with the translation and the interpellated remarks in italics, fall on pp.88-89 of the above edition under the heading “Note to page 80”. However, page 80 in that edition is actually the final page of the fifth essay (i.e., No. 5, Thursday 14 September 1809, pp.65-80) whereas the note falls in the body of No. 6. Apparently the footnote was properly placed in the original sheets as reprinted in the 1811 edition.

—Vide James Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusion in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake [1959] (Illinois UP [Arcturus] 1974), p.37: ‘It also seems probable, from various hints in the Wake, that Joyce also consulted Coleridge’s translations of parts of Bruno’s works in The Friend (1809-10, No. VI, pp.81-82).’

The remarks in brackets and italics interpellated by Coleridge in his own translation of Bruno’s paragraph are not given in the version edited by Henry Nelson Coleridge and republished by Derwent Coleridge respectively in 1837 and 1863.


Anima sapiens (says Giordano Bruno, and let the sublime Piety of the Passage excuse some intermixture of Error, or rather let the words, as they well may, be interpreted in a safe sense) Anima sapiens non timet mortem, immo interdum illum ultro appetit, illi ultro occurrit. Manet quippe substantiam omnem pro Duratione Eternitas, pro loco Immensitas, pro Actu Omniformitas. Non levem igitur ac futilem, atqui gravissimam perfectoque homine dignissimam Contemplationis Partem persequimur, ubi divinitatis, naturaeque splendorem, fusionem, et communicationem, non in Cibo, Potu, et ignobiliore quadam materia cum attonitorum secuto perquirimus; sed in augusta Omnipotentis Regia, immmso aetheris spatio, in infinita natures geminae omnis fientis et omnia facientis potentia, unde tot astrorum, mundorum, inquam, et numinum, uni altissimo concinentium atqm saltantium absque numero atque fine juxta propositos ubique fines atque ordines contemplamur. Sic ex visibilium aeterno, immenso et innumerabili effectu sempiterna immensa ilia Majestas atque bonitas intellecta conspicitur, proque sua dignitate innumerabilium Deorum (mundorum dico) adsistentia, concinentia, et gloriae ipsius enarratione, immo ad oculos expressa condone glorificatur. Cui Immenso mensum non quadrabit Domicilium atque Templum - ad cujus Majestatis plentitudinem agnoscendam atque percolendam, numerabilium ministrorum nullus esset ordo. Eis igitur ad omniformis Dei omniformem imaginem conjectamus oculos, vivum et magnum illius admiremur simulacrum! - Hinc miraculum magnum a Trismegisto appellabatur Homo, qui in Deum transeat quasi ipse sit Deus, qui amatur omnia fieri sicut Deus est omnia; ad objectum sine fine, ubique tamen finiendo, contendit, sicut infinitus est Deus, immensus, ubiqus totus.

Translation. A wise Spirit does not fear death, nay, sometimes, (as in - cases of voluntary martyrdom) seeks and goes forth to meet it, of its’ [sic] own accord. For there awaits all actual Beings, for Duration an Eternity, for Place Immensity, for Action Omniformity. We pursue, therefore, a species of Contemplation not light or futile, but the weightiest and most worthy of an accomplished Man, while we examine and seek for the splendor, the interfusion, and communication of the Divinity and of Nature, not in Meats or Drink, or any yet ignobler matter, with the Race of the Thunder-stricken; (i.e. minds stunned and stupified by superstitious fears. BRUNO here alludes, doubtless, to the gross absurdities of Transubstantiation), but in the August palace of the Omnipotent, in the illimitable etherial space, in the infinite power, that creates all things, and is the abiding Being of all things. (I have thought myself allowed thus to render the less cautious expressions of the original, because the very same Latin words are to be found in the writings of Joannes Scotus Erigena, who doubtless a sincere Christian; and equivalent phrases occur in the mystic [88] theology of one at least, if not more, of the early Greek Fathers. It is most uncharitable to accuse a Writer of pantheism for a few overcharged Sentences: especially as the Writer may have thought himself authorized by certain texts of St. John and St. Paul.)
  There we may contemplate the Host of Stars, of Worlds and their guardian Deities (i.e. presiding Angels) numbers without number, each in its’ [sic] appointed sphere, singing together, and dancing in adoration of the One Most High. Thus from the perpetual, immense, and innumerable goings on of the visible World, that sempiternal and absolutely infinite Majesty is intellectually beheld, and is glorified according to his Glory, by the attendance, and choral symphonies, of innumerable gods, who utter forth the glory of their ineffable Creator in the expressive Language of Vision! To HIM illimitable, a limited Temple will not correspond - to the acknowledgment and due worship of the Plenitude of his Majesty there would be no proportion in any numerable Army of Ministrant Spirits. Let us then cast our Eyes upon the omniform Image of the Attributes of the all-creating Supreme, nor admit any representation of his Excellency but the living Universe, which he has created! - Thence was Man entitled by Trismegistus, “the great Miracle,” inasmuch as he has been made capable of entering into Union with God, as if he were himself a divine nature; tries to become all things, even as in God all things are; and in limitless progression of limited States of Being, urges onward to the ultimate Aim, even as God is simultaneously infinite, and every where All!
 I purpose hereafter, to give an account of the Life of Giordano Bruno, the Friend of Sir Philip Sidney, and who was burnt under pretence of Atheism, at Rome, in the year 1600, and of his Works, which are perhaps the scarcest Books ever printed. They are singuularly interesting as portraits of a vigorous mind struggling after truth, amid many prejudices, which from the state of the Roman Church, in which he was born, have a claim to much Indulgence. One of them (entitled Ember Week) is curious for it’s [sic] lively accounts of the rude state of London, at that time, both as to the Streets and the manners of the Citizens. The most industrious Historians of Speculative Philosophy, have not been able to procure more than a few of his Works. Accidentally I have been more fortunate in this respect, than those who have written hitherto on the unhappy Philosopher of Nola: as out of eleven works, the titles of which are preserved to us, I have had an opportunity of perusing six. I was told, when in Germany, that there is a complete collection of them in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. If so, it is unique.

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