Post Incunabula Heinrich Seuse Horologium ÆternÆ SapientiÆ Cologne 1501 J Landen For Sale

[Postincunables] [The.Sacraments] [Religious Mysticism and Meditations] [History of Printing] [Dominican Spirituality] Suso, Henricus [i.e. Heinrich Seuse; Henry Suso]; Horologium Æternae Sapientiae; Köln; 1501; Johann Landen; Octavo; 4¼ inches by 5½ inches - 10.5 cm by 14 cm; 128 (of 128) leaves, collated and complete; Third Edition.

In Good Antiquarian condition in sixteenth century limp vellum, titled in manuscript on a later vellum label laid down to the front wrap; paste-downs from a very late fourteenth or very early fifteenth century Gradual on vellum; 31 lines, in single columns, in Latin, in Landen's Gothica Antiqua faces; capital spaces without printed guide letters, rubricated throughout contemporarily in red and blue; salutatory puzzle initial divided in red and blue in each of the four sections (one zoomorphic); woodcut title leaf, depicting (recto and verso, the latter with the halos touched faintly in yellow) The Virgin Mary, Mary Salome, and the infant Jesus, with the woodcut repeated at the verso of Folio 128; vellum endleaves from a late fourteenth century antiphonal, Vellum a trifle darkened and a bit rippled, but generally very fresh and clean throughout; an exemplary copy of the very rare Third Edition.

Citations:

VD-16 [Verzeichnis der Drucke 16º Jahrhundert']: S-6103.

Not in Adams.

Suso's Book Of Eternal Wisdom was written while he was still a student at Cologne, and it was not widely lauded, perhaps because of its ties to Meister Eckhart, Prior of Erfurt and Vicar of Thuringia, who was censured on 27 March 1329 by Pope John XXII, under pressure from the Archbishop of Cologne, in the Papal Bull, In Agro Dominico. Suso's writings, however, while they embraced certain of his master's teachings, were cautiously stripped of his teacher's perceived heresies, and in fact initially were directed against the pantheistic teachings of the Beghards, and against the libertine teachings of the Brethren of the Free Spirit. In 1328, Suso issued Das Büchlein der ewigen Weisheit - the initial German edition of what would later become the Horologium Æternæ Sapiente, which he directs to, "simple men who still have imperfections to be put off." It was called by Henry Denifle, "the most difficult, and most beautiful of Mystical texts," and Karl Bihlmeyer agreed, calling it, "the most beautiful fruit of the writings of the German Mystics," and placed it alongside the Homilies of St. Bernard, and the Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. In the second half of the fourteenth and in the early decades of the fifteenth century there was no more widely read meditation book in the German language. In the mid-1330s, Suso translated his work into Latin, in the incarnation seen here in the Köln edition of Johann Landen, and the Clockwork of Eternal Wisdom quickly became the most widely read book within the cloisters at the close of the Middle Ages, not only in Germany, but also in the Netherlands, France, Italy, and England. With its publication, Suso became the second author to refer metaphorically to the mechanical clock (Dante Alighieri in the Divina Commedia (1320) being the first. Four years later, Berthold of Freiburg would adopt the clockwork metaphor for his twenty-four hours of Prayers and meditations on the Life of Christ, in his Horologium Devotionis Circa Vitam Christi.

Henry Suso (also called Amandus, a name adopted in his writings, and Heinrich Seuse in German) was a German mystic, born at Überlingen on Lake Constance on 21 March, 1300; he died at Ulm on 25 January 1366; declared Blessed in 1831 by Gregory XVI, who assigned his feast in the Dominican Order to 2 March. The Dominicans now celebrate his feast on 23 January, the feria, or "free" day, nearest the day of his death.

Suso and his friend Johannes Tauler were students of Meister Eckhart. The three form the nucleus of the Rhineland school of mysticism. As a lyric poet and troubadour of divine wisdom, Suso explored with psychological intensity the spiritual truths of Eckhart’s mystical philosophy. His devotional works were extremely popular in the later Middle Ages.

He assumed the name of his mother, his father being a Herr von Berg. In Das Büchlein der ewigen Weisheit (The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom), written between 1327 and 1334 in Constance, he discusses the practical aspects of mysticism. The latter work, which Suso also translated into Latin under the title of Horologium sapientiae (Clock of Wisdom), has been called the finest fruit of German mysticism.

Suso is the poet of the early mystic movement, "the Minnesinger of Gottesminne." But his faith is purely medieval in tone, inspired by the romanticism of the age of chivalry; the individualism, the philosophic insight and the anti-clerical tendencies which made the mystic movement in its later manifestations so important a forerunner of the Reformation are absent in Suso. In 1829, Cardinal Melchior Diepenbrock translated the work for modern audiences (Chapter One):

"Her have I loved, and have sought her out from my youth, and have desired to take her for my spouse, and I became a lover of her beauty. These words stand written in the Book of Wisdom22 viii.2 and are spoken by the beautiful and all-loving Wisdom.

A Servant was filled with disgust and dejection of heart on his first setting forth on the uneven ways. Then did the Eternal Wisdom meet him in a spiritual and ineffable form, and lead him through bitter and sweet until she brought him to the right path of divine truth. And after well reflecting on his wonderful progress, he thus spoke to God: Sweet and tender Lord! from the days of my childhood my mind has sought for something with burning thirst, but what it is I have not as yet fully understood. Lord, I have pursued it ardently many a year, but I never could grasp it, for I know not what it is, and yet it is something that attracts my heart and soul, without which I never can attain true rest. Lord, I sought it in the first days of my childhood, as I saw done around me, in creatures, but the more I sought it in them the less I found it, and the nearer I approached them the further I receded from it, for every image that presented itself to my sight, before I wholly tried it, or gave myself up quietly to it, warned me away thus: “I am not what thou seekest!” And this repulsion I have experienced more and more in all things. Lord, now my heart rages after it, for my heart would so gladly possess it. Alas! I have so constantly had to experience what it is not! But what it is, Lord, I am not as yet clear. Tell me, beloved Lord, what it is indeed, and what is its nature, that so secretly agitates me.

Answer of Eternal Wisdom.—Dost thou not know it? And yet it has lovingly embraced thee, has often stopped thee in the way, until it has at length won thee for itself alone.

The Servant.—Lord, I never saw it; never heard of it: I know not what it is.

Eternal Wisdom.—This is not surprising, for its strangeness and thy familiarity with creatures were the cause. But now open thy interior eyes and see who I am. It is I, the Eternal Wisdom, who, with the embrace of My eternal providence, have chosen thee in eternity for Myself alone. I have barred the way to thee as often as thou would'st have parted company with Me, had I permitted thee. In all things thou didst ever meet with some obstacle and it is the sweet sign of My elect that I will needs have them for Myself.

The Servant.—Tender loving Wisdom! And is it Thou I have so long been seeking for? Is it Thou my spirit has so constantly struggled for? Alas, my God, why didst Thou not show Thyself to me long ago? Why hast Thou delayed so long? How many a weary way have I not wandered!

Eternal Wisdom.—Had I done so thou would'st not have known My goodness so sensibly as now thou knowest it.

The Servant.—O unfathomable goodness! how very sweetly hast Thou not manifested Thyself to me! When I was not, Thou gavest me being. When I had separated from Thee, Thou did'st not separate from me; when I wished to escape from Thee, Thou did'st hold me sweetly captive. Yes, Thou Eternal Wisdom, if my heart might embrace Thee and consume all my days with Thee in love and praise, such would be its desire; for truly that man is blest whom Thou dost anticipate so lovingly that Thou lettest him have nowhere true rest, till he seeks his rest in Thee alone. O Wisdom Elect! since in Thee I have found Him whom my soul loveth, despise not Thy poor creature. See how dumb my heart is to all the world in joy and sorrow. Lord, is my heart always to be dumb towards Thee? O give my wretched soul leave, my dearest Lord, to speak a word with Thee, for my heart is too full to contain itself any longer; neither has it anyone in all this world to whom it can unburden itself, except to Thee, my elected Lord, Father, and Brother. Lord, Thou alone knowest the nature of a love-overflowing heart, and knowest that no one can love what he cannot in any way know. Therefore, since I am now to love Thee alone, give me to know Thee entirely, so that I may be also able to love Thee entirely.

Eternal Wisdom.—The highest emanation of all beings, taken in their natural order, is through the noblest beings to the lowest, but their refluence to their origin is through the lowest to the highest. Therefore, if thou art wishful to behold Me in My uncreated Divinity thou must learn how to know and love Me here in My suffering humanity for this is the speediest way to eternal salvation.

The Servant.—Then let me remind Thee to-day, Lord, of Thy unfathomable love, when Thou did'st incline Thyself from Thy lofty throne, from the royal seat of the fatherly heart, in misery and disgrace for three-and-thirty years, and did'st show the love which Thou hast for me and all mankind, principally in the most bitter passion of Thy cruel death: Lord, be Thou reminded of this, that Thou mayest manifest Thyself spiritually to my soul, in that most sweet and lovely form to which Thy immeasurable love did bring Thee.

Eternal Wisdom.—The more mangled, the more deathly I am for love, the more lovely am I to a well-regulated mind. My unfathomable love shows itself in the great bitterness of My passion, like the sun in its brightness, like the fair rose in its perfume, like the strong fire in its glowing heat. Therefore, hear with devotion how cruelly I suffered for thee."

Offered here, a genuinely beautiful example of what is certainly the most important of all Christian Mystical texts, in a rather plain binding, but beautifully printed and well-rubricated within.


Post Incunabula Heinrich Seuse Horologium ÆternÆ SapientiÆ Cologne 1501 J Landen

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