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About this text

  • Title: Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (Modern)
  • Textual editor: Christopher Matusiak
  • Performance editor: Peter Cockett
  • General editor: Helen Ostovich
  • Coordinating editor: Janelle Jenstad

  • Copyright Queen's Men Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Robert Greene
    Editor (Text): Christopher Matusiak
    Editor (Performance): Peter Cockett
    Peer Reviewed

    Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (Modern)

    1[Scene 1] [Video Sc.1]
    Enter [Prince Edward], malcontented, with Lacy, earl of Lincoln, John Warren, earl of Sussex, and Ermsby, gentleman, [and] Rafe Simnell, the king's fool.
    5Why looks my lord like to a troubled sky
    When heaven's bright shine is shadowed with a fog?
    Alate we ran the deer and through the launds
    Stripped with our nags the lofty frolic bucks
    That scudded 'fore the teisers like the wind.
    10Ne'er was the deer of merry Fressingfield
    So lustily pulled down by jolly mates,
    Nor shared the farmers such fat venison,
    So frankly dealt this hundred years before;
    Nor have I seen my lord more frolic in the chase,
    15And now changed to a melancholy dump.
    After the prince got to the Keeper's lodge
    And had been jocund in the house awhile,
    Tossing of ale and milk in country cans,
    Whether it was the country's sweet content,
    20Or else the bonny damsel filled us drink
    That seemed so stately in her stammel red,
    Or that a qualm did cross his stomach then,
    But straight he fell into his passions.
    Sirrah Rafe, what say you to your master?
    25Shall he thus all amort live malcontent?
    Hearest thou, Ned?-- Nay, look if he will speak to me.
    What say'st thou to me, fool?
    I prithee tell me, Ned, art thou in love with the 30Keeper's daughter?
    How if I be, what then?
    Why then, sirrah, I'll teach thee how to deceive love.
    How, Rafe?
    Marry, sirrah Ned, thou shalt put on my cap and 35my coat and my dagger, and I will put on thy clothes and thy sword, and so thou shalt be my fool.
    And what of this?
    Why so thou shalt beguile Love, for Love is such a proud scab that he will never meddle with fools nor children. Is 40not Rafe's counsel good, Ned?
    Tell me, Ned Lacy, didst thou mark the maid,
    How lively in her country weeds she looked?
    A bonnier wench all Suffolk cannot yield.
    All Suffolk? Nay, all England holds none such.
    Sirrah Will Ermsby, Ned is deceived.
    Why, Rafe?
    He says all England hath no such, and I say, and I'll stand to it, there is one better in Warwickshire.
    How provest thou that, Rafe?
    Why, is not the Abbot a learnéd man and hath read many books, and thinkest thou he hath not more learning than thou to choose a bonny wench? Yes, I warrant thee, by his whole grammar.
    A good reason, Rafe.
    I tell thee, Lacy, that her sparkling eyes
    Do lighten forth sweet love's alluring fire,
    And in her tresses she doth fold the looks
    Of such as gaze upon her golden hair;
    Her bashful white mixed with the morning's red
    60Luna doth boast upon her lovely cheeks;
    Her front is beauty's table, where she paints
    The glories of her gorgeous excellence;
    Her teeth are shelves of precious margarites,
    Richly enclosed with ruddy coral cleaves.
    65Tush, Lacy, she is beauty's overmatch,
    If thou survey'st her curious imagery.
    I grant, my lord, the damsel is as fair
    As simple Suffolk's homely towns can yield,
    But in the court be quainter dames than she,
    70Whose faces are enriched with honor's taint,
    Whose beauties stand upon the stage of fame,
    And vaunt their trophies in the courts of Love.
    Ah, Ned, but hadst thou watched her as myself,
    And seen the secret beauties of the maid,
    75Their courtly coyness were but foolery.
    Why, how watched you her, my lord?
    When as she swept like Venus through the house,
    And in her shape fast folded up my thoughts,
    Into the milk-house went I with the maid,
    80And there amongst the cream bowls she did shine
    As Pallas 'mongst her princely huswifery.
    She turned her smock over her lily arms
    And dived them into milk to run her cheese;
    But whiter than the milk her crystal skin,
    85Checked with lines of azure, made her blush,
    That art or nature durst bring for compare.
    Ermsby, if thou hadst seen, as I did note it well,
    How beauty played the huswife, how this girl
    Like Lucrece laid her fingers to the work,
    90Thou wouldst with Tarquin hazard Rome and all
    To win the lovely maid of Fressingfield.
    Sirrah Ned, wouldst fain have her?
    Ay, Rafe.
    Why, Ned, I have laid the plot in my head. Thou 95shalt have her already.
    I'll give thee a new coat an learn me that.
    Why, sirrah Ned, we'll ride to Oxford to Friar Bacon. Oh, he is a brave scholar, sirrah. They say he is a brave necromancer, that he can make women of devils, and he can juggle cats into 100costermongers.
    And how then, Rafe?
    Marry, sirrah, thou shalt go to him, and because thy father Harry shall not miss thee, he shall turn me into thee; and I'll to the court and I'll prince it out, and he shall make thee 105either a silken purse full of gold or else a fine wrought smock.
    But how shall I have the maid?
    Marry, sirrah, if thou be'st a silken purse full of gold, then on Sundays she'll hang thee by her side, and you must not say a word. Now, sir, when she comes into a great press of people, 110for fear of the cutpurse on a sudden she'll swap thee into her placket; then, sirrah, being there you may plead for yourself.
    Excellent policy!
    But how if I be a wrought smock?
    Then she'll put thee into her chest and lay thee 115into lavender, and upon some good day she'll put thee on, and at night when you go to bed, then being turned from a smock to a man, you may make up the match.
    Wonderfully wisely counseled, Rafe.
    Rafe shall have a new coat.
    God thank you when I have it on my back, Ned.
    Lacy, the fool hath laid a perfect plot
    For why our country Margaret is so coy
    And stands so much upon her honest points
    That marriage or no market with the maid.
    125Ermsby, it must be necromantic spells
    And charms of art that must enchain her love,
    Or else shall Edward never win the girl.
    Therefore, my wags, we'll horse us in the morn,
    And post to Oxford to this jolly friar.
    130Bacon shall by his magic do this deed.
    Content, my lord; and that's a speedy way
    To wean these headstrong puppies from the teat.
    I am unknown, not taken for the prince;
    They only deem us frolic courtiers
    135That revel thus among our liege's game;
    Therefore I have devised a policy.
    Lacy, thou know'st next Friday is Saint James's,
    And then the country flocks to Harleston Fair;
    Then will the Keeper's daughter frolic there,
    140And overshine the troupe of all the maids
    That come to see and to be seen that day.
    Haunt thee, disguised among the country swains;
    Feign thou'rt a farmer's son, not far from thence;
    Espy her loves, and who she liketh best;
    145Cote him, and court her to control the clown.
    Say that the courtier tiréd all in green,
    That helped her handsomely to run her cheese
    And filled her father's lodge with venison,
    Commends him, and sends fairings to herself.
    150Buy something worthy of her parentage,
    Not worth her beauty, for, Lacy, then the fair
    Affords no jewel fitting for the maid.
    And when thou talkest of me, note if she blush;
    Oh, then she loves; but if her cheeks wax pale,
    155Disdain it is. Lacy, send how she fares,
    And spare no time nor cost to win her loves.
    I will, my lord, so execute this charge
    As if that Lacy were in love with her.
    Send letters speedily to Oxford of the news.
    And, sirrah Lacy, buy me a thousand thousand million of fine bells.
    What wilt thou do with them, Rafe?
    Marry, every time that Ned sighs for the Keeper's daughter, I'll tie a bell about him, and so within three or four 165days I will send word to his father, Harry, that his son and my master Ned is become Love's morris dance.
    Well, Lacy, look with care unto thy charge,
    And I will haste to Oxford to the friar,
    That he by art and thou by secret gifts
    170Mayst make me lord of merry Fressingfield.
    God send your honor your heart's desire.