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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)

    [Scene 12] [Video Sc.12]
    Enter Friar Bacon with Friar Bungay to his cell.
    1780Friar Bungay
    What means the friar that frolicked it of late
    To sit as melancholy in his cell
    As if he had neither lost nor won today?
    Friar Bacon
    Ah, Bungay, my brazen head is spoiled,
    1785My glory gone, my seven years' study lost.
    The fame of Bacon bruited through the world
    Shall end and perish with this deep disgrace.
    Friar Bungay
    Bacon hath built foundation of his fame
    So surely on the wings of true report,
    1790With acting strange and uncouth miracles,
    As this cannot infringe what he deserves.
    Friar Bacon
    Bungay, sit down, for by prospective skill
    I find this day shall fall out ominous.
    Some deadly act shall 'tide me ere I sleep,
    1795But what and wherein little can I guess.
    Friar Bungay
    My mind is heavy whatsoe'er shall hap.
    Friar Bacon
    Who's that knocks?
    1800Friar Bungay
    [Opening the door.]Two scholars that desire to speak with you.
    Friar Bacon
    Bid them come in. [Enter two Scholars, sons to Lambert and Serlsby.] Now, my youths, what would you have?
    1 Scholar
    Sir, we are Suffolk men and neighboring friends,
    Our fathers in their countries lusty squires.
    Their lands adjoin: in Crackfield mine doth dwell,
    1805And his in Laxfield. We are college mates,
    Sworn brothers, as our fathers live as friends.
    Friar Bacon
    To what end is all this?
    2 Scholar
    Hearing your worship kept within your cell
    A glass prospective wherein men might see
    1810Whatso their thoughts or hearts' desires could wish,
    We come to know how that our fathers fare.
    Friar Bacon
    My glass is free for every honest man.
    Sit down and you shall see ere long
    How or in what state your friendly fathers live.
    1815Meanwhile, tell me your names.
    1 Scholar
    Mine Lambert.
    2 Scholar
    And mine Serlsby.
    Friar Bacon
    Bungay, I smell there will be a tragedy.
    Enter [as in the magic glass] Lambert and Serlsby, with rapiers and daggers.
    Serlsby, thou hast kept thine hour like a man.
    Th'art worthy of the title of a squire
    That durst for proof of thy affection,
    And for thy mistress's favor, prize thy blood.
    Thou knowst what words did pass at Fressingfield,
    1825Such shameless braves as manhood cannot brook.
    Ay, for I scorn to bear such piercing taunts,
    Prepare thee, Serlsby; one of us will die.
    Thou seest I single thee the field,
    And what I spake I'll maintain with my sword.
    1830Stand on thy guard! I cannot scold it out,
    And if thou kill me, think I have a son
    That lives in Oxford in the Broadgates Hall,
    Who will revenge his father's blood with blood.
    And, Serlsby, I have there a lusty boy
    1835That dares at weapon buckle with thy son,
    And lives in Broadgates too, as well as thine.
    But draw thy rapier, for we'll have a bout.
    Friar Bacon
    Now, lusty younkers, look within the glass
    And tell me if you can discern your sires.
    18401 Scholar
    Serlsby, 'tis hard. Thy father offers wrong
    To combat with my father in the field.
    2 Scholar
    Lambert, thou liest. My father's is the abuse,
    And thou shalt find it, if my father harm.
    Friar Bungay
    How goes it, sirs?
    18451 Scholar
    Our fathers are in combat hard by Fressingfield.
    Friar Bacon
    Sit still, my friends, and see the event.
    Why stand'st thou, Serlsby? Doubt'st thou of thy life?
    A veny, man. Fair Margaret craves so much.
    Then this, for her! [They fight.]
    18501 Scholar
    Ah, well thrust!
    2 Scholar
    But mark the ward.
    They [Lambert and Serlsby] fight and kill each other.
    Oh, I am slain!
    And I! Lord have mercy on me!
    18551 Scholar
    My father slain! Serlsby, ward that!
    2 Scholar
    And so is mine, Lambert. I'll quite thee well.
    The two Scholars stab one another.
    Friar Bungay
    O strange stratagem!
    Friar Bacon
    See, friar, where the fathers both lie dead.
    1860Bacon, thy magic doth effect this massacre.
    This glass prospective worketh many woes,
    And therefore, seeing these brave lusty brutes,
    These friendly youths, did perish by thine art,
    End all thy magic and thine art at once.
    1865The poniard that did end the fatal lives
    Shall break the cause efficiat of their woes.
    So fade the glass, and end with it the shows
    That necromancy did infuse the crystal with!
    He breaks the glass.
    1870Friar Bungay
    What means learned Bacon thus to break his glass?
    Friar Bacon
    I tell thee, Bungay, it repents me sore
    That ever Bacon meddled in this art.
    The hours I have spent in pyromantic spells,
    The fearful tossing in the latest night
    1875Of papers full of necromantic charms,
    Conjuring and adjuring devils and fiends
    With stole and alb and strange pentaganon,
    The wresting of the holy name of God,
    As Sother, Eloim, and Adonai,
    1880Alpha, Manoth, and Tetragrammaton,
    With praying to the five-fold powers of heaven,
    Are instances that Bacon must be damned
    For using devils to countervail his God.
    Yet, Bacon, cheer thee, drown not in despair.
    1885Sins have their salves; repentance can do much.
    Think mercy sits where Justice holds her seat,
    And from those wounds those bloody Jews did pierce,
    Which by thy magic oft did bleed afresh,
    From thence for thee the dew of mercy drops,
    1890To wash the wrath of high Jehovah's ire
    And make thee as a newborn babe from sin.
    Bungay, I'll spend the remnant of my life
    In pure devotion, praying to my God
    That he would save what Bacon vainly lost.
    [Exeunt Bacon and Bungay with the bodies.]