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  • 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 8] [Video Sc.8]
    Enter [King] Henry, [the] Emperor [of Germany], [the King of] Castile, [the Duke of Saxony], Eleanor, Vandermast, Bungay, [and other lords and attendants].
    Emperor of Germany
    Trust me, Plantagenet, these Oxford schools
    1115Are richly seated near the river side,
    The mountains full of fat and fallow deer,
    The battling pastures laid with kine and flocks,
    The town gorgeous with high-built colleges,
    And scholars seemly in their grave attire,
    1120Learnéd in searching principles of art.--
    What is thy judgment, Jaques Vandermast?
    That lordly are the buildings of the town,
    Spacious the rooms and full of pleasant walks;
    But for the doctors, how that they be learned,
    1125It may be meanly for aught I can hear.
    Friar Bungay
    I tell thee, German, Hapsburg holds none such,
    None read so deep as Oxenford contains.
    There are within our academic state
    Men that may lecture it in Germany
    1130To all the doctors of your Belgic schools.
    King Henry
    Stand to him, Bungay. Charm this Vandermast
    And I will use thee as a royal king.
    [King Henry and the nobles sit.]
    Wherein darest thou dispute with me?
    Friar Bungay
    In what a doctor and a friar can.
    Before rich Europe's worthies put thou forth
    The doubtful question unto Vandermast.
    Friar Bungay
    Let it be this: whether the spirits of pyromancy or geomancy be most predominant in magic.
    I say of pyromancy.
    1140Friar Bungay
    And I of geomancy.
    The cabbalists that write of magic spells,
    As Hermes, Melchie, and Pythagorus,
    Affirm that 'mongst the quadruplicity
    Of elemental essence, Terra is but thought
    1145To be a punctum square}d to the rest;
    And that the compass of ascending elements
    Exceed in bigness as they do in height,
    Judging the concave circle of the sun
    To hold the rest in his circumference.
    1150If then, as Hermes says, the fire be greatest,
    Purest, and only giveth shapes to spirits,
    Then must these demons that haunt that place
    Be every way superior to the rest.
    Friar Bungay
    I reason not of elemental shapes,
    1155Nor tell I of the concave latitudes,
    Noting their essence nor their quality,
    But of the spirits that pyromancy calls,
    And of the vigor of the geomantic fiends.
    I tell thee, German, magic haunts the grounds,
    1160And those strange necromantic spells
    That work such shows and wondering in the world
    Are acted by those geomantic spirits
    That Hermes calleth terrae filii.
    The fiery spirits are but transparent shades
    1165That lightly pass as heralds to bear news;
    But earthly fiends, closed in the lowest deep,
    Dissever mountains if they be but charged,
    Being more gross and massy in their power.
    Rather these earthly geomantic spirits
    1170Are dull and like the place where they remain;
    For when proud Lucifer fell from the heavens,
    The spirits and angels that did sin with him
    Retained their local essence as their faults,
    All subject under Luna's continent.
    1175They which offended less hung in the fire,
    And second faults did rest within the air;
    But Lucifer and his proud-hearted fiends
    Were thrown into the center of the earth,
    Having less understanding than the rest,
    1180As having greater sin and lesser grace.
    Therefore, such gross and earthly spirits do serve
    For jugglers, witches, and vile sorcerers,
    Whereas the pyromantic genii
    Are mighty, swift, and of far-reaching power.
    1185But grant that geomancy hath most force;
    Bungay, to please these mighty potentates,
    Prove by some instance what thy art can do.
    Friar Bungay
    I will.
    Emperor of Germany
    Now, English Harry, here begins the game;
    1190We shall see sport between these learne}d men.
    What wilt thou do?
    Friar Bungay
    Show thee the tree leaved with refine}d gold,
    Whereon the fearful dragon held his seat
    That watched the garden called Hesperides,
    1195Subdued and won by conquering Hercules.
    Well done.
    Here Bungay conjures and the tree appears with the dragon shooting fire.
    King Henry
    What say you, royal lordings, to my friar?
    1200Hath he not done a point of cunning skill?
    Each scholar in the necromantic spells
    Can do as much as Bungay hath performed.
    But as Alcmena's bastard razed this tree,
    So will I raise him up as when he lived,
    1205And cause him pull the dragon from his seat,
    And tear the branches piecemeal from the root.--
    Hercules, prodi, prodi, Hercules!
    Hercules appears in his lion's skin.
    Quis me vult?
    Jove's bastard son, thou Lybian Hercules,
    Pull off the sprigs from off the Hesperian tree,
    As once thou did'st to win the golden fruit.
    Here he begins to break the branches.
    Now, Bungay, if thou canst by magic charm
    The fiend appearing like great Hercules
    From pulling down the branches of the tree,
    Then art thou worthy to be counted learned.
    Friar Bungay
    I cannot.
    Cease, Hercules, until I give thee charge. [Hercules ceases.]
    [To King Henry] Mighty commander of this English isle,
    Henry, come from the stout Plantagenets,
    Bungay is learned enough to be a friar,
    But to compare with Jaques Vandermast
    1225Oxford and Cambridge must go seek their cells
    To find a man to match him in his art.
    I have given non-plus to the Paduans,
    To them of Siena, Florence, and Bologna,
    Rheims, Louvain, and fair Rotterdam,
    1230Frankfurt, Utrecht, and Orleans;
    And now must Henry, if he do me right,
    Crown me with laurel as they all have done.
    Enter Bacon.
    Friar Bacon
    All hail to this royal company
    1235That sit to hear and see this strange dispute!--
    Bungay, how stand'st thou as a man amazed?
    What, hath the German acted more than thou?
    What art thou that questions thus?
    Friar Bacon
    Men call me Bacon.
    Lordly thou lookest, as if that thou wert learned;
    Thy countenance, as if science held her seat
    Between the circled arches of thy brows.
    King Henry
    Now, monarchs, hath the German found his match.
    Emperor of Germany
    Bestir thee, Jaques, take not now the foil,
    1245Lest thou dost lose what foretime thou didst gain.
    Bacon, wilt thou dispute?
    Friar Bacon
    No, unless he were more learned than Vandermast;
    For yet tell me, what hast thou done?
    Raised Hercules to ruinate that tree
    1250That Bungay mounted by his magic spells.
    Friar Bacon
    Set Hercules to work.
    Now, Hercules, I charge thee to thy task.
    Pull off the golden branches from the root.
    I dare not. See'st thou not great Bacon here,
    1255Whose frown doth act more than thy magic can?
    By all the thrones and dominations,
    Virtues, powers, and mighty hierarchies,
    I charge thee to obey to Vandermast.
    Bacon, that bridles headstrong Belcephon
    1260And rules Astaroth, guider of the north,
    Binds me from yielding unto Vandermast.
    King Henry
    How now, Vandermast, have you met with your match?
    Never before wast known to Vandermast
    That men held devils in such obedient awe.
    1265Bacon doth more than art, or else I fail.
    Emperor of Germany
    Why, Vandermast, art thou overcome?
    Bacon, dispute with him and try his skill.
    Friar Bacon
    I come not, monarchs, for to hold dispute
    With such a novice as is Vandermast.
    1270I come to have your royalties to dine
    With Friar Bacon here in Brazennose;
    And for this German troubles but the place,
    And holds this audience with a long suspense,
    I'll send him to his academy hence.--
    1275Thou, Hercules, whom Vandermast did raise,
    Transport the German unto Hapsburg straight,
    That he may learn by travail, 'gainst the spring,
    More secret dooms and aphorisms of art.
    Vanish the tree and thou away with him!
    1280Exit the spirit with Vandermast and the tree.
    Emperor of Germany
    Why, Bacon, whither dost thou send him?
    Friar Bacon
    To Hapsburg. There your highness at return
    Shall find the German in his study safe.
    King Henry
    Bacon, thou hast honored England with thy skill,
    1285And made fair Oxford famous by thine art;
    I will be English Henry to thyself.
    But tell me, shall we dine with thee today?
    Friar Bacon
    With me, my lord; and while I fit my cheer,
    See where Prince Edward comes to welcome you,
    1290Gracious as the morning star of heaven.
    Enter Edward, Lacy, Warren, [and] Ermsby.
    Emperor of Germany
    Is this Prince Edward, Henry's royal son?
    How martial is the figure of his face!
    Yet lovely and beset with amorets.
    1295King Henry
    Ned, where hast thou been?
    At Framlingham, my lord, to try your bucks
    If they could scape the teisers or the toil.
    But hearing of these lordly potentates
    Landed and progressed up to Oxford town,
    1300I posted to give entertain to them--
    Chief to the Almain monarch; next to him,
    And joint with him, Castile and Saxony
    Are welcome as they may be to the English court.
    Thus for the men.-- But see, Venus appears,
    1305Or one that over-matcheth Venus in her shape.
    Sweet Eleanor, beauty's high swelling pride,
    Rich nature's glory and her wealth at once,
    Fair of all fairs, welcome to Albion;
    Welcome to me, and welcome to thine own,
    1310If that thou deign'st the welcome from myself.
    Martial Plantagenet, Henry's high-minded son,
    The mark that Eleanor did count her aim,
    I liked thee 'fore I saw thee, now I love,
    And so as in so short a time I may,
    1315Yet so as time shall never break that ‘so,'
    And therefore so accept of Eleanor.
    King of Castile
    [To King Henry] Fear not, my lord, this couple will agree,
    If love may creep into their wanton eyes;--
    And therefore, Edward, I accept thee here,
    1320Without suspense, as my adopted son.
    King Henry
    Let me that joy in these consorting greets,
    And glory in these honors done to Ned,
    Yield thanks for all these favors to my son,
    And rest a true Plantagenet to all.
    1325Enter Miles with a cloth and trenchers and salt.
    Salvete omnes reges, that govern your greges! In Saxony and Spain, in England and in Almain; for all this frolic
    rabble must I cover the table, with trenchers, salt, and cloth, and
    then look for your broth.
    1330Emperor of Germany
    What pleasant fellow is this?
    King Henry
    'Tis, my lord, Doctor Bacon's poor scholar.
    [Aside] My master hath made me sewer of these great lords, and God knows I am as serviceable at a table as a sow is under an apple tree. 'Tis no matter; their cheer shall not be great, and 1335therefore what skills where the salt stand, before or behind?[Exit Miles.]
    King of Castile
    These scholars know more skill in axioms,
    How to use quips and sleights of sophistry,
    Than for to cover courtly for a king.
    Enter Miles with a mess of pottage and broth, 1340and after him Bacon.
    [Nearly dropping the dishes]Spill, sir? Why, do you think I never carried two-penny chop before in my life? By your leave, nobile decus, for
    here comes Doctor Bacon's pecus, being in his full age, to carry a
    mess of pottage.
    1345Friar Bacon
    Lordings, admire not if your cheer be this,
    For we must keep our academic fare.
    No riot where philosophy doth reign,
    And therefore, Henry, place these potentates,
    And bid them fall unto their frugal cates.
    1350Emperor of Germany
    Presumptuous friar! What, scoff'st thou at a king?
    Why dost thou taunt us with thy peasants' fare,
    And give us cates fit for country swains?--
    Henry, proceeds this jest of thy consent?
    To twit us with a pittance of such price?
    1355Tell me, and Frederick will not grieve thee long.
    King Henry
    By Henry's honor and the royal faith
    The English monarch beareth to his friend,
    I knew not of the friar's feeble fare,
    Nor am I pleased he entertains you thus.
    1360Friar Bacon
    Content thee, Frederick, for I showed these cates
    To let thee see how scholars use to feed,
    How little meat refines our English wits.--
    Miles, take away, and let it be thy dinner.
    Marry, sir, I will. This day shall be a festival day with me, 1365For I shall exceed in the highest degree.
    Exit Miles.
    Friar Bacon
    I tell thee, monarch, all the German peers
    Could not afford thy entertainment such,
    So royal and so full of majesty,
    As Bacon will present to Frederick.
    1370The basest waiter that attends thy cups
    Shall be in honors greater than thyself.
    And for thy cates rich Alexandria drugs,
    Fetched by carvels from Egypt's richest straits,
    Found in the wealthy strand of Africa,
    1375Shall royalize the table of my king.
    Wines richer than the Gyptian courtesan
    Quaffed to Augustus's kingly countermatch
    Shall be caroused in English Henry's feasts.
    Candy shall yield the richest of her canes;
    1380Persia, down her Volga by canoes
    Send down the secrets of her spicery;
    The Afric dates, myrobalans of Spain,
    Conserves and suckets from Tiberias,
    Cates from Judea, choicer than the lamp
    1385That fired Rome with sparks of gluttony,
    Shall beautify the board for Frederick;
    And therefore grudge not at a friar's feast.[Exeunt.]