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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 9] [Video Sc.9]
    Enter two gentlemen, Lambert and Serlsby, with the Keeper.
    Come, frolic keeper of our liege's game,
    Whose table spread hath ever venison
    And jacks of wines to welcome passengers;
    Know I am in love with jolly Margaret,
    That over-shines our damsels as the moon
    1395Darkeneth the brightest sparkles of the night.
    In Laxfield here my land and living lies;
    I'll make thy daughter jointer of it all,
    So thou consent to give her to my wife,
    And I can spend five hundred marks a year.
    I am the landlord, keeper of thy holds;
    By copy all thy living lies in me;
    Laxfield did never see me raise my due.
    I will enfeoff fair Margaret in all,
    So she will take her to a lusty squire.
    Now, courteous gentles, if the Keeper's girl
    Hath pleased the liking fancy of you both,
    And with her beauty hath subdued your thoughts,
    'Tis doubtful to decide the question.
    It joys me that such men of great esteem
    1410Should lay their liking on this base estate,
    And that her state should grow so fortunate
    To be a wife to meaner men than you,
    But sith such squires will stoop to keeper's fee,
    I will, to avoid displeasure of you both,
    1415Call Margaret forth, and she shall make her choice.
    Exit [the Keeper].
    Content, Keeper, send her unto us.
    Why, Serlsby, is thy wife so lately dead?
    Are all thy loves so lightly passe}d over
    As thou canst wed before the year be out?
    I live not, Lambert, to content the dead,
    Nor was I wedded but for life to her.
    The grave ends and begins a married state.
    Enter Margaret.
    Peggy, the lovely flower of all towns,
    1425Suffolk's fair Helen and rich England's star,
    Whose beauty tempered with her huswifery
    Makes England talk of merry Fressingfield!
    I cannot trick it up with poesies,
    Nor paint my passions with comparisons,
    1430Nor tell a tale of Phoebus and his loves,
    But this believe me: Laxfield here is mine,
    Of ancient rent seven hundred pounds a year,
    And if thou canst but love a country squire,
    I will enfeoff thee, Margaret, in all.
    1435I cannot flatter. Try me, if thou please.
    Brave neighboring squires, the stay of Suffolk's clime,
    A keeper's daughter is too base in gree
    To match with men accounted of such worth.
    But, might I not displease, I would reply.
    Say, Peggy, naught shall make us discontent.
    Then, gentles, note that love hath little stay,
    Nor can the flames that Venus sets on fire
    Be kindled but by fancy's motion.
    Then pardon, gentles, if a maid's reply
    1445Be doubtful while I have debated with myself
    Who or of whom love shall constrain me like.
    Let it be me; and trust me, Margaret,
    The meads environed with the silver streams,
    Whose battling pastures fatt'neth all my flocks,
    1450Yielding forth fleeces stapled with such wool
    As Lempster cannot yield more finer stuff,
    And forty kine with fair and burnished heads,
    With strutting dugs that paggle to the ground,
    Shall serve thy dairy if thou wed with me.
    Let pass the country wealth as flocks and kine,
    And lands that wave with Ceres's golden sheaves,
    Filling my barns with plenty of the fields;
    But, Peggy, if thou wed thyself to me
    Thou shalt have garments of embroidered silk,
    1460Lawns and rich networks for thy head-attire.
    Costly shall be thy fair habiliments,
    If thou wilt be but Lambert's loving wife.
    Content you, gentles, you have proffered fair,
    And more than fits a country maid's degree.
    1465But give me leave to counsel me a time,
    For fancy blooms not at the first assault.
    Give me but ten days' respite and I will reply
    Which or to whom myself affectionates.
    Lambert, I tell thee thou art importunate.
    1470Such beauty fits not such a base esquire.
    It is for Serlsby to have Margaret.
    Think'st thou with wealth to overreach me?
    Serlsby, I scorn to brook thy country braves.
    I dare thee, coward, to maintain this wrong
    1475At dint of rapier single in the field.
    I'll answer, Lambert, what I have avouched.--
    Margaret, farewell. Another time shall serve.
    Exit Serlsby.
    I'll follow.-- Peggy, farewell to thyself;
    Listen how well I'll answer for thy love.
    Exit Lambert.
    How Fortune tempers lucky haps with frowns
    And wrongs me with the sweets of my delight!
    Love is my bliss, and love is now my bale.
    Shall I be Helen in my froward fates,
    As I am Helen in my matchless hue,
    1485And set rich Suffolk with my face afire?
    If lovely Lacy were but with his Peggy,
    The cloudy darkness of his bitter frown
    Would check the pride of these aspiring squires.
    Before the term of ten days be expired,
    1490Whenas they look for answer of their loves,
    My lord will come to merry Fressingfield
    And end their fancies and their follies both;
    Till when, Peggy, be blithe and of good cheer.
    Enter a Post with a letter and
    1495a bag of gold.
    Fair lovely damsel, which way leads this path?
    How might I post me unto Fressingfield?
    Which footpath leadeth to the Keeper's lodge?
    Your way is ready and this path is right.
    1500Myself do dwell hereby in Fressingfield,
    And if the Keeper be the man you seek,
    I am his daughter. May I know the cause?
    Lovely and once beloved of my lord--
    No marvel if his eye was lodged so low
    1505When brighter beauty is not in the heavens.--
    The Lincoln earl hath sent you letters here,
    And with them just an hundred pounds in gold.
    Sweet bonny wench, read them and make reply.
    The scrolls that Jove sent Danae,
    1510Wrapped in rich closures of fine burnished gold,
    Were not more welcome than these lines to me.
    Tell me whilst that I do unrip the seals,
    Lives Lacy well? How fares my lovely lord?
    Well, if that wealth may make men to live well.
    The letter, and Margaret reads it.
    ‘The blooms of the almond tree grow in a night and vanish
    in a morn. The flies hemerae (fair Peggy) take life with
    the sun and die with the dew. Fancy, that slippeth in with a
    gaze, goeth out with a wink, and too timely loves have ever the
    1520shortest length. I write this as thy grief and my folly, who at Fressingfield loved that which time hath taught me to be but mean
    dainties. Eyes are dissemblers and fancy is but queasy. Therefore
    know, Margaret, I have chosen a Spanish lady to be my wife,
    chief waiting woman to the Princess Eleanor, a lady fair
    1525and no less fair than thyself, honorable and wealthy. In that I
    forsake thee, I leave thee to thine own liking, and for thy dowry
    I have sent thee a hundred pounds and ever assure thee of my
    favor, which shall avail thee and thine much. Farewell.
    Not thine nor his own,
    1530Edward Lacy.'
    Fond Ate, doomer of bad-boding fates,
    That wraps proud Fortune in thy snaky locks,
    Did'st thou enchant my birthday with such stars
    As lightened mischief from their infancy?
    1535If heavens had vowed, if stars had made decree,
    To show on me their froward influence,
    If Lacy had but loved, heavens, hell, and all
    Could not have wronged the patience of my mind.
    It grieves me, damsel, but the earl is forced
    1540To love the lady by the king's command.
    The wealth combined within the English shelves,
    Europe's commander, nor the English king,
    Should not have moved the love of Peggy from her lord.
    What answer shall I return to my lord?
    First, for thou cam'st from Lacy whom I loved--
    Ah, give me leave to sigh at every thought!--
    Take thou, my friend, the hundred pound he sent,
    For Margaret's resolution craves no dower.
    The world shall be to her as vanity,
    1550Wealth, trash; love, hate; pleasure, despair;
    For I will straight to stately Framlingham,
    And in the abbey there be shorn a nun,
    And yield my loves and liberty to God.
    Fellow, I give thee this, not for the news,
    1555For those be hateful unto Margaret,
    But for th'art Lacy's man, once Margaret's love.
    What I have heard, what passions I have seen,
    I'll make report of them unto the earl.
    Exit Post.
    Say that she joys his fancies be at rest,
    1560And prays that his misfortune may be hers!