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النشر الإلكتروني

VOPO VIR CAN UTRIET1 of sulphur; and thus you may make thunder and lightning, if you know the method of construction. You can see, nevertheless, whether I speak enigmatically or truthfully. And some may have judged otherwise. For it has been said to me that you ought to resolve everything into a primal material, on which you have two deliverances from Aristotle in his popularized and famous book; on account of which I am silent. And when you have possessed yourself of that, then you will have pure elements, simple and equal; and you may do this by contrary means and various operations, which I have before called the Keys of Art. And Aristotle says that equality of powers excludes action, and passion, and corruption. And Averroës says this in reprobation of Galen. And that is rated simpler in medicine, and purer, which can be procured; and this is worth more against fevers, and affections of the mind and body.


And whoever shall have opened these things will have the key which opens them, and no one may shut it; and when he shall have shut it no one may open it.


(Old English Romance.)

Of the Parents and Birth of Fryer Bacon, and how he addicted himselfe to Learning.

IN MOST men's opinions he was borne in the west part of England and was sonne to a wealthy farmer, who put him to schoole to the parson of the towne where hee was borne: not with intent that he should turn fryer (as he did), but to get so much understanding, that he might manage the better that wealth hee was to leave him. But young Bacon tooke his learning so fast, that the priest could not teach him any more, which made him desire his master that he would speake to his father

1A suggested reading is "lura nope cum ubre," an anagram of "puluere carbonum," powder of charcoal.

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to put him to Oxford, that he might not lose that little learning that hee had gained: his master was very willing so to doe: and one day meeting his father, told him, that he had received a great blessing of God, in that he had given him so wise and hopefull a child, as his sonne Roger Bacon was (for so was he named), and wished him withall to doe his duty, and to bring up so his child, that hee might shew his thankfulnesse to God, which could not better be done then in making of him a scholler; for he found by his sodaine taking of his learning, that hee was a child likely to prove a very great clerke: hereat old Bacon was not well pleased (for he desired to bring him up to the plough and to the cart, as hee himselfe was brought), yet he for reverence sake to the priest, shewed not his anger, but kindly thanked him for his paines and counsell, yet desired him not to speake any more concerning that matter; for hee knew best what best pleased himselfe, and that he would doe: so broke they off their talke, and parted.

So soone as the old man came home, he called to his sonne for his bookes, which when he had, he lock'd them up, and gave the boy a cart whip in the place of them, saying to him: Boy, I will have you no priest, you shall not be better learned than I, you can tell now by the almanack when it is best sowing wheat, when barly, pease, and beane: and when the best libbing is, when to sell graine and cattell I will teach thee; for I have all faires and markets as perfit in my memory, as Sir John our priest has masse without booke: take mee this whip, I will teach thee the use of it, it will be more profitable to thee then this harsh Latin: make no reply, but follow my counsell, or else by the masse thou shalt feele the smart hand of my anger. Young Bacon thought this but hard dealing, yet would he not reply, but within sixe or eight dayes he gave his father the slip, and went to a cloyster some twenty miles off, where he was entertained, and so continued his learning, and in small time came to be so famous, that he was sent for to the University of Oxford, where he long time studied, and grew so excellent in the studies of art and nature, that not England onely, but all Christendome admired him.

How Fryer Bacon deceived his Man, that would fast for his conscience sake.

Fryer Bacon had one onely man to attend on him and he too was none of the wisest, for he kept him in charity, more then


for any service he had of him. This man of his (named Miles) never could indure to fast as other religious persons did, for alwayes hee had in one corner, or another, flesh which hee would eate when his maister eat bread only, or else did fast and abstaine from all things. Fryer Bacon seeing this, thought at one time or other to be even with him, which he did one Fryday in this manner. Miles on the Thursday night had provided a great blacke-pudding for his Frydayes fast: this pudding put he in his pocket (thinking belike to heate it so, for his maister had no fire on those dayes) on the next day, who was so demure as Miles, hee looked as though hee would not have eat any thing when his maister offerd him some bread, hee refused it, saying his sinnes deserved a greater penance then one dayes fast in a whole weeke: his maister commended him for it, and bid him take heed that he did not dissemble: for if he did, it would at last be knowne; then were I worse than a Turke said Miles so went he forth as if he would have gone to pray privately, but it was for nothing but to prey upon his blacke pudding; that pulled he out (for it was halfe roasted with the heate) and fell to it lustily; but he was deceived, for having put one end in his mouth, he could neither get it out againe nor bite it off, so that hee stamped out for helpe: his maister hearing him, came; and finding him in that manner, tooke hold of the other end of the pudding, and led him to the hall, and shewed him to all the schollers, saying: see here my good friends and fellow students what a devout man my servant Miles is, he loveth not to break a fast day, witnesse this pudding that his conscience will not let him swallow: I will have him to be an example for you all, then tyed hee him to a window by the end of the pudding, where poore Miles stood like a beare tyed by the nose to a stake, and indured many floutes and mockes at night his maister released him from his penance; Miles was glad of it, and did vow never to breake more fast dayes whilst that he lived.


How Fryer Bacon by his art took a towne, when the King had lyen before it three months, without doing to it any hurt.

In those times when Fryer Bacon did all his strange trickes, the Kings of England had a great part of France, which they held a long time, till civill warres at home in this land made them to lose it: it did chance that the King of England (for some cause best knowne to himselfe) went into France with a

great armie, where after many victories, he did beseige a strong towne and lay before it full three moneths, without doing to the towne any great damage, but rather received the hurt himselfe. This did so vexe the King, that he sought to take it in any way, either by policy or strength: to this intent hee made proclamation that whosoever could deliver this towne into his hand, hee should have for his paines ten thousand crownes truely paid. This was proclaimed, but there was none found that would undertake it. At length the newes did come into England of this great reward that was promised. Fryer Bacon hearing of it, went into France, and being admitted to the kings presence, hee thus spake unto him: Your maiestie I am sure hath not quite forgot your poore subject Bacon, the love that you shewed to mee being last in your presence, hath drawn mee for to leave my countrey, and my studies, to doe your maiesties service: I beseech your grace, to command mee so farre as my poore art or life may doe you pleasure. The king thanked him for his love, but told him, that hee had now more need of armes than art, and wanted brave souldiers more than learned schollers. Fryer Bacon answered, Your grace saith weil; but let me (under correction) tell you, that art oftentimes doth those things that are impossible to armes, which I will make good in some few examples.

[He tells him much as in §§ 4 and 5 of the preceding article.]

The king all this while heard him with admiration: but hearing him now, that hee would undertake to win the towne, hee burst out in these speeches: most learned Bacon, doe but what thou hast said, and I will give thee what thou most desirest, either wealth, or honour, choose which thou wilt, and I will be as ready to performe, as I have been to promise.

Your maiesties love is all that I seeke (said the fryer) let mee have that, and I have honour enough, for wealth, I have content, the wise should seek no more: but to the purpose. Let your pioniers raise up a mount so high, (or rather higher) than the wall, and then shall you see some probability of that which I have promised.

This mount in two days was raised: then Fryer Bacon went with the king to the top of it, and did with a perspect shew to him the towne, as plainly as if hee had beene in it: at this the king did wonder, but Fryer Bacon told him, that he should wonder more, ere next day noone against which time, he

desired him to have his whole army in readinesse, for to scale the wall upon a signal given by him, from the mount. This the king promised to doe, and so returned to his tent full of joy, that he should gain this strong towne. In the morning Fryer Bacon went up to the mount and set his glasses, and other instruments up in the meane time the king ordered his army, and stood in a readinesse for to give the assaults: when the signal was given, which was the waving of a flagge: ere nine of the clocke Fryer Bacon had burnt the state-house of the towne, with other houses only by his mathematicall glasses, which made the whole towne in an uprore, for none did know how it came whilest that they were quenching of the same Fryer Bacon did wave his flagge: upon which signall given, the king set upon the towne, and tooke it with little or no resistance.

How Fryer Bacon over-came the German coniurer Vandermast, and made a spirit of his owne carry him into Germany.

The king of England after hee had taken the town shewed great mercy to the inhabitants, giving some of them their lives freely, and others he set at liberty for their gold: the towne hee kept as his owne, and swore the chiefe citizens to be his true subiects. Presently after the king of France sent an ambassadour to the king of England for to entreat a peace betweene them. This ambassadour being come to the king, he feasted him (as it is the manner of princes to doe) and with the best sports as he had then, welcomed him. The ambassadour seeing the king of England so free in his love, desired likewise to give him some taste of his good liking, and to that intent sent for one of his fellowes (being a Germane, and named Vandermast) a famous coniuror, who being come, hee told the king, that since his grace had been so bountiful in his love to him, he would shew him (by a servant of his) such wonderfull things that his grace had never seene the like before. The king demanded of him of what nature those things were that hee would doe the ambassador answered that they were things done by the art of magicke. The king hearing of this, sent straight for Fryer Bacon, who presently came, and brought Fryer Bungey with him.

When the banquet was done, Vandermast did aske the king, if he desired to see the spirit of any man deceased: and if that hee did, hee would raise him in such manner and fashion as he

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