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There is one tradition connected with the history of Friar Bacon which is not mentioned either in the Play or the Romance, namely, that he acquired his skill in magic by promising himself to the devil, after his death, provided he died either in the church or out of it, and the fulfilment of which contract he evaded, when he felt his end approaching, by causing a cell to be formed neither in nor out of, but in the wall of the church, wherein he both died and was buried.
THE WONDERFUL!/ THINGS THAT HE DID IN HIS LIFE: ALSO THE MANNER OF HIS DEATH;
WITH THE LIVES AND DEATHS OF THE TWO CONIURERS, BUNGYE AND VANDERMAST.
VERY PLEASANT AND DELIGHTFUL! TO BE READ.
PRINTED AT LONDON BY E. A. FOR FRANCIS GROUE, AND
ARE TO BE SOLD AT HIS SHOP, AT THE VPPER-END OF SNOW-HILL, AGAINST THE SARAZENS HEAD.
THE FAMOUS HISTORIE OF FRYER BACON.
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 turne 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 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 sckoller; for he found by his sodaine taking of his learning, that hee was a childe likely to prove a very great clerke: hereat old Bacon was not well pleased (for he desired to bring him up to 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 then 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,