FERRIES

The cryptic reference to Zion (or Syon) in Sir Hugh Evans's song in The Merry Wives of Windsor may be more relevant than at first appears.

Anthony Bacon's Gascon secretary, Jaques Petit, joined Le Doux at Burley on the Hill just before Christmas 1595, and they remained there for another month or two. Early in the New Year, Anthony Bacon received a letter from Petit, describing the Christmas festivities at Burley, which had included that performance of Titus Andronicus. (1) He also received as a New Year gift, a 'discourse' by someone signing himself P. Ferries. (2) It was in French, with frequent excursions into Latin, being larded with quotations from Seneca, Plautus, Terence, Plato/Socrates etc. It also included a sonnet, in French, in which he spoke of ces petits vers de mon muse sterile. The handwriting is somewhat like Le Doux's italic script, but a smaller, neater version. It is an expression of gratitude to, and affection for, Anthony Bacon.

One sentence really made me sit up, however. He says "Il me fasche bien toutesfois d'estre si longtemps caché, et de me voir en l'estat que je suis" ("It really distresses me, however, to be in hiding for such a long time, and to see myself in the state I am"). He is in England, describing himself as a 'foreign fugitive' for whom Bacon has provided asylum. He certainly writes as a Frenchman, but could this nevertheless be yet another pseudonym? Let us see whether other information we have about Le Doux and Ferries supports this possibility.

Le Doux left Burley on 25th January to arrive at Essex's home in London on the 30th. (3) A passport was issued for him by Essex on 20th February, and again on 10th March, perhaps indicating a quick trip to 'The Low Countries' (as the passport specified) between those dates. See 'William Hall' (above) for what he might have been doing.

As we have seen, he would later accompany Baron Zeirotine, Ambassador from the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, and Zeirotine's right-hand man, Henry d'Eberbach, on their return home to Prague. Before this, however, the Baron intended to visit Scotland, apparently with an important message for their King. (4) A passport for this trip was issued, also on 10th March, (5) together with one for Jaques Petit, (6) who was to assist them both, given that Le Doux would be not going with them. In which case, what was he doing?

We know that he was still at Essex House on 12th March. That evening, after dinner, the Earl of Essex left London for a very quick visit to Petworth, in Sussex, returning the following day. (7) Was Le Doux with him? Petworth was the home of Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland. Known as "the Wizard Earl", because of his enthusiasm for scientific experiment, Percy had been a central figure in what became known later as "The School of Night", with Marlowe prominent among its members. He had even been cited by Marlowe himself as someone to whom he was "very well known". (8)

Five days later, Ferries wrote another letter to Bacon, (9) but this time saying that he was at Brynford. The only 'Brynford' today is in Wales, but The Merry Wives of Windsor has a more likely answer for us. Here Falstaff disguises himself as the "fat woman of Brainford", based upon a character from what we would now call Brentford - on the Middlesex (north) bank of the Thames. A 1635 map shows Brentford as 'Braynforde' too. And where is that map now? At Syon House, in Brentford, which in 1593 had been leased to "The Wizard Earl", by the Queen, as a home nearer to London. It would therefore seem almost certain that Ferries was now staying at Northumberland's home there.

Baron Zeirotine, meanwhile, had set off for Scotland, but on his arrival at Cambridge, unfortunately, he fell sick and was unable to continue. On 16th March, therefore, d'Eberbach wrote, (10) seeking Bacon's permission for Jaques Petit, the only other person to have a passport in his own right, to carry the message for them, but Bacon refused. (11) By the 5th of April, they were all back in or near London, having apparently met up with Le Doux there. (12)

During late April and early May there were negotiations between France and England concerning a possible league against the King of Spain. (13) Representing France was their Ambassador Nicholas Harlay, Seigneur de Sancy, with le Duc de Bouillon. Having been briefed by the French King, de Sancy arrived in London on 10th April, with a letter from Henri IV to his friend Anthony Bacon. Le Doux delivered this for de Sancy, and returned with a reply from Bacon on the 11th. (14)

In May, Bacon wrote another letter to de Sancy, saying that he was currently out of town, as he had been badly affected by the gout. (15) The bearer of the letter had visited him, thus enabling it to be delivered. The bearer this time is identifiable as Ferries, however, as on 17th May he wrote his last letter to Bacon, saying that he had presented Bacon's letter to de Sancy, (16) presumably at Greenwich, where de Sancy had had lodgings provided by the Queen. Ferries says that he is to depart the following day for Gravesend, where he will set sail for Dover. (17) With him, among others, was a Peter van Heile, proctor to the Duke of Brunswick.

The next - and, like Ferries, the last - time we ever hear of Le Doux is just over 3 weeks later, dated 22nd June (probably the 12th in England) when he wrote from Middelburg, (18) again with the Baron (whose passport for this trip 'homeward by Flushinge' had been issued on 31st May) and d'Eberbach. They are en route for Prague, which would almost certainly take them through Brunswick.

Ferries appears and disappears with the same suddenness as Le Doux, but their dates and travels interlock to perfection.


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NOTES AND REFERENCES (FERRIES)

(1) LPL Bacon Papers MS.654 f.283.

(2) Ibid. MS.654 f.8-10.

(3) Ibid. MS.654 f.13.

(4) Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1754) Vol I, p.441.

(5) LPL Bacon Papers MS.656 f.185.

(6) Ibid. MS.656 f.150.

(7) Ibid. MS.656 f.3.

(8) PRO State Papers (Holland) SP84 / 44 / 60.

(9) LPL Bacon Papers MS.656 f.151.

(10) Ibid. MS.656 f.27.

(11) Ibid. MS.656 f.28.

(12) Ibid. MS.656 f.371.

(13) BL Add. MS.30,664 f.392seq. Discours de la Negotiation de Messrs de Bouillon et de Sancy en Ang(leter)re Pour le fait de la ligue offensive et defensive Contre le Roy d'Espagne en l'année 1596. "Account of the negotiation of the Messieurs de Bouillon and de Sancy in England to conclude a 'league', both offensive and defensive, against the King of Spain, 1596".

(14) LPL Bacon Papers MS.656 f.252.

(15) Ibid. MS.657 f.7.

(16) Ibid. MS.657 f.20.

(17) Ferries mentioned his parents a couple of times, in particular that he had made this trip to England without waiting to find out what they felt about it. Had this been Marlowe, it seems impossible that he would not have tried to see them somehow - probably the first time since his disappearance three years earlier. Canterbury would have still been too dangerous, of course, but somewhere like Dover, only seventeen miles from Canterbury, and home of his maternal grandparents, would have provided an ideal meeting-place before he left once again for the continent.

(18) Ibid. MS.657 f.227.


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