2. MONSIEUR LE DOUX

A SPY IN HIDING

Another person indirectly involved in this subterfuge, if it was one, was Francis Bacon's elder brother Anthony, who for several years, and until only a year before this, had been his uncle Lord Burghley's main source of intelligence from the Continent. Had Marlowe visited France - and it is usually thought that he did (1) - he would certainly have got to know either Bacon himself or some of his small network of informants. By May 1593, however, Anthony had returned to England and was working, with his brother Francis, for the Queen's favourite, the Earl of Essex, as his chief 'spymaster'. We may therefore recall that Nicholas Skeres was in Essex's (and therefore Bacon's?) employ at that time.

In mid-1595, Anthony Bacon seems to have found it necessary to arrange a 'safe house' for an agent returning to England. Also a new identity, which was to be that of a Frenchman called Monsieur Le Doux, for whom Bacon found a position as tutor to the young son of Sir John - later First Baron - Harington, at Burley on the Hill, in Rutland. (2) The following year, Le Doux would return overseas, but to provide intelligence this time for the Earl of Essex, firstly concerning the state of affairs in Germany, and then Italy. (3) Essex equipped him with the necessary passports, in which he was described as a "French Gentleman" . (4)

Although he figures over the period of only a few months in Anthony Bacon's papers, now held in the archives of Lambeth Palace Library, what has been preserved there has enabled us to find out quite a lot about this Monsieur Le Doux. Among the papers are several letters referring to him and from him, (5) a list of the contents of his trunk (Appendix I) , (6) and details of a collection of just over fifty books possessed by him (Appendix II). (7) From these, it is possible to work out the following.

Le Doux was already an experienced intelligence agent, having worked mainly for Lord Burghley

The trunk contains letters and papers - including a clavis steganographia, or code-book - all clearly indicating that Le Doux had worked as an intelligence agent for several years. These records show that he had had postings in Scotland, France and Spain, and his contacts are almost all from among Anthony Bacon's network of agents. Bacon reported to his uncle, Lord Burghley, throughout his many years in Switzerland and France. This fact, together with letters from Burghley himself, reveal that Le Doux's intelligence work had been mainly on Burghley's behalf.

Le Doux was highly educated, and multi-lingual

The fifty-five books belonging to Le Doux are almost equally divided into Latin, French, Italian and Spanish. There are only two English pieces for sure (a Bible and a French primer), but the trunk has many items, such as writings by Francis Bacon, which are clearly in English. The book-list includes biblical works, dictionaries covering at least eight different languages, medicine, history, prose, verse and plays. He was also, as most of these agents were, a fluent writer; there are 'memories', discourses, tracts and treatises, most of them clearly by him.

Le Doux was hiding behind a false identity, and was probably English

I can find no mention of Le Doux at any time either before October 1595 or after June 1596, even though we shall see that the contents of the trunk show that he was a close friend of both Anthony and Francis Bacon and was later given clear instructions to send reports back from Germany and Italy.

Another agent of Bacon and Burghley was a Monsieur La Faye, in reality an Englishman whose true name was Anthony Standen. (8) In Burghley's papers are several references to correspondence with Standen, but not with La Faye, only a mention of the pseudonym. Similarly, there is no mention whatsoever of Le Doux, despite there having been letters from the Lord Treasurer in Le Doux's trunk and, apparently, his having been in Burghley's service for several years.

Le Doux was sent to Europe, by Essex, as a servant of Baron Zeirotine, Ambassador from the emperor, Rudolf II. Before this, however, the Baron intended to visit Scotland, apparently with an important message for their King. (9) We know that Le Doux had several contacts at a very high level in Scottish society, so why did he remain kicking his heels in England, when he could have been of far more assistance than Anthony Bacon's secretary, Jaques Petit, who did go? Perhaps because he was known there under another name?

If 'Le Doux' is a false identity, then it seems quite likely that he too was English - for example, almost all of his correspondents are either English or Scottish and, although he has a variety of dictionaries, wordlists and vocabularies, not one of them covers the English language. It must also be significant that the only book he possesses which is entirely in English is the Bible, and (whereas he also has an Italian version, Latin and Italian translations of the New Testament, and the Psalms, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in Spanish) the only one of his languages in which the Bible is not represented is what is supposed to have been his native tongue, French.

THE MARLOWE CONNECTION

So, what we have here is a highly educated secret agent who has a great interest in Turkish history, religion, poetry, language and the theatre, and who, despite his having worked for the English for many years and probably even being an Englishman, needs to use a false identity while in England.

All of this points to Christopher Marlowe, but there is one item which, at first sight, seems to rule him out. It is a folder (un livre) of instructions and letters from Francis Walsingham, during his time as the Queen's Ambassador in France. Given that Marlowe was only about eight years old at that time, and still living with his shoemaker father and family in Canterbury, these could certainly not have been his. And in any case, why would anyone want to retain such ancient records, now well over twenty years old, when there is no further evidence of direct contact with Sir Francis?

Discussing the sources for Marlowe's play, The Massacre at Paris, however, Bakeless says:

"For the massacre itself, Marlowe may have in part relied upon the accounts of Francis Walsingham, either directly, or at second hand from the lips of his relative, Thomas Walsingham, the dramatist's patron. Francis Walsingham... had been English ambassador in Paris at the time of the massacre". (10)

In other words,

Le Doux was the sole owner of documents of special and unique interest to Christopher Marlowe

So does Le Doux have any other materials relevant to Marlowe's plays? Certainly he does. Among Le Doux's books we find the following:

LE DOUX AND MARLOWE

We have seen that Christopher Marlowe had a strong motive for faking his death in 1593, and the means and opportunity to do so. In Le Doux we have now found someone, two or three years later, who is probably English; who has worked for several years as an agent for Lord Burghley; who has an interest in Turkish history, religion, poetry, language and the theatre; who has been forced to adopt a false identity while in England; and who owns material relevant to over half of Marlowe's known plays. One item, the Walsingham papers, is one which Marlowe alone had a good personal reason to keep, and which Le Doux alone possesses.

There is only one person we know of to whom this combination of factors could possibly apply - and whom they indeed fit like a glove - the 'dead' Christopher Marlowe. The evidence thus revealed for the survival of Marlowe beyond 1593, therefore, is quite compelling, but the really conclusive evidence is yet to come.


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NOTES AND REFERENCES (SECTION 2)

1 The rather ambiguous wording of the Privy Council letter referred to above suggests that trips to France either had been or were about to take place. A. D. Wraight (Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn, 1993, pp.70 and 83-89) also makes quite a good case for Marlowe's having been picked up from France as an intelligencer reporting on possible resistance to Spain there in 1588, and the subsequent action against the Spanish Armada at sea. More evidence for his having spent a lot of time in France between 1589 and 1592 is presented later. (Addenda - 'William')

2 In a letter to Le Doux, (LPL Bacon Papers MS.654 f.248) dated 29th April, when Le Doux was about to leave, Bacon stresses the importance of thanking le chevallier Harington for being such a great help to them.

3 The instructions for Le Doux are contained in LPL Bacon Papers MS.656 f.186r,v. A translation of this document (by Lucie Bouchon) can be found in A.D.Wraight, Shakespeare: New Evidence pp.56-7.

4 Ibid. MS.655 f.191, issued 20 February 1595/6, and renewed on 10 March (MS.656 f.191)

5 There are three letters from Le Doux: LPL Bacon Papers MS.656 f.371 (5 April 1596), MS.656 f.372 (20 April) and MS.657 f.227 (22 June). Facsimiles of these letters, with translations by Lucie Bouchon and by myself, together with facsimiles of the two Le Doux documents mentioned next, may be found as Appendices in Wraight's Shakespeare: New Evidence.

6 Ibid. MS.656 f.184r,v, endorsed 12th March 1596

7 Ibid. MS.655 ff.185r,v-186, endorsed 15th February 1596

8 According to the Index to the Papers of Anthony Bacon in Lambeth Palace Library, p.60, Sir Anthony Standen, alias La Faye and André Sandal, was an English Catholic and agent of Anthony Bacon.

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

10 John Bakeless, The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe (1942) Vol I.

11 Ibid. Vol I, p.220. According to Bakeless, it is "filled with accounts of Tamburlaine".

12 Ibid. Vol I, p.215.

13 Ibid. Vol II, pp.284-5.

14 Boas, op. cit., p.136n, points out that Marlowe's only quotation from a classical comic dramatist is from Terence's Andria, (IV.1.12): Proximus sum egomet mihi, changed (to fill a five-foot line) to Ego mihimet sum semper proximus in The Jew of Malta.


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