Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground

By Roy Kendall | Go to book overview

11

"Finely Dissembled”

IT IS NOW TIME TO EXAMINE THE ACTIONS AND MOTIVES OF THE COUNterfeiters. At the outset it is important to note that although Sidney was answerable to the queen for his conduct in Flushing, his central point of contact was with Lord Burghley. Millicent Hay cites dozens of letters constituting the Flushing correspondence between Sidney and Burghley before and after January 26, 1592, of which Sidney's letter to Burghley of that date regarding Baines and Marlowe's activities is but a tiny part. It therefore cannot be argued from knowledge of Sidney's correspondence alone that because Sidney wrote to Burghley regarding the counterfeiting enterprise Burghley had prior knowledge of Marlowe and Baines's official purpose in Flushing; nor can it be argued (from this fact at least) that they went to Flushing specifically on Burghley's or the Cecils' behalf. Sidney only had the choice of reporting the incident to Burghley or to the queen.

Taking all this into account, and proceeding with caution, I shall argue that Burghley did have prior knowledge of the Baines/Marlowe mission, as well as attempt to show that one of the counterfeiters at least visited Flushing directly on behalf of the Cecils. This will lead naturally into a discussion (in the following chapter) of whether Marlowe and/or Baines had a private agenda as well as an official one.


1

That Lord Treasurer Burghley did have prior knowledge of Baines's and the playwright's visit to the Low Countries is partly deducible, in my view, from both the tone and content of Lord Governor Sidney's letter. Sidney does nothing to explain the forgers' presence in Flushing. Having interviewed all three culprits, it is inconceivable that he did not ask. It does not follow that the men

-164-

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