A spy abroad
Danger's the chiefest way to happiness.
(Guise, The Massacre at Paris)
MARLOWE'S well-being, his career and living arrangements had been hinging on a need for funds. Apart from the spymaster's cousin, he had three known patrons after the Parker grant. One of them, Lord Strange, became wary of him, and neither the 'Wizard Earl' nor Sir Walter Ralegh, who had difficulties after an impolitic wedding, was likely to supply him regularly with cash. There was a shortfall in his expectations. Having bought weapons and smart attire he may not have lived above his means; but he had reason to worry. Near a brothel or a bowling alley, cheap rooms were available, and east of the Curtain were damp, underground dens in which one could live if funds ran short. If such arrangements did not appeal to him, he had to confront the fact, in 1590, that his best patron was in trouble.
After retiring to Kent, about a dozen miles from his office in the capital, Thomas Walsingham at first was prudent. But when sued for a large debt of 200 marks, by one Thomas Lund, he failed to turn up at the court's request and landed in the Fleet prison. 'Moved by pity', as the justices wrote on 27 May, 'we have pardoned the same Thomas Walsingham for the said outlawry.' Though freed, he had to find 200 marks, or £133. 6s. 8d., to pay off Lund (a sum equal to £67,000 or more today), and the debt suggests that his affairs were encumbered.1
With little aid from that patron, Marlowe looked to other sources. As