Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Monsieur Le Doux was European scholar Catharinus Dulcis (1540-1626) by Geoffrey Caveney and Peter Farey

Readers of this blog are probably well familiar with Monsieur Le Doux, who in 1595 was a tutor at the home of Sir John Harington in Rutland, was instructed on the gathering of intelligence for the Earl of Essex and Anthony Bacon in 1596, and whose name appears briefly in Thomas Birch's Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and in Bacon's papers. We had believed until very recently that Le Doux might have been an identity for the surviving Christopher Marlowe in hiding. But we now know this was not the case.

In fact, this Monsieur Le Doux was Catharinus Dulcis or Catherin Le Doux, a reputable European scholar of the Italian and French languages. He was born in Savoy in 1540, worked for a long time as an itinerant tutor to young noblemen, and became a professor of Italian and French at the University of Marburg in Germany in 1605. He compiled an Italian-Latin dictionary, translated works by Tasso and Terence, and wrote a comedy of his own, Tobie (Tobias). Much information about his life can be found at this German website.

Marburg was the world's first Protestant-founded university, and in fact Dulcis's Protestant beliefs were the reason he had to leave the Continent and stay in England as Monsieur Le Doux in the period 1594-1596.

Co-author Caveney first discovered the identity of Le Doux as Dulcis in a letter Dulcis wrote from London in November 1594 to Sir John Skene. It appears on pp. 156-157 of the book Memorials of the family of Skene of Skene..., published in 1887. The letter is written in French and signed "Le Doulx," and below it, "CATHARINUS DULCIS".  Among other things in the letter,  he mentions the kindness and courtesy of Anthony Bacon.

Further research by the two of us has uncovered abundant confirming information that clearly shows that this man must have been Monsieur Le Doux. Dulcis's own autobiographical sketch Vitae Curriculi Breviarium, written in Latin, mentions his time in England working for Essex and Bacon and even tutoring for the Haringtons, the main activity of Le Doux that we knew of from Bacon's papers. This work of Dulcis also mentions Antonio Perez, Mittelburg, Baron Zeirotine, Count Maurice of Nassau, Archduke Albert and Henri d'Eberbach, all figures who appeared in Le Doux's correspondence as we knew it.

Finally, co-author Farey examined a letter by Dulcis in 1607 and found that the handwriting and signature are so similar to those found in the letters that we have of Monsieur Le Doux, that it is quite clear that they were written by the same person.

©  Geoffrey Caveney and Peter Farey, May 2014