HUGH MORRICE

 
Full Name: Hugh Morrice
Nationality: British
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: William Le Queux
Time Span: 1911 - 1911
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Hugh Morrice is an agent for the British Secret Service.
       Numerous times in the pages of this man's adventure, the organization for which he works is called just that, the Secret Service. [Note: A few times, though, a related name is used, one first used by another author a decade earlier, that of the Secret Service Fund. In Morrice's case, however, the latter title is more specifically used to describe the "bank" from which expense and bribe money is routinely drawn.]
       Heading this powerful but highly clandestine organization is Sir Charles Houghton, a man for whom his agents have tremendous respect and admiration for it is said that Houghton had in his younger years been one of the first and best agents HMG had working for it. Morrice routinely calls his employer "the Chief".
       Morrice is not, apparently, the real name of the agent but one chosen by him to disguise who he really is. Whether this alias is used just inside the pages of his records or the one he used in all his dealings is not revealed and truly is not important. Morrice is how we, the readers, know him.
       He is described rather glowingly by the author, his friend, as "an accomplished linguist, a brilliant raconteur, a good all round sportsman, a polished diplomat, a born adventurer, a cosmopolitan of cosmopolitans,
still under forty, and a friend of half a dozen reigning sovereigns, it was declared of him by the German Imperial Chancellor not long ago that he knew more of the Continent, and of the undercurrents of international politics, than any other living man. Many a time has secret information, supplied by him, turned the tide of political events in Great Britain’s favour." Rather impressive praise all around.
       Intrepid is a splendid word to also describe Morrice for he is willing to walk into any lion's den at a moment's notice but to give the man credit, he does not do so blindly or without a care. He honestly mentions more than once a chill down his spine or an uneasy feeling that draws fear into him but he steadfastly overcomes it to take on whatever adversary shows up.
       Morrice is very much appreciative of the beauty of the opposite sex and he is definitely one who would never pat one on the head and tell her to leave this work to the men-folk. In far too many adventures of that era, a woman was either a dolt or a soon-to-be damsel-in-distress. In the missions of Morrice, far more women are as stalwart as he and even more dangerous. He has his life saved by at least one and has it put into dire danger by a couple. For all his attraction to women, though, we do not find any significant other in his life, though considering the fact that the man is constantly on the go, that is hardly surprising.

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:1911
Last Appearance:1911

       The subtitle for this collection, for the author, William Le Queux, was extremely found of giving many of his collections a lengthy one, is "Being the autobiography of Hugh Morrice, chief travelling agent of the confidential department of His Britannic Majesty's Government".
       Le Queux maintained, as is again quite common in the literary world, that the adventures laid down in print in this volume were ones described to him by Morrice.
       Many volumes such as this one were often collections of stories first printed elsewhere such as a magazine or a newspaper. A very frequent contributor to this website has found where two of the stories were in the anthology magazine The Story-Teller prior to the collection. While the history of the others has not been yet determined, it is probable they had similar origins.
       After a lengthy foreword, the adventures are broken into Chapters which makes it look at first glance that the book is one long tale but that is not the case here. Each chapter is a separate mission that Morrice is involved in and could easily stand on its own.

       The collection was originally released in 1911 by F.V.White & Co. It has long since passed into the Public Domain so recently some enterprising company released it in physical and electronic format, both at a decent price.

1 Revelations of the Secret Service Revelations of the Secret Service
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Collection of a dozen short stories of the adventures of Hugh Morrice, agent of the British Secret Service. The stories are:
Chapter One Reveals Some Personal Secrets
Chapter Two Reveals the Three Traitors
Chapter Three Concerns the Brass Butterfly
Chapter Four Reveals the Mystery of the King's Messenger
Chapter Five Reveals the Usborne Affair
Chapter Six Reveals the Black Boudoir
Chapter Seven Reveals the Velvet Hand
Chapter Eight Reveals the Spy Pierron
Chapter Nine Reveals the Perfume of Mystery
Chapter Ten Reveals the Secret of Stana
Chapter Eleven Reveals the Story of the Cipher
Chapter Twelve Reveals the Cotton Glove

1 Revelations of the Secret Service Revelations of the Secret Service
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Collection of a dozen short stories of the adventures of Hugh Morrice, agent of the British Secret Service. The stories are:
Chapter One Reveals Some Personal Secrets
Chapter Two Reveals the Three Traitors
Chapter Three Concerns the Brass Butterfly
Chapter Four Reveals the Mystery of the King's Messenger
Chapter Five Reveals the Usborne Affair
Chapter Six Reveals the Black Boudoir
Chapter Seven Reveals the Velvet Hand
Chapter Eight Reveals the Spy Pierron
Chapter Nine Reveals the Perfume of Mystery
Chapter Ten Reveals the Secret of Stana
Chapter Eleven Reveals the Story of the Cipher
Chapter Twelve Reveals the Cotton Glove

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:12
First Appearance:1911
Last Appearance:1911

1 Chapter One Reveals Some Personal Secrets Chapter One Reveals Some Personal Secrets
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #1 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - Describes how Hugh Morrice as a young man fell in love with beautiful young woman and how that relationship ended tragically but helped shape the man who was to be.

2 Chapter Two Reveals the Three Traitors Chapter Two Reveals the Three Traitors
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #2 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - Sent to meet with some men of moderate standing in France who wish to reveal state secrets for a price, Hugh Morrice smells a rat, and a trap.

3 Chapter Three Concerns the Brass Butterfly Chapter Three Concerns the Brass Butterfly
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #3 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service, originally publised as The Brass Butterfly in The Story-Teller #38, May 1910 - An agent, Jack Devrill, for whom Morrice has tremendous respect has suddenly disappeared in Vienna. Morrice is determined to find what happened to him and he is certain a rather ugly brass butterfly statuette Devrill recently purchased holds the key.

4 Chapter Four Reveals the Mystery of the King's Messenger Chapter Four Reveals the Mystery of the King's Messenger
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #4 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - A fellow agent and close friend of Hugh Morrice is waylaid while couriering some vital documents, his dead body found in a tunnel in the Alps. Morrice needs to get the papers back but is also wanting justice for his friend.

5 Chapter Five Reveals the Usborne Affair Chapter Five Reveals the Usborne Affair
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #5 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - A German is arriving in London who wishes to sell the secrets to a new German gun that might give them supremacy in battle. The Royal Army officer assisting Hugh Morrice in this is found dead in his hotel room inside a locked room. Suicide is the natural verdict but Morrice is certain otherwise.

6 Chapter Six Reveals the Black Boudoir Chapter Six Reveals the Black Boudoir
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #6 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service, originally publised as The Black Boudoir in The Story-Teller #22, Jan 1909 - A woman scorned is a dangerous creature but a woman whose husband is purposefully sent by his government to a place to be killed is one out for revenge and that is what Morrice finds he must deal with in this mission.

7 Chapter Seven Reveals the Velvet Hand Chapter Seven Reveals the Velvet Hand
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #7 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - The woman known as the Velvet Hand is Mademoiselle Gabrielle, one of the chief assistants of the head of the French Secret Service. She is one of Morrice's fiercest opponents. Which is why her passing a note to warn him of eminent capture on a mission is so curious.

8 Chapter Eight Reveals the Spy Pierron Chapter Eight Reveals the Spy Pierron
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #8 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service - When Hugh Morrice had need of the help of an enemy spy like Henriette Darbour, he knew getting that assistance would be nearly impossible. They had fought several times and were on opposite sides. Still, he needed her so he needed to help her first by breaking the hold the criminal Banfield had over her.

9 Chapter Nine Reveals the Perfume of Mystery Chapter Nine Reveals the Perfume of Mystery
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #9 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service -

10 Chapter Ten Reveals the Secret of Stana Chapter Ten Reveals the Secret of Stana
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #10 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service -

11 Chapter Eleven Reveals the Story of the Cipher Chapter Eleven Reveals the Story of the Cipher
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #11 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service -

12 Chapter Twelve Reveals the Cotton Glove Chapter Twelve Reveals the Cotton Glove
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1911

Story #12 in the collection Revelations of the Secret Service -

MY COMMENTS

       I have read several incredibly scathing reviews of the work of William Le Queux and, to be honest, I just do not get the vitriol.
       Yes, the books are a tad over the top when it comes to the aggrandisement of the main character but then so many of the more modern books do pretty much the same thing. The key complaint I have heard, though, is that he was extremely bellicose in his screeching about the dangers from Germany. A couple of critics have shackled him with the "blame" for the existence of both MI5 and MI6 due to his sensational claims of authenticity for some of his books.
       "Watch out for Germany!" he would cry in many, many of his publications. "Beware Austria-Hungary and their evil cousin, the Kaiser." A hundred years later and people still seem to exoriate him for his rabid conspiracy theories. And yet, reading these stories herein, I am conscious of the fact that the adventures that Morrice took part in, most of which were to try to keep the Kaiser's forces at bay, were published THREE YEARS before the start of World War I!!!
       It is said that no man is a prophet in his own land. I would think, though, that after a century has passed and history proved him more right than wrong, critics might cut him a bit more slack.

       By the way, the stories are a hoot to read. Just thought I would throw that in after my lengthy sermon.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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