Two weeks before he lay down in his tuxedo at the Boston Ritz-Carlton Hotel and died in what police say was probably suicide, Washington lobbyist Craig J. Spence invited a production company to his home to shoot a "video postcard," a seven-minute final message to his friends. Seated in a leather chair in his dark green dining room, the 49-year-old former television reporter said nothing of death. He was upbeat ("Take heart, good friends"). He joked that his Maltese dog, Winston, had been maligned in news reports as a terrier. And he philosophized about a life that disintegrated in the four months since he was linked in stories in the Washington Times to a male escort service being investigated by federal authorities and to unauthorized midnight tours of the White House. "The pressures on us over the past several years have been, let us say, significant," Spence said in the videotape. "Keeping a cheerful spirit in the midst of these pressures isn't easy, but Winston's holding up, and I'm working at it." He chuckled. Last week, Spence arranged for delivery of as many as a dozen copies of the numbered videotapes, including one provided yesterday to The Washington Post, "in case I ever disappear." He sent to a friend six cardboard boxes containing old television broadcasts and American-Asian policy study papers that made up his life's work. He left Winston with his personal aide. Police and a friend of Spence's in contact with police, who asked not to be identified, gave this account yesterday of his death: At 5:30 a.m. Friday, after a week in Boston during which he visited friends and handed out $100 tips to waiters, Spence was in Room 429 of the Ritz-Carlton. He had set out a copy of his will and his birth certificate. He moved the bed to block the door. He dressed in a black tuxedo with white bow tie and white suspenders. His black shoes were shined. Then he lay on the bed and called another friend in Virginia. "He told him not to have any regrets personally, and he said he had taken a lot of pills," said the Washington friend who provided the account to The Post. "He began to ramble and be incoherent." The Virginia friend, whose identity was not disclosed, hung up the phone and frantically called the Ritz-Carlton to report that Craig Spence appeared to be dying in his room. The operator said the hotel had no record of anyone by that name. Investigators later learned that Spence had registered under the name C.F. Kane, an apparent reference to Charles Foster Kane, protagonist of Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane," Spence's favorite movie. Spence's body was not discovered until Friday afternoon, when a housekeeper could not open the door. Firefighters sawed through the door and found him on the bed, the telephone cradled on his shoulder. On Saturday, the hotel staff found a bottle of prescription anti-depressants hidden in the bathroom, a source said. An autopsy was performed Saturday, but the cause of death will not be established until toxicology tests are complete, possibly in two to three weeks, according to an official in the Boston Medical Examiner's Office. Spence, a lobbyist and party host previously known mainly to a few Washington insiders and Asian experts, became nationally prominent only in disgrace. On June 29, The Washington Times named him as a customer of a homosexual prostitution service in a Chevy Chase home that had been broken up in February. Police and U.S. Secret Service officials said their investigation centered on possible credit card fraud. The Times also reported that Spence had taken male prostitutes on a midnight tour of the White House on the Fourth of July weekend in 1988 and that he had "served drugs, sex at parties bugged for blackmail." Recently, law enforcement officials and Liz Trotta, a friend of Spence's and a tour participant, have said none of the people on the tour was a prostitute. Spence himself was not present on the Fourth of July tour, according to Trotta and law enforcement sources. Authorities say Spence took others on tours of public areas of the White House at night on other occasions, with the help of a Secret Service agent who has acknowleged accepting a Rolex watch from Spence and giving him a piece of White House china. Spence was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in August, but the U.S. Attorney's Office later withdrew the subpoena, according to Spence's attorney. In his videotape postcard, Spence criticized The Times, referring to it as "a local cult-owned newspaper." He reserved his strongest criticism for the government, saying it distorted "the Craig Spence puzzle." "The government, through its various agencies and ambitious officials, sometimes looks right at the key pieces and cannot or will not see the picture," he said. "Worse, it sometimes pockets a piece or two to ensure that the puzzle is never put together." Spence, whose lobbying business was collapsing, had told some friends he had AIDS and might attempt suicide. To others, he denied both. In the video, he appeared healthy, vigorous and poised. He defended his patriotism, which friends said he felt was maligned by the unproven allegation of blackmail. He showed off a plaque given to him by Marines after he contributed money for a military gymnasium in El Salvador. Known for dropping hints that he worked for the CIA, he did not directly deny any blackmail. "Some of you may know when it comes to the intelligence community, there is no such thing as coincidence. Now, I'm not sure I've seen the whole picture yet myself." "I'll close by telling you I'm sure that in the end the truth will come out and this too will pass," he said. "Now, I may be naive about my optimism, but I'm an American, proud of my country and confident of the fairness of its people. So take heart, good friends, and share that pride and that confidence with me. Good night and God bless."