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was fatal to me, for more reasons than I shall think fit to deliver.
There was a lady also, wife to Sir Jolin Ayres Knight, who finding some means to get a copy of my picture from Larkin, gave it to * Mr. Jsaac the painter in Blackfriars, and desired him to draw it in little after his manner, which being done she caused it to be set in gold and enamellid, and so wore it about her neck so low that she hid it under her breasts, which I conceive coming afterwards to the knowledge of Sir John Ayres, gave him more cause of jealousie than needed, had he known how innocent I was from pretending to any thing which might wrong him or his lady, since I cou'd not so much as imagine that either she had my picture, or that she bare more than ordinary affection to me; it is true that as she had a place in court and attended Queen Ann, and was beside of an excellent wit, and discourse, she had made herself a considerable person; howbeit little more than common civility ever past betwixt us, though I confess I think no man was welcomer to her when I came, for which I shall alledge this passage:
Coming one day into her chamber, I saw her through the curtains laying upon her bed with a wax candle in one hand, and the picture 1 formerly mention'd in the other. I coming thereupon somewhat boldly to her, she blew out the candle, and hid the picture from me; myself thereupon being curious to know what that was she held in her hand, got the candle to be lighted again, by means whereof I found it was my picture she looked upon with more earnestness and passion than I cou'd have easily believ'd, especially since myself was not engaged in any affection towards her: I cou'd willingly have omitted this passage, but that it was the beginning of a bloody history which followed : howsoever yet I must before the Eternal God clear her honor. And now in court a great person sent for me divers times to attend her, which summons though I obeyed, yet God knoweth I declin'd coming to her as much as conveniently I cou'd, without incurring her displeasure; and this I did not only for very honest reasons, but to speak ingenuously, because that affection passed betwixt me and another lady (who I believe was the fairest of her time) as nothing cou'd divert it. I had not been long
* Jsaac Oliver,
in London, when a violent burning fever seized upon me, which brought me almost to my death, though at last I did by slow degrees recover my health ; being thus upon my amendment, the * Lord Lisle afterwards Earl of Leicester, sent me word that Sir Jolin Ayres intended to kill me in my bed, and wisht me to keep a guard upon my chamber and person; the same advertisement was confirm’d by † Lucy Countess of Bedford, and the | Lady Hobby shortly after. Hereupon I thought fit to intreat Sir William Herbert now Lord Powis, to go to Sir John Ayres, and tell'him that I marvelled much at the information given me by these great persons, and that I cou'd not imagine any sufficient ground hereof; howbeit if he had any thing to say to me in a fair and noble way, I wou'd give him the meeting as soon as I had got strength enough to stand upon my legs; Sir William hereupon brought me so ambiguous and doubtfull an answer from him, that whatsoever he meant, he wou'd not declare yet his intention, which was really, as I found afterwards, to kill me any way that he cou'd, since as he said, though falsely, I had whored his wife. Finding no means thus to surprise me, he sent me a letter to this effect ; that he desired to meet me somewhere, and that it might so fall out as I might return quietly again. To this I replied, that if he desired to fight with me upon equal terms, I shou'd upon assurance of the field and fair play give him meeting when he did any way specifie the cause, and that I did not think fit to come to him upon any other terms, having been sufficiently informed of his plots to assassinate me.
After this, finding he cou'd take no advantage against me, then in a treacherous way he resoly'd to assassinate me in this manner; hearing I was to come to Whitehall on horseback with two lackies only, he attended my coming back in a place called Scotland Yard, at the hither end of Whitehall, as you come to it from the Strand, hiding himself here with four men armed on purpose to kill me. I took horse at Whitehall gate and passing by that place, he being armed
* Robert Sidney Earl of Leicester, younger brother of Sir Philip Sydney.
of Lucy Harrington, wife of Edward Earl of Bedford, a great patroness of the wits and poets of that age.
Probably Anne, second wife of Sir Edvard Hobby, a patron of Camden,
with a sword and dagger, without giving me so much as the least warning, ran at me suriously, but instead of me wounded my horse in the brisket, as far as his sword cou'd enter for the bone; my horse hereupon starting aside, he ran him again in the shoulder, which though it made the horse more timorous, yet gave me time to draw my sword : his men thereupon encompassed me and wounded my horse in three places more: this made my horse kick and fling in that manner as his men durst not come near me, which advantage I took to strike at Sir John Ayres with all my force, but he warded the blow both with his sword and dagger : instead of doing him harm, I broke my sword within a foot of the bilt; hereupon some passenger that knew me, and observing my horse bleeding in so many places, and so many men assaulting me, and my sword broken, cried to me several times, ride away, ride away; but I scorning a base flight upon what terms soever, instead thereof alighted as well as I cou'd from my horse; I had no sooner put one foot upon the ground, but Sir John Ayres pursuing me, made at my horse again, which the horse perceiving pressed on me on the side I alighted, in that manner he threw me down, so that I remained fat upon the ground, only one foot hanging in the stirrop, with that piece of a sword in my right hand; Sir John Ayres hereupon ran about the horse and was thrusting his sword into me, when I finding myself in this danger did with both my arms reaching at his legs pull them towards me, 'till he fell down backwards on his head; one of my footmen hereupon, who was a little Shropshire boy, freed my foot out of the stirrop, the other which was a great fellow having ran away as soon as he saw the first assault; this gave me time to get upon my legs, and to put myself in the best posture I cou'd with that poor remnant of a weapon: Sir John Ayres by this time likewise was got up, standing betwixt me and some part of Whitehall, with two men on each side of him, and his brother behind him, with at least twenty or thirty persons of his friends or attendants of the Earl of Suffolk ; observing thus a body of men standing in opposition against me, though to speak truly I saw no swords drawn but by Sir John Ayres and his men, I ran vi. olently against Sir John Ayres, but he knowing my sword had no point, held his sword and dagger over his head, as believing I cou'd strike rather than thrust, which I no sooner perceiv'd but I put a home thrust to the middle of his breast, that I threw him down with so much force, that his head fell first to the ground, and his heels upwards; his men hereupon assaulted me, when one Mr. Mansel, a Glamorganshire gentleman, finding so many set against me alone, closed with one of them, a Scotch gentleman also closing with another, took him off also; all I cou'd well do to those two which remained, was to ward their thrusts, which I did with that, resolution that I got ground upon them. Sir John Ayres was now got up a third time, when I making towards him with intention to close, thinking that there was otherwise no safety for me, put by a thrust of his with my left hand, and so coming within him, receiv'd a stab with his dagger on my right side, which ran down my ribs as far as my hip, which I feeling did with my right elbow force his hand together with the hilt of the dagger so near the upper part of my right side, that I made him leave hold. The dagger now sticking in me, Sir Henry Cary afterwards Lord of Faulkland and Lord Deputy of Ireland, finding the dagger thus in my body snatcht it out; this while I being closed with Sir John Ayres, hurt him on the head, and threw him down a third time, when kneeling on the ground and bestriding him, I struck at him as hard as I cou'd with my piece of a sword, and wounded him in four several places, and did almost cut off his left hand; his two men this while struck at me, but it pleased God even miraculously to defend me, for when I lifted up my sword to strike at Sir John Ayres, I bore off their blows half a dozen times; his friends now finding him in this danger took him by the head and shoulders, and drew him from betwixt my legs, and carrying him along with them through Whitehall, at the stairs whereof he took boat. Sir Herbert Croft (as he told me afterwards) met him upon the water vomiting all the way, which I believe was caused by the violence of the first thrust I gave him ; his servants, brother, and friends being now retired also, I remained master of the place and his weapons, having first wrested his dagger from him, and afterwards struck his sword out of his hand.
This being done I retired to a friend's house in the Strand, where I sent for a surgeon who searching my wound on the right side, and finding it not to be mortal, cured me in the space of some ten days, during which time I received many noble visits and messages from some of the best in the king. dom. Being now fully recover'd of my hurts, I desired * Sir Robert Harley to go to Sir John Ayres, and tell him, that though I thought he had not so much honour left in him, that I cou'd be any way ambitious to get it, yet that I desired to see him in the field with his sword in his hand; the answer that he sent me was, that I had whored his wife, and that he wou'd kill me with a musket out of a window.
The Lords of the Privy Counsell, who had first sent for my sword, that they might see the little fragment of a weapon with which I had so behaved myself, as perchance the like had not been heard in any credible way, did afterwards command both him and me to appear before them; but I absenting myself on purpose, sent one Humphry Hill with a challenge to him in an ordinary, which he refusing to receive, Humphry Hill put it upon the point of his sword, and so let it fall before him, and the company then present.
The Lords of the Privy Counsell had now taken order to apprehend Sir John Ayres, when I finding nothing else to be done, submitted myself likewise to them. Sir John Ayres had now published every where, that the ground of his jealousie, and consequently of his assaulting me, was drawn from the confession of his wife the Lady Ayres: she to vindicate her honour as well as free me from this accusation, sent a letter to her aunt the Lady Crook, to this purpose : that her husband Sir John Ayres did lie falsely, in saying that I ever whored her, but most falsely of all did lie when he said he had it from her confession, for she had never said any such thing.
This letter the Lady Crook presented to me most opportunely as I was going to the Counsell table before the Lords, who having examined Sir John Ayres concerning the cause of his quarrel against me, found him still persist on his wife's confession of the fact; and now he being withdrawn, I was sent for, when the † Duke of Lenox, afterwards of Richmond, telling me that was the ground of his quarrel, and the only excuse he had for assaulting me in that manner; I desired his lordship to peruse the letter, which I told him was given me as I came into the room; this letter being
* Knight of the Bath and Master of the Mint. + Lodowic Stuart Duke of Lenox and Richmond was Lord Steward of the Houshold and Knight of the Garter,