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him now ; at which bold civility of theirs, though I were astonished, yet it added to my wonder, that his person could not be thought, at most, but ordinarily handsome : his hair, which was cut very short, half grey; his doublet but of sackcloth cut to his shirt, and his breeches only of plain grey cloth. Informing myself by some standersby who he was, I was told that he was one of the gallantest men in the world, as having killed eight or nine men in single fight,—and that, for this reason, the ladies made so much of him, it being the manner of all Frenchwomen to cherish gallant men, as thinking they could not make so much of any else with the safety of their honour. This cavalier, though his head was half grey, he had not yet attained the age of thirty years, whom I have thought fit to remember more particularly here, because of some passages that happened afterwards betwixt him and me, at the siege of Juliers, as I shall tell in its place.”.
The following is the “ passage” which occurred at the siege of Juliers.
“One day, Sir Edward Cecill and myself coming to the approaches that Monsieur de Balagny had made towards a bulwark or bastion of that city, Monsieur de Balagny, in the presence of Sir Edward Cecill and divers English and French captains then present, said, Monsieur, on dit que vous etes un des plus braves de votre nation, et je suis Balagny, allons voir qui faira-le mieux ; they say, you are one of the bravest of your nation, and I am Balagny, let us see who will do best; whereupon leaping suddenly out of the trenches with his sword drawn, I did in the like manner as suddenly follow him, both of us in the mean while striving who should be foremost, which being perceived by those of the bulwark and cortine opposite to us, three or four hundred shot at least, great and small, were made against us. Our running on forwards, in emulation of each other, was the cause that all the shots fell betwixt us and the trench from which we sallied ; when Monsieur Balagny, finding such a storm of bullets, said, Par dieu il fait bien chaud ; it is very hot here. I answered briefly thus : Vous en ires premier, autrement je n'iray jamais ; you shall go first, or else I will never go. Hereupon he ran with all speed, and somewhat crouching towards the trenches, I followed after leisurely and upright, and yet came within the trenches before they on the bulwark or cortine could charge again; which passage afterwards being related to the Prince of Orange, he said it was a strange bravado of Balagny, and that we went to an unavoidable death."*
* Monsieur Balagny died as might have been expected. “There fell out a great quarrel last week between Monsieur Balagny and one Monsieur Pimocin, who encountering together in the streets, the said Pimocin was slain, and Balagny himself was sorely wounded, and some others who came in to part them.-Winwood's Memorials, iii. 350. In a subsequent Letter, M. Balagny is said to have died of his wounds.
But amidst all our hero's valiant achievements, there is none that can compete with his magnificent encounter with Sir John Ayres, which for the courage, address, and firmness, displayed in it, may rival any legend in the romances of chivalry. Lady Ayres had been so struck with the noble appearance and gallant spirit of Sir Edward Herbert, that she obtained an enamelled miniature of him, which she concealed in her bosom. This incident coming to the knowledge of Sir John, naturally enough excited his jealousy, though the object of the lady's admiration has unequivocally cleared her honour. The desire of vengeance which Sir John Ayres felt was too fierce to allow him to meet his foe in open combat, and he therefore prudently resolved to “ kill him in his bed,” or “ any way that he could.” The following proceedings were the consequence of this valiant resolution.
“ After this, finding he could take no advantage against me, then in a treacherous way he resolved to assassinate me in this manner; hearing I was come to Whitehall on horseback with two lacqueys 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 with a sword and dagger, without giving me so much as the least warning, ran at me furiously, but, instead of me, wounded my horse in the brisket, as far as his sword could 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 hilt. 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 could 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 that he threw me down, so that I remained flat upon the ground, only one foot hanging in the stirrup, 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 stirrup; the other, which was a great fellow, having run 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 could 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 violently against Sir John Ayres; but he, knowing my sword had no point, held his sword and dagger over his head, as believing I could strike rather than thrust, which I no sooner perceived 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 could 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 an 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 received 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 LordDeputy of Ireland, finding the dagger thus in my body, snatched 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 could 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 carried 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.”
Not satisfied with this rencontre, Sir Edward Herbert, as soon as he had fully recovered from his wounds, desired Sir Robert Harley to inform Sir John, that though he thought he had not so much honour left in him, that he could be any way ambitious to get it, yet that he desired to see him in the field
ndofion. The where he Sir Edwardal. On
with his sword in his hand. Sir John's reply was highly characteristic—" that he would kill Sir Edward with a musket out of a window.”
In the year 1614, hearing that the army of the Prince of Orange was about to take the field in the Low-Countries, Sir Edward Herbert offered his services to that general, and received a most gracious welcome. This was his second appearance on this scene, having served with great credit in the year 1610. In the present campaign, he accepted the challenge of a Spanish cavalier, “ That if any cavalier in the enemy's army would fight a single combat for the sake of his mistress, the said Spaniard would meet him.” This duel was only prevented by the interference of the Spanish general. On leaving the army of the Prince of Orange, Sir Edward proceeded through Switzerland to Italy, where he narrowly escaped the fangs of the inquisition. The Duke of Savoy having offered to him the command of four thousand men, whom he was about to send to Piedmont, he accepted the service, and marched at their head to rejoin his old companions in arms. On this journey, he availed himself of the opportunity of calling at Burgoine, as Sir John Firmet and Sir Richard Newport had informed him, that the host's daughter there was the handsomest woman they had ever seen in their lives. Sir Edward has left us a fine Rubens-like picture of her.
“ Waking now about two hours afterwards, I found her sitting by me, attending when I would open mine eyes. I shall touch a little of her description : her hair being of a shining black, was naturally curled in that order that a curious woman would have dressed it, for one curl rising by degrees above another, and every bout tied with a small ribband of a niccarine, or the colour that the Knights of the Bath wear, gave a very graceful mixture, while it was bound up in this manner from the point of her shoulder to the crown of her head; her eyes, which were round and black, seemed to be models of her whole beauty, and in some sort of her air, while a kind of light or flame came from them, not unlike that which the ribband which tied up her hair exhibited; I do not remember ever to have seen a prettier mouth, or whiter teeth ; briefly, all her outward parts seemed to become each other, neither was there any thing that could be misliked, unless one should say her complexion was too brown, which yet from the shadow was heightened with a good blood in her cheeks. Her gown was a green Turkey grogram, cut all into panes or slashes, from the shoulder and sleeves unto the foot, and tied up at the distance of about a hand'sbreadth every where with the same ribband with which her hair was bound; so that her attire seemed as bizarre as her person. I am too long in describing an host's daughter, howbeit, I thought I might better speak of her than of divers other beauties, held to be the best and fairest of the time, whom I have often seen. In conclusion, after about
an hour's stay, I departed thence, without offering so much as the least incivility; and, indeed, after so much weariness, it was enough that her sight alone did somewhat refresh me.”
A peace being concluded with the Spaniards, Sir Edward Herbert returned to England, and on his arrival in London was seized with a quartan ague, which “ brought him at last to be so lean and yellow, that scarce any man did know him.” During this sickness, walking one day towards Whitehall, he happened to meet one Emerson, who spoke some words in his presence, reflecting upon his “ dear friend Sir Robert Harley."
“ Shaking him therefore by a long beard he wore, I stept a little aside, and drew my sword in the street; Captain Thomas Scriven, a friend of mine, being not far off on one side, and divers friends of his on the other side. All that saw me wondered how I could go, being so weak and consumed as I was, but much more that I would offer to fight; however, Emerson, instead of drawing his sword, ran away into Suffolk-house, and afterwards informed the lords of the council of what I had done; who not long after sending for me, did not so much reprehend my taking part with my friends, as that I would adventure to fight, being in such a bad condition of health.” .
As soon as he had recovered from this severe illness, Sir Edward was appointed ambassador to France; an unsolicited honour, conferred upon him by the king's especial direction.
“ My first commission was to renew the oath of alliance betwixt the two crowns, for which purpose I was extraordinary ambassador : which being done, I was to reside there as ordinary. I had received now about six or seven hundred pounds, towards the charges of my journey, and locked it in certain coffers in my house; when the night following, about one of the clock, I could hear divers men speak and knock at the door, in that part of the house where none did lie but myself, my wife, and her attendants; my servants being lodged in another house not far off: as soon as I heard the noise, I suspected presently they came to rob me of my money; however, I thought fit to rise, and go to the window to know who they were; the first word I heard was, Darest thou come down, Welchman? which I no sooner heard, but, taking a sword in one hand, and a little target in the other, I did in my shirt run down stairs, opened the doors suddenly, and charged ten or twelve of them with that fury, that they ran away, Some throwing away their halberts, others hurting their fellows to make them go faster in a narrow way they were to pass; in which disordered manner I drove them to the middle of the street by the Exchange, where, finding my bare feet hurt by the stones I trod on, I thought fit to return home, and leave them to their flight. My servants hearing the noise, by this time were got up, and demanded whether I would have them pursue those rogues that fled away; but I answering that I thought they were out of their reach, we returned home together.”