“The Prince of Indexers.” He died at the British Museum on the 30th of October 1804.
AYSCUE (erroneously Askew or Ayscough), SIR GEORGE (d. 1671), British admiral, came of an old Lincolnshire family. Beyond the fact that he was knighted by Charles I., nothing is known of his career until in 1646 he received a naval command. Through the latter years of the first civil war, Ayscue seems to have acted as one of the senior officers of the fleet. In 1648, when Sir William Batten went over to Holland with a portion of his squadron, Ayscue's influence kept a large part of the fleet loyal to the Parliament, and in reward for this service he was appointed the following year admiral of the Irish Seas. For his conduct at the relief of Dublin he received the thanks of Parliament, and in 1651 he was employed under Blake in the operations for the reduction of Scilly. He was next sent to the West Indies in charge of a squadron destined for the Conquest of Barbadoes and the other islands still under royalist control. This task successfully accomplished, he returned to take part in the first Dutch War. In this he played a prominent part, but the indecisive battle off Plymouth (August 16th, 1652) cost him his command, though an annuity was assigned him. For some years Sir George Ayscue lived in retirement, but the later years of the Commonwealth he spent in Sweden, Cromwell having despatched him thither as naval adviser. At the Restoration he returned, and became one of the commissioners of the navy, but on the outbreak of the second Dutch War in 1664 he once more hoisted his flag as rear-admiral of the Blue, and took part in the battle of Lowestoft (June 3rd, 1665). In the great Four Days' Battle (June 11th-14th, 1666) he served with Monck as admiral of the White. His flagship, the “Prince Royal,” was taken on the third day, and he himself remained a prisoner in Holland till the peace. It seems doubtful whether he ever again flew his flag at sea, and the date of his death is supposed to be 1671. Lely's portrait of Sir George Ayscue is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich.
AYTOUN, or Ayton, SIR ROBERT (1570-1638), Scottish poet, son of Andrew Aytoun of Kinaldie, Fifeshire, was born in 1570. He was educated at the university of St Andrews, where he was incorporated as a student of St Leonard's College in 1584 and graduated M.A. in 1588. He lived for some years in France, and on the accession of James VI. to the English throne he wrote in Paris a Latin panegyric, which brought him into immediate favour at court. He was knighted in 1612. He held various lucrative offices, and was private secretary to the queens of James I. and Charles I. He died in London and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 28th of February 1638. His reputation with his contemporaries was high, both personally and as a writer, though he had no ambition to be known as the latter.
Aytoun's remains are in Latin and English. In respect of the latter he is one of the earliest Scots to use the southern standard as a literary medium. The Latin poems include the panegyric already referred to, an Epicedium in obitum Thoma Rhodi; Basia, sive Strena ad Jacobum Hayum; Lessus in funere Raphaelis Thorei; Carina Caro; and minor pieces, occasional and epitaphic. His first English poem was Diophantus and Charidora (to which he refers in his Latin panegyric to James). He has left a number of pieces on amatory subjects, including songs and sonnets.
Aytoun's Latin poems are printed in Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum (Amsterdam, 1637), i. pp. 40-75. His English poems are preserved in a MS. in the British Museum (Add. MSS. 10,308), which was prepared by his nephew, Sir John Aytoun. Both were collected by Charles Rogers in The Poems of Sir Robert Aytoun (London, privately printed, 1871). This edition is unsatisfactory, though it is better than the first issue by the same editor in 1844. Additional poems are included which cannot be ascribed to Aytoun, and which in some cases have been identified as the work of others. The poem “I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair” may be suspected, and the old version of “Auld Lang Syne” and “Sweet Empress” are certainly not Aytoun's. Some of the English poems are printed in Watson's Collection (1706-1711) and in the Bannatyne Miscellany, i. p. 299 (1827). There is a memoir of Aytoun in Rogers's edition, and another by Grosart in the Dict. of Nat. Biog. Particulars of his public career will be found in the printed Calendars of State Papers and Register of the Privy Council of the period.
AYTOUN, WILLIAM EDMONSTOUNE (1813-1865), Scottish poet, humorist and miscellaneous writer, was born at Edinburgh on the 21st of June 1813. He was the only son of Roger Aytoun, a writer to the signet, and the family was of the same stock as Sir Robert Aytoun noticed above. From his mother, a woman of marked originality of character and considerable culture, he derived his distinctive qualities, his early tastes in literature, and his political sympathies, his love for ballad poetry, and his admiration for the Stuarts. At the age of eleven he was sent to the Edinburgh Academy, passing in due time to the university. In 1833 he spent a few months in London for the purpose of studying law; but in September of that year he went to study German at Aschaffenburg, where he remained till April 1834. He then resumed his legal pursuits in his father's chambers, was admitted a writer to the signet in 1835, and five years later was called to the Scottish bar. But, by his own confession, though he “followed the law, he never could overtake it.” His first publication—a volume entitled Poland, Homer, and other Poems, in which he gave expression to his eager interest in the state of Poland—had appeared in 1832. While in Germany he made a translation in blank verse of the first part of Faust; but, forestalled by other translations, it was never published. In 1836 he made his earliest contributions to Blackwood's Magazine, in translations from Uhland; and from 1839 till his death he remained on the staff of Blackwood. About 1841 he became acquainted with Mr (afterwards Sir) Theodore Martin, and in association with him wrote a series of light humorous papers on the tastes and follies of the day, in which were interspersed the verses which afterwards became popular as the Bon Gaultier Ballads (1855). The work on which his reputation as a poet chiefly rests is the Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers (1848; 29th ed. 1883). In 1845 he was appointed professor of rhetoric and belles lettres at Edinburgh University. His lectures were very attractive, and the number of students increased correspondingly. His services in support of the Tory party, especially during the Anti-Corn-Law struggle, received official recognition in his appointment (1852) as sheriff of Orkney and Zetland. In 1854 appeared Firmilian, a Spasmodic Tragedy, in which he attacked and parodied the writings of Philip James Bailey, Sydney Dobell and Alexander Smith; and two years later he published his Bothwell, a Poem. Among his other literary works are a Collection of the Ballads of Scotland (1858), a translation of the Poems and Ballads of Goethe, executed in co-operation with his friend Theodore Martin (1858), a small volume on the Life and Times of Richard I. (1840), written for the Family Library, and a novel entitled Norman Sinclair (1861), many of the details in which are taken from incidents in his own experience. In 1860 Aytoun was elected honorary president of the Associated Societies of Edinburgh University. In 1859 he lost his first wife, a daughter of John Wilson (Christopher North), to whom he was married in 1849, and this was a great blow to him. His mother died in November 1861, and his own health began to fail. In December 1863 he married Miss Kinnear. He died at Blackhills, near Elgin, on the 4th of August 1865.
See Memoir of W. E. Aytoun (1867), by Sir Theodore Martin, with an appendix containing some of his prose essays.
AYUB KHAN (1855- ), Afghan prince, son of Shere Ali (formerly amir of Afghanistan), and cousin of the amir Abdur Rahman, was born about 1855. During his father's reign little is recorded of him, but after Shere Ali's expulsion from Kabul by the English, and his death in January 1879, Ayub took possession of Herat, and maintained himself there until June 1881, when he invaded Afghanistan with the view of asserting his claims to the sovereignty, and in particular of gaining possession of Kandahar, still in the occupation of the British. He encountered the British force commanded by General Burrows at Maiwand on the 27th of July, and was able to gain one of the very few pitched battles that have been won by Asiatic leaders over an army under European direction. His triumph, however, was short-lived; while he hesitated to assault Kandahar he was attacked by Sir Frederick (afterwards Lord) Roberts, at the close of the latter's memorable march from Kabul, and utterly discomfited,