Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Sir Robert Ayton

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AYTON, Sir Robert (1570-1638), a Scottish lyrical poet, the second son of Andrew Ayton of Kinaldie in Fifeshire, was educated at the University of St Andrews, and seems afterwards to have resided for several years in France, where he gained considerable reputation as a poet and scholar. On the accession of James VI. in 1603, Ayton published a very elegant Latin panegyric, which at once brought him into notice and favour at court. He was knighted by the king, and held various important offices, particularly that of private secretary to the queen. He was of an exceedingly amiable disposition, and was much beloved by his contemporaries; even Ben Jonson, who criticised all other poets so severely, seems to have made an exception in his favour, for he told Drummond that Sir Robert loved him dearly. Ayton's extant works consist of some Latin poems, and of a few pieces in the English dialect, which are distinguished by smoothness of rhythm and delicacy of fancy. His best ode, Inconstancy Reproved, beginning, "I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair," may take rank with the finest pieces of Herrick or Suckling, while a few others are but little inferior. His poems have been collected and published by C. Rogers (Edin. 1844).