1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Ramsay

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain (1832-34) 3:522.



ALLAN RAMSAY, the son of a superintendent of mines, belonging to Earl Hopetoun, was born in Scotland, on the 13th of October, 1685. He was educated at his parish school, and was desirous of becoming an artist; but, in 1700, at which time he had lost both his parents, his step-father apprenticed him to a barber, at Edinburgh. A passion, however, for poetry, which he had early imbibed, induced him to change his occupation for that of a bookseller; and, in 1721, he published, by subscription, a volume of poems, which procured him both fame and emolument. He next edited a collection of ancient Scottish poems, called The Evergreen, in which those of The Vision, and a fragment of Hardiknute, are considered to be his own productions. In 1728, he printed a second volume of his poems; and, shortly afterwards, appeared his Gentle Shepherd, and two additional cantos of Christie's Kirk of the Grene, the first part of which is attributed to James the First of Scotland. In 1739, Ramsay, having gained a moderate competence, retired to a small house near Edinburgh, where he died, on the 7th of January, 1758. Notwithstanding his early deficiency of education, he made sufficient progress in the French and Latin languages, to effect poetical translations from each. His Gentle Shepherd, which has procured him the appellation of the Scottish Theocritus, displays the rural character in a manner strikingly true to nature, and both in the story and description, cannot fail to charm the reader. It does not appear when he was married, but he left one son, who became an eminent artist.