Ramsay, Andrew Michael

, frequently styled the Chevalier Ramsay, a title by which he frequently signed his letters, was a Scotsman of an ancient family, and was born at Ayr in that kingdom, June 9, 1636. He received the first part of his education at Ayr, and was then removed to Edinburgh; where, distinguishing himself by good parts and uncommon proficiency, he was sent for to St. Andrew’s, in order to attend a son of the earl of Wemyss in that university. After this, he travelled to Holland, and went to Leyden; where, becoming acquainted with Poiret, the mystic divine, he became tinctured with his doctrines; and resolved, for farther satisfaction, to consult the celebrated Fenelon, archbishop of Camhray, who had long imbibed the fundamental principles of that theology. Before he left Scotland, he had conceived a disgust to all the forms of religion in his native country, and had settled in a species of deism, which became confirmed during his abode in Holland, yet not without leaving him sometimes in a considerable state of perplexity. | On his arrival at Cambray in 1710, he was received with great kindness by the archbishop, who took him into his family, heard with patience and attention the history of his religious principles, entered heartily with him into a discussion of them, and, in six months’ time, is said to have ^made him as good a catholic as himself.

The subsequent course of his life received its direction from his friendship and connections with this prelate. Feiielon had been preceptor to the duke of Burgundy, heirapparent, after the death of his father the dauphin, to the crown of France; yet neither of them came to the possession of it, being survived by Lewis XIV. who was succeeded by his great grandson, son to the duke of Burgundy, and now Lewis XV. Ramsay, having been first governor to the duke de Charteau-Thiery and the prince de Turenne, was made knight of the order of St. Lazarus; and afterwards was invited to Rome by the chevalier de St. George, styled there James III. king of Great Britain, to take the charge of educating his children. He went accordingly to that court in 1724; but the intrigues and dissentions, which he found on his arrival there, gave him so much uneasiness, that, with the Pretender’s leave, he presently returned to Paris. Thence he returned to Scotland, and was kindly received by the duke of Argyle and Greenwich; in whose family he resided some years, and employed his leisure there in writing several of his works. In 1730 he had the degree of doctor of law conferred on him at Oxford, being admitted for this purpose of St. Mary hall in April of that year, and presented to his degree by the celebrated tory Dr. King, the principal of that house. After his return to France, he resided some time at Pontoise, a seat of the prince de Turenne, duke de Bouillon with whom he continued in the post of intendant till his death, May 6, 1743, at St. Germaiu-en-Laie, where his body was interred; but his heart was deposited in the nunnery of St. Sacrament at Paris.

His works are, 1. “Discours sur le Poeme Epique;” prefixed to the later editions of Telemachus. V 2. “La Vie de Mr. Fenelon,” of which there is an English translation. 3. “Essai sur le Gouvernrnent Civil.” 4. “Le Psychometre, ou Reflexions sur les dirTerens characteres de ressprit, par un Milord Anglois.” These are remarks upon lord Shaftesbury’s Characteristics. 5. “Les Voyages de Cyrus,” in French and English, the only work of his much | known in this country. It is a professed imitation of Telemachus, and we can remember was once a very popular book. 6. “L’Histoire de M. de Turenne, in French and English.” 7. “Poems,” somewhat in the mystic and inflated style, printed at Edinburgh, 1728, 4to, seemingly without his knowledge. 8. “Two Letters in French, to M. Racine the son, upon the true sentiments of Mr. Pope, in his Essay on Man.” These were printed after his decease, in “Les Oeuvres de M. Racine le fils,” torn. II. 1747, and form a kind of defence of Pope from the charge of irreiigion in the “Essay.” This is a subject of which the chevalier was perhaps a better judge than of philosophy; for in one of these letters he calls Locke gtnia superfci’el, “a superficial genius.” Two posthumous works of his were also printed at Glasgow: 9. “A plan of education;” and, 10. “Philosophical Principles of natural and revealed Religion, explained and unfolded in a geometrical order,1749, 2 vols. 4to, neither of which ever attracted much attention. The last, his French biographers seem to be of opinion, must have been either falsely attributed to him, or much altered by his editors, as he maintains the doctrine of the metempsychosis, and denies the eternity of hell-torments; and not only contends that these were the sentiments of Fenelon, but that they are agreeable to the decisions of the church. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Swift’s Works. Warton’s Essay on Pope.