Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/357

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ALLAN RAMSAY.


151


part of his recent works consists in a series of half-length portraits of eminent Scotsmen, which, during this period, he executed for his private gratification.

This amiable and excellent man was suddenly affected with a general decay and debility, not accompanied by any visible complaint This state of illness, after continuing for about a week to baffle all the efforts of medical skill, ter- minated fatally on the 8th July, 1823, when he had reached the age of 67.

Few men were better calculated to command respect in society, than Sir Henry Raeburn. His varied knowledge, his gentlemanly and agreeable man- ners, an extensive command of anecdote, always well told and happily intro- duced, the general correctness and propriety of his whole deportment, made him be highly valued by many of the most distinguished individuals in Edinburgh, both as a companion and as a friend. His conversation might be said in some degree to resemble his style of painting, there was the same ease and simpli- city, the same total absence of affectation of every kind, and the same manly turn of sense and genius. But we are not aware that the humorous gayety and sense of the ludicrous, which often enlivened his conversation, ever guided his pencil.

Sir Henry Raeburn, like Raphael, Michael Angelo, and some other masters of the art, possessed the advantages of a tall and commanding person, and a noble and expressive countenance. He excelled in archery, golf, and other Scottish exercises ; and it may be added that, while engaged in painting, his step and attitudes were at once stately and graceful.

By his lady, who survived him ten years, Sir Henry had two sons ; Peter, a youth of great promise, who died at nineteen ; and Henry, who, with his wife and family, lived under the same roof with his father during the whole of their joint lives, and was his most familiar friend and companion. To the children of this gentleman, the illustrious painter left the bulk of his fortune, chiefly consisting of houses and ground- rents in the suburb of St Bernard's.

RAMSAY, ALLAN, the celebrated poet, was born at the village of Leadhills, in Lanarkshire, October 15, 1686. His parentage was highly respectable, and his ancestry even dignified. His father, Robert Ramsay, was manager of the lead mines in Crawfordmuir, belonging to the earl of Hopetoun ; and his mother, Alice Bower, was the daughter of a gentleman who had been brought from Derbyshire, to introduce and oversee some improvements in the management of the mines. His grandfather, Robert Ramsay, writer or notary in Edinburgh, was the son of captain John Ramsay, a son of Ramsay of Cockpen, whose family was a branch of the Ramsays of Dalhousie, afterwards ennobled. 1 A grandmother of the poet, moreover, was Janet Douglas, daughter of Douglas of Muthil. Though thus well descended, he was reared in the midst of poverty. He had the misfortune to lose his father while he was yet an infant ; and his mother seems almost immediately to have married a Mr Crighton, a small landholder in the neighbourhood. Whether this last circumstance was an addi- tional misfortune, as has been generally assumed by his biographers, we think may reasonably be questioned. It is not at all probable that his father, dying at the age of twenty-five, could have much property ; and the use and wont of even a small landholder's house, is not likely to have been beneath that of a poor widow's. His mother had a number of children to Mr Crighton ; but the subject of this memoir seems to have been cared for in the same way as those were, and to have enjoyed all the advantages appropriate to the same station

1 The laird of Cockpen here mentioned, is usually represented as a brother of Ramsay of Dalhousie ; but the branch seems to have left the main stock at a much earlier period than that would imply. The first Ramsay of Cockpen was a son of Sir Alexander Ramsay, who was knighted at the coronation of James 1., in 1424.