Page images

order of St. Michael; and, a little before his death, raised him to the rank of Nobless. He was a man of good morals, and lived happily with a wife whom he tenderly loved. He died at Paris, Sept. 12, 1764; and his exequies were celebrated with great musical solemnity.

As a theorist, the character of Rameau stands very high, and Handel always spoke of him with great respect'; but as a musical composer, his merit (it seems) remains to be settled. Besides the tracts abovementioned, there Hawkins's are extant of his, “ Generation Harmoniquc, Paris, 1737;” Muleroy and “ Nouvelles Reflexions sur la Démonftration,” &c.

P: 386.

RAMSAY (ANDREW MICHAEL), frequently styled the chevalier Ramsay, a polite writer, was a Scotsman of an ancient family; and was born at Ayre in that kingdom, June 9, 1686. He received the first part of his Biographia education at Ayre, and was then removed to Edinburgh ; Britannica, 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 Weems in that university. After this, he travelled to Holland, and went te Leyden : where falling into the acquaintance of Poiret, a celebrated mystic divine, he became tinctured with his doctrines ; and resolved for further satisfaction to consult Fenelon, the famed archbishop of Cambray, who had long imbibed the fundamental principles of that theology. Before he left Scotland, he had conceived a difgust to the religion in which he was bred; and in that ill-humour, casting his eye upon other Christian churches, and seeing none to his liking, he became displeased with all, and gave into Deism. During his abode in Holland, he grew more confirmed in that way of thinking; yet without coming to any fixed determination. In this unsettled state of mind, he arrived at Cambray in 1710, and 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, to be short, in fix months time made him as good a Catholic as hiinself.

The subsequent course of his life received its direction from his friendship and connections with this prelate. Fenelon had been preceptor to the duke of Burgundy, heir-apparent, after the death of his father the dauphin, to the crown of France; yet neither of them came to the potreslion of it, being survived by Lewis XIV. who was



fucceeded by his great grandfon, fon to the duke of Bur. gundy, and now Lewis XV. Ramsay, having been first governor to the duke de Chateau-Thiery and the prince de Turenne, was made kniglit of the order of St. Lazarus; and afterwards sent for 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. Then he crossed the water to his own country, and was kindly received by the duke of Argyle and Greenwich ; in whose family he refided some years, and employed his leisure there in writing several ingenious pieces. We are told, that in the mean time he had the degree of doctor of law conferred on him at Oxford ; that he was admitted for this purpose of St. Mary Hall in April 1730 ; and that he was presented. to his degree by 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. This happened on the 6th of May 1743, at St. Germain-en-Lase, where his body was interred; but his heart was depofited in the nunnery of St. Sacrament at Paris.

His works are, 1. “ Discours sur le Poëme Epique;" prefixed to the later cditions of Telemachus. 2. " La " Vie de Mr. Fenelon.” 3. “ Essai sur le Gouvernment “ Civil.” 4. Le Psychometre, ou Reflexions sur les dif“ ferens characters de l'esprit, par un Milord Anglois.” These are remarks upon lord Shaftesbury's Characteristics. 5. “ Les Voyages de Cyrus," in French ; and, in English, “ The Travels of Cyrus.” This is his Chef d'Oeuvre, and hath gone through several editions in both languages. 6. “ L'Histoire de M. de Turenne, in “ French and English.” 7. “ Several small pieces of poe

try, in English.” 8. “ Two Letters in French, to M. “ Racine the son, upon the true sentiments of Mr. Pope, 66 in his Essay on Man.' These were 'printed after his decease, in.“ Les Oeuvres de M. Racine le fils,” tom. II., 1747. In the former of these, he calls Locke genie superficiel, a superficial genius ;” and has shewn by this, that whatever ingenuity and polite literature he might possess (and he poflefled a very confiderable. portion of both), he

See art.

was not qualified in any degree to judge of philosophers.
Two posthumous works of his were also printed at Glas-
gow. 9. A plan of education :” and, 10. “ Philofo-
«phical Principles of natural and revealed Religion, ex

plained and unfoulded in-a geometrical Order. 1749." in 2 vols. 4to.


RAMUS (PETER.) a most famous professor of France, was born in 1515, in a village of Vermandois in Picardy. His family was good, but had suffered greai liardihips and injuries from the wars. His grandfather, having lost all Bavie's his poffeffions, was obliged to turn collier for a livelihood. Di&t. in His father followed husbandry; and himself was not happier than his father and grandfather, his life being, says Bayle, the sport of fortune, or one continued vicissitude of good and ill fortune. He was scarce out of the cradle, when he was twice attacked with the plague. At eight years of age, a thirst after learning prompted him to go to Paris ; but poverty forced him to leave that city. He returned to it as soon as he could ; but, being unable to support himself, he left it a second tiine : yet his passion for study was so violent, that, notwithstanding his ill fortune in two journeys, he ventured upon a third. He was maintained there some months by one of his uncles, after which he was obliged to be a servant in the college of Navarre. He spent the day in waiting upon his masters, and the greatest part of the night in ftudy. What is related in the first Scaligerana, of his living to nineteen without learning to read, and of his being very dull and stupid, is not credible.

After having finished classical learning and rhetoric, he went through a course of philosophy, which took him up three years and a half in the schools. The thesis, which he made for his master of arts degree, offended all the world : for he maintained in it, that “ all which Aristotlo “ had advanced was false;" and he answered extremely well the objections of the professors. This success inclined him to examine the doctrine of Aristotle more closely, and to combat it vigorously: but he confined himself principally to his Logic. The two first books he published, the one intituled, “ Institutiones Diale&ticæ,” the other, “ Ariftotelicæ Animadverfioncs," occafioned great disturbances in the university of Paris. The profeffors there, who were adorers of Aristotle, ought to have refuted Ramus's books by writings and lectures ; but,


initead of confining themselves within the juft bounds of academical wars, they prosecuted this anti-peripatetic before the civil magistrate, as a man who was going to fap the foundations of religion. They raised such clamours, that the cause was carried before the parliament of Paris : but the moment they perceived it would be examined equitably, and according to the usual forms, they by their intrigues took it from that tribunal, and brought it before the king's council; and Francis I. was obliged to interfere in it. The king ordered, that Ramus and Antony Govea, who was his principal adversary, should chuse two judges each, to pronounce on the controversy, after they should have ended their disputation ; while he himielf appointed a deputy. Ramus, in obedience to the king's orders, appeared before the five judges, though three of them were his declared enemies. The dispute laited two days, and Govea had all the advantages he could desire ; Ramus's books being prohibited in all parts of the kingdom, and their author sentenced not to teach philofophy any longer. His enemies discovered a most surprising joy on that account: they made a greater noise in proportion, than the proudest princes for the taking of a contiderable city, or the winning of a very important victory. The sentence of the three judges was published in Latin and French in all the streets of Paris, and in all parts of Europe, whither it could be sent. Plays were acted with great pomp, in which Ramus was mocked and abused a thousand ways, in the midit of the applauses and acclamations of the Ariftotelians. This happened in 1543.

The year after, the plague made great havoc in Paris, ind forced most of the students in the College of Prele to quit it; but Ramus, being prevajied upon to teach in it, foon drew together a great number of auditors. The Sorbonne attempted to drive him from that college, but to no purpose ; for he held the headihip of that house hy arret of parliament. Through the patronage and protection of the cardinal of Lorrain, he obtained in 1547 from Henry 11. the liberty of speaking and writing, and the royal professorship of philosophy and cloquence in 1551. The parliament of Paris had, before this, maintained him in the liberty of joining philosophical lectures to those of eloquence, and this arret or decree had

put an end to several profecutions, which Ramus and his pupils had fuffered : for they had been prosecuted several ways, both before the university-judges and the civil man


[ocr errors]

giftratęs. As soon as he was made regius professor, he was fired with a new zeal for improving the sciences; and was extremely laborious and active on this occasion, notwithstanding the hatred of his enemies, who were never at reft. He bore at that time a part in a very singular affair, which deserves to be mentioned. About 1550, the royal professors corrected, among other abuses, that which had crept into the pronunciation of the Latin tongue. Some of the clergy followed this regulation ; but the Sorbonnists were much offended at it as an innovation, and defended the old pronunciation with great zcal. Things at length were carried so far, that a minister, who had a good living, was very ill treated by them; and caused to be ejected from his benefice for having pronounced Quilquis, Quanquam, according to the new way, instead of Kiškis, Kankam, according to the old. The minister applied to the parliament; and the royal profeffors with Kamus among them, fearing he would fall a victim to the credit and authority of the faculty of divines, for prefaming to pronounce the Latin tongue according to their regulations, thought it incumbent on them to affist him. Accordingly, they went to the court of justice; and represented in such strong terms the indignity of the prolecution, that the person accused was cleared, and every body had the liberty of pronouncing as they pleased.

Ramus was bred up in the Catholic religion, but afterwards deserted it. He began to discover his new prinçiples, by removing the images from the chapel of his college of Prele. This was in 1552 ; when such a prosecution was raised against him by the Religionists, as well as Ariftotelians, that he was not only driven out of liis professorship, but obliged to conceal himself. For that purpose, he went with the king's leave to Fontainbleau; where, by the help of books in the king's library, he pursued geometrical and aftronomical studies. As soon as his enemies knew where he was, he found himself no where safe : so that he was forced to go and conçeal himself in several other places. During this interval, his excellent and curious collection of books in the college of Prele was plundered ; but, after a peace was concluded in 1563, between Charles IX. and the Protestants, he again took poffeffion of his employment, maintained himself in it with vigour, and was particularly zealous in promoting the study of the matheinaticks. This lasted till the second civil war in 1567, when he


« PreviousContinue »