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John Ramsay (1736-1814 - Diarist

He was born on 26 August 1736 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of a lawyer, and succeeded to the family estates of Ochtertyre in 1760. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and was called to the Scottish Bar, but his landowning interests prevented him from ever practising. Like his neighbour Henry Home, Lord Kames, Ramsay was an agrarian improver, but he is remembered for his journal of his life and times, which has earned him a minor, though not insignificant place in Scottish literature. His manuscript, which runs to ten bulky volumes, contains not only his observations of the leading men of his day but also his thought on such diverse subjects as church politics, the law, agriculture and the advisability of education for women. The journal is eminently readable and through his eyes as a visitor a vivid picture emerges of the Edinburgh of the Scottish Enlightment, its leading personalities, and the world of tavern and club. Robert Burns visited Ochtertyre in 1787 and the two men remained friendly correspondents, in spite of Ramsay's exasperation over Burns's refusal to take his advice to write poetry in English instead of 'coarse' Scots. Another eminent literary visitor was, Sir Walter Scott in 1793, through whom Ramsay achieved another kind of literary immortality by providing Scott with his model for Jonathan Oldbuck in The Antiquary.

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