• Andrew Michael Ramsay

    Andrew Michael Ramsay (January 9, 1686 - May 6, 1743), commonly called the Chevalier
    Ramsay, was a Scottish-born writer who lived most of his adult life in France. Baronet in the
    Jacobites Peerage.
    Ramsay was born in Ayr, Scotland, the son of a baker. He served with the English auxiliaries in
    the Netherlands, and in 1710 visited Francois Fenelon, who converted him to Roman
    Catholicism. He remained in France until 1724 writing politico-theological treatises. One of
    these was dedicated to the Jacobites claimant to the English and Scottish thrones, James Francis
    Edward Stuart. In January 1724, Ramsay was sent to Rome as tutor to James' two sons, Charles
    Edward and Henry. But his appointment was short-lived; Ramsay was associated with the court
    party of John Erskine, Duke of Mar, who fell from favor that year. By November 1724 Ramsay
    was back in Paris. Ramsay was in England in 1730, and received an honorary degree from the
    University of Oxford. The claim was nominally his discipleship to Fenelon, but in reality
    beyond doubts his connection with the Jacobites party. He died at St Germain-en-Laye (Seineet-
    Oise) on May 6, 1743. He was a Christian universalistic, believing that all people would
    eventually be saved. He wrote "Almighty power, wisdom and love cannot be eternally
    frustrated in his absolute and ultimate designs; therefore God will at last pardon and re-establish
    in happiness all lapsed beings."[1]
    Albert Cherel (1917, 1926) and G. D. Henderson (1952), from their readings of the archival
    sources in France, England and Scotland, have greatly contributed to the biography of Ramsay.
    As a youth Ramsay was attracted to the mysticism of quietism as practiced in the circle of Dr.
    George Garden at Rosehearthy, centered around the "teachings" of Antoinette Bourignon in a
    community along the lines of a similar one in Rijnsburg led by Pierre Poiret, where people from
    different religious persuasions and social castes lived together. In 1710 Ramsay travelled to
    Rijnsburg to meet Pierre Poiret and later met Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon known
    as Mme Guyon; from there he went on to stay with the elder Fénelon at Cambrai (August
    1710). He remained in his household for several years and became steady friends with the
    Marquis de Fénelon, a young relative of the archbishop and an ardent pupil of Mme Guyon. He
    wrote his Vie de Fénelon in loyal testimony to that period. From 1714 till 1716, Ramsay acted
    as secretary to Mme Guyon and he was present at Blois on June 9th, 1717 when she died.
    Although Ramsay himself was converted to Catholicism by Fénelon, conversion was not
    deemed an option by Mme Guyon who strongly advised the community around her to stick to
    the principles of their proper faith while meditating on Pure Love. In his Life of
    Fénelon(London, 1723) Ramsay stated his own insights of how Mme Guyon's system had
    affected him. Association with Fénelon, who as preceptor of the grandsons of Louis XIV had
    retained huge influence at Court, caused Ramsay to be remarked by the nobility, in particular by
    the Comte de Sassenage, whose son he tutored from 1718 till 1722.
    In 1722 Ramsay became active in high level negotiations over a tax on assets of Jacobites exiles
    proposed by the British government. By then Ramsay was already well acquainted with
    Cardinal Fleury, who after the death of the Regent Philippe II, Duke of Orléans (1723) was to
    be the power of state behind Louis XV. In 1723 Ramsay was knighted into the Order of St.
    Lazarus of Jerusalem, which originated as a Crusader military order based in France for the
    protection of pilgrims. In 1724 he entered the Jacobites household in Rome. Court intrigue and
    the impracticality of his educational task - Bonnie Prince Charlie was only three-and-a-half
    years old - caused him to return to Paris in the same year. From 1725 till 1728 he stayed as an
    invited guest at the Hotel de Sully under the patronage of Maximilien de Béthune, Duc de Sully,
    the husband of the widowed Comtesse de Vaux (daughter of Mme Guyon). During this period
    he frequented the Parisian literary club Club de l'Entresol in the company of Rene-Louis
    Argenson, Lord Bolingbroke and Montesquieu. Against that background he wrote his Travels
    of Cyrus in 1727, which made him a best-selling author in his time, and for the revised edition
    of which he traveled to London (1729-30) where he was again in touch with Montesquieu. Both
    were elected Fellows of the Royal Society in December 1729. In 1730 Ramsay became a
    member of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society in Lincolnshire, a club in correspondence with the
    Society of Antiquaries of London. Prominent members had included Sir Isaac Newton, John
    Gay and Alexander Pope. Still another honor was conferred on Ramsay in 1730: the Honorary
    Degree of Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford.
    Prior to the conference of the academically titles (and apart of his Life of Fénelon and Travels of
    Cyrus) Ramsey had been remarked in the intellectual circles of his time. The influential
    Memoirs de Trévoux published several of his tracts - in 1732 his introduction to the
    mathematical work of Edmund Stone - and remained favorable throughout to his philosophical
    contributions. In 1719 he had published an Essai de Politique, revised in 1721 as Essai
    philosophique sur le gouvernement, où l'on traite de la nécessité, de l'origine, des droits, des
    bornes et des différentes formes de souveraineté, selon les principes de feu M.François de
    Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon, archvèque-duc de Combray and published in English
    translation in 1722.
    Ramsay returned to France in 1730 and, following the death of the Duc de Sully, passed into the
    service of the Comte d'Evreux (the original patron of the Elysée Palace), a prominent member
    of the family of la Tour d'Auvergne and Bouillon which had ties of marriage with the Jacobites
    Court, through Charlotte, the elder sister of Queen Clementina (Maria Klementyna Sobieska),
    and bonds of loyal friendship to the circle around Fénelon, through the Cardinal de Bouillon. It
    was the Cardinal de Bouillon who is said to have had the inspiration of having the family
    descend from Godfrey of Bouillon, thus making the Crusader King of Jerusalem the totem
    rather than the genetic precursor of the family.(Henderson,1952) Ramsay's task in the Evreux
    household was to tutor a nephew, Godefroy Geraud, duc de Chateau-Thierry, son of the elder
    brother, Emanuel Theodore de la Tour d'Auvergne, Duc de Bouillon; shifting upon the death of
    Geraud to the tutorial of the Count's grand nephew, the Prince of Turenne, Godefroi Charles,
    son of Charles Godefroi, Duc de Bouillon, the head of the house. It was for the Prince's
    education that Ramsay wrote the Histoire du Vicomte de Turenne, maréchal général des
    armées du Roy. (1735), using as documentary evidence (authorized by James Francis Edward
    Stuart) the handwritten Mémoires du Duc d'York (James II). These were the Memoirs of James
    II discovered by David Hume in the Scots College in Paris in 1763 in the company of Michael
    Ramsay, the nephew of the Chevalier. The manuscripts were lost in the French Revolution.
    In June 1735 Ramsay married Marie Nairne (1701-1761), the daughter of Sir David Nairne,
    undersecretary to James III. For the occasion the Chevalier Ramsay was created a Scottish
    Knight and Baronet (23 March 1735) with remainder to heirs male. He had issue, a son and a
    daughter. His son (1737-1740) died in infancy and his daughter (1739-1758) from smallpox at
    the age of 19. Ramsay lived until 1743 under the benevolent protection of the house of
    Bouillon, in St. Germain-en Laye; writing and studying, but above all preparing his magnum
    opus: Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion edited after his death (1748-
    49) by his wife and friends, and in Ramsay's words: "a history of the human mind in all ages,
    nations and religions concerning the most divine and important truths". Some "Chinese Letters"
    written by Ramsay remained unpublished. Ramsay was associated with Freemasonry since its
    introduction in France (1725-26). Charles Radclyffe, Earl of Derwentwater, who acted as Grand
    Master for France since 1736, was present at Ramsay's funeral. It is presumed that Ramsay's
    being a Mason facilitated his introduction into the Gentleman's Club of Spalding, of which the
    prominent Masonic propagator John Theophilus Desaguliers was then also a member. In 1737
    Ramsay wrote his: Discourse pronounced at the reception of Freemasons by Monsieur de
    Ramsay, Grand Orator of the Order, in which he connected Freemasonry with the Crusades.
    His own stature as a Knight of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem may have inspired him, or perhaps even
    his zeal to propagate an alleged tradition linked to the house of Bouillon. In any case Ramsay
    thought his speech worthy of note by the prevailing religious authority and he send the text to
    Cardinal Fleury, asking for a Church blessing of the principles of Freemasonry as he had stated
    them: "The obligations imposed upon you by the Order are to protect your brothers by your
    authority, to enlighten them by your knowledge, to edify them by your virtues, to succour them
    in their necessities, to sacrifice all personal resentment, and to strive after all that may
    contribute to peace and unity of society."
    To a Church already in difficulty over the deviating principles of the Society of Jesus, not
    perhaps the cited reference, but the concept of Masonic ritual was entirely preposterous. To
    Ramsay's letter of March 20th 1737 came Cardinal Fleury's reply at the end of March
    interdicting all Masonic reunions.
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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