Smeaton's book provides a nice sketch of Ramsay: brave, defiant, and cheery towards the end of his life. In 1755 he sent some of his verse to Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, including these lines:...in years and sense grown auld,In ease I like my limbs to fauld. Debts I abhore, and plan to be,Frae shocheling trade and danger free,That I may, loos'd frae care and strife,With calmness view the edge of life; And when a full ripe age shall crave,Slide easily into my grave.
It is believed that Ramsay had scurvy in his gums which spread to his jaw, affecting his speech. He died on 7 January 1758, at the age of 73. The Reception pages of our website illustrates the ways in which Ramsay has been remembered through criticism, performance, monuments, and other objects over time. But Ramsay was respected enough in literary circles as to draw attention from London, where his Obituary was printed the week after his death.
"Edinburgh, Jan. 10. Saturday last died, in advanced Age, Mr. Allan Ramsay, formerly Bookseller in Edinburgh: A Gentleman whose Name will ever be famous, as the Author of that noble and elegant Scots Pastoral, The Gentle Shepherd, &c." from The London Chronicle 14-17 January 1758.
Not long after this, 'An Elegy on the Death of Allan Ramsay' was printed in the London Evening Post 2-4 February 1758. It read:Blow loud, ye blust’ring Winds! ye Clouds, o’ercast!Gae, chilling Frosts, and bind the Rivers fast!Let Arthur’s Seat, and ilka tow’ring Hight,Be wrapt in Snaw, or lost in dreary Night.Sic gloomy Scenes best suit with our Despair;The Swain that sang sae sweet is now nae mair! What now sae blyth shall tune the winsome Reed,That springs of Winding Tay, or Banks of Tweed?Wha of the Broom of Cowedenknows shall tell,And Sing of Mary Scot, or Bessy Bell?Or wha the bonny Bush aboon Traquair?Since Ramsay’s dead, and Musick is nae mair?
Ramsay would surely have approved the scenes of Edinburgh depicted here and the use of Scots. In the second verse some of Ramsay's songs from his editions of poetry are mentioned.