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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Ramsay, David

Proprietor in Burns's day of the Edinburgh Courant. Under his ownership, the paper was said to have increased its circulation to more than that of any other Scottish paper.

Burns mentioned him humorously in a letter to Peter Hill from Ellisland, 2nd April 1789: 'I beg you will sit down and either compose or borrow a panegyric (If you are going to borrow, apply to our friend, Ramsay, for the assistance of the author of those pretty little buttering paragraphs of eulogiums on your thrice-honored and never-enough-to-be-praised MAGISTRACY — how they hunt down a housebreaker with the sanguinary perseverance of a bloodhound — how they outdo a terrier in a badger-hole, in unearthing a Resettor of stolen goods — how they steal on a thoughtless troop of Night-nymphs as a spaniel winds the unsuspecting Covey —or how they riot o'er a ravaged B-dyhouse as a cat does o'er a plundered Mousenest — how they new-vamp old churches, aiming at appearances of Piety — plan Squares & Colledges, to pass for men of taste & learning, etc. etc. etc. — while old Edinburgh, like the doting Mother of a parcel of rakehelly Prodigals, may sing 'Hooly & fairly', or cry, 'Waes me that e'er I saw ye', but still must put her hand in her pocket & pay whatever scores the young dogs think it proper to contract) — I was going to say, but this d-mn'd Parenthesis has put me out of breath, that you should get that manufacturer of the tinselled crockery of magistratial reputations, who makes so distinguished & distinguishing a figure in the Ev: Courant to compose, or rather to compound, something very clever on my remarkable frugality; that I write to one of my most esteemed friends on this wretched paper, which was originally intended for the venal fist of some drunken Exciseman, to take dirty notes in a miserable vault of an ale-cellar.'

In a second undated letter to Peter Hill, Burns tells him to give Ramsay a piece of Burns's cheese to help the Courant's proprietor 'digest those damn'd bedaubing paragraphs with which he is eternally larding the lean characters of certain great men in a certain great town'.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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