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Tony Grist

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James Ramsay [Oct. 15th, 2016|11:36 am]
Tony Grist


This memorial tablet sits high up on the exterior east wall of Teston church. I snapped it because I liked the sentiments- and the orotundical, classical dignity with which they were expressed. I had no idea who James Ramsay was. Just a decent 18th century country parson I supposed.

While firm integrity, unaffected zeal for the public good, steady contempt for self interest, tender attention to each social duty, benevolence to the whole human race and humble piety to God are held in estimation the memory of the Rev'd James Ramsay whose earthly reliques are here deposited will claim respect, mingled with sorrow that his labours were no longer spared to the poor, the friendless and the oppresssed, for each of whom of whatever clime or color his Christian love and generous exertions no disappointment could exhaust, calumny slacken or persecution abate.

I looked him up when I got home and found the epitaph sells him short. I suppose the writer thought his achievements so well-known they only needed to be glanced at. 200 years later, while not forgotten, Ramsay is less famous than he deserves to be. He was a naval surgeon who encountered the horrors of slavery on a voyage to the West Indies,  in consequence of which he abandoned the sea, took holy orders and became an impassioned abolitionist. He served in parishes in the West Indies and Kent, wrote books and powerfully influenced more famous men like Wilberforce and Clarkson. There are those who think no single individual did more to end slavery in the British Empire.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2016-10-15 11:08 am (UTC)
And I had never heard his name - how sad!

There's a man who lives up to his epitaph.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-10-15 04:06 pm (UTC)
Everyone's heard of Wilberforce, but Wilberforce- according to Ailz- who has studied this a bit- was just the front man, the one who raised the matter in parliament. Most of the legwork was done by others.
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From: cmcmck
2016-10-15 12:16 pm (UTC)
A very enlightenment memorial!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-10-15 04:06 pm (UTC)
Isn't it just. It has wonderful poise, balance and high-mindedness.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2016-10-15 01:56 pm (UTC)
That's a wonderful epitaph extolling an even more wonderful man. I hadn't heard of him. It's such a shame he's not better known.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-10-15 04:08 pm (UTC)
We like to simplify history. We make Wilberforce the hero of abolition and put everyone else in the footnotes.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2016-10-15 03:13 pm (UTC)
A worthy human being and a life well lived with good purpose!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-10-15 04:09 pm (UTC)
Yes.

I'm very happy to have made his acquaintance.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2016-10-15 05:49 pm (UTC)
History is not always written by the Nelsons and the Bonapartes of this world. Some times we need people to do the basic work to get the world moving forward.

Dammit... I guess that means we all have a responsibility to do out best to be unsung heroes/Ramsays of this world.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-10-15 07:18 pm (UTC)
I don't think we're all called upon to be heroes but I'm sure we can all make a difference.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2016-10-16 05:26 am (UTC)
I have a very wide definition of "heroes"; it doesn't take up your entire life to make the world just a little better. I think just a little bit of good every so often goes a long way.
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