Scotch Peasant-Girl: Image and text from W.H. Pyne's The World in Miniature, vol. IV. (R. Ackerman, 1827).

Text from The World in Miniature, by W.H. Pyne:

We can suppose the youthful maiden, who forms the subject of this plate, to be clad in her Sunday attire. on her way to the parish kirk. In Scotland, as heretofore in England, much more generally than now, the inhabitants of a hamlet or farm had frequently a considerable distance to go to the nearest place of worship. In many parts of the north, the kirk is situated three, four, or even more miles from the surrounding cottages and farms; hence Sabbath journies(sic) in summer expose the pious to the rays of a burning sun, and in winter to the violence of wind and rain, and all the accumulated extremities of a northern winter.

It is not unfrequent to meet a group of Scottish lasses, or even a solitary individual maid, in the middle of a moor, with her stockings and shoes, not on her feet, but in her little basket in her hand, bare-footed, trudging nimbly onward, over flint and pebble, or fording the brook; when, arriving at the kirk-yard gate, she wipes her feet, and putting on her hose and shoon unseen, as she conceives at least, thus appointed, enters the porch of the holy place, and joins the rural congregation. It is not unusual to see these peasant-girls, though thus bare-footed, so careful of their caps and bonnets, as to be provided with an umbrella.

Nothing, in the way of the local customs of a neighbouring country, surprises the native of England more, than that on passing the border of his own soil, into that of his fellow subject, the Welchman(sic), or the Scot, than to meet the pretty maidens, tramping about bare-footed. To see the robust and hardy fisherman, or miner, occupied in their respective labours, thus exposed, excites no surprise (though the English, like cats, seem to hold wet feet in abhorence), because the habits of these people induce hardiness. But to see a delicate formed female exposing her naked feet on the wet floor of a laundry, or padding about the farm-yard, all plashy and damp, appears so connected with poverty, and altogether so comfortless, that his benevolence is excited at what he erroneously conceives so cruel a hardship, and severe a fate upon the gentle sex; never dreaming, the untravelled philanthropist, that stockings and shoes, to these happy lasses, are no boon; indeed, to most of this class, they are considered an inconvenient incumbrance.

It must appear strange, however, to one living in a more temperate clime, who from custom is used to court warm covering for every part of the body, to find the inhabitants of a region many degrees more cold, not only indifferent to those wrappings so essential to his comfort, but, on the contrary, so regardless of them as to expose the lower extremities thus to damp and cold by choice. Truly may be quoted on this occasion the old adage "custom is second nature."

The Scotch, however, are a hardy race, and perhaps no people upon earth are capable of enduring the changes of climate to the extent of these North Britains.....

On first visiting Scotland, ladies who are strangers, have had their delicate notions somewhat deranged, at a common custom in very respectable families, namely, that of seeing servant girls attending the breakfast table bare-footed.