Early 19thC Highland Types: the Highlander in the New World Order.

The Frontispiece to

The Frontispiece to "The World and its Inhabitants", published by Darton & Clark.

Knowledge about the World and its people was expanding at a remarkable rate in the early 19th century. Exploration of parts of Africa, and Australia was revealing all sorts of details about the inhabitants, not all of which was accurate, but it was information that satisfied the hunger felt in the West, for particulars concerning these new races. There emerged at this time a series of books exploring these types, be they inhabitants of New Holland (Australia), California or wherever.

Inhabitants of New Holland

Inhabitants of New Holland



The two images above are from a wonderful little French book, first published in 1805: La Geographie en Estampes, ou Moeures et Costumes des differens Peuples de la Terre. Published in Paris Chez Lecerf. This is what they made of the Highlanders:

The text seems to find tartan very disagreeable ("bariolee ou croisee d'une maniere tres-desagreable..."), though it admires the hairstyles of the women, which take different forms, "toutes agreables." No mention is made of their reluctance to wear shoes, though the image clearly shows the female with bare feet. The description is certainly more accurate than that displayed in this earlier 18thC French image of what they thought was a typical Highlander:

What the French imagined a Highlander looked like in the 18th century.

What the French imagined a Highlander looked like in the 18th century.

In 1809, Charles Lamb published A Book Explaining the Ranks and Dignities of British Society, starting with the King, and working down to a Common Councilman of London. There was room at the back for "A Scotch Highlander":

A Scotch Highlander, an engraving dated 1805 from Lamb's Book of Ranks, 1809.

A Scotch Highlander, an engraving dated 1805 from Lamb's Book of Ranks, 1809.

Lamb notes that although the Highlanders "do not appear to have possessed that degree of refinement in sentiment and manners that is ascribed to them by some writers, they seem always to have been a hardy, brave and warlike people."

In 1827, W.H. Pyne published his World in Miniature, which ran to four volumes. Volume IV contained a section on Scotland. The range ran from the Scotch Peasant girl to the Highland Chieftain, each with a full description:

The Scotch Peasant Girl. Shown here "clad in he Sunday attire" carrying her shoes which she will put on when she gets to the church, "Nothing," Pyne notes, "surprises the native of England more ... than to meet the pretty maidens tramping about bare-footed.".
The Scotch Piper. Pyne thought the pipes a "rude instrument to delicate ears."
The Scotch Shepherd. Pyne writes of the "primaeval simplicity" of the life of a shepherd, and it was this supposed simplicity that visitors, escaping from the increasingly industrial south, sought in the Highlands.
Pyne depicts two Highland Chieftains: here, Campbell of Breadalbane....
...and here, Frazer of Lovat. The text dwells on the faithful service the population offered to their chieftains.

Finally, in 1822, J. Harris printed a small booklet titled The Costume, Manners and Peculiarities, of Different Inhabitants of The Globe, calculated to instruct and amuse The Little Folks of All Countries.

Pride of place was given to "Highlanders."

Beneath the image is found a poem:

In all his finery array'd,

Conversing with a bonny maid,

And holding out his snuff;

The gallant Highland warrior view,

With pouch, and plaid, and bonnet too,

And sabre large enough.

You wonder that his knees are bare,

And at his petticoats you stare,

But these he deems a treasure:

His bride elect thinks just the same.

And conscious of his rising fame,

Surveys his dress with pleasure.