London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3Mayhew, Henry
Of the Bagpipe Players.
A WELL-LOOKING young man, dressed in full Highland costume, with modest manners and of slow speech, as if translating his words from the Gaelic before he uttered them, gave me these details:—
"I am a native of Inverness, and a Grant. My father was a soldier, and a player in the . In my youth I was shepherd in the hills, until my father was unable to support me any longer. He had a-day pension for years" service, and had been thrice wounded. He taught me and my brither the pipes; he was too poor to have us taught any trade, so we started on our own accounts. We travelled up to London, had only our pipes to depend upon. We came in full Highland dress. The tartan is cheap there, and we mak it up oursels. My dress as I sit here, without my pipes, would cost about in London. Our mithers spin the tartan in Inverness-shire, and the dress comes to maybe , and is better than the London. My pipes cost me guineas new. It"s between and years since I came to London, and I was last November. When I started, I thought of making a fortune in London; there was such great talk of it in Invernessshire, as a fine place with plenty of money; but when I came I found the difference. I was rather a novelty at , and did pretty well. I could make a-week then, but now I can"t make a-day, not even in summer. There are so many Irishmen going about London, and dressed as Scotch Highlanders, that I really think I could do better as a piper even in Scotland. A Scotch family will sometimes give me a shilling or when they find out I am a Scotchman. is my best place, where there are many Scotchmen. There are now only real Scotch Highlanders playing the bagpipes in the streets of London, and or Irishmen that I know of. The Irishmen do better than I do, because they have more face. We have our own rooms. I pay a-week for an empty room, and have my ain furniture. We are all married men, and have no connexion with any other street musicians. "Tullochgorum," "Moneymusk,"
The Campbells are comin"," and "Lord Macdonald"s Reel," are among the performances best liked in London. I"m very seldom insulted in the streets, and then mostly by being called an Irishman, which I don"t like; but I pass it off just as well as I can."