In our previous issue, Pete Stewart described the imagery used in the 18th century to depict the ‘common bagpipe’. Here he continues his exploration with some images of bellows pipers.

In the first part of this article I reproduced a number of illustrations of bagpipes, mostly originating in London, showing a form of bagpipe quite unlike the standard highland great pipe. In this part I will introduce several more images, which clearly show bellows pipes, often in some detail. All the images in this part come from the British Museum collection of prints, are copyright of the British Museum and are used with their permission.
The first of these images is the one reproduced on the current cover. It is one of a series of watercolour sketches of Edinburgh life painted around 1750 by the English artist Paul Sandby, who participated in the Survey of Scotland then underway. Another of his bagpiper sketches I reproduced in my ‘Welcome Home My Dearie’. This one is almost certainly showing a ‘pastoral pipe’, the extended length of the chanter being the distinguishing feature. As in his other sketch, Sandby has had trouble with the drone stock and bag connection, but both of these sketches are almost certainly taken from life, as all the others in the sketchbooks were.
With the exception of Sandby’s Dunstaffnage print [p. 17], all the remaining images discussed here were printed in London in the latter part of the 18th century. The first dates from 1773 and is a depiction of the Earl of Bute, a member of the Government of Lord North at the period, and often caricatured as a piper (see also part one of this article).

Reproduced here is a detail of a print titled ‘The State Cotillion’ which shows the government ministers engaged in a dance in the Treasury in which each of the figures is trampling on a particular paper or state document with titles such as "National Debt" and "Grievances”, "Appeals, Decrees"  and so on [opposite page; detail].

The second image again features The Earl of Bute, this time playing for ‘The Mitred Minuet’ [right; detail]. The explanatory text is a violent attack on the Quebec Act, passed 22 June 1774, from the No-Popery standpoint: the bishops' "crossing of hands was to show their approbation and countenance of the Roman religion". Although the Quebec Act was generally welcomed by most Canadians, ie was counted as one of the ‘Intolerable Acts’ for Americans, and in part led to the Revolution.The third print also features Bute in another satire on the Quebec Bill, this one dated 1775. However, in this print Bute is not the piper; that role is preserved for Old Nick himself [opposite page; detail].

This image is perhaps one of the most succinct depictions of a bellows pipe so far. It makes it quite apparent that this was the form of bagpipe known in detail to Londoners.

Even when the artist clearly had no idea how the elements of a bagpipe were put together, the bellows remain a feature. Here, for instance is a detail of a print dated 1799 [below left; detail], showing Dundas (another Scottish member of the Government frequently shown playing bagpipes):  it also shows William Pitt playing what appears to be a bass viol.. The print is titled ‘The deliverance of Europe or Union with Ireland’. It is a bizarre set of pipes if ever there was one, but clearly bellows-blown, even if Dundas has the ‘chanter’ in his mouth …This plundering of the British Museum database was inspired by a print sent to ‘Chanter’, the journal of the Bagpipe Society, by Clive Matthews. The print he had found was dated 1794 and showed Dundas in his kilt dancing to the music of William Pitt; the bagpipe Pitt is playing has a bagful of coins and is labeled ‘Union Pipes’ [below right; detail].

London theatre-goers had been familiar with the Union pipes since at least 1791 when Dennis Courtney first played at Covent Garden Theatre. Some years later this theatre burnt down and the price increases introduced in 1809 when  a new one was opened led to what became known as the ‘Old Price Riots’, six weeks of pugilistic disturbances satirized in another print in the collection. Of particular concern to the people involved was the sacrifice of their previous spaces to private boxes; the immoral practices supposed to be taking place there are the particular object of this satire [right; detail]. The piper depicted however cannot be Courtney, since he had died in 1794.

The familiarity of Londoners with bellows pipes is made even clearer by the sad attempts made to represent what we would recognize as Highland pipes. This is Lord Mansfield [left; detail]:  perhaps this is the same set we saw Dundas playing earlier? Notice that there still seems to be a second bag under his right elbow.

Even when we might well expect to see highland pipes, as in the satire on Charles Fox ‘A Modern Patriot haranguing his constituents’, ie the good people of Orkney, the artist settles for a common-stock pipe [opposite top left]. Paul Sandby himself seems to have been in a similar position when he drew the observers of his views of Dunstaffnage Castle; he gave the piper what appears to be a common-stock pipe.

These images range from reasonable representations of bagpipes to something approaching the absurd, but seldom anything other than common-stock and  bellows-blown. It seems reasonable to conclude that for late 18th century  London at least, and quite possibly for Edinburgh too, this is what a bagpipe was.