Picturesque tours in Scotland : forming an idea of the British nation.
The aim of this thesis is to elucidate the relationship between the picturesque and the
emergence of British national identity. It explores Scottish travel writings from the 1770s
to the early nineteenth century, in order to examine the ways in which tourists employ the
discourse of the picturesque to imagine the British nation.
The introduction sets out the questions this thesis attempts to address and defines the
scope of discussion. It also outlines the general arguments surrounding the picturesque and
specifies the way in which picturesque descriptions of Scotland during the period will be
Chapter One examines the writings of early tourists to Scotland such as Thomas
Pennant, Samuel Johnson and William Gilpin. Scotland's association with Jacobitism
prevents Pennant and Johnson from perceiving the region as an integral part of the British
nation and also prevents them from appreciating the natural beauty of Scotland. This
chapter shows how Gilpin assimilates Scotland's historical distinctiveness to his idea of
Chapter Two surveys the description of landscape by tourists who are particularly
interested in the economic improvement of Scotland. The 1770s and 1780s in Scotland are
marked by various endeavours to assimilate the region to the system of capitalist economy.
The main interest of this chapter lies in the correspondence between picturesque discourse
and contemporary economic discourse, and its attempt to elucidate the ways in which the
picturesque helps the development of commercial society to appear as a natural process.
Chapter Three investigates the relationship between women's taste for the picturesque
and their sense of citizenship. In particular, it focusses on Dorothy Wordsworth's
Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland. The Recollections demonstrates how Dorothy
appropriates the picturesque to define her identity, and suggests that the equivocal quality of
women's picturesque language in some ways corresponds to their ambivalent status in
modem commercial society.
Chapter Four concludes this inquiry into the picturesque's nation-projecting function by
an examination of Walter Scott's idea of the picturesque. His first novel, Waverley, shows
how he employs the picturesque to articulate his historical sense of Britishness. This
chapter illustrates how Scott uses his literary fictions to propagate a picturesque image of
the British nation among the general public.