Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Bisset, RobertDouglas; or, The Highlander. A Novel. In four volumes.
Author Details
Surname:Bisset
First Names:Robert
Gender:Male
Anonymous:No
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed at the Anti-Jacobin Press, by T. Crowder, Temple Lane, Whitefriars; and sold by C. Chapple, Pall Mall; T. Hurst, Paternoster Row; and J. and E. Kerby, Bond Street.
Place:London
Date:1800
Novel Details
Genre:Biography; courtship; didactic/moralising; humour; inheritance/identify; manners/society; political; satirical
Setting:Highlands of Scotland; England
Period:Contemporary (1770s to present)
Plot
Fictional and often satirical biography of the eponymous hero, Douglas, from the childhood of his parents, through his own childhood and schooling to adulthood, concluding as he marries his longtime love, Isabella. It is quite a rambling affair, with lots of characters and subplots. Recurrent motifs include the effects of different kinds of education, the superficiality of fashionable society, and the dangers of swindlers taking fortunes that are not rightfully theirs. There are lengthy discussions of contemporary literature and politics, as well as multiple references to and borrowings from other novelists' plots and schemes. The primary influence is very explicitly Fielding's Tom Jones - there are multiple references to this throughout - and Douglas's relationship with Isabella is modeled on Tom Jones and Sophia. This includes the fact that, despite his love for Isabella, Douglas is unable to resist affairs with other women along the way. Like Fielding's novels, the majority of the characters are stock types, and this is shown through their naming, e.g. the corrupt lawyer Swearwell, the promiscuous Lady Mary Manhunt.
Overview of the Dialect
The author criticises contemporary fiction in the Preface, and promises more realism (and definitely no ghosts, abbeys, or flights of fancy). It is therefore perhaps unsurprising, to find several instances of dialect representation. In Vol 1 alone, there is Highland Scots (p. 68); satire on Cockney (pp. 105 and 108), satirical treatment of non-standard in aspiring social climbers (pp. 220 & 235); a non-standard speaking servant (pp. 237-8). The dialects are quite carefully done, but note that as the characters are 'types' so the dialect is stereotyped and stereotyping.
Note too that although many of the central characters are Scottish, and occasional reference is made to the fact that they speak with Scottish accents, there is absolutely no attempt to show these accents in their direct speech. Only minor and low status characters have their dialects marked.
The main Scottish setting of the novel is 'Tay Bank' I suspect that this is a fictionalised version of Logierait in Perthshire where Bisset grew up (where the Tay and Tummel meet).
Displaying 12 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Serjeant - A serjeant who had belonged to his father's regiment
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Serjeant
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:A serjeant who had belonged to his father's regiment
Social Role Category:Military
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Scottish highlands (presumably); Tay Bank is a fictional place
Place of Origin Category:Tay Bank, Perthshire, Highlands, Scotland
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Serjeant
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speaker #2:Mrs. Dip - Formerly a maid, now wife of Mr. Jacob Dip who was formerly a tallow-chander
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mrs. Dip
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Formerly a maid, now wife of Mr. Jacob Dip who was formerly a tallow-chander
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Seven Dials in London (quite a downmarket area at the time)
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , 'Squire Dip, Mrs. Dip
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speakers: All , 'Squire Dip, Mrs. Dip
Extract #3 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Mrs. Dip
Extract #4 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Mrs. Dip
Speaker #3:Mr. Rhodomontade - Proprietor of Rogue Place, which is the set of his forefathers, has travelled significantly and makes things up to increase his consequence
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Rhodomontade
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Significant
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Proprietor of Rogue Place, which is the set of his forefathers, has travelled significantly and makes things up to increase his consequence
Social Role Category:Yeoman
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Rogue Place, near Tay Bank
Place of Origin Category:Rogue Place, Perthshire, Highlands, Scotland
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Mr. Rhodomontade
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speaker #4:Elderly lady on stage-coach - Elderly lady on stage-coach with daughter (Miss Bouncer) and friend
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Elderly lady on stage-coach
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - elderly
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Elderly lady on stage-coach with daughter (Miss Bouncer) and friend
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Scotland originally apparently, but now solidly London. Note too that her daughter, Miss Bouncer, is not at all non-standard
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Speaker #5:The Captain - Initially appears to be a captain, but later turns out to be servant
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:The Captain
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Initially appears to be a captain, but later turns out to be servant
Social Role Category:Military
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Wetherby
Place of Origin Category:Wetherby, Yorkshire, North England, England
Speaker #6:servant at Wetherby - Servant
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:servant at Wetherby
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Servant
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Wetherby
Place of Origin Category:Wetherby, Yorkshire, North England, England
Speaker #7:Simon Suffolk - Cheesemonger
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Simon Suffolk, cheesemonger
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Cheesemonger
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Speaker #8:A teacher - Teacher
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:A teacher
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Teacher
Social Role Category:Professional
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Speaker #9:The preacher - Methodist preacher, Scotch seceder, faith without works
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:The preacher
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Methodist preacher, Scotch seceder, faith without works
Social Role Category:Clergy
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Scottish preacher in London
Place of Origin Category:Scotland
Speaker #10:Mr. Barber - Unitarian and political barber
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:The unitarian barber
Gender:Unknown
Age:Child
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Unitarian and political barber
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Extract #1 dialect features:
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Mr. Barber
Speaker #11:'Squire Dip - Former tallow-chandler, now attempting to be gentleman
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:'Squire Dip
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Former tallow-chandler, now attempting to be gentleman
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Seven Dials, London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , 'Squire Dip, Mrs. Dip
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speakers: All , 'Squire Dip, Mrs. Dip
Speaker #12:Mr. Swearwell - Corrupt lawyer
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mr. Swearwell
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Corrupt lawyer
Social Role Category:Professional
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:apparently from Ireland (see 3.196) Irish accent tends to come and go a bit
Place of Origin Category:Curraugh, Kildare, East Ireland, Ireland
Extract #1 dialect features:
Extract #2 dialect features:
Displaying 12 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Version 1.1 (December 2015)Background image reproduced from the Database of Mid Victorian Illustration (DMVI)