Some things never change. While there can be no doubt as to the courage shown by Highlanders in battle over the centuries, the fascination with what they're wearing (or not) beneath their kilts appears to be at least two hundred years old, if this this print is any indication. (As always, please click on the image to enlarge.)
In October, 1815, when this print was made, the Treaty of Paris that ended the Napoleonic Wars had yet to be signed, but Paris and much of France was already occupied by soldiers from the Coalition countries that had defeated Napoleon. Among these countries was Great Britain, who contributed soldiers from Ireland, Wales, and Scotland as well as England.
Apparently the Highlanders shown here were among those soldiers occupying Paris. Strolling together through a park, they've paused to buy fruit from a vendor. As they bend down to complete their purchase, the two fashionably dressed women behind them are making not-so-subtle excuses to bend over themselves - one to retrieve the child's toy, the other to adjust the laces on her shoe - and thereby gain a, ahem, better view. The print's title, Le Prétexte, (The Pretense) says it all, doesn't it?
A small observation: while it's difficult to identify the gender of children in this era since both small boys and girls were dressed in much the same garments, I'm guessing that the toddler in the print, right, is male since he's playing with a ball, and not a doll, and the ribbon sash is red, a masculine color for the time. If you look closely, you'll see that beneath the child's gown he is is wearing gathered pantalettes, intended to keep him decent while he plays. The pantalettes appear to be plaid, much like the tartan of the soldiers' kilts. Hmm....
Above: Le Prétexte published by Aaron Martinet, Paris, October, 1815. The British Museum.