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Title: The Book of the Feet - A History of Boots and Shoes
Author: Hall, Joseph Sparkes
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Book of the Feet - A History of Boots and Shoes" ***

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                        [Illustration: Pl. 1.]

                           BOOK OF THE FEET:
                      HISTORY OF BOOTS AND SHOES,
                          With Illustrations
                                OF THE

                          BY J. SPARKES HALL,
Patent-Elastic-Boot Maker to her Majesty the Queen, the Queen Dowager,
                    and the Queen of the Belgians.

                        AND CRISPIN ANECDOTES.

                               NEW YORK:
                     J. S. REDFIELD, CLINTON HALL.


       Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
                          BY J. S. REDFIELD,
 in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, in
              and for the Southern District of New York.

                       13 Chambers Street, N. Y.


The work embraced in the following pages, which has been received with
great favor in England, in the fashionable circles, as well as by the
trade, the publisher has great confidence will prove attractive and
interesting to the American public.

“I have given,” says Mr. Hall, in his preface to the English edition,
“the result of my experience, derived from an intimate practical
acquaintance with this department of trade for twenty years, and have
endeavored to correct much that was bad in form and material, and I
trust have not only found fault in many instances with past and present
fashions, but have also enforced and provided the remedy. The
illustrations of the ancient fashions are all taken from the highest
authorities, and I believe may be relied on as historical.”

In addition to the matter in the second London edition, we have
subjoined a History of Boots and Shoes in the United States, showing the
changes of fashion in this indispensable article of dress; also,
numerous biographical sketches of individuals, who, having learned the
art of shoemaking, have afterward distinguished themselves by their
genius, talents, or worth, and occupied eminent stations among their

The frequency of the development of literary talent among shoemakers has
often been remarked. Their occupation, being a sedentary and
comparatively noiseless one, may be considered as more favorable than
some others to meditation; but perhaps its literary productiveness has
arisen quite as much from the circumstance of its being a trade of light
labor, and therefore resorted to, in preference to most others, by
persons in humble life who are conscious of more mental talent than
bodily strength.

To add further to the interest of this volume, we have selected a few
pages of anecdotes, and other miscellaneous matters, tending to
elucidate this History and account of the “gentle craft;” the members
of which may well be proud of such names as their Sherman, Drew,
Bloomfield, Gifford, Lee, Sheffey, Worcester, and others, whose memory
will long live, as having adorned the various pursuits in which they
became eminent.

While this work will prove useful and instructive as presenting, in the
biographical sketches, a body of examples showing, how the most
unpropitious circumstances have been unable to subdue an ardent desire
for the acquisition of knowledge, and the cultivation of a refined
taste; the lover of antiquities, and the votary of fashion, will here
have their curiosity gratified, in a history of the varied changes which
have taken place in an important article of dress, from the pyramidal
ages of ancient Egypt, long ere Greece or Rome occupied a space in
history, to the present time, when the beauty, taste, and convenience,
of modern boots and shoes, combine to establish the superiority of the
cordwainers of Europe and America, compared with their predecessors of
any nation or age.



CHAP. I.--On the most ancient Covering of the Feet                     7

CHAP. II.--The History of Boots and Shoes in England                  30

CHAP. III.--On the more modern Forms of foreign Boots
  and Shoes                                                           58

CHAP. IV.--Commencement of the Trade                                  75

CHAP. V.--The Structure of the Human Foot, making
  Lasts, Curing Corns, etc.                                           96

CHAP. VI.--The Poetry of the Feet, etc.                              112

CHAP. VII.--History of Boots and Shoes in the United
  States                                                             135

CHAP. VIII.--Biographical Sketches of Eminent Shoemakers             147

  Roger Sherman, 147.--Daniel Sheffey, 155.--Gideon
  Lee, 156.--Samuel Drew, 163.--Robert Bloomfield,
  176.--Nathaniel Bloomfield, 181.--William Gifford,
  183.--Noah Worcester, 192.--James Lackington, 196.--Joseph
  Pendrell, 198.--Thomas Holcroft, 199.--Rev.
  William Carey, D. D., 200.--George Fox, 202.--Rev.
  James Nichol, 202.--Rev. William Huntington, 203.

CHAP. IX.--Crispin Anecdotes, etc.                                   204

  Patron Saints of Shoemakers.--St. Crispin’s Day.--Cordwainers’
  Hall.--Incorporated Shoemakers.--Proverbs.--Anecdotes.




If we investigate the monuments of the remotest nations of antiquity, we
shall find that the earliest form of protection for the feet, partook of
the nature of sandals. The most ancient representations we possess of
scenes in ordinary life, are the sculptures and paintings of early
Egypt, and these the investigations of travelled scholars from most
modern civilized countries have, by their descriptions and delineations,
made familiar to us, so that the habits and manners, as well as the
costume of this ancient people, have been handed down to the present
time, by the work of their own hands, with so vivid a truthfulness, that
we feel as conversant with their domestic manners and customs, as with
those of any modern nation to which the book of the traveller would
introduce us. Not only do their pictured relics remain to give us an
insight into their mode of life, but a vast quantity of articles of all
kinds, from the tools of the workmen, to the elegant fabrics which once
decorated the boudoir of the fair ladies of Memphis and Carnac three
thousand years ago, are treasured up in the museums, both public and
private, of this and other countries.

With these materials, it is in no wise difficult to carry our history of
shoemaking back to the earliest times, and even to look upon the
shoemaker at his work, in the early days of Thothmes the third, who
ascended the throne of Egypt, according to Wilkinson, 1495 years before
Christ, and during whose reign, the Exodus of the Israelites occurred.
The first of our plates contains a copy of this very curious painting,
as it existed upon the walls of Thebes, when the Italian scholar
Rossellini copied it for his great work on Egypt. The shoemakers are
both seated upon low stools (real specimens of such articles may be seen
in the British Museum), and are both busily employed, in the formation
of the sandals then usually worn in Egypt, the first workman is piercing
with his awl the leather thong, at the side of the sole, through which
the straps were passed, which secured the sandal to the foot;


before him is a low sloping bench, one end of which rests upon the
ground; his fellow-workman is equally busy, sewing a shoe, and
tightening the thong with his teeth, a primitive mode of working which
is occasionally indulged in at the present day. Above their heads is a
goodly row of sandals, probably so placed, to attract a passing
customer; the shops in the East being then, as now, entirely open and
exposed to every one who passed. As the ancient Egyptian artists knew
nothing of perspective, the tools of the workmen that lie around, are
here represented above them: they bear, in some instances, a resemblance
to those used in the present day; the central instrument, above the man
who pierces the tie of the sandal, having the precise shape of the
shoemaker’s awl still in use, so very unchanging are articles of
utility. In the same manner, the semicircular knife used by the ancient
Egyptians three or four thousand years ago, is precisely similar to that
of our modern curriers, and is thus represented in a painting at
Thebes, of that remote antiquity. The workman, it will be noticed, cuts
the leather upon a sloping bench, exactly like that of the shoemaker
already engraved.

The warmth and mildness of the East, rendered a close, warm shoe
unnecessary; and, indeed, in the present day, they partake there more of
the character of slippers; and the foot, thus unconfined by tight shoes,
and always free in its motion, retained its full power and pliability:
and the custom, still retained in the East, of holding a strap of
leather, or other substance, between the toes, is represented in the
Theban paintings; the foot thus becoming a useful second to the hand.

Many specimens of the shoes and sandals of the ancient Egyptians, may be
seen in our national museum. Wilkinson, in his work on the “Manners and
Customs” of this people says, “Ladies and men of rank paid great
attention to the beauty of their sandals: but on some occasions, those
of the middle classes who were in the habit of wearing them, preferred
walking barefooted; and in religious ceremonies, the priests frequently
took them off while performing their duties in the temple.”

The sandals varied slightly in form; those worn by the upper classes,
and by women, were usually pointed and turned up at the end, like our
skates, and the Eastern slippers of the present day. Some had a sharp
flat point, others were nearly round. They were made of a sort of woven
or interlaced work, of palm leaves and papyrus stalks, or other similar
materials; sometimes of leather, and were frequently lined within with
cloth, on which the figure of a captive was painted; that humiliating
position being thought suitable to the enemies of their country, whom
they hated and despised, an idea agreeing perfectly with the expression
which so often occurs in the hieroglyphic legends, accompanying a king’s
name, where his valor and virtues are recorded on the sculptures: “you
have trodden the impure Gentiles under your powerful feet.”

The example selected for pl. I., fig. 1, is in the British Museum,
beneath the sandal of a mummy of Harsontiotf; and the captive figure is
evidently, from feature and costume, a Jew: it thus becomes a curious
illustration of scripture history.

Upon the same plate, figs. 3 and 4 delineate two fine examples of
sandals formed as above described, of the leaf of the palm. They were
brought from Egypt by the late Mr. Salt, consul-general, and formed part
of the collection sold in London, after his death, and are now in the
British Museum. They are very different to each other in their
construction, and are of that kind worn by the poorer classes; flat
slices of the palm leaf, which lap over each other in the centre, form
the sole of fig. 2, and a double band of twisted leaves secures and
strengthens the edge; a thong of the strong fibres of the same plant is
affixed to each side of the instep, and was secured round the foot. The
other (fig. 3) is more elaborately platted, and has a softer look; it
must in fact have been as a pad to the foot, exceedingly light and
agreeable in the arid climate inhabited by the people for whom such
sandals were constructed; the knot at each side to which the thong was
affixed, still remains.


The sandals with curved toes, alluded to above, and which frequently
appear upon Egyptian sculpture, and generally upon the feet of the
superior classes, are exhibited in the woodcut here given: and in the
Berlin museum, one is preserved of precisely similar form, which has
been engraved by Wilkinson, and is here copied, pl. I., fig. 1. It is
particularly curious, as showing how such sandals were held upon the
feet, the thong which crosses the instep being connected with another,
passing over the top of the foot and secured to the sole, between the
great toe and that next to it, so that the sole was held firmly, however
the foot moved, and yet it allowed the sandal to be cast off at

Wilkinson says that “shoes or low boots, were also common in Egypt, but
these I believe to have been of late date, and to have belonged to
Greeks; for since no persons are represented in the paintings wearing
them, except foreigners, we may conclude they were not adopted by the
Egyptians, at least in a Pharaonic age. They were of leather, generally
of green color, laced in front by thongs, which passed through small
loops on either side; and were principally used, as in Greece and
Etruria, by women.”

One of the close-laced shoes is given in pl. I., fig. 4, from a specimen
in the British museum. It embraces the foot closely, and has a thong or
two over the instep, for drawing it tightly over the foot, something
like the half-boot of the present day. The sole and upper leather are
all in one piece, sewn up the back and down the front of the foot; a
mode of construction practised in England, as late as the fourteenth

The elegantly-ornamented boot here given, is copied from a Theban
painting, and is worn by a gayly-dressed youth from one of the
countries bordering on Egypt: it reaches very high, and is a remarkable
specimen of the taste for decoration, which thus early began to be
displayed upon this article of apparel.


In Sacred Writ are many early notices of shoes, when Moses exhorts the
Jews to obedience (Deut. ch. xxix.), he exclaims, “Your clothes are not
waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.” In the
book of Ruth (chap. iv.) we have a curious instance of the important
part performed by the shoe in the ancient days of Israel, in sealing any
important business: “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel,
concerning redeeming, and concerning changing, for to confirm all
things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor; and
this was a testimony in Israel.” Ruth, and all the property of three
other persons, are given over to Boaz, by the act of the next kinsman,
who gives to him his shoe in the presence of witnesses. The ancient law
compelled the eldest brother, or nearest kinsman by her late husband’s
side, to marry a widow, if her husband died childless. The law of Moses
provided an alternative, easy in itself, but attended with some degree
of ignominy. The woman was in public court to take off his shoe, spit
before his face, saying, “so shall it be done unto that man that will
not build up his brother’s house:” and probably, the fact of this
refusal was stated in the genealogical registers in connexion with his
name; which is probably what is meant by his “name shall be called in
Israel, the house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” (Deut. xxv.) The
editor of Knight’s Pictorial Bible, who notices these curious laws, also
adds that the use of the shoe in the transactions with Boaz, are
perfectly intelligible; the taking off the shoe, denoting the
relinquishment of the right, and the dissolution of the obligation in
the one instance, and its transfer in the other. The shoe is regarded as
constituting possession, nor is this idea unknown to ourselves, in being
conveyed in the homely proverbial expression by which one man is said to
“stand in the shoes of another,” and the vulgar idea of “throwing an old
shoe after you for luck,” is typical of a wish, that temporal gifts or
good fortune may follow you. The author last quoted says, that even at
the present time, the use of the shoe as a token of right or occupancy,
may be traced very extensively in the East; and however various and
dissimilar the instances may seem at first view, the leading idea may be
still detected in all. Thus among the Bedouins, when a man permits his
cousin to marry another, or when a husband divorces his runaway wife, he
usually says, “She was my slipper, I have cast her off.” (Burckhardt’s
“Bedouins,” p. 65.) Sir F. Henniker, in speaking of the difficulty he
had in persuading the natives to descend into the crocodile mummy pits,
in consequence of some men having lost their lives there, says: “Our
guides, as if preparing for certain death, took leave of their children;
the father took the turban from his own head, and put it upon that of
his son; or _put him in his place_, by giving him _his shoes_, ‘a dead
man’s shoes.’” In western Asia, slippers left at the door of an
apartment, denote that the master or mistress is engaged, and no one
ventures on intrusion, not even a husband, though the apartment be his
wife’s. Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, speaking of the termagants of
Benares, say, “If domestic or other business calls off one of the
combatants before the affair is duly settled, she coolly thrusts _her
shoe_ beneath her basket, and leaves both upon the spot, to signify
that she is not satisfied;” meaning to denote by leaving her shoe, that
she kept possession of the ground and the argument during her
unavoidable absence.

From all these instances, it would appear that this employment of the
shoe, may, in some respects, be considered analogous to that which
prevailed in the middle ages, of giving a glove as a token of
investiture, when bestowing lands and dignities.

It should be observed that the same Hebrew word (_naal_), signifies both
a sandal and a shoe, although always rendered shoe in our translation of
the Old Testament. Although the shoe is mentioned in Genesis and other
books of the Bible, little concerning its form or manufacture can be
gleaned--that it was an article of common use among the ancient
Israelites, we may infer from the passage in Genesis, chap. xiv., verse
23, the first mention we have of this article, where Abraham makes oath
to the king of Sodom “that he will not take from a thread even to a
shoe-latchet,” thus assuming its common character.

The Gibeonites (Josh. ix. 5-13) “came with old shoes and clouted
[mended] upon their feet”--the better to practise their deceit; and
therefore they said, “Our shoes are become old by reason of the very
long journey.”

Isaiah “walked three years naked and barefoot:” he went for this long
period without shoes, contrary to the custom of the people, and as “a
wonder unto Egypt and Ethiopia.”

That it became an article of refinement and luxury, is evident from the
many other notices given; and the Jewish ladies seem to have been very
particular about their sandals: thus we are told, in the Apocryphal book
of Judith, although Holofernes was attracted by the general richness of
her dress and personal ornaments, yet it was “her sandals ravished his
eyes:” and the bride in Solomon’s Song is met with the exclamation, “How
beautiful are thy feet with sandals, O prince’s daughter!”

The ancient bas-reliefs at Persepolis, and the neighborhood of Babylon,
second only in their antiquity and interest to those of Egypt, furnish
us with examples of the boots and shoes of the Persian kings, their
nobles, and attendants; and they were executed, as appears from
historical, as well as internal evidence, in the days of Xerxes and

From these sources, we here select the three following specimens. No. 1
is a half-boot, reaching considerably above the ankle; and it is worn


No. 1.      No. 2.      No. 3.

the attendant who has charge of a chariot, upon a bas-relief now in the
British museum, brought from Persepolis by Sir R. Ker Porter, by whom it
was first engraved and described in his interesting volumes of travels
in that district. No. 2, also from Persepolis, and engraved in the work
just quoted, delineates another kind of boot, or high shoe, reaching
only to the ankle, round which it is secured by a band, and tied in
front in a knot, the two ends of the band hanging beneath it. This shoe
is very common upon the feet of these figures, and is generally worn by
soldiers or the upper classes: the attendants or councillors round the
throne of these early sovereigns, frequently wear such shoes. No. 3,
seen upon the feet of personages in the same rank of life, is here
copied from a Persepolitan bas-relief, representing a soldier in full
costume. It is a remarkably interesting example, as it very clearly
shows the transition state of this article of dress, being something
between a shoe and a sandal: in fact, a shoe may be considered as a
covered sandal; and, in the instance before us, the part we now term
“upper leather” consists of little more than the lacings of the sandals,
rendered much broader than usual, and fastened by buttons along the top
of the foot. The shoe is thus rendered peculiarly flexible, as the
openings over the instep allow of the freest movement. Such were the
forms of the earliest shoes.


Close boots reaching nearly to the knee where they are met by a wide
trowser, are not uncommon upon these sculptures, being precisely the
same in shape and appearance as those worn by the modern Cossacks.
Indeed, there is nothing in the way of boots that may not be found upon
the existing monuments of early nations, precisely resembling the modern
ones. The little figure here given might pass for a copy of the boots
worn by one of the soldiers of King William the Third’s army, and would
not be unworthy of uncle Toby himself, yet it is carefully copied from a
most ancient specimen of Etruscan sculpture, in the possession of
Inghirami, who has engraved it in his learned work the “Monumenti
Etruschi;” the original represents an augur, or priest, whose chief duty
was to report and explain supernatural signs.

With the ancient Greeks and Romans, the coverings for the feet assumed
their most elegant forms; yet in no instance does the comfort of the
wearer appear to have been sacrificed, or the natural play of the foot
interfered with--_that_ appears to have been especially reserved for
“march-of-intellect” days. Vegetable sandals, termed Baxa, or Baxea,
were worn by the lower classes, and as a symbol of their humility, by
the philosophers and priests. Apuleius describes a young priest as
wearing sandals of palm; they were no doubt similar in construction to
the Egyptian ones, of which we have already given specimens, and which
were part of the required and characteristic dress of the Egyptian
priesthood. Such vegetable sandals were, however, occasionally decorated
with ornaments to a considerable extent, and they then became expensive.
The making of them in all their variety, was the business of a class of
men called Baxearii; and these with the Solearii (or makers of the
simplest kind of sandal worn, consisting of a sole with little more to
fasten it to the foot than a strap across the instep) constituted a
corporation or college of Rome.

The solea were generally worn by the higher classes only, for lightness
and convenience, in the house; the shoes (calceus) being worn out of
doors. The soccus was the intermediate covering for the foot, being
something between the solea and the calceus; it was, in fact, precisely
like the modern slipper, and could be cast off at pleasure, as it did
not fit closely, and was secured by no tie. This, like the solea and
crepida, was worn by the lower classes and country people; and hence,
the comedians wore such cheap and common coverings for the feet, to
contrast with the cothurnus or buskin of the tragedians, which they
assumed, as it was adapted to be part of a grand and stately attire.
Hence the term applied to theatrical performers--“brethren of the sock
and buskin,” and as this distinction is both ancient and curious,
specimens of both are here given from antique authorities. The side and
front views of the sock (Nos. 1, 2) are copied from a painting of a
buffoon, who is dancing in loose yellow slippers, one of the commonest
colors in which the leather used for their construction was dyed. Such
slippers were made to


No. 1.      No. 3.      No. 2.

fit both feet indifferently, but the more finished boots and shoes were
made for one foot only from the earliest period. The cothurnus (fig. 3)
was a boot of the highest kind, reaching above the calf of the leg, and
sometimes as far as the knee. It was laced as the boots of the ancients
always were, down the front, the object of such an arrangement being to
make them fit the leg as closely as possible, and the skin of which they
were made was dyed purple, and other gay colors; the head and paws of
the wild animal were sometimes allowed to hang around the leg from the
upper part of the cothurnus, to which it formed a graceful addition; an
example is given upon our 2d plate, fig. 1, which is a side-view of such
an ornamented boot, decorated all over with a pattern like the Grecian

The sole of the cothurnus was of the ordinary thickness in general, but
it was occasionally made much thicker by the insertion of slices of
cork when the wearer wished to add to his height, and thus the Athenian
tragedians, who assumed this boot as the most dignified of coverings for
the feet, had the soles made unusually thick, in order that it might add
to the magnitude and dignity of their whole appearance.

The unchanging nature of a commodious fashion capable of adoption by the
lower classes, may be well illustrated by fig. 2, plate II., which
delineates the shoe or sandal worn by the rustics of ancient Rome. It is
formed of a skin turned over the foot, and secured by thongs passing
through the sides, and over the toe, crossing each other over the
instep, and secured firmly round the ankle. Any person familiar with the
prints of Pinelli, pictures of the modern brigands of the Abruzzi, or
the models of the latter worthies in terra-cotta, to be met with in most
curiosity-shops, will at once recognise those they wear as being of the
same form. The traveller who has visited modern Rome, will also remember
to have seen them on the feet of the peasantry who traverse the Pontine
marshes; and the older Irish, and the comparatively modern Highlander,
both wore similar ones; they were formed of the skin of the cow or deer,
with the hair on them, and were held on the feet by

[Illustration: Pl. 2.]

leather thongs. They were the simplest and warmest kind of foot-covering
to be obtained, when every man was his own shoemaker.

There was a form of shoe worn at this early time, in which the toes were
entirely uncovered, and of which an example is given in plate II., fig.
3. It is copied from a marble foot in the British museum. This shoe
appears to be made of a pliable leather, which fits closely to the foot,
for it was considered as a mark of rusticity to wear shoes larger than
the foot, or which fitted in a loose and slovenly manner. The toes in
this instance are left perfectly free; the upper leather is secured
round the ankle by a tie, while a thong, ornamented by a stud in its
centre, passing over the instep, and between the great and second toes,
is secured to the sole in the manner of a sandal. In order that the
ankle-bone should not be pressed on or incommoded in walking, the
leather is sloped away, and rises around it to a point at the back of
the leg.

None but such as had served the office of edile were allowed to wear
shoes of a red color, which we may therefore infer to have been a
favorite color for shoes, as it appears to have been among the Hebrews,
and as it is still in western Asia. The Roman senators wore shoes or
buskins of a black color, with a crescent of gold or silver on the top
of the foot. The emperor Aurelian forbade men to wear red, yellow,
white, or green shoes, permitting them to be worn by women only, and
Heliogabalus forbade women to wear gold or precious stones in their
shoes, a fact which will aid us in understanding the sort of decoration
indulged in by the earliest Hebrew women, of whose example Judith may be
quoted as an instance, to which we have already referred.

The Roman soldiers generally wore a simple form of sandal similar to the
example given in plate II., fig. 4, and which is a solea fastened by
thongs; yet they, in the progress of riches and luxury, went with the
times and merged into foppery, so that Philopoemon, in recommending
soldiers to give more attention to their warlike accoutrements than to
their common dress, advises them to be less nice about their shoes and
sandals, and more careful in observing that their greaves were kept
bright and fitted well to their legs. When about to attack a hill-fort
or go on rugged marches, they wore a sandal shod with spikes similar to
that in plate II., fig. 5, and at other times they had soles covered
with large clumsy nails like those of fig. 6, which exhibits the sole of
a Roman soldier’s sandal, covered with nails, and which was discovered
in London some few years ago; it is copied from an engraving in the
Archæological album, and the shoe itself, which forms fig. 7, shows the
length of these nails, and the way in which the upper leather was
constructed of the sandal form, like those of the Persepolitan figures
already alluded to. The Greeks and Romans used shoes of this kind as
frequently as the early Persians, and in fig. 7, we have an example of
such a combination of sandal and shoe as they wore, the upper leather
being cut into a series of thongs, through which passes a broad band of
leather, which turns not inelegantly round the upper part of the foot,
and is secured by passing many times round the ankle and above it, where
it is buckled or tied.

The Roman shoes then had various names, and were distinct badges of the
position in society held by the wearer. The solea, crepida, pero, and
soccus, belonged to the lower classes, the laborers and rustics, the
caliga was principally worn by soldiers, and the cothurnus by
tragedians, hunters, and horsemen, as well as by the nobles of the

The latter kind of boot, in form and color, as we have already hinted,
was indicative of rank or office. Those worn by senators we have
noticed, and it was a joke in ancient Rome against a man who owed
respect solely to the accident of birth or fortune, that his nobility
was in his heels. The boots of the emperors were frequently richly
decorated, and the patterns still existing upon marble statues, show
that they were ornamented in the most elaborate manner. A specimen from
the noble statue of Hadrian in the British museum, forms fig. 8, of our
plate, and it is impossible to conceive anything of the kind more
elegant and tasteful in its decorations. Real gems and gold were
employed by some of the Roman emperors to decorate their boots, and
Heliogabalus wore exquisite cameos on his boots and shoes. Fig. 9, is a
lower kind of boot, of the same make as fig. 3, but beautifully

The Grecian ladies, according to Hope, wore shoes or half-boots, laced
before and lined with the fur of animals of the cat tribe, whose muzzles
or claws hung down from the top.

Ocrea was the name this boot got among the Romans; “_Ocreas verdente
puella_,” (Juv. vi. sat.); which Dryden, ridiculously enough, translated
“Spanish leather boots,” a term of his own time, forced to do service
sixteen hundred years before.

The barbarous nations with whom the Romans held war, are upon the
bas-reliefs of their conquerors, represented in close shoes or
half-boots. Thus the Dacians wear the shoe represented in fig. 10, which
laced across the instep, and was secured around the ankle with a band
and ornamental button or stud. The Gauls wear the shoe given below, of
the same form as that worn by our native ancestors when Julius Cæsar
made his descent upon the British islands.




Before the arrival of the Saxons, who have transmitted to us many
valuable manuscripts abounding in various delineations of their dress
and manners, we shall not find much to engage the attention where it is
our present object to direct it, the history of the coverings for the
feet. There is, however, little doubt that the rude skin-shoes, worn by
the native Irish and the country people of Rome, was the simple
protection adopted in this country in the earliest times. Shoes of this
material are found in all nations half-civilized, and the ease with
which they are formed by merely covering the sole with the hide of an
animal, and securing it by a thong, must have had the effect of insuring
its general use. Naked feet would, however, be preferred in fine
weather, and when shoes were worn, they were generally of a close, warm
kind, adapted to our climate; the most antique representations of the
Gaulish native chiefs, as given on Roman sculpture, and which may be
taken as general representations of British chiefs, may be received as
good authorities, their resemblance to each other being so striking as
to draw from Cæsar a remark to that effect.

The Saxon figures, as given in the drawings by their own hands, to be
seen in manuscripts in most of our public libraries, display the costume
of this people, from the ninth century downward; and the minute way in
which every portion of the dress is given, affords us clear examples of
their boots and shoes. According to Strutt, high shoes, reaching nearly
to the middle of the legs, and fastened by lacing in the front, and
which may also be properly considered as a species of half-boots, were
in use in this country as early as the tenth century; and the only
apparent difference between the high shoes of the ancients and the
moderns, seems to have been that the former laced close down to the
toes, and the latter to the instep only. They appear in general to have
been made of leather, and were usually fastened beneath the ankles with
a thong, which passed through a fold upon the upper part of the leather,
encompassing the heel, and which was tied upon the instep. This method
of securing the shoe upon the foot, was certainly well contrived both
for ease and convenience. Three specimens of shoes are here given from
Saxon drawings. The first is the most ancient and curious; it is copied
from “the Durham Book,” or book of St. Cuthbert, now preserved among the
Cottonian manuscripts in the British museum, and is believed to have
been executed as early as the seventh century, by the hands of Eadfreid,
afterward bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in 721. It partakes of the
nature of shoe and sandal, and with the exception of the buttons down
the front, is precisely like the Persepolitan sandal already engraved
and described, as well as like the Roman ones constructed on the same
model, and it is curious to see how all are formed after this one

[Illustration: No. 1.]

[Illustration: No. 2.]

[Illustration: No. 3.]

No. 2, is copied from Strutt’s “complete view of the dress and habits of
the people of England,” plate XXIX., fig. 16, and which he obtained from
the Harleian MS., No. 603. It very clearly shows the form of the Saxon
shoe, and the long strings by which it was tied. Fig. 3, delineates the
most ordinary kind of shoe worn, with the opening to the toes already
alluded to, for lacing it. But little variety is observable in the form
of this article of dress among the Saxons; it is usually delineated as a
solid black mass, just as the last figure has been here engraved, with a
white line down the centre, to show the opening, but quite as generally
without it, and these two forms of shoe or half-boot, are by far the
most commonly met with, and are depicted upon the feet of noble and
royal personages as well as upon those of the lower class.

Strutt remarks that wooden shoes are mentioned in the records of this
era, but considers it probable that they were so called because the
soles were formed of wood, while the upper parts were formed with some
more pliant material: shoes with wooden soles were at this time worn by
persons of the most exalted rank; thus, the shoes of Bernard, king of
Italy the grandson of Charlemagne, are thus described by an Italian
writer, as they were found in his tomb.

“The shoes,” says he, “which covered his feet are remaining to this day,
the soles of wood and the upper parts of red leather, laced together
with thongs: they were so closely fitted to the feet that the order of
the toes, terminating in a point at the great toe, might easily be
discovered; so that the shoe belonging to the right foot could not be
put upon the left, nor that of the left upon the right.” It was not
uncommon to gild and otherwise ornament the shoes of the nobility.
Eginhart describes the shoes worn by Charlemagne on great occasions, as
set with jewels.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

The Normans wore boots and shoes of equal simplicity, rustics are
frequently represented with a half-boot plain in form, fitting close to
the foot, but wide at the ankle, like fig. 1, of the group here given,
only that in this instance, an ornament consisting of a studded band
surrounds the upper part. Such boots were much used by the Normans, and
are frequently mentioned by the ancient historians; they do not appear
to have been confined to any particular classes of the people, but were
worn by persons of all ranks and conditions, as well of the clergy as of
the laity, especially when they rode on horseback. The boots delineated
in their drawings are very short, rarely reaching higher than the middle
of the legs; they were sometimes slightly ornamented, but the boots and
shoes of all personages represented in the famous tapestry of Bayeux,
are of the same simple form of construction; and this celebrated early
piece of needlework was believed to have been worked by the wife of the
conqueror, to commemorate his invasion of England and the battle of
Hastings. Another form of Norman shoes may be seen in fig. 2, which is
more enriched than the last, and it is curious that the ornament adopted
is in the form of the straps of a sandal, studded with dots throughout.
In the original, the shoe is colored with a thin tint of black, these
bands being a solid black, with white or gilded lines and dots. Another
example of a decorated shoe, fig. 3, is given from a MS. of the eleventh
century, in the British museum, and shows the kind which became
fashionable when the Normans, firmly settled in England, began to
indulge in luxurious clothing. These shoes were most probably

“We are assured by the early Norman historians,” says Strutt, “that the
cognomen _curta ocrea_, or short boots, was given to Robert, the
conqueror’s eldest son; but they are entirely silent respecting the
reason for such an appellation being particularly applied to him. It
could not have arisen from his having introduced the custom of wearing
short boots into this country, for they were certainly in use among the
Saxons long before his birth: to hazard a conjecture of my own, I should
rather say he was the first among the Normans who wore short boots, and
derived the cognomen by way of contempt, from his own countrymen, for
having so far complied with the manners of the Anglo-Saxons. It was not
long, however, supposing this to be the case, before his example was
generally followed.” The short boots of the Normans appear at times to
fit quite close to the legs; in other instances they are represented
more loose and open; and though the materials of which they were
composed are not particularized by ancient writers, we may reasonably
suppose them to have been made of leather; at least it is certain that
about this time, a sort of leathern boots, called bazans, were in
fashion; but they appear to have been chiefly confined to the clergy.

“Among the various innovations,” continues Strutt, “made in dress by the
Normans during the twelfth century, none met with more marked and more
deserved disapprobation than that of lengthening the toes of the shoes,
and bringing them forward to a sharp point. In the reign of Rufus, this
custom was first introduced; and according to Orderic Vitalis, by a man
who had distorted feet, in order to conceal his deformity;” but he adds,
“the fashion was no sooner broached, than all those who were fond of
novelty thought proper to follow it; and the shoes were made by the
shoemakers in the form of a scorpion’s tail.” These shoes were called
_pigaciæ_, and were adopted by persons of every class, both rich and
poor. Soon after, a courtier, whose name was Robert, improved upon the
first idea, by filling the vacant part of the shoe with tow, and
twisting it round in the shape of a ram’s horn; this ridiculous fashion
excited much admiration. It was followed by the greater part of the
nobility; and the author, for his happy invention, was honored with the
cognomen _Cornardus_ or horned. The long pointed shoes were vehemently
inveighed against by the clergy, and strictly forbidden to be worn by
the religious orders. So far as we can judge from the drawings executed
in the twelfth century, the fashion of wearing long-pointed shoes did
not long maintain its ground. It was, however, afterward revived, and
even carried to a more preposterous extent.

A specimen of the shoes that were worn at this period, and which so
excited the ire of the monkish writers, is here given from the seal of
Richard, constable of Chester, in the reign of Stephen; in the original
the knight is on horseback, the stirrup and spur are therefore seen in
our cut.


The effigies of the early sovereigns of England, are generally
represented in shoes decorated with bands across, as if in imitation of
sandals. They are seldom colored black, as nearly all the examples of
earlier shoes in this country are. The shoes of Henry II. are green,
with bands of gold. Those of Richard are also striped with gold; and
such richly decorated shoes became fashionable among the nobility, and
were generally worn by royalty all over Europe. Thus, when the tomb of
Henry VI. of Sicily, who died in 1197, was opened in the cathedral of
Palermo, on the feet of the dead monarch were discovered costly shoes,
whose upper part was of cloth of gold, embroidered with pearls, the sole
being of cork, covered with the same cloth of gold. These shoes reached
to the ankle, and were fastened with a little button instead of a
buckle. His queen, Constance, who died in 1198, had upon her feet shoes
also of cloth of gold, which were fastened with leather straps tied in
knots, and on the upper part of them were two openings, wrought with
embroidery, which showed that they had been once adorned with jewels.
Boots ornamented with gold, and embroidered in elegant patterns, at this
time became often worn. King John of England, orders, in one instance,
four pair of women’s boots, one of them to be embroidered with circles;
and the effigy of the succeeding monarch, Henry III., in Westminster
abbey, is chiefly remarkable for the splendor of the boots he wears;
they are crossed all over by golden bands, thus forming a series of
diamond-shaped spaces, each one of which is filled with a figure of a
lion, the royal arms of England. One of these splendid shoes is engraved
in plate III., fig. 1.


The shape of the sole of the shoes at this time, may be seen from the
cut here given of one found in a tomb of the period, and called that of
St. Swithin, in Winchester cathedral. The shoe is engraved in “Gough’s
Sepulchral Monuments,” and the person who discovered it in the tomb
thus describes it: “The legs of the wearer were enclosed in leathern
boots or gaiters sewed with neatness, the thread was still to be seen.
The soles were small and round, rather worn, and of what would be called
an elegant shape at present; pointed at the toe and very narrow, and
were made and fitted to each foot. I have sent the pattern of one of the
soles, drawn by tracing it with a pencil from the original itself, which
I have in my possession.” Gough engraves the shoe of the natural size in
his work, the measurements being ten inches in length from toe to heel,
and three inches across the broadest part of the instep. It will be seen
that they are as perfectly “right and left,” as any boots of the present
day; but as we have already shown, this is a fashion of the most remote
antiquity. As these boots are at least as old as the time of John,
Shakspere’s description in his dramatized history of that sovereign, of
the tailor, who eager to acquaint his friend, the smith, of the
prodigies the skies had just exhibited, and whom Hubert saw

    “Standing in slippers which his nimble haste
     Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,”

is strictly accurate: yet half a century ago, this passage was adjudged
to be one of the many proofs of Shakspere’s ignorance or carelessness.
Dr. Johnson, ignorant himself of the truth in this point, but yet, like
all critics, determined to pass his verdict, makes himself supremely
absurd, by saying in a note to this passage, with ridiculous solemnity,
“Shakspere seems to have confounded the man’s shoes with his gloves. He
that is frighted or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but
either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems to be
disturbed by the disorder which he describes.”

In the “Art Union,” a journal devoted to the fine arts, are a series of
notices of the various forms of boots and shoes in Great Britain, by F.
W. Fairholt, F. S. A., from which we may borrow the description of the
elegant coverings for the feet in use in the reigns of the first three
Edwards. Boots buttoned up the leg, or shoes buttoned up the centre, or
secured like the Norman shoe in the second figures of the first cut
given in this chapter, were common in the days of Edward I. and II. The
splendid reign of the third Edward, says Mr. Fairholt, extending over
half a century of national greatness, was remarkable for the variety and
luxury, as well as the elegance of its costume; and this may be
considered as the most glorious era in the annals of “the gentle craft,”
as the trade of shoemaking was anciently termed. Shoes and boots of the
most sumptuous description are now to be met with in contemporary
paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts. The boot and shoe
here engraved from the Arundel MS., No. 83, executed about 1339 (pl.
III., figs. 2 and 3), are fine examples of the extent to which the
tasteful ornament of these articles of dress was carried. They remind
one of the boots “fretted with gold” and embroidered in circles
mentioned by John. The greatest variety of pattern and the richest
contrasts of color were aimed at by the maker and inventor of shoes at
this period, and with how happy an effect the reader may judge, from the
examples just given, as well as from the three also engraved in pl.
III., Nos. 4, 5, and 6, and which are copied from Smike’s copies of the
paintings, which formerly existed on the walls of St. Stephen’s chapel
at Westminster, and which drawings now decorate the walls of the
meeting-room of the Society of Antiquaries. It is impossible to conceive
any shoe more exquisite in design than fig. 4, of our plate. It is worn
by a royal personage, and it brings forcibly to mind the rose windows,
and other details of the architecture of this period; but for beauty of
pattern and splendor of effect this English shoe of the middle ages is
“beyond all Greek, beyond all Roman fame,” for their sandals and shoes
have not half “the glory of regality contained in this one specimen.”
The fifth figure in the same plate is simpler in design but not less
striking in effect, being colored (as the previous one is) solid black,
the red hose adding considerably to its effect. No. 6, is still more
peculiar, and is cut all over into a geometric pattern, and with a
fondness for quaint display in dress peculiar to those times, the left
shoe is black and the stocking blue, the other leg of the same figure
being clothed in a black stocking and a white shoe. The form of this
latter one is that usually worn by persons of all classes, of course
omitting the elaborate ornament. The shoe was cut very low over the
instep, the heel being entirely covered, and a band fastened by a small
buckle or button passing round the ankle secured it to the foot.

The boots and shoes worn during the fourteenth century, were of peculiar
form, and the toes which were lengthened to a point, turned inward or
outward according to the taste of the wearer. In the reign of Richard
II., they became immensely long, so that it was asserted they were
chained to the knee of the wearer, in order to allow him to walk about
with ease and freedom. It was of course only the nobility who could thus
inconvenience themselves, and it might have been adopted by them as a
distinction; still very pointed toes were worn by all who could afford
to be fashionable. The cut here given exhibits the sole of a shoe of
this period, from an actual specimen in the possession of C. Roach
Smith, F. S. A., and was discovered in the neighborhood of Whitefriars,
in digging deep under ground into what must have originally been a
receptable for rubbish, among which these old shoes had been thrown, and
they are probably the only things of the kind now in existence.



Two specimens of boots of the time of Edward IV., are here given to show
their general form at that period. The first is copied from the Royal
MS., No. 15, E. 6, and is of black leather, with a long upturned toe;
the top of the boot is of lighter leather, and thus it bears a
resemblance to the top-boots of a later age, of which it may be
considered as the prototype. The other boot, from a print dated 1515, is
more curious; the top of the boot is turned down, and the entire centre
opens from the top, to the instep, and is drawn together by laces or
ties across the leg, so that it bears considerable resemblance in this
point to the Cothurnus of the ancients.

Fashion ran at this time from one extreme to the other, and the shoes
which were at one time so long at the toe as to be inconvenient, now
became as absurdly broad, and it was made the subject of sumptuary laws
to restrain both extremes. Thus Edward IV. enacted that any shoemaker
who made for unprivileged persons (the nobility being exempted) any
shoes or boots, the toes of which exceeded two inches in length, should
forfeit twenty shillings, one noble to be paid to the king, another to
the cordwainers of London, and the third to the chamber of London. This
only had the effect of widening the toes; and Paradin says that they
were then so very broad as to exceed the measure of a good foot. This
continued until the reign of Mary, who, by a proclamation, prohibited
their being worn wider at the toe than six inches.

[Illustration: No. 1.]

[Illustration: No. 2.]

We have here engraved two specimens of these broad-toed shoes of the
time of Henry VIII. No. 1 is copied from the monumental effigy of
Katharine, the wife of Sir Thomas Babynton, who died 1543, and is buried
in Morley church, near Derby. It is an excellent specimen of the sort of
sole preferred by the fashionables of that day. The second cut exhibits
a front view of a similarly-made shoe. They were formed of leather, but
generally the better classes wore them of rich velvet and silk, the
various colors of which were exhibited in slashes at the toes, which
were most sparingly covered by the velvet of which the shoe was
composed. In the curious full-length portrait of the poetical Earl of
Surrey, at Hampton Court, he is represented in shoes of red velvet,
having bands of a darker tint placed across them diagonally; which bands
are decorated with a row of gold ornaments.

During the reign of Edward VI., a sort of shoe


with a pointed toe was worn, not unlike the modern one. It was of
velvet, generally, with the upper classes; of leather, with the poorer
ones. The former indulged in a series of slashes over the upper leather,
which the others had not. We give here two specimens of these shoes,
from prints dated 1577 and 1588; and they will serve to show the sort of
form adopted, as well as the varied way in which the slashes of the
velvet appeared, and which altered with the wearer’s taste. Philip
Stubbes, the puritanical author of the “Anatomy of Abuses,” 1588,
declares that the fashionables then wore “corked shoes, puisnets,
pantoffles, and slippers, some of them of black velvet, some of white,
some of green, and some of yellow; some of Spanish leather, and some of
English, stitched with silk and embroidered with gold and silver all
over the foot with gewgaws innumerable.” Rich and expensive shoe-ties
were now brought into use, and large sums were lavished upon their
decorations. John Taylor, the water poet, alludes to the extravagance
of those who

    “Wear a farm in shoe-strings edged with gold,
     And spangled garters worth a copy-hold.”

The shoe-roses were made of lace, which was as beautiful, costly, and
elaborate, as that which composed the ruff for the neck, or ruffles for
the wrist. They were elaborately decorated with needlework and gold and
silver thread.

During the reign of the first Charles, the boots (which were made of
fine Spanish leather, and were of a buff color) became very large and
wide at the top. Indeed, they were so wide at times, as to oblige the
wearer to stride much in walking, a habit that was much ridiculed by the
satirists of the day. There was a print published during this reign of a
dandy in the height of fashion whose legs are “incased in boot-hose tops
tied about the middle of the calf, as long as a pair of shirt-sleeves,
double at the end like a ruff-band: the top of his boots very large,
fringed with lace, and turned down as low as his spurs, which jingled
like the bells of a morris-dancer as he walked.” These boots were made
very long in the toe, thus, of this exquisite we are told, “the feet of
his boots were two inches too long.”

The boot-tops at this time were made wide, and were capable of being
turned over beneath the knee, which they completely covered when they
were uplifted. They were of course made of pliant leather to allow of
this--“Spanish leather,” according to Ben Jonson.

During the whole of the Commonwealth large boot-tops of this kind were
worn even by the puritans; they were, however, large only, and not
decorated with costly lace. The shoes worn were generally particularly
simple in their construction and form, and those who did not wish to be
classed among the vain and frivolous, took care to have their toes sharp
at the point, as a distinction between themselves and the “graceless
gallants,” who generally wore theirs very broad.


With the restoration of Charles II. came the large French boot, in which
the courtiers of “Louis le grand,” always delighted to exhibit their
legs. Of the amplitude of its tops, the woodcut will give an idea, it
is copied from one worn by a courtier of Charles’s train, in the
engravings illustrative of his coronation. The boot is decorated with
lace all round the upper part, and that portion of the leg which the
boot encases, seems fitted easily with pliant leather: over the instep
is a broad band of the same material, beneath which the spur was
fastened; and the heel is high, and toe broad, of all the boots and
shoes then fashionable.

A boot of the end of this reign, forms fig. 7, of our third plate, and
is copied from a pair which hang up in Shottesbrooke church, Berkshire,
above a tomb, in accordance with the old custom, of burying a knight
with his martial equipments over his grave, originally consisting of his
shield, sword, gloves, and spurs, the boots being a later and more
absurd introduction. The pair which we are now describing, are formed of
fine buff leather, the tops are red, and so are the heels, which are
very high, the toes being cut exceedingly square.

With the great revolution of 1688, and his majesty William III., came in
the large jack-boot, and the high-quartered, high-heeled, and buckled
shoe, which only expired at the end of the last century. Sir Samuel Rush
Meyrick, has one of these jack-boots in his collection of armor, at
Goodrich court; and it has been engraved in his work on ancient arms
and armor, from which it is copied in plate III., fig. 8. It is a
remarkably fine specimen of these inconvenient things, and is as
straight and stiff and formal, as the most inveterate Dutchman could
wish. The heel it will be perceived is very high, and the press upon the
instep very great, and consequently injurious to the foot, and
altogether detrimental to comfort. An immense piece of leather covers
the instep, through which the spur is affixed, and to the back of the
boot, just above the heel, is appended an iron rest for the spur. Such
were the boots of the English cavalry and infantry, and in such cumbrous
articles did they fight in the low countries, following the example of
Charles XII., of Sweden, whose figure has become so identified with
them, that the imagination can not easily separate the sovereign from
the boots in which he is so constantly painted, and of which a specimen
may be seen in his full-length portrait, preserved in the British

A boot was worn by civilians, less rigid than the one last described,
the leg taking more of the natural shape, and the tops being smaller, of
a more pliant kind, and sometimes slightly ornamented round the edges.

We have here two examples of ladies’ shoes, as worn during the period of
which we are discussing.


The first figure, copied from volume 67, of the “Gentleman’s Magazine,”
shows the peculiar shape of the shoe, as well as the clog beneath; these
clogs were merely single pieces of stout leather, which were fastened
beneath the heel and instep, and appear to be only extra hinderances in
walking, which must materially have destroyed any little pliancy which
the original shoe would have allowed the foot to retain. The second
figure is copied from the first volume of “Hone’s Every Day Book,” and
that author says, “This was the fashion that beautified the feet of the
fair, in the reign of King William and Queen Mary.” Holme, in his
“Academy of Armory,” is minutely diffuse on the gentle craft: he
engraves the form of a pair of wedges, which he says “is to raise up a
shoe in the instep, when it is too straight for the top of the foot;”
and thus compassionates ladies’ sufferings: “Shoemakers love to put
ladies in their stocks, but these wedges, like merciful justices, upon
complaint, soon do ease and deliver them. If the eye turns to the
cut--to the cut of the sole,

[Illustration: Pl. 3.]

with the line of beauty adapted by the cunning of the workman’s skill,
to stilt the female foot: if the reader behold that association, let
wonder cease, that a venerable master in coat armor, should bend his
quarterings to the quarterings of a lady’s shoe, and forgetful of
heraldic forms, condescend from his high estate to use similitudes.”

This shape, once firmly established, was the prevailing one during the
reigns of George I. and II. Figs. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, of plate III., will
fully display the different forms and style, adopted by the fashionables
of that day. They always wore red heels, at least all persons who
pretended to gentility. The fronts of the gentlemen’s shoes were very
high, and on gala-days or showy occasions, a buff shoe was worn. The
ladies appear to have preferred silk or velvet to leather: thus fig. 10
is entirely made of a figured blue silk, and it has bright red heels and
silver buckles. Fig. 11 is of brown leather, with a red heel, and a red
rose for a tie above the instep. Fig. 12 is altogether red, in a pattern
of different strengths of tint; the tie and heels being deepest in

Her majesty’s grand bal costumé, given during the past year, revived for
a night the fashion of a century ago: and the author of these pages, was
then under the necessity of hunting up the few remaining makers of
wooden heels, in order to furnish the correct shoe, to complete the
costume of many of the most distinguished individuals, who figured on
that occasion.

The making of the high-heeled shoe, was at all times a matter of great
judgment and nicety of operation; the position required to be given to
the heel, the aptitude of the eye and hand, necessary to the cutting
down of the wood; the sewing in of the cover, kid, stuff, silk, or
satin, as it might be: the getting in and securing the wood or “block;”
the bracing the cover round the block; and the beautifully defined
stitching, which went from corner to corner, all round the heel part,
demanding altogether the cleverness of first-rate ability.


The shoes became lower in the quarters during the reign of George III.,
and the heel was made less clumsy. As fashion varied, larger or smaller
buckles were used, and the heel was thrust further beneath the foot
until about 1780, when the shoe took the form here delineated, and which
is copied from Mr. Fairholt’s notes in the “Art Union,” already alluded


From the same source, we borrow the following notices by the same
writer: “About 1790, a change in the fashion of ladies’ shoes occurred.
They were made very flat and low in the heel, in reality more like a
slipper than a shoe. This engraving, copied from a real specimen, will
show the peculiarity of its make: the low quarters, the diminutive heel,
and the plaited riband and small tie in front, in place of the buckle
which began to be occasionally discontinued. The duchess of York, at
this time, was remarkable for the smallness of her foot, and a colored
print of ‘the exact size of the duchess’ shoe,’ was published by Fores,
in 1791. It measures five and three quarters inches in length; the
breadth of the sole being only one and three quarters inches. It is made
of green silk, ornamented with gold stars; is bound with scarlet silk;
the heel is scarlet, and the shape is similar to the one engraved above,
except that the heel is exactly in the modern style.” Models of this
fairy shoe were made of china, as ornaments for the chimney, or
drawing-room table, with cupids hovering around it.

Shoes of the old fashion, with high heels and buckles, appear in prints
of the early part of 1800; but buckles became unfashionable, and
shoe-strings eventually triumphed, although less costly and elegant in
their construction. The prince of Wales was petitioned by the alarmed
buckle-makers, to discard his new-fashioned strings, and take again to
buckles, by way of bolstering up their trade; but the fate of these
articles was sealed, and the prince’s good-natured compliance with their
wishes, did little to prevent their downfall. The buckles worn at the
end of 1700, were generally exceedingly small, and so continued until
they were finally disused.

Early in the reign of George III., the close fitting gentleman’s boot
became general; the material used for the leg was termed
_grain-leather_, the flesh side being left brown, and the grain
blackened, and kept to the sight. In currying this sort of leather for
the boot-leg, it went, in the lower part, through an ingenious process
of contraction, to give it _life_; so that the heel of the wearer might
go into it and come out again the easier; the boot, at the same time,
when on, catching snugly round the small of the leg, in a sort of
stocking fit.

After this appeared the “Hessian,” a boot worn over the tight-fitting
pantaloon, the uppeaking front bearing a silk tassel. This boot was
introduced from Germany, about 1789, and sometimes was called the
Austrian boot. Rees, in his “Art and Mystery of the Cordwainer,”
published in 1813, says, “The form at first was odious, as the close
boot was then in wear, but like many fashions, at first frightful, it
was then pitied, and at last adopted.”

The top-boot was worn early in the reign of George III., and took the
fulness of the Hessian in its lower part, and on the introduction of the
“Wellington,” the same fulness was retained.

To describe the last-named boot were useless, it has become, _par
excellence_, the common boot, and is perhaps as universally known as the
fame of the distinguished hero WELLINGTON.



Upon critically examining the various forms assumed by the coverings for
the feet adopted by the nations around us, we shall find that they were
in no small degree modified by the circumstances with which they were
surrounded, or the necessities of the climate they inhabited.

Thus the northern nations enswathed their legs in skins, and used the
same material for the shoes, binding the whole in warm folds about the
leg, the thongs being fastened to them in the manner represented in
plate IV., fig. 1, and which is copied from a full length figure of a
Russian boor, in 1768. The sandal of a Russian lady of the same period,
is given in the same plate, fig. 2, and the men of Friesland at the same
time, wore sandals or shoes of a similar construction, the common people
generally wearing a close leathern shoe and clog, something like those
in use in the

[Illustration: Pl. 4.]

middle ages, one delineated in fig. 3 of our plate, and is represented
on the feet of a countrywoman, in the curious series of costumes of
Finland, engraved in “Jeffery’s Collection of the Dresses of different
Nations,” published in 1757, and which were copied from some very rare
prints, at least a century earlier in point of date. Another female’s
shoe is given in fig. 4; it is a low slipper-like shoe, and is secured
by a band across the instep, having an ornamental clasp, like a brooch,
to secure it on each side of the foot; it was probably a coarsely-made
piece of jewelry, with glass or cheap stones set around it; as the
people of this country at that time were fond of such showy decorations,
and particularly upon their shoes. The noblemen and ladies always
decorated theirs with ornaments and jewels all over the upper surface,
of which we give two specimens in figs. 5 and 6: the former upon the
foot of a nobleman, the latter upon that of a matron of the upper
classes. It will be seen, that both are very elegant, and must have been
very showy wear.

The boots of an Hungarian gentleman, in 1700, may be seen in fig. 7, of
plate IV., and such boots were common to Bohemia at the same period.
They are chiefly remarkable for the way in which they are cut upward
from the middle of the thigh to the knee, and then curl over in front
of the leg.

A Tartarian lady of 1577, is exhibited by John Wiegel, the engraver of
Nuremburgh, in his work on dress, in the boots delineated in fig. 8.
They are remarkable for the sole to which they are affixed, and which
was, no doubt, formed of some strong substance, probably with metallic
hooks to assist the wearer in walking a mountainous country where frosts

Descending toward the south, we shall find a lighter sort of shoe in
use, and one partaking more of the character of a slipper, used more as
a protection for the sole of the foot in walking, than as an article of
warmth. Thus the shoes generally used in the East, scarcely do more than
cover the toes, yet, from constant use, the natives hardly ever allow
them to slip from the feet. The learned author of the notes to “Knight’s
Pictorial Bible,” speaking from personal observation of these articles,
says, “The common shoe in Turkey or Arabia, is like our slipper _with_
quarters, except that it has a sharp and prolonged toe turned up.” No
shoes in western Asia have ears, and they are generally of colored
leather--red or yellow morocco in Turkey and Arabia, and green shagreen
in Persia. In the latter country, the shoe or slipper in general use
(having no quarters), has a very high heel; but with this exception, the
heels in these countries are generally flat. No shoes or even boots have
more than a single sole (like what we call “pumps”), which in wet
weather imbibes the water freely. When the shoe without quarters is
used, a slipper, with quarters, but without a sole, is worn inside, and
the outer one alone is thrown off on entering a house. But in Persia,
instead of this inner shoe of leather, they use a worsted sock. Those
shoes that have quarters are usually worn without any inner covering for
the foot. The peasantry and the nomade tribes usually go barefoot, or
wear a rude sandal or shoe of their own manufacture; those who possess a
pair of red leather or other shoes, seldom wear them except on holyday
occasions, so that they last a long time, if not so long as among the
Maltese, with whom a pair of shoes endures for several generations,
being, even on holyday occasions, more frequently carried in the hand
than worn on the feet. The boots are generally of the same construction
and material as the shoes; and the general form may be compared to that
of the buskin, the height varying from the mid-leg to near the knee.
They are of capacious breadth, except among the Persians whose boots
generally fit close to the leg, and are mostly of a sort of Russia
leather, uncolored; whereas those of other people are, like the slipper,
of red and yellow morocco. There is also a boot or shoe for walking in
frosty weather, which differs from the common one only in having under
the heel iron tips, which, being partly bent vertically with a jagged
edge, give a hold on the ice, which prevents slipping, and are
particularly useful in ascending or descending the frozen mountain
paths--reminding us of the sort of boot worn by Tartarian ladies, as
given in fig. 8. The shoes of the oriental ladies are sometimes highly
ornamented; the covering part being wrought with gold, silver, and silk,
and perhaps set with jewels, real or imitated. Examples of such
decorated shoes are given in plate IV., figs. 9 and 10, and will
sufficiently explain themselves to the eye of the reader, rendering
detailed description unnecessary. The shoes of noblemen are of precisely
similar construction.


In China, the boots and shoes of the men are worn as clumsy and
inelegant as in any country. They are broad at the toe, and sometimes
upturned. We give a specimen of both in the foregoing engraving. They
are no doubt easy to wear.

Not so are the ladies’ shoes, for they only are allowed the privilege of
discomfort, fashion having in this country declared in favor of small
feet, and the prejudice of the people having gone with it, the feet of
all ladies of decent rank in society, are cramped in early life, by
being placed in so strait a confinement, that their growth is retarded,
and they are not more than three or four inches in length, from the toe
to the heel. By the smallness of the foot the rank or high-breeding of
the lady is decided on, and the utmost torment is endured by the girls
in early life, to insure themselves this distinction in rank; the lower
classes of females not being allowed to torture themselves in the same
manner. The Chinese poets frequently indulge in panegyrics on the beauty
of these crippled members of the body, and none of their heroines are
considered perfect without excessively small feet, when they are
affectionately termed by them “the little golden lilies.” It is needless
to say that the tortures of early youth are succeeded by a crippled
maturity, a Chinese lady of high birth being scarcely able to walk
without assistance. A specimen of such a foot and shoe is given in plate
III., fig. 11. These shoes are generally made of silk and embroidered
in the most beautiful manner, with flowers and ornaments, in colored
silk and threads of gold and silver. A piece of stout silk is generally
attached to the heel for the convenience of pulling up the shoe.

Having bestowed some attention on ancient Egypt, we may briefly allude
to the shoes of modern times, as given in Lane’s work devoted to the
history of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians. They, like
the Persian ones, have an upturned toe, and may with equal ease be drawn
on and thrown off. Yet a shoe is also worn with a high instep and high
in the heel, which will be best understood by the first figure in the
accompanying cut.


The Turkish ladies of the sixteenth century, and very probably much
earlier, wore a very high shoe known in Europe by the name of a
“chopine.” In the voyages and travels of N. de Nicholay Dauphinoys,
Seigneur D’Arfreville, valet de chambre and geographer to the king of
France, printed at Lyons, 1568, one of the ladies of the grand
seigneur’s seraglio, is represented in a pair of chopines, of which we
copy one in plate III., fig. 12. This fashion spread in Europe in the
early part of the seventeenth century, and it is alluded to by Hamlet,
in act ii., scene 2, when he exclaims, “Your ladyship is nearer heaven
than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine,” by which it
appears that something of the kind was known in England, where it may
have been introduced from Venice, as the ladies there wore them of the
most exaggerated size. Coryat, in his “Crudities,” 1611, says; “There is
one thing used of the Venetian women, and some others dwelling in the
cities and towns subject to signiory of Venice, that is not to be
observed (I think) among any other women in Christendom”--the reader
must remember that it was new to Coryat, but a common fashion in the
East--“which is so common in Venice that no woman whatsoever goeth
without it, either in her house or abroad--a thing made of wood and
covered with leather of sundry colors; some with white, some red, some
yellow. It is called a _chapiney_, which they never wear under their
shoes. Many of these are curious painted; some of them I have also seen
fairly gilt; so uncomely a thing, in my opinion, that it is a pity this
foolish custom is not clean banished and exterminated out of the city.


are many of these chapineys of a great height even half a yard high,
which maketh many of their women, that are very short, seem much taller
than the tallest women we have in England. Also, I have heard it
observed among them, that by how much the nobler a woman is, by so much
the higher are her chapineys. All their gentlewomen, and most of their
wives and widows that are of any wealth, are assisted and supported
either by men or women, when they walk abroad, to the end they might not
fall. They are borne up most commonly by the left arm; otherwise they
might quickly take a fall.” In Douce’s Illustrations of Shakspere, a
woodcut of such a chapiney, or chopine, is given, which is here copied;
and it is an excellent example of the thing, showing the decoration
which was at times bestowed on it.

Douce quotes some curious particulars of this fashion, in “Raymond’s
Voyage through Italy,” 1648, and the following curious account of the
chopine occurs: “This place [Venice] is much frequented by the walking
may-poles: I mean the women. They wear their coats half too long for
their bodies, being mounted on their _chippeens_ (which are as high as a
man’s leg); they walke betweene two handmaids, majestically deliberating
of every step they take.” Howel also says of the Venetian women: “They
are low and of small stature for the most part, which makes them to
raise their bodies upon high shoes, called _chapins_, which gave me
occasion to say that the Venetian ladies were made of three things, one
part of them was wood, meaning their chapins, another part was their
apparel, and the third part was a woman. The senate hath often
endeavored to take away the wearing of those high shoes, but all women
are so passionately delighted with this kind of state, that no law can
wean them from it.” Douce adds, that “some have supposed that the
jealousy of Italian husbands gave rise to the invention of the chopine;”
and quotes a story from a French author, to show their dislike to an
alteration; he also says, that “the first ladies who rejected the use
of the chopine, were the daughters of the doge Dominico Contareno, about
the year 1670.” The chopine, or some kind of high shoe, was occasionally
used in England. Bulwer, in his “Artificial Changeling,” p. 550,
complains of this fashion as a monstrous affectation, and says that his
countrywomen therein imitated the Venetian and Persian ladies. In
“Sandy’s Travels,” 1615, there is a figure of a Turkish lady with
chopines, and it is not improbable that the Venetians might have
borrowed them from the Greek islands in the Archipelago. We know that
something similar was in use among the ancient Greeks. Xenophon, in
Œconomics, mentions the wife of Ischomachus as wearing high shoes,
for increasing her stature. They are still worn by the women in many
parts of Turkey, but more particularly at Aleppo. Douce’s notice of
their antiquity, is curiously corroborated by the discovery in the tombs
of ancient Egypt of such shoes. They are formed of a stout sole of wood,
to which is affixed four round props, raising the wearer a foot in
height; specimens were among the collections of Mr. Salt, the British
consul in Egypt, from which some of the choicest Egyptian antiquities in
the national collection were obtained. The other remark of Douce’s, that
they were probably derived from the Greek islands of the Archipelago,
is confirmed by the fact that high-soled boots and shoes were much
coveted by the ladies there, to raise their stature, and were worn when
chopines had long been disused; thus the high-soled boots delineated in
plate IV., fig. 13, are found upon the feet of “a young lady of
Argentiera,” one of these islands, in a print dated 1700; and, in
another of the same date, giving the costume of a lady of the
neighboring island of Naxos, the shoe shown in fig. 14, is worn.

Of the modern European nations with whom we have been most in
contact--Spain, France, and the Netherlands--their boots and shoes have
so nearly resembled our own, as to render a detailed description
scarcely necessary. Indeed, as France has been tacitly submitted to as
the _arbiter elegantiarum_ in all matters of dress, much has been
derived thence.

There was, however, a French shoe that we do not ever appear to have
adopted; it was made low in the quarters and ended at the instep; there
was no covering for the heel, or the sides of the foot beyond it. The
fashion spread to Venice, and the figure of a Venetian lady of 1750, has
supplied us with the specimen in plate IV., fig. 15.

The _sabots_ of France, is another peculiarity which we never adopted,
and which our peasantry have always looked on with great distaste; and
it became popularly said of William III., that he had saved us from
popery, slavery, and _wooden shoes_. They are generally clumsy enough;
their large size, and bad fit, are generally improved by the
introduction of others made of list, which give warmth and steadiness to
the foot. A small wooden shoe is, however, made in Normandy, and else
where, much like that which came into fashion about 1790, with an
imitation of its fringes and pointed toe, and which is generally painted
black; the ordinary _sabot_ being totally unadorned, and the color of
the wood. In the cut here given, both are introduced. Fig. 1, is the
ordinary shoe; fig. 2, the extraordinary or genteel one.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

And now, having in the pursuit of our history of boots and shoes,

    “Travelled the wide world all over,”

let us not dismiss the subject, without a parting glance at the sister
island, and look at the “brogues” of Ireland; which upon the authority
of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, especially deserve our attention. In their
work on Ireland, they engrave the figure of this article, which we copy,
plate IV., fig. 16, and say: “The brogue, or shoe, of the Irish
peasantry, differs in its construction from the shoe of any other
country. It was formerly made of untanned hide, but, for the last
century at least, it has been made of tanned leather. The leather of the
uppers is much stronger than what is used in the strongest shoes; being
made of cowhide dressed for the purpose, and it never had an inside
lining, like the ordinary shoe; the sole leather is generally of an
inferior description. The process of making the brogue, is certainly
different from that of shoemaking; and the tools used in the work,
except the hammer, pinchers, and knife, bear little analogy. The awl,
though used in common by those operators, is much larger than the
largest used by the shoemaker, and unlike in the bend and form. The
regular brogue was of two sorts, the single and double pump, the former
consisted of the sole and uppers only; the latter had a welt sewed
between the sole and upper leather, which gave it a stouter appearance
and stronger consistency; in modern times, the broguemaker has
assimilated his manufacture to the shoe, by sewing the welt on an inner
sole, and then attaching the outer sole to it, in shoe-fashion. In the
process of making the regular brogue, there formerly were neither hemp,
wax, nor bristles, used by the workmen, the sewing all being performed
with a thong, made of horsehide, prepared for the purpose.” Thus the
construction of this article is quite different from that of the English
shoe; and it is made and stitched without a last, the upper leather and
side being secured by sewing together; it is then turned inside out, and
for the first time put upon the last, and being well-fitted to it by a
smooth iron surface, it is placed before the fire to dry and harden.
“The heel of the brogue is made of what they call ‘jumps,’ tanner’s
shavings stuck together with a kind of paste, and pressed hard, and
dried, either before the fire or in the sun. This, when properly dried,
is cut to the size of the heel, and sewed down with the thong, and then
covered with a top-piece of very thin sole-leather, fastened on with
deal or sally pegs; and in this one particular they had to boast over
the shoemakers, in the neatness of execution. When the brogue is ready
to be taken off the last, they give it the last finish by rubbing it
over with a woollen rag saturated in tallow, and then the brogue is
considered fit for sale. The brogue is worn larger than the foot, and
the space is filled up with a sap of hay or straw. They are considered
by the country people more durable for field-labor, being less liable to
rip in the sewing, than if put together with hemp and wax; and being
cheaper than shoes, are in more general use, although there are few
people, particularly females, who can afford it, who do not keep shoes
for Sunday or holyday wear. The brogue-makers pride themselves in the
antiquity of their trade; and boast over the shoemakers, whom they
consider a spurious graft on their most noble art.”

Sir Walter Scott, in his “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” has
noticed a peculiarity in the make of the “original” shoe of that
country, in the notes to the ballad of the “Souters,” or shoemakers of
Selkirk, who achieved immortality in song, by their bravery in aiding
their sovereign, James IV., in the fatal field of Flodden; he says “the
single-soled shoon,” made by the souters of Selkirk, were a sort of
brogues, with a single thin sole; the purchaser himself performing the
further operation of sewing on another of thick leather. The rude and
imperfect state of this manufacture, sufficiently evinces the antiquity
of the craft. He notices “a singular custom observed at conferring the
freedom of the burgh. Four or five bristles, such as are used by
shoemakers, are attached to the seal of the burgess ticket. The new-made
burgess must dip in his wine, and pass through his mouth, in token of
respect for the souters of Selkirk. This ceremony is on no account
dispensed with.” And when Sir Walter afterward adds, in a note that he
has “himself the honor to be a souter of Selkirk,” we may feel the
additional zest that would give to the chorus of their old trade-song:--

    “Up wi’ the souters of Selkirk,
     And down wi’ the Earl of Home;
     And up wi’ a’ the braw lads,
     That sew the single-soled shoon.”



At what period of the world the trade in question became a separate
means of obtaining a livelihood, it is now impossible to say. At first
no doubt, every one made their own shoes; the mere wrapping up of the
foot in a piece of flexible skin being matter of little difficulty, but
according to Rosseline, whom we quoted in a former chapter, shoemakers’
shops existed in Egypt at a very early period.

That it became, however, in a very early age, a trade, we may infer from
the fact of it being an injunction of the Jewish social system, that
every one, no matter what his rank or wealth, should be compelled to
acquire the means of self-support by an acquaintance with some art or
other, the better to secure himself against the adverse vicissitudes of
life. (See note on Mark vi. 3, in Pictorial Bible, vol. 3.) This
obligation naturally affords reason for belief in a variety of
professions; and the shoe, from its constant requisition, may,
therefore, be supposed to have given rise to one of the earliest.

In one of the Greek dramatic writings, allusion is made to the daily
earnings of the shoemaker; and in the far-famed anecdote of Apelles
exposing to public scrutiny some masterpiece of his painting, the
criticism of the cobbler, about the form or disposition of the latchet
or tie of the shoe, implies, as in the other case, a distinctive
character in the calling: the one receives his daily wages as a regular
acknowledged workman; and the other, from his proficiency in his art,
detects at once an error in the imitation.

The streets of Rome in the reign of Domitian, as Fosbrooke tells us in
his “Dictionary of Antiquities,” were at one time so filled with
cobblers’ stalls, (_cobbler_ being the usual way among writers of naming
the profession), that the emperor had to issue an order to clear them
away, probably to some less ambitious situation--to the narrow and
by-places of the city. St. Anianus, a contemporary with St. Mark, as
Alban Butler writes in his Lives of the Saints, was a shoemaker; and
Crispin and Crispianus, brothers and martyrs, have the well-known repute
of belonging to the trade; they are its patrons, and have their
fête-days yet in all catholic countries; and though there is no longer
any religious observance of the day in England, the name of Crispin is
still placed in the church calendar against the 25th of October: and the
shoemaker has still his traditions and his usages connected with the

The law of England formerly, not only took cognizance of the quality of
the leather which the shoemaker wrought into his goods, but of the
number of stitches that he furnished. In one of the small towns in the
north of England, the custom of gauging shoes brought to market was
prevalent until lately, and the gauger had legal authority to take away
any shoe which had not the proper number of stitches. As his measure he
used the breadth of his thumb, which was meant for an inch. This,
therefore, is not an unpleasant retrospection; the king and his
parliament making enactments concerning the quality of the leather and
scrutinizing even the number of stitches.

The trade, as at present conducted in London and other large towns, may
be divided into two departments, viz.: the bespoke and the ready-made,
or sale-trade. The first of these ranks as chief, on account of the
superiority of the article; although the latter is the most general, and
is patronized by the bulk of the population.

A lady or gentleman requiring boots or shoes, pays a visit to a
respectable shop, and the measure is taken, either by the master or the
clicker; the order is entered in the order-book, and the time named when
they are to be ready. After the departure of the customer, the first
business is to select a pair of lasts adapted to the feet--the measure
is then applied to the length and circumference, and if suitable in the
general form and proportions, the number of the last entered in a column
opposite the name, &c.

The next business is to cut the pattern in paper; and, presuming it to
be a lady’s boot, the greatest care is taken in seeing that it stands
well--neither dropping back, nor pitching too much forward. The goloshes
round the side, the leather toe-caps, or whatever the form may be, of
the lower part of the boot, has its pattern cut also in paper; for much
depends on the correctness of these little matters.

The linen linings are then cut true to this pattern; the cashmere,
prunella, or cloth, cut to form the outside, and the morocco, patent
leather, or cordovan, added for the goloshing; and in this state it is
given to the binder. Great care is now required and exacted, in working
up the boot-leg true to the pattern; and if it be lace, button, or
elastic, the binder has it in her power to spoil the whole affair.
More, perhaps, depends on fitting the work, than the workmanship; a
union, therefore, of skill, in these two points, constitutes a good
boot-binder. The leg is next passed on to the _closer_, who, with the
awl, instead of the needle, closes the seams of the golosh; and then,
having lasted the boot, attaches the leather by means of a neat row of
stabbing round the edge, thoroughly through the leg and its lining. This
is the most secure, the neatest, and also the most expensive method, of
getting up a good boot-leg.

This boot-leg, which has been twice sent out from the shop, now comes in
to be again handed over to the maker, who receives the lasts, together
with the leather soles, insoles, welts, stiffenings, shank-pieces, and
other little matters essential to the work; not omitting, if the master
knows his business, or considers the comfort of his customers, a good
piece of _felt_, to insert _between_ the insole and outsole, to prevent
the intolerable nuisance of creaking. Neglect this, and besides the
music (the fillings, which are bits of leather pasted between the soles,
and which the workman is obliged to put in to make a level sole), you
get lumps, after a little wear, at the bottom of the tread, which give
great pain, and often produce corns and callosities on the soles of the

It would be tedious to the reader to describe the various manipulations
of the workman in making a pair of boots. If he accomplishes his work in
the course of a day, he does well; and keeping the boots on the last
during the night, to dry and get solid, is all that is required of him
before bringing them to the shop.

If he has attended to all his instructions for width of tread, thickness
of forepart, thinness of waist, height of heel, left no pegs sticking
up, and kept his work clean, there is every probability of the lady
being pleased, the master pleased, clicker pleased, workman pleased. But
should either have failed, inadvertently or through carelessness, in one
of the minute matters before mentioned, the boots are returned, and the
whole must be gone over again.

Few ladies are aware of the many little points required to produce a
good article with precision of fit; but let them consider, before they
try another _artiste_, that the first failure may insure a correct fit
the second time, and give no further trouble to them perhaps for life. A
little patience at the proper time, would often save a world of
annoyance in running from one shop to another, only to find out that all
were pretty much alike.

In describing the other department, and by far the most general in
large towns, the ready-made trade, it may at first be supposed that all
the evils of the bespoke system may be avoided. According to Barny
O’Rierdon, in Ireland they are entirely avoided, as a man comes into
market with a barrow full of brogues, and every one helps himself; there
is no measuring in the case, and if a brogue is too long, he claps a
wisp of straw in the toe.

There is a large class of persons in London, &c., who sell boots and
shoes, but do not manufacture them. The greater part of those persons
know no more how a boot or shoe is made, than the boots and shoes can be
said to possess such knowledge. These articles are principally made in
the country, or the eastern part of the metropolis, and sent up for
sale. Perhaps a hundred dozen pairs are made on one pair of lasts; the
makers, of course, have no idea who will be the purchasers, or of the
form of the feet of the parties who may wear them; nor do they care,
their object being merely the sale and the money.

Persons may occasionally purchase a pair of these articles which will
suit them tolerably well, as there is no rule without an exception; but
for one such instance, there are, perhaps, fifty to the contrary. While
some may prove good, others will be, perhaps, worthless; and though some
persons may be satisfied, most people will have abundant cause to
regret having risked a purchase.

In the “_cheap women’s trade_,” there is also much deception practised;
so that _cheap_ is only another word for what at last proves to be,
perhaps, the dearest part of the female’s expenditure for wearing

The cause of the evil here indicated must be ascribed to one of those
many misconceptions of people’s own affairs, which are so often made
manifest in the conduct of individuals and classes. Masters and workmen,
quarrelling with each other, do not see, in the blinded and blinding
system of their reprisals, what must finally be the result. The
employer, in some cases, must be ignorant of the effect of his
curtailments; and the journeyman as ignorant as to the method he takes
to protect himself against such injustice. It is thus that the woman’s
shoemaker, more than any other class in the trade, has found himself
lowered within the last twenty-five or thirty years, in the scale of
society; and his abilities also, as a workman, deteriorated; the master
at the same time losing his own proper position, through the inferiority
of those articles he sells, and the public in general, as well as the
character of the nation itself, in a sense, injured. The master
curtails, or the journeyman exacts too much, differences ensue, fresh
men are employed, and the old ones, finding they must do something for a
living, move about and struggle on as they can, and ultimately, in their
despair, turn a sort of master for themselves. Here, however, as these
parties have no shop to expose their goods in, they must sell to those
who have; and thus finding _shop_ purchasers, the trade now takes a new
complexion. The issue may be readily told. The journeyman now becomes
the competitor in a closer sense than ever, with his fellow-journeyman;
and as the _cheapening_ system widens, the work still gets worse and
worse done, and money _bulk_, not money _worth_, becomes the only
standard in the business. London is at present the chief seat for the
manufacture of these sale women’s shoes and boots, though various
establishments of the same nature are growing up, day by day, throughout
the country. What the penny and twopenny paid shirts are to the hapless
needlewoman, the fourpenny and sixpenny-paid slippers are to the poor
sadly-miscalled _ladies’_ shoemaker. The evil, too, as connected with
the London journeyman, and those in other places, is still taking a
worse phase day after day. Leather, it is well known, as with all other
commodities, can be more profitably purchased in large than in small
quantities; and hence the master returns, in part, to his old
character. He now again gets ready his own materials, and gives these to
be manufactured by whom he pleases, as was formerly the case; the only
difference being, that his cuttings-out are now in manifold pairs, for a
chance sale, and not, as before, to a separate measure. There is now,
too, no other option for the workman; he must do this work, and at the
very lowest wages, or _starve_. He may, it is true, considerably slight
the articles; indeed, he must do so, to live at all: and this is now his
last and only dependence. And thus an art is found to retrograde, and
the fair face of our social progress to become spotted with these
deeply-to-be-lamented blemishes, the source of as much national demerit
and weakness, as they are of far-spread individual misery.

The Northampton, Daventry, and Wellingborough wholesale manufacture of
the man’s shoe and boot, may be traced to the same cause, and is as
productive of the like bad result. The system has grown in these places
to a portentous bulk, and that too in the short space of about a quarter
of a century. We see at present the goods of these places in the
shop-windows of almost every town in the kingdom, ticketed up at so much
the pair; the prices charged being in many cases much less than what
some masters pay to the better-qualified journeyman for the mere making
of similar-looking articles. The wealthier and more tasteful class of
consumers still continue, however, to prefer bespeaking (or to have
their measure taken for) their shoes and boots, than to run the risk of
any of these chance bargains; and thus, so far, the trade maintains a
certain degree of respectability, which is alike beneficial to both the
employer and the employed.

The English boot and shoe about thirty years since, was generally
speaking, the first article of its kind in the world, and so there was
nothing to apprehend while the master’s price was good and the workman’s
wages were good also; an evident decline, however, took place in the
character of our workmanship. The Spectator of the 15th Dec., 1838, thus
notices the absence of style in our boots and shoes: “A clumsy boot was
till lately a distinguishing mark of a true Englishman abroad; now
travellers get their feet neatly fitted in France, while all at home,
who regard personal appearance, prefer French boots, and the
predilection of the fair sex for shoes of Paris manufacture is

This competition has had the effect of improving the homemade article:
but still it is easier to bawl for prohibiting duties than to beat the
foreign workmen out of the market. An intelligent cordwainer, named
James Devlin, an experienced workman of a literary turn, has put forth a
little book on the boot and shoe trade of France, recommending to his
brethren of the craft the adoption of the French method, which he
describes with technical minuteness, and denouncing in his strictures on
the character of English upper-leathers, the hurried and careless
process of the tanner and currier. What Mr. Devlin says on the subject
of leather, accounts for the difference between a French boot that draws
on like a glove, and an ordinary English one that confines the foot as
in a vice, and hangs about the leg like a clog. If we look to the nature
of our leather, excepting that used for the soles, we shall find the
article not so good as that which the French bootmaker can purchase, and
what, still more pertinent to the matter is, that formerly it was not
so; confident I am, however, that a change might be obtained, as well
from the nature of our raw hides and skins themselves, as from the
ability of the working currier; and, in proof of this, let me instance
the superior quality of our own jockey, or topboot legs--so clear, so
soft, and workable--so handsomely grained, and so exquisitely drated. No
country can equal the British currier in this particular, nor in the
white leather, for the tops of these boots; why his inferiority in
other articles? The reason is obvious: England, if not now, was at least
some years ago, the only jockey-boot nation _par excellence_; and hence,
so far our superiority: the competition among us being so extensive as
to urge to the highest progressive perfection; and that perfection
always meeting its proper reward in the greater commands for orders.

Another fact to be attended to, is that in the boot department, we have
an inferior manner of blocking, or the turning the front piece of our
Wellington boot; in this we are far behind our neighbors.

Take up one of our bootfronts so prepared, and compare it with a front
coming from France (the Bordeaux is the best), and the difference is as
perceptible as lamentable. How stiff, how dead, and how forced, is the
one; and how easy, moist, and elastic, the other. The first, to one
unskilled in the operation, seems to be baked, rather than gently
moulded, when wet, into the position it has received; and then catch it
by top and toe and pull it ever so tenderly back, and lo! at once its
crabbed beauty is gone! and though you may press, push, or contract it
again into something of its original form, still it can never be made to
look the same as before. Now, do the like to the French front; nay,
more, you need not pull it tenderly, but with full force apply your
strength to the two extremities, force it until it be straight, and then
letting it go again, lay it on your board, and by a little application
of the hand, it will nearly look as well as ever--no puckerings, no
looseness, and still possessing the requisite curve.

Nothing can be more to the point than these strictures on the English
leather and English blocking, as compared with the French. For the last
seven years, I have in every order where calfskin fronts have been
required, used Bordeaux leather; it was not only soft, elastic, and
durable, but in addition to the pleasure derived from making up a good
article, it was as cheap as the English in the end, as we never had to
put in a new front or repair cracks and breakages, a constant source of
trouble and expense, incidental to the English fronts. It was no
uncommon case, a few years since, after having bought the best article
the trade could produce in calf-leather, after paying an extravagantly
high price, and making up the article in the best possible manner, to
find, after six or eight times wearing, a decided crack across the bend
of the foot. I have tried every expedient on those occasions I could
think of to prevent it, and acted on numerous suggestions from my
foreman and workmen, and all to no purpose: not unfrequently the “most
unkindest cut of all,” has been from the currier, who has laid the blame
by turn on the blocker, clicker, bootman; even the _feather_[1] has had
to bear its share of the blame.

This inferiority of calfskin has not only been the fault and disgrace of
the British tanner and currier, but his loss to an enormous amount; he
has been slow to admit it, but it is “a great fact;” a brighter day,
however, now opens upon him.

Dr. Turnbull, after patient and repeated experiments on the science of
tanning, has discovered the true cause of all this hardness and
breaking. To him the tanners and the public owe a debt of gratitude,
which they will both best discharge by patronising his invention. I have
had an opportunity of personally inspecting his process at Bermondsey,
from beginning to end, and I am enabled, through his kindness, to convey
the following information respecting his improved process of tanning:--

“The skins of the animals are composed of two chief parts: the corium or
cutis, and the cuticle or epidermis. The former, which is the true skin,
is a tissue of delicate fibres, crossing each other in all directions,
more thickly interwoven toward the surface, than in the deeper parts of
the skin. It is pervaded by a great number of conical channels, the
small extremities of which terminate at the external surface of the
skin. These channels, which are placed obliquely, contain nerves,
secretory vessels, and cellular membranes.

“The cuticle or exterior covering is an insensible horny membrane,
composed of several layers of cells, devoid of blood-vessels.

“The process of tanning consists in the combination of the gelatinous
substance of which the skin is principally composed, and the tonic acid,
or tannin. The gelatinous substance in skins, and the tannic acid,
having a strong chymical affinity for each other, the hide or skin is
converted into leather whenever tannin is brought into contact with the
gelatinous tissue or fibre.

“The slowness of the process in tanning leather, and the imperfect
manner in which it has hitherto been accomplished, arise from the
difficulty in bringing the tannin or tannic acid into contact with the
gelatinous tissue, or fibre of the skins; and although, of late years,
considerable modifications of the old method of tanning have been
introduced, chiefly consisting in the employment of new materials, and
the application of hydrostatic pressure, yet the result, upon the whole,
has been merely to effect a saving of the time consumed in tanning, and
a consequent reduction of the price, without any improvement in the
quality of the leather, but rather the reverse. This has given rise to a
strong prejudice in the minds of persons connected with the leather
trade, against leather tanned by any quick process. The difficulty of
bringing the tannin, or tannic acid, immediately and effectually into
contact with the gelatinous fibre of the skin, arises from several
causes, which it may be useful to enumerate.

“In preparing the skins and hides for the tanpit, they are steeped for a
considerable time in a solution of lime, to remove the hair and
epidermis. In this process, the skin imbibes a considerable quantity of
lime, which has the effect of either removing from the hide or skin, a
portion of the gelatinous substance, in the form of soluble gelatine,
or, of altering the gelatinous fibre, so as to render it incapable of
speedily and effectually combining with the tannin or tannic acid, and
the pores of the skin are so impregnated with lime, as to prevent the
tanning principle from operating freely, or reaching the heart of the

“The great object to be obtained, therefore, is to find out some means
of removing these obstructions and antagonistic principles, and of
bringing about a speedy and effectual combination of the fibre of the
hides or skins, and the tanning matter, and thus produce in a short
space of time, leather superior in weight, quality, and durability, to
any yet produced. The object of my improvements, is to remove these
difficulties, and obstructions, either by extracting the lime with which
hides and skins are impregnated in the process of removing the hair, or
removing the same without the use of lime, by means not hitherto

The old plan of using lime, by which, no doubt, the skin was injured to
an extent we never before supposed, and the consequent process in the
tanyard, of puring, as it is termed, by means of the dung of animals--a
process the most filthy and disgusting, one would have thought, that
could be imagined--gives way to Dr. Turnbull’s discovery of “_sugar_ and
_sawdust_.” This simple and delicate preparation, we are told, is more
effectual; and “you may drink it,” say the workmen, “for it is fit for
any table in the land.”

The new method is to prepare a mixture of sugar and water, and
sawdust--it may be of any other substance containing saccharine matter,
such as beetroot, potatoes, turneps, honey, &c. The action of the sugar
and pyroxalic, or wood spirit, is so rapid, that the skins are rendered
fit to receive and imbibe the tannic acid; and thus the operation of
tanning is perfectly accomplished in a very short time. The leather thus
produced is considerably heavier, and of finer quality, than any leather
produced by the present method of tanning. This method of removing the
lime is of immense importance, as it not only improves the leather in
weight and durability, but enables the tanner to produce a superior
article in a much less space of time, and at a much less expense, than
heretofore. Attempts have been made to remove the lime by a preparation
called grainer, which is mainly composed of the dung of animals. This
being of a strong alkaline nature, necessarily destroys a considerable
portion of the gelatinous matter, in the operation of extracting the
lime; at the same time much injury is done to the texture of the skin by
its rapid action in causing decomposition, and destroying the grain side
of the skin, especially in summer. It must be obvious, however, that the
moment the skin imbibes lime in any quantity, its effect and influence
on the hide or skin are to a considerable extent permanent and

The advantages of the new method appear to be, first, a great additional
weight of leather, especially in calfskins; second, leather of much
better quality, soft and not liable to crack or strain; third, a
considerable diminution in the expense; and fourth, the tanning is
effected in one quarter of the time consumed by the present mode of

These improvements will, it is needless to say, prove of immense
importance to our home manufacture, and now that the true principles of
tanning skins comes to be understood, many other improvements will
gradually suggest themselves. The Rouel leather, which is the name given
to it by the doctor, is certainly the best article ever produced in
England (I speak now of calfskin), and works up as fine or even finer
than the French, without its accompaniment of dubbing, or its impost of
30 per cent.

In Queen Elizabeth’s time, parliament busied itself much in matters of
“leather and prunella;” numerous enactments being made, especially in
reference to the former. A letter to lord-treasurer Burleigh, by W.
Fleetwood, recorder of London, explains the opposition of the tanners to
some enactments against them: “the one for lymyng [an old grievance,
after all, this lymyng], the other raisyng.” He says: “All the
excellencie and conning of a tanner consisteth in skilfull making of his
owes [lyes;] surelie they must be many and severall and one stronger
than another. The time of changing of the lether from one owes must be
timed at proscribed hours, or else the lether will be utterly spoiled.
My Lo, there be an infinite number of rules to be observed in tanning,
the few which tanners did ever conceive, much less the parliament, who
conveyed their information of such whome nowe I do by experiens knowe
not to be skilfull.” A conclusion which many of good Queen Victoria’s as
well as Queen Bess’s subject have arrived at, after parliamentary
evidence and enactment, in matters which history, experience, and
philosophy, have long since taught us, flourish _best_ by being _let



“There is nothing more beautiful than the structure of the human foot,”
says Sir Charles Bell; “nor perhaps any demonstration which would lead a
well-educated person to desire to know more of anatomy than that of the
foot. The foot has in its structure all the fine appliances you see in a
building. In the first place, there is an arch, in whatever way you
regard the foot; looking down upon it, we perceive several bones coming
round the astralagos, and forming an entire circle of surfaces in the
contact. If we look at the profile of the foot, an arch is still
manifest, of which the posterior part is formed by the heel, and the
anterior by the ball of the great toe; and in the front, we find in that
direction a transverse arch: so that, instead of standing, as might be
imagined, on a solid bone, we stand upon an arch composed of a series of
bones, which are united by the most curious provision for the elasticity
of the foot; hence, if we jump from height directly upon the heel, a
severe shock is felt; not so, if we alight upon the ball of the great
toe, for there an elasticity is formed in the whole foot, and the weight
of the body is thrown upon this arch, and the shock avoided.”

Another writer, on the “diseases of the feet,” thus alludes to the
beauty and perfection of the human foot in its natural state:--

“The matchless forms of sculptured beauty which the destroying hand of
time has left us in the works of the mighty masters of the classic time,
exhibit to us the finest specimens of what the foot would be, if allowed
its free and uninterrupted action.

“We are immediately struck with the admirable manner in which it is
organized, both for the support of the frame and for motion; its
flexibility, its power of action, its form, seem all to have been the
result of the examination of the most perfect human models. We see that
there have been no artificial coverings, no compression, no restraints;
that the gait must have been free, firm, and elastic; that the natural
and healthful action of every muscle, tendon, joint, and bone, was fully
studied and expressed. There is no stiffness, no contraction of the heel
or the sole of the foot; to the toes are given their proper functions;
we see that only the sandal has been worn, merely to cover and protect
the integument under the broad and expanded foot, there have been no
ligatures, no unyielding bandages, no cramping compresses--all is alike
free, healthful, natural.

“We well can comprehend, on examining them, how the Macedonian phalanx
or the Roman legion, performed its long day’s march. We can see how ten
thousand Greeks pursued their daily wearying course through the
destroying climate of Asia, marching firmly, manfully, alike across the
arid sand, the mountain pass, or the flinty plain.

“We are almost led to the wish to see the European soldier similarly
prepared for his toilsome march, unencumbered by the unyielding shoe,
which sometimes becomes in the day a source of greater annoyance than of
comfort to him. He would be enabled to undertake fatigue and privations
for which he is now totally unprepared. He would find an elastic tread,
a firm command over his muscular system, follow upon such a plan. He
would be capable of making a charge upon the enemy with greater
steadiness, and enabled to bear the shock which he is now less capable
of resisting. In this respect we should do well to imitate the native
soldier of India, who, under the English banner, has followed a Clive, a
Hastings, or a Keane, when the British soldier has almost sunk from the
insuperable difficulties which attend wearing all parts of the dress he
has been accustomed to do in England, forgetful of the climate in which
he is placed.”

For upward of twenty years as a bootmaker, I have made the feet my
study, and during that period many thousand pairs of feet have received
my attention. I have observed with minute care the _cast_ from the
antique as well as “the modern instances,” and I am obliged to admit,
that much of the pain I have witnessed, much of the distortion of the
toes, the corns on the top of the feet, the bunion on the side, the
callosities beneath, and the growing-in of the nails between, are
attributable to the shoemaker. The feet, with proper treatment, might be
as free from disease and pain as the hands; their structure and
adaptation to the wants and comfort of man, as we have seen, is most
perfect. Thirty-six bones and thirty-six joints have been given by the
Creator to form one of these members, and yet man cramps, cabins, and
confines, his beautiful arrangements of one hundred and forty-four bones
and joints, together with muscles, elastic cartilage, lubricating oily
fluid, veins, and arteries, into a pair of shoes or boots, which,
instead of protecting from injury, produces the most painful as well as
permanent results. Many volumes have been written on the cause of
corns, and it has been my lot to wade through many of them, without
gaining much for my pains. I have therefore arrived at the conclusion,
notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, that corns are
in all cases the result of pressure.

I am confirmed in this opinion by one of the most respectable
chiropodists of the present day (Mr. Durlacher), a gentleman who has had
a considerable experience in the treatment of corns and bunions. He

“Pressure and friction are unquestionably the predisposing causes of
corns, although, in some instances, they are erroneously supposed to be
hereditary. Improperly-made shoes invariably produce pressure upon the
integuments of the toes and prominent parts of the feet, to which is
opposed a corresponding resistance from the bone immediately beneath, in
consequence of which the vessels of the dermis are compressed between
them, become injured, congested, and, after a time, hypertrophied.

“When corns are produced by friction and slight pressure, they are the
result of the shoes being too large and the leather hard, so that, by
the extension of the foot, the little toe, or any prominent part, is
constantly being rubbed and compressed by its own action.

“This may continue on and off for months, or even years, before any
inconvenience is experienced, but, progressively, the cuticle increases,
and is either detached from the dermis by serum being poured out between
them, similar to a common blister, and a new covering produced, or the
epidermis thickens into layers adhering to each other.”

Chiropodists have been in the habit of classifying corns into--

1. Hard corns.

2. Soft corns.

3. Bleeding corns.

And these classes have been subdivided into many varieties, but it is
enough, in a treatise on the feet and their covering, to allude to the
cause of torment generally, as a hard substance and a soft one, pressing
into the foot, as the Roman name emphatically describes it, “clavus
dura”--a small tack.

The approach of a corn, as all who ever felt it know, commences with a
slight inflammatory smart on the prominent part of the little toe; then
comes on the excessive burning, the throbbing, the stabbing: “a little
longer, yet a little longer;” and then the point of the tack begins to
enter, the outer skin is penetrated, the next membrane becomes inflamed,
and, from the delicate “network” of the rete mucosum, an increased
quantity of secretion is poured out: gradually a substance is formed,
hard, horny, and with a sharp point, that descends deeper and deeper
into the foot, until not unfrequently it reaches and enters the
blood-vessels and very joints themselves.

All attempts at cure must be directed to the point of the corn. It has
been usual to salve and plaster and cut the head of this tack, generally
with little or no success--call it a thorn in the foot, “spina pedum,” a
name given to it by some practitioners; and how absurd this palliative
treatment appears--every one knows that the thorn must immediately be
extracted, and if we delay, great pain is the consequence, and soon
nature expels it herself.

Some balsams and tinctures have been much spoken of by the older writers
on the different excrescences, but modern practice has very judiciously
excluded them, from their insufficiency to produce any good effect. The
radical cure is more dependent upon surgical than medical means.

“Although I have devoted,” says Mr. Durlacher, “nearly thirty years
practical experience to the investigation, and have tried various
chymical and other remedial agents, yet I have never been able to
discover any certain cure for corns. Nevertheless, men are found bold
enough in their ignorance and presumption, to assert, by public
advertisement, that they possess an infallible nostrum, capable of
thoroughly eradicating corns; and others who pretend to extract them,
seek to aid their trickery and charlatanry by exhibiting small spiculæ
as the roots of the corns they have extracted, although it is a positive
fact from the structure of the skin, that such an assertion must be
false, and the whole proceeding the veriest imposition imaginable.”

The reader must, by this time have arrived at the conclusion, that the
whole mischief is to be laid upon the covering of the feet, and not on
the feet themselves. In some instances it may be admitted that the feet
are peculiarly exposed to injury from the delicacy of the skin; some
persons are constitutionally predisposed to corns, the slightest
friction or pressure being sufficient to cause irritation, or, as in
some cases, to develop a corn that has sometime been lying dormant. The
illustrations given in former chapters of fashions, will sufficiently
prove the cause of distortion of the feet; and the result of this
infliction of pain for the sake of fashion, has been a plentiful harvest
of corns.

Every one who has corns knows and feels that pressure is the cause; “no
one knows better where the shoe pinches, than he who wears it.” Yet few
persons know why it hurts, or are aware how the remedy should be

Sometimes a shoe is too large, often too small, very often too short,
but generally the wrong shape altogether. The fault is not so much in
the shoes themselves, as in the lasts from which they are made; there
the cause is to be found, and there it has been my study for many years
to apply the remedy.

The best materials may have been used for sole and upper leather; the
most exquisite closing and stabbing been put in till the work “looked
like print;” the workmanship may have been “firstrate,” but deficient in
the primary and most essential part--the suitable form of the last on
which the article was to be moulded. The boot or shoe would not be a
suitable or comfortable covering for the foot, and the unfortunate
wearer again finds that he has put his feet into the “shoemaker’s

Every one who wishes to be comfortably fitted, should have a pair of
lasts made expressly for his own use; experience has taught me, and
doubtless many other masters who have had much to do with bespoke work
for tender or peculiar feet, that no plan is equal to this to secure a
good fit and save inconvenience and disappointment for the future.

The length and the width are now every-day affairs, but the judgment of
fitting is another thing, and here is the true skill.

A last fitted up to the length and width may do or it may not; it may do
by chance, or fail of necessity; but if fitting be anything, it is a
skilful adaptation of the last to the true form and requirements of the
foot generally.


The outlines, 1, 2, 3, will show the direction and bearing of three
different feet, neither of which would be comfortably fitted, if the
length and width were the only points attended to. For No. 1 we require
a straight-formed last, with an equal proportion of wood on each side
the centre line. No. 2 requires considerable fulness of the inside
joint, to allow for a bunion; the great toe requires a bed for the ball
to rest in; the waist must be very hollow, else the quarter will bag;
while No. 3 requires a wide flat tread and great thickness of wood, for
the toes which are covered with corns.

Many persons have an idea that right and left shoes are a comparatively
modern invention, but the illusions and illustrations to the contrary,
in pages 39-44 disprove this; straight lasts are decidedly a modern
invention, and notwithstanding what many persons say to the contrary,
are decidedly inferior to a well-formed right and left pair.

The great evil has been that all right and left lasts, of late have been
_crooked_. It was thought in abandoning the straight last with its
faults, that a perfect fit could be secured in rights and lefts; and
from one extreme, as is generally the case in fashion, the opposite was
adopted, and a twisted right and left made the matter still worse.

It was thought nothing could be right and left but that which took a
decided turn, and the consequence has been that for years lasts have
been made with an ugly twist inward, where no wood was required, and on
the outside, where the toes with all their tenderness and liability to
injury have required thickness and breadth, nothing has been left.

I have pointed out this fault to last-makers a thousand times--have
stood by them at their work, and have seen the part--where, of all
things, I wished the room to be left--cruelly sliced off, or rasped
away: the consequence to the unfortunate wearer of a shoe or boot made
on that last must have been, months of torture.

Some workmen, however, have at last seen the error they have all along
been committing, and adopted the improved form, wondering how it was
never thought of before.


No. 1 represents a sketch of the foot and the sole usually formed to
fit it. No. 2 is a well-formed sole, straight, suitable, and far more

The _straight_ last has often been a better right and left for certain
feet, than the _pair_ made for them, the room having been given at the
part most wanted, which was the chief thing: and although the hollow of
the foot was not at all fitted, and the quarter gaped outside, yet it
was easy. On the other hand the right and left was deficient on the
outside, and having nothing for the second, third, and little toe, they
were cramped together, and the consequences were immediate pain, a hard
corn on the joints of the little toe and a soft one between the others.

All this may be avoided. The form of the feet should be taken in outline
on a sheet of paper, and the prominent toes noted down at the time, and
immediately after a pair of lasts made suitable in every way.

But instead of this, hundreds of shoemakers in the country have been
making all their lifetime, from some old misshapen pieces of wood, that
perhaps had done service to their fathers and grandfathers, and been
patched and altered to suit the wants of a whole parish. Even in town,
where we have last-makers at our elbow, we have been far from doing what
we ought in this matter. Instead of fitting the foot to the shoe, the
business of the tradesman certainly is to shape his last so correctly
that the shoe should fit the foot.

Petrarch is said to have nearly lamed himself from the attempts he made,
and the pinching he underwent, to display to his Laura a neat foot.
Cases of this kind are frequently met with every day, where every
sacrifice is made for this end, and pinching all over the foot may be
tolerated, and no bad consequences ensue for a time; but the pinching at
one place is the point which ought immediately to be “reformed

It is extremely amusing to witness, on the other side, the care some old
gentlemen take to get their shoes made easy; while the Petrarch of the
present day, orders his boots to be _smart_, and threatens his bootmaker
that if he can get into them, he “won’t have ’em,” the old gentleman of
experience and wisdom comes with two pairs of thick lamb’s wool
stockings on, which his friend who accompanies him waggishly says, are--

    “His youthful hose well saved, a world too wide
     For his shrunk shank;”

he looks knowingly in return and whispers, that he put on two pairs of
the thickest stockings he had, on purpose to deceive the shoemaker.

In the early English translation of “Lazarillo de Tormes,” is this
passage: “If you bid a shoemaker who has been thirty years at his trade
make a new pair of shoes with broad toes, high in the instep, and tight
about the heel, he must pare your feet before he pleases you”--a sly,
but sarcastic allusion to the imperfect fitting of the shoemaker, and an
admission of the pride of the wearer.

Ladies and gentlemen, and even children, should have their own lasts,
and be sure they are carefully and correctly made to the feet.

It would, however, be expecting too much that for a single pair of shoes
or boots, a shoemaker or bootmaker should make for his customer a pair
of lasts, free of charge; as prices are now, he would be a considerable
loser--the customer might never favor him with another order, he seeks a
cheaper shop--goes abroad or dies. The lasts on which a skilful workman
has been employed for perhaps a whole day, and which cost at least four
or five shillings, are left on his hands perfectly useless.

For my own personal comfort I would weigh my own lasts which have been
carefully made, in a scale against their weight in silver, and consider
them cheap; numbers of our nobility and gentry, in effect, do the same,
and to a much greater amount, for their personal comfort, in matters of
the teeth, eyes, chest, hair, hands, and ears. Then why not a little
sacrifice, a little more liberality, to those important members--the

No such remuneration, however, as I have hinted at would be expected;
five or six shillings generally would remunerate the maker of a pair of
lasts, and the better the fit the greater satisfaction to all.

We have now seen the fashions from the earliest period; many of the
shoes from their form and material must have been comfortable; the broad
shoe of Henry VIII., wood engraving p. 46, was one of that class, and
the slashed specimens in p. 47 sufficiently show where the shoe pinched
in 1577, and how relief was sought and obtained: even the very worst of
all the fashions might have been made comparatively comfortable had due
attention been paid to the form of the lasts.

The poet Gay gives a caution on this matter, and if the value I attach
to my lasts be their weight in silver, I am free to confess Gay’s lines
are worth their weight in _gold_.

    “Let firm well-hammered soles protect thy feet,
     Through freezing snows and rains and soaking sleet.
     Should the big last extend the shoe too wide,
     Each stone will wrench the unwary step aside;
     The sudden turn may stretch the swelling vein,
     The cracking joint unhinge, or ankle sprain;
     And, when too short the modest shoes are worn,
     You’ll judge the seasons by your shooting corn.”



That any form of boot or shoe should have interfered with the beauty of
the human foot and its elastic tread, is much to be lamented. The
sculptures of antiquity all show great symmetry and beauty of form,
whether in the male or female foot: the plump, rounded, and truly
natural shape of the feet of the Venus de Medicis has excited the
admiration of every one who ever looked at that beautiful statue.

Poets in all ages have been lavish in their praises of the “human foot
divine,” and a volume of extracts might be made on the poetry of the
feet. The inspired Isaiah breaks forth--“How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of him that bringeth glad tidings.” Kitto says, in his
remarks on this passage, “When the person is very eminent for rank or
holiness, the mention of the feet rather than any other part of the
person denotes the respect or reverence of the speaker; and then, also,
an epithet of praise or distinction is given to the feet, of which, as
the most popular instance, the ‘golden feet’ of the Burmese monarch
forming the title by which he is usually named by his subjects.”

Homer pays homage in the Iliad to Thetis, whom he calls “the
silver-footed queen.”

Bathus, in the Tenth Idyllium of Theocritus, exclaims:--

    “Charming Bombyce, you my numbers greet,
     How lovely, fair, and beautiful your feet!”

While Paris in making choice of the many beautiful virgins brought
before him, pays particular attention to their pedal attractions:--

    “Their gait he marked as gracefully they moved,
     And round their feet his eye sagacious roved.”

Ben Jonson describes a lover whose affection for his mistress was so
great that he--

       ----“would adore the shoe,
    And slipper was left off, and kiss it too.”

and again--

    “And where she went the flowers took thickest root,
     As she had sowed them with her odorous foot.”

Butler, too, has the same springing up of flowers in his “Hudibras”:--

    “Where’er you tread, your foot shall set
     The primrose and the violet.”

In an anonymous volume of poems printed in 1653, the writer being
contemporary with Butler, we find the following beautiful sentiment:--

    “How her feet tempt; how soft and light she treads,
     Fearing to wake the flowers from their beds:
     Yet from their sweet green pillows everywhere
     They start and gaze about to see my fair.

           *       *       *       *       *

     Look how that pretty modest columbine
     Hangs down its head to view those feet of thine!
     See the fond motion of the strawberrie
     Creeping on earth we go along with thee;
     The lovely violet makes after too,
     Unwilling yet, my dear, to part with you.
     The knot-grass and the daisies catch thy toes
     To kisse my faire one’s feet before she goes.”

Shakspere, in “Troilus and Cressida,” describes Diomede walking:--

    “‘Tis he, I ken the manner of his gait;
     He rises on the toe; that spirit of his,
     In aspiration lifts him from the earth!”


    “Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot;”

and his graphic description of a free-natured woman--

   ----“nay, her foot speaks.”

Old Herrick, who seems to have had the finest perception of the delicate
and charming, thus compliments Mrs. Susanna Southwood:--

    “Her pretty feet,
     Like smiles, did creep
     A little out, and then,
     As if they started at bo peep,
     Did soon draw in again.”

It is the exquisite intimation of the lively character of the inward
spirit, shown in the active movements of the feet, which Sir John
Suckling has imitated in his ballad of the Wedding:--

    “Her feet beneath her petticoat
     Like little mice stole in and out,
       As if they feared the light;
     But oh, she dances such a way,
     No sun upon an Easter day
       Is half so fine a sight!”

Very beautiful also is the following, from one of our old poets. The
words are given entire, in Wilson’s “Cheerful Ayres for three Voices.”
Who could do any harm to so beautiful a part of the human frame?

    “Doe not feare to put thy feet
     Naked in the river sweet;
     Think not newt, nor leech, nor toade,
     Will bite thy foot where thou hast trode.”

These pretty allusions to pretty feet might be multiplied to a great
extent; they will, however, suffice to show the homage paid by all true
poets to these useful and beautiful members.

I come now to the more practical part of the subject, and will, to the
best of my ability, say a few words to the ladies respecting boots and
shoes of the present day. I am of opinion that the best coverings for
the feet are boots; not only do they look neat and tidy, but the general
and gradual support they give all over the feet and ankles induces
strength and gives tone to the veins and muscles. Shoes, on the
contrary, and especially long-quartered ones, require a great effort
from the muscles to be kept on, and this, when long applied, tires and
weakens. The lace and button boots usually worn need not be described;
they are very good and suitable to most feet, and, if cut well and
lasted properly, generally give comfort and satisfaction. The trouble,
however, of lacing and unlacing, the tag coming off, the button
breaking, or the shank hurting, the holes soon wearing out, and many
other little annoyances, have all been experienced as _bores_ by
thousands who have worn that kind of boot.

About ten years since I first thought of an elastic boot, that might
possibly remedy in a great measure all these minor evils, and combine
many advantages never possessed by any former boot. I am not, however,
sure that an elastic boot was not known at a very early period in

The following passage from Chaucer seems to favor the idea:--

    “Of shoon and boot’es new and faire,
     Look at least thou have a paire,
     And that they fit so fetously,[2]
     That these rude men may utterly
     Marvel, sith they sit so plain,
     How they come on and off again.”

What this boot could have been, we are now at a loss to know, and
unfortunately the paintings and sculptures of antiquity, are not
sufficiently clear in these little matters of texture and material, to
gain any information: no such boot has, however, been known in our time,
or many centuries before.

My first experiments were a failure, as the manufacture of elastic
materials was not so perfect as they are at the present period, and the
necessary elasticity could not be gained in any material I could meet
with. The difficulty was to get an India-rubber web so plastic that the
boot would go on and off, and yet not so soft and yielding as that it
would not return again to its original form--my object being not only--

    “That these rude men may utterly
     Marvel, sith they sit so plain,
     How they come on and off again,”

but that they should “sit plain” and “fit fetously” as well after they
were on.

After several experiments in wire and India-rubber, I succeeded in
getting the exact elasticity required, and subsequent improvements in
materials and workmanship, have combined to make the elastic boot the
most perfect thing of its kind.


I am indebted to the countess of Blessington, and Lady Charlotte Bacon,
for some of the earliest hints and suggestions for its improvement; also
to Mrs. S. C. Hall, the Baroness de Calabrella, and other ladies of
literary fame, who were among the first to patronise the invention. One
of my earliest customers, a lady of great originality of thought and
expression, first induced me to make it an article of universal sale, by

“These boots are the comfort of my life, if you were only to give them a
sounding name--if you like, call them _lazy boots_ and turn it into
_Greek_--all the world will buy them, and you’ll make your fortune.”

For many years I have scarcely made any other kind of boots but the
elastic; but, I have not made a fortune. I am happy, however, if in any
way I have contributed to the comfort of my fellow-creatures, or been
instrumental in affording employment to my own countrymen.

Her majesty has been pleased to honor the invention with the most marked
and continued patronage; it has been my privilege for some years to make
boots of this kind for her majesty, and no one who reads the court
circular, or is acquainted with her majesty’s habits of walking and
exercise in the open air, can doubt the superior claims of the elastic
over every other kind of boots; it has been well remarked, “the road to
health is a footpath.”

The materials for making ladies’ boots have been various, the best of
course have been those which combine strength with a thin delicate
texture; for strong double or cork sole boots, cloth, kerseymere, or
cashmere; for single sole, summer, or dress boots, silk, satin, and an
improved prunella, with a twilled silk back, is best.

The neatest, firmest, and the coolest material I have ever used is a
silk web, called _stocking-net_; this I have had woven in black and
colors, and as it readily moulds to the form of the foot, and can be
made up without seams, it is a favorite material with her majesty, and
the most distinguished ladies of her court: this boot would appear to
be the veritable “boote newe and faire” of old Chaucer’s time, so
thoroughly light, elastic, and graceful, as it is to a pretty foot.

The leather best adapted for ladies’ boots is morocco or goat-skin,
which, when properly dressed, is sufficiently strong and durable--kid
being the skin of the young goat, is naturally finer and more delicate;
the enamel or varnish leather, commonly called _patent_, is also very
suitable, and being made of calf-skin, is strong. For the little toecaps
and golashes of ladies’ boots it answers admirably, and as it requires
no cleaning, always looks well, and the upper part of the boot is kept
clean and tidy.

Some ladies, however, can not bear any leather--the material best
adapted for such is the Pannuscorium, or leather-cloth. This invention
has met with very extensive patronage from a class whose feet require
something softer even than the softest leather.

As it resembles the finest leather in appearance, and has many of the
best properties of the usual cordovan, and not having like it to be
tanned and curried, it does not draw the feet; its peculiar softness and
pliability, therefore, at once commend it to the notice of those persons
who have corns and tender feet.

One very important thing to be attended to, is, that the golashes and
toecaps of all boots should come _above_ or _below_ the joint of the
great toe. Very frequently the edge of the leather comes at the very
worst part of the foot; and, strange enough, sometimes we see a hard
seam put exactly on the corn, and running across the bunion. If no
leather be put at all, the boot or shoe being made entirely of stuff,
frequently a secret enemy lurks between the outside and the lining, in
the shape of a leather side-lining; weeks pass on perhaps without your
being aware of its presence; at last, from the heat and perspiration of
the feet, this side-lining becomes as hard as horn, and great pain is
the consequence.

Shortly after the elastic boot was brought out, I made a little
improvement in shoes, which are now made wholly or partially elastic.
They are well suited for ladies whose feet swell, or whose insteps rise
very suddenly, as they accommodate themselves to those changes. Morocco,
prunella, and leather shoes, may all be made comfortable by attending to
the instructions contained in the previous chapter on the proper forms
of lasts.

The elastic clog is another improvement on the old mode of fastening
with straps, buckles, and buttons; clogs on this principle are put on
and taken off without any trouble or fastening, and by a very simple
arrangement of a plush back, all chafing of the boot is avoided and
great firmness secured, without a chance of their slopping.

Ladies should always have a pair of these clogs ready to slip on--as
they wonderfully save the boots in dirty weather; and, after having worn
the elastic boot for some days and found the great support it gives to
the ankles, how easily it remedies undue swelling and enlargement of the
veins, and prevents frequently that serious disease, varicose veins, no
one would like, nor is it advisable, immediately on returning home after
a dirty walk, to throw off the boots; the remedy is then found in the
clogs or golashes; you put them on over your thin ordinary boots, and
thus protected, you may go where you please, and taking them off on your
return home, walk in on the finest carpet without a chance of soiling or
injuring it.


The attention of every mother should be given to the state of her
child’s feet. How much subsequent pain, distortion, and lameness, might
be spared, if a little consideration were given in time to the child’s
shoes and boots. As a general rule, if proper length and width be given,
all will be well; but this must be seen to frequently, as little feet
soon grow larger.

If shoes are worn, they should be easy across the toes, and of good form
in the sole, hollow and arched at the waist, and snug at the heel--if
boots, then the elastic the same as ladies’.

If the ankles are weak, a surgeon should be consulted without delay. I
have benefited many children by making an elastic lace boot, which, from
the support it affords, compressing the muscles of the foot, and by
bearing well up by means of a spring under the arch of the foot, has
prevented lameness, and restored the feet and ankles to their natural


The foregoing remarks on ladies’ boots, apply equally to gentlemen’s
half-boots, the same materials being used for dress or summer walking;
they need, therefore, only to be referred to in their proper place, and
the remarks and illustrations, pages 105-108, will convey all that is
necessary to know of the proper shape and true principles of fitting,
sufficient length, straightness of form, and the room in the right
place, being the chief points to be attended to.

Shoes are now very little worn; boots of some kind or other being the
general wear. At present, says the author of “The Shoemaker,” we are
emphatically a booted people; so are the French and the Americans; the
fashion goes onward with the great progress of civilization; it is as it
were its very sign. Homer has applied to his own far-famous countrymen,
the epithet of the _well-booted Greeks_, a somewhat singular coincidence
at first sight, though doubtless he meant no more than some sort of
stiff leg-covering, as a protection necessary to the warriors of whom he
sang, and bearing no likeness to the gay delicate boot of later times.

The fame of the English in this way is not, however, altogether new;
though from what the present generation must have observed since the
introduction of the Wellington, it may seem to be otherwise. We were, it
appears, a booted people before, or at least were so considered.

“I will amaze my countrymen,” said Gondemar, Spanish ambassador, to the
court of James I., “by letting them know on my return that all London is
booted, and apparently ready to walk out of town.” The reflection
certainly is curious; the old poets and heroes were booted, and the hero
of Waterloo has given as proud a distinction to our own boot. But then
people in past days, when they had their boots on, were thought to look
prepared for a journey, whereas, at present, the boot is almost as
domestic a thing as the slipper. We go to the ballroom in it, the
theatre, the houses of parliament, and even royalty itself is approached
in the boots!

The Wellington is unquestionably the most gentlemanly thing of its kind,
and all the attempts of the Bluchers, Alberts, Clarences, Cambridges,
and such like, to rival it, most signally fail. Its well-known character
for style, wear, and facility of repair, has stamped it the boot of the
present day.

A good Wellington boot of the softest calf-leather, the sole moderately
thick, the waist hollow and well-arched, firm and yet flexible, cut to
go on without dragging all your might with boothooks, and made with an
intermediate sole of felt to prevent creaking, is the best boot for
general wear that can be made.

The varnished or patent leather Wellington, is a handsome article of the
same class, and is generally made with a tongue, the legs being of
colored morocco leather. It is now brought to a great state of
perfection, and our bootclosers are the most perfect in the matter of
fancy-closing and stabbing, in Europe.

For many years, this department of the trade has been quite distinct
from shoemaking, or boot-making. Originally, closing, making the boot,
shoe, and slipper, and even ladies’ and children’s shoes, was the work
of one individual; now they are separate branches, and the closer has
not only risen in this country, but his work is universally celebrated
from this circumstance, for its strength and beauty. Perhaps nothing in
the way of workmanship is equal to what is termed _blind-stabbing_: the
leather, held between the workman’s knees, is pierced with a small
pointed awl, which he holds together with the flax or silken thread that
is to follow, in his right hand; his left on the inside of the bootleg,
and _in the dark_, in an instant sends through the bristle, and receives
through the same little hole the point of the right hand one; the thread
is drawn, the stitch formed, quickly another hole is made, and the same
operation repeated.

Nothing in the way of sewing or stitching, can equal this
blind-stabbing, one half of which is done in the dark, the skill being
acquired by constant practice, and the extreme delicacy of the touch;
from twenty to thirty stitches have been done to the inch in this way,
and in _prize-work_ as many as sixty, every stitch being clear, sharply
defined, beautifully regular.

THE ELASTIC BOOT FOR GENTLEMEN, is a light and easy article; it does not
encumber the leg, and, unlike the half-and-half Clarence, with its
valve of folded leather, and all kinds of holes and contrivances, it
fits the ankle like a stocking, and readily yields and elasticates to
every motion of the feet and legs.


The cut represents an elastic boot with a golosh of leather all round,
the upper part being cloth, silk, prunella, cashmere, kid, or the
silk-stocking net; the material generally determining the kind of boot
it is to be, and the thickness of the sole. When it is required that the
elastic boot should have the appearance of a Wellington, it is made
entirely of leather, spring and all, and thus made, when on the foot,
has every appearance of it, as no join is ever detected above the
instep, when the trowsers accidentally rise a little higher than the
wearer of a would-be Wellington sometimes wishes them.

Travellers find these boots great comforts, they take up very little
room in the portmanteau, are soon cleaned, and are on and off in an
instant; if made of patent leather, they need only a wipe with an old
silk handkerchief. No boothooks are ever required, the best hooks being
nature’s own, the fingers, and the only bootjack ever wanted, is the toe
of one boot applied to the heel of the other.

_Dress Pumps_ are almost the only shoes now worn; they are generally
made of patent leather, and should be cut to sit well at the quarters.

The _Oxonian Shoe_ is, however, a very useful article, and if properly
made, is the best shoe for walking and for wear. It laces up in front
with three or four holes, and sits snug about the quarters and heel; the
vamp comes well above the joint, and never hurts, by seams or pressure,
the little toes: if it were not for the seam across the instep, girding
and making it difficult to get the shoe on, and the frequent breaking at
that part from the strain it undergoes, no shoe could be better.

I have, however, effected a great improvement in it, which remedies the
evil at once, gives great freedom in putting on, and entirely prevents
the breaking of the seam and vamp; this improvement would, however, be
hardly intelligible from description, and must therefore be seen to be
understood properly. For shooting, and strong wear, it will be found
extremely suitable, and it is perhaps the best of all shoes for young

STOCKINGS, WASHING THE FEET, &C.--Much more of comfort to the feet
depends on the stockings than people are aware of; nothing can be worse
than a stocking too large or too small, the more common case is its
largeness, and when I see a cotton or thread stocking tucked under at
the toe, and by the perspiration of the foot and the tread, become quite
hard and compact, a hard ridge of a seam pressing on the toes, which
show the marks produced by the pressure all over the surface, I wonder
how persons _can_ expect comfort.

The best stockings for general wear, are those made of lamb’s wool,
vigonia, and Shetland knit. The pedestrian well knows the difference on
a long day’s walk, between a cotton or linen stocking and one of wool;
he knows that the former soon becomes hard, damp, and chilly, with the
moisture of the foot, whereas the latter enables him to bear fatigue,
defends his foot from the friction of the shoe, secures it from
blisters, and in every way ministers to his comfort.

Persons, however, who do not use much exercise may indulge in a silk
stocking; ladies will not only find this the most elegant of all
coverings for the feet, but at the same time far more comfortable than
either cotton or linen. If the best silk is considered too expensive,
then a thick spun silk is a good substitute.

The frequent change of the stockings conduces much to comfort, and they
should, in cases of corns or tender feet, be worn inside-out; even the
little seam of a stocking has aggravated in a great measure a corn just
appearing, which but for that pressure, might soon have been got rid of.

Let the feet be bathed at least three times a week in tepid or cold
water. For some years I was in the habit of making easy shoes for the
late Sir Astley Cooper. That eminent surgeon never cramped his feet, nor
wore shoes that would give him pain; but one thing, however, he
habitually accustomed himself to, and that was to immerse his feet in
cold water as soon as he arose, and use a rough towel freely afterward.

In the coldest day of winter, he was to be seen without a great coat,
with silk stockings on his legs, and short breeches, traversing the
court of the hospital, or sitting in his carriage.

The sponge should be applied to the feet, and between the toes, round
the nails, which should be cut just to a level with the toe-end, and
then a good rubbing all over with a dry towel, a little Eau de Cologne
to finish off, and you feel quite another creature.

Every care should be taken that the insensible perspiration of the feet
should be encouraged and allowed to pass off freely. Dr. Wilson, in his
“Practical Treatise on Healthy Skin,” says: “To arrive at something like
an estimate of the value of the perspiratory system, in relation to the
rest of the organism, I counted the perspiratory pores on the palm of
the hand, and found 3,528 to the square inch, (on the heel where the
ridges are coarser 2,268). Now each of these pores being the aperture of
a little tube of about a quarter of an inch long, it follows that in a
square inch of skin, there exists a length of tube equal to 882 inches,
or 73½ feet. Surely, such an amount of drainage as 73 feet in every
square inch of skin, assuming this to be the average for the whole body,
is something wonderful, and the thought naturally intrudes itself what
if this _drainage_ were obstructed?”

This is too often the case, improper shoes and waterproof materials, not
only check the natural evaporation of the skin, but eventually produce
diseases of the feet in the worst form; nothing so much conduces to
general comfort, as the feet and ankles being in a healthy state, and
few things tell upon the manners and temper more than constant pain and
irritability of the extremities.

The fashions of boots and shoes have met with their share of our
attention and research, the errors of form and make have been pointed
out, the best remedies have been suggested, it now only remains for us
to adhere as closely to nature’s laws as possible. Art may do much, but
even Miss Kilmansegg’s “precious leg” of pure gold, was but a poor
substitute for her more precious lost one.

    “Peace and ease, and slumber lost,
     She turned, and rolled, and tumbled, and tossed,
       With a tumult that would not settle;
     A common case indeed with such,
     As have too little, or think too much,
       Of the precious and glittering metal.

    “Gold! she saw at her golden foot,
     The peer whose tree had an olden root,
     The proud, the great, the learned to boot,
       The handsome, the gay, and the witty--
     The man of science, of arms, of art,
     The man who deals but at pleasure’s mart,
       And the man who deals in the city.”

       *       *       *       *       *

(1.) Many are the hints thrown out by some of our old herbalists, in
their quaint language, as to the power of some of our indigenous herbs.
One which has certainly some slight influence on corns, and is a great
favorite among the popular writers on corns, is the common house-leek,
the _sedum murale_. This herb which is found growing on the tops of old
garden-walls and upon the roofs of houses, has a leaf of considerable
thickness, owing to the large quantity of cellular tissue between its
upper and lower lamina, in whose interstices is found considerable
juice, which abounds with hydrochloric acid in a free and uncombined
state. Owing, doubtless, to the presence of the acid, the juice acts
upon the indurated mass, softening and destroying the surface, but
leaving the lower parts as great a source of mischief as ever, and
sometimes converting the corn into a more hardened mass than it was
before.--_The Diseases of the Feet._

(2.) “There is another way of disposing of a corn,” says Mr. Erasmus
Wilson, “which I have been in the habit of recommending to my friends;
it is effectual, and obviates the necessity for the use of the knife.
Have some common sticking-plaster spread on buff leather; cut a piece
sufficiently large to cover the com and skin around, and have a hole
punched in the middle of exactly the size of the summit of the corn. Now
take some common soda of the oil-shops, and make it into a paste, with
about half its bulk of soap; fill the hole in the plaster with this
paste, and cover it with a piece of sticking-plaster. Let this be done
at bed-time, and in the morning remove the plaster, and wash the corn
with warm water. If this operation be repeated every second, third, or
fourth day, for a short time, the corn will be removed. The only
precaution required to be used is to avoid causing pain; and so long as
any tenderness occasioned by the remedy lasts, it must not be repeated.
When the corn is reduced within reasonable bounds by either of the above
modes, or when it is only threatening, and has not yet risen to the
height of being a sore annoyance, the best of all remedies is a piece of
soft buff leather, spread with soap-plaster, and pierced in the centre
with a hole exactly the size of the summit of the corn.”

(3.) It is usually the custom to soak the corns previously to cutting
them. As this is not always convenient, the following method of
rendering the corn soft well serve instead. Take a strip of
wash-leather, of size sufficient to cover the corn, and a strip of oiled
silk rather larger; wet the leather and apply it to the corn, then cover
it with the oiled silk, which will prevent the leather from becoming
dry. Keep this on for a few days, wetting the leather two or three times
a day. This will render the corn so soft that the razor may be applied
without causing pain.



The first settlers of New England, Virginia, and other British colonies
in America, brought with them to this country, the fashions of dress
which were prevalent in England at the time of their emigration, being
the same as described in the preceding pages, with regard to boots and
shoes in use in the seventeenth century, in the reigns of the Stuarts,
or under the dominion of the commonwealth, when Cromwell was at the head
of affairs. New England being settled by the puritans, the dresses of
the first English inhabitants of that section were of a plainer
character than those of Virginia and other colonies, where the first
settlers were cavaliers, or adherents of the house of Stuart.

The dress, particularly the boots and shoes, worn by the earlier
settlers of New England, are thus described by Miss Caulkins, in her
“History of Norwich, Connecticut.” “The shoes worn in 1689, were coarse,
clumped, square-toed, and adorned with enormous buckles. If any boots
made their appearance, prodigious was the thumping as they passed up the
aisles of the church; for a pair of boots was then expected to last a
man’s life. The tops were short, but very wide at the top; formed, one
might suppose, with a special adaptation to rainy weather; collecting
the water as it fell, and holding an ample bath for the feet and ankles!

“It is uncertain whether the small clothes had then begun to _grow_, so
as to reach below the knee, and to be fastened with knee-buckles or not.
The earlier mode was to have them terminate above the knee, and to be
tied with ribands. The common kind were made of leather. Red woollen
stockings were much admired. Swords were customarily worn when in full
dress, by all the earlier settlers of New England, both in a civil and a
military capacity. Hats were at that time made of wool; perhaps two or
three at the church door reverently took off a black ‘beaverett,’ though
that was a costly article in those days. The coat was made with a long
straight body, falling below the knee, and with no collar. The waistcoat
was long.”

As necessity is the mother of invention, many of the earlier settlers of
New England, where mechanics were scarce, were accustomed to manufacture
their own clothing, including boots and shoes. The more wealthy
inhabitants imported their clothing from England, but the farmers
generally made in their own families most of the articles required for
clothes. Individuals who were expert in shoemaking, many of them
self-taught, were sometimes employed by farmers and others to make up a
stock of shoes for the family, once or twice a year. These persons
journeyed about from house to house, in the winter season, taking their
tools on their backs. Leather was occasionally imported from England,
but as population in the colonies increased, tanneries were established,
particularly in the large towns.

A writer in the Old Colony Memorial, gives the following account of
dress among the early inhabitants of New England:--

“In general, men, old or young, had a decent coat, vest, and small
clothes, and some kind of fur hat. Old men had a great-coat and a pair
of boots. The boots generally lasted for life. For common use they had a
long jacket, reaching about half way to the thigh; flannel shirts,
woollen stockings, and thick leather shoes; a silk handkerchief for
holydays, which would last ten years. Shoes and stockings were not worn
by the young men, and by but few men in the farming business.

“As for boys, as soon as they were taken out of petticoats, they were
put into small clothes, summer or winter. This continued until long
trowsers were introduced, which they called _tongs_. They were but
little different from our pantaloons. These were made of tow-cloth,
linen, cotton, or flannel-cloth, and soon were used by old men and

“The women, old and young, wore flannel gowns in the winter. The young
women wore, in the summer, wrappers or shepherdress; and about their
ordinary business, did not wear stockings and shoes. They were usually
contented with one calico gown; but they generally had a calimanco gown,
another of camlet, and some had them made of poplin. The sleeves were
short, and did not come below the elbow. On holydays, they wore one,
two, or three ruffles on each arm--the deepest of which were sometimes
nine or ten inches. They wore long gloves, coming up to the elbow. Round
gowns had not then come in fashion; so they wore aprons. The shoes were
either of thick or thin leather, broadcloth, or worsted stuff, all with
heels an inch and a half high, with peaked toes turned up in a point.
They generally had small, very small muffs, and some wore masks.”

The following extracts from Watson’s Annals of New York, will further
elucidate the fashions as to boots and shoes in the British colonies in

“Before the revolution, no hired man or woman wore any shoes as fine as
calf-skin; that kind was the exclusive property of the gentry. The
servants wore coarse neat’s leather. The calf-skin then had a white rind
of sheep-skin stitched into the top edge of the sole, which they
preserved white, as a dress-shoe, as long as possible.”

The use of boots has come in since the war of independence; they were
first worn with black tops, after the military, strapped up in union
with the knee buttons; afterward bright tops were introduced. The
leggings to these latter were made of buckskin for some extreme beaux,
for the sake of close fitting a well-turned leg.

“Boots were rarely worn; never as an article of dress; chiefly when
seen, they were worn by hostlers and sailors; the latter always wore
great petticoat trowsers, coming only to the knee and then tying close.
Common people wore their clothes for a much longer time than now; they
patched their clothes much and long; a garment was only ‘half worn’ when
it became broken.

“As English colonists we early introduced the modes of our British
ancestors. They derived their notions of dress from France.

“Breeches, close fitted, with silver, stone, or paste gem buckles; shoes
or pumps, with silver buckles of various sizes and patterns; thread,
worsted, and silk stockings, were worn in the colonies previous to the
revolution. The poorer class wore sheepskin and buckskin breeches close
set to the limbs.”


A glance at any of the numerous engravings copied from Colonel
Trumbull’s national painting, the “Declaration of Independence,” shows
the dress of gentlemen in this country during the American revolution;
namely, small clothes fastened below the knee with buckles, the leg
covered only with stockings, the shoes fastened with large buckles. This
fashion continued until the close of the eighteenth century, when
pantaloons and boots were introduced from France. Mr. Sullivan, in his
“Familiar Letters,” says: “About the end of the eighteenth century, the
forms of society underwent considerable change. The levelling process of
France began to be felt. Powder for the hair began to be unfashionable.
A loose dress (pantaloons) for the lower limbs was adopted. Wearing the
hair tied was given up, and short hair became common. Colored garments
went out of use, and dark or black were substituted. Buckles
disappeared. The style of life had acquired more of elegance, as means
had increased.”

A sketch of the manner in which Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and
other public men, dressed, is given by Mr. Sullivan, in the work above
quoted, and the following extracts may be interesting to our readers:--

“Washington, at his levees, while president [from 1789 to 1797], dressed
in black velvet, his hair powdered and gathered behind in a silk bag,
yellow gloves on his hands; holding a cocked hat, with a cockade in it,
and the edges adorned with a black feather. He wore knee and shoe
buckles, and a long sword, with a polished steel hilt. The scabbard was
white polished leather.”

“Jefferson, in 1797, wore a black coat and light under clothes. He was
then fifty-four years of age.”

“Hamilton, in 1795, being then in his thirty-eighth year, wore at a
dinner party, a blue coat, with bright buttons and long skirts, a white
waistcoat, black silk small clothes, white silk stockings,” (and shoes,
of course).

The Hessian or Austrian boot, described in the preceding pages, which
was first used in England, about the year 1789, was soon afterward
introduced into the United States, as was the white-top boot, which came
into fashion in England, early in the



reign of George III. This latter was generally worn with small clothes,
and more frequently by elderly gentlemen than young men. The Hessian or
half-boot was made with a seam in the back, and was worn over pantaloons
fastened around the ankle with ribands or galloons. After a few years,
it gave way to the Suwarrow boot, so named after Suwarroff, a Russian
general, celebrated for his campaigns in Turkey, Poland, Italy, &c. He
died in 1800; soon after which time the Suwarrow boot was introduced
into England and the United States. This boot was worn by citizens, as
well as in the army and navy; it was made with a seam at each side, and
reached nearly to the knee. In front it was scolloped, and ornamented
with a black silk tassel. Sometimes gold tassels were worn by military
and naval officers in full dress. We recollect having seen Commodore
Decatur, while his ship, the United States, lay in the river Thames, in
Connecticut, during the war of 1812, wear a pair of elegant Suwarrow
boots, with gold tassels, on an occasion of his being invited to a
dinner party in Norwich.

The Suwarrow boot continued in fashion for about fifteen years, when,
after the battle of Waterloo, it was superseded by the Wellington boot,
which it is well known was named after the duke of Wellington. This boot
seems to have settled the laws of fashion respecting the feet, as
decisively as the battle of Waterloo settled the affairs of Europe.

With regard to the fashions of ladies’ boots and shoes in the United
States, since the American revolution, we have closely followed the
examples set for us by the ladies of Paris and London. Many families
still preserve as relics the high-heeled shoes worn by their female
ancestors, previous to the American revolution. The levelling spirit of
the French revolution, seems to have reached even to ladies’ shoes; for
we find that about 1790, the high heel was dispensed with, and shoes
without heels were introduced. We have heard ladies of the olden time,
say that it was hard to _come down_ in this manner all at once; the
effort to walk with no support to their heels was even painful, and our
grandmothers were compelled for a long time to do penance to the tyrant
fashion on tiptoe. Gradually, however, each lady found her own level,
and succeeding generations, having never known the dangerous elevation
of their predecessors, have found less difficulty in complying with the
varying mandates of the goddess of _haut-ton_.

William G. Hooker, Esq., of New Haven, Connecticut, has collected
between four and five hundred varieties of shoes, embracing the fashions
for about two centuries in England and the United States.


To return to the fashions for gentlemen’s boots. The Jefferson boot,
which was introduced at about the time when Mr. Jefferson came into the
presidency (in 1801), and which that gentleman was himself fond of
wearing, was laced up in front, as high as the ankles, in some instances
perhaps higher; it was about this time that pantaloons were introduced
into this country from France, and became fashionable.


The laced boot, which was laced up at the side, came in fashion soon
after the Jefferson boot, but the inconvenience of lacing, prevented it
from being generally adopted.


The snow-shoe, worn in Canada and other countries, is formed of a
framework of wood, strongly interlaced with thongs of leather. It is
used by travellers and hunters to prevent their sinking into the snow,
in their progress from place to place. It causes great pain to the
wearer until after considerable practice in the use of it.


The Indian moccasin was the boot or shoe worn by the aborigines of
America, before and after the settlement of this country by Europeans.
It was made of deerskin, tanned by a mode peculiar to the Indians, and
smoked; ornamented with beads or porcupines’ quills or feathers, and
worn without soles.



From the numerous instances on record, of individuals who have belonged
to the “gentle craft” (by which name those who have learned the art of
shoemaking are designated), and who by their talents have acquired
distinction and eminence among their fellow-men, as statesmen, patriots,
scholars, poets, or professional men, we select the following as
interesting, and appropriate to this work.


    “The self-taught Sherman urged his reasons clear.”
                      _Humphrey’s Poems._

Among the illustrious characters whose names are inscribed upon the
brightest record that adorns the annals of America, few possessed more
solid attainments than Roger Sherman. He belonged to that class of
statesmen who seek rather to convince the reason, than to triumph over
the passions of men. The vigor of his mind appeared more conspicuous in
the plain and simple manner in which it was elicited, than if it had
been ornamented with all the beauties of elocution. But the energy of
his address was not diminished by the absence of fanciful diction, nor
the solidity of his views less admired because his feelings were
partially suppressed. Without indulging in those brilliant bursts of
oratory which please and sparkle for a moment, his impressive manner
displayed ideas founded upon calm deliberation, and a clear perception
of the justice of his cause. By a uniform and dispassionate course, he
attained extensive influence in the councils of his country, and
attracted the admiration and esteem of his compatriots. It has been said
of him that he seldom failed to procure the adoption of any measure
which he advocated, and which he considered essential to the public

Captain John Sherman, the ancestor of the subject of this sketch,
emigrated to Massachusetts from Dedham, in England, about the year 1635.

William, the father of Roger Sherman, was a farmer in moderate
circumstances, and resided at Newton, Massachusetts, where the latter
was born, April 19, 1721. The family removed to Stoughton, in the same
state, in 1723.

There is a striking analogy between the early lives and self-promotion
of Mr. Sherman and of Doctor Franklin. Surmounting difficulties which to
common minds would have been insuperable, they gradually ascended from
the humbler walks of life, to a prominent station among men. Of the
childhood and early youth of Sherman, little is known. He received no
other education than the ordinary country schools in Massachusetts at
that period afforded. He was neither assisted by a public education, nor
private tuition. All the valuable attainments which he exhibited in his
future career, were the result of his own vigorous efforts. By his
ardent thirst for knowledge, and his indefatigable industry, he attained
a very commendable acquaintance with general science, the system of
logic, geography, mathematics; the general principles of philosophy,
history, theology; and particularly law and politics. He was early
apprenticed to a _shoemaker_, and pursued that occupation until he was
twenty-two years of age. He was accustomed to sit at his work with a
book before him, devoting every moment that his eyes could be spared
from the occupation in which he was engaged.

Mr. Sherman was not one of those to whom the retrospect of past life was
unpleasant. During the revolutionary war, he was placed on a committee
of Congress, to examine certain army accounts, among which was a
contract for the supply of shoes. He informed the committee that the
public had been defrauded, and that the charges were exorbitant, which
he proved by specifying the cost of the leather and other materials, and
of the workmanship. The minuteness with which this was done, exciting
some surprise, he informed the committee that he was by trade a
shoemaker, and knew the value of every article.

The care of a numerous family of brothers and sisters, devolved on Mr.
Sherman at the age of nineteen, on the death of his father, in 1741. He
kindly provided for his mother, and assisted two brothers, afterward
clergymen, to obtain an education.

He removed in 1743 to New Milford, Connecticut, travelling on foot, and
carrying his shoemaker’s tools upon his back. Soon after this, he
relinquished his trade, and became the partner of an elder brother, a
country merchant at New Milford, which connexion he continued until his
admission to the bar in 1754. He was appointed surveyor of lands for the
county where he resided in 1745. Astronomical calculations of as early
date as 1748, have been found among his papers. They were made by him
for an almanac, then published in New York, and which he continued to
supply for several successive years.

About this time, a lawyer whom he had occasion to consult on business,
advised him to devote his attention to the study of the law. This
counsel his circumstances did not permit him at once to follow, but the
intimation he then received, that his mind was fitted for higher
pursuits, no doubt induced him to devote his leisure moments to those
studies which led him to honor and distinguished usefulness. Having
acquired a competent knowledge of the law, he was admitted to practice
in 1754. In the following year he was appointed a justice of the peace;
he was also chosen a representative in the legislature, and a deacon in
the church. Removing to New Haven in 1761, he was, in 1766, chosen an
assistant or member of the upper house of the colonial legislature. The
same year he was appointed a judge of the superior court of Connecticut,
which office he held for 23 years, as he did that of assistant 19 years.
His legal opinions were received with great deference by the profession,
and their correctness was generally acknowledged.

Mr. Sherman took an early and active part in our revolutionary struggle,
and in 1774 was chosen delegate to the first continental congress. Of
that body and the federal congress, he continued a member for the long
period of 19 years, till his death in 1793. In June, 1776, he was
appointed on the committee with Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and R. R.
Livingston, to prepare the declaration of independence, of which
instrument, when reported, and adopted by congress, he was one of the
signers. John Adams said of Mr. Sherman, that he was “one of the
soundest and strongest pillars of the revolution.” While he was
performing indefatigable labors in Congress, he devoted unremitting
attention to duties at home. During the war he was a member of the
governor’s council of safety.

In 1784, Mr. Sherman was elected mayor of the city of New Haven. About
the same time he was one of a committee of two, appointed by the
legislature of Connecticut, to revise the laws of the state. In 1787, he
was chosen, in conjunction with William Samuel Johnson, and Oliver
Ellsworth, a delegate to the national convention, to frame the
constitution of the United States. In that body Mr. Sherman bore a
conspicuous part, in debate and on committees. Having signed the
constitution, as adopted, his exertions in procuring the ratification in
Connecticut, were highly important and successful. He published a series
of papers, under the signature of “citizen,” which materially
influenced the public mind in favor of its adoption. After the
ratification of the constitution, he was immediately elected by the
people, as one of their representatives in congress. Though approaching
the seventieth year of his age, he yet took a prominent part in the
great topics of discussion which came before the first congress. He
zealously co-operated with Washington, Hamilton, and others of the same
school of politics, in organizing the government under the constitution.
In 1791, a vacancy having occurred in the senate of the United States,
Mr. Sherman was elected to fill that elevated station, in which he
continued until his death, on the 23d of July, 1793, when he was
gathered to his fathers, in the seventy third year of his age. He died
in full possession of all his powers, both of mind and body.

“The legacy which Mr. Sherman has bequeathed to his countrymen,” says
Professor Edwards, “is indeed invaluable. The Romans never ceased to
mention with inexpressible gratitude, the heroism, magnanimity,
contentment, disinterestedness, and noble public services of him who was
called from the plough to the dictator’s chair. His example was a light
to all subsequent ages. So among the galaxy of great men who shine along
the paths of our past history, we can scarcely refer to one, save
Washington, whose glory will be more steady and unfading than that of
Roger Sherman.”

In regard to worldly circumstances, Mr. Sherman was very happily
situated. Beginning life without the aid of patrimonial wealth, or
powerful connexions, he, by his industry and skilful management, always
lived in a comfortable manner, and his property was gradually
increasing. He was never grasping nor avaricious, but liberal in
feeling, and in proportion to his means, liberal in acts of beneficence
and hospitality. His manner of living was in accordance with the
strictest republican simplicity.

In his person, Mr. Sherman was considerably above the common stature;
his form was erect and well-proportioned; his complexion very fair, and
his countenance manly and agreeable, indicating mildness, benignity, and
decision. He did not neglect those smaller matters, without the
observance of which a high station can not be sustained with propriety
and dignity. In his dress he was plain, but remarkably neat; and in his
treatment of men of every class, he was universally affable and
obliging. In the private relations of husband, father, and friend, he
was uniformly affectionate, faithful, and constant.

As a theologian, Mr. Sherman was capable of conversing on the most
important subjects, with reputation to himself, and improvement to
others. As an avowed professor of religion, he did not hesitate to
appear openly in its defence, and maintain the doctrines of
Christianity. Among his correspondents were Dr. Jonathan Edwards, Dr.
Hopkins, Dr. Trumbull, President Dickinson, President Witherspoon,
Doctor Johnson of Connecticut, and many others.


This gentleman, one of the most distinguished members of the bar in the
state of Virginia, a district of which he represented in Congress for
eight years, namely, from 1809 to 1817, was in early life a shoemaker.
His colleague, John Randolph of Roanoke, once alluded to the fact in
debate, in his usual sarcastic mode, to which Mr. Sheffey retorted by
acknowledging the truth of the allusion, and saying in substance: “The
difference, sir, between the gentleman and myself, is this: that if his
lot had been cast like mine, in early life, instead of rising by
industry, enterprise, and study, above his calling, and occupying a seat
on this floor, with which each of us is now honored by our constituents,
he would at this time have been still engaged at his last on the

Mr. Sheffey was a conspicuous member of congress, during the four terms
in which he served in the house, able in debate, and respected as a man
of genius and good judgment. In politics he was attached to the federal
party, and opposed to the declaration of war with Great Britain, and
other measures of Mr. Madison’s administration. On returning from
congress, two years after the conclusion of the war, he applied himself
to the practice of his profession as a lawyer, sustaining a high rank
among the members of the bar in the ancient dominion. On his death, in
December, 1830, the courts of Virginia, and others, united in public
demonstrations of respect to his memory, as a man of genius, a
distinguished counsellor, and an eminent and useful citizen. The records
of debates in congress, bear ample testimony to his talents as a
statesman and orator, among the able men with whom he was associated in
the councils of the nation.


Among the many enterprising sons of New England, who have risen from
humble life, and distinguished themselves by their industry and talents,
the name of Gideon Lee stands conspicuous. Self-educated, and
emphatically self-made, he rose to influence and distinction by the
practice of those virtues which secure the respect and confidence of
mankind. He rose from poverty and obscurity, to occupy, and worthily to
fill, the most honorable situations in the gift of his fellow-citizens,
and, by a long life of great public and private usefulness,
distinguished for honesty, industry, sobriety, benevolence--and beyond
this, evincing an enthusiasm in the cause of education, of the moral and
intellectual culture of the people--entitled himself to be ranked as a
patriot and public benefactor.

Gideon Lee was born in the town of Amherst, in the state of
Massachusetts, on the 27th of April, 1778. He lost his father when quite
a child, and was left to the care of his mother, of whom he always spoke
in terms of the warmest affection. After his father’s death, he went to
reside with an uncle, a farmer, in whose service he discharged the
humble duties of looking after the cattle, and was employed in such
other occupations as were suitable to his strength and age.

After remaining some time under the care, and in the employment of his
uncle, he was apprenticed to the tanning and shoemaking business, it
being then the practice to conduct both branches by the same person,
working at the former in the summer, and at the latter during the winter
months. For the tanning department, however, he always retained the
strongest partiality. Up to this period, his opportunities for acquiring
knowledge were extremely limited: a few weeks’ schooling during the
winter, and such books as accidentally fell in his way, were all the
means vouchsafed to him. After learning his trade, or trades, he
commenced business on his own account, in the town of Worthington,
Massachusetts, and, by his industry and strict attention to it, won the
regard and confidence of his neighbors. He was enabled to obtain credit
for the purchase of leather, which he manufactured into shoes; always
paying promptly for it at the period he had agreed. The first hundred
dollars he earned, and that he could honestly call his own, he
appropriated to educating himself at the Westfield academy. When that
sum was exhausted, he again betook himself to his trade. His diligence
and application were remarkable; sixteen hours out of the twenty-four,
he usually devoted to labor.

After prosecuting his business for some time alone, he formed a
partnership in trade with a friend; subsequently they were burned out,
and Mr. Lee lost what little property he had accumulated. He then
dissolved with his partner, and removed to the city of New York. But
before establishing himself permanently in the city, he made a voyage
to St. Mary’s, Georgia, taking with him a small adventure in leather.
The adventure not proving a profitable one, he returned to New York,
after remaining one winter at the south. The vessel in which he took
passage being wrecked off Cape Fear, he made the journey to New York, in
company with a Yankee friend, on foot. In one instance on this
pedestrian journey, his money being exhausted, he chopped wood for a
farmer, to pay for his food and lodging.

About the year 1807, Mr. Lee commenced business as a leather-dealer, in
a small building in Ferry street, New York. Being appointed agent for an
extensive tanning establishment in Massachusetts, called the “Hampshire
Leather Manufactory,” he laid the foundation in the city of New York,
for a trade in a branch of domestic industry, which speedily rivalled
any in the other Atlantic cities. His prudence, punctuality, and
economy, enabled him to accumulate means for enlarging his business; and
but for feeble health, the future to him was a bright path of success.
In this business, namely, the selling of leather on commission, he
continued for about thirty years, until his final retirement from
mercantile pursuits.

In the fall of 1822, Mr. Lee was elected a member of assembly, in the
New York legislature, where he distinguished himself by his close
application to the business of the house, being seldom out of his place
while it was in session. In 1833, he was elected by the common council
of New York, mayor of that city, having previously served several years
in the capacity of alderman. While discharging the duties of the
mayoralty, he withdrew entirely from active participation in managing
the business of his mercantile house, and devoted all his time and
abilities to the public service. It was a maxim with him, that “whatever
was worth doing at all was worth doing well.” In his communications to
the common council, he never failed on suitable occasions to call their
attention to the subject of public education;--it was a theme on which
he never tired.

In 1834, an alteration in the charter, made the office of mayor of New
York elective by the people. A nomination was offered to Mr. Lee, but he
declined a re-election, finding it necessary to return to his mercantile
business. From this period, he contemplated retiring from commercial
pursuits, and accordingly commenced winding up the affairs of his
long-established concern in Ferry street. It was not, however, until the
fall of 1836, that he felt himself in a situation to retire from its

He then again entered for a short period into public life, and
represented the city of New York in the twenty-fourth congress, where he
was distinguished for his business habits, for his close attention to
the interests of his constituents, and, we might also say, for making
short speeches. Disdaining the arts of the demagogue, he made no efforts
to acquire an ephemeral popularity in the usual modes, and was
consequently not re-elected to congress. His political life may be said
to have ended with the termination of the session of congress, in March,
1837, with an exception. He was in 1840, chosen a member of the
electoral college of New York, for choosing the president and
vice-president of the United States.

In politics Mr. Lee was a democratic republican, and supported the
administrations of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson.
Disapproving, however, of the measures of Mr. Van Buren’s
administration, he became what was called a “conservative,” acting with
the whigs after the year 1837, and was chosen by that party one of the
electoral college, which gave the vote of the state to General Harrison,
as president of the United States.

Shortly after retiring from congress, Mr. Lee removed to the village of
Geneva, in Ontario county, New York, where he had purchased a beautiful
estate; and in improving and adorning it, and in the education of his
children, he contemplated spending the remainder of his days. He had,
however, but barely commenced, as he expressed it, “winding up his end
of life,” in the manner he had so long and ardently desired, when death
removed him from his labors. He was seized with bilious fever,
accompanied by neuralgia, early in July, 1841, and on the 21st of August
succeeding, was gathered to his fathers, in the sixty-fourth year of his
age, leaving to his family an ample fortune, the honest fruits of a
well-spent life.

Of one who thus lived, it will create no surprise to be informed that he
was prepared to die. Death did not find him a reluctant or unwilling
voyager to his dark domains. At his beckoning he laid down his plans and
cares with cheerfulness and pious resignation to the divine will, and
sunk with calm dignity to his last repose, with a grateful heart for all
the blessings and mercies he had experienced. He died full of faith and
hope in the promises of his Redeemer.

“The lamp of life of such men,” says his friend and biographer, “can not
be extinguished without casting around a gloom; their absence from
society creates a void that must be ever felt. They may leave no blazing
reputation to dazzle or astonish, but they leave one that distributes
its invigorating influence, wherever virtue has a friend, or
philanthropy an advocate.”[3]


Those individuals who have raised themselves from obscurity to
distinction, always attract our notice; but when that distinction has
been attained in spite of obstacles apparently insurmountable, they
become the especial objects of our curiosity. This feeling is not only
laudable but beneficial. Curiosity leads to knowledge; knowledge causes
admiration; and admiration becomes an incentive to honorable effort. It
is this which gives to biography its value; and of few persons can the
biography be more instructive than that of the subject of this sketch.

Samuel Drew was born on the third of March, 1765, near St. Austell, in
the county of Cornwall, England. He was the second son of four children.
His parents were poor, but pious. His father, who earned a bare
subsistence for himself and family by his daily labor as a husbandman,
was a convert to methodism under the preaching of John Wesley, whose
society he joined in early life. His mother, whom he had the misfortune
to lose before he was ten years old, was a decidedly religious woman,
and of strong intellectual powers. Of her memory he always spoke with
reverence and affection; and the pious lessons which, in his infancy, he
learned from her, were never forgotten.

The poverty of his parents prevented him from receiving many of the
advantages of an early education. He however learned to form the letters
of the alphabet, previous to his mother’s death, but at eight years of
age, he was taken from school, and sent to work at a mill near his
father’s cottage, where tinners refined their ore. His wages were at
first three halfpence, and were afterward advanced to two pence per day.
When rather more than ten years old, his father bound him an apprentice
for nine years, to a shoemaker, in an adjoining parish.

During his apprenticeship, Drew had occasional access to a little
publication called the “Weekly Entertainer,” which was then extensively
circulated in the west of England, and contained many tales and
narratives which interested him. Into the narratives of adventures
connected with the war of the American revolution, he entered with all
the zeal of a partisan on the side of the Americans. He felt a strong
desire to join himself to a privateer, but having no money and few
clothes, the idea and scheme were vain. Besides these periodicals, he
read but little, and nearly lost the art of writing. The treatment he
received, while an apprentice, being such as his disposition could not
brook, he left his master when about seventeen, and refused to return.
His father compounded for the residue of the term, and procured him
employment, and further instruction in his business, at Millbrook, near
Plymouth, in which place and neighborhood he continued about three
years. In 1785, when about twenty years of age, he went to St. Austell,
to conduct the shoemaking business for a person who was by trade a
saddler, and had acquired some knowledge of book-binding. With this
employer he continued about two years, and then commenced business as a
shoemaker in that town, on his own account. A miller with whom he was
acquainted, lent him five pounds, as capital in trade, fourteen
shillings being the total of his own cash, his thirst for knowledge
having induced him to lay out in books such money as he could save from
his earnings as a journeyman. He joined the methodist society in 1785,
soon after becoming the subject of religious impressions, under the
preaching of the celebrated Adam Clarke, with whom he soon afterward
became acquainted; and the friendship and intimacy of that
distinguished divine, Mr. Drew continued to enjoy through life. By no
one were the peculiar and extraordinary talents developed by Mr. Drew,
more fully appreciated than by his friend Doctor Clarke. Soon after
joining the methodists, Mr. Drew’s abilities were called into exercise;
he was appointed to the charge of a class, and employed as a local
preacher. In this field, except as a class-leader, which he resigned
into other hands, he continued to labor until a few months before his

The occasional perusal of books which were brought to the shop of his
employer to be bound, awakened Mr. Drew to a consciousness of his own
ignorance, and determined him to acquire knowledge. Every moment he
could snatch from sleep and labor, was now devoted to the reading of
such books as his limited finances placed within his reach. One of the
difficulties which he had to encounter at this outset of his literary
career, arose from his ignorance of the import of words. To overcome
this, he found it necessary, while reading, to keep a dictionary
constantly at hand. The process was tedious, but it was unavoidable; and
difficulties lessened at every step.

A new world was now opened before him. All its paths were untried, and
in what direction to push his inquiries, he was yet undecided.
Astronomy first attracted his attention; but to the pursuit of this, his
ignorance of arithmetic and geometry was an insuperable obstacle. In
history, to which his views were next directed, no proficiency could be
made without extensive reading, and he had too little command of time
and money for such a purpose. The religious bias which he had received,
tended, however, to give a theological direction to his studies, and
from the apparently accidental inspection of “Locke’s Essay on the Human
Understanding,” he acquired a predilection for the higher exercises of
the mind.

In April, 1791, Mr. Drew married, being then in a creditable way of
business as a shoemaker. He was not yet an author, but had obtained a
name for skill and integrity as a tradesman, and was held in respect by
his neighbors. Doctor Franklin’s “Way to Wealth,” fell into his hands
about the time he commenced business for himself. The pithy and
excellent advice of “Poor Richard,” in that work, instructed and
delighted him. He placed it in a conspicuous situation in his chamber,
and resolved to follow its maxims. Eighteen hours out of twenty-four, he
regularly worked, and sometimes longer; for his friends gave him plenty
of employment, but until the bills became due, he had no means of
paying wages to a journeyman. He remarks: “I was indefatigable, and at
the year’s end, I had the satisfaction of paying the five pounds which
had been so kindly lent me, and finding myself, with a tolerable stock
of leather, clear of the world.”

By unremitting industry, he at length surmounted such obstacles as were
of a pecuniary nature. This enabled him to procure assistance in his
labors, and thus afforded him some relaxation. Industry and rigid
economy were still indispensable, but his ruling passion, the
acquisition of knowledge, he was enabled to gratify in a limited degree,
and for several years, every spare moment, and all the hours he could
snatch from sleep, were devoted to reading such books as he could

Referring to this period of his life, in conversation with a friend, Mr.
Drew said: “I once had a very great desire for the study of astronomy,
for I thought it suitable to the genius of my mind, and I think so
still; but then--

    “Chill penury repressed the noble rage,
     And froze the genial current of the soul.”

Dangers and difficulties I did not fear, while I could bring the powers
of my mind to bear upon them, and force myself a passage. To metaphysics
I then applied myself, and became what the world and my good friend
Doctor Clarke call “a metaphysician.”

As he could devote but little time to the acquisition of knowledge,
every moment was fully occupied. “Drive thy business--do not let thy
business drive thee,” was one of those maxims of Dr. Franklin, to which
Mr. Drew adhered; and his example shows that literature may be
cultivated, and piety pursued, without prejudice to our worldly

“During several years,” he observes, “all my leisure hours were devoted
to reading or scribbling; but I do not recollect that it ever
interrupted my business, though it frequently broke in upon my rest. On
my labor depended my livelihood; literary pursuits were only my
amusement. The man who _makes shoes_ is sure of his wages--the man who
writes a book is never sure of anything.”

Mr. Drew’s first attempts at composition, like those of most young
essayists in the paths of literature, were metrical. The earliest known
effort of his muse, was a poetical epistle to his sister, and the next
an elegy on the death of his brother. These were followed by several
short poetical pieces, none of which have been preserved. He left in
manuscript a metrical piece containing about 1200 lines, entitled
“Reflections on St. Austell Churchyard,” dated August, 1792. It is
written in the heroic stanza, and has many excellent couplets, but is
too defective in grammar and versification, to endure the test of
criticism. The major part is argumentative--not unlike “Pope’s Essay on
Man,” upon which, possibly, it was modelled: and several of the
arguments tend to prove that the soul is immaterial, and therefore
immortal. This poetical composition is apparently the embryo of Mr.
Drew’s applauded “Treatise on the Human Soul.” From the year 1792, when
this poem was written, until the commencement of his “Essay on the
Soul,” in 1798, no particular circumstance of his literary life is on

His own description of his mode of study at this period of his life is
as follows: “During my literary pursuits, I regularly and constantly
attend on my business, and do not recollect that one customer was ever
disappointed through these means. My mode of writing and study may have
in them perhaps something peculiar. Immersed in the common concerns of
life, I endeavor to lift my thoughts to objects more sublime than those
with which I am surrounded; and while attending to my trade, I sometimes
catch the fibres of an argument, which I endeavor to note, and keep a
pen and ink by me for that purpose. In this state, what I can collect
through the day, remains on any paper which I have at hand, till the
business of the day is despatched, and my shop shut, when, in the midst
of my family, I endeavor to analyze, in the evening, such thoughts as
had crossed my mind during the day. I have no study--I have no
retirement--I write amid the cries and cradles of my children; and
frequently, when I review what I have written, endeavor to cultivate
‘the art to blot.’ Such are the methods which I have pursued, and such
the disadvantages under which I write.”

The circumstances which led to his becoming an author, are these: A
young gentleman with whom he was intimate, by profession a surgeon, put
into his hands the first part of Paine’s Age of Reason, thinking to
bring him over to the principles of infidelity. The sophistry of Paine’s
book, Mr. Drew readily detected; and committing his thoughts to writing
in the form of notes, by the advice of two methodist preachers, to whom
he showed them, he was induced to publish them in a pamphlet entitled,
“Remarks on Paine’s Age of Reason,” in September, 1799. This little work
was favorably received by the public; and it procured for its author,
the steady friendship of the Rev. John Whitaker, a clergyman of high
literary reputation.

Upon the Remarks on Paine’s Age of Reason, which first brought Mr. Drew
before the public as an author, a writer in the Anti-Jacobin Review, of
April, 1801, observes, “We here see a shoemaker of St. Austell,
encountering a staymaker of Deal, with the same weapons of unlettered
reason, tempered, indeed, from the armory of God, yet deriving their
principal power from the native vigor of the arm that wields them.
Samuel Drew, however, is greatly superior to Thomas Paine, in the
justness of his remarks, in the forcibleness of his arguments, and in
the pointedness of his refutations.” Mr. Drew had the satisfaction of
knowing, that his “Remarks” were the means of leading the young man who
put the Age of Reason into his hands, to renounce his deistical
principles, and to embrace, with full conviction the doctrines of
Christianity. The Remarks on Paine, having been several years out of
print, were republished, in duodecimo, with the author’s corrections and
additions, in 1820.

The appearance in 1802, of the “Essay on the Immateriality and
Immortality of the Soul,” to which Mr. Drew is chiefly indebted for his
reputation as a metaphysician, brought him into honorable notice beyond
his native county. This book was dedicated to the Rev. John Whitaker,
whose patronage had, in a great measure, drawn him forth from obscurity.
The work has since gone through several editions in England and
America, and has been translated into the French language, and published
in France.

Encouraged by the favorable reception of this work by the public, Mr.
Drew continued his literary labors. His next important attempt in
metaphysics, was an investigation of the evidences of a general
resurrection. From this investigation, the subject of personal identity
was inseparable; and on these topics he recorded his thoughts till the
close of the year 1805. At that time he took a survey of his work, but
was so much dissatisfied with it, that he threw the whole aside as
useless, and half resolved to touch it no more; nor did it appear in
print (after being revised by the author) until 1809. It was then, like
the Essay on the Soul, published by subscription, and the copyright sold
to a London publisher. Fifteen hundred copies were printed, and a second
edition appeared in 1822. This work on the Resurrection has also been
republished in the United States.

In 1805, Mr. Drew entered into an engagement with the late Doctor Thomas
Cope, one of the founders of the Wesleyan methodist missions, to assist
him in his literary labors, which wholly detached him from the pursuits
of trade. From this time literature became his occupation. About two
years previously to this, Mr. Drew had undertaken, in a course of
familiar lectures, to instruct a class of young persons and adults, in
English grammar and composition. A similar course of lectures, with the
addition of geography and astronomy, was delivered by him, in 1811.

Mr. Drew’s various works introduced to the notice, and procured for him
the friendship, of several distinguished individuals. His intimacy with
Doctor Adam Clarke continued through many years, and with him he long
maintained a correspondence. In 1819, at the recommendation of Doctor
Clarke, Mr. Drew was engaged as editor of the Imperial Magazine. This
led to his removal to Liverpool, and thence to London, where he
continued to discharge the duties of editor until 1833. Besides the
editorship of the Magazine, he had the superintendence of all the works
issued from the Caxton press.

In consequence of symptoms of rapidly declining health, Mr. Drew left
London for his native place in Cornwall, in March, 1833, where he died
on the 29th of the same month, at the age of sixty-eight.

Besides the works already mentioned, Mr. Drew was the author of a life
of his friend Doctor Coke, a History of Cornwall, Essays on the Divinity
of Christ and the Necessity of his Atonement, and several other
religious works, of a high character. He was also associated with Doctor
Coke in writing several important works bearing the name of Doctor Coke
as author.

Mr. Drew was an acute reasoner and a close and laborious thinker. He
always discovered where truth lay; sophistry rarely escaped his
detection; and to his habit of persevering and patient investigation, we
are indebted for his most elaborate and convincing arguments. He has
been called the “_Locke of the nineteenth century_.”

Those who would estimate Mr. Drew’s mental powers, should bear in mind
the difficulties which he surmounted. From education he derived no
assistance. His youth was passed in ignorance and poverty; and he was
twenty years of age, before he began to read or to think. Yet before he
attained the meridian of life he had accumulated a vast fund of
knowledge. Nor was that knowledge limited to the subjects on which he
wrote; it extended to various branches of science; and there were few
topics of speculative philosophy, with which he was unacquainted.


The preceding sketches record the names of individuals who have
severally distinguished themselves in statesmanship, patriotism,
philanthropy, eloquence, and metaphysics. It is pleasing to add to our
list, one whose name is familiar as an English pastoral poet.

Robert Bloomfield was born at the village of Honington, Suffolk county,
England, December 3, 1766, and was the youngest of six children. His
father, George Bloomfield, was a tailor, and died before his youngest
son was a year old, leaving his widow to obtain a scanty subsistence for
herself and family, by teaching a small school, in which Robert was
taught to read. Two or three months’ instruction in writing was all the
scholastic accomplishment that he ever obtained. At the age of eleven he
was hired in the neighborhood as a farmer’s boy, but being found too
feeble for agricultural labor, he was placed with an elder brother in
London, to learn the trade of a shoemaker.

“In the garret where five of us worked,” his brother writes, “I received
little Robert. As we were all single men, lodgers at a shilling per week
each, our beds were coarse, and all things far from being clean and
snug. Robert was our man to fetch all things to hand. At noon he
fetched our dinner from the cook’s shop; and any of our fellow-workmen,
that wanted to have anything brought in, would send him, and assist in
his work, and teach him as a recompense for his trouble.

“Every day when the boy from the public house came for the pewter-pots,
and to hear what porter was wanted, he always brought the yesterday’s
newspaper. The reading of the paper we had been used to take by turns;
but after Robert came, he mostly read for us, because his time was of
least value. He frequently met with words that he was unacquainted with;
of this he often complained. I bought a small dictionary for him. By the
help of this, he in a little time could read and comprehend the long and
beautiful speeches of Burke, Fox, and North.”

When about sixteen years of age, Robert had an opportunity to read
Thomson’s “Seasons”--which was a favorite book with him--Milton’s
“Paradise Lost,” and a few novels. Soon afterward, he left the
employment of his brother, and spent a few months in his native county,
with the farmer with whom he had formerly lived; and here free from the
smoke and noise of London, he imbibed that love of rural simplicity and
innocence, which he afterward displayed in his poems.

Returning to his trade of shoemaker in London, he was bound to Mr. John
Dudbridge, and after he was of age, worked as journeyman for Davies,
ladies’ shoemaker. In a garret, while at work with six or seven others,
he composed his beautiful rural poem, “The Farmer’s Boy.” A great part
of this poem was composed by him, without committing one line to paper.
When it was thus prepared, he said, “I had nothing to do but to write it
down.” By this mode of composition, he studied and completed his
“Farmer’s Boy,” in a garret, among his fellow-workmen, without their
ever suspecting or knowing anything of the matter. That the reader may
judge of the merits of this poem, we quote the invocation:--

    “O come, blest spirit! whatsoe’er thou art,
     Thou kindling warmth that hoverest round my heart,
     Sweet inmate, hail! thou source of sterling joy,
     That poverty itself can not destroy,
     Be thou my muse; and faithful still to me,
     Retrace the paths of wild obscurity.
     No deeds of arms, my humble lines rehearse.
     No _Alpine_ wonders thunder through my verse.
     The roaring cataract, the snow-topt hill.
     Inspiring awe, till breath itself stands still;
     Nature’s sublimer scenes ne’er charmed mine eyes,
     Nor science led me through the boundless skies,
     From meaner objects far, my raptures flow,
     O point these raptures! bid my bosom glow!
     And lead my soul to ecstasies of praise.
     For all the blessings of my infant days.
     Bear me through regions where gay fancy dwells,
     But mould to Truth’s fair form, what memory tells.”

The manuscript of “the Farmer’s Boy,” after being offered to and refused
by several London publishers, was printed under the patronage of Capel
Lofft, Esq., in 1800; and the admiration it produced was so great, that
within three years after its publication, more than 26,000 copies were
sold. The appearance of such refinement of taste and sentiment in the
person of an indigent artisan, elicited general applause. An edition was
published in the following year at Leipsic. It was also translated into
French, Italian, and Latin.

The fame of Bloomfield was further increased by the subsequent
publication of “Rural Tales, Ballads, and Songs,” “Good Tidings, or News
from the Farm,” “Wild Flowers,” and “Banks of the Wye.” He was kindly
noticed by the duke of Grafton, by whom he was appointed to a situation
in the seal office; but suffering from constitutional ill-health, he
returned to his trade of ladies’ shoemaker, to which, being an amateur
in music, he added the employment of making Æolian harps. A pension of a
shilling a day was still allowed him by the duke, yet having now,
besides a wife and children, undertaken to support several other
members of his family, he became involved in difficulties, and being
habitually in bad health, he retired to Shefford in Bedfordshire, where,
in 1816, a subscription, headed by the duke of Norfolk, and other
noblemen, was instituted by the friendship of Sir Edgerton Brydges, for
the relief of his embarrassments. Great anxiety of mind, occasioned by
accumulated misfortunes and losses, with violent incessant headaches, a
morbid nervous irritability, and loss of memory, reduced him at last to
a condition little short of insanity. He died at Shefford, August 19,
1823, at the age of fifty-seven, leaving a widow and four children, and
debts to the amount of two hundred pounds sterling, which sum was raised
by subscription among his benevolent friends and admirers.

The works of Bloomfield have been published in two volumes duodecimo.
The author’s amiable disposition and benevolence pervade the whole of
his compositions. There is an artless simplicity, a virtuous rectitude
of sentiment, an exquisite sensibility to the beautiful, which can not
fail to gratify every one who respects moral excellence, and loves the
delightful scenes of English country life.


Nathaniel Bloomfield, brother of the foregoing, was likewise a shoemaker
and a poet; and although “Nathan’s” name does not sound the most
poetical in Lord Byron’s line, yet we believe many of our readers would
admire some of his pieces before some of the noble poet’s, for reasons
extrinsic of execution or subject. His stanzas on the Enclosure of
Honnington Green, quoted by Kirke White in his essays, would be admired
by most readers. We transcribe some of the remarks of the amiable
critic, including a quotation that will give an idea of Mr. Bloomfield’s
poetic abilities, whose writings are not so generally known as those of
his brother.

“Had Mr. N. Bloomfield,” says Henry Kirke White, “made his appearance in
the horizon of letters prior to his brother, he would undoubtedly have
been considered as a meteor of uncommon attraction; the critics would
have admired, because it was the fashion to admire. But it is to be
apprehended that our countrymen become inured to phenomena--it is to be
apprehended that the frivolity of the age can not endure a repetition of
the uncommon--that it will no longer be the rage to patronize indigent
merit--that the _beau monde_ will therefore neglect, and that, by a
necessary consequence, the critics will sneer!

“Nevertheless, sooner or later, merit will meet with its reward; and
though the popularity of Mr. Bloomfield may be delayed, he _must_, at
one time or other, receive the meed due to its deserts. Posterity will
judge impartially; and if bold and vivid images, and original
conceptions, luminously displayed, and judiciously apposed, have any
claim to the regard of mankind, the name of Nathaniel Bloomfield will
not be without its high and appropriate honors.

“That Mr. N. Bloomfield’s poems display acuteness of remark, and
delicacy of sentiment, combined with much strength, and considerable
_selection_ of diction, few will deny. The Pæan to Gunpowder would alone
prove both his power of language, and the fertility of his imagination;
and the following extract presents him to us in the still higher
character of a bold and vivid _painter_. Describing the field after a
battle, he says,

    ‘Now here and there, about the horrid field,
     Striding across the dying and the dead,
     Stalks up a man, by strength superior,
     Or skill and prowess in the arduous fight,
     Preserved alive:--fainting he looks around;
     Fearing pursuit--not caring to pursue.
     The supplicating voice of bitterest moans,
     Contortions of excruciating pain,
     The shriek of torture, and the groan of death,
     Surround him;--and as night her mantle spreads,
     To veil the horrors of the mourning field,
     With cautious step shaping his devious way,
     He seeks a covert where to hide and rest:
     At every leaf that rustles in the breeze
     Starting, he grasps his sword; and every nerve
     Is ready strained for combat or for flight.’

“If Mr. Bloomfield had written nothing besides the Elegy on the
Enclosure of Honnington Green, he would have had a right to be
considered as a poet of no mean excellence. There is a sweet and tender
melancholy pervading the elegiac ballad efforts of Mr. Bloomfield, which
has the most indescribable effects on the heart. Were the versification
a little more polished, in some instances, they would be read with
unmixed delight.”


William Gifford was born in 1755, at Ashburton, in Devonshire, England,
and for several years led the miserable kind of life which is common
among the children of a drunken and reckless father. His father died
when only forty years of age, leaving his wife with two children, the
youngest little more than eight months old, and no available means for
their support. In about a year afterward his wife followed, and thus
was William, at the age of thirteen, and his infant brother, thrown upon
the world in an utterly destitute condition.

The parish workhouse now received the younger of the orphans, and
William was taken home to the house of a person named Carlile, his
godfather, who, whatever might have been his kindness in this respect,
had at least taken care of his own interests, by seizing on every
article left by the widow Gifford, on pretence of repaying himself for
money which he had advanced to her, in her greatest necessities. The
only benefit derived by William from this removal was a little
education; as Carlile sent him to school, where he acquired the elements
of instruction. His chief proficiency, as he tells us, was in
arithmetic; but he was not suffered to make much progress in his
studies, for, grudging the expense, his patron took him from school,
with the object of making him a ploughboy. To the plough he would
accordingly have gone, but for a weakness in his chest, the result of an
accident some years before. It was now proposed to send him to a
storehouse in Newfoundland; but the person who was to be benefited by
his services declared him to be too small, and this plan was also
dropped. “My godfather,” says William, “had now humbler views for me,
and I had little heart to resist anything. He proposed to send me on
board one of the Torbay fishing-boats. I ventured, however, to
remonstrate against this, and the matter was compromised by my
consenting to go on board a coaster. A coaster was speedily found for me
at Brixham, and thither I went, when little more than thirteen.”

In this vessel he remained for nearly a year. “It will be easily
conceived,” he remarks, “that my life was a life of hardship, I was not
only a ‘ship-boy on the high and giddy mast,’ but also in the cabin,
where every menial office fell to my lot; yet if I was restless and
discontented, I can safely say it was not so much on account of this, as
of my being precluded from all possibility of reading; as my master did
not possess, nor do I recollect seeing, during the whole time of my
abode with him, a single book of any description except the ‘Coasting

While in this humble situation, however, and seeming to himself almost
an outcast from the world, he was not forgotten. He had broken off all
connexion with Ashburton, where his godfather lived; but “the women of
Brixham,” says he, “who travelled to Ashburton twice a week with fish,
and who had known my parents, did not see me without kind concern
running about the beach, in ragged jacket and trousers.” They often
mentioned him to their acquaintances at Ashburton; and the tale excited
so much commiseration in the place, that his godfather at last found
himself obliged to send for him home. At this time he wanted some months
of fourteen. He proceeds with his own story as follows:--

“After the holydays, I returned to my darling pursuit--arithmetic. My
progress was now so rapid, that in a few months I was at the head of the
school, and qualified to assist my master (Mr. E. Furlong) on any
extraordinary emergency. As he usually gave me a trifle on these
occasions, it raised a thought in me, that, by engaging with him as a
regular assistant, and undertaking the instruction of a few evening
scholars, I might, with a little additional aid, be enabled to support
myself. God knows my ideas of support at this time were of no very
extravagant nature. I had, besides, another object in view. Mr. Hugh
Smerdon (my first master) was now grown old and infirm; it seemed
unlikely that he should hold out above three or four years; and I fondly
flattered myself that, notwithstanding my youth, I might possibly be
appointed to succeed him.

“I was in my fifteenth year when I built these castles. A storm,
however, was collecting, which unexpectedly burst upon me, and swept
them all away.

“On mentioning my little plan to Carlile, he treated it with the utmost
contempt; and told me, in his turn, that as I had learned enough, and
more than enough, at school, he must be considered as having fairly
discharged his duty (so indeed he had); he added that he had been
negotiating with his cousin, a shoemaker of some respectability who had
liberally agreed to take me, without a fee, as an apprentice. I was so
shocked at this intelligence, that I did not remonstrate, but went in
sullenness and silence to my new master, to whom I was soon after bound,
till I should attain the age of twenty-one.

“At this time,” he continues, “I possessed but one book in the world: it
was a treatise on algebra, given to me by a young woman, who had found
it in a lodging-house. I considered it as a treasure; but it was a
treasure locked up; for it supposed the reader to be well acquainted
with simple equations, and I knew nothing of the matter. My master’s son
had purchased Fenning’s Introduction: this was precisely what I wanted;
but he carefully concealed it from me, and I was indebted to chance
alone for stumbling upon his hiding-place. I sat up for the greatest
part of several nights successively, and, before he suspected that his
treatise was discovered, had completely mastered it. I could now enter
upon my own, and that carried me pretty far into the science. This was
not done without difficulty. I had not a farthing on earth, nor a friend
to give me one; pen, ink, and paper, therefore, were for the most part
as completely out of my reach as a crown and sceptre. There was indeed a
resource; but the utmost caution and secresy were necessary in applying
to it. I beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible, and wrote my
problems on them with a blunted awl; for the rest, my memory was
tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by it to a great extent.”

Persevering under these untoward difficulties, he at length obtained
some alleviation of his poverty. Having attempted to write some verses,
his productions were received with applause, and sometimes, he adds,
“with favors more substantial: little collections were now and then
made, and I have received sixpence in an evening. To one who had long
lived in the absolute want of money, such a resource seemed a Peruvian
mine. I furnished myself by degrees with paper, &c., and what was of
more importance, with books of geometry, and of the higher branches of
algebra, which I cautiously concealed. Poetry, even at this time, was
no amusement of mine--it was subservient to other purposes; and I only
had recourse to it when I wanted money for my mathematical pursuits.”

Gifford’s master having capriciously put a stop to these literary
recreations, and taken away all his books and papers, he was greatly
mortified, if not reduced to a state of despair. “I look back,” he says,
“on that part of my life which immediately followed this event, with
little satisfaction: it was a period of gloom and savage unsociability.
By degrees I sunk into a kind of corporeal torpor; or, if roused into
activity by the spirit of youth, wasted the exertion in splenetic and
vexatious tricks, which alienated the few acquaintances which compassion
had yet left me.”

Fortunately, this despondency in time gave way to a natural buoyancy of
his disposition; some evidences of kindly feeling from those around him,
tended a good deal to mitigate his recklessness; and especially as the
term of his apprenticeship drew toward a close, his former aspirations
and hopes began to return to him. Working with renewed diligence at his
craft, he, at the end of six years, came under the notice of Mr. William
Cookesley, and, struck with his talents, this benevolent person resolved
on rescuing him from obscurity. “The plan,” says Gifford, “that
occurred to him was naturally that which had so often suggested itself
to me. There were indeed several obstacles to be overcome. My
handwriting was bad, and my language very incorrect; but nothing could
slacken the zeal of his excellent man. He procured a few of my poor
attempts at rhyme, dispersed them among his friends and acquaintance,
and when my name was become somewhat familiar to them, set on foot a
subscription for my relief. I still preserve the original paper; its
title was not very magnificent, though it exceeded the most sanguine
wishes of my heart. It ran thus: ‘A subscription for purchasing the
remainder of the time of William Gifford, and for enabling him to
improve himself in writing and English grammar.’ Few contributed more
than five shillings, and none went beyond ten and sixpence; enough,
however, was collected to free me from my apprenticeship, and to
maintain me for a few months, during which I assiduously attended the
Rev. Thomas Smerdon.”

Pleased with the advances he made in this short period, it was agreed to
maintain him at school for an entire year. “Such liberality,” says
Gifford, “was not lost upon me: I grew anxious to make the best return
in my power, and I redoubled my diligence. Now that I am sunk into
indolence, I look back with some degree of skepticism to the exertions
of that period.” In two years and two months from what he calls the day
of his emancipation, he was pronounced by his master to be fit for the
university; and a small office having been obtained for him, by Mr.
Cookesley’s exertions, at Oxford, he was entered of Exeter college, that
gentleman undertaking to provide the additional means necessary to
enable him to live till he should take his degree. Mr. Gifford’s first
patron died before his protegé had time to fulfil the good man’s fond
anticipations of his future celebrity; but he afterward found, in Lord
Grosvenor, another much more able, though it was impossible that any
could have shown more zeal, to advance his interests.

Gifford was now on the way to fame, and he may be said to have ever
afterward enjoyed a prosperous career. On the commencement of the
“Quarterly Review,” in 1809, he was appointed editor of that periodical,
and under his management it attained a distinguished success. After a
useful literary career, Mr. Gifford died in London on the 31st of
December, 1826, in the seventy-first year of his age. Reversing the
Latin proverb, it might be justly observed, that in him _a shoemaker
happily went beyond his last_.


Noah Worcester was born in 1758 at Hollis, New Hampshire, where some of
his ancestors had been ministers; but his father was a farmer. In early
life he received very little education, and the greater part of his time
was consumed working as a laborer in the fields. He afterward became a
soldier; but, horrified with the vices of that profession, and the
slaughter which he saw take place at Bunker’s hill, he abandoned it for
ever, and betook himself to farming. He now commenced a course of
self-instruction; and to lose no time while so engaged, he employed
himself in shoemaking. His diligence was unrelaxing. At the end of his
bench lay his books, pens, ink, and paper; and to these he made frequent
application. In this way he acquired much useful learning; and a
pamphlet which he wrote had the effect of recommending him to a body of
ministers, by whom he was advanced to the clerical profession.

In a short time an opening occurred for a preacher, in a small town in
the neighborhood, and to this he was promoted by universal consent; yet,
in a worldly sense, it was a poor promotion. His salary scantily
supported life, being only two hundred dollars, and as many could ill
afford to pay their proportion of even that small sum, he was
accustomed, as the time of collecting it drew nigh, to relinquish his
claims, by giving to the poorer among them receipts in full. The relief
granted in this way sometimes amounted to a fourth, or even a third part
of his salary. He was thus made to continue still dependent for his
support in a great measure on the labor of his hands, partly on the
farm, and partly in making shoes. But he was far from fancying this
scantiness of pay and necessity of toil, any exemption from his
obligation to do the utmost for his people. On the contrary, he was
ready to engage in extra labor for them; and when it happened, for
example, as it sometimes did, that the provision for a winter school
failed, he threw open the doors of his own house, invited the children
into his study, and gave them his time and care as assiduously as if he
had been their regularly-appointed teacher.

His short experience of soldiering, gave him, as has been said, a horror
of war, and against this scourge he preached with untiring zeal. In
1814, he gave vent to his whole soul, in a remarkable tract, “A Solemn
Review of the Custom of War,” one of the most successful and efficient
pamphlets of any period. It has been translated into many languages, and
circulated extensively through the world. It is one of the chief
instruments by which the opinions of society have been affected within
the present century. The season of its publication was favorable; the
world was wearied with battles, and longed for rest. “Such was the
impression made by this work,” says Dr. Channing, “that a new
association, called the ‘Peace Society of Massachusetts,’ was instituted
in this place [Brighton, Massachusetts, whither he had removed in 1813].
I well recollect the day of its formation in yonder house, then the
parsonage of this parish; and if there was a happy man that day on
earth, it was the founder of this institution. This society gave birth
to all the kindred ones in this country, and its influence was felt
abroad.” He conducted its periodical, which was commenced in 1819, and
was published quarterly for ten years. It was almost entirely written by
himself, and is remarkable not only for its beautiful moral tone, but
for fertility of resource and ingenuity of illustration. He wished it to
be inscribed on his tombstone: “He wrote the Friend of Peace.” Eight
years after he began to write the “Solemn Review,” he declares his
belief that the subject of war had not been absent from his mind, when
awake, an hour at a time, during that whole period. This concentration
of all the powers of an earnest and vigorous mind, enabled him to
produce a greater effect than perhaps any other individual. Dr.
Worcester died in 1837, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. Of
character Dr. Channing thus speaks:--

“Two views of him particularly impressed me. The first was the unity,
the harmony of his character. He had no jarring elements. His whole
nature had been blended and melted into one strong, serene love. His
mission was to preach peace, and he preached it, not on set occasions,
or by separate efforts, but in his whole life.... And this serenity was
not the result of torpor or tameness, for his whole life was a conflict
with what he deemed error. He made no compromise with the world; and yet
he loved it as deeply and as constantly as if it had responded in shouts
to all his views and feelings.

“The next great impression which I received from him was that of the
sufficiency of the mind to its own happiness, or of its independence on
outward things.” Notwithstanding his poverty and infirmities, “he spoke
of his old age as among the happiest portions, if not the very happiest,
of his life. In conversation, his religion manifested itself more in
gratitude than any other form.” His voice was cheerful, his look serene,
and he devoted himself to his studies with youthful earnestness. “On
leaving his house, and turning my face toward this city, I have said to
myself, how much richer is this poor man than the richest who dwell
yonder! I have been ashamed of my own dependence on outward good. I am
always happy to express my obligations to the benefactors of my mind;
and I owe it to Dr. Worcester to say, that my acquaintance with him gave
me clearer comprehension of the spirit of Christ and of the dignity of a


A celebrated bookseller of Finsbury Square, London, and proprietor of
the great bookselling establishment there, which he called the “Temple
of the Muses,” was born in 1746, and brought up a shoemaker, at
Wellington, in Shropshire. By industry and perseverance he succeeded in
the bookselling business, almost beyond precedent. On the publication of
the seventh edition of his memoirs, written by himself, in 1794, he had
set up his carriage, and his profits in each of the two preceding years,
were £5,000 (equal to $24,000). He observes that--

    “Cobblers from Crispin boast their public spirit,
     And all are upright, downright men of merit.”

Lackington mentions a brother shoemaker, named Ralph Tilney, who died in
1789: “one who had not dignity of birth or elevated rank in life to
boast of, but who possessed what is far superior to either, a solid
understanding, amiable manners, a due sense of religion, and an
industrious disposition. Among other acquisitions, entomology was his
peculiar delight--his valuable cabinet of insects, both foreign and
domestic, supposed to be one of the completest of a private collection
in the kingdom, all scientifically arranged, with peculiar neatness, and
in the finest preservation.”

    “Honor and shame from no condition rise;
     Act well your part, there all the honor lies.”
    “You’ll find if once the monarch acts the monk,
     Or, cobbler-like, the parson will get drunk,
     Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow,
     The rest is all but leather or prunella.”

Lackington’s memoirs bring his life down to 1793. His memoirs abound in
severe remarks on the methodists (whom he had joined in early life and
afterward left), both as to life, and doctrine; these Lackington
subsequently repented having written. Uniting himself again to the
Wesleyan society, he endeavored to obviate the injustice of his sarcasms
by publishing a confession of his errors. Much of what he had stated, he
acknowledged to have taken on trust; and many things he now discovered
to have been without a proper foundation. These “Confessions,” which
appeared in 1803, never altogether accomplished their purpose; so
difficult is it to recall or make reparation for a word lightly spoken.
In sincere humiliation of spirit, Lackington retired to Budleigh
Sulterton, in Devonshire, where he built and endowed a chapel, and
performed various other acts of munificence, and spent the conclusion of
his days. He died on the 22d of November, 1815, in the seventieth year
of his age.


Joseph Pendrell, who died in London about the year 1830, had received at
school nothing more than the ordinary education, in English reading and
writing. At an early age he was apprenticed to a shoemaker, which
business he followed until his death. He had when young a great taste
for books. Stopping at a book-stall one day, he laid hold of a an
arithmetical work, marked four pence sterling; he purchased it, and
availed himself of his leisure hours, in making himself master of the
subject. At the end of the volume he found a short introduction to
mathematics; this stimulated him to make further purchases of scientific
works; and in this way he gradually proceeded from the elements to the
highest departments of mathematical learning. When a journeyman, he made
every possible saving in order to purchase books. He subsequently
acquired a knowledge of French, Greek, and Latin, and formed a large
collection of classical books, many of which he purchased at the
auction-rooms, always concealing his name as purchaser. The late Bishop
Lowth became interested in him, from occasional conversation at the
auction sales, but the shoemaker, from extreme diffidence, declined
telling his name, although the introduction to the bishop might have
drawn him from his obscurity. Pendrell’s knowledge of mathematical
science, was profound and extensive, embracing fortification,
navigation, astronomy, and various departments of natural philosophy. He
was also familiar with poetical literature; and had a thorough
acquaintance with most English writers in the department of _belles


Thomas Holcroft, an English miscellaneous writer of considerable
reputation, was born in Orange court, Leicesterfields, December 22,
1744. His father was a shoemaker in low circumstances, and the son,
early in life, was employed in the stables of the honorable Mr. Vernon.
He also worked at his father’s business of shoemaking, but being fond of
reading, and his fellow-workmen sneering at his efforts to acquire
knowledge, he left the trade, and opened a school in London. This not
proving successful, he tried his fortune on the stage, but after much
suffering, being often almost reduced to starvation, he abandoned the
stage as an actor. In the midst of his distresses, however, he retained
his love of books, and had made himself extensively acquainted with
English literature.

He then turned dramatic writer, in which he was more fortunate, some of
his plays being very popular at the time. Besides these productions, he
wrote several novels, and translated a number of works from the French
and German languages. At the commencement of the French revolution, he
espoused the cause of the republicans, and was committed for high
treason; but when Hardy, Tooke, and Thelwall, were acquitted, he was
discharged, without trial. His last speculation was a publication of his
travels in Germany and France, in two volumes quarto. Many of his works
exhibit high talents, and have an established popularity in England. He
died in 1809.


This eminent Christian missionary, and distinguished oriental scholar,
was born at Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, England, in 1761. He followed
the business of shoemaking in early life, during which time, he learned
several languages, studying with his books by his side while at work. A
gentleman in New York, has preserved in his library, among the works of
Dr. Carey, a pair of shoes made by him.

Dr. Carey commenced preaching as a baptist minister in 1783; in 1793 he
embarked as a missionary to India, and in 1799, he took up his residence
at the Danish settlement of Serampore, which became celebrated for being
the seat of this mission which was sustained by Carey, Ward, and

Dr. Carey’s philological labors in preparing grammars and dictionaries
of different languages, and in making versions of the Scriptures, were
immense. He lived to see the sacred Text, chiefly by his
instrumentality, translated into the vernacular dialects of more than
forty different tribes, and thus made accessible to nearly two hundred
millions of human beings. In addition to his extensive philological
learning, Dr. Carey was well versed in natural history and botany, and
made valuable communications to the Asiatic society, of which he was for
twenty-eight years a member. He died at Serampore, in Hindostan, June 9,
1834, in his seventy-third year.


George Fox, the founder and first preacher of the Christian sect of
Friends, or Quakers, was born at Drayton, Leicestershire, England, in
1624. He was bound by his father, who was a weaver, to a shoemaker and
grazier; and the occupation of his youth was divided between shoemaking
and the tending of sheep. He did not, however, long follow either of
these occupations, as, in 1643, he began his wandering life; and, after
retiring to solitude, and at other times frequenting the company of
religious and devout persons, he became a public preacher in 1647 or
1648. In his pious zeal, Fox visited, not only England, Ireland, and
Scotland, but he extended his travels to Holland and Germany, to the
American colonies and the West India islands. He died in London, in
1690. His journal was printed in 1694, his epistles in 1698, his
doctrinal pieces, about one hundred and fifty in number, in 1706. The
name of quakers was first given to him and his followers, at Derby, in


James Nichol, of Traquair, Selkirkshire, Scotland, was the son of a
shoemaker, and he also learned the same trade of his father, and
continued to labor at it, in the summer vacations, after he had entered
college. With the manners of a gentleman, Mr. Nichol possessed uncommon
talents. He was a most able and eloquent pulpit orator; an eminent
scholar; and an acute, ingenious, and liberal theologian. In early life
he published two or three volumes of poems, of considerable celebrity.
He wrote several articles in one of the encyclopedias, and in various
periodicals; and left a number of theological and literary works for


This late celebrated and popular preacher of Providence chapel, Gray’s
Inn lane, London, worked for some time as a shoemaker, as he informs us,
in his “Bank of Faith,” a work singularly curious and interesting.



Having given, in the preceding chapter, biographical sketches of some of
the sons of St. Crispin, who have risen from the _last_, to the first
rank among their fellow-men, in the several departments of knowledge, we
shall conclude this work with a few anecdotes, and such matters as are
of interest to the craft in general.

       *       *       *       *       *

PATRON SAINTS OF THE SHOEMAKERS.--Crispin and Crispianus were brethren,
born at Rome, from which city they travelled to Soissons, in France, for
the purpose of propagating the Christian religion, A. D., 303; and in
order that they might not be chargeable to others for their maintenance,
they exercised the trade of shoemakers; but Rectionarius, governor of
the town, discovering them to be Christians, condemned them to be
beheaded; hence they became the tutelar saints of the shoemakers.

The following singular passage with reference to the preservation of
the relics of these saints, occurs in Lusius’s Acts of the Martyrs,
where he notices the blessed Crispin and Crispianus. After their
execution, their bodies, according to our author, were cast out to be
devoured by dogs and birds of prey: nevertheless, being protected by the
power of Christ, they suffered no harm. During the same night in which
they were martyred, a certain indigent old man, who resided with his
aged sister, was warned by an angel to take the bodies of these holy
martyrs, and to deposite them, with all proper care, in a sepulchre. The
old man, without hesitation, arose, and, accompanied by his venerable
sister, went to the place where the bodies of the martyrs lay. As this
was near the river Arona, they could easily, with the assistance of a
small boat, have brought them to their own dwelling; this, however, on
account of their poverty and infirmity, they were unable to procure,
nor, indeed, had they any experience in the management of a vessel,
which, moreover, must have been rowed against the current. When,
however, after diligently searching in the dark, they at last found the
precious corpses wholly uninjured--lo! they discovered a small boat
close to the shore, and thereupon assuming courage immediately, they
each took up a body, so staggering under the weight from weakness, that
they appear not so much to carry their burdens as to be carried by
them. Placing the bodies in the boat, they floated with great celerity
against the current of the river, and, without the assistance of either
rudder or oars, presently arrived at their own cottage; near to which,
with equal secresy and joy, they interred the bodies of the deceased

In Soissons, there are many churches and religious places dedicated to
these saints. There is a tradition of their interment in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

ST. CRISPIN’S DAY.--Crispin stands marked in our almanacs for
remembrance, on the 25th of October, though his brother, Crispianus or
Crispinian, appears to have an equal claim to that respect. Their
history is only imperfectly known, and affords nothing particularly
interesting beyond the preceding notice. In an old romance, a prince of
the name of Crispin is represented as having exercised the profession of
a shoemaker; and thence is supposed to be derived the expression of the
“gentle craft,” as applied to that art:--

    “Our shoes were sewed with merry notes,
       And by our mirth expelled all moan;
     Like nightingales, from whose sweet throats
       Most pleasant tunes are nightly blown:
           The Gentle Craft is fittest then
           For poor distresséd gentlemen.”

The immortal Shakspere has given a speech to Henry the Fifth, before the
battle of Agincourt, that will mark the anniversary of St. Crispin to
the latest posterity:--

    “This day is called--the feast of Crispian:
     He, that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
     Will stand a tiptoe when this day is named,
     And rouse him at the name of Crispian:
     He, that shall live this day, and see old age,
     Will yearly on the vigil feast his friends,
     And say, To-morrow is St. Crispian:
     Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
     Old men forget; yet shall not all forget,
     But they’ll remember with advantages,
     What feats they did that day: Then shall our names,
     Familiar in their mouth as household words,--
     Harry the king, Bedford, and Exeter,
     Warwick, and Talbot, Salisbury, and Glo’ster,--
     Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered:
     This story shall the good man teach his son:
     And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
     From this day to the ending of the world,
     But we in it shall be remembered:
     We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
     For he to-day that sheds his blood with me,
     Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
     This day shall gentle his condition:
     And gentlemen in England, now abed,
     Shall think themselves accursed they were not here;
     And hold their manhoods cheap, while any speaks
     That fought with us upon St. Crispin’s day.”

       *       *       *       *       *

CORDWAINERS’ HALL is a modern structure, situated in Distaff lane,
London. It is a plain, but very neat and substantial brick building,
with a stone front, and a sculpture of the cordwainers’ arms, on a
shield, in the pediment, supported on each side by the cornucopia, or
horn of plenty. Over the centre window is a bass-relief of Clotho, one
of the parcæ or fates, spinning the thread of life.

The hall is entered by two side-wings, by an ascent of a few steps. On
the right and left are rooms for counting-houses, and other offices for
the use of the clerks and different persons belonging to the company.
The ballroom, 60 feet by 30, is a neat, commodious room, but without
ornaments, except merely the royal arms, the city arms, and the arms of
the company. Over the entrance is a music gallery or orchestra,
underneath which are some extremely neat representations of musical

The court-room, 30 feet by 15, is a very neat room, the walls hung with
various plans of estates belonging to the company. Over the fireplace is
a beautiful engraved view of the hall, drawn by Mr. Michael Meredith.
The view is taken from the southwest angle, and gives a correct view, in
perspective, of the west entrance, as well as of the front. Opposite
this picture, at the other end of the room, is another view of the hall,
an entire front view, showing both the wings. This was drawn by Mr.
Robinson, of Lothbury, surveyor to the company. Over this room is the
smoking-room, a perfectly plain, but clean and neat apartment. Opposite
to this is the dining-room, at the, east end of which is a capital
picture, by Sir William Beechy, of William Williams, Esq., who, after
being three times elected master of the company, died on the 5th of
November, 1809, aged eighty-seven. The portrait is very large, and
painted in Beechy’s best style. The frame is superbly gilt and
ornamented. It is surmounted by Mr. Williams’s own arms. At the other
end of this room, are the arms of the company, richly emblazoned. Under
this, in a niche, is a massy sepulchred urn, of white marble, on a base
of the same material, bearing the following inscription:--

“This tablet is dedicated to the memory of Mr. John Carne, many years a
valuable member of this company, in testimony of the many virtues which
adorned his character, particularly that spirit of benevolence and
charity so manifestly displayed in his last will, dated the 12th of
August, 1782, by which he gave, in trust, to the master, wardens, and
stewards of this company for ever, £37,200 three per cent. government
annuities, the interest arising therefrom he bequeathed to this company,
and also subject to certain annuities, amounting to £145, to be by them
annually distributed in £5 each, to clergymen’s widows. Mr. Carne died
the 13th of May, 1796, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried in the
church of St. Mary-le-bow, London. Mr. Carne, during several years prior
to his death, gave £300 for the same purposes as those mentioned on the

On one side of this room is a neat music gallery. There are, besides,
several other minor apartments, and beneath, a most excellent kitchen,
with all sorts of culinary apparatus.

       *       *       *       *       *

INCORPORATED SHOEMAKERS.--When and where the shoemakers first began to
form themselves into societies, and to observe the festival of their
saint, does not appear; it is natural enough to suppose that the
celebrity of Crispin and Crispianus, would confer on the day and place
an honor, which they who wrought at the same occupation would wish to
record and celebrate; at Soissons, therefore, it is probable that a
trade, which had been selected and distinguished by saints and martyrs,
would be also distinguished by some principles of recognition by its
members. Be this as it may, it is certain that the memory of the above
saints is honored in the city of their decollation, where churches, and
other religious buildings, are dedicated to “St. Crispin,” “St. Crispin
the Greater,” “St. Crispin the Less,” “St. Crispin _en chay_,” &c.

In Paris, there are two pious societies, with the title of “_Freres
Cordonniers_,” or brothers shoemakers. They were established by
authority, about the middle of the sixteenth century; the one under the
patronage of St. Crispin, and the other of Crispianus. They live in
community, and are governed by fixed statutes and officers, both in
their secular and spiritual concerns. The produce of the shoes which
they make goes to the common stock, to furnish necessaries for their
support, the overplus to be distributed among the poor.

Shoemakers are legally called cordwainers, or cordovanners, from
Cordova, a town and province in Spain, whence the leather called
cordovan was brought. The Latin appellation of a shoemaker is SUTOR or
CALCEOLARIUS, in Greek it is ΡΑΠΤΗΣ, in Arabic SABBATERO, in French
CORDINNIER. The cordwainer’s company was first incorporated in England
by the letters patent of Henry IV., in the year 1410, by the style of
the “Cordwainer’s and Cobbler’s Company.” The incorporation of this
body was again recognised early in the fifteenth century, by an act of
parliament, the provisions of which were to restrict the making of
boots, shoes, &c., after a certain “preposterous” fashion then
prevalent: defaults to be adjudged by the wardens of the company, and a
line of twenty shillings to be levied on the party so offending. A like
penalty was inflicted by the same act upon any “cordwainer or cobbler,”
in London, or within three miles of it, who should be convicted of
making, or putting upon the legs or feet of any person, any shoes,
boots, or buskins, on _Sundays_, or feasts of the nativity and ascension
of our Lord, and Corpus Christi. Shoemakers are incorporated in
Edinburgh, and called CORDINERS.

       *       *       *       *       *

PROVERBS.--Several common and proverbial expressions are taken from the
shoemaker’s trade. “To stick to the last,” is used of perseverance in an
undertaking till its completion. “Nothing is like leather,” signifies to
cry up one’s own craft, as in the case of the currier, who would have
defended the town with tanned cowhides. “_Urit pedem, calceus_,” I am in
the shoemaker’s stocks. “_Ne sutor ultra crepidam_,” the shoemaker must
not go beyond his last. These were the words of Apelles, a famous
painter of antiquity, to a critical Crispin, who properly found fault
with an ill-designed slipper. The artist amended his picture
accordingly; but the cobbler, ascending to other parts, betrayed the
grossest ignorance. “No man,” says a commentator on this proverb,
“should pass his opinion in a province of art where he is without a
qualification.”--“_Etre sur un grand pied dans le monde_,” to be on a
great foot (or footing) in the world. This favorite French proverb
originated at the time when a man’s rank was known by the size of his
shoes. Those of a prince measured two feet and a half; a plain cit was
allowed only twelve inches. A noble Roman being asked why he had put
away his beautiful wife, put forth his foot, and showed his buskins. “Is
not this,” said he, “a handsome and complete shoe? yet no man but myself
knows where it pinches me.” Hence the saying, “None but the wearer knows
where the shoe pinches.” As “tight as a bristle,” is still a common
saying of anything that is attached dexterously, or that fits nicely,
and is derived from the exactness required by the cobbler in fixing a
bristle to the thread or _end_ with which he sews, that it may follow
the awl the better. The waxed string pointed with bristle, as at
present, was in use as early as the twelfth century.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following pleasant anecdote used to be told by the eccentric Dr.
Monsey. The duke of Leeds, the doctor, and his grace’s chaplain, being
one morning, soon after breakfast, in his library, Mr. Walkden, of Pall
Mall, his grace’s shoemaker, was shown in with a pair of new shoes for
the duke. The latter was remarkably fond of him, as he was at the same
time clerk of St. James’s church, where the duke was a constant
attendant. “What have you there, Walkden?” said the duke.--“A pair of
shoes for your grace,” he replied.--“Let me see them.” They were handed
to him accordingly. The chaplain taking up one of them examined it with
great attention: “What is the price?” asked the chaplain. “Half a
guinea, sir,” said the shoemaker. “Half a guinea! what for a pair of
shoes?” said the chaplain. “Why I could go to Cranbourn alley, and buy a
better pair of shoes than they ever were or ever will be, for five and
sixpence.” He then threw the shoe to the other end of the room. Walkden
threw the other after it, saying as they were fellows they ought to go
together; and at the same time replied to the chaplain: “Sir, I can go
to a stall in Moorfields and buy a better sermon for twopence, than my
lord gives you a guinea for.” The duke clapped Walkden on the shoulder,
and said “That is a most excellent retort, Walkden; make me half a
dozen pairs of shoes directly.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The greatest multitude of shoemakers ever known to have been assembled
on one occasion, were collected by the celebrated mob-orator, Henley, at
his oratory near Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields. This public declaimer used to
discourse on general topics during the week, and on some subject of
morality on the Sunday. On the above occasion he had announced that on a
given day he should discourse to shoemakers, and that he could teach
them a most expeditious method of making shoes--which proved to be no
other than cutting off the tops of ready-made boots! The admission
ticket on that occasion bore the following motto: “Omne majus continet
in se minus.” The writer of this anecdote says: “I can not think the
representatives of Prince Crispin would have pocketed this insult. I
think they would have _bristled_ up, one and _all_, and, _waxing_ wroth,
would not have waited for the _ends_ of justice, but would have brought
the orator down from his ‘gilt tub,’ and persevering to the _last_, have
put their _soles_ upon his neck till he had discovered too late, that
the ‘gentle craft,’ might not be insulted with impunity.”

       *       *       *       *       *

A shoemaker attending a public ball, where he happened to be the
handsomest and best-dressed gentleman, the mushroom gentry thought to
play a trick on him. While engaged in a dance, a stocking manufacturer
begged to be measured for a pair of boots, to be ready by five o’clock
next morning. The shoemaker, observing his drift, and the approbation of
a considerable part of the company, immediately desired him to hold it
on the floor, and with one knee on it measured the foot: then saying,
“You may depend upon it, the boots will be ready according to your
order;” he ordered half a dozen pairs of silk stockings, to be ready at
the same hour, and proceeded with the dance. Having stayed till two
o’clock in the morning, he waked some of his workmen, and had the boots
finished by five o’clock; then sending and obliging the stocking
manufacturer to rise, and try on his boots, which exactly fitted, he
ordered instant payment of five guineas for them, and threatened
prosecution, as the stockings were not ready according to promise.



[1] The _feather_ is the edge of the insole.

[2] Properly.

[3] Merchants’ Magazine.

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