[Note: How could I not trace this ongoing history of the development of shoe-making!!!! It is in five parts (four of which are below; the first has its own entry)]
Godey's Lady's Book
Vol XLV Page 160
HISTORY OF BOOTS AND SHOES.
No. II.— ON THE MOST ANCIENT COVERING FOR THE FEET.
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 view of the sock below is 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 fit both feet indifferently, but the more finished boots and shoes were made for one foot only from the earliest period. The Cothurnus, the centre figure, 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.
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 shoe or sandal worn by the rustics of ancient Rome was 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 recognize 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 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. 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 toe, 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 as favorite a 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, which was 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, and at other times they had soles covered with large clumsy nails. The Greeks and Romans used shoes of this kind as frequently as the early Persians, and wore a combination of sandal and shoe, the upper leather being cut into a series of thongs, through which passed a broad band of leather, which turned not inelegantly round the upper part of the foot, and was secured by passing many times round the ankle and above it, where it was 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 country.
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 men 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 is in the British Museum, 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.
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.
The barbarous nations with whom the Romans held war are, upon the bas-reliefs of their conquerors, represented in close shoes or half-boots. The Gauls wear the shoe given below, of the same form as that worn by native Britons when Julius Caesar made his descent upon the British Islands.
Before the arrival of the Saxons, who have transmitted 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 the 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 Caesar 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 English public libraries, display the costume of this people from the ninth century downwards; 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 Eadfried, afterwards 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 fashion.
The second is copied from Strutt's complete view of the dress and habits of the people of England, plate 29, 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. The third figure 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 of 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.
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 the first 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 shoe may be seen in the second figure, 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, as seen in the right-hand figure of the above group, 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 embroidered.
"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 England, for they were certainly in use among the Saxons long before his birth. He was the first among the Normans who wore short boots, and doubtless 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 the ancient writers, we may reasonably suppose them to have been made of leather; at least it is certain that about the time a sort of leathern boots, called Bazans, were in fashion; but they appear to have been chiefly confined to the clergy.
Godey's Lady's Book
Vol XLV Page 247
HISTORY OF BOOTS AND SHOES.
No. III.— ON THE MOST ANCIENT COVERING FOR THE FEET.
"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 Frederic 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 Pigacioe, 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 form 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 Conardus, 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, afterwards 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 English sovereigns 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 the Sixth 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.
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: he says, "The legs of the wearer were inclosed 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." This shoe was ten inches in length from too to heel, and three inches across the broadest part of the instep. 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, Shakspeare's description in his dramatised 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 Shakspeare'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, "Shakspeare 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 England, 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 figure of the second group given on page 162, 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 cotemporary paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts. 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.
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., of England, and was discovered in the neighborhood of Whitefriars, in digging deep under ground into what must have originally been a receptacle 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 lengthy 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 wore 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.
We have here engraved two specimens of these broad-toed shoes of the time of Henry VIII. The first 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 "in-cased 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 wood-cut 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 incises 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.
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, England. It is a remarkably fine specimen of these inconvenient things, and is as strait, and stiff, and formal as the most inveterate Dutchman could wish. The heel 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 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 cannot 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 Museum.
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 vol. 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 hindrances 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 Everyday 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, 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 quartering of a ladies' shoe, and, forgetful of heraldic forms, condescend from his high estate to the use of similitudes."
This shape, once firmly established, was the prevailing one during the reigns of George I. and II. 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.
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 farther 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 to.
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 ribbon 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's shoe,' was published by Fores, in 1791. It measures five and three-quarter inches in length; the breadth of the sole being only one and three-quarter inch. 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 up-peaking 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 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.
Godey's Lady's Book
Vol XLV Page 426
HISTORY OF BOOTS AND SHOES.
No. IV.— ON THE MORE MODERN FORMS OF FOREIGN BOOTS AND SHOES.
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 of Europe 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 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 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 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 a Hungarian gentleman, in 1700, may be seen in Fig. 7, 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 Nuremburg, 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 abound.
Descending towards 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, an inner 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 holiday 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 holiday 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 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 subjoined woodcut. 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 straight a confinement that their grow this 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 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 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 would appear 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— amongst 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 curiously 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. There 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 Shakspeare," 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 amongst the ancient Greeks. Xenophon, in "OEconomics," 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 are 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 English 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 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 Naxis, the shoe shown in Fig. 14 is worn.
Of the modern European nations with whom we have been most in contact— England, 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 from 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 Fig. 15.
The sabots of France is another peculiarity which was never adopted elsewhere. 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 elsewhere, 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. The first figure is the ordinary shoe, and the second, the extraordinary or genteel one.
And now having, in the pursuit of our history of boots and shots,
"Travelled the wide world all over,"
let us not dismiss the subject without a parting 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, 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 cow-hide 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 brogue-maker 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 holiday wear. The brogue-makers pride themselves in the antiquity of their trade, and boast over the shoemakers, whom they consider only 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" shoes 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. Be 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 afterwards 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!"
Godey's Lady's Book
Vol XLVI Page 156
HISTORY OF BOOTS AND SHOES.
No. V.— THE MORE MODERN FORMS OF BOOTS AND SHOES; THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUMAN FEET; THE POETRY OF THE FEET, ETC. ETC.
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 assistant; 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 galoches round the side, the leather toe-caps, or whatever the form may be, of the lower part of the boot have their 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 galoching, and in this state it is given to the binder. Great care is now required and exacted in working up the bootleg 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 bootbinder. The leg is next passed on to the closer, who, with the awl instead of the needle, closes the seams of the galoche, 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 bootleg.
This bootleg, 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 feet.
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, 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 shoemaker, that the first failure may ensure 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.
There is a large class of persons in all cities and towns 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 New England, and sent 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 haying risked a purchase.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUMAN FEET, ETC.
"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 astragalus, 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 a 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."
It is admitted that much of the pain, 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, are 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 arrangement 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 one of the most respectable French chiropodists of the present day (Mr. Durlacher), a gentleman who has had considerable experience in the treatment of corns and bunions, says: "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 clasifying 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 mucosurn, 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 bloodvessels 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 chemical 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 spiculae 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 some time been lying dormant.
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 applied.
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.
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 stocks."
Every one who wishes to be comfortably fitted should have a pair of lasts made expressly for his own use. Experience has taught 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 everyday 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 shoe are of comparatively modern invention; but the illusions and illustrations to the contrary, in our previous chapters, 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.
Some workmen, however, have at last seen the error they have all along been committing, and adopted the improved form, wondering why it was never thought of before.
No. 1 represents a sketch of the foot and the sole usually formed to fit it. No. 2 a well-formed sole, straight, suitable, and far more elegant.
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 neighborhood.
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 altogether."
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 sav'd, 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 poet Gay gives a caution on this matter:—
"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 season by your shooting corn."
THE POETRY OF THE FEET, ETC.
It is much to be lamented that any form of boot or shoe should have interfered with the beauty of the human foot and its elastic tread. 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 where she went the flowers took thickest root,
As she had sow'd 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."
Shakspeare, 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.
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.
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, are best.
The neatest, firmest, and the coolest material ever used is a silk web called stocking-net.
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 calfskin, is strong; for the little toe-caps and galoches 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.
One very important thing to be attended to is that the galoches and toe-caps 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.
CHILDREN'S BOOTS AND SHOES.
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 a good form in the sole, hollow and arched at the waist, and snug at the heel; if boots, then elastic, the same as ladies.
If the ankles are weak, a surgeon should be consulted without delay. Many children have been benefited by using 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 form.
STOCKINGS— WASHING THE FEET, ETC.
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 one too small; the more common case is its largeness.
The best stocking 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.
That eminent surgeon, the late Sir Astley Cooper, 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 afterwards.
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 with, 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 coarse 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, 73 feet. Surely, such an amount of drainage as seventy-three 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 water-proof 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.
"Many are the hints thrown out by some of our old herbalists, in their quaint language, as to the powers of some herbs. One which has certainly some slight influence on corns, and is a great favorite amongst the popular writers on corns, is the common houseleck, 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."
"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 corn 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 bedtime, 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."
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 will serve instead: Procure 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.