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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 color.
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 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 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 80 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
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.