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shoe, from its constant requisition, may, therefore, be supposed to have given rise to one of the earliest.
In one of the Greek dramatic writings, allusion is made to the daily earnings of the shoemaker; and in the far-famed anecdote of Apelles exposing to public scrutiny some masterpiece of his painting, the criticism of the cobbler, about the form or disposition of the latchet or tie of the shoe, implies, as in the other case, a distinctive character in the calling: the one receives his daily wages as a regular acknowledged workman; and the other, from his proficiency in his art, detects at once an error in the imitation.
The streets of Rome in the reign of Domitian, as Fosbrooke tells us in his “ Dictionary of Antiquities,” were at one time so filled with cobblers' stalls, (cobbler being the usual way among writers of naming the profession), that the emperor had to issue an order to clear them away, probably to some less ambitious situation to the narrow and by-places of the city. St. Anianus, a contemporary with St. Mark, as Alban Butler writes in his Lives of the Saints, was a shoemaker ; and Crispin and Crispianus, brothers and martyrs, have the well-known repute of belonging to the trade; they are its patrons, and have their fete-days yet in
all catholic countries; and though there is no longer any religious observance of the day in England, the name of Crispin is still placed in the church calendar against the 25th of October: and the shoemaker has still his traditions and his usages connected with the time.
The law of England formerly, not only took cognizance of the quality of the leather which the shoemaker wrought into his goods, but of the number of stitches that he furnished. In one of the small towns in the north of England, the custom of gauging shoes brought to market was prevalent until lately, and the gauger had legal authority to take away any shoe which had not the proper number of stitches. As his measure he used the breadth of his thumb, which was meant for an inch. This, therefore, is not an unpleasant retrospection; the king and his parliament making enactments concerning the quality of the leather and scrutinizing even the number of stitches.
The trade, as at present conducted in London and other large towns, may be divided into two departments, viz. : the bespoke and the readymade, or sale-trade. The first of these ranks as chief, on account of the superiority of the article ; although the latter is the most general, and is patronized by the bulk of the population.
A lady or gentleman requiring boots or shoes, pays a visit to a respectable shop, and the measure is taken, either by the master or the clicker; the order is entered in the order-book, and the time named when they are to be ready. After the departure of the customer, the first business is to select a pair of lasts adapted to the feet- the measure is then applied to the length and circumference, and if suitable in the general form and proportions, the number of the last entered in a column opposite the name, &c.
The next business is to cut the pattern in paper; and, presuming it to be a lady's boot, the greatest care is taken in seeing that it s.ands well-neither dropping back, nor pitching too much forward. The goloshes round the side, the leather toe-caps, or whatever the form may be, of the lower part of the boot, has its pattern cut also in paper; for much depends on the correctness of these little matters.
The linen linings are then cut true to this pattern; the cashmere, prunella, or cloth, cut to form the outside, and the morocco, patent leather, or cordovan, added for the goloshing; and in this state it is given to the binder. Great care is now required and exacted, in working up the boot-leg true to the pattern; and if it be lace, button, or elastic, the binder has it in her power to spoil the
whole affair. More, perhaps, depends on fitting the work, than the workmanship; a union, therefore, of skill, in these two points, constitutes a good boot-binder. The leg is next passed on to the closer, who, with the awl, instead of the needle, closes the seams of the golosh; and then, having lasted the boot, attaches the leather by means of a neat row of stabbing round the edge, thoroughly through the leg and its lining. This is the most secure, the neatest, and also the most expensive method, of getting up a good boot-leg.
This boot-leg, which has been twice sent out from the shop, now comes in to be again handed over to the maker, who receives the lasts, together with the leather soles, insoles, welts, stiffenings, shank-pieces, and other little matters essential to the work; not omitting, if the master knows his business, or considers the comfort of his customers, a good piece of felt, to insert between the insole and outsole, to prevent the intolerable nuisance of creaking. Neglect this, and besides the music (the fillings, which are bits of leather pasted between the soles, and which the workman is obliged to put in to make a level sole), you get lumps, after a little wear, at the bottom of the tread, which give great pain, and often produce corns and callosities on the soles of the feet.
It would be tedious to the reader to describe the various manipulations of the workman in making pair of boots. If he accomplishes his work in the course of a day, he does well; and keeping the boots on the last during the night, to dry and get solid, is all that is required of him before bringing them to the shop.
If he has attended to all his instructions for width of tread, thickness of forepart, thinness of waist, height of heel, left no pegs sticking up, and kept his work clean, there is every probability of the lady being pleased, the master pleased, clicker pleased, workman pleased. But should either have failed, inadvertently or through carelessness, in one of the minute matters before mentioned, the boots are returned, and the whole must be gone over again.
Few ladies are aware of the many little points required to produce a good article with precision of fit ; but let them consider, before they try another artiste, that the first failure may insure a correct fit the second time, and give no further trouble to them perhaps for life. A little patience at the proper time, would often save a world of annoyance in running from one shop to another, only to find out that all were pretty much alike.
In describing the other department, and by far