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men out of the market. An intelligent cordwainer, named James Devlin, an experienced workman of a literary turn, has put forth a little book on the boot and shoe trade of France, recommending to his brethren of the craft the adoption of the French method, which he describes with technical minuteness, and denouncing in his strictures on the character of English upper-leathers, the hurried and careless process
of the tanner and currier. What Mr. Devlin says on the subject of leather, accounts for the difference between a French boot that draws on like a glove, and an ordinary English one that confines the foot as in a vice, and hangs about the leg like a clog. If we look to the nature of our leather, excepting that used for the soles, we shall find the article not so good as that which the French bootmaker can purchase, and what, still more pertinent to the matter is, that formerly it was not so; confident I am, however, that a change might be obtained, as well from the nature of our raw hides and skins themselves, as from the ability of the working currier; and, in proof of this, let me instance the superior quality of our own jockey, or topboot legs- so clear, so soft, and workableso handsomely grained, and so exquisitely drated. No country can equal the British currier in this particular, nor in the white leather, for the tops of
these boots; why his inferiority in other articles ? The reason is obvious : England, if not now, was at least some years ago, the only jockey-boot nation par excellence; and hence, so far our superiority: the competition among us being so 'extensive as to urge to the highest progressive perfection; and that perfection always meeting its proper reward in the greater commands for orders.
Another fact to be attended to, is that in the boot department, we have an inferior manner of blocking, or the turning the front piece of our Wellington boot; in this we are far behind our neighbors.
Take up one of our bootfronts so prepared, and compare it with a front coming from France (the Bordeaux is the best), and the difference is as perceptible as lamentable. How stiff, how dead, and how forced, is the one; and how easy, moist, and elastic, the other. The first, to one unskilled in the operation, seems to be baked, rather than gently moulded, when wet, into the position it has received; and then catch it by top and toe and pull it ever so tenderly back, and lo! at once its crabbed beauty is gone! and though you may press, push, or contract it again into something of its original form, still it can never be made to look the same as before. Now, do the like to the French front; nay, more, you need not pull it tenderly, but with
full force apply your strength to the two extremities, force it until it be straight, and then letting it go again, lay it on your board, and by a little application of the hand, it will nearly look as well as
no puckerings, no looseness, and still possessing the requisite curve.
Nothing can be more to the point than these strictures on the English leather and English blocking, as compared with the French. For the last seven years, I have in every order where calfskin fronts have been required, used Bordeaux leather; it was not only soft, elastic, and durable, but in addition to the pleasure derived from making up a good article, it was as cheap as the English in the end, as we never had to put in a new front or repair cracks and breakages, a constant source of trouble and expense, incidental to the English fronts. It was no uncommon case, a few years since, after having bought the best article the trade could produce in calf-leather, after paying an extravagantly high price, and making up the article in the best possible manner, to find, after six or eight times wearing, a decided crack across the bend of the foot. I have tried every expedient on those occasions I could think of to prevent it, and acted on numerous suggestions from my foreman and workmen, and all to no purpose : not unfre
quently the "most unkindest cut of all," has been from the currier, who bas laid the blame by turn on the blocker, clicker, bootman; even the feather* has had to bear its share of the blame.
This inferiority of calfskin has not only been the fault and disgrace of the British tanner and currier, but his loss to an enormous amount; he has been slow to admit it, but it is "a great fact;" a brighter day, however, now opens upon him.
Dr. Turnbull, after patient and repeated experiments on the science of tanning, has discovered the true cause of all this hardness and breaking. To him the tanners and the public owe a debt of gratitude, which they will both best discharge by patronising his invention. I have had an opportunity of personally inspecting his process at Bermondsey, from beginning to end, and I am enabled, through his kindness, to convey the following information respecting his improved process of tanning :
“ The skins of the animals are composed of two chief parts: the corium or cutis, and the cuticle or epidermis. The former, which is the true skin, is a tissue of delicate fibres, crossing each other in all directions, more thickly interwoven toward the surface, than in the deeper parts of the skin. It is
* The feather is the edge of the insole.
pervaded by a great number of conical channels, the small extremities of which terminate at the external surface of the skin. These channels, which are placed obliquely, contain nerves, secretory vessels, and cellular membranes.
“The cuticle or exterior covering is an insensible horny membrane, composed of several layers of cells, devoid of blood-vessels.
“The process of tanning consists in the combination of the gelatinous substance of which the skin is principally composed, and the tonic acid, or tannin. The gelatinous substance in skins, and the tannic acid, having a strong chymical affinity for each other, the hide or skin is converted into leather whenever tannin is brought into contact with the gelatinous tissue or fibre.
“The slowness of the process in tanning leather, and the imperfect manner in which it has hitherto been accomplished, arise from the difficulty in bringing the tannin or tannic acid into contact with the gelatinous tissue, or fibre of the skins; and although, of late years, considerable modifications of the old method of tanning have been introduced, chiefly consisting in the employment of new materials, and the application of hydrostatic pressure, yet the result, upon the whole, has been merely to effect a saving of the time consumed in tanning,