The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2035 Friday, 19 November 1999.
Date: Thursday, 18 Nov 1999 11:11:55 -0600
Subject: Dyers and Big Calves
Can anyone explain why dyers might have developed large calf muscles? A
joke in The Art of English Poesy runs as follows:
as we once sported upon a country fellow who came to run for the best
game, and was by his occupation a dyer and had very big swelling legs:
He is but course to run a course,
Whose shanks are bigger than his thigh:
Yet is his luck a little worse,
That often dyes before he dye.
Readers of Webster will know that barge-men had notoriously strong
thighs (a fact also attested to by Camden), but why the occupation of
dyeing would develop the calves is unclear to me.