The Art of Tying the Cravat Demonstrated in sixteen lessons
TYING THE CRAVAT:
DEMONSTRATED IN SIXTEEN LESSONS,
THIRTY-TWO DIFFERENT STYLES,
A Pocket Manual;
And exemplifying the advantage arising from an elegant
arrangement of this important part of the Costume;
A HISTORY OF THE CRAVAT,
FROM ITS ORIGIN TO THE PRESENT TIME;
And remarks on its influence on Society in general.
By H. LE BLANC, Esq.
With explanatory Plates, and a Portrait of the Author
“Nothing is more laudable than an enquiry after truth.”
EFFINGHAM WILSON, 88, CORNHILL,
AND INGREY & MADELEY, 310, STRAND.
Ingrey and Madeley, Printers, 310, Strand.
No one accustomed to mix with the higher classesof society will be at all inclined to dispute theadvantages arising from a genteel appearance; ittherefore becomes necessary that the means ofacquiring this distinction should be clearly demonstrated.An attentive perusal of the followingpages will conduce to this desired effect.
“L’art de mettre sa Cravate est à l’homme dumonde ce que l’art de donner à diner est a l’hommed’état.”
The Cravat should not be considered as a mereornament, it is decidedly one of the greatest preservatives[iv]of health—it is a criterion by whichthe rank of the wearer may be at once distinguished,and is of itself “a letter of introduction.”
The most fastidious may in this book find amodel for imitation, as not only the form, butthe colour appropriate to each particular style, isdescribed in the clearest and most comprehensivemanner.
It can be incontrovertibly asserted that thiswork, far from being an ephemeral production,will be found to contain a mass of useful information,and may be termed an “Encyclopædiaof knowledge.”
The question whether Cravats were worn bythe ancients is satisfactorily decided.
It is fully proved that the Romans used achin cloth, corresponding almost entirely withthe modern Cravat; and that the collar of the[v]ancient Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks was theorigin of the Stock of the present day.
In the chapter on black and coloured silk Cravats,it is shewn that the former never obtainedgreater celebrity than in the last ten years of theeighteenth century, and the first ten of the nineteenth;that is to say, during a term of years repletewith events of the greatest political interest.
The work is divided into easy lessons—the firstgives a solution of the celebrated problem knownas the Nœud Gordien, and is the key to all theothers. The fifteenth lesson alone contains eighteendifferent methods of tying the Cravat: but lestany of our readers may be terrified at the idea ofhaving so much to acquire at once, it may be necessaryto observe that as they are derivationsfrom the fourteen first described, they are necessarilyshort and easy of attainment.
The first and last lessons (Nos. 1 and 16) are[vi]undoubtedly the most important, on account ofthe precepts, opinions, and incontrovertible truthswhich they contain. In the concluding chapterthe correct construction of the Cravat is provedto be of paramount advantage to the wearer; andthe consequences arising from an ignorance ofthis important subject are pointed out in a mannerwhich cannot fail to convince every enlightenedmind.
To render the work complete in every respect,plates, drawn from nature, are inserted; thesewill clearly explain any difficulty a beginner mayexperience in comprehending our directions, andwill enable him to judge whether he has producedthe proper effect on his own Cravat.
In an age like the present, when the man ofquality is so closely imitated by the pretender—whenthe amalgamation of all ranks seems to bethe inevitable consequence of the “March of[vii]Intellect” now making such rapid strides amongstus, we think a more signal service cannot be renderedto the higher ranks of society, than by theproduction of such a work as this; and, in thehope of being really useful, we offer to a discerningpublic the “Art of Tying on the Cravat.”
HISTORY OF THE CRAVAT;
FROM ITS ORIGIN TO THE PRESENT DAY;
ON ITS INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY IN GENERAL.
No decided opinion can be given of the age inwhich Cravats were first introduced. The ancientswere happily unacquainted with the ridiculous anddangerous fashion of confining the throat in linen,either tied in front or fastened behind with a clasp;this part of the frame was allowed to remain inentire liberty; they, however, defended it fromthe cold by means of a woollen or silken cloth,called in Rome focalium, a term which is evidentlyderived from fauces (the throat).
A distinguished Jesuit (the Rev. Father Adam)in his work on Roman antiquities, proves bythe most undoubted authority that the Romansmade use of chin cloths, for the protection of theneck and throat; these were termed focalia, andthe public orators, who from professional considerationswere fearful of taking cold, contributedin no small degree to render this fashiongeneral. Some (says the Rev. Father) used ahandkerchief (sudarium) for this purpose. Thisis probably the origin of the Cravat, which is inmany countries called “Neckhandkerchief.”
Augustus, who was infirm and sickly, constantlyused the focalium when at his own house, orwith his friends, but he was never seen in it inpublic; and Lampridius observes that AlexanderSeverus made use of it only when returning fromthe baths to his palace. In Rome the custom ofleaving the neck bare was so general, that it wasconsidered beneath the dignity of the man andcitizen to protect it in any other way than by thehand, or occasionally wrapping the toga round it.
The throats of our forefathers were for ages asuncovered as their faces; in this respect the descendantsof the Sarmatæ have not degenerated,as the Poles during the most severe winter havetheir throats constantly exposed. The same fashion(which is, however, less surprising) has descendedto the Eastern Nations, among whom awhite and well turned neck is metaphorically comparedto the beauty of a tower of ivory. TheCalmucks, Baskirs, and other Tartars of the Don,or the borders of the Caspian Sea, also adhere tothis fashion; very few of them, however, meritthe Eastern compliment, as their throats are generallyugly and ill-formed. This custom graduallydeclined in France and several parts of Europe,and luxury, rather than necessity, introduced thefashion of covering the throat loosely with a finestarched linen cloth; this was worn above theshirt, without a collar; the ends were broughtdown on the breast, and there fastened by lacesof thread—from this the idea of bands was derived—beforethe introduction of the heavy andunhealthy bonds, which at a later period confinedthe throat, was even dreamt of.
The ruff, stiffened and curled in single or doublerows (an inconvenient but harmless ornament),became the favourite in its turn, and continued infashion while the hair was worn short; but thisalso fell into disrepute when Louis XIII. allowedhis to grow. Then raised collars, plaited neck-cloths,and bands (both plain and of lace), envelopedthe throats of our ancestors, from the neckto the chin, and covered the tops of the arms andthe shoulders. This fashion continued until LouisXIV. adopted the enormous flaxen or black peruke,which almost concealed the front of theneck. It then gave way to bright coloured ribandsarranged in bows, which were also introduced bythis gay and gallant monarch, and imitated byevery one according to his rank or caprice.
Up to that time, as frivolity alone had reigned,the fashion was not injurious; but the throat,which had hitherto been comparatively free, nowlost that liberty which it has never since regained.In 1660 a regiment of Croats arrived in France;—apart of their singular costume excited the greatestadmiration, and was immediately and generallyimitated; this was a tour de cou, made (for theprivate soldiers) of common lace, and of muslinor silk for the officers; the ends were arrangeden rosette, or ornamented with a button or tuft,which hung gracefully on the breast. This newarrangement, which confined the throat but veryslightly, was at first termed a Croat, since corruptedto Cravat. The Cravats of the officersand people of rank were extremely fine, and theends were embroidered or trimmed with broadlace; those for the lower classes were subsequentlymade of cloth or cotton, or at the best of blacktaffeta, plaited; which was tied round the neckby two small strings. These strings were at alater period replaced by clasps, or a buckle, andthe Cravat then took the name of Stock.
The Cravat at length became universal, and wasincreased to an almost incredible size. Some envelopedthe neck in entire pieces of muslin; otherswore a stitched stiffener, on which several handkerchiefswere folded. By this échafaudage theneck was placed on a level with the head, whichin size it surpassed, and with which it was confounded.The shirt collar rose to the side of theears, and the top of the Cravat covered the mouthand lower part of the nose, so that the face (withthe exception of the nose) was concealed by theCravat and a forest of whiskers; these rose oneach side to the hair, which was combed downover the eyes. In this costume the élégans borea greater resemblance to beasts than men, andthe fashion gave rise to many laughable caricatures.They were compelled to look straight beforethem, as the head could only be turned bygeneral consent of all the members, and the toutensemble was that of an unfinished statue.
Instances have, however, occurred in whichthese immense Cravats have saved the lives of thewearers in battle. One fact, as related by Dr.Pizis, may be worthy of record. “I was laughing”(says he) “at General Lepale, on accountof his enormous Cravat. At the moment of enteringinto action his regiment charged, and afterdispersing the enemy’s cavalry returned to thebivouac. I was informed that the General hadbeen struck by a pistol shot in the throat. I immediatelyhastened to his assistance, and wasshewn a bullet, which was stopped in its careerby the very Cravat I had just been ridiculing.—Twoofficers and several privates had received sabrecuts on the Cravat, and escaped without injury;so that I was obliged to confess that theseimmense bandages were not always useless.”
Singers more than any class of persons, shouldbe careful to avoid exposing the throat to the cold,a moderate heat contributes to supple the organs,and renders the voice clearer and more harmonious;though, on the contrary, it is greatlydeteriorated if the throat is constrained by a tightenedCravat. No part of the body is more susceptibleof cold than the neck; and this susceptibilityis the effect of too much covering in general;but in leaving a ball room, or any heatedplace, the greatest care should be taken to defendthe chest and neck from cold.
The natives of the South are but too well acquaintedwith the danger of such sudden transitions,and the Spaniards particularly, who alwayswear a large handkerchief hanging carelessly fromthe neck, invariably wrap themselves in it, whenbeing warm they are suddenly exposed to the cold.
In short, the Cravat has now arrived at thesummit of perfection, and has been materiallyassisted in its progress by the use of starch. Thequestion naturally arises to whom is the world indebtedfor this sublime invention? To the English,Russians, Italians, or French?—On thispoint we confess ourselves unable to decide. Theblanchisseuses of each of those powers have beenmainly instrumental in communicating this importantdiscovery to the world at large.
On our parts, more profound investigationswould be unavailing; and it is only by a continuedcourse of laborious research, that it wouldbe possible to remove the obscurity which hasenveloped the subject of our labours for so manyages.
 “Cravat, from Cravate, which Menage derivesfrom the Croats, a sort of German troops, usuallycalled Croats, from whom, in 1636, this ornament, headds, was adopted.” Todd’s Johnson’s Dictionary.
Considerations on the origin of Stocks:—theiradvantages, inconveniences, colours, forms,and fashions.
Although the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, andnearly all the ancient nations, were unacquaintedwith the use of Cravats and Stocks, they wore collars,which may reasonably be considered as theavant-couriers of both.
Collars, made of the richest metals, and linedwith a soft