We know not why the Tailor should have been so long the theme of jest and scorn on the score of his profession. It was not merely that his profession was sedentary and kept him from manly, athletic exercises, neither that his art was devoted to furnishing rainment for the body alone. The hatter, the hosier, the shoemaker, shared with him these difficulties, yet they might, if entitled to them by character, receive the honors due to whole men, or whole-souled men, while the Tailor must in no case be regarded as better than a fraction of a man. No matter what he himself was, his profession cast over him a shade of ridicule; nobody could believe that tragedy or heroism might be associated with the goose; and the heading of a page “The Melancholy of Tailors” prepared not for tears but laughter. Yet that men bore the title of sufficient energy and providence to be the founders of innumerable families, almost of a separate race, is manifest by the extent to which their posterity have retained the name. The Clan Taylor is only less numerous that the Clan Smith, and boasts a still larger proportion of distinguished members. Among these Jeremy alone is sufficient to atone for all sins of the race, whether committed by way of cabbage or otherwise.
But we rejoice to see that in the march of mind which is scrambling clumsily but surely over the old walls of prejudice, the tailors keep pace with the best. The needle is longer a weapon void of offence, nor wadding an ineffectual shield against the darts of satire. They hold their heads high and hold their full purses in a firm hand. Among other signs of the times, which shows that they take at last their fair place in the Circle of Industry, may be mentioned that a distinguished novelist has assigned a most honorable place in one of his works to a Tailor, and that, not only Prince Albert, but also the Duke of Wellington, Prince of Victoria and all-victorious Prince, has enrolled himself in the Tailors’ Guild. We fear, indeed, that they cannot make as just pretensions to the honors of an useful art as the Oriental Caliphs did to be good watchmakers.
Apropos to this subject—we find in the last Courrier des Etats-Unis the following amusing sketch of the famous Stultz, and see, with pleasure, both that he might have assumed the title and rank of a noble in the country which lays most stress on such distinctions, but that he had the good sense to refuse it, and devote the winnings of his needle and shears to a better use. This is the true Democracy, and we are glad to find a spark of it in the breast of so Machiavellian a Tailor. Not to woman alone, it seems, does it belong to touch the true centre, with the point of that sharp implement which, if considered with reference to its benefits to man, should be venerated above the sceptre, to say nothing of the sword. And yet, as we write these words, a thought strikes us. But for the fault which first obliged Adam to ply the needle, neither sceptres nor swords, with their long train of attendant miseries, would have been wanted. And, perhaps, this remembrance is the very cause of the prejudice against the Tailor’s trade. Well! if it be so, it is still time for it to cease in common with all unjust prejudices, which you said, did you not, O Optimist! were almost weeded now from this garden of the world. Meantime let us read this page from the annals of the Dandy King and his Premier Stultz. It is from one of the amusing letters of Pierre Durand, then on his way to the Beethoven Festival, of which, by the next arrival, we may expect an account from his and a hundred other pens.
Alighting at Offenberg, I looked up to admire the beauty of the heavens, and found myself beneath a triumphal arch. With the best will in the world so to do, it was impossible for me to suppose that this monument of verdure was erected in my honor. There are, indeed, at Paris three or four visitors who might have had such an idea. I need not name them; you know who they are. But I was told that this arch was in honor of the Grand Duke of Baden, who was coming to open a new railroad track between Offenberg and Fribourg: not Fribourg in Switzerland, but Fribourg in Brisgan, famous for its magnificent Cathedral. I determined also to make the inaugural trip. The Grand Duke appeared presently. He is a man in the prime of life, with an open, smiling physiognomy, the affable air and simplicity common to the German princes; he was accompanied by his son, a young man of eighteen or twenty, who is not yet General, nor even Colonel, but wears modestly the epaulette of Sub-Lieutenant. The people received the Grand Duke very warmly; he received the compliments of the authorities and then set off with his escort. I was obliged to await the second train.
“Each side of the route was bordered by a hedge of various people. There were the peasants, rustic inhabitants of the Black Forest, who came to admire a spectacle so new, so strange to them; the iron track, the locomotive in the exercise of its functions, the train passing with the rapidity of lightening. Nothing could be more charmingly picturesque than the costumes of these astonished villagers. Here ancient habits have been religiously kept up. The men wear the dress of Louis XIV’s time—the broad-brimmed felt hat, the red worked about waistcoat, velvet breeches with high and large boots, the women vests covered with handsome embroidery, a petticoat of two very decided colors, charming head-dresses of gold or silver stuff with wide, black ribbons, and hanging down upon their shoulders, sometimes even to the ground, their long fair hair. But the railroad will dispel all this, and soon the men will be in blouses, the women like the grisettes of Paris.
“In this region and throughout Germany there is now a passion for re-building old castles. This aristocratic passion fever has been raging ever since the King of Prussia renovated the castle of Stolzenfels, where he is, at this moment, receiving the Queen of England. With the ruins disappear the old chivalric legends which are replaced by very prosaic modern chronicles, like this which I gleaned on the railroad, passing by the lately re-built castle of Ortenberg.
“About forty years ago a young workman, named Stultz, born in the village of Lahr, near Ortenberg, left his country to seek his fortune in England. Stultz was a youth of good gifts; he joined to German patience and sagacity a finesse and ingenuity very rare in the land of his birth. The wily German is like a cold Southerner; he has a great chance in succeeding in what he undertakes. Fortune ought thus to smile on the young Stultz who chose a profession of which his compatriots are fond—that of tailor; he learnt of the best masters, then took for himself a little establishment in which he succeeded well. He was soon in good circumstances, as to money, but this did not suffice his ambitious mind; he dreamed of wealth and glory, and wanted to be the first tailor in London. His employers were citizens, merchants, and attorneys’ clerks, while doing justice to these good people who paid him well, he felt himself worthy to clothe those of another quality. His shears trembled in his fingers as he thought of the brilliant gentlemen who set the fashions in Hyde Park and Regent-street. ‘That,’ thought he, ‘is the custom to make a tailor illustrious and rich. But how can I ever obtain it?’
At that time the famous Brummel was the king of fashion, master and model of the gilded youth of Leiden. His tailor was the only one employed by men who had pretensions to elegance. Stultz turned the whole force of his mind to the work of surpassing this fortunate tailor, who was named, I believe, Thomas Gibson. To dispossess Gibson and assume the same position was the aim to which he directed all his patience, sagacity, and finesse.
“Brummel was his hero; his object of attentive and laborious idolatry. Stultz followed him in the streets; went to the public places to watch him. His justness of eye and memory served him well in this study. If he had been a painter or sculptor he would have made from memory the portrait of his great man, being a tailor, he made exactly to his measure a delightful coat, on which he exhausted all the resources of his talent and the graces of his imagination.
“When this master-piece was finished, Stultz waited one morning on Brummel, and after waiting three hours in the ante-chamber obtained the honor of an audience on which he entered, coat in hand.
“Ah! ah!” said Brummel, “a new coat which appears charming. You are, then, one of the men of that rascal, Gibson.”
“Not so, my lord, I am a tailor, little known as yet, who expects from you his reputation and offers you, this sample of his talent.”
“I am in despair, my good fellow, that I can do nothing for you. If I were to wear a coat of which Gibson is not the author, it would cause a rupture between us.”
“But observe, my lord, what a perfect fit it is.”
“It is so, and I am astonished at it, as you have never taken my measure.”
“I took it on the statue of Antinous.”
“Oh! oh! flattery! that suits me very well. I receive well a deserved compliment and am willing to repay it. The coat is delightful; it has originality in the cut; grace in the details. But I cannot wear it on account of Gibson.”
“Gibson would not do the same. He is growing old, falling into routine, but, my lord, I am young; I have the sacred fire, and, with a hero like you, could go far on the path of innovations.”
“I believe it, but honor forbids my breaking with Gibson. Think that he has dressed me gratis for ten years.”
“It was for his own advantage; the merit is not great.”
“He does not, however, fail to give himself airs upon it when I receive him to audience.”
“What impertinence! it is in fact he who is in your debt. I should act more conscientiously. Please, my lord, to keep my coat and examine it with care. I will return to-morrow for your definite answer.”
“It is not well known that the delicacy of Brummel was not excessive. Wholly without fortune, he lived on his position. All kinds of trades-people furnished whatever he wanted for the honor of his patronage. Stultz, knowing this, had ventured a step farther and left in one of the pockets a hundred pound bank note.
“Next day he returned boldly. Brummel received him graciously, observing, with a perfect a’plomb,
“I have examined the coat, and it cannot be excelled; especially the trimming pleases me.”
“I am enchanted to meet your approbation, my Lord.”
“Decidedly, as you said yesterday, Gibson grows old; he has no new ideas now; he never would have thought of that trimming. But, tell me, Mr. Stultz, do you intend to make the same addition to all your coats?”
“Only to those I have the honor to make for you.”
“Truly, but do you know that I require many suits?”
“I will furnish you every month a coat like this in every respect. As to other clothes, you will order them at your pleasure on the same terms as with my predecessor.”—
“Very well; I accept your offer. From this moment you are my tailor, and I promise you the custom of all my subjects.”
“In fine, Gibson was dethroned. Stultz set up a splendid establishment at the West End; lords and gentlemen rushed to his shop; his fortune grew with the greatest rapidity; and he never failed to send Brummel every month a coat furnished with the promised bank note, thus paying him in money thirty thousand francs a year, besides his clothes, which came to at least as much.
“This was not the only ingenious trait that signalized the career of Stultz. The monarchy of Fashion is, no less than others, subject to revolutions.—Brummel, ruined by his excesses, was forced to leave England. Stultz, with the tact of a statesman, knew how to bend to circumstances so as to conciliate the favor of the new dynasty. The monarch who succeeded Brummel was a young lord of one of the first families of England. He would not have endured having bank notes put into the pockets of his dresses; nothing in the world would have induced him to make with his tailor an arrangement not to pay his bills; he merely omitted to pay them, which, as far as convenience was concerned, amounted to the same thing.
“Unluckily his disciples imitated him in this also, and Stultz found himself creditor to the young aristocracy for large sums, whose recovery seemed lost in the shades of a doubtful future. This difficulty became alarming; it was necessary to put an end to it. Stultz found in his fertile imagination his expedient.
“One morning the reader found in one of the most respectable newspapers of London this notice:
“At the moment of setting out for Bath, Lord C. (the name of the reigning king of fashion was here printed in full) has ordered coats in the newest taste and paid the tailor’s bill. It is the fashion now among our most elegant men to settle their accounts before setting out for the watering-places.”
“This notice excited to the highest degree the surprise of Lord C. He sent for Stultz.
“What does this notice mean?” said he, showing it to the tailor.
“It means that I am paid,” replied Stultz, with his admirable German sang-froid.
“Paid? Has my steward taken upon himself to pay you without consulting me?”
“No, my lord, your steward is incapable of betraying to such a degree the confidence which you deign to bestow upon him.”
“Explain to me, then, this riddle.”
“I know not how to reply, my lord unless, that, as the authority of such a journal cannot be disputed, the notice is the same as a receipt in full to you.”
“How do you mean, sir? I will, if I choose, remain your debtor all my life, but to take a receipt without having paid—! Do you take me for a Brummel?”
“Heaven forbid, my lord. I had no thought of wounding your delicacy; it is simply an innocent ruse which will do you no harm and me great good. People will believe you have paid me; what harm can that do you? This piece of originality will, without hurting you, lead all men of fashion to do the same, and I shall be paid. Thus I have ventured to use your magic name to call in my funds, and I hope you will excuse it.”
“The successor of Brummel was a good Prince; he pardoned. The stratagem succeeded admirably. It was, afterward, the fashion to pay Stultz’s bill on setting off for Bath.
“After having realized a fortune of twelve millions, Stultz withdrew from commerce and gave up his establishment to one of his nephews who bears his name. He wished to see once more his birth-place, and returned seven or eight years ago to the village of Laha. The Grand Duke of Baden, who wished to keep this great fortune in his dominions, proposed to Stultz to buy the estate of Ortenberg, rebuild the Castle, and assume its lordship with the title of Baron. The tailor would thus have found himself in the first rank of the nobility of Baden. His vanity urged him to accept, his wisdom said no, and while he hesitated, Ortenberg was bought by a Russian, M. de Berkholz, who has restored it to its magnificence of the times of the Crusades, when it belonged to the sovereigns of the country. Stultz, more modest, built a hospital; he died shortly after its completion, and his countrymen have raised a monument in his memory. His nephew, continuing his work, has already made a fortune equal to that of the uncle; he, too, has founded, they say, a hospital for the old and poor tailors of London. The people of Lahr hope he, too, will finish his days among them; there are many old castles in the neighborhood to rebuild, and the Grand Duke keeps the title of Baron in readiness for him.”*
“The Tailor.” New-York Daily Tribune, 17 September 1845, p. 1.