“It was a rich, warm night, at the beginning of August, when a gentleman enveloped in a cloak, for he was in evening dress, emerged from a club-house at the top of St. James’ Street, and descended that celebrated eminence. He had not proceeded more than half way down the street when, encountering a friend, he stopped with some abruptness. “I have been looking for you everywhere,” he said. “‘Tis as warm as noon. Let us cross the street and get into St. James’ Place. That is always my idea of solitude.”
Velvet-jacketed and heavily scented, rarely without an outlandish hat of some description, sporting be-jewelled rings worn over white silk gloves, a well know author of romantic fiction, Benjamin Disraeli was hardly the archetypical Imperial British Prime Minister, even before the matter of his Jewish descent is taken into account.
Yet this striking, dandy-like figure, whose first fiction, Vivian Grey, would inspire the eponymous hero of Oscar Wilde‘s only novel, was Queen Victoria‘s favourite and ‘Dizzy‘ as he was widely known would lead his country not once but twice and be engaged in political battle at the highest level with his nemesis Gladstone over decades.
“Without tact you can learn nothing. Tact teaches you when to be silent. Inquirers who are always inquiring never learn anything.”
Endymion was Disraeli’s final work to be published in his lifetime, the last he finished.
It is a nostalgic fantasia on his own youth. A roman a clef with more than slightly camp overtones.
An assortment of improbable romances and intricate political intrigues, that ultimately ends up a heap of sentimentality rather than making anything approaching narrative sense.
For all that, taken on its own terms, it is a thoroughly enjoyable romp, a joyful, colourful whirl.
A glimpse into the late Georgian world, a world of possibilities, where a young man with hunger and ambition could change almost anything, including himself, in order to get ahead.
“I do not think you are capricious, and yet the world sometimes says you are.”
Penhaligon’s may have had Keats or classical myth more in mind when they created their antique anachronism of the same name in 2003, yet it is Disraeli’s Endymion to which their aroma owes most.
From it’s colourful burst of citrus to it’s front parlour full of lavender at the start.
Through the soft leather of the ‘nice’ gentleman’s gloves at it’s heart to the complexion-enhancing patent powder of the dry down, this is an arch nineteenth fey fellow’s fragrance.
It is an Aubrey Beardsley sort of scent.
“My idea of an agreeable person.. Is a person who agrees with me.”
Just as Disraeli was a Wildean sort of politician.
Apply the perfume without moderation and frequently to achieve full effect.
Peruse the book in short bursts while sipping sweet tea dressed in a purple smoking jacket.
The Perfumed Dandy.