Endymion, by Benjamin Disraeli

Chapter 23

“It is no favour,” said Mr. Vigo; “it is not even an act of friendliness; it is a freak, and it is my freak; the favour, if there be one, is conferred by you.”

“But I really do not know what to say,” said Endymion, hesitating and confused.

“I am not a classical scholar,” said Mr. Vigo, “but there are two things which I think I understand — men and horses. I like to back them both when I think they ought to win.”

“But I am scarcely a man,” said Endymion, rather piteously, “and I sometimes think I shall never win anything.”

“That is my affair,” replied Mr. Vigo; “you are a yearling, and I have formed my judgment as to your capacity. What I wish to do in your case is what I have done in others, and some memorable ones. Dress does not make a man, but it often makes a successful one. The most precious stone, you know, must be cut and polished. I shall enter your name in my books for an unlimited credit, and no account to be settled till you are a privy councillor. I do not limit the credit, because you are a man of sense and a gentleman, and will not abuse it. But be quite as careful not to stint yourself as not to be needlessly extravagant. In the first instance, you would be interfering with my experiment, and that would not be fair.”

This conversation took place in Mr. Vigo’s counting-house the morning after the entertainment at his villa. Endymion called upon Mr. Vigo in his way to his office, as he had been requested to do, and Mr. Vigo had expressed his wishes and intentions with regard to Endymion, as intimated in the preceding remarks.

“I have known many an heiress lost by her suitor being ill-dressed,” said Mr. Vigo. “You must dress according to your age, your pursuits, your object in life; you must dress too, in some cases, according to your set. In youth a little fancy is rather expected, but if political life be your object, it should be avoided, at least after one-and-twenty. I am dressing two brothers now, men of considerable position; one is a mere man of pleasure, the other will probably be a minister of state. They are as like as two peas, but were I to dress the dandy and the minister the same, it would be bad taste — it would be ridiculous. No man gives me the trouble which Lord Eglantine does; he has not made up his mind whether he will be a great poet or prime minister. ‘You must choose, my lord,’ I tell him. ‘I cannot send you out looking like Lord Byron if you mean to be a Canning or a Pitt.’ I have dressed a great many of our statesmen and orators, and I always dressed them according to their style and the nature of their duties. What all men should avoid is the ‘shabby genteel.’ No man ever gets over it. I will save you from that. You had better be in rags.”

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:19