Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/16

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

observes that he is not an adept in financial matters, and is unable to unravel the mysteries of complex accounts dealing with elaborate commercial transactions. I am certainly not more competent than he; but I do not think that any profound insight into the accounts is really necessary. We need only take for granted one little device which, when explained, as one's commercial friends are always glad to do, is rather of charming simplicity than mysterious complication. Scott wishes to borrow money. He gets the loan the more easily because he can say Constable will also be responsible: 'he will repay you if I can't.' The fiction is that Constable owes Scott a debt already, and that Scott can therefore hand over this debt to his own creditors. Meanwhile, the fact is that no such debt exists. Constable admits it because he accepts a reciprocal service from Scott. He borrows money, stating that Scott will be responsible. The credit of each therefore helps the other. But now, if either is unable to pay, the other has to pay the debts of both. This was what actually happened. Constable failed, and Scott found himself suddenly liable not only for his own debts, but for some £40,000 raised