Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/17

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5
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

by Constable. That, as everybody agrees, was the immediate cause of the catastrophe. The question is, who was to blame; and especially why Scott, who had been making an unprecedented income by his pen, and who had an independent income of his own, should have been borrowing large sums, and borrowing them in this undesirable fashion? That, again, is in general terms answered by obvious facts. Scott wanted money because he had set up as a landed proprietor, built a fine house, collected curiosities, and indulged in expensive hospitality. To understand the position, however, so as to apportion the responsibility, we have to look a little more closely at the previous history, which, though indicated, is mixed up with other matters in Lockhart's Life. Scott, then, had formed a characteristic connection—characteristic because there never was a man who took greater satisfaction in helping a poor friend. To be a staunch patron of his followers and a staunch adherent of his leaders was an essential article in his ideal of manly duty, and his whole life is a series of such services. He had thus taken up James Ballantyne. They had met when they were both schoolboys and Scott already an accomplished spinner of boyish