Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/19

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7
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

circles. Scott had lent him money, but on a renewed application for help took (in 1805) a most unfortunate step. He thought it imprudent to lend more, but consented to become an unavowed partner in the business. Ballantyne gave employment in the firm to his brother John, a shifty, harum-scarum person, and the two Ballantynes became Scott's trusted agents and courtiers. Lockhart has drawn portraits of the Ballantynes so vivid that, after making allowance for some unintentional caricature, it is impossible to doubt that they are sketches from the life by a very keen observer. The nicknames 'Rigdum Funnidos' and 'Aldiborontiphoscophornio' are sufficient indications of Scott's own view of their characters. He saw and enjoyed their absurdities and weaknesses, but, in his tolerant fashion, liked them none the worse. It is all very well to have friends who tickle your sense of humour; but, in such cases, it is desirable to maintain a certain distance, and not to. become responsible for their foibles. Scott, however, felt bound to stick by his clients through thick and thin. They came to be the intermediaries between him and the outside world. He had to be approached through his little court; and as they had their own