Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
12
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

a burden which he had incurred from rather excessive civility to one of the early recognisers of his talent; these and other failures, encumbered the new firm. The new Register itself caused a loss of over £1000 a year; and, considering that the Ballantynes had insufficient capital and did not enjoy a good reputation for solvency, it is no wonder that the venture was in grievous difficulties after three or four years. By 1813 they were at the verge of bankruptcy. The cause, as James Ballantyne admitted, was clear enough: 'beginning in debt, without capital, and always heavily in advance.' Magnificent schemes with insufficient means are a very obvious short cut to ruin; and the only wonder seems to be that Scott managed to escape at the time. Scott, however, showed abundant energy as well as buoyancy and courage. He was obliged to consent to make an application to the rival against whom he had been, as he said, preparing his bombs. The personal quarrel had speedily blown over, and Constable now agreed to look into the books. It appeared that Ballantyne and Co. would become liable for about £15,000 within the next year, and that all their assets, if they could be realised, would be about equal to their liabilities. As, however, the times were