Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/27

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15
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

He had engaged in dangerous speculations, and could not be acquitted of rashness. But he had saved himself and his partners, and had never got entirely beyond his depth. The printing business appears to have been bringing in at a later time a profit of nearly £2000 a year, and involved no speculative risks. Unfortunately, there was a sequel. Lockhart tells us that John Ballantyne was under a delusion, and that, when the publishing was abandoned, the printing business, which had got inextricably mixed up with it, took over debts to the amount of £10,000. It is not easy to make out how far this statement is admitted by the other side. Anyhow, such a debt might easily have been extinguished by a man who was soon making £8000 a year by his novels, besides having an independent income. To explain the catastrophe which followed, we must first observe the facts which came out in Lockhart's controversy with Ballantyne's trustees. In 1816 James Ballantyne wished to marry, and the young woman's relations said that he ought to show that he was clear of debt. Hereupon Scott agreed that Ballantyne should give up for a time all his interest in the business, and should henceforth be employed as a manager with a fixed salary