Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/30

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18
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

result. Therefore, it is to be inferred, that unfortunate nest-egg of debt, which was left when the publishing business was wound up, continued to accumulate by a kind of automatic process. If I never look into my affairs, allow all my subordinates to go their own way without check, and always pay my debts by fresh borrowing, it is very easy to understand that my liabilities will increase, apparently of themselves. Meanwhile, one has to ask, what was Scott doing? Lockhart admits, or rather asserts, this to be a puzzle. Scott, he says, was in his domestic affairs the most businesslike of men. He kept minute accounts of details, and could have told you all that he spent upon turnpikes for the last thirty years. Yet, either 'occupied with his romantic creations,' as Lockhart once ventures to suggest, or absorbed in building, planting, and entertaining, he passively allowed Ballantyne to go on piling up this ruinous burden. This, we must add, is the more surprising when we remember Scott's energy in dealing with his previous difficulties. Then he had set to work like a man, administered most excellent advice to his partners, and by judicious management regained a position of practical independence.