Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
21
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

in the name of 'Ballantyne and Co.' Ballantyne's trustees ask, in fact, a question to which, as Lockhart never answered their 'reply,' we cannot tell what answer he might have given; but it seems sufficiently conclusive: why, that is, should Scott have acknowledged himself to be personally responsible for the debt of 1822, unless he were aware that it had been incurred for his own use? The careful document, in which he describes the state of the obligations between himself and James Ballantyne, shows his precise knowledge of the case, and no disposition to abandon any claim which he really had upon his partner. Debts due to him from Ballantyne are clearly set out, and the means of repayment carefully prescribed. It seems to be impossible to suppose that Scott should have taken this debt upon his own shoulders exclusively, if he had thought that it was caused by Ballantyne's careless management.

But, in the next place, it is equally impossible to hold that the debt had been incurred without Scott's knowledge. The imaginary pictures of Scott absorbed in 'romantic creations' and allowing Ballantyne to arrange all the bill-discounting, is a bit of rhetoric which fell in with the conventional ideas of the poetic dreamer, but was