Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/34

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

quite at variance with the reality. Scott had plenty of romantic fancies, but they did not in the least prevent him from being also a keen man of business. The documents published by Ballantyne's trustees leave no doubt upon this point. He received regular accounts of the bills that were to fall due, and of the provision for meeting them. He asks for explanations, receives schemes of financial operations from the Ballantynes, and devises schemes himself. He goes into such minutiæ that upon one occasion he writes to Ballantyne, when enclosing some bills, ‘ Be cautious to fill up the dates with ink of the same description, for bankers look sharp to this! ' It is impossible to hold that the man who could have an eye to such points was so innocent as to be unaware of the true nature of the transactions for which he was responsible. James Ballantyne was himself alarmed. 'When I reflect,' he writes to his brother, 'how many bills I have paid for Sir Walter Scott on verbal orders and mere notes, which I thought no more about, I absolutely quake for the aspect under which I might be considered were he to die.' There are transactions, he says, which he, as an ignorant accountant, could not explain, and he would have