Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/37

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
25
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

also, as far as one can dimly discern, to have been drawing more money from the business than he should have done, for the trustees admit that he too was a sinner, though less of a sinner than Lockhart maintained, and far less of a sinner than his partner.

These facts, which seem to be indisputable, entirely dispose of the theory suggested, if not explicitly set forth, by Lockhart. Scott was not in the position of a mere passenger leaving the command of his ship to an incompetent commander. He was actively superintending and giving orders at every stage of a critical navigation. Nor was it his whole error that he spent his money as it came in without applying it to check the automatic growth of the debt which was swallowing up all the profits of the business. He was actually drawing funds from the business in order to carry on a system of unproductive expenditure. What is true is that, for some reason or other, he was strangely unconscious of the danger. Lockhart remarks that a letter which Scott wrote in May 1825, a few months before the crash, is ‘as remarkable a document as was ever penned.' It was an emphatic and most judicious warning to his friend Terry against undertaking the management