Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/38

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26
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

of a theatre without sufficient capital. He insists upon the advantage of 'solid cash,' and the inevitable ruin of a business which is 'pinched for money' and 'gets into the circle of discounting bills.' Every word is precisely applicable to his own affairs, and we need only substitute 'publishing' for theatrical speculation to make it a sermon upon himself. Everything, indeed, shows that his misfortune came upon him as a stunning surprise; and the heroic spirit with which he afterwards sacrificed health and life in the effort to redeem his honour proves unmistakably that, if he was under a strange blindness, it was not because his transactions had lowered his moral sense. The explanation of his strange ignorance depends partly upon his relations to Constable. Constable was, as he fully believed, a man of solid wealth. Nobody supposed, he remarks in his Diary, that Constable's house was worth less than £150,000. There were 'great profits on almost all the adventures' and 'no bad speculations.' The impression was natural enough from the outside. Constable was not only energetic, but shrewd; and the schemes which he started ultimately succeeded and justified the soundness of his judgment. Now, if the opinion of his solvency had really been