Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/39

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27
THE STORY OF SCOTT'S RUIN

correct, Scott's position would at least have been comparatively secure. He had, as he admitted, been indulging in expensive tastes; but Abbotsford had now been finished, and he might well suppose that he would not require to accumulate new debts, and could gradually put an end to the system of mutual accommodation. In fact, it seems that if Constable could have got safely through the great commercial crisis of 1825, Scott would also have surmounted his difficulties, as he had done in the old troubles of 1813–14. Constable, unfortunately, turned out to have been in a position similar to Scott's. He had from the first been carrying on his business with insufficient capital, and the profits of his successful speculations had been constantly eaten away by the discounts and interest on loans. He had got into intricate relations with his London agents, Hurst, Robinson and Co., who appear at the period of excitement to have been indulging in reckless speculations, and the consequence was that, when one of the three houses failed, the others collapsed like a house of cards. Scott had said that Constable was as 'firm as Ben Lomond.' What he took for solid rock really rested upon rotten foundations.

That Scott should have felt this implicit con-