Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/42

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

apparently without carrying out the scheme, to take measures accordingly. Without attributing to Constable anything worse than an over-sanguine view of things, it is obvious how Scott would inevitably be affected. Here was the 'Napoleon of publishers,' the shrewdest of speculators, the most solid, steady, and respectable of men, constantly asking for more. Why should he ask for more? The answer which would suggest itself to any author would no doubt be—because he was making a good thing of it. Scott would take it for granted that all this eagerness and readiness to propose new work meant that the great publisher was growing as rich as he was, apparently at least, growing rich himself. No doubt, if Scott had been a man of business so far as to be behind the scenes of commercial transactions, he might have heard rumours suggestive of a different explanation. Constable's operations had apparently suggested doubts to competent observers in his own trade. Scott, however, had fifty other occupations, and it is not strange that his confidence in Constable's solvency was equal to Constable's confidence in his literary capacity. One of the assumptions which he took to be certain was thus altogether fallacious, and the danger was sprung upon him from