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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
labourers. Probably, too, it prevented him from making such an accurate investigation as would have roused him while there was yet time. But, clearly, the disagreeableness of the task did not prevent him from going into even the minute details and regulating all the ultimately ruinous negotiations. The end, unfortunately, sanctified the means; and he forgot his prudence in the delight of being able for a time to realise his fondest dreams. To himself, no doubt, it seemed that when he had got rid of the publishing house, the legacy which it left of unpaid liabilities was a mere remnant of botheration, which would be gradually wound up. The consummation was postponed from month to month as new temptations arose to invest his money at Abbotsford, and the mass of floating liabilities grew rapidly, though quietly, without prompting any sufficient effort at extrication. When he had once fairly finished his new mansion and rounded off his estates, he fancied that he would be able to shorten sail and bring all this intricate system of accommodation into order. The catastrophe at the end of 1825 destroyed all his chances, and led to that heroic effort which makes it seem almost indecent even to try to investigate the facts. Yet, on the