Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/557
BENJAMIN R. HAYDON
recollection of her, young and beautiful, might occasionally have soothed his imagination, she suddenly bursts on him with two children, the offspring of her marriage with his rival—and that so altered, bowed, and weakened as to root out the association of her youthful beauty with the days of his happy thoughts.
"There are moments of suffering or joy when all thought of human frailties is swept away in the gush of sympathy. Such a moment was this. His anger, his frantic indignation, and his sullen silence at her long absence, all passed away before her worn and sickly face. He saw her before him, broken and dying; he felt all his affection return, and flinging himself forward on the table, he burst into a paroxysm of tears as if his very heart-strings would crack. By degrees we calmed him, for nature had been relieved by this agonizing grief, and they parted in a few moments for the last time."
Next day Haydon and his sister went on with their mother, but did not reach London with her; she died at Salt Hill, in the inn.
Surely had B. R. but deigned to paint a picture of the old dumb lover with arms outspread on the table, weeping—as he so touchingly describes the scene, it would have appealed to the public. But no! the scene was not heroic. Old Cross was not a classic figure. Haydon had resolved to be a painter of heroic in art or be nothing.The Royal Academy would have none of him, and he attacked it furiously at point of the bayonet. That the Royal Academy hampered the progress of Art, stifled genius, crushed out originality was true then as some assert it is true now; but the Royal Academicians did not relish being told these truths by one just growing to manhood; and it was impolitic in Haydon to set those