Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous 19th-century poet and artist, was once approached by an elderly man.
The old fellow had some sketches and drawings that he wanted Rossetti to look at and tell him if they were any good, or if they at least showed potential talent.
Rossetti looked over them carefully. After the first few, he knew that they were worthless but Rossetti was a kind man, he told the elderly man as gently as possible that the pictures were without much value and showed little talent. He was sorry, but he could not lie to the man. The man was disappointed, but seemed to expect Rossetti’s judgment.
The old man then apologized for taking up Rossetti’s time, but asked him to look at a few more drawings.
Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately became enthusiastic over the talent they revealed. “These,” he said, “oh, these are good.”
“This young student has a great talent. He should be given every help and encouragement. He has a great future.”
Rossetti could see that the old fellow was deeply moved. “Who is this fine young artist?” he asked. ”Your son?”
“No,” said the old man sadly. “It is me – 40 years ago. If only I had heard your praise then! For you see, I got discouraged and gave up – too soon.”