Bertie Greatheed

Anonymous, in "Letter from England" Port Folio [Philadelphia] S3 3 (May 1814) 475-76.

The Avon at this spot is a deep sluggish stream, bordered on one side by fertile meadows, and on the other by steep banks. On one of the most abrupt of these, and almost on the verge of the precipice, stands the spacious and elegant mansion of Mr. Greathead. My visit to this romantic and delightful spot, was less to view its antiquities, or to inquire into the circumstances connected with the life of Guy, than to see the paintings of Mr. Greathead's son, who was represented to me as having attained a perfection in the art which had given him a high celebrity, and rendered his death a national calamity. He died a few years since in Italy, In the twenty-third year of his age. Mr. Greathead was said to be one of the most accomplished men in Europe, uniting all the higher qualities of the gentleman, with the acquirements of the scholar. He had been the constant companion of his son in his travels, embracing every opportunity which Europe could furnish of improving his talents, and directing his taste to proper subjects; when death, that relentless tyrant, who mows down all without distinction, and summons with arbitrary will, whomsoever he pleases, cut short the brilliant career of this extraordinary genius, and blasted forever the flattering hopes of his parents and friends. His paintings have passed the ordeal of criticism by the first masters, and have been equally admired for their design and execution. His portraits are said to be inimitable likenesses; and he finished one of himself, not inferior to any other.

I recognized among many others, the strongly marked and expressive countenance of Bonaparte, which he had taken from the original in Paris.

For a copy of an historical piece taken from one in the Louvre, he had been offered five hundred guineas.

In a country where genius is so much fostered, and the arts so liberally rewarded, what a loss is such a man! If such were the productions of so juvenile an artist, what was not to have been expected from his pencil, at maturer years, when his taste had been improved, his judgment strengthened, and his mind more richly and amply stored?

The valuable library of Mr. Greathead occupies a distinct and spacious apartment: it is filled with several thousand volumes, and a number of natural and artificial curiosities. While some other visitors were strolling through the apartments, I remained in the library. The furniture is suited to the mansion, and evinces the fine taste of the proprietor.

In the entrance hail my attention was arrested by a number of statues in plaster, but especially by one of the celebrated Venus de Medici; a few marble busts of exquisite sculpture, also attracted and demanded my notice.

The grounds attached to this princely abode, are disposed in an appropriate stile. After spending a few hours at this sequestered, beautiful, and highly cultivated spot, the abode of science and of taste, and in former days, the retreat and burial place of a renowned champion; I returned to Warwick most highly gratified.

Savannah, Geo. March, 1814.