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MEMOIR OF WALTER VENNING, ESQ.
Compiled from his Private and Family Papers.
Man has been described as an operative principles of evangelical imitative animal, and certainly the piety, and like him attached to the examples which he has inost copied, simple discipline of congregational afford melancholy evidence of the nonconformity. deyradation of his nature, and the Walter Venning was born at general corruption of his powers. Totness, Deyon, on the 15th of The Nimrods and Alexanders of November, 1781, of a family, the world, ambitious, lewd, and which in several successive genesanguinary as they were, have be- rations had maintained, amidst come models, which are celebrated much and varied opposition, a with poetic enthusiasm, studied steady adherence to the cause of with intense interest, and imitated the Redeemer. His father was a with heroic ardour, while those man eminently devoted to God, benevolent individuals, who, like and gave a decided proof of his their divine Master, have conse attachment to the truth by uniting crated their days to the alleviation with a few other friends in the erec, of human misery, are gazed upon tion of the Independent chapel in as strange unearthly beings, whose Totness, * when the Socinian'leprosy self-denial rather affords a theme appeared within the walls of the old for high wrought eulogium than an Presbyterian Meeting House there. example for personal imitation. In his parental relation he was pea
The history of the benevolent culiarly exemplary: a respectable HOWARD will illustrate these re- minister, himself a pattern of domarks. His ministry of mercy mestic consistency, has often recould not be concealed-painters marked, that he never knew an and poets, sculptors and senators instance in which filial reverence invited the sister arts to celebrate and love were more happily sethroughout Europe and the world, cured by wise discipline, than in the achievements of his philan- the numerous family of Mr. Venthropy. But who imbibed his ning. The subject of this memoir spirit, or copied his splendid ex- was so deeply sensible of its adample?-five and twenty winters vantages, that he would frequently rolled over his solitary grave be- say, “ I can never praise God fore a man appeared to assume the sufficiently for a religious educamantle of the ascended saint, tion-it restrained me from vice, and by his generous ardour in the and kept me from ruin." service of the miserable, to entitle Engaged himself in commercial himself to the honourable appella- relations, his father devoted Waltion of the second Howard—and that
. * Of this place the Rev. William Chapman was- WALTER VENNING- lin, now of Bishop Stortford, was the animated like his predecessor by first minister.
NEW SERIES, No. 2. .
ter to similar pürsuits, and before the Nevá to Cronstadt, the centre he had attained his sixteenth year, of the river not being completely he removed from under his pater- frozen, but without success, he nal roof for London, where he re- with his natural ardour, quickened mained with his elder brother, Mr. by the desire of reaching England Wm. Venning, for two years, and that winter, returned to Oraniomwas then called to leave his native boon, and there hired two persons country for St. Petersburg, to join to accompany him in an attempt his brother, Mr. John Venning, to cross the gulf on the ice, who has å mercantile establish- though it was ten versts, or near ment in that city.
seven English miles direct to CronOn his departure, a minister stadt. In commencing this enteralready referred to, presented him prize, they had first to traverse a with a copy of Doddridge's Rise pathless wood, for about two miles and Progress, &c. and united his before they reached the sea shore. admonitions and prayers with those On their arrival, they found the of Mr. Vi's family for his entire ice was scarcely strong enough to preservation. On his arrival at St. bear their weight. Hoping, how. Petersburg he felt that disgust, ever, that it would increase in thickwhich most persons religiously ness, as they advanced from the educated, experience on their first shore, they proceeded, trying every visit to the metropolitan cities of step with poles, which often penethe European continent; but alas! trated through the slightly formed he soon became familiar with the ice, and betrayed how near they sceneà scene which his asso- were to a frozen tomb. As they ciates justified and applauded, and approached the current of the to the unhallowed fascinations of Neva, they found the water scarcewhich he at length yielded. ly congealed—to advance in that
His own account justifies this line was impossible to return was statement. « At first I regarded perilous, and therefore they rewith abhorrence the public profa- solved tớ prosecute their course nation of the Sabbath, which I had by a circuit higher up the gulf. been taught to keep holy, but the Here they found their path more bewitching pleasures of dissipation firm, yet so slippery that they were
—the shafts of ridicule—and the thrown down every few yards of depravity of my own heart—all their progress, which rendered their ünited to remove me from the situation more hazardous, às every paths of virtue, and rob me of that fall, by increasing their weight, comfort and serenity of mind, endangered the breakage of the which religion alone can afford - ice, which would at once have closet devotion, in course, became plunged them into irretrievable des irksome, and was then neglected, strúction. and that invaluable book, the Bi- But the God of his fathers, ble, although in my possession, re- whom alas, he had forgotten, still mained closed for a series of years.” watched over him, and though cold.
In October 1802, he proposed bruised and exhausted, yet he arto visit his native country, and left rived at Cronstadt before night fall, St. Petersburg for Oraniomboon, in perfect safety to the astonishto cross from thence to Cronstadt, ment of his friends who heard of but found on his arrival, that the his adventure. From thence he gulf was half frozen, and that obtained a passage in a small and the post boat had not crossed for crazy vessel down the Baltic, several days. After going back amidst all the terrors of a northern to St. Petersburg, with the hope winter, and at length arrived in of obtaining a boat to pass down safety at his native shores.
It is much to be regretted, that down from that world of bliss upon amongst his papers there is no their friends on earth, to witness fragment relating to this visit made all their actions, then what exquiso interesting to him, as the last site pleasure must it give our affeche ever paid to his venerable father, tionate father, now in the very who soon after his return to St. bosom of happiness, to view his Petersburg, was gathered to his children living in unity and lovereward.
to see them treading in his steps The intelligence of this mournful towards that home to which they event was communicated to him by are all hastening.” his sisters and brother in letters, The peace of Tilsit in 1807, which minutely described all the which united the Emperors of circumstances connected with the France and Russia, in a common peaceful departure of this vener- alliance against Great Britain, able saint. They told him of the necessarily produced an embargo blessed testimony he gave to the on all British vessels in the ports worth of the Saviour, and how of Russia, with an order for the the moment before he closed his confiscation of all British property. eyes in death, he exclaimed, Commercial relations with England “ There is light”—the radiance of being thus suspended, Mr. Venimmortality breaking in upon his ning was anxious to return home, soul.
and applied for his passport, which, These particulars deeply affected after several months he obtained, the susceptible heart of Mr. V., through the powerful influence of and under the impressions they some of his Russian friends. produced, he wrote in the follow- His fond expectation of leaving strain to his sisters—" You ing the country was considerably can only judge of my sorrow and abated by an unfounded rumour, grief by your own. But as Chris. that the vessel which Lord Roystians, we should rather rejoice ton had purchased to convey himthan mourn at the departure of our self and friends, among whom he dear parent from this world to a hoped to be included, had sailed better.
from Liebau to Sweden. This, in “ Everlasting thanks are due to course, prevented his attempt to that most merciful Being, whose join the vessel, which in fact he kindness was so distinguished in might still have done, and though the last moments of our dear fa- it produced in his mind much rether, who, as I learn, comforted gret, yet the disappointment was those who came to comfort him. wisely permitted by that gracious May our lives be like his, that our Providence which watched over exit from this transitory state may him for good. That vessel sailed, be attended with as much honour but after encountering tempestuous to our God as his. To a good weather for five days, it was man to die, is to be happy: there- wrecked on the bar of Memel, fore let us console ourselves, and when Lord Royston and twelve endeavour to imitate his example, other passengers perished. which will be the best testimony His Excellency Baron Stedingk, of our attachment to him. Let us the Swedish Ambassador, was for his sake, unite our hearts toge- about to leave St. Petersburg for ther in family love and affection, Revel, there to await the arrival and as he loved us, let us love one of the frigate which was to conanother; and if it be true, which I vey him home. By extraordinary am very willing to believe, that influence, Mr. Ý. prevailed with the disembodied spirits of just men his Excellency to include him in made perfect, are permitted to look his suite, a privilege which the