William Ellory Channing was a Transcendentalist poet, born in 1818 in Boston, Massachussets. Channing wrote about the importance of being true to yourself:
‘To live content with small means – to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich – to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart – to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions – never hurry; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious grow up through the uncommon. This is to be my symphony’
The Transcendentalists were a philosophical movement that developed during the late 1820s and ’30s. The movement was a protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality. One of the core beliefs was that people and nature were inherently benign, and that society and its institutions – especially organised religion and political parties – could ultimately corrupt the purity of the individual. People, they believed, are at their best when they are both intellectually self-reliant and independent. Be yourself, in other words.
He was born in Rhode Island and died, aged 83. He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord.