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William Ellery Channing Quotes

A Transcendentalist poet and nephew of the Unitarian preacher William Ellery Channing.
(1818 - 1901)

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A beautiful literature springs from the depth and fulness of intellectual and moral life, from an energy of thought and feeling, to which nothing, as we believe, ministers so largely as enlightened religion.

A general loftiness of sentiment, independence of men, consciousness of good intentions, self-oblivion in great objects, clear views of futurity, thoughts of the blessed companionship of saints and angels, trust in God as the friend of truth and virtue - these are the states of mind in which I should live.

A man in earnest finds means, or if he cannot find, creates them.

A theology at war with the laws of physical nature would be a battle of no doubtful issue. The laws of our spiritual nature give still less chance of success to the system which would thwart or stay them.

All noble enthusiasms pass through a feverish stage, and grow wiser and more serene.

All that a man does outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought. To work effectually, he must think clearly; to act nobly, he must think nobly. Intellectual force is a principal element of the soul's life, and should be proposed by every man as the principal end of his being.

Be true to your own highest convictions. Intimations from our own souls of something more perfect than others teach, if faithfully followed, give us a consciousness of spiritual force and progress never experienced by the vulgar of high life, or low life, who march as they are drilled to the step of their times.

Books are the true levellers. - They give to all who faithful!; use them, the society, the spiritual presence of the greatest and best of our race.

Contempt of all outward things that come in competition with duty fulfils the ideal of human greatness. - It is sanctioned by conscience, that universal and eternal lawgiver, whose chief principle is, that everything must be yielded up for right.

Dancing is an amusement which has been discouraged in our country by many of the best people, and not without some reason. - It is associated in their mind with balls; and this is one of the worst forms of social pleasure. - The time consumed in preparing for a ball, the waste of thought upon it, the extravagance of dress, the late hours, the exhaustion of strength, the exposure of health, and the languor of the succeeding day - these and other evils connected with this amusement, are strong reasons for banishing it from the community. - But dancing ought not, therefore, to be proscribed. - On the contrary, balls should be discouraged for this among other reasons, that dancing, instead of being a rare pleasure, requiring elaborate preparation, may become an everyday amusement, and mix with our common intercourse. - This exercise is among the most healthful. - The body as well as the mind feels its gladdening influence. - No amusement seems more to have a foundation in our nature. - The animation of youth overflows spontaneously in harmonious movements. - The true idea of dancing entitles it to favor. - Its end is to realize perfect grace in motion; and who does not know that a sense of the graceful is one of the higher faculties of our nature.

Did any man, at his death, ever regret his conflicts with himself, his victories over appetite, his scorn of impure pleasure, or his sufferings for righteousness' sake?

Do anything innocent rather than give yourself up to reverie. I can speak on this point from experience; for at one period of my life, I was a dreamer and castle-builder. Visions of the dis­tant and future took the place of present duty and activity. I spent hours in reverie. The body suffered as much as the mind. The imagination threatened to inflame the passions, and I found, if I meant to be virtuous, I must dismiss my musings. The conflict was a hard one; but I resolved, prayed, resisted, sought refuge in occupation, and at length triumphed.

Even in evil, that dark cloud that hangs over creation, we discern rays of light and hope, and gradually come to see, in suffering and temptation, proofs and instruments of the sublimest purposes of wisdom and love.

Every day's experience shows how much more actively education goes on out of the schoolroom, than in it.

Every human being has a work to carry on within, duties to perform abroad, influences to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach.

Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no other is, and to do what no other can do.

Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.

Everything here, but the soul of man, is a passing shadow. - The only enduring substance is within. - When shall we awake to the sublime greatness, the perils, the accountableness, and the glorious destinies of the immortal soul?

Fiction is no longer a mere amusement; but transcendent genius, accommodating itself to the character of the age, has seized upon this province of literature, and turned fiction from a toy into a mighty engine.

Friends should not be chosen to flatter. - The quality we prize is that rectitude which will shrink from no truth. - Intimacies which increase vanity destroy friendship.

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