Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), "Sunday," A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
He will not idly dance at his work who has wood to
cut and cord before nightfall in the short days of winter; but
every stroke will be husbanded, and ring soberly through the
wood; and so will the strokes of that scholar's pen, which at
evening record the story of the day, ring soberly, yet cheerily, on
the ear of the reader, long after the echoes of his axe have died
away. The scholar may be sure that he writes the tougher truth
for the calluses on his palms. They give firmness to the sentence.
Indeed, the mind never makes a great and successful effort,
without a corresponding energy of the body. We are often struck
by the force and precision of style to which hardworking men,
unpractised in writing, easily attain when required to make the
effort. As if plainness, and vigor, and sincerity, the ornaments of
style, were better learned on the farm and in the workshop, than
in the schools. The sentences written by such rude hands are
nervous and tough, like hardened thongs, the sinews of the deer,
or the roots of the pine.
A sentence should read as if its author, had
he held a plough instead of a pen, could have drawn a furrow
deep and straight to the end.