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which the roofs of Persian cottages are generally made.
In the first place, a row of branches of trees is laid across from wall to wall, over these is placed a layer of smaller branches or twigs, and over this again, there is a layer of reeds or perhaps rushes; then the whole is covered over with a coating of earth mixed up with water and chopped straw, which is beaten down flat and rolled with heavy wooden rollers. This is just such a simple sort of roof as Robinson Crusoe might have made to his mansion. It is very light, and substantial enough for a country where much rain does not fall. When it does rain, the roller is occasionally employed to keep the mud coating firm. I used to be amused after a shower, to see a great number of people dragging rollers about on the roofs of their cottages. As the ceiling is not plastered, the unhewn and often crooked branches, which form the basis of the roof, and even the smaller branches and reeds, are seen from within the cottage, and are generally blackened with smoke. Now I think I have completed the description of a Persian village, and its cottages.
H. Sir, you have not said a word about the furniture.
U. O. There is scarcely a word to say about it; for the Persian peasant has hardly any thing that we should call furniture in his cottage. He sits upon the floor and eats from the floor, and has therefore no need of chairs, stools or tables.
H. But they do not sit upon the bare floor, I suppose ?
U. O. No. This reminds me that I have forgotten to tell you that there are scarcely any planked floors in Persia. The floors of the cottages are always of mud, and frequently not a whit more level than the open ground, and quite as rough. They have, however, mats and pieces of carpets to lay in the places where they usually sit; and as these pieces are sometimes very good, they seem to make a curious contrast to the rudeness of the uncovered parts of the mud floor. Cooking utensils, dishes, jars, and boxes, which we should hardly consider as articles of furniture, are the principal articles in a Persian cottage. There is nothing that is ornamental, and little that is neat. But we are to consider that the mode of living in Persia
renders unnecessary innumerable articles which we cannot do without; and hence not only the hovels of the poor, but the mansions of the great are destitute of almost any kind of furniture except carpets.
Uncle Oliver. As I have particularly described to you the habitations of the people who live in the villages, I will now describe to you the better sort of houses in the towns. I do this, because I consider that our knowledge of a people is defective unless we have a clear notion of their dwellings; and I the rather do this, as I am not acquainted with any book that so fully describes them as I am prepared to do. Before I describe the houses, it will be as well to give you some account of the materials with which they are made.
Henry. Are they, then, so different from the materials of our own houses ?
U. O. Very different, as you will presently find. Stone might easily be obtained almost every where in Persia ; but it is very little employed in buildings; and I scarcely recollect to have seen one modern building of stone. Timber also is very sparingly used, owing I suppose to the scarcity of trees.
H. But I recollect that trees are not scarce every where in Persia.
U. O. Timber trees are not very plentiful in any old country : but even so; however plentiful timber might be in some parts of Persia, the use of it could not become general, because there are no rivers, canals, roads or carriages to convey timber from places where it is plentiful to other places, at any distance, where it is not. The want of such means of conveyance prevents one part of a country from sharing in many of the advantages of another part. So in this case, if heavy pieces of timber could at all be conveyed a hundred miles or so in Persia, it could only be with so much labour and expense, that it would be much cheaper even to have timber brought by sea from India.
Frank. How strange!
U. O. It is not very strange. Consider: coal, a heavy article, is very plentiful in the north of England, and it might easily enough be carried, even over roads as bad as those of Persia, on the backs of horses and mules : yet if it were so carried, the large number of animals which would be necessary, and the expense of their keep and the wages of the numerous men who