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gardens, and as a cement, in building bridges. As a lining for basins of water, it lasts a long time, unless injured by violence or frost.
F. But how can the frost spoil it ?
U. O. The water may find its way, perhaps, between the masonry and the cement, or into some holes or crannies, and when it freezes hard, the force of the ice makes the cement burst with a loud report. There is nothing wonderful in this; frost may, in the same manner, rend rocks and trees asunder.
H. But have they no plan to prevent it?
U. O. Yes : on the approach of winter, they take out the water, so that all may be perfectly dry before the frost comes; and then they fill up the basin with leaves of trees, and cover the whole with mats. Thus they are able to preserve the cement.
H. But then they lose the benefit of the water in winter.
0. O. What is the benefit of frozen water? And, indeed, if it remained unfrozen, it would be of little benefit in cold weather. People have fountains and basins of water to cool the air, and to make things look cool in hot weather; but when the weather is cold, they
shudder at water, and like better to have a fire to warm the air, and to make things look warm. However, I should mention, that although fishponds and basins of fountains are commonly lined with this stuff, yet, in the houses and gardens of great people, they are lined with freestone, and edged with white marble.
I ought to have mentioned, that some plasterers mingle the fine hair of kids with this composition; and I have even heard of their mixing with it large quantities of the fine down of a plant, which is so light, that the faintest breeze will carry it away.
I have yet a few words to say about the plasters with which the Persians cover the walls of their rooms. The finest, is nearly the same article which we call plaster of Paris, which hardens almost immediately, and is the same that Italians make their images with. The Persians call it " white earth," and there is plenty of it in the country; but of course it is dearer than lime, which is used by some who cannot afford the plaster. Others, who also cannot afford the pure plaster, mix with it a cinnamoncoloured earth, which they find by the rivers. The mixture is of a greyish colour when first used, but whitens as it dries, and in the end looks nearly as well as the pure plaster, and is at the same time cheaper, and wears quite as well.
The common people plaster their rooms merely with mud, worked up with chopped straw, and the neatness with which it is laid upon the walls, sometimes makes amends for the mean and dingy appearance it gives to the apartments.
Now that we have considered the materials with which the Persians make their buildings, we had better stop for the present; and when we meet here again, we shall be able to see what sort of buildings they make with such materials.
Uncle Oliver. Before I begin to describe more particularly than I have done the houses of the Persians, I wish to explain one thing which I found of great use to myself while I was travelling, and which you will also find useful in listening to me, and in asking me questions. When I was among any people and saw that their habitations, their food, their dress, and their ways of life were very different from those of my own country, I did not at once say that they were wrong, or ignorant, or the worse off, on account of that difference; but I thought that there might be something in the climate, productions, or other circumstances of the country, calculated to make their own practices more suitable and convenient than our own would be in the same country. So, although I did often wonder, and sometimes laughed at what I saw, I always made it a point to inquire what were the reasons that made them act in the way they did; rather than in other ways which we think better. I found this course very instructive to me; because I not only then found reason for many things which would else have appeared unreasonable, but I was able to judge more justly of the people and their country than I could otherwise have done.—Is this clear to
Henry. Quite clear, Sir.
U. O. Well, then : I shall be glad if you proceed in the same way as this. Consider me as one leading you through the country, and up and down the streets, and into the houses; and when you see or hear any thing for which you can find no reason, do not be content to wonder at it, and to say, “How strange that is !" What a funny people these Persians are ! - but ask me what reason there is for it, and then I will tell you if I can; and if I can't, I will tell you why I cannot.
Persians who have been in England, and have not paid sufficient attention to the numbers and names upon our doors, complain how difficult it is to find any particular house, because all