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"Had I known no greater riches than the common
earth and air;
Had my flatterers been the tempests, blowing from
the mountains bare;
Had my palaces been caverns; had my fountains
been the floods;
Had my gardens been the valleys and the barky,
black-limb'd woods;

"Had I seen no other pageants than the trooping
clouds at even
(Islands of the airy ocean, with their baseless tops
in Heaven),
Or the Autumn forests, burning into heavy red and
And great flamy breadths of yellow, ere the leaves
are shatter'd down;

"Had I never felt the aching and the fiery-seeming
Of the sceptre to the hand, and of the crown about
the brain,—
Happier would my days have glided, calmer would
my nights have flown!"
And the Caliph sigh'd full sorely, sitting on his
golden throne.

* Abderàma the Third, one of the Spanish- Arabian
caliphs, is said to have left behind him, after his death in
the year 961, when he had reigned fifty years, a paper
containing the substance of the complaint embodied in these


MOST people amuse themselves, at one time
or other of their lives, by fancying what sort
of house they would like to live in; what
sort of house they would build for themselves,
if they had opportunity for that very charming
amusement. But the last thing that
people seem to have any thought about is
the walls of their rooms. Yet, what is
there that we see so much of as the walls
of the rooms we live in? Even those who
have the blessing of a country residence
those even who dwell in one of the very few
remaining parsonages in the North of England,
where a spacious porch shelters the house-
door from draughts and driving rains, and
who resort to that porch, looking out upon a
meadow or a flower-garden,—even these have
to sit between four walls for at least three-
fourths of the year; and certainly always
to sleep within them. It is all very well
to revel in fine views from terrace or
window; but it is well, also, to consider what
our eyes shall rest upon in all times of sickness,
of bad weather, and when the sun is
below the horizon. It is a charming
speculation to a man about to build a house for his
own residence, to plan what it shall look like
externallyhow many rooms it shall have,
and how they shall be most conveniently
arranged; but the aspect of the four walls of
each room is worth mature consideration too.
In old times, people thought more of this
matter than we do, if we may judge by the
pains taken to decorate the interior of ancient
buildings; and those who attend to the signs
of civilisation assure us that there will be a
revival of such thought and painsand very
soon. Let us hope that this is true.

There could scarcely, at any former time,
have been a greater variety in the walls of
human abodes than there is now. High up
in the north there are the Esquimaux, huddled
together within a circular wall made of snow,
built up in slabs, inclining inwards, so as to
form a domea house of bee-hive shape. Our
English feelings would be put to a severe trial
in such a place. If the walls remain solid, it is
only because the temperature is below freezing
point. If we should begin to flatter ourselves
with any notion of warm feetof ceasing to
ache and shiver with coldat once the walls
begin to steam and run down, and the wretched
chill of thaw brings back despair. Much the
same may be said of such palaces of ice as we
read of in Russia. Translucent, glittering
with a bluish star-like light, there is still the
terrible alternative of frost or thaw within
doors; each alike excluding all hope of wholesome
warmth. Much pleasanter to our
feelings is the South Sea Island dwelling, where
the walls are nothing more than poles of
bamboo; through which the morning and
evening breeze may blow freely. To be sure,
if privacy is desired, something more is
requisite; for such an edifice seems to be
designed for a community of that kind of
stupid people, of whom the Americans say
that they " cannot see through a ladder."
However broad may be the eaves, however
prolonged the thatch of palm-leaves, the sun
must peep into the abode when he is low
in the sky; and there is no hour of the day
in that climate when the sun is a welcome
visitor within doors. To meet these cases,
there are mattings made of grass, which may
be hung up where wanted. These simple
hangings have a grace and charm about them
which no others, however gay and costly, can
boast: they are deliciously fragrant, especially
when moistened. As the night dews descend,
and when the breeze from the sea comes to
shake these primitive curtains, a sweet scent
charms the watcher, and spreads luxuriously
through the dreams of the sleeper.

There are houses even now in civilised
countries, which let the stars be seen through
their walls. We have ourselves been
entertained in a dwelling where the drawing-room
was full of couches, easy chairs, boots and
musical instruments; where the dining-room
was set out with an array of plate; but
where, being wakeful in the night, we enjoyed
the singular amusement of observing the stars
passing over chinks in the walls, shining full
into our eyes in the transit. How could this
be ? Why, the house was a log-house, on a
plantation in a hot region. Perhaps from
want of leisure, perhaps for the sake of
coolness, the logs had been left rough, and the
spaces between were not filled up with clay
and moss, as is the practice further north.
So the mosquitoes swarmed in and out, and
hummed all night long; not to our annoy-
ance, for we were safe within a "mosquito-
bar," or muslin curtain, completely enveloping
the bed; not to our annoyance, therefore,