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The great cause of the fall of so many buildings in our City, is, that through a fraudulent abstraction of the lime, the rough work is laid without anything to hold it together. The older, too, the mortar is, the better it is in quality. In the ancient laws for the regulation of building, no contractor was to use mortar less than three months old; hence it is, that no cracks have disfigured the plaster coatings of their walls. These stuccos will never present a sufficiently bright surface, unless there have been three layers of sanded mortar, and two of marbled1 mortar upon that. In damp localities and places subject to exhalations from the sea, it is the best plan to substitute ground earthenware mortar for sanded mortar. In Greece, it is the practice, first to pound the lime and sand used for plastering, with wooden pestles in a large trough. The test by which it is known that marbled mortar has been properly blended, is its not adhering to the trowel; whereas, if it is only wanted for white-washing, the lime, after being well slaked with water, should stick like glue. For this last purpose, however, the lime should only be slaked in lumps.

At Elis, there is a Temple of Minerva, which was pargetted, they say, by Panænus, the brother of Phidias, with a mortar that was blended with milk and saffron:2 hence it is, that, even at the present day, when rubbed with spittle on the finger, it yields the smell and flavour of saffron.

1 Pounded marble mixed with quicklime.

2 "Lacte et croco" appears to be a preferable reading to "late e croco," as given by the Bamberg MS.

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