― Philip Slater
An average house in this neighborhood costs perhaps eight hundred dollars,
and to lay up this sum will take from ten to fifteen years of the laborer's life,
even if he is not encumbered with a family -- estimating the pecuniary value
of every man's labor at one dollar a day, for if some receive more, others
receive less; -- so that he must have spent more than half his life commonly
before his wigwam will be earned. If we suppose him to pay a rent instead,
this is but a doubtful choice of evils. Would the savage have been wise to
exchange his wigwam for a palace on these terms?
There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that
there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed
their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and
families simply and honestly enough the poetic faculty would be universally
developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas!
We do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other
birds have built, and cheer no traveler with their travelling and unmusical
notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?