Having been called, in the very recent past, a “wattle-and-daub conservative” (and really, gentle reader, I prefer “reactionary” for my noun), I was put to the pain of responding.

My first reply was, naturally, “Yes, if we understand the framing is of oak, and the daub capillaried by the finest horse hair.”

My second was to explain the history of wattle-and-daub.

Properly mixed, by a correct recipe (including the purest bullock dung available), and adeptly applied to a basketry of willow or acacia, itself set into grooves in the wood, and then patiently cured, this is among the finest and most durable building materials. And when the exposed oak is allowed to breathe (not tarred, which seals in moisture), the well-maintained timber-frame building will outlast as many generations as one can supply with responsible descendants.

Now, here is the interesting thing, which I have learnt as I have grown.

In youth, I was told that, like everything else in our built environment, wattle-and-daub had “evolved” from earlier and more primitive practices, starting for instance from the sun-dried mud hut, and progressing through the admixture of hay, &c. And that it had in turn “evolved” into our modern building materials and techniques.

That was a lie.

Consult an archaeologist if you do not believe me, gentle reader. Across Eurasia, and beyond, the spade-wielders have discovered wattle-and-daub remains of extraordinary antiquity: decisively pre-dating the alternatives. It becomes obvious that the simpler frame fillings were selected in the absence of better materials; or that the builders were trying to cut corners.

As anything, poorly composed wattle-and-daub will soon disintegrate. Unlike the reactionary, who seeks excellence in every kind, the progressive mind fixates upon what is badly done, and unworthy, hoping finally to attribute mistakes to God. The instinct of Darwinism — the cosmological creed of the Enemy — is to see everything as a lesson in progress, from the more primitive to the more sophisticated creature, or method. He sneers at wattle-and-daub; he praises e.g. industrial drywall.

My father and I discussed this matter at length during my childhood. He was an industrial designer who, more honest than his contemporaries, could be made to admit that the “economic,” mass-produced item was never as good as the product it replaced. It was just quicker and cheaper to manufacture, once economies of scale had been conceded.

Yet even in mass production there is better and worse — in materials and design and habits of work. Papa preferred the better (and would decline much-needed contracts in the moment he discerned that his patron lacked moral dignity). In the end we agreed that even the best-made things in our environment were, almost invariably, the best of a botch.

The “almost” is an acknowledgement that one cannot make jet aeroplanes of wattle-and-daub. Side-stepping the question whether one should ever make them, I note this exception proves the rule. For those who make jet aeroplanes are compelled, from fear of ruinous lawsuits, to observe extremely high standards of craftsmanship and precision, whatever their machines. The human mind and hand is conscientiously involved at every stage.

But that is to distract us from wattle-and-daub, or rather the moral of this modest post.

There are right ways of doing things, and wrong ways of doing things, and the proponents of the wrong ways are anathema. Those who preach cut corners — and consistently prefer the new to the old only because it is newer — must be condemned.