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our success was properly attributed chiefly to our fleet, the great support of which is the British Oak; so I hope you will henceforth look upon Oaks with due respect.
Har. Yes-it shall always be my favourite tree.
Tut. Had not Pope reason, when he said, in his Windsor Forest,
Let India boast her plants, nor envy we
These lines refer to its use as well for merchant ships as for men of war; and in fact all our ships are built either of native or foreign Oak.
Geo. Are the masts of ships made of Oak ?
Tut. No-it would be too heavy. Besides, it would not be easy to find trunks of Oak long and straight enough
for that purpose. They are made of various sorts of fir or pine, which grow very tall and taper.
Geo. Is Oak wood used for any thing beside ship-building ?
Tut. O yes—It is one of the principal woods of the carpenter, being employed wherever great strength and durability are required. It is used for door and window-frames, and the beams that are laid in walls to strengthen them. Floors and staircases are sometimes made with it; and in old houses in the country, which were built when Oak was more plentiful than at present, almost all the timber about them was Oak. It is also occasionally used for furniture, as tables, chairs, drawers, and bedsteads; though mahogany has now much taken its place for the better sort of goods, and the lighter and softer woods for the cheaper ; for the hardness of Oak renders it difficult and expensive to work. It is
still, however, the chief material used
Geo. I don't know.
Har. But why should that be made of such strong wood ?
Tut. There can be no other reason than that weak attachment we are apt to have for our bodies when we have done with them, which has made men in various countries desirous of keeping them as long as possible from decay. But I have not yet done with the uses of the Oak. Were either of you ever in a tanner's yard ?
Geo. We often go by one at the end of the town; but we dare not go in for fear of the great dog
Tut. But he is always chained in tlie day-time.
Har. Yes- but he barks so loud and looks so fierce, that we were afraid he would break his chain.
Tut. I doubt you are a couple of cowards. However, I suppose you came near enough to observe great stacks of bark in the yard.
Geo. O yes—there are several.
Tut. Those are Oak bark, and it is used in tanning the hides.
Har. What does it do to them ? • Tut. I'll tell you. Every part of the Oak abounds in a quality called astringency, or a binding power. The effect of this is to make more close and compact, or to shrivel up, all soft things, and thereby make them firmer and less liable to decay. The hide, then, when
taken from the anirnal, after being 20. steeped in lime and water to get off the for hair and grease, is put to soak in a liquor
made' by boiling Oak bark in water. This liquor is strongly astringent, and by stiffening the soft hide turns it into what we call leather. Other things are also tanned for the purpose of preserving them, as fishing-nets and boatsails. This use of the bark of the Oak makes it a very valuable commodity; and you may see people in the woods carefully stripping the Oaks when cut down, and piling up the bark in heaps.
Geo. I have seen such heaps of bark, but I thought they were only to burn.
Tut. No—they are much too valuable for that. Well, but I have another use of the Oak to mention, and that is in dying.
Har. Dying! I wonder what colour it can dye?
Tut. Oak saw-dust is a principal ingredient in dying fustians. By various mixtures and management it is made to give them all the different shades of