Reverting to natural materials, there remains to be mentioned that great class, timber. In new countries the engineer is commonly glad to avail himself of this material to an extent which among us is unknown. For here, day by day, owing to the ready adaptability of metals to the uses of the engineer, the employment of wood is decreasing. Far, indeed, are we from the practice of not more than a hundred years ago, when it was not thought improper to make the shell of a steam engine boiler of wooden staves. The engineer of to-day, in a country like England, refrains from using wood. He cannot cast it into form, he cannot weld it. Glue (even if marine) would hardly be looked upon as an efficient substitute for a sound weld; and the fact is, that it is practically impossible to lay hold of timber when employed for tensile purposes so as to obtain anything approaching to the full tensile strength. If it be desired to utilize metals for such a purpose, they can be swollen out into appropriate "eyes" to receive the needed connection; but this cannot be done with wood, for the only way of making an enlarged eye in wood is by taking a piece that is big enough to form the eye, and then cutting away the superfluous portion of the body.

Moreover, when too much exposed to the weather, and when too much covered up, wood has an evil habit of rotting, compared with the rapidity of which mode of decay the oxidizing of metals is unimportant. Further, one's daily experience of the way in which a housemaid prepares a fire for lighting is suggestive of the undesirability of the introduction of resinous sticks of timber, even although they may be large sticks, into our buildings. Many attempts, as we know, have been made to render timber proof against these two great defects of rapid decay and of ready combustibility, and, as it appears to me, it is in these directions alone one can look for progress in connection with timber. With respect to the first, it was only at the last meeting of the Institution we presented a Telford medal and a Telford premium to Mr. S. B. Boulton for his paper "On the Antiseptic Treatment of Timber," to which I desire to refer all those who seek information on this point. With respect to the preservation from fire of inflammable building materials, the processes, more or less successful, that have been tried are so numerous that I cannot even pretend to enumerate them.

I will, however, just mention one, the asbestos paint, because it is used to coat the wooden structures of the Inventions Exhibition. To the employment of this, I think, it is not too much to say those buildings owed their escape, in last year's very dry summer, from being consumed by a fire that broke out in an exhibitor's stand, destroying every object on that stand, but happily not setting the painted woodwork on fire, although it was charred below the surface. I do not pretend to say that a surface application can enable wood to resist the effects of a continued exposure to fire, but it does appear that it can prevent its ready ignition.

(To be continued.)

[1] Address of Sir Frederick Joseph Bramwell, F.R.S., on his election as president of the Institution of Civil Engineers. January 13, 1885.

[2] Minutes of Proceedings Inst. C. E., vol. xlv., p. 107.