Fur, in commerce, signifies the skins of wild quadrupeds, which are dressed with alum, without depriving them of the hair; and which form a part of the robes of princes, magistrates, and others. The skins chiefly used are, those of the sable, er-mine, bear, beaver, hare, etc. Furs did not become an article of luxury in this country for many ages, and were imported principally from Italy, till, since the conquest of Canada and the more northern parts of America, we have obtained them from the Indians.
The furs at present used, are those brought from the remotest parts of North America by the Hudson's Bay Company, and from Russia. They are very valuable, especially the skins of ermines, black foxes, and sables, for which various prices have been paid, from 20 to 100 guineas. - Imported furs are, subject to heavy duties, which our limits will not permit us to enumerate.
With respect to its influence on health, we shall briefly remark, that fur deserves no commendation as an article of ordinary dress. Its alkaline and oily particles stimulate the skin, when in contact with it; thus partially increase perspiration, and lay the founda-tion of colds and catarrhs. A fur dress readily attracts infection, and acquires an intolerable smell. Hence whole nations that wear such garments, are exposed to obstinate cutaneous diseases, and, perhaps, to the propagation of the plague itself; which is said to be spread among the Turks, chiefly by their absurd cumbersome dresses lined with animal hair.