Attracted by the photos illustrating Thomas Pakenham's "A farewell to oaks?" (Review, 8 December), I soon felt uneasy over the sentiments expressed. This arose not from the imagined threat to the "English oak" by upstart European acorns but from the idea that oaks grown in English soil are physically superior, while their size and strength endow them with a moral excellence that precludes European specimens. Such virtues, according to Pakenham, were identified by John Bull 200 years ago in Englishman and English oak alike. But they were also found at that time in the heart of Europe. The early German Romantics, in a fragmented country, searched for evidence of the national soul. They found it in natural forms and in particular in the oak tree.
The English should welcome acorns from Europe; they may inject us with new sap.
Susan D Veitch