the penny called a sterling, however round, however unclipped, had lost the sterling weight, though it still retained the name. This debasement of the coin, once commenced, was repeated by successive sovereigns, till in the reign of Edward the Third, the pound was coined into twenty-five shillings, or three hundred pennies. The silver penny then weighed only 251 kernels of that wheat, of which the penny of 1266 weighed thirty-two. It is probable that, in reducing the weight of their coins, none of those sovereigns were aware that they were taking away the standard of all the weights and of all the vessels of measure, liquid and dry, throughout the kingdom : but so it was. It destroyed all the symmetry of the system. It has been further affected by the introduction of the troy and avoirdupois weights. pp. 29, 30. • The statute of 1496 inverts the order of the old statutes ; it is not a composition, but an analysis, of measures. It begins with the bushel, and descends to the kernel. The act of 1266, to make the weight, number, and measure, of corn, money, and wine, begins with the kernel, and ascends by steps to the weight of coin ; thence to the measure of wine, by the weight of corn ; thence to the measure of corn, by the weight of wine. The mere process of the composition establishes the proportional measures. The statute of 1496 destroys the proportion altogether. It says that every gallon shall contain eight pounds of wheat troy weight, and every pound twelve ounces of troy weight. It substitutes, therefore, instead of the weight of the gallon of wine, prescribed by the statute of 1266, the measure of the wine gallon for the eighth part of the bushel. The gallon, established by this act of 1496, is the gallon of two hundred and twenty-four cubic inches; the Guildhall gallon, which in 1688 was found by the commissioners of the excise to be of that capacity. It contains eight pounds troy weight of wheat, and, consequently, eight pounds avoirdupois of Bordeaux wine, of two hundred and fifty grains troy to the cubic inch. Its bushel would contain seventeen hundred and ninetytwo cubic inches; but if such a bushel ever was made, as the act required, it never was used as a standard. It must have been found to fall too far short of the old standards still existing; and the real standard bushels of Henry the Seventh, in the exchequer, instead of being made according to the process prescribed in his law of 1496, must have been copied from the older standard bushels then existing. • The gallon of two hundred and thirty-one inches,* was also a gallon made under the statute of 1496. But the wheat is of that kind, thirty-two grains of which equipoise the penny of the old This content of the wine gallon was made the subject of an express statnte under Queen Anne, and bas remained unchanged ever since. Reporty p. 43. pp. 31, 32. tower pound; while the wheat that forms the gallon of two hundred and twenty-four inches, is that of which thirty-two kernels weigh a penny weight troy. The weight of the corn in both gallons would be the same; but that, of which each kernel upon the average would be one sixteenth heavier than those of the other, would, by the combined proportion of gravity and numbers, occupy one thirty-second less of space. This is precisely the difference between the gallons of two hundred and twenty-four and two hundred and thirty-one solid inches. • The debasement of the coin had destroyed its original identity with the money weight. The substitution of troy weight, instead of the old easterling pound, for the composition of the gallon, destroyed the coincidence between the water gallon, derived from the ton, the eighth part of the cubic foot, and the wine gallon, containing eight money pounds of wheat. The wine gallon of two hundred and twenty-four, or two hundred and thirty-one eubic inches, no longer bore the same proportion to the cubic foot of water; one consequence of which was, that the hogshead of Bordeaux wine, which the law required to contain sixty-three gallons, no longer contained that number of English gallons; but, from that day to this, has contained from fifty-nine to sixty-one." * By the English system of weights and measures before the statute of 1496, the London quarter of a ton was the one measure, to which the bushel for corn, the gallon, deduced by measure, for ale, and the gallon, deduced by weight, for wine, were all referred. The hogshead was a vessel deduced from the cubing of linear measure, containing sixty-three gallons, and measuring eight cubic feet. The gallon thus formed, contained 219.43 cubic inches. This wine gallon, by another law, was to contain eight twelve ounce pounds of wheat. One such pound of wheat, therefore, occupied 27.45 cubic inches. The vessel of eight times 27.45 cubic inches filled with wine, the liquor would weigh 54,857.1 grains of troy weight: and the weight of eight such gallons of wine would be 438,856.8 grains troy. The specific gravity of wine being to that of wheat as 175 to 143, the bushel thus formed would be of 2148.5 cubic inches ; and its eighth part, or ale gallon, would be 268.5 inches. This is only two inches more than the standard Winchester bushel of the exchequer was found to contain, and two inches less than the bushel as prescribed by the act of 13 William III. ; a difference which a variation in the temperature of the atmosphere is of itself adequate to produce. It proves, that the Winchester bushel* has not without reason been preserv. * The Winchester bushel of 2145.6 cubic inches made in the reign of Henry the Seventh, is supposed with good reason to be copied from a standard which had been kept at Winchester when that place was the capital of the kingdom. Report, p. 65. ed as the favorite of all standards, in spite of all the changes, errors, and inconsistencies, of legislation. But it also proves, that the ale and corn gallon ought to have continued as they originally were, of 2684 inches, and the wine gallon of 219 • The troy and avoirdupois weights are in the proportions to each other of the specific gravity of wheat and of spring water. The twelve and fifteen ounce easterling pounds were intended to be proportional between the gravity of wheat and wine. But they were roughly settled proportions, estimating the weight of wheat to be to that of wine as four to five, and the gravity of wine and of water to be the same. Under the statute of 1496, the wine gallon was of 224 inches. If troy weight was to be introduced, a gallon of this capacity had the great advantage upon which the proportion of uniformity had originally been established. The gallon contained exactly eight pounds avoirdupois of wine. The pint of wine was a pound of wine. The corn gallon of 272 inches corresponding with it, had the same advantage. It was filled with eight pounds of corn: a pint of wheat was a pound of wheat; and the bushel of 2176 inches contained 64 pounds avoirdupois of that wheat, 32 kernels of which weighed one penny: weight troy. But the hogshead, being of eight cubic feet, could have contained only 614 gallons, and the ton would have been of 247. • The wine and ale gallons, now established by law, of 231 and 282 inches, are still in the same proportion to each other as the troy and avoirdupois weights : but neither of them is in any useful proportion to the bushel. The corn gallon only is in proportion to the bushel. Neither the wine por the corn gallons are in any useful proportion either to the weights or the coins. But the troy and avoirdupois weights are, with all the exactness that can be desired, standards for each other : and the cubic foot of spring water weighs exactly 1000 ounces avoirdupois, by which means the ton, of thirty-two cubic feet measure, is in weight exactly 2000 pounds avoirdupois. Such was originally the system of English weights and measures, and such is it now in its ruins. The substitution of cubic inches, to settle the dimensions of the gallons and bushels, which began with the last century, was a change of the test of their contents from gravity to extension. They had before been measured by number, weight, and measure: they are now measured by measure alone. This change has been of little use in promoting the principle of uniformity. As it respects the natural standard, it has only been a change from the weight of a kernel of wheat to the length of a kernel of barley: and although it has specified the particular standard bushels and gallons, selected among the variety, which the inconsistencies of former legislation had pro duced, it has very unnecessarily brought in a third gallon measure quite incompatible with the primitive system, and it has legalized two bushels of different capacity, so slightly different as to afford every facility to the fraudulent substitution of the one for the other; yet, in the measurement of quantities, resulting in a difference of between three and four per cent. • No further change in this portion of English legislation has yet been made. But the philosophers and legislators of Britain have never ceased to be occupied upon weights and measures, nor to be stimulated by the passion for uniformity. In speculating upon the theory, and in making experiments upon the existing standards of their weights and measures, they seem to have considered the principle of uniformity as exclusively applicable to identity, and to have overlooked or disregarded the uniformity of proportion. They found a great variety of standards differing from each other: and instead of searching for the causes of these varieties in the errors and mutability of the law, they ascribed them to the want of an immutable standard froin nature. They felt the convenience and the facility of decimal arithmetic for calculation; and they thought it susceptible of equal application to the divisions and multiplications of time, space, and matter. They despised the primitive standards assumed from the stature and proportions of the human body They rejected the secondary standards, taken from the productions of nature most essential to the subsistence of man; the articles for ascertaining the quantities of which, weights and measures were first found necessary. They tasked their ingenuity and their learning to find, in matter or motion, some immutable standard of linear measure, which might be assumed as the single universal standard from which all measures and all weights might be derived.' pp. 44–46. • After a succession of more than sixty years of inquiries and experiments, the British parliament have not yet acted in the form of law. After nearly forty of the same years of separate pursuit of the same object, uniformity, the congress of the United States have shown the same cautious deliberation : they have yet authorized no change of the existing law. That neither country has yet changed its law, is, perhaps, a fortunate circumstance, in reference to the principle of uniformity for both. If this report were authorized to speak to both nations, as it is required to speak to the legislature of one of them, on the subject in which the object of pursuit is the same for both, and the interest in it common to both, it would say—Is your object uniformity? Then before you change any part of your system, such as it is, compare the uniformity that you must lose, with the uniformity that you may gain by the alteration. At this hour, fifteen millions of Britons, who, in the next generation, may be twenty, and ten mil lions of Americans, who, in less time, will be as many, have the same legal system of weights and measures. Their mile, acre, yard, foot, and inch-their bushel of wheat, their gallon of beer, and their gallon of wine, their pound avoirdupois, and their pound troy, their cord of wood, and their ton of shipping, are the same. They are of the nations of the earth, the two, who have with each other the most of that intercourse which requires the constant use of weights and measures. Any change whatever in the system of the one, which should not be adopted by the other, would destroy all this existing uniformity. Precious, indeed, must be that uniformity, the mere promise of which, obtained by an alteration of the law, would more than compensate for the abandonment of this. pp. 46, 47. After this minute and critical examination of the English system of weights and measures, of which we are able to present but a small part to our readers, the author proceeds to give a detailed account of the celebrated modern French system. The English system, as we have already hinted, the system which, till lately, has prevailed in its more essential features throughout Europe, is the work of time, and the result of successive expedients resorted to as the occasion required. The new system of France is the fruit of an enlightened philosophy. It regards man in his social, improved state. It has respect, not only to his necessities, but to his comforts, his convenience, his improvement. It looks less indeed to his animal, than to his intellectual wants, less to the common occasions of life, than to the refinements of art and science, less to the every day concerns of individual man, than to the vast and multiplied intercourse of nations. It is one of those attempts to improve the condition of human kind, which, should it even be destined ultimately to fail, would, in its failure, deserve little less admiration than in its success. It is founded upon the following principles : 1. That all weights and measures should be reduced to one uni form standard of linear measure. 2. That this standard should be an aliquot part of the circum ference of the globe. 3. That the unit of linear measure, applied to matter, in its three modes of extension, length, breadth, and thickness, should be the standard of all measures of length, surface, and solidity. 4. That the cubic contents of the linear measure, in distilled water, at the temperature of its greatest contraction, should New Series, No. 9. 26 |