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had the mina and the libra, the nummulary pound of twelve ounces, and the commercial pound of sixteen. And the Greeks, as well as the Romans, had a weight for small and precious, and a weight for bulky and cheap commodities. The Greeks denominated them by significant terms, the weight for measure, and the weight for money. Whether the ounce, of which these pounds were composed, was the same, is a subject of much controversy, but of little importance to decide. At the period of the lower empire, these two weights were known by the name of the eastern and western pound. And the denomination of the former was the same in England : it was the easterling pound, and the origin of the term sterling in the English language: it was the pound of the eastern nations, by which Europe was overrun in the decline of the Roman Empire. The avoirdupois pound had the same origin: for it came through the Romans from the Greeks, and through them, in all probability, from Egypt. Of this there is internal evidence in the weights themselves, and in the remarkable coincidence between the cubic foot and the thousand ounces avoirdupois, and between the ounce avoirdupois and the Jewish silver shekel. The Greek foot was, within a fraction of less than the hundredth part of an inch, the same with that of England. The ounce avoirdupois is the same with the Roman and Attic ounce, and the exact double of the Jewish shekel. The Silian plebiscitum, or ordinance of the Roman people, of the year 509, two hundred and fifty years before the Christian era, declares, that a quadrantal of wine shall be eighty pounds, a congius of wine ten pounds; that six sextarii make a congius of wine, forty-eight sextarii a quadrantal of wine; that the sextarius of liquid and dry measures should be the same; and that sixteen pounds make the modius. The congius was the Roman gallon, and the modius the Roman peck. The quadrantal was the same as the amphora, and was formed from the cubic foot of water, so that eighty pounds of wine were equal to a cubic foot of water.
The same combinations are traced with equal certainty to the Greeks and Egyptians: and, if the shekel of Abraham was the same as that of his descendants, the avoirdupois ounce may, like the cubit, have originated before the flood.
This diversity is, therefore, founded in the nature of things; and may be stated by the following rule: that whatever is sold by weight, in measure must have a measure for itself, which will serve for no other article, of different specific gravity; and as wheat and wine are both articles of that description, as their specific gravities are very materially different, although they are very suitable to be weighed by the same weight, they yet require different measures, to place them in equipoise with that weight. The difference of specific gravity between the vinous and watery fluids is so slight, that neither in the Greek, the Roman, nor the English system, was there any account taken of it. But with regard to oil, it appears that the Greeks had a separate measure adapted to its specific gravity, which they considered as being in proportion to that of wine or water as nine to ten. Notwithstanding, therefore, the first appearance of superior uniformity and simplicity, presented by the single unit of weights, and single measure of capacity in the new system of France, it appears to be more conformable to the order of nature, and more subservient to the purposes of man, that there should be two scales of weight and two measures of capacity, graduated upon the respective specific gravities of wheat and wine, than with a single weight and a single measure, to be destitute of any indication of weight in the measure.
This conclusion has been confirmed by a very striking fact, which has occurred in France under the new system. By an ordinance of police, approved on the 6th of December, 1808, by the Minister of the Interior, it is prescribed that the sale of oil in Paris by retail shall be by weight, in measures, containing five hectogrammes, one double hectogramme, one hectogramme, &c. And these measures, being cylinders of tin, are stamped with initial letters, indicating that one is for sweet oil, and the other for lamp oil. So that here are two new measures of capacity altogether incongruous to the new system, each differing in cubic dimensions from the other, though to measure the single article of oil, and both differing from the litre. They attach themselves indeed to the new system by weight, but abandon entirely its pretensions to unity of measure; and fall at once into the principle of the old system, of adapting the measure to the weight.
By the usages of modern times, the weight of wine is of little or no consideration. Its first admeasurement is in casks, of different dimensions in different places, and which cannot be made uniform, unless by a system of metrology common to many nations. It is sold wholesale by the cask or hogshead, the contents of which are ascertained by mechanical gauging instruments, adapted to the smaller mcasures of capacity of the country where it is to be consumed. These instruments give the solid contents of the vessel, and the number of the standard measures of the country which it contains. The gauging rods used in England and the United States give the contents in cubic inches and wine gallons. As a test of the quantity of wine contained in the cask, this mode of admeasurement is less certain and effectual than weight, especially if the cask is not full; but, being more convenient and easy of application, and specially adapted to the legal measure of the gallon in cubic inches, it has superseded altogether the use of weights as proofs of the quantity of wine. By retail, the article is sold either in the gallon measures fixed by law at 231 cubic inches, or in bottles of no definite measure, but containing an approximation to a quart or pint.
Our system of weights and measures, by the substitution of the wine gallon of 231 for that of 224 cubic inches, has lost the advantage which it originally possessed of testing the accuracy of a wine measure by its weight. The average specific gravity of wine is of 250 grains troy weight to a cubic inch : four inches therefore make a thousand grains, and twenty-eight inches a pint weighing one pound avoirdupois. These coincidences would be of great utility and con
venience, and would be rendered still more so by another, which is, that this number of 224 inches is the exact decimal part of 2240, the number of pounds avoirdupois that go to a ton. As it now exists, therefore, the measure of the gallon of wine does not show its weight; and the unity of the measure of capacity in the French system, is an advantage not compensated by any benefit derived from the different dimensions of our corn and wine gallons.
Our country is not as yet a land of vineyards. We have no 6 flowery dales of Sibma, clad with vines.” Wine is an article of importation; an article of luxury, in a great measare confined to the consumption of the rich. Its distribution in measure, and the exactness of the measure by which it is distributed, is not an incident which every day comes home to the interests and necessities of every individual. We have less reason for regretting, therefore, the loss of a measure which would prove its integrity by its weight; and more reason for preferring the uniformity of singleness in the French system of capacious measures, to the uniformity of proportion which belonged originally to the English. That proportion itself we have lost by the establishment of a wine gallon of 231, and a corn bushel of 2150 cabic inches : and although it exists in the troy and avoirdupois weights, and in the wine and beer gallons, it exists to none of the useful purposes for which it was originally intended, and to which in former days it was turned.
The consumption of wine in modern times is exceedingly diminished, not only by the substitution of beer, and of spirits distilled from grain in the countries where the vine is not cultivated, but by the use, now become universal, of decoctions from aromatic herbs and berries. Tea and coffee are potations unknown to the European world until within these two centuries : and they have probably diminished by one-half the consumption of wine throughout the world.
The measures, by which solid and liquid substances are sold, are not, and cannot conveniently be the same. The form and the substance of the vessels in which they are kept are altogether different. Grain is usually kept in bags, until ground into meal. Liquids, in large quantities, are kept in wooden vessels of peculiar construction, founded upon the properties of fluids and the laws of hydrostatics : in small quantities, they are kept in vessels of glass, adapted by their form to the facility of pouring them off without loss. Such vessels are utterly unsuitable for containing grain, or any other solid substance. The forms, both of casks and of bottles, are among the most difficult forms into which cubical extension can be moulded for ascertaining quantity by linear measure. They not only contain the problem, hitherto unsolvable to man, of squaring the circle; but some of the most recondite mysteries of the conic sections. They are neither cylinders, nor ellipses, nor cones, nor spheres; but a combination of all these forms. Grain may be measured by a cylindrical or a cubical vessel, at pleasure. The cylindrical form is best adapted to convenience; and by the known proportion of the diameter to the circle, its solid contents in linear measure may be ascertained witi sufficient accuracy and little difficulty. Grain cannot be kept in vessels with large bodies, long necks, and narrow mouths. Liquids can be well kept for preservation in no other. Grain is a swiftly perishable substance, which must generally be consumed within a year from its growth : wines and spirituous liquors in general may be kept many years, and the vessels in which they are kept must be of forms and substances calculated to guard against loss by evaporation, fermentation, or transudation. So different indeed are all the properties of grain and of all liquids, that, instead of requiring the same measure to indicate their qualities, the call of nature is for different vessels, of different substances, and in different forms. The most certain and convenient test for the accuracy of dry measures is linear measure; that of liquids is weight. The sextarius of the Roman system, and the litre of the French, were measures common both to wet and dry substances. But in applying it, the Romans formed a liquid measure of ten pounds weight, and a dry measure of sixteen.
The French litre combines both the tests of linear measure and of weight for the single article of distilled water, at a certain temperature of the atmosphere: but it is not the test of weight for any thing else. The hectolitre of wine or of corn is no indication of the weight of either. The sale of wheat, from the nature of the article, must usually be in large quantity, seldom less than a bushel. The unit of the measure declared in Magna Charta is the quarter of a ton, or eight bushels. Wine is an article the sale of which is as frequent in retail as by wholesale. The accuracy of its admeasurement in small quantities is important. In this respect it has an analogy to the precious metals. In fine, the purchase and sale of liquid and dry substances is, by the constitution of human society, not at the same times, or places, nor by the same persons. Their difference in the origin is that of the vineyard and the cornfield. They pass thence respectively to the wine press and the flour mill; thence to the vintner and the flour merchant, in vessels already adapted to their respective conditions; the corn having undergone a transformation requiring a different measure from that of wheat. Trace them through all their meanderings in the circulation of civil society, till they come to their common ultimate use for the subsistence of man; it will never be found that the same measures are necessary for, or suitable to, them. The wheat comes in the shape of meal or of bread, to be measured by weight; and the liquors in casks or bottles, and still in the form given to them by distillation. The distiller and the brewer, who manufacture the liquid from the grain, have occasion for both measures; but the articles come to them in one form, and go from them in the other; nor is there any apparent necessity that they should receive and issue them by the same measure.
There are conveniences in the intercourse of society, connected with the use of sınaller and more minutely perfect weights and measures of capacity, for sales of articles by retail, than by wholesale, and for articles of great price though of small bulk. Thus, drugs, as articles of commerce, and in gross, are sold by the avoirdupois or commercial pound; used as medicines, in minute quantities, and conpounded by the apothecary, they are sold by the smaller or nummulary weight. The laws of Pennsylvania authorize innkeepers to sell beer, within the house, by the wine measure ; but, for that which they send out of the house, require them to use the beer gallon or quart. In both these cases the difference of the measure forms part of the compensation for the labor and skill of the apothecary, and part of the profits necessary to support the establishment of the publican. There is, finally, an important advantage in the establishment of two units of weights and of measures of capacity, by the possession in each of a standard for the verification of the other. It serves as a guard against the loss or destruction of the positive standard of either. The troy and avoirdupois pounds are to cach other as 5,760 to 7,000. Should either of these standard pounds be lost, the other would supply the means of restoring it. The same thing might be effected by the measures of beer and of wine. The French system has designated the pendulum as such a standard for tbe verification of the metre. The English system gives, in each weight and measure, a standard for the other.
The result of these reflections is, that the uniformity of nature for ascertaining the quantities of all substances, both by gravity and by occupied space, is a uniformity of proportion, and not of identity; that, instead of one weight and one measure, it requires two units of each, proportioned to each nther; and that the original English system of metrology, possessing two such weights, and two such measures, is better adapted to the only uniformity applicable to the subject, recognized by nature, than the new French system, which, possessing only one weight and one measure of capacity, identifies weight and measure only for the single article of distilled water; the English uniformity being relative to the things weighed and measured, and the French only to the instruments used for weight and mensuration.
3. The advantages of the English system might, however, be with ease adapted to that of France, but for the exclusive application in the latter of the decimal arithmetic to all its multiples and subdivi. sions. The decimal numbers, applied to the French weights and measures, form one of its highest theoretic excellencies. It has, however, been proved by the most decisive experience in France, that they are not adequate to the wants of man in society: and, for all the purposes of retail trade, they have been formally abandoned. The convenience of decimal arithmetic is in its nature merely a convenience of calculation : it belongs essentially to the keeping of accounts; but is merely an incident to the transactions of trade. It is applied, therefore, with unquestionable advantage, to moneys of account, as we have done: yet, even in our application of it to the coins, we have not only found it inadequate, but in some respects inconvenient. The divisions of the Spanish dollar, as a coin, are not only into tenths, but into halves, quarters, fifths, eighths, sixteenths, and twentieths. We have the halves, quarters, and twentieths, and might have the fifths; but the eighth makes a fraction of the cent, and the sixteenth