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HEADS OF TRAINING COLLEGES, PAROCHIAL CLERGYMEN, AND ALL
SCHOOL TEACHERS, ETC.
English Journal of Education.
A NEW SYSTEM OF DECIMAL WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
UR present system of weights and measures is a disgrace to a great
scientific and commercial nation. In our weights and measures there is no fixed scale of notation : for example, 60 grains make a dram, 8 drams an ounce, 16 ounces a pound, 28 pounds a quarter, 112 pounds a hundred weight, and 20 hundred weight a ton; in liquid measures, 2 pints make a quart, 4 quarts a gallon, 2 gallons a peck, 4 pecks a bushel, and 8 bushels a quarter. We have even no uniformity in the use of any particular weight or measure : for example, the pound avoirdupois contains 7,000 grains, while the pound Troy contains only 5,760 grains. In different parts of England the stone contains from 8 to 16 pounds, while in the greater number of places, 14 pounds are taken to the stone ; and so on to other cases. Our present scale of weights and measures also varies with the kind of substance to be weighed or measured ; thus, we have our Troy weight, avoirdupois weight, and apothecaries' weight; thus, we have our long measure, cloth measure, land measure, liquid measure, dry measure, &c.; and these have rarely any fixed relation to one another.
A proper system of weights and measures should have the following characteristics :
1. They should all have a fixed relation to one another.
2. There should be only one scale of weights, one scale of size, and one scale of capacity, without any distinction with respect to the substances weighed or measured.
3. They should not only have a certain relation to one another, but they should also have some known relation to a fixed standard, depending upon some invariable law of nature, so that if the government standard of any weight or measure should be lost, it might be restored by a reference to the law of nature upon which it is founded.
4. The system of weights, as well as the system of measures, should, in order to facilitate commercial calculation, be graduated according to a decimal scale.
5. With a view of disturbing the existing system as little as possible, any new system should take as its basis the most popular and best known units in the existing system.
The French system of weights and measures is one of the most perfect which has yet been adopted. A short account of this system will not,
VOL. X. NO. 109. n. S.
we feel assured, be without interest to the people of this country, at a time when the legislature are about to introduce a new system of money, weights, and measures.
THE FRENCH SYSTEM OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. The weights and measures are of different forms and names, according to the kind of magnitude to which they are applied. These magnitudes are as follow :
Lengths from which lineal, or linear, measures are derived.
Volumes or capacities, by which bodies, whether solid or liquid, are compared one with the other.
Weights by which the gravity of bodies is compared one with the other.
The unity of length, or lineal unity is called a MÈTRE.
In order to compare larger or smaller measures than these units, the following words (taken from the Greek and Latin languages) are used : viz., for quantities above the unit,-DÉCA, or tens ; HECTO, or hundreds ; KILO, or thousands ; and MYRIA, or ten thousands : and, for quantities below the unit,—DÉCI, or tenths ; CENTI, or hundredths ; MiLLI, or thousandths.
The lineal measures are comprised in the following series :- MYRIAMÈTRE, KILOMÈTRE, HECTOMÈTRE, DÉCAMÈTRE, MÈTRE, DÉCIMÈTRE, CENTIMÈTRE, MILLIMÈTRE.
Each of these measures, in the order of the series, is ten times greater than that which follows it, and ten times less than that which immediately precedes it.
The LITRE is a measure of capacity, and contains a quantity equal to a DÉCIMÈTRE CUBE, or the tenth of a mètre cube.
The names of the measures of capacity are composed in the same manner as the lineal measure ; thus we have HECTOLITRE, DÉCALITRE, LITRE, DÉCILITRE, CENTILITRE, &c.
The weight of the GRAMME is equal to that of a CENTIMÈTRE CUBE, or the hundredth of a MÈTRE CUBE, of pure water. The MYRIAGRAMME, the KILOGRAMME, the HECTOGRAMME, the GRAMME, the DÉCIGRAMME, the CENTIGRAMME, &c., form the decimal series, in the same manner as the other measures.
The ARE is a measure of superficies, equal to a SQUARE DÉCAMÈTRE, or ten mètres square ; that is, to a square, the side of which is a décamètre, or to one hundred square mètres. There are only two multiples of the ARE in use, the one is the HECTARE, which is equal to TEN THOUSAND ARES.
The STÈRE, for wood used as fuel, is a MÈTRE CUBE. Lastly, the units of money are at present known by the names of FRANC, DÉCIME, CENTIME, The last is the tenth part of a décime, which is itself the tenth part of a franc.
The franc is composed of a piece of silver weighing five grammes, alloyed with io of copper.