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aided by the advantages resulting mittee believe, that the progress of
OF THE COMMISSIONERS APPOINTED TO CONSIDER THE SUBJECTS OF
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
May it please your Royal Highness, We, the Commissioners appointed we have inquired into the state of the by your Royal Highness for the pur- standards of length of the highest pose of considering how far it may authority. Upon a deliberate conbe practicable and advisable to esta. sideration of the whole of the system blish within his Majesty's dominions at present existing, we are impressed a more uniform system of weights with a sense of the great difficulty of and measures, having obtained such effecting any radical changes, to so information as we have been able to considerable an extent, as might in collect, beg leave to submit, with all some respects be desirable; and we humility, the first results of our deli- therefore wish to proceed with great berations.
caution, in the suggestions which we 1. We have procured, for the bet- shall venture to propose. ter consideration of the subject re- 2. With respect to the actual magferred to us, an abstract of all the nitude of the standards of length, it statutes relating to weights and mea- does not appear to us that there can sures, which have been passed in the be any sufficient reason for altering United Kingdom from the earliest those which are at present generally times; and we have obtained from employed. There is no practical adthe county reports, lately published vantage, in having a quantity comby the Board of Agriculture, and mensurable to any original quantity, from various other sources, a large existing, or which may be imagined mass of information, respecting the to exist, in nature, except as affordpresent state of the customary mea. ing some little encouragement to its sures, employed in different parts of common adoption by neighbouring the United Kingdom. We have also nations. But it is scarcely possible, examined the standard measures of that the departure from a standard, capacity kept in the Exchequer, and once universally established in a
great country, should not produce in the measurement of a base on much more labour and inconvenience Hounslow-heath, as a foundation is in its internal relations than it could the trigonometrical operations that ever be expected to save in the ope. have been carried on by tbe Ordrations of foreign commerce and cor- nance throughout the country, and a respondence, which always are, and duplicate of which will probably be i always must be conducted by per- laid down on a standard seale, by the sons, to whom the difficulty of calcu. Committee of the Royal Society, alation is comparatively inconsider- pointed for assisting the Astrodone able, and who are also remunerated Royal, in the determination of the for their trouble, either by the pro- length of the pendulum ; the tempefits of their commercial concerns, or rature being supposed to be 62 deby the credit of their scientific ac- grees of Fahrenheit, when the scale quirements.
is employed. 3. The subdivisions of weights and 5. We propose also, upon the aomeasures, at present employed in this thority of the experiments made by country, appear to be far more con- the Committee of the Royal Societs, venient for practical purposes than that it should be declared, for the the decimal scale, which might per- purpose of identifying or recovering haps be preferred by some persons, ihe length of this standard, in case for making calculations with quan- that it should ever be lost or impaired, tities already determined. But the that the length of a pendulum vibrapower of expressing a third, a fourth, ting seconds of mean solar cime in and a sixth of a foot in inches, with- London on the level of the sea, and out a fraction, is a peculiar advan- in a vacuum, is 39.1972 inches of the tage in the duodecimal scale, and for scale; and that the length of the the operations of weighing and of metre employed in France, as the ten measuring capacities, the continual millionth part of the quadrantal arc division by two renders it practica of the meridian, has been found equal ble to make up any given quantity, to 39.3694 inches. with the smallest possible number of 6. The definitions of measures of standard weights or measures, and is capacity are obviously capable of far preferable in this respect to any being immediately deduced from decimal scale. We would therefore their relations to measures of length; recommend, that all the multiples but since the readiest practical me and subdivisions of the standard to thod of ascertaining the magaitude be adopted should retain the same of any measure of capacity is to relative proportions to each other as weigh the quantity of water which are at present in general use. it is capable of containing, it would !
4. The most authentic standards in our opinion, be advisable in this of length which are now in existence, instance to invert the more natural being found upon a minute examina- order of proceeding, and to define tion to vary in a very slight degree the measures of capacity, rather from from each other, although either of the weight of the water they are them might be preferred without any capable of containing, than from difference that would become sensi- their solid content in space. It will ble in common cases, we beg leave therefore be convenient to begia to recommend, for the legal deter- with the definition of the standard mination of the standard yard, that of weight, by declaring, that 19 which was employed by General Roy, cubic inches of distilled water, 25
ne temperature of 50 degrees, must amoupting to an entire number of
little ina future period to repeat such of convenience would be felt by the them as appear to be the most im- public, from the introduction of this portant.
gallon, in the place of the customary 7. The definitions thus established ale gallon of 282 cubic inches, and are not calculated to introduce any of the Winchester corn gallon, divariation from the existing standards rected by a statute of King William of length and of weight, which may to contain 269, and by some later be considered as already sufficiently statutes estimated at 2724 cubic well ascertained. But, with respect inches; especially when it is conto the measures of capacity, it ap- sidered that the standards, by which pears, from the report contained the quart and pint beer measures, in the Appendix, that the legal used in London, are habitually adstandards of the highest authority justed, do not at present differ in a are considerably at variance with sensible degree from the standard each other: the standard gallon, proposed to be rendered general. quart, and pint of Queen Elizabeth, We apprehend also, that the slight which are kept in the Exchequer, excess of the new bushel, above the having been also apparently employ- common corn measure, would be of ed, almost indiscriminately, for ad. less importance, as the customary justing the measures both of corn measures employed in different
and beer; between which, however, of Great Britain are almost univercom a difference has gradually, and, as sally larger than the legal Winches
it may be supposed, unintentionally ter bushel.
crept into the practice of the Ex- 9. Upon the question of the proE cise; the ale gallon being under. priety of abolishing altogether the
stood to contain about 43 per cent. use of the wine gallon, and establishmore than the corn gallon, though ing the new gallon of 10 pounds, we do not find any particular act of as the only standard for all purposes, Parliament in which this excess is we have not yet been able to obtain
expressly recognized. We think it sufficient grounds for coming to a fit right to propose that these measures conclusive determination; we can
is should again be reduced to their ori- only suggest, that there would be at na ginal equality; and at the same time, a manifest advantage in the identifiof content on account of the great convenience cation of all measures of the same
which would be derived from the name, provided that the change ne per facility of determining a gallon and could be made without practical in
its parts, by the operation of weigh- convenience; but how far the ining a certain quantity of water, convenience might be more felt than
the advantage, we must leave to the tion which we have procured to wisdom of his Majesty's Government specting the customary weigbts as to decide.
measures of the different counties 10. In the mean time it may be as we have not yet been able to advisable to take into consideration duce our abstract into the most cas the present state of the numerous venient form, for affording a un and complicated laws which have nected view of this branch of these been enacted at various times for subject referred to us. the regulation of the weights and (Signed) Jos. Banks, measures employed in commerce ;
GEORGE CLERK, and the abstract of these laws,
DAVIES GILBERT, which we have prepared, will be
Wm. H. WOLLASTOS found in the Appendix of this
Tho. YOUNG, report. We must, however, reserve
HENRY KATER for a future occasion, the informa
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