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It bas been said that the main object of fresh legislation is not to make changes but to prevent changes,
Perhaps the system here proposed would not be a greater change than that built upon the English foot; and it is certainly better to build upon some foundation than upon none at all.
The alteration of the 12th part of a foot to the 10th would increase the inch by } part.
The alteration of the inch here proposed would only diminish it by about its 64th part.
The other alterations would be as follow :
The quintal, or hundred weight, to be diminished by about 14 avoirdupois pounds, which is not so great an alteration as from 112 to 100.
All the other measures and weights here proposed to the British nation would be either mediuni ones, that is, between two others of the same name, or customary derivatives.
These proposed measures and weights, being multiples of universal ones, are easily reducible to them.
After this slight reduction, which may in a great measure be done away with, by stamping on each Brilish measure its value in universal ones, the calculations required would proceed according to the law of simple integral numbers.
Thus the same figures which express 2,985 ells would also express 29 stadiums, 85 ells.
34 quarts and 69 jills would=3,469 jills, 587 tons would= 5,870,000 quarterns.
If the price of any article be 5 dollars per hectolitre, this is 5 cents per quart, 17 dollars per todd=17 cents per quartern
These are advantages not to be derived from measures and weights not decimally divided.
Hence mere uniformity is far from being the only requisite, unless it coincides with the scale of our arithmetic.
As this division excludes all the trouble of reduction from one denomination to another, to object to it is as unreasonable as to object to the same division in the abstract numeration, already adopted by all civilised nations.
How absurd would it be, instead of issuing bank notes of 5, 10 20, 50, &c. pounds sterling, as at present, to issue those of 6, 7, 8, 12, 16, &c. If this would be absurd in the numeration of pounds sterling, to adopt a similar plan must be equally absurd in the numeration of any thing else.
The method of computing by the dozen, its 6 score derivative and various other denominations, which do not conform to the decimal scale of numeration, should be avoided altogether, except measures which may be made use of to incorporate the decimal ones with those already received.
If cloth were sold by square measure, the mistakes arising from different widths would be avoided.
The use of heaped measures of capacity should be abandoned,
No two or more measures, weights, or coins should, if possible, have the same name, this being an irregularity which breeds confusion.
But as this irregularity does now exist, what an excellent opportunity is afforded for the introduction of medium measures and weights, which it is as easy to regulate by a universal and seienrific unit as by mere prejudice.
Agreeable to this proposed reformation of the British system; other nations might reform their measures and weights by adopting such multiples of the universal ones as approach nearest to those already adopted by them.
All these arbitrary multiples may, in the course of time, become obsolete; so that ultimately, the universal ones only remaining, the measures and weights of each nation would be alike.
RT. HON. GEORGE CANNING,
DELIVERED AT THE
CELEBRATION OF HIS RE-ELECTION,
MARCH 18, 1820.
FOURTH EDITION, REVISED AND CORRECTED.
GENTLEMEN, SHORT as the interval is since I last met you in this place on a similar occasion, the events which have filled up that interval have not been unimportant. The great moral disease which we then talked of as gaining ground on the community, has, since that period, arrived at its most extravagant height"; and, since that period also remedies have been applied to it, if not of permanent cure, at least of temporary mitigation,
Gentlemen, with respect to these remedies, I mean with respect to the transactions of the last short session of Parliament, previous to the dissolution, I feel that it is my duty, as your Representative, to render to you some account of the part which I took in that assembly to which you sent me ; I feel it my duty, also, as a member of the Government by which those measures were advised. Upon occasions of such trying exigency as those which we have lately experienced, I hold it to be of the very essence of our free and popular Constitution, that an unreserved interchange of sentiment should take place between the Representative and his Constituents: and if it accidentally happens, that he who addresses you as your Representative, stands also in the situation of a responsible adviser of the Crown, I recognise, in that more rare occurrence, a not less striking or less valuable peculiarity of that Constitution under which we have the happiness to live; by which a Minister of the Crown is brought into contact with the great body of the community; and the service of the King is shown to be a part of the service of the people.
Gentlemen, it has been one advantage of the transactions of the last session of Parliament, that while they were addressed to meet