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der it so, independent of the terrors under the hope that the public atwith which superstition has invested tention may be thereby drawn to the it. Nor has this tendency been un- subject, and that the previous invesfelt in any age, or overlooked by any tigations of philosophical men may observer; all true poets, whether prepare congress for the adoption sacred or profane, have raised their of sound and enlightened provisions. boldest structures upon this founda. “ 1. A plan for the establishment tion ; it has furnished them with of standards for weights and meatheir most sublime conceptions, and terrific descriptions.
“ The whole system to be comknew they struck a chord whose prised in three articles or units of vibrations are universally extensive. regulation, viz. "A day of clouds and thick darkness" « The unit of extension, the unit conveys in a few words a most sub- of capacity, and the unit of weight, lime description ; yet what is there to wit : wonderful in it? A day of clouds 66 The unit or measure of extenis by no means uncommon, and sion to be the same, and no other " thick darkness," except in sound, than the English foot-rule or mea. is nothing more than a cloudy night; sure, which has heretofore always yet, by a certain association of ideas, obtained, as well throughout the we find ourselves infinitely more whole of the United States, in the struck with the one than with the measurement of the lands thereof, other. Something, it is true, must be to be ascertained as regards exallowed for the singular felicity of actitude by the mayor and aldermen the expression, but more certainly of the city of Philadelphia, after takfrom the combined effects of physi. ing into aid the officers of the mint cal, moral, and habitual causes, of the United States, and of the Phiwhich frequently operate in a manner losophical Society, who will, when not easily understood or explained. required, afford such aid, and who,
VALVERDI. it is believed, are in possession of Philadelphia, July 10th, 1807. the means by which to ascertain
and determine such unit or foot measure, to wit : Bird's standard of
the British exchequer scale, and a For the Literary Magazine, comparative and corroborative test
of the same, by means of two well regulated and authentic French
toises, and an accurate French me. AMONG the measures submitted tre, with other data ; the said unit to the consideration of the legisla. or foot, when so ascertained, to be ture of Pennsylvania at their late divided on one side into twelfths or session, was an interesting report inches, and parts of inches, in the by Mr. Dorsey on the subject of usual manner, and on the other side weights and measures. After into tenths of such unit or foot, and stating the total inefficiency of the again into tenths of such tenths, or existing laws of Pennsylvania in this hundredths of such foot. respect, the committee submitted « 2. The unit or measure of capa. the following plan, embraced by a city, or common pint measure, to bill previously before the legislature. contain sixteen such cubical tenths
The subject, from its influence on of the aforesaid unit or foot measure, almost all the concerns of life, and to be fashioned (as regards the refrom the tendency of a uniform sys. gulator or standards only) in a tem to add another tie to the union square form, the sides and bottom of the several states, loudly claims to be at least the half of such decithe interposition of the general go. mal inch in thickness. vernment, and we are particularly “ 3. The unit of weight or pound led to a republication of this plan, avoirdupois, to be equal to the weight
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
of as much distilled or pure water, lators of the said city and county, in as at the temperature of the six- such manner, and in such divisions tieth degree of the thermometer or increase, by the order of tens or of Fahrenheit, will fill the aforesaid decimals, as to them shall appear unit or pint measure of capacity, best, and to cause to be engraven on the said measure also being at the each and every such standard the said temperature of sixty degrees. words “ Pennsylvania Standard” for
" The whole of this system is such or so many units or parts founded on a known principle, to thereof, as the same shall contain, wit : that a cubic foot of distilled or which set, when completed, to be depure water, at 60 degrees of Fah. livered to the said officers of regularenheit's thermometer, is just equal tion for the said city and county; to one thousand ounces avoirdupois, the expence of which, as well as of it follows, that as there are exactly the original standards, to be paid by one thousand cubic decimals or tenths the said city and county. in such cubic, or square foot, every
" The select and common counsuch tenth or cubic decimal is an cils of the city of Philadelphia to be ounce avoirdupois, and that sixteen authorized to make any law or ordiof these are equal to a pound of the nance, imposing reasonable fines said avoirdupois.
within the said city and county on “ The three standards as afore. the officers who shall be appointed said to be all made of the metal regulators as aforesaid, on persons called platina, in a strong manner, refusing to have their weights and and of the best workmanship, to be measures examined, for not sending kept in the most secure way from them when required, and also for damage or fire, and to have engrav. fixing the prices for regulating deen on each of them these words: fective or new weights or measures. «« Pennsylvania original standard for And further, the said select and comthe unit of extension of capacity or mon councils to be authorized to de. of weight,” as to each of them shall termine the mode by which meaproperly belong, to be regulated in sures should be tried, whether by the the first instance at the said tempe- seed called millet, by flax-seed passrature of sixty degrees of Fahren. ing through a funnel, or by water ; heit, and at all times, when used for to cause the standards for large dry the examination or regulation of measures to be made of wood, in the other standards, to be deckiced there. best manner, and properly secured from, to be at the same precise tem- against wear, to be regulated from perature, to be at all times in the the said originals, at the aforesaid possession of the mayor of the city temperature of sixty degrees; and of Philadelphia, for the time being, also to prevent the further making and to be delivered to his successor or using weights made of lead or in office, all of whom to be enjoined soft metal, and to determine on the not to suffer any alteration, or use, striking of all dry measures. other than for the purpose herein " A schedule or detail of all the before expressed.
measures necessary by the foregoing " From these said three stan- system will, if time shall permit, be dards are to be derived, ascertained, offered by your committee; at preand determined, by the said mayor sent it is sufficient to observe, that and aldermen, all other standards, the principal variation consists in as well in the increasing as the de- the division of the foot into decimals, creasing ratio, which said increasing notwithstanding which the old divior decreasing ratio should, in all in- sions of twelfths or inches are still stáncés, be by tens or decimals; and retained, and may be used by those the said mayor and aldermen to attached to that mode. The accucause to be made, according to the racy and facility of this mode has aforesaid original standards, a set been sufficiently proved in the infor the use of the regulator or regu- , stance of the division of the dollar
of the United States, by such deci more than common degree to the mal or tenths and hundreds. Nor subject of infidelity, and the conseis this system incompatible with any quences which usually attend it. scheme, which may (if ever it can) While great industry has been dis. be adopted for a universal standard, played on the one part to dissemiwhether the same shall be effected nate writings unfavourable to chrisby means of matter or motion, the tianity, men of undoubtedly great pendulum or the degree ; inasmuch talents have stepped forward, on as our foot, on the exactitude of the other, to rouse in the minds of which our whole landed property is the people those principles which, held, and which of consequence can in days of peace and prosperity, are never be departed from, will still too apt to become dormant. The remain and be established thereby contest has now nearly subsided ; or therefrom, as an integer holding the cause of christianity has been its proportion thereto. In addition amply vindicated, and the beneficial to all which, this system contains the tendency of its principles fully estaprinciple of correcting itself, for in- blished by a contrast with the misestance, a pound(or the unit of) weight ries and crimes of those countries of such pure or distilled water, where infidelity has spread its baneweighed in the aforesaid tempera- ful influence. ture of sixty degrees of Fahrenheit, But there is one crime which still will, when squared, exhibit not only seems to increase, and which must the unit or pint measure of capacity, in every view be considered as the but also the original unit or foot of most direct proof of practical infidemensuration from which the said lity : I mean suicide, an instance in unit or pound was derived.
which a man may be said to die a « Your committee, therefore, re- martyr to unbelief, or to seal with his commend that the senators be in- blood the principles which he has structed, and the members of the learned from the French and other house of representatives, in the con- infidel writers. gress of the United States, requested There is no way in which we can to use their endeavours to procure contemplate this too common praca law for the establishment of a uni- tice that is not shocking to our feelform system of weights and mea. ings, and no advice to be given on sures : and also that the considera- the subject that can be too often retions and data connected with that peated. It is, indeed, usual to attrisubject, as herein before stated, be bute it in most cases to insanity, but recommended to the early attention that insanity is usually of a tempoof the next legislature of this com rary nature, and, however often admonwealth, to be by them consider- mitted by the lenity of a coroner's ed at the time when the bill for the jury, is in fact a fit of disappointed same purpose already recommended pride or ambition, arising from preto their attention shall be before yious misconduct. Allow me, sir, them."
on this occasion, to put together some remarks on the history of this crime, for, to whatever it may be imputed
among us, and I have no hesitation For the Literary Magazine. in asserting that the prevalence of
infidelity must be the cause in a naHISTORICAL REMARKS ON tion professing christianity, we shall
find that almost every nation has
exhibited examples of it. To the Editor, &c,
It is, however, one of those crimes SIR,
which we are led to believe is not SÍNCE the commencement of the very common among savage nations, French revolution, the attention of The first instances of it recorded in the public has been directed in a the Jewish history are those of Sau!
and Ahitophel; for the death of on the funeral pile, ought not to be Samson cannot be reckoned a proper considered as suicide, for were the example. We have no reason to meaning of the word to be extended suppose that it became common thus far, it would be as proper to among the Jews till their wars with apply it to those who chose rather the Romans, when multitudes slaugh- to die in battle, than to make their tered themselves, that they might escape at the expence of their honot fall alive into the hands of their
According to the Gentoo enemies. But, at this period, the laws, it is proper for a woman, Jews were a most desperate and after her husband's death, to burn abandoned race of men, had corrupt- herself in the fire with his corpse : ed the religion of their fathers, and every woman who thus burns, shall rejected that pure system which remain in paradise with her hustheir promised Messiah came to Je. band three crore and fifty lacks of rusalem to announce.
years. If she cannot, she must in When it became remarkable that case preserve an inviolable among the Greeks, we have not chastity. If she remaios chaste, been able to discover ; but it was she goes to paradise; and if she forbidden by Pythagoras, as we does not preserve her chastity, she learn from Athenæus, by Socrates goes to hell." and Aristotle, and by the Theban A custom similar to this prevailed and Athenian laws. In the earliest among many nations on the contiages of the Roman republic it was nent of America. When a chief seldom committed ; but when luxu. died, a certain number of his wives, ry and the epicurean and stoical of his favourites, and of his slaves, philosophy had corrupted the sim were put to death, and interred toplicity and virtue of the Roman cha- gether with him, that he might apracter, then they began to seek shel- pear with the same dignity in his ter in suicide from their misfortunes, future station, and be waited upon or the effects of their own vices. by the same attendants. This per
The religious principles of the suasion is so deeply rooted, that mabramins of India led them to admire ny of their retainers offer themselves suicide, on particular occasions, as as victims; and the same custom honourable. Accustomed to absti• prevails in many of the negro nations nence, mortification, and the con in Africa, tempt of death, they considered it If we can believe the historians as a mark of weakness of mind to of Japan, voluntary death is common submit to the infirmities of old age. in that empire. The devotees of We are informed that the modern the idol Amida drown themselves Gentoos, who still in most things in his presence, attended by their conform to the customs of their an. relations and friends, and several of cestors, when old and infirm, are the priests, who all consider the defrequently brought to the banks of voted person as a saint, who is gone rivers, particularly to those of the to everlasting happiness. Such beGanges, that they may die in its ing the supposed honours approprisacred streams, which they believe ated to a voluntary death, it is not can wash away the guilt of their surprising that the Japanese anxisins. But the maxims of the bra. ously cherish a contempt of life. mins, which have encouraged this Accordingly, it is a part of the edupractice, we are assured, are a cor cation of their children, “ to repeat ruption of the doctrines of the Shas. poems in which the virtues of their tah, which positively forbid suicide, ancestors are celebrated, an utter under the severest punishment. The contempt of life is inculcated, and practice which religion or affection suicide is set up as the most heroic has established among the Gentoos, of actions." for women, at the death of their A notion seems also to have preausbands, to burn themselves alive vailed among the ancient Scythian
tribes, that it was pusillanimous and even after christianity was establishignoble for a man, whose strength ed. The Romans, when they bewas wasted with disease or infirmi. came converts to christianity, did ty, so as to be useless to the commu. not renounce their ancient prejunity, to continue to live.
dices and false opinions, but blended reckoned a heroic action voluntarily them with the new religion which to seek that death which he had not they embraced. The Gothic nations the good fortune to meet in the field also, who subverted the Roman emof battle. Perversion of moral feel- pire, while they received the chrising does not spring up, it is to be tian religion, adhered to many of hoped, spontaneously in any nation, their former opinions and manners, but is produced by some peculiari. Among other criminal practices, ties of situation. A wandering peo. which were retained by the Romans ple like the Scythians, who roamed and their conquerors, that of suicide about from place to place, might was one ; but the principles from often find it impossible to attend the which it proceeded were explained sick, or to supply from their preca. so as to appear more agreeable to rious store the wants of the aged the new system which they had and infirm. The aged and infirm espoused. It was committed, eithemselves, no longer able to sup- ther to secure them from the danport the character of warriors, would ger of apostacy, to procure the hofind themselves unhappy. In this nour of martyrdom, or to preserve way the practice of putting to death the crown of virginity. such persons as were useless to the In all these instances, selected community might originate, and af- from the history of ancient nations, terward be inculcated as honoura. ic will be seen that suicide differed ble; but he who put an end to his in this respect from the same crime infirmities by his own hand, obtain- committed in our days, that among ed a character still more illustrious. those barbarous nations, it was com
The tribes of Scandinavia, which mitted in the prospect of a great reworshipped Odin, the “ father of ward or honour. It had, if we may slaughter,” were taught, that dying so speak, a rational object in view, in the field of battle, was the most and it was consistent with authoriza glorious event that could befaled practices or established laws. them. This was a maxim suited to But when we descend to modern a warlike nation. In order to times, we must lament to find so establish it more firmly in the mind, many instances of suicide among all were excluded from Odin's feast the most polished nations, who have of heroes who died a natural death. the best opportunities of knowing In Asgardia stood the hall of Odin; the atrocity of that unnatural crime. where, seated on a throne, he re. The English have long been received the souls of his departing proached by foreigners for the freheroes. Natural death being thus quent commission of it ; and the deemed inglorious, and punished "gloony month of November,'* with exclusion from Valhalla (the has been stigmatised, but unjustly, hall of those who died by violence), as the season when it is most comthe paradise of Odin, he who could mou. Mr. Moore, who some years not enjoy death in the field of battle, ago published a voluminous work was led to seek it by his own hands, on this subject, was at great pains when sickness or old age began to to obtain accurate information conassail him. In such a nation, suicide cerning the perpetration of this must have been very common.
crime in different countries. MerAs suicide prevailed much in the cier, who wrote in 1782, says that decline of the Roman empire, when the annual number of suicides in Pa. luxury, licentiousness, profligacy, ris was then about 150. He does and false philosophy, pervaded the not tell us how he came by the inworld, so it continued to prevail formation ; but we have the authori. VOL. VIII. NO. XLVI.