New-York: n. p., 1851. First edition. Unbound pamphlet, stitched as issued, approx. 9 x 6 inches, 19 pages. Some light dust-soiling and wear; small wax wafer on the final blank page; a very good copy. Item #16593
A presentation copy, inscribed in ink at the head of the title page, "C. C. Cabinet, from the Author. April 25, 1851." "What I propose then, is: that the government of every nation represented at he World's Fair, shall be requested to appoint a competent agent, all of whom to meet at some conveient time and central place, then and there to discuss and adjust this important preliminary to fair and honorable trade and social intercourse between their citizens and subjects. Let this grand committee, after mature deliberation, fix upon *one certain standard of length,* to be thereafter adopted and used in all countries. Let this standard measure of length be the criterion of the extent of all capacities, and (subject to variations in metallic purity, and the fluctuations of exchange,) the index of the value of all coins." From the Philadelphia author on miscellaneous subjects, Peter Arrell Browne, LL.D. (1782-1860) comes this discursive proposal for a uniform system of weights and measures; Browne rather loses himself in the minute description of historical monies and measures, as well as in his glances upon the history and follies of the English standards, before settling into a brief review and history of American laws on the subject. With the advent of steam travel and the telegraph, Browne suggests, his plans will unite mankind. (Mention of the metric system seems curiously absent throughout.) No biographical account of Browne was easily discovered by this cataloguer, though any scholar willing to turn his hand to such papers as The classification of mankind; by the hair and wool of their heads, with an answer to Dr. Prichard's assertion, that "the covering of the head of the negro is hair, properly so termed, and not wool." Read before the American Ethnological Society, November 3, 1849 (Philadelphia, 1850) or his 1844 essay on meteors (not to mention his Penna. law reports) would seem to merit further study. OCLC notes six locations of this title (three in Penna.).