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or mils one coin unnamed, 10 of these a florin, 10 florins a Victoria. Thirdly, 10 farthings or cash two pence, 100 cash a cent, 10 cents a mil. Fourthly, 10 farthings a lion, 10 lions a florin, 10 florins a queen. To these four plans we crave permission to add two of our own invention, as distinct * from the above as the above are from one another. Our first plan is, 10 farthings a what's-his-name, 10 what's-his-names a howd'ye-call-it, 10 how-d'ye-call-its a thingembob. Our second plan is, 10 farthings à George, 10 Georges a Cornewall, 10 Cornewalls a Lewis.
Our ministers are alarmed at the difficulties which one and another system would impose upon the labouring classes: they judge of these classes by themselves. It is impossible to teach the legislature how much fitter the humble classes are to practise any system, than a great number of the Commons are to discuss the differences between one and another.
Two remarks will enable any one to dispose of most of the few opponents of the proposed system. First, some argue the question as if it were one of money-changing only, and calculation had nothing to do with it. Now our present system is convenient enough for paying and receiving in; it would do well enough if calculation were never required. Secondly, others imagine that we intend all our plan for everybody; whereas we carefully distinguish between the easy processes which will suffice for ordinary life, and the more elaborate processes by which the accountant will bring the full power of decimal arithmetic into commerce. Observe, therefore, in the case of every opponent, first, whether he fully explains the difficulties of transition, and compares his own system with others in this respect, especially as to the uneducated ; secondly, whether he is clearly aware of the differing difficulties of different classes, and is careful not to mix them up together.
The pound sterling consists of 960 farthings. In a system which proceeds by tens, no larger coin can be 960 times the smaller: it may be 1000 times. All the plans which have been proposed have dropped out of very serious notice, except two; one of these two keeps the present pound, the other keeps the present farthing. The advocates of the unaltered penny will not be pleased at our summary disposal of their plan; but since their alternative is the retention of the pound, which would destroy the decimal character of the system, or else the introduction of a coin of 100 pence, which is too large for silver and too small for gold, the more sober opponents of the
Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer mean that these plans are all one? As if to prove the contrary, he inserted between the third and fourth a plan of a peculiar kind, which its author calls octagal, meaning perhaps octaval, and then went on with “The only other plan I shall mention
approved plan will have nothing to do with them. We shall add a few words on the penny scheme in the sequel.
Pound system, approved by the House of Commons. Let the present pound sterling consist of 1000 new farthings or mils. Let 10 mils be one cent: let 10 cents be one florin, the present florin : let 10 florins be one pound.
Farthing system. Let the farthing remain as at present. Let 10 farthings be, say one doit (2 d. present money) : let 10 doits be a new florin (2s. 1d. present money): let 10 florins be a new pound (£1 Os. 10d. present money).
The representation of new money in terms of old, will be as follows :
changed, each losing one 25th
In the new coin introduced, the two systems have great resemblance. Pound System.
Farthing System. The new cent, the fifth part of The new doit, the fifth part of the unchanged shilling, is ten the new shilling, is exactly new farthings, or 23d. present 2 d. present money. money.
But this žd. will give no trouble, except for a few days following the change. The pound system abandons the penny, except as a common name for four mils, or new farthings, with those who choose. The advocates of the farthing and penny take care to speak of the cent as 23d., instead of the hundredth part of a pound, or 10 mils. And one of the chief among them, Mr. Lowe, the member for Kidderminster, actually makes it an argument against the pound system, that people do not now buy and sell in coins of 23d. We cannot make such an assertion without proof.
Report of Mr. Lowe's Speech. Answer of the Decimal AssociaFrom a florin they get to 23d.,
tion. but who ever bought anything, Nobody buys anything at a cent, who ever reckoned or wished to because the cent is not yet in
· reckon in such a coin as that?
troduced. Nobody reckons in cents, for the same reason. Everybody wishes to reckon in cents, who wishes to combine the advantage of decimal reckoning with the preservation of the pound as the highest unit; among others, a majority of the House of Commons, the Bank of Eng. land, the majority of London bankers, the Chambers of Commerce in various places, &c. &c. &c.
All decimal systems are equally good, arithmetically speak. ing, when once they are established, and the old system is forgotten. Putting out of question the convenience of coinage, as to size and material, the choice between one and another depends on the facilities for passing out of our own system into its substitute. The moon may be a delightful residence, if Whewell and Brewster can finally so arrange; but how are we to get there? Let us first ask a simple workman's question. A man's wages are 16s. 6d. a week; what is the way of paying this sum in the pound and in the farthing systems? In the pound system it is 8 florins and a half-shilling, as now: probably, in mere matter of money-change, it will be called sixteen and sixpence, as now. In accounts, it will be 8 florins 25 mils, or 8f. 2c. 5m., or 825 mils. In the pound system, what is now even money remains even money : all the gold and silver coinage lasts; even the halfcrown, the most inconvenient piece of all, may be withdrawn gradually, and after the change.
In the farthing system, all the even money becomes broken money; the silver coinage must be altered throughout, and the gold coinage also. The same of the penny system : to make this really decimal, there must be a coin of ten to the penny, a franc of 10d., and a coin of ten francs, or 88. 4d. present money.
The workman, in the pound system, is paid his 16s. 6d. in the same silver as now: and when he gets change at the shop, he is to have 25 new farthings or mils for a half-shilling, instead of 24 old ones. Now as to the farthing system. The old coins are gone, and new pounds (£1 Os. 10d.), new florins (2s. ld.), doits (2 d.), and farthings, are seen in their places. To turn old money into new, the old money must first be turned into farthings. One may do it in one way, another in another ; but it must be done. The workman must find out that 16s.6d. is 792 farthings; and then he knows that he is to receive 7 new florins, 9 doits, 2 farthings.
But, vexatious as this constant reduction to farthings would be, it would not be the worst. There would be a prospect to face, which few ministers would dare to contemplate: the crowd may find another bit of Horace to construe, and those who pay wages may not be so apt to see their construction as those who vote supplies. Since the new shilling is but a halfpenny more than the old one, it may strike the workman that even money would not only be a nice thing per se, but an acceptable saving of arithmetic. Just issue a new shilling of 12 d. and demand of the working man a good knowledge of reduction to farthings up to one pound before he can know what is due to him, and see whether he will not discover that the new money is Latin for a rise in wages, and that įd. in the shilling is a better thing than learning how to do without it by the multipliers 12 and 4. So that, to save a legislative adjustment of tolls, postages, &c., which are all within the power of Parliament, it is proposed by some to throw upon the whole country such a question of adjustment of wages, with which Parliament neither can nor will meddle, as might almost amount to a commercial revolution.
It is not unlikely that the name of shilling might be retained, if such a confusion as the farthing system were to be successful; and 16s. 6d. (old) would come out 15s. 10 d. (new). Those who work in their heads would do it as follows:-In 168. and 12 halfpence, not halfpence enough, say 15s. and 36 halfpence (old), taking off 15 halfpence, say 15s. and 21 halfpence (new), or 15s. 10 d. This kind of headwork would never become general. We see in the existing state of things hundreds of abbreviating processes which, demanding a little mental calculation, are the property of a small class, even among educated arithmeticians. To the world at large, all that can be held out as generally feasible, is the reduction into pence and farthings. To turn 16s. 6d. into new money, the great mass of uneducated calculators must find out that 16 times 12 is 192, and 6 is 198, and four times 198 is 792, whence 7 new florins, 9 doits, 2 farthings, or 15 new shillings, 4 doits, 2 farthings, or 15s. 10 d., if they prefer this form. We should enjoy seeing half a dozen advocates of the farthing system contriving the uneducated man's vade mecum during the em. barrassment of the change; we strongly suspect it would end in a proposal to have it printed on a card, with 'Persons who cannot read are recommended to learn' at the top.
So far as even money is concerned, the superiority of the pound system is indisputable. Let us now consider the broken money. It is unquestionably the disadvantage of the system,
and the only one, that small money must be invented, which is not changeable with the small money now in use. It would be requisite, by proclamation, to make the half-shilling consist of 25 of the coins now called farthings, instead of 24. A man with six pence in his pocket, would need another farthing to make up the half-shilling. On the day on which the proclamation takes effect, this would be his loss. On every other day, it would be neither loss nor gain; for the additional farthing would come in before it has to go out; it would come from the same quarter from whence the six pence came. Those who collect their incomes by pence, as the sweepers of crossings, would lose four per cent. for a while : but when the five mil pieces became frequent, they would gain much more than they had previously lost. If, as has been proposed, the proclamation made the large, or rimmed, pence pass for five mils and others for four, the petty effects of the change would be made still less.
It would be necessary to make a positive enactment upon the last, or broken, half-shilling of outstanding debts. The fairest way would be to make farthings payable by new farthings, or mils, up to 3d., or 12 mils; and afterwards to make one additional mil payable. Suppose that, on the day of the change, a master owes his workman 16s. 3 d. for work and small money laid
Here 16s. is 8 florins, as before, and the workman knows better than his master that 3d. is 15 farthings. Now 15 new farthings, or mils, is too little, and 16 mils is too much : but, because the sum exceeds 3d., the 16 mils is paid. Mr. Lowe, of Kidderminster, is of opinion, that if a poor man owed another a penny, for which 4 mils is too little, and 5 mils too much, this mil between them would lead to a mill between them : and some of the conscript fathers cheered him. If men were left tu themselves on the point, there might be cases in which that which was all but a quarrel before might come to a crisis on the difference between 4 mils and 4 farthings : but there is no need to say that a legislative arrangement would remove all difficulty, on a matter which can happen but once.
To those who keep no books, there is nothing to do except to remember “ 25 new farthings, or sixpence farthing, if four new mils be still called a penny, to the half-shilling.
It was very well observed by Lord Stanley, in the debate, that those who please may even keep their accounts in pounds, shillings, and pence, as now. All they have to do is to draw off 12 d. for the shilling, instead of 12d. For example, the pence column gives 42; at present, we write down 6d. and carry on 3s.: in the new system we take off 1 d. from this 6d. and write down 4 d., that is, put one halfpenny more on to each of the shillings, carry