each move of a figure to the left will increase its value twelve times. Three figures will then stand for twelve times twelve (144) instead of ten times ten
The method of increasing the value from right to left seemed natural enough to the Arabs and the Hindoos, for that was the direction in which they wrote, beginning the line on the right side of the page and going toward the left. But it seems awkward and unnatural to the European or the American boy, for we write from the left side toward the right. It seems to the boy that the numbers should increase in value in the same direction as he reads words.
THE SCALE OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES should
certainly have the same law of increase as the system of numbers. Following is a tentative table. The linear unit is convertible into those of square and cubic measure, and it enters into those of weight. On comparing the six divisions of the table we see that only the initial letter is changed in passing from one to the other. This renders them easy to learn and remember. The words are entirely new, in order to secure brevity and unity of form. Nature gives us no object of invariable length for a unit. We adopt the British inch, or one-twelfth of it, as our unit of length. That can always be proved by the pendulum. The French meter was copied from an inaccessible unit, which may never be proved or known.