MAY. To be permited; to be at liberty; to have the power.
2. Whenever a statute directs the doing of a thing for the sake of justice or
the public good, the word may is the same as shall. For example, the 23 H. VI.
says, the sheriff may take bail, that is construed he shall, for he is
compellable to do so. Carth. 293 Salk. 609; Skin. 370.
3. The words shall and may in general acts of the legislature or in private
constitutions, are to be construed imperatively; 3. Atk. 166; but the
construction of those words in a deed depends on circumstances. 3 Atk. 282. See
1 Vern. 152, case. 142 9 Porter, R. 390.
MAYHEM, crimes. The act of unlawfully and violently depriving another
of the use of such of his members as may render him less able in fighting either
to defend himself or annoy his adversary; and therefore the cutting or
disabling, or weakening a man's hand or finger, or striking out his eye or
foretooth, or depriving him of those parts the loss of which abates his courage,
are held to be mayhems. But cutting off the ear or nose or the like, are not
held to be mayhems at common law. 4 Bl. Com. 205.
2. These and other severe personal injuries are punished by the Coventry act,
(q. v.) which has been reenacted in several of the states; Ryan's Med. Jurispr.
191, Philad. ed. 1832; and by congress. Vide act of April 30, 1790, s. 13, 1
Story's Laws U. S. 85; act of March 3, 1825, s. 22, 3 Story's L. U. S. 2006.
MAYHEMAVIT. Maimed. This is a term of art which cannot be supplied in
pleadings by any other word; as, mutilavit, truncavit, &c. 3 Tho. Co. Litt.
548.
MAYOR, officer. The chief or executive magistrate of a city who bears
this title.
2. It is generally his duty to cause the laws of the city to be enforeed, and
to superintend inferior officers, such as constables, watchmen and the like. But
the power and authority which mayors possess being given to them by local
regulations, vary in different places.
MAYOR'S COURT. The name of a court usually established in cities,
composed of a mayor, recorder and aldermen, generally having jurisdiction of
offences committed within the city, and of other matters specially given them by
the statute.
MEASURE. That which is used as a rule to determine a quantity. A
certain quantity of something, taken for a unit, and which expresses a relation
with other quantities of the same thing.
2. The constitution of the United States gives power to congress to " fix the
standard of weights and measures." Art. 1, B. 8. Hitherto this has remained as a
dormant power, though frequently brought before the attention of congress.
3. The states, it seems, possess the power to legislate on this subject, or,
at least, the existing standards at the adoption of the constitution remain in
full force. 3 Sto. Const. 21; Rawle on the Const. 102.
4. By a resolution of congress, of the 14th of June, 1836, the secretary of
the treasury is directed to cause a complete set of all weights and measures
adopted as standards, and now either made or in the progress of manufacture, for
the use of the several customhouses and for other purposes, to be delivered to
the governor of each state in the Union, or to such person as he may appoint,
for the use of the states respectively, to the end that an uniform standard of
weights and measures may be established throughout the United States.
5. Measures are either, 1. Of length. 2. Of surface. 3. Of solidity or
capacity. 4. Of force or gravity, or what is commonly called weight. (q. v.) 5.
Of angles. 6. Of time. The measures now used in the United States, are the same
as those of England, and are as follows
1. MEASURES OF LENGTH.
12 inches = l foot
3 feet = l yard
51/2 yards = l rod or pole
40 poles = 1 furlong
8 furlongs = l mile
69 1/15 miles = l degree of a great circle
of the earth.
An inch is the smallest lineal measure to which a name is given, but
subdivisions are used for many purposes. Among mechanics, the inch is commonly
divided into eighths. By the officers of the revenue and by scientific persons,
it is divided into tenths, hundredths, &c. Formerly it was made to consist
of twelve parts called lines, but these have fallen into disuse.
Particular measures of length.
1st. Used for measuring cloth of all kinds.
1 nail = 2 1/4 inches
1 quarter = 4 inches
1 yard = 4 quarters
1 ell = 5 quarters. 2d. used for the height of horses.
1 hand = 4 inches. 3d. Used in measuring depths.
1 fathom = 6 feet.
4th. Used in land measure, to facilitate computation
of the contents, 10 square chains being equal to an acre.
1 link = 7 92/100 inches
1 chain = 100 links.
6.2. MEASURES OF SURFACE.
144 square inches = l square foot
9 square feet = l square yard
30 1/4 square yards = l perch or rod
40 perches = l rood
4 roods or 160 perches = l acre
640 acresl square mile.
7.  3. MEASURES OF SOLTDITY AND CAPACITY.
1st. Measures of solidity.
1728 cubic inches = l cubic foot
27 cubic feet = l cubic yard.
2d. Measures of capacity for all liquids, and for all goods, not liquid,
except such as are comprised in the next division.
4 gills = l pint = 34 2/3 cubic inches nearly.
2 pints = l quart = 691/2 " "
4 quarts = 1 gallon = 277 1/4 " "
2 gallons = l peck = 554 1/2 " "
8 gallons= 1 bushel = 2218 1/2 " "
8 bushels = l quarter = 10 1/4 cubic feet "
5 quarters = l load = 51 1/2 " "
The last four denominations are used only for goods, not liquids. For
liquids, several denominations have heretofore been adopted, namely, for beer,
the firkin of 9 gallons, the kilderkin of 18 , the barrel of 36, the hogshead of
54; and the butt of 108 gallons. For wine or spirits there are the anker,
runlet, tierce, hogshead, puncheon, pipe, butt, and tun; these are, however,
rather the names of the casks, in which the commodities are imported, than as
express any definite number of gallons. It is the practice to gauge all such
vessels, and to charge them according to their actual contents.
3d. Measures of capacity, for coal, lime, potatoes, fruit, and other
commodities, sold by heaped measure.
2 gallons = 1 peck704 cubic in. nearly.
8 gallons = 1 bushel=28151/2 " "
3 bushels = 1 sack = 41 cubic feet "
12 sacks=l chaldron = 58 2/3 " "
8.4. MEASURES OF WEIGHTS.
See art. Weights.9.5.,
ANGULAR MEASURE; or, DIVISION OF THE CIRCLE.
60 seconds = l minute
60 minutes = l degree
30 degrees = 1 sign
90 degrees = 1 quadrant
360 degrees, or 12 signs = 1 circumference.
Formerly the subdivisions were carried on by sities; thus, the second was
divided into 60 thirds, the third into sixty fourths, &c. At present, the
second is more generally divided decimally into tens, hundreds, &c. The
degree is frequently so divided.
or 10.  6. MEASURE OF TIME.
60 seconds = 1 minute
60 minutes = 1 hour
24 hours = l day
7 days = 1 week 28 days,
or 4 weeks = 1 lunar month
28, 29, 30, or 31 days = 1 calendar month
12 calendar months = 1 year 365 days = 1 common year
366 day = l leap year.
The second of time is subdivided like that of angular measure.
FRENCH MEASURES.
11. As the French system of weights and measures is the most scientific plan
known, and as the commercial connexions of the United States with France are
daily increasing, it has been thought proper here to give a short account of
that system.
12. The fundamental, invariable, and standard measure, by which all weights
and measures are formed, is called the metre, a word derived from the Greek ,
which signifies measure. It is a lineal measure, and is equal to 3 feet, 0
inches, 44/1000, Paris measure, or 3 feet, 3 inches, 370/1000 English. This unit
is divided into ten parts; each tenth, into ten hundreths; each hundreth, into
ten thousandths, &c. These divisions, as well as those of all other mea
sures, are infinite. As the standard is to be invariable, something has been
sought, from which to make it, which is not variable or subject to any change.
The fundamental base of the metre is the quarter of the terrestrial meridian, or
the distance from the pole to the equator, which has been divided into ten
millions of equal parts, one of which is the length of the metre. All the other
measures are formed from the metre, as follows:
2. MEASURE OF CAPACITY
13. The litre. This is the decimetre; or onetenth part of the cubic metre;
that is, if a vase is made of a cubic form, of a decimetre every way, it would
be of the capacity of a litre. This is divided by tenths, as the metre. The
measures which amount. to more than a single, litre, are counted by tens
hundreds, thousands, &c., of litres.
3. MEASURES OF WEIGHTS.
14. The gramme. This is the weight of a cubic centimetre of distilled water,
at the temperature of zero; that is, if a vase be made of a cubic form, of a
hundredth part of a metre every way, and it be filled with distilled water, the
weight of that water will be that of the gramme.
4. MEASURES OF SURFACES.
15. The arc, used in surveying. This is a square, the sides of which are of
the length of ten metres, or what is equal to one hundred square metres. Its
divisions are the same as in the preceding measures.
5. MEASURES OF SOLIDITY.
16. The stere, used in measuring firewood. It is a cubic metre. Its
subdivisions are similar to the preceding. The term is used only for measuring
firewood. For the measure of other things, the term cube metre, or cubic metre
is used, or the tenth, hundredth, &c., of such a cube.
6. MONEY.
17. The franc. It weighs five grammes. it is made of ninetenths of silver,
and onetenth of copper. Its tenth part is called a decime, and its hundredth
part a centime.
18. One measure being thus made the standard of all the rest, they must be
all equally invariable; but, in order to make this certainty perfectly sure, the
following precautions have been adopted. As the temperature was found to have an
influence on bodies, the term zero, or melting ice, has been selected in making
the models or standard of the metre. Distilled water has been chosen to make the
standard of the gramme, as being purer, and less encumbered with foreign matter
than common water. The temperature having also an influence on a determinate
volume of water, that with which the experiments were made, was of the
temperature of zero, or melting ice. The air, more or less charged with
humidity, causes the weight of bodies to vary, the models which represent the
weight of the gramme, have, therefore, been taken in a vacuum.
19. It has already been stated, that the divisions of these measures are all
uniform, namely by tens, or decimal fractions, they may therefore be written as
such. Instead of writing,
1 metre and 1 tenth of a metre,
we may write, 1 m. 1.
2 metre and 8 tenths, 2 m. 8.
10 metre and 4 hundredths, 10 m. 04.
7 litres, 1 tenth, and 2 hundredths,
7 lit. 12, &c.;
20. Names have been given to, each of these divisions of the principal unit
but these names always indicate the value of the fraction, and the unit from
which it is derived. To the name of the unit have been prefixed the particles
deci, for tenth, centi, for hundredth, and milli, for thousandth. They are thus
expressed, a decimetre, a decilitre, a decigramme, a decistere, a deciare, a
centimetre, a centilitre, a centigramme, &c. The facility with which the
divisions of the unit are reduced to the same expression, is very apparent; this
cannot be done with any other kind of measures.
21. As it may sometimes be necessary to express great quantities of units,
collections have been made of them in tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of
thousands, &c., to which names, derived from the Greek, have been given;
namely, deca, for tens hecto, for hundreds; kilo, for thousands and myria, for
tens of thousands; they are thus expressed; a decametre, a decalitre, &c.; a
hectometre, a hectogramme, &c.; a kilometre, a kilogramme, &c.
22. The following table will facilitate the reduction of these weights and
measures into our own.
The Metre, is 3.28 feet, or 39.871 in.
Are, is 1076.441 square feet.
Litre, is 61.028 cubic inch
Stere, is 35.317 cubic feet.
Gramme, is 15.4441 grains troy,
or 5.6481 drams, averdupois.
MEASURE OF DAMAGES, prac. Those principles or rules of law which
control a jury in adjusting or proportioning the damages, in certain cases. 1
Bouv. Inst. n. 636.
