A "fifty-six"?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Apr 3 14:50:06 UTC 2008

In _The House of the Seven Gables_, I find:

"Though looked upon as a weighty man among his contemporaries, in
respect of animal substance; and as favored with a remarkable degree
of fundamental development, well adapting him for the judicial bench,
we conceive that the modern Judge Pyncheon, if weighed in the same
balance with his ancestor, would have required at least an
old-fashioned fifty-six, to keep the scale in equilibrio."

[And they say Hawthorne was humorless.]

What is a fifty-six?  Not in OED2.  A weight of 4 stone, I
assume--but was this a common unit for weights used in a scale,
perhaps for animals?


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