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FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Chambers's London Journal
Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 63, Au...
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Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 63, August 6, 1842.
Blanchard, Edward Litt Leman.
11 October 2015
London: W. Strange ... W. Clements ... and G. Berger
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,, . 1 2 s “BY EDUCATION MEN ncoin uasr so LEAD, BVT Dll'!’ICI7l.‘l‘ 1'0 nnlvl-EASY T0 GOVERN. BUT IMPOSSIBLE To ExsLIivE."--Loan lmol7GH.ua- Norman 63. SATURDAY, ‘AUGUST 6, 1842. Pines: Tnnrzrz HALFPENCE. Chronology Chronotholicised. II’ JAXIS CALDER HOIIY, Iris very difficult, if not impossible, to peruse his- tory with reference to exactness of time, without having a competent knowledge of the diderent variations of the calendar, or rather the various changes which have taken place in nearly every nation in regard to their standard of time. And it is even more difficult to point out any one human thing, all important as it is, which has been so often and so variously subject to alteration. Calendar may be defined to be a political distribution or arrangement of time adapted by mankind so as best to suit their peculiar wants orusages ; and as those wants and usages naturally depend upon locality and climate, it is easy to perceive that in an early stage of man’: advancement, uniformity, in this respect, would not pre- vail. Thus, some nations have reckoned by hours, some by moons, the inhabitant of the polar regions by his long day or night, some by certain lengthened periods, as the Olympiad, &c., and in nearly every case the starting point for reckoning this time has been a differ- ent one. Among the Ilindoos, from the birth of Brah- min ;with the Persian fire-worshippers, from the decease of Zcroaster ; with the Christian, the advent of our Saviour; and with the countless multitudes who profess the Mahometnn faith, from the celebrated flight of their prophet; and thus of the rest. Amongst the methods of computing time alluded to, that by hours seems to have largely prevailed with the Oriental nations, from whom the Greeks and Romans, as is well known, borrowed a great portion of those customs and institutions, which, modified and improved in their severe republics, are found to this day among the framework of modern society. The poets of these nations deified the hours; and Ovid, it will he remem- bered,descril)es them as being in habitual attendance upon the sun, and engaged in preparing his winged steeds for their daily journey of benehcence and splen- dour- " Jungere eqnos Titan velocibns lmperat horis," and the constant allusion to them by the glorious band of painters and poets of all ages and clinics, in the guise of beautiful maidens winging their radiant way through the mazes of the stars, preceding the glorious luminary, must have impressed the same idea upon the mind of the ingenious reader. The Chinese have tem- ples especially dedicated to the passing hour, which temples are ever ,, "‘ allegorising, as it were, the necessity of profiting by our present moments, which, whether crowned with the choicest flowers of life, or shaded o'er with sorrow’: darkest gloom, yet must return no more. But it is of greater moment to remark the important formation of time into that period called by us a year, Douhtless, mankind, curious to discover the cause of the change of senson- ' “Quid mmim Occeano pr0P‘“"‘ ‘"1-ism lole: Hybernl," would soon perceive that these results took place in ac. cordance with a certain proximity or absence ofthe sun from their peculiar locality ; and having ascertained that this progress and decrease was strictly periodical, applied the term f‘ year" to that interval of time which was consumed are the sun returned to that position of the heavens which be occupied when their calculation commenced. But all the human family did not calcu- late from the same position of the planet, or in the same manner, and certainly with very diferent degrees of accuracy: hence the diversity which has prevailed at No. 3!.-wV'ol. ll. various times in the length of the year. llerodotus says, that the Egyptians, more patient and curious ob- servers of the heavenly bodies than the generality of mankind, first divided their year into twelve months of 360 days, to which Mecurius Ptolemeus added Eve days, thus approximating very nearly to the true length of the solar year. And it is very generally agreed that Thales introduced the same length of year among the Greeks, his countrymen ; yet this arrangement was very far from general even among that nation, for their coin- pletc and jealous independence of each other, rendered the adoption of even so obvious and salutary an im- provement is doubtful and tedious affair. The Hebrew method of computing the year was curious. Reckoning, like the generality of the Eastern nations, according to the course of the moon (which would be earliest observed), they were accustomed every third year to add a thirteenth month of 30 days, which will be found on calculation to approach nearly to true solartime. Thisrnethod, called inlnrmlation, was also fol- lowed by the Greeks, (although their necessity was smaller) so far as to enlarge their lunar year by 1": days, which process wasknown to them by the word E,-5axip4aT:v, which menusinterposed. Yet finding that their year, even thus enlarged every fourth year, preceded by one day the return of the sun, they were accustomed, at the expiration of that period, to add a double month of 22 days, with another day to compensate for the annual loss of the six ours; as we do now in every leap year. Thus, this fourth year would consist of 399 days, too long it is true, but the excess, it will be seen, would he again ex- pended in the ensuing fouryears ; and thus our ancient friends, although never correct, yet contrived to keep the months and seasons in some degree of order. They thus managed, to use a homely phrase, to make both ends meet. In the time of Iphizus, this arrangement was con- secrated nnd ordained as low, at the solemnity of the Olympic Games, where the various nations of Greece were accustomed to assemble every fourth year; and from that time was dated the Olympian Epoch, by which events were computed for a period of 1,209 years, down to the year of our Saviour 400; after which time we find the use of them abandoned by ancient Chronologists. Nor did the Romans, at first, treat the year with greater accuracy or attention. Romulus very uncere- moniously shortened it to ten months, and placed the month of March first in the series, consecrnting it to his reputed father, the God of War. This havingproduced its certain effect, in confusion and inaccuracy, Nurna Pompilius, his successor (whose mind was ot',a more pacific cast, and who wished to soften the manners of a yet savage and uncouth people), recalled the exiled months, and placing them before the others, dedicated the first to Janus, a former king of the Latians, re- nowned for his wisdom and piety, whose statue was generally represented with two faces, looking before and behind, so as to import, that whilst pressing on to the goal of the future, it was yet necessary to profit by the experience ofthe past. It will be seen that this pro- ceeding changed the seventh mouth into the ninth, the eighth into the tenth, and so on as they stand at this day. Yet, as the year was still too short by eleven days, every two years the process of intercalntion was resorted to; and the calendar, alternately fed and furnished, hob- bled on until the time ofJulius Caesar. llis great mind could ill] brook such disorder in the most important article of human consumption Time ; and thus he finally arranged the matter. Between the lunar year of Numa, and the solar year, a difference of ten days ex- isted. These ten days Caesar distributed among those months which contained the least number of days, and directed that the extra day arising from the six hours before mentioned, should he intercalated after the 23d of February, which was the 6th of the Kalends of March. And because it happened that in that year the Kalends would be twice counted, the Romans called it Bissextus, hence the term Bissextile. The disorder and confusion in the calendar previous to these salutary regulations, was so great, that the year in which they took place con- sisted of fifteen months. It may be here observed. and as we believe without presumption, that in this strict attention, this anxiety concerning the standard of time, human progression, in respect to the exercise of useful and valuable knowledge, was truly commenced. For of what avail would be the dreams of the most eloquent poet, the chastened senti- ments of the most fervent orator, the calm and logical deductions ofthe gifted historian, the various moral and religious histories of the past, unless we could be in- formed ofthe true time when an event eccurredl llow vain would be the lessons of an indelinible antiquity-how ill observed the traditions of a time to which approximation was impossible! Let us rejoice, then, to crown with triple crowns of honour, to conse- crate the memory of those sages of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, who first enabled the human race to give their airy traditions, their first threads of historical lore- " a local habitation and a name.“ And whilst we de- plors that many most interesting events of the distant past are leli in doubt,-whilst others which were worthy ofundying remembrance are buried in oblivion,-let us reap consolation from this reflection, that now the land- marks of Time are so defmitelylixed, that the period of no great or interesting occurrence can ever be forgotten. One little inaccuracy remained, which rendered it necessary, many ages after, to disturb the reposs of the calendar, now silvered o'er with age, once more. The Julian year was now longer by some few minutes than the astronomical solar year. This little difference, in the progress of years, became of such importance, that the oquinoxes became seriously deranged; to re- ‘ medy which, Pope Gregory the Thirteenth called around him, in council, the most celebrated astronomers,’ and by an Apostolical Bull, "Elli! recidrndurn he pm -sum. lrahalur," directed all good Christians to call the 5th of October the 15th, which requisition was generally complied with ; thus amputating ten days of dangerous excess, and causing the venerable calendar to conduct itself hence-' forward in a " new style." Did space permit, it would here be not a little amusing to inquire into the nature, antiquity, and history of the ancient attendants of the calendar, the Nundinial days known to the Romans by the letters I‘ and N- " Quibnl fur, vol rwfiu easel in jus agert ;" the Dominica! letters ; the solar cycle, invented to dis- cover on what day ofthe month future Sundays would fall; the lunar cycle; the golden number; the Julian period, first spoken of by Julius Scaliger; with many other things on which the dust of antiquity is rapidly accumulating. This, howevensliould not be ; and it has been chiefly with a view to restore these recollections that the above article has been penned. And thus we bid the render farewell ! - Aloysius r.a1u..r. 1.;