Abbildungen der Seite

bissextile, and this appellation was also extended to every year in which it took place. The term LeapYear arises from the day in the week leaping ono day forward beyond the common years. Thus, for instance, the year 1819 commenced on Friday, and the present year, 1820, on Saturday; but 1821 will begin on Monday; thus completely leaping over Sunday, in consequence of the additional day contained in February this year, that month containing 29 days.

As the science of astronomy advanced, and both instruments and observations became more accurate, astronomers were able to detect inaccuracies in the works and observations of their predecessors, and found that the length of the solar year was only 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 57 seconds. Pope Gregory XIII, having found that the error of the Julian reckoning, in the year 1582, amounted to 10 days, ordered a reformation of the calendar, and omitted these 10 days, by calling the 11th of March the 21st. In order also to avoid the error that thus arose from adding 6 hours to 365 of every year, or rather one day to every fourth year, he ordained that every hundredth year, which according to the Julian reckoning was to be a bissextile, should be a common year of only 365 days, except every fourbundredth year, which was to be a bissextile or loapyear. Thus the reckoning was brought extremely near the truth; and the account was called the Gregorian or new style, in opposition to the Julian or old style.

The very near agreement of the new style with the true solar year caused its early adoption by several European states; and a diet consisting of a body of Protestants of the German empire, held at Ratisbon, in 1700, took the subject into consideration; and finding that the error in the old account then amounted to 11 days, decreed that those days should be omitted in the month of February in the following year. These regulations were then adopted by various other states.

In the year 1752, the same method of correcting the general account of time was adopted in England, on the authority of an act passed in the preceding session of Parliament, in which it was directed that the year should in future commence on the 1st of January instead of the 25th of March, as it had previously done :--That the natural day immediately following the 2d of September in that year should be reckoned the 14th, and thus omitting the 11 intermediate days of the common calendar: It was also enacted at the same time, in order that the calendar might be preserved from error in future times, that the year 1800, with the last year of some other centuries inserted in the bill, should be a common year of only 365 days; and consequently not be reckoned a bissextile or leap-year, as it otherwise would have been but for this regulation. The month of February, therefore, in the calendar of that year, contained only 28 days.

It deserves to be remarked, in connection with this subject, that previous to that time it was customary to express the dates of writings between the 1st of January and the 25th of March by means of fractional numbers, denoting both the present and preceding years. The fraction was formed of the digits which expressed the past and the present year, the former constituting the numerator and the latter the denominator; and this fraction was then subjoined to the figures that were common to them both. Thus the 25th of January 1745 was written 25th January 1744; and in the same manner for other dates.

EPOCHS. Having, in our last volume of Time's Telescope for 1819, said something relative to Epochs, it may not be improper to introduce the following additional remarks on that subject in this place. By the word

epoch is, therefore, to be understood that point of time from which various nations commence their year, or the reckoning by which their years are numbered. According to antient history, the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Syrians, Phenicians, and Carthagenians,commenced their year at the antumnal equinox. The Jews also began their civil year at the same epoch; but their ecclesiastical year commenced at the vernal equinox. The ecclesiastical year with the Jews, also, regulated many more things than the civil year. The Greeks began their year at the winter solstice prior to the regulations introduced by Methon, and at the summer solstice after that time. The Roman year commenced at the vernal equinox with Romulus, but at the winter soļstice with Numa Pompilius; and also at the latter epoch among the Scandinavians, or antient inhabitants of northern Europe. Among the Chinese the year appears always to have taken place at the same period, and which answers to our February.

According to modern history, the French began their year at Martinmas (22d of November). Under the first race of kings, when the government was purely military, it commenced on the 1st of May, when the troops, were reviewed. Under the second race of kings it began at the winter solstice; under the third, at the vernal equinox; on the 1st of January, by a proclamation of Charles IX, dated in 1654; and at the autumnal equinox (1st of Vendémiaire), from the establishment of the republic. This continued 14 years, when they returned to the former epoch of the 1st of January. The English began their civil year at the winter solstice; but their legal year at the vernal equinox till 1752, when the commencement was fixed by act of Parliament for the 1st of January. Among the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Germans, the Siamese, and the Peruvians, all begin their year at the winter solstice. The Mexicans commenee theirs at the vernal equinox. As the year of the Mahometans consists of twelve lunar months, or sometimes of 354 and at others of 355 days, to avoid the fractions which these lunations create, it commences on different days, and consequently has not any fixed epoch.

To this it may not be amiss to add the following brief summary: The Julian period, as before stated, contains 7980 years, and is a kind of common rendezvous of all the known epochs or eras. With respect to this period, The Jewish Epoch is in the year

954 The Era of the Olympiads is the year

3938 The Epoch of the Foundation of Rome

3961 The Persian, or Nabonąssar's Era

3967 The Christian Era

4714 The Mahometan Era, or Hegira

5335 The years reckoned by these different nations now (1820), are, according to the preceding.computation of able chronologists, the following: viz. For the Jews

5370 For the antient Greeks

2596 For the antient Romans

2573 For the aptient Persians

2567 For the Christians

1820 For the Mahometans, commencing October 9, 1820. 1236

The Naturalist's Diary

For FEBRUARY 1820.

Mark how it snows! how fast the valley fills !
And the sweet groves the hoary garment wear;
Yet the warm sun-beams, bounding from the hills,

Shall melt the veil away, and the young green appear. In February, the weather in England is usually variable, and sometimes inclined to frost and snow. The thermometer is then often down below the freezing point, but is generally found at noon between 36° and 46°; towards the end of the month it sometimes rises to 50®, or even 52° or 54°. The se

vere weather generally breaks up with a sudden thaw, accompanied by wind and rain; torrents of water pour from the hills, and the snow is completely dissolved. Rivers swell and inundate the surrounding country, often carrying away bridges, cattle, mills, gates, &c., and causing great injury to the farmer.

The frost resolves into a trickling thaw.
Spotted, the mountains shiine'; loose sleet descends,
And foods the country round. The rivers swell,
Of bounds impatient. Sudden from the hills,
O'er rocks and woods, in broad brown cataracts,
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once ;
Aud where they'rash, tfie wide résounding plain

Is left one slimy waste. The wintry aspect of this month, contrasted with the approach of spring, has a pleasing effect on the contemplative mind: nothing can be more grateful, indeed, than to mark the progressive course of the seasons of the year.

In this lone hour, when angry storms descend,
And the chilled soul deplores her distant friend;
When all her sprightly fires inactive lie,
And gloomy objects fill the mental eye;
· When hoary Winter strides the northern blast,
And Flora's beauties at his feet are cast;:
Earth by the grisly tyrant desart made,
The feathered warblers quit the leafless shade;
Quit those dear scenes where life and love began,
And, cheerless, seek the savage haunt of man;
How mourns each tenant of the silent grove!
No soft sensation tunes the heart to love;
No Autt'ring pulse awakes to Rapture's call;
No strain responsive aids the water's fall.
The bleating flocks now ask the bounteous hand,
And crystal streams in frozen fetters stand.
The beauteous red-breast, tender in her frame,
Whose murder marks the fool with treble shame,
Near the low cottage door, in peusive mood,
Complains, and mourns her brothers of the wood:


« ZurückWeiter »