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of the whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds the notions of religion, but as it puts both the sexes upon appearing in their most agreeable forms, and exerting all such qualities as are apt to give them a figure in the eye of the village. A country fellow distinguishes himself as much in the churchyard as a citizen does upon the 'Change, the whole parish politics being generally discussed in that place either after sermon or before the bell rings.
My friend Sir Roger, being a good churchman, has beautified the inside of his church with several texts of his own choosing. He has likewise given a handsome pulpit-cloth, and railed in the communion-table at his own expense. He has often told me, that at his coming to his estate he found his parishioners very irregular; and that in order to make them kneel, and join in the responses, he gave every one of them a hassock and a Common Prayer Book: and at the same time employed an itinerant singing-master, who goes about the country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes of the Psalms, upon which they now very much value themselves, and indeed outdo most of the country churches that I have ever heard.
As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to sleep in it besides himself; for if by chance he is surprised into a short nap at sermon, upon recovering out of it he stands up and looks about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes them himself, or sends his servants to them. Several other of the old knight's particularities break out upon these occasions. Sometimes he will be lengthening out a verse in the singing Psalms half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes when he is pleased with the matter of his devotion, he nounces Amen three or four times in the same prayer; and sometimes stands up when every body else is upon their knees, to count the congregation, or see if any of his tenants are missing.
I was yesterday very much surprised to hear my old friend, in the midst of the service, calling out to one John Matthews to mind what he was about, and not disturb the congregation. This John Matthews, it seems, is remarkable for being an idle fellow, and at that time was kicking his heels for his diversion. This authority of the knight, though exerted in that odd manner which accompanies him in all the circumstances of life, has a very good effect upon the parish, who are not polite enough to see anything ridiculous in his behaviour; besides that the general good sense and worthiness of his character make his friends observe these little singularities as foils that rather set off than blemish his good qualities.
As soon as the sermon is finished, nobody presumes to stir till Sir Roger is gone out of the church. The knight walks down from his seat in the chancel between a double row of his tenants, that stand bowing to him on each side; and every now and then inquires how such a one's wife or mother, or son, or father do,
whom he does not see at church; which is understood as a secret reprimand to the person that is absent.
The chaplain has often told me, that upon a catechising day, when Sir Roger has been pleased with a boy that answers well, he has ordered a Bible to be given to him next day for his encouragement, and sometimes accompanies it with a flitch of bacon to his mother. Sir Roger has likewise added five pounds a year to the clerk's place; and, that he may encourage the young fellows to make themselves perfect in the church service, has promised upon the death of the present incumbent, who is very old, to bestow it according to merit.
The fair understanding between Sir Roger and his chaplain, and their mutual concurrence in doing good, is the more remarkable, because the very next village is famous for the differences and contentions that arise between the parson and the 'squire, who live in a perpetual state of war. The parson is always preaching at the 'squire, and the 'squire, to be revenged on the parson, never comes to church. The 'squire has made all his tenants atheists and tithe-stealers, while the parson instructs them every Sunday in the dignity of his order, and insinuates to them, in almost every sermon, that he is a better man than his patron. In short, matters are come to such an extremity, that the 'squire has not said his prayers either in public or private this half-year; and the parson threatens him, if he does not mend his manners, to pray for him in the face of the whole congregation.
Feuds of this nature, though too frequent in the country, are very fatal to the ordinary people; who are so used to be dazzled with riches, that they pay as much deference to the understanding of a man of estate as of a man of learning; and are very hardly brought to regard any truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to them, when they know there are several men of five hundred a year who do not believe it.
On the Order of Nature.
SEE through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
And, if each system in gradation roll,
What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,"
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Cease then, nor ORDER imperfection name:
This notion of the Deity animating the universe is commonly called Pantheism.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
On the Reformation of the Calendar.
THIS excellent scholar in arithmetic and general mathematics, died in 1821. His books are still numbered among our standard treatises on such subjects.
Among the Greeks, and other ancient nations, the length of the year was generally regulated by the course of the moon; and their months were made to consist of twenty-nine and thirty days alternately, and their year of three hundred and fifty-four days: but as the time between two successive full moons is now known to be twenty-nine days twelve hours forty-four minutes and three seconds, and the time the sun takes to move from one of the solstitial points to the same point again is three hundred and sixty-five days five hours forty-eight minutes and forty-nine seconds, it is evident that this computation, although it agreed tolerably well with the course of the moon, must yet have been extremely defective, the difference between the lunar year and the true solar year being more than eleven days.
A reformation of this calendar was made in the year of Rome 708, under the reign of Julius Cæsar: and as it was computed that near ninety days had been lost by the former method of reckoning, these were now taken into the account, and the first Julian year was made to consist of four hundred and forty-four days, which was therefore called the Year of Confusion. After this the beginning of the year was fixed to the first of January, and each of the months, except February, was divided into thirty or thirty-one days, as they are at present. The odd day, which arises out of the six hours above-mentioned, was introduced into the calendar every fourth year, by reckoning the 24th of February twice over: and as this day, in the old account, was the same as the sixth of the calends of March, which had been long celebrated on account of the expulsion of Tarquin, it was called bis-sextus_calendas Martii; from which we have derived our name of Bissextile or leap year. The Julian account, as this method of reckoning has since been called, though far superior to any which preceded it, was, however, still imperfect; for, as the time in which the sun performs his annual revolution is not exactly three hundred and sixty-five days six hours, but three
hundred and sixty-five days five hours forty-eight minutes and forty-nine seconds, the civil year must, therefore, have exceeded the solar year by eleven minutes and eleven seconds, which, in the space of one hundred and thirty years, amounted to a whole day; and consequently, in forty-seven thousand four hundred and fifty years, the beginning of the year would have advanced forwards through all the seasons; so that in half the space of time the summer solstice, according to the Julian calendar, would have fallen in the midst of winter, and the earth been covered with frost when the bloom of vegetation was expected.
Among the first who discovered the imperfections of the Julian calendar were our countryman the Venerable Bede, Sacro Bosco, and Roger Bacon. Those great men, who were the ornaments of the times in which they lived, had observed that the true equinox preceded the civil one by about a day in a hundred and thirty years and as the vernal equinox had been fixed in the year 325 to the 21st of March, it was accordingly found that from this time to the year 1582, when the next reformation was effected, the accumulated error amounted to about ten days; so that the vernal equinox was now found to happen on the 11th of March instead of the 21st, as it ought to have done had the Julian account agreed with the course of the sun.
This constant anticipation of the equinox, which in the course of more than a thousand years, had become too obvious not to be noticed, demanded some alteration: and Pope Gregory XIII. had the honour of accomplishing what several preceding pontiffs and councils had attempted in vain. This was, therefore, called the Gregorian account, or new style, and is that which is now in use throughout Europe.
The first object of the reformers was to correct the errors of the former methods of reckoning, and to make the length of the year agree more exactly with the course of the sun. For this purpose it was agreed that the ten days which had been gained by the old account should be taken from the month of October of the year then current, and the equinox brought back to the 21st of March.
The difference between the old and new style occasioned in England much inconvenience; but popular prejudices greatly retarded the introduction of the reformed calendar, till the year 1752, when an act of parliament was obtained for that purpose. And as a hundred and seventy years had elapsed since the Gregorian alteration took place, the old style had consequently gained above a day more upon the course of the sun than it had at that time; it was therefore enacted, that, instead of cancelling ten days, as had been done by the Pope, eleven days should be left out of the month of September; and accordingly, on the second of that month the old style ceased, and the next day instead of being the third, was called the fourteenth. There is now a difference of twelve days between the old and the new style.