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Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

Time and its natural measurers,   pp. 1-14 ff. PDF (9.3 MB)


Page 1

TIME AND ITS NATURAL MEASURERS.
is one of those
things which can-
not  be   defined.
We only know or
beome sensible of it through
certain processes of nature which
require it for their being car-
ried on and perfected, and to-
wards which it may therefore be
said to bear a relation. We only
appreciate it as a fact in the uni-
versal frame of things, when we are
enabled by these means to measure
it. Thus. the rotation of the earth on
its axis, the process by which we obtain
the alternation of day and night, takes a
certain space of time. This, multiplied by
366, gives the time required for the revolution of
1
the earth around the sun, the process by which we
enjoy the alternations of the seasons. The life of
a well-constituted man will, under fair condi-
tions, last during about seventy such spaces of
time or years; very rarely to a hundred. The
cluster of individuals termed a nation, or consti-
tuting a state, will pass through certain changes,
inferring moral, social, and political improve-
ment, in the course of still larger spaces of time;
say several centuries: also certain processes of
decay, requiring, perhaps, equal spaces of time.
With such matters it is the province of history
to deal; and actually from this source we learn
pretty clearly what has been going on upon the
surface of the earth during about four thousand
years. We have also reason, however, to con-
clude, that our planet has existed for a prodigi-
ously longer space of time than that.       The
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