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)
THE BOOK OF DAYS. from Riman to Saxon deities in our names of the days of the week, a quaint poet of the last cen- tury tius expresses himself: 'The Sun still rules the week's initial day, The Moon o'er Monday yet retains the sway; But Tuesday, which to Mars was whilom given, Is Tuesco's subject in the northern heaven; And Woden hath the charge of Wednesday, Which did belong of old to Mercury; And Jove himself surrenders his own day To Thor, a barbarous god of Saxon clay: Friday, who under Venus once did wield Love's balmy spells, must now to Frea yield; While Saturn still holds fast his day, but loses The Sabbath, which the central Sun abuses. Just like the days do persons change their masters, Those gods who them protect against disasters; And souls which were to natal genii given, Belong to guardian angels up in heaven: And now each popish patron saint disgraces The ancient local Genius's strong places. Mutamus et mutamur-n hat's the odds If men do sometimes change their plaything gods! The final Jupiter will e'er remain Unchanged, and always send us wind and rain, And warmth and cold, and day and shady night, Whose starry pole will shine with Cynthia's light: Nor does it matter much, where Prudence reign, What other gods their empire shall retain.' THE DAY ABSOLUTE AND THE DAY PRACTICAL. While the day absolute is readily seen to be measured by a single rotation of our globe on its axis, the day practical is a very different affair. Every meridian has its own practical day, differ- ing from the practical day of every other meridian. That is to say, take any line of places extending between the poles; at the absolute moment of noon to them, it is midnight to the line of places on the antipodes, and some other hour of the day to each similar line of places between. Conse- quently, the denomination of a day-say the lst of January-reigns over the earth during two of its rotations, or forty-eight hours. Another result is, that in a circumnavigation of the globe, you gain a day in reckoning by going eastward, and lose one by going westward-a fact that first was revealed to mankind at the conclusion of Magel- lan's voyage in September 1522, when the sur- viving mariners, finding themselves a day behind their countrymen, accused each other of sleeping or negligence, and thought such must have been the cause until the true one was explained. The mariners of enlightened European nations, in pursuing their explorations some centuries ago, everywhere carried with them their own nominal day, without regard to the slide which it performed in absolute time by their easterly and westerly movements. As they went east- ward, they found the expressed time always moving onward; as they moved westwards, they found it falling backwards. Where the two lines of exploration met, there, of course, it was certain that the nominal days of the two parties would come to a decided discrepancy. The meeting was between Asia and America, and accordingly in that part of the world, the day is (say) Thurs. 6 day in one place, and Wednesday in another not very far distant. Very oddly, the extreme west of the North American continent having been settled by Russians who have come from the west, while the rest was colonized by Europeans from the opposite direction, a different expression of the day prevails there; while, again, Manilla, in Asia, having been taken possession of by Spaniards coming from the east, differs from the day of our own East Indies. Thus the discre- pancy overlaps a not inconsiderable space of the earth's surface. It arises as a natural consequence of these facts, that throughout the earth there is not a simultaneous but a consecutive keeping of the Sabbath. 'The inhabitants of Great Britain at eight o'clock on Sabbath morning, may realise the idea that at that hour there is a general Sabbath over the earth from the furthest east to the furthest west. The Russians in America are finishing their latest vespers: the Christians in our own colony of British Columbia are com- mencing their earliest matins. Among Christians throughout the world, the Sabbath is more or less advanced, except at Manilla, where it is commenced at about four o'clock P.m. on our Sabbath. At the first institution of the Sabbath in the Garden of Eden, it was finished in the space of twenty-four hours; but now, since Christians are found in every meridian under the sun, the Sabbath, from its very commencement to its final close, extends to forty-eight, or rather to fifty-six hours, by taking the abnormal state of Manilla into account." DAY AND NIGHT, AS CONNECTED WITH ANIMAL LIFE. 'Every animal, after a period of activity, becomes exhausted or fatigued, and a period of repose is necessary to recruit the weakened ener- gies and qualify the system for renewed exertion. . . . . In the animals which are denominated Diurnal, including man, daylight is requisite for enabling them to provide their food, protection, and comfort, and to maintain that correspondence with one another which, in general, is requisite for the preservation of the social compact. Such animals rest during the night; and in order to guard the system from the influence of a cold connected with the descending branch of the curve,t and peculiarly injurious to an exhausted frame, they retire to places of shelter, or assume particular positions, until the rising sun restores the requisite warmth, and enables the renovated body to renew the ordinary labours of life. 'With the Nocturnal animals, on the other hand, the case is widely different. The daytime is the period of their repose; their eyes are * John Husband, in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, vii. 51. t By the curve, the writer means a formula for ex- pressing in one wavy line the rises and falls of the ther- mometer in the course of a certain space of time.
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