_Poor Richard Improved_

1752

KIND READER, Since the King and Parliament have thought fit to alter our Year, by taking eleven Days out of _September_, 1752, and directing us to begin our Account for the future on the First of _January_, some Account of the Changes the Year hath heretofore undergone, and the Reasons of them, may a little gratify thy Curiosity.

The Vicissitude of _Seasons_ seems to have given Occasion to the first Institution of the _Year._ Man naturally curious to know the Cause of that Diversity, soon found it was the Nearness and Distance of the Sun; and upon this, gave the Name _Year_ to the Space of Time wherein that Luminary, performing his whole Course, returned to the same Point of his Orbit.

And hence, as it was on Account of the Seasons, in a great Measure, that the _Year_ was instituted, their chief Regard and Attention was, that the same Parts of the _Year_ should always correspond to the same Seasons; _i. e._ that the Beginning of the Year should always be when the Sun was in the same Point of his Orbit; and that they should keep Pace, come round, and end together.

This, different Nations aimed to attain by different Ways; making the _Year_ to commence from different Points of the Zodiac; and even the Time of his Progress different. So that some of their Years were much more perfect than others, but none of them quite just; _i. e._ none of them but whose Parts shifted with Regard to the Parts of the Sun's Course.

It was the _Egyptians_, if we may credit _Herodotus_, that first formed the _Year_, making it to contain 360 Days, which they subdivided into twelve Months, of thirty Days each.

_Mercury Trismegistus_ added five Days more to the Account. -- And on this Footing _Thales_ is said to have instituted the Year among the _Greeks._ Tho' that Form of the Year did not hold throughout all _Greece._ Add that the _Jewish_, _Syrian_, _Roman_, _Persian_, _Ethiopic_, _Arabic_, &c. Years, are all different.

In effect, considering the poor State of Astronomy in those Ages, it is no Wonder different People should disagree in the Calculus of the Sun's Course. We are even assured by _Diodorus Siculus_, _Plutarch_, and _Pliny_, that the _Egyptian Year_ itself was at first very different from what it became afterwards.

According to our Account, the _Solar Year_, or the Interval of Time in which the Sun finishes his Course thro' the Zodiac, and returns to the same Point thereof from which he had departed, is 365 Days, 5 Hours, 49 Minutes; tho' some Astronomers make it a few Seconds, and some a whole Minute less; as _Kepler_, for Instance, who makes it 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes, 57 Seconds, 39 Thirds. _Ricciolus_, 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes. _Tycho Brahe_, 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes.

The _Civil Year_ is that Form of the _Year_ which each Nation has contrived to compute Time by; or the _Civil_ is the _Tropical Year_, considered as only consisting of a certain Number of whole Days; the odd Hours and Minutes being set aside, to render the Computation of Time in the common Occasions of Life more easy.

Hence as the _Tropical Year_ is 365 Days, 5 Hours, 49 Minutes; the _Civil Year_ is 365 Days. And hence also, as it is necessary to keep Pace with the Heavens, it is required that every fourth Year consist of 366 Days, which would for ever keep the Year exactly right, if the odd Hours of each Year were precisely 6.

The ancient _Roman Year_, as first settled by _Romulus_, consisted of ten Months only; _viz._ I. _March_, containing 31 Days. II. _April_, 30. III. _May_, 31. IV. _June_ 30. V. _Quintilis_, 31. VI. _Sextilis_, 30. VII. _September_, 30. VIII. _October_, 31. IX. _November_, 30. X. _December_, 30; in all 304 Days; which came short of the _Solar Year_, by 61 Days.

Hence the Beginning of _Romulus_'s Year was vague, and unfixed to any precise Season; which Inconvenience to remove, that Prince ordered so many Days to be added yearly, as would make the State of the Heavens correspond to the first Month, without incorporating these additional Days, or calling them by the Name of any Month.

_Numa Pompilius_ corrected this irregular Constitution of the Year, and composed two new Months, _January_ and _February_, of the Days that were used to be added to the former Year. Thus, _Numa_'s _Year_ consisted of twelve Months; _viz._ I. _January_, containing 29 Days. II. _February_, 28. III. _March_, 31. IV. _April_, 29. V. _May_, 31. VI. _June_, 29. VII. _Quintilis_, 31. VIII. _Sextilis_, 29. IX. _September_, 29. X. _October_, 31. XI. _November_, 29. XII. _December_, 29; in all 355 Days, which came short of the common Solar Year by ten Days; so that its Beginning was vague and unfixed.

_Numa_, however, desiring to have it fixed to the Winter Solstice, ordered 22 Days to be intercalated in _February_ every second Year, 23 every fourth, 22 every sixth, and 23 every eighth Year.

But this Rule failing to keep Matters even, Recourse was had to a new Way of Intercalating; and instead of 23 Days every eighth Year, only 15 were added; and the Care of the whole committed to the _Pontifex Maximus_, or High Priest; who, neglecting the Trust, let Things run to the utmost Confusion. And thus the _Roman_ Year stood till _Julius Caesar_ made a Reformation.

The _Julian Year_, is a Solar Year, containing commonly 365 Days; tho' every fourth Year, called _Bissextile_, contains 366. -- The Names and Order of the Months of the _Julian Year_, and the Number of Days in each, are well known to us, having been long in Use.

The astronomical Quantity, therefore, of the _Julian Year_, is 365 Days, 6 Hours, which exceeds the true Solar Year by 11 Minutes; which Excess in 131 Years amounts to a whole Day. -- And thus the _Roman Year_ stood, till the Reformation made therein by Pope _Gregory._

_Julius Caesar_, in the Contrivance of his Form of the Year, was assisted by _Sosigenes_, a famous Mathematician, called over from _Egypt_ for this very Purpose; who, to supply the Defect of 67 Days which had been lost thro' the Fault of the High Priests, and to fix the Beginning of the Year to the Winter Solstice, made that Year to consist of 15 Months, or 445 Days; which for that Reason is used to be called _Annus Confusionis_, the _Year of Confusion._

This Form of the Year was used by all Christian Nations, till the Middle of the 16th Century; and still continues to be so by several Nations; among the Rest, by the _Swedes_, _Danes_, &c. and by the _English_ till the second of _September_ next, when they are to assume the Use of the _Gregorian Year._

The GREGORIAN YEAR is the _Julian Year_ corrected by this Rule; that whereas on the common Footing, every Secular or Hundredth Year, is _Bissextile_; on the new Footing, three of them are common Years, and only the fourth _Bissextile._

The Error of eleven Minutes in the _Julian Year_, little as it was, yet, by being repeated over and over, at length became considerable; and from the Time when _Caesar_ made his Correction, was grown into 13 Days, by which the Equinoxes were greatly disturbed. To remedy this Irregularity, which was still a growing, Pope _Gregory_ the XIII. called together the chief Astronomers of his Time, and concerted this Correction; and to restore the Equinoxes to their Place threw out the ten Days that had been got from the Council of _Nice_, and which had shifted the fifth of _October_ to the 15th.

In the Year 1700, the Error of ten Days was grown to eleven; upon which the Protestant States of _Germany_, to prevent further Confusion, accepted the _Gregorian_ Correction. And now in 1752, the _English_ follow their Example.

Yet is the _Gregorian Year_ far from being perfect, for we have shewn, that, in four Centuries, the _Julian Year_ gains three Days, one Hour, twenty Minutes: But it is only the three Days are kept out in the _Gregorian Year_; so that here is still an Excess of one Hour, twenty Minutes, in four Centuries; which in 72 Centuries will amount to a whole Day.

As to the Commencement of the Year, the _legal Year_ in _England_ used to begin on the Day of the _Annunciation_; _i. e._ on the 25th of _March_; tho' the historical Year began on the Day of the _Circumcision_; _i. e._ the first of _January_, on which Day the _Italian_ and _German_ Year also begins; and on which Day ours is to begin from this Time forward, the first Day of _January_ being now by Act of Parliament declared the first Day of the Year 1752.

At the Yearly Meeting of the People called _Quakers_, held in _London_, since the Passing of this Act, it was agreed to recommend to their Friends a Conformity thereto, both in omitting the eleven Days of _September_ thereby directed to be omitted, and beginning the Year hereafter on the first Day of the Month called _January_, which is henceforth to be by them called and written, _The First Month_, and the rest likewise in their Order, so that _September_ will now be the _Ninth Month_, _December_ the _Twelfth._

This _Act of Parliament_, as it contains many Matters of Importance, and extends expresly to all the _British Colonies_, I shall for the Satisfaction of the Publick, give at full length: Wishing withal, according to ancient Custom, that this _New Year_ (which is indeed a New Year, such an one as we never saw before, and shall never see again) may be a happy Year to all my kind Readers. I am, Your faithful Servant, R. SAUNDERS. ______

Observe old _Vellum_; he praises former Times, as if he'd a mind to sell 'em.

Kings have long Arms, but Misfortune longer: Let none think themselves out of her Reach.

For want of a Nail the Shoe is lost; for want of a Shoe, the Horse is lost; for want of a Horse the Rider is lost.

The busy Man has few idle Visitors; to the boiling Pot the Flies come not.

Calamity and Prosperity are the Touchstones of Integrity.

The Prodigal generally does more Injustice than the Covetous.

Generous Minds are all of kin.

'Tis more noble to forgive, and more manly to despise, than to revenge an Injury.

A Brother may not be a Friend, but a Friend will always be a Brother.

Meanness is the Parent of Insolence.

Mankind are very odd Creatures: One Half censure what they practise, the other half practise what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought.

Severity is often Clemency; Clemency Severity.

_Bis dat qui cito dat_: He gives twice that gives soon; _i. e._ he will soon be called upon to give again.

A Temper to bear much, will have much to bear.

Pride dines upon Vanity, sups on Contempt.

Great Merit is coy, as well as great Pride.

An undutiful Daughter, will prove an unmanageable Wife.

Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones; the Difference is only in the Price.

The too obliging Temper is evermore disobliging itself.

Hold your Council before Dinner; the full Belly hates Thinking as well as Acting.

The Brave and the Wise can both pity and excuse; when Cowards and Fools shew no Mercy.

Ceremony is not Civility; nor Civility Ceremony.

If Man could have Half his Wishes, he would double his Troubles.

It is ill Jesting with the Joiner's Tools, worse with the Doctor's.

Children and Princes will quarrel for Trifles.

Praise to the undeserving, is severe Satyr.

Success has ruin'd many a Man.

Great Pride and Meanness sure are near ally'd; Or thin Partitions do their Bounds divide.

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