Digital Rare Book:
The Calendar - Its history, structure and improvement
By Alexander Philip
Published by Cambridge, University Press - 1921
Read Book Online:
Download pdf Book:
THE following essay is intended to serve as a text-book for those interested in current discussion concerning the Calendar.
Its design is to exhibit a concise view of the origin and development of the Calendar now in use in Europe and America, to explain the principles and rules of its construction, to show the human purposes for which it is required and employed and to indicate how far it effectively serves these purposes, where it is deficient and how its deficiencies can be most simply and efficiently amended.
After the reform of the Calendar initiated by Pope Gregory XIII there were published a number of exhaustive treatises on the subject — voluminous tomes characterised by the prolix erudition of the seventeenth century.
The elucidation of chronological problems is one of the main uses of the Calendar and it is the one to which these writers have chiefly attended. This, however, is by no means the only and hardly even the principal purpose for which a Calendar is required. It is also used and required constantly and universally for the fixing of future dates of recurring events and appointments and for measuring intervals of time.
The merits and defects of our Calendar in these respects have recently attracted widespread attention and call for adjustment. To enable this urgent problem to be studied with intelligence and a due regard to historical, scientific and ecclesiastical requirements on the one hand, and practical uses on the other — such is the principal object of the following essay.
With the exception of the dates of the Nativity and the Crucifixion particular chronological problems are not at all dealt with.
Ancient Calendars, the Indian, Chinese and Mahometan Calendars are only referred to so far as necessary for illustrative purposes, and attention is concentrated on the existing Julian and Gregorian Calendars.
The Calendar is based on certain elementary astronomical facts. The present writer is not an astronomer, but these facts have been derived from the commonly available sources. The intention is to state them with the degree of accuracy requisite for the subject in hand — disregarding qualifying refinements known to modern astronomy but irrelevant to a calendrial purpose.
The most conspicuous, if not the most serious irregularity in our time-scheme is the fluctuation of the date of Easter. It is to be hoped that the courageous action of Lord Desborough in proposing to mitigate this irregularity may lead to the correction of the other defects of the Gregorian Calendar on scientific and conservative lines. Already a Bill to provide a fixed Easter date has been introduced into the House of Lords, and on the initiative of M. Armand Baar of Liege the International Chamber of Commerce has decided to ask the principal Governments to convene a conference on the whole subject.