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Easter would be celebrated in England a week later than in Ireland. Such want of uniformity is, we conceive, far more objectionable than the defect which occurs under the present system of ecclesiastical computation.
As the consideration of the accuracy of our computed year, compared with the true periodic time of the sun, though unconnected with the fixing of Easter, has been introduced into the subject, and never rightly stated, we shall conclude this brief article with an account of the present state of the calendar, and of the further correction which would render it perfect.
The true annual period of the sun, or the time it takes to return to the same equinox, according to La Place, is 365.242222 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 48 seconds, within the fiftieth part of a second. This term is also stated by Vince, in his Astronomy, as the length of the year, from the best observations.
The Julian year, consisting of 365 days, with one day added every fourth year, is, on an average, 365 days 6 hours. If the correct time be subtracted from this, there will remain a balance of 11 minutes, 12 seconds annual excess, in the Julian computation above the true.
In the year 325, when the Council of Nice appointed Easter-day to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon next after the vernal equinox, this equinox fell on the 21st of March. Such would, evidently, not continue to be the case, in subsequent years, on account of the excess, before mentioned, in the computed year, of 11 minutes, 12 seconds. In the year 1582, 1257 years after the Nicene council, this error had accumulated to 11' 12" X '257, or 9 days, 18 hours, 38 minutes; nearly ten days. Therefore, to restore the equinox to the 21st of March, it was become necessary to omit ten days from the calendar, which was accordingly done, by order of Po;,e Gregory. And in the year 1752, 1427 years after the Nicene council, when the Gregorian account was adopted iu England, the error had accumulated to II' 12" X '427, or 11 days, 2 hours, 22 minutes: eleven days were, therefore, rejected from the calendar j and the vernal equinox was restored to the 21st of March.
It is observable, that in the statute 24 Geo. II. ch. 23, made for correcting the calendar then in use, the definition of Easter is so far changed, from that given of it at the Council of Nice, that the consideration of the vernal equinox is wholly omitted. It remains, however, a criterion of the accuracy of our computed year; since the sun being at the vernal equinox, in one year on the 21st of March, if the computed year perfectly coincided with the solar year, it would always return to that equinox at the same instant.
With the view of thus keeping the account of time correct, by
11 2 retaining retaining the equinox at the 21st of March, another important regulation of Pope Gregory was adopted. The ordinary course of leap years was interrupted, by an omission of the intercalary day in every hundredth year except the four hundredth: thus three days were suppressed from the computation of time in four centuries, and the computed year became, on an average, three hundred and sixty-live days, five hours, forty-nine minutes, twelve seconds;* leaving still a balance of twenty-four seconds annual excess, in the Gregorian computation above the true. They, however, so nearly coincide, that the excess will not amount to a day till 3600 years have elapsed; and the equinox will, upon the \vhole,-|- not take place twenty-four hours sooner than it did in the year 1752, before the year 5352. This is, indeed, sufficiently accurate for all purposes; for a great number of centuries must elapse before the equinox will be so far removed from the 21st of March, as to be sensible to the agriculturist.
The correction, which would have rendered the Julian computation perfect, will appear from the consideration, that the annual excess of eleven minutes, twelve seconds, exactly amounts to seven days in nine hundred years.f If, therefore, when the calendar was reformed, it had been determined, instead of the present omission of three days in every four hundred years, six days in every eight hundred years, and so on, that seven days should be omitted in the course of every nine hundred years, the computed average year would have exactly coincided with the solar, and the equinox been fixed to the same day for ever.
Art. XIII. The Secret and True History of the Church of Scotlaud, from the Restoration to the year 1678. By the Rev. Mr. James Kirkton, &c. With an Account of the Murder of Archbishop Sharp. By James Russell, an actor therein. Edited from the MS. by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. 4to. Edinburgh.
HPHfS work may be rather considered as containing valuable *. materials for the history of a dark and turbulent period, than as being itself such. It has been repeatedly quoted by Wodrow, Laing, and other historians of the period, and carries with it a degree of authenticity scarcely pretended to by other authors of the
* 365 days 6 hours X 400 = 146100 days in 400 Julian years. From which tlirec days being subtracted, as in the Gresiorian account, there remain, in 400 Gregorian jean M€097 days, or 365 days 5 hours 49' 12" hi one average Gregorian year.
.f* On account of the correction of the year being applied on an average, the vemal equinox, in fact, takes place on the 20th of March in a leap year, and on the first year after leap vear; and on the 21st in the two remaining years.
i M' :1440' X 7, the minutes in 7 days :: I year : 900 years.
lime. After remaining for more than a century in manuscript, it has been edited, as has happened in some other cases, by a gentleman who, although a curious inquirer into the history cf that calamitous period, and therefore interested in the facts recorded in the text, seems neither to feel nor to profess much value for the tenets, nor respect for the person, of his author. Various motives have been suggested for Mr. Charles Kirkpatrkk Sharpe undertaking a task which at first sight seems inconsistent with his opinions. Some have supposed that it was meant as a requital of the ruse de guerre of the artful Whig who constituted himself editor of the Jacobite Memoirs of Scotland, written by the well-known Lockheart of Camwatli, and gave them to light in older to have an opportunity to stigmatize the author and his party. This was the more readily credited in Scotland, as Mr. Sharpe is allied to that family. Others, discovering another concatenation, have supposed that the editor sought some opportunity, if not to vindicate the memory of his celebrated namesake the Archbishop of St. Andrews, at least to throw out a few sarcasms against the enthusiasts by whom he was assassinated. On our side of the Tweed these would be deemed fanciful and w himsical motives for undertaking the very laborious and troublesome task of such a publication; but in Scotland, it would seem the ancient bond of ' kith, kin, and ally,' still possesses, or is supposed to possess, considerable influence.
Upon inquiry, however, we cannot, learn that our ingenious editor claims any relationship to the slaughtered prelate; and we are reluctantly compelled to assign the labour which he has undertaken on the present occasion to the ordinary motives of an active and inquiring mind, which, alter finding amusement in extensive and curious researches into the minute particulars relating to an obscure period of history, seeks a new source of pleasure in arranging and communicating the information it has acquired. Unlike the miser, the antiquary finds the solitary enjoyment of gazing upon and counting over his treasures deficient in interest, and willingly displays them to the eyes of congenial admirers. Perhaps we might add to this motive the malicious pleasure of a wag, who delights to present the ludicrous side of a subject, which, like Bottom's drama, forms a lamentable tragedy full of very pleasant mirth. Accordingly, when his author grows so serious as to be tedious, the notes of the editor seldom fail to be particularly diverting, and rich in all those anecdotes which illustrate character and manners, anecdotes thinly scattered through a wearisome mass of dull and dusty books and manuscripts, which only the taste of an accomplished man, united with the industry of a patient antiquary, could have selected and brought together. We propose, before concluding this Article, to say something more of the tone and spirit in which these com
I I 3 tnentaries mentaries are framed, but it is first necessary to give some account of the work itself and of the author.
The pains bestowed by Mr. Sliarpe have thrown some light on the obscure events of Mr. James Kirkton's life, of which the following is an outlme. He was a presbyterian clergyman, and as he seems to have subscribed the SolemnLeague and Covenant in 1648, he is conjectured to have been one of ' the antediluvian ministers" of his persuasion, that is, such who 'had seen the glory of the former temple, and were ordained before the Restoration.' In this capacity he was settled as minister in the parish of Mertoun, in Berwickshire, from which he was expelled as a recusant after the Restoration. In the year 1671, w* find him engaged in a controversy with the quakers, who then had some proselytes of rank in the south of Scotland. Kirkton did not avail himself of the earlier indulgence which permitted some of the presbyterian clergy to exercise their ministerial functions, and accordingly fell under the lash of power for keeping'conventicles. He was trepanned into a house by one Captain Carstairs, whose view seems to have been to extort money from him, or otherwise to deliver him up to government as a recusant preacher. In this emergency, Kirkton was delivered by the forcible interference of his brother-in-law, Mr. Bailiie of Jerviswood, who was afterwards subjected both to fine and imprisonment for having drawn his sword upon the occasion, and who finally suffered death for his supposed share in what is called from his name Jerviswood's conspiracy; being the Scottish branch of the Ryehouse plot. Kirkton, after his rencontre with Carstairs, was outlawed, and obliged to fly to Holland. In 1687 he again returned to Scotland, and condescended to avail himself of the benefit of King James's toleration; a circumstance which probably, for a time, sullied the purity and corrupted the savour of his doctrine in the opinion of the t//*;a-presbyterians. After the year 1688, Kirkton, with the other ousted ministers, was restored to his church at Mertoun, which he speedily exchanged, to exercise his functions in the Tolbooth church of Edinburgh. Here he continued till bis death, in September, 1699.' A son survived him,'who fell off from his path—and a daughter, of whom her father is reported, in a ludicrous and scandalous work, to have said from the pulpit, ' I have been this whole year of God preaching against the vanity of women, yet I see my own daughter in the kirk even now with as high a cockup as any of you all.'* These cockups were a sort of hat or cap turned up before; and, whatever truth there may be in the anecdote, so far as Kirkton is concerned, were certainly subjects of great scandal to the godly of that period, as the following passage witnesseth.
* Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence.
'I remember about thirty years ago, when cockups were in fashion, -some of them halt-yard high, set with wires, a solid serious Christian •gentlewoman told me she was going to a friend's wedding; her comrades constrained her to put herself in dress; she was uneasy in her mind, and thought she was not herself through the day: when she came home, before she changed herself, she went to her closet to bethmk herself how she had spent the loose time, as weddings and fairs are for the most part, and few that keep a bridle-hand to their spirits at such times; after some thoughts, she went to prayer; her conscience challenged her so sharply, that she rose hastily, plucked it off, and threw it from her, saying—Thou, nor no such thing, shall ever come on my head or body, that 1 dare not pray with. () that all gracious praying souls, who have a mind for heaven, would take good heed what their Bible says, and notice this and such like instances, and lothe. hate, and abhor the sinful, vain, fool fashions of the day, that the perishing world are ambitious ot!'— Life and Death of Alexander Peden, published by Patrick Walker, 1727.—p. 145.
The same author informs us, in a passage that shews to what extent the vice of profane swearing had attained in Scotland, that Mr. Kirkton used to preach against it witli a zeal certainly more laudable than that which he displayed against cockups. The note of his sermon appears to have escaped Mr. Sharpe. The whole passage illustrates the truth of the French proverb, Jurcr comme tin Mcossois.
'4thly.—Their dreadful unheard of ways of swearing,—the devil's free volunteers,—crying to damn their souls for Christ's sake, and others for his glory's sake, which are to be heard in our streets; others wagering their bottles of wine, who to outstrip in greatest oaths; others, when their comrades are going for England, request them, as their best service and news, that if there be any new-coined oaths, to write and send them down, for the old ones in Scotland are become stale. Many have changed the holy and blessed name of God to Gad, one of his sinful mortal creatures; yea, some called presbyterian ministers, who affect the English cant, follow their hellish example even in their pulpits, which struck me with consternation and tilled me with indignation, to hear the holy name of God so irreverently mentioned, or rather blasphemed, and many tender souls complaining of it to me, declared that it made their hearts to quake. The reverend, sententious old Mr. James Kirkton said in his pulpit in Edinburgh, that swearing was not a saint's sin, for it was not possible that a saint of God could be guilty of it habitually.'—Ibidem, p. 140.
The same biographer, (the zealous Patrick Walker,) w.ho puts so severe a construction upon the affectation of correct English pronunciation, gives us another specimen of Mr. Kirkton's preaching, which, if correct, will confirm the charge his editor has brought against him of prejudice and credulity: • ' It was one of the sententious sayings of the Rev. Mr. James Kirkton, in his pulpit in Edinburgh, insisting upon Scotland's singular pri
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