Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/288

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of the months by others that he considered more appropriate, but in this he also was unsuccessful. Christian Europe still clings to the names of the months as they were named by the Romans. It may be said, however, that in some parts of Germany February is known by the title given to it by Charlemagne. The change from old style to new was made by all the governments of western Europe except England and Sweden before the middle of the eighteenth century. In the former country, antipathy to the Pope and the natural conservatism of Parliament resisted a change until dates were eleven days out of the way. It was finally brought about under the Pelham ministry on the motion of Lord Chesterfield, who was, however, merely the "big-wig" put forward to give the measure prestige. He knew very little about the subject, but he knew his audience. Some time afterward he wrote to his son:

I consulted the ablest lawyers and the most skillful astronomers and we cooked up a bill for the purpose. But then my difficulties began. I was to bring in this bill which was necessarily composed of law-jargon and astronomical calculation, to both of which I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely necessary to make the House of Lords think that I knew something of the matter; and also to make them believe that they knew something of it themselves, which they do not. For my part, I could just as soon have talked Celtic or Sclavonian to them, as astronomy, and they would have understood me fully as well; so I resolved to do better than to speak to the purpose, and to please them instead of informing them.

The change was, however, not so simple an affair as it might seem. A number of matters had to be regulated by law, especially rent-days, annuities and salaries. The year was henceforth to begin on the first of January instead of March 25, and September 2, 1752, was to be called the fourteenth. The populace was much disturbed by the shifting of the saint-days and immovable feasts. Lord Chesterfield's chief advisers were the mathematicians Macclesfield and Bradley. When some time subsequently a son of the former was a candidate for parliament one of the popular cries against him was: "Give us back our eleven days"; and when a number of years later Mr. Bradley died of a lingering disease, many persons attributed his sufferings to the part he had taken in changing the calendar. Verily, "Genius has its limitations, but stupidity has not." The ancient Romans, like the modern English gained the reputation of being an eminently practical people. But just as the latter cling to an awkward system of coinage, so the former adhered for centuries to a method of reckoning time that hardly passed beyond the stage of puerility. There is no evidence that they even divided the day into hours until the third century B.C. In the year 263 Valerius Messala is said to have carried away, among other trophies captured at the taking of Catania in Sicily, a sun-dial, which he set up in Rome. It was in use an entire century before even the officials be-