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his vocation, and he cannot be anything these few years that astrological predice else. If he becomes half labourer and tions have not been contained in nine half cultivator, he runs a risk of failing almanacs out of ten. It is not known in both capacities ; and if he becomes a what were the first almanacs published cultivator on a small scale, and with in- in Europe. That the Alexandrine Greeks sufficient capital, he must enter into com- constructed them in or after the time of petition in the market with those who Ptolemy, appears from an account of can produce cheaper than himself; or he Theon, the celebrated commentator upon must confine himself to a bare subsistence the Almagest, in a manuscript found by from his ground, with little or nothing M. Delambre at Paris, in which the meto give in exchange for those things thod of arranging them is explained, and which he wants and cannot produce the proper materials pointed out. It is himself.
impossible to suppose that at any period ALLOY. [COINAGE.]
almanacs were uncommon : but in the " ALMANAC. The derivation of this dearth of books whose names have come word has given some trouble to gram- down to us, the earliest of which Lalande, marians. The most rational derivation an indefatigable bibliographer, could appears to be from the two Arabic words obtain any notice, are those of Solomon al, the article, and mana or manah, to Jarchus, published in and about 1150, count.
and of the celebrated Purbach, published An almanac, in the modern sense of | 1450-1461. The almanacs of Regiothe word, is an annual publication, giving montanus, said by Bailly, in his . History the civil divisions of the year, the move- of Astronomy,' to have been the first ever able and other feasts, and the times of published, but which it might be more the various astronomical phenomena, in- correct to say ever printed, appeared becluding not only those which are remark-tween 1475 and 1506, since which time able, such as the eclipses of the moon or we can trace a continued chain of such sun, but also those of a more ordinary productions. (Bibliographie Astronoand useful character, such as the places mique of Lalande, and Hutton's Mathemaof the sun, moon, and planets, the position tical Dictionary, article • Ephemeris.') of the principal fixed stars, the times of The almanacs of Regiomontanus, which high and low water, and such informa- simply contained the eclipses and the tion relative to the weather as observation places of the planets, were sold, it is said, has hitherto furnished. The agricul- for ten crowns of gold. An almanac for tural, political, and statistical information | 1412, in manuscript, we presume, is prewhich is usually contained in popular served in the Bibliothèque du Roi at almanacs, though as valuable a part of Paris. The almanacs of Engel of Vienna the work as any, is comparatively of mo- were published from 1494 to 1500, and dern date.
those of Bernard de Granolachs of BarIt is impossible that any country in celona, from about 1487. There are vawhich astronomy was at all cultivated rious manuscript almanacs of the fourcould be long without an almanac of some teenth century in the libraries of the species. Accordingly we find the first British Museum, and of Corpus Christi astronomers of every age and country College, Cambridge. employed, either in their construction or The first astronomical almanacs pubimprovement. The belief in astrology, lished in France were those of Duret de which has prevailed throughout the East Montbrison, in 1637, which series confrom time immemorial, rendered alma- tinued till 1700. But there must have nacs absolutely necessary, as the very been previous publications of some simifoundation of the pretended science con- lar description; for, in 1579, an ordonsisted in an accurate knowledge of the nance of Henry III. forbade all makers state of the heavens. With the almanacs, of almanacs to prophesy, directly or inif indeed they had them not before, the directly, concerning the affairs either of above-mentioned absurdities were intro- the state or of individuals. In England Guced into the West, and it is only within James I. granted a monopoly of the trade in almanacs to the Universities and to argument by Erskine in favour of the the Stationers' Company, and under their public, the House rejected the ministerial patronage astrology flourished till beyond project by a majority of 45. The abthe middle of the last century, but not surdity and even indecency of some of altogether unopposed; the humorous at- these productions were fully exposed by tack of Swift, under the name of Bicker- Erskine; but the defeated monopolists staff, upon Partridge’s almanac, is well nanaged to regain the exclusive market known, both from the amusement which by purchasing the works of their comthe public derived from the controversy petitors. The astrological and other preand the perpetuation of the assumed sur- dictions still continued; but it is some name in the • Tatler. But though Swift extenuation that the public, long used to stopped the mouth of Partridge, he could predictions of the deaths of princes and not destroy the corporation under whose falls of rain, refused to receive any almadirection the almanac was published. nacs which did not contain their favourite The Stationers' Company (for the Uni- absurdities. It is said (Raily, Further versities were only passive, having ac- remarks on the defective state of the Naucepted an annuity from their colleagues, ticul Almanac, &c., p. 9) that the Staand resigued any active exercise of their tioners' Company once tried the experiprivilege) found another Partridge, as ment of partially reconciling Francis good a prophet as his predecessor; nor Moore and common sense, by no greater have we been without one to this day. step than omitting the column of the
The Stationers' Company appears to moon's influence on the parts of the huhave acted from a simple desire to give man body, and that most of the copies people that which would sell, whether were returned upon their hands. For astrological or not; and not from any more detail upon the contents of former peculiar turn for prophecy inherent in almanacs, see the Companion to the Althe corporation. Thus even in 1624 they manac for 1829, and also the London issued at the same time the usual predic- Magazine of December, 1828, and Journal tions in one almanac, and undisguised of Education, No. V. contempt of them in another, apparently The · British Almanac' was published to suit all tastes. The almanac of Alls- by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful tree, published in the above-mentioned Knowledge in 1828. Its success induced year, calls the supposed influence of the the Stationers' Company to believe that moon upon different members of the body the public would no longer refuse a good
heathenish,” and dissuades from astro- almanac because it only predicted purely logy in the following lines, which make astronomical phenomena, and they acup in sense for their want of elegance cordingly published the • Englishman's and rhythin:
Almanac,' which is unexceptionable. " Let every philomathy (i.e. mathematician) Other almanacs have diminished the Leave lying Astrology,
quantity and tone of their objectionable And write true Astronomy, And I'le beare you company."
Of the professedly astronomical almaIn 1775 a blow was struck which nacs the most important in England is demolished the legal monopoly. One the “ Nautical Almanac, published by Thomas Carnan, a bookseller, whose the Admiralty for the use both of astroname deserves honourable remembrance, nomers and seamen. This work was had some years before detected or pre- projected by Dr. Maskelyne, then Astrosumed the illegality of the exclusive nomer Royal, and first appeared in 1767. right, and invaded it aceordingly. The The employment of lunar distances in cause came before the Court of Common finding the longitude, of the efficacy of Pleas in the year above mentioned, and which method Maskelyne had satisfied was there decided against the Company. himself in a voyage to St. Helena, reLord North, in 1779, brought a bill into quired new tables, which should give the the House of Commons to renew and distances of the moon from the sun and legalize the privilege, but, after an able principal fixed stars, for intervals of a few hours at most. By the zeal of Dr. , every twelve hours. We must mention Maskelyne, aided by the government, the however that the intervals of twelve hours project was carried into effect, and it were diminished to three hours in the continued under his superintendence for • Nautical Almanac' for 1833, by Mr. forty-eight years. During this time it Pond, the Astronomer Royal. received the highest encomiums from all 4. The distances of the moon from the foreign authorities, for which see the planets for every three hours. French Encyclopædie, art. • Almanach,' 5. The time of contact of Jupiter's sateland the Histories of Moutucla and De-lites and their shadows with the planet. lambre. From 1774 to 1789 the French 6. Logarithms of the quantities which
Connoissance des Tems' borrowed its vary from day to day, used in the reduclunar distances from the English almanac. tion of the fixed stars. On the death of Maskelyne it did not 7. Lists of stars which come on the continue to improve, and, without abso- meridian nearly with the moon; of occullutely falling off, was inadequate to the tations of the planets and stars by the wants either of seamen or astronomers. moon, visible at Greenwich. From the year 1820, various complaints 8. The places of the old planets for were made of it in print. It was latterly every day at noon, instead of every tenth stated that officers employed in surveys day; and those of the four small planets were obliged to have recourse to foreign for every fourth day, which were prealmanacs for what could not be obtained viously not mentioned at all. in their own; that Berlin, Coimbra, and 9. The 60 stars, whose places were even Milan were better provided with given for every ten days, are increased to the helps of navigation; and, finally, that 100. the calculations were not made from the 10. The number of lunar distances best and most improved tables. In con- giren is very much increased. sequence of these complaints, which were Besides these principal alterations, there almost universally allowed by astrono- is a large number of minor additions, tendmers to contain a great deal of truth, the ing for the most part to save labour in government, in 1830, requested the opinion calculation ; and the extent to which the of the Astronomical Society upon the sub- results have been carried is materially ject, and the Report of the Committee enlarged. Any errata discovered in any appointed by that body, which may be mathematical tables which are generally found in the fourth volume of their or even occasionally of use, will be pubTransactions, is a sufficient proof of the lished in the · Nautical Almanac,' if comopinion of practical astronomers on the municated by the finder. previous state of the work. The altera- This country was forestalled in most of tions proposed by the Society were en- the important changes just mentioned, by tirely adopted by the government, and the Berlin · Ephemeris,' published under the first almanac containing them was the superintendence of Professor Encke. that for 1834. The contents of the old Its predecessor, the Astronomisches JahrNautical Almanac' may be found in the buch,' was conducted for fifty years by Companion to the Almanac for 1829. the celebrated Bode; and was entirely We subjoin a list of the principal altera- remodelled by Encke in 1830. Of other tions and additions which appear in the works of the same kind, published on the new work :
Continent, those of Coimbra and Milan are 1. The substitution of mean for appa- among the most valuable; the latter was rent time throughout, the sun's right conimenced in 1755, by M. de Cæsaris; ascension and declination being given for we have not been able to learn the date both mean and apparent noon.
of the first establishment of the former. 2. The addition of the mean time of The oldest national astronomical almatransit of the first point of Aries, or the nac is the French Connoissance des beginning of the sidereal day.
Tems, published at present under the 3. The moon's right ascension and de- superintendence of the Bureau des Longiclination given for every hour, instead of l tudes at Paris. It was commenced in
1679 by Picard, and continued by him to evade the law, that unstamped altill 1684. It then passed through the
were circulated in as large hands of various astronomers, till 1760, numbers as those which paid the tax. when the conduct of it was given to La- | It is stated in the Report of the Comlande, who, besides other alterations, first missioners of Excise Inquiry that 200 introduced the lunar distances, which new almanacs were published as soon have been already alluded to.
as the duty was repealed, of some of sent the plan is very similar to that of the which upwards of 250,000 copies were new · Nautical Almanac,' with the addi- sold, although the old ones not only maintion of very valuable original memoirs tained, but, in some cases, doubled their which appear yearly. In fact we may circulation. The most marked effect of say generally, that the original contribu- the repeal of the duty is perhaps the imtions to the various continental almanacs provement in the character of almanacs. are among their most valuable parts; and, ALMONER, once written Aumner as Professor Airy remarks, "Reports of and Amner, was an officer in a king's, the British Association,' &c., p. 128, “ In prince's, prelate's, or other great man's fact nearly all the astronomy of the pre- household, whose business it was to dissent century is to be found in these works,” tribute alms to the poor. Previous to that is, in certain periodicals which are the dissolution every great monastery in mentioned, " or in the Ephemerides' of England had its almoner. The almoner Berlin, Paris, or Milan.”
of the king of France was styled his Next to the ‘Nautical Almanac,' the grand aumonier, and we find a similar private publication which is most entitled officer at a very early period attached to to notice as an astronomical almanac is the household of the popes. The word White’s ‘Ephemeris,' a work which is almoner is a corruption of eleemosynanearly as old as the monopoly previously rius, a word which is formed from the described. For many years past, this Greek eleemosyne (denuogúvn). The publication has given astronomical data word almonarius is a corruption of eleesufficient to enable the seaman to find his mosynarius. latitude and time. The Gentleman's • Fleta,' a law treatise of the time of Diary,' commenced in 1741, and the Edward I., describes the duties of the • Ladies' Diary,' in 1705, have power- high almoner as they then stood in Engfully aided in keeping up a mathematical land (ii. c. 23). He had to collect the taste, to a certain extent, throughout the fragments of the royal table, and distribute country, by annually proposing problems them daily to the poor; to visit the sick, for competition: several, who have after- poor widows, prisoners, and other perwards become celebrated in mathematics, sons in distress; he reminded the king have commenced their career by the solu- about the bestowal of his alms, especially tion of these problems.
on saints'-days, and was careful that the The duty on almanacs was abolished cast-off robes, which were often of high in August, 1834, by 3 & 4 William IV. price, should not be bestowed on players, c. 57. The stamp was fifteen pence on minstrels, or flatterers, but their value each almanac. The average number of given to increase the king's charity. stamps issued between 1821 and 1830 in- In modern times the office of lord high clusive, was about 499,000 yearly, pro- almoner has been long held by the archducing an average revenue of about bishops of York. There is also a sub31,000l. The largest number of almanacs almoner, an office which is at present stamped in any one year during the above filled by the dean of Chester. The heperiod was 528,254 in 1821, and the reditary grand_almoner is the Marquis smallest number was 444,474 in 1830; of Exeter. There is an office approand in 1833, the year before the duty was priated to the business of the almonry in abolished, the amount of duty was only Middle Scotland Yard, Whitehall. Cham26,1641. The tax prevented the free berlayne, in the Present State of Great competition of respectable publishers in Britain, octavo, London, 1755, gives an almanacs, and tempted so many persons account of the lord almoner's office as it then stood. “ The lord almoner disposes lepers; the king received the sacrament of the king's alms, and for that use re- from his hand, and he said mass before ceives (besides other monies allowed by the king in all great ceremonies and the king) all deodands and bona felonum solemnities. At the establishment of the de se to be that way disposed. Moreover, imperial household in 1804, Napoleon the lord almoner hath the privilege to restored the office of grand almoner of give the king's dish to whatsoever poor France in the person of Cardinal Fesch: men he pleases; that is, the first dish at and the office was continued till the exile dinner which is set upon the king's table, of Charles X. or instead thereof 4d. per diem. Next he Ducange, in his Glossary (* Eleemodistributes to twenty-four poor men, no- synarii'), gives other meanings of the minated by the parishioners of the parish word almoner. It was sometimes used adjacent to the king's palace of residence, for those who distributed the pious beto each of them 4d. in inoney, a twopenny quests of others; sometimes for a person loaf, and a gallon of beer, or, instead who by testament left alms to the poor; thereof, 3d. in money, to be equally and sometimes for the poor upon whom divided among them every morning at the alms were bestowed. The eleemosyseven of the clock at the court-gate; and narii regis, or persons who were supevery poor man, before he receives the ported by the king's bounty, occasionally alms, to repeat the Creed and the Lord's noticed in the Domesday Survey, were of Prayer in the presence of one of the this last description. Almoner is a name king's chaplains, deputed by the lord also given in ecclesiastical writers to the almoner to be his sub-almoner; who is deacons of churches. also to scatter new-coined twopences in ALMS-HOUSE, an edifice, or collecthe towns and places where the king tion of tenements, built by a private perpasseth through in his progress, to a cer- son, and endowed with a revenue for the tain sum by the year. Besides there are maintenance of a certain number of poor, many poor pensioners to the king and aged, or disabled people. England is queen below stairs, that is, such as are the only country which possesses alms put to pension, either because they are so houses in abundance, though many such old that they are unfit for service, or else exist in Italy. In England, they appear the widows of such of his majesty's house to have succeeded the incorporated hoshold servants that died poor, and were pitals for the relief of poor and impotent not able to provide for their wives and people, which were dissolved by King children in their lifetimes : every one of Henry VIII. The rules for the govertthese hath a competency duly paid them. ment of alms-houses are those which the Under the lord high almoner there are a founder has made or empowered others sub-almoner, a yeoman, and two grooms to make. Alms-houses belong to that of the almonry."
class of endowments which are compreThe lord almoner's annual distribution hended under the name of Charities. is now made in the queen's name, on the AMBASSADOR (directly from the Thursday before Easter, called Maundy French Ambassadeur), is the term comThursday.
monly used to designate every kind of There is at Cambridge the lord al- diplomatic ininister or agent. The word moner's professorship of Arabic, founded ambassador is sometimes written with an in 1770. The professor is appointed by E, a form which the English always use the lord almoner, and is paid out of the in the word Embassy. Spelman derives almonry funds.
Ambassador from Ambactus, a word used The grand almoner of the king of by Cæsar (Gallic War, vi. 15, · AmbacFrance was once the highest ecclesiastical tos clientesque'). The various forms in dignitary in that kingdom. To lim be- which the word Ambassador has been longed the distribution of the royal written are collected in Webster's English bounty to the poor, the superintendence of Dictionary, art. • Embassador. An arz. all houses in the kingdom for the re- bassador may be defined to be a person ception of poor foreigners, and houses of sent by one sovereign power to another to