A SHIP CAPTAIN ON THE DAY LINE
THIS is Dr. Spaulding’s hour,” the captain began, “and with his permission, I will consent to make a few observations regarding the day line.”
Mr. Spaulding smiled rather faintly, and in somewhat hesitating manner seemed to give consent. The entire situation had proved a great disappointment to him; and now he was really obliged to give place, without having made any substantial gain.
As Captain Mann arose, a happy thought seemed to strike him, and he smilingly suggested a round table, or question box, that thus all might have opportunity to bring out any phase of the question not cleat to them. The question box idea prevailed.
“Before the questions are proposed,” said the captain, “allow me this brief word: The day line is one of the very simple problems of life, so simple, in fact, that I have often explained it without difficulty to children. Instead of its being a matter for confusing minds and causing a loss in the count of the days of the week, it is the one thing that prevents any and all disturbances in our reckoning. It is a great, wonderful world regulator, preserving to all nations of the earth the identity of our days.”
Twins Traveling in Opposite Directions
“Do you mean to say, captain, that the fact that the world is a globe makes no difference?” asked a lady missionary from Ohio.
“That is the thought, madam. It matters not whether one is at the poles or at the equator, whether traveling by sea or by land, whether going east or west, the day is absolutely known at any place on the earth’s surface.”
“Well, I have heard it said, over and over again,” stated a simple but well meaning man seated near the captain, “that time is really lost or gained — that going in one direction, you lose; while in the other, you gain. How could preachers say that if it isn’t so?”
“I am sure I cannot answer your query as to why preachers have taught you what you say they have taught regarding the day line. But let me say to you one and all, that there is no such thing as gaining or losing time.
The expression is unscientific, and indicates something that is only apparent, not real.
“Let me illustrate: Two men — twins — start from New York to make the journey around the world. One goes eastward, the other westward. They finally come together again in New York, after a lapse of several months; but he who went eastward finds himself exactly the same age as his brother who traveled the opposite direction. They compare figures, and find that it took each of them the same number of days, hours, and minutes to make the trip, though one added a day and the other dropped a day.
“Now, if it is actually true that one gained and the other lost a day, there must have been two days’ difference in their ages at the journey’s end.
[Laughter]. And if they had repeated the process a sufficient number of times, there would have come a time when one would be old enough to be the other’s father. [Prolonged laughter].
“You all see how ludicrous the matter appears when analyzed but a little. The truth is, the whole question is one not of gaining or losing time, but of computation.
Only a Numerical Change
“I carry with me,” said the captain, “an extract from an article on the day line which I read many years ago, and which, with your permission, I will read. It states the whole proposition more clearly than any word of mine could possibly do. Here it is:
“ ‘The revolutions of the earth itself, as measured at fixed localities, are what measure and number the days, not the revolutions that may be indicated in the diary of a traveler. A person traveling east or west around the world puts himself at variance with the numerical order of its revolutions as computed at any fixed point; and that variance must be corrected, and that is all the question there is involved in keeping a definite and identical day on a round earth. Attending to this one point, a person need never lose the definite day.
“ ‘To illustrate: Let us suppose a man to start from some point which we call A, and travel eastward. Suppose he is able to make the circuit of the earth, and come back to his starting point, in just ten days. Every day, of course, he is carried around by the revolution of the earth. But traveling, as he is, with the earth, from west to east, he each day gains upon it one tenth of its circumference; and in ten days, he would gain ten tenths, or a whole circumference. Thus when he arrives at A, he finds that those who have remained there have marked ten revolutions of the earth, and have had ten days of time. But the earth has taken him around as many times as it has them; and in addition to that, he has passed around once himself, which is the same as another revolution for him, making eleven, and giving him, according to his calendar, as he has kept it from day to day, eleven days instead of ten. What shall he do with that extra day? — Drop it out of the count. Why? — Because he knows that the earth itself has made but ten revolutions, as marked at A; and the revolutions of the earth abstractly considered, not the times he may go around it, mark the days, and he must make his count correspond to that of the earth wherever he is.
“ ‘If the person goes around the earth westward, this process is simply reversed. If he travels at the same rate, his journey each day cancels, or causes him to lose, so far as his count is concerned, one tenth of a revolution of the earth. In ten days, he would lose a whole revolution, and would find, when he came around to his starting point at A, that his calendar showed but nine days instead of ten. What should he do? — Add into his account that lost day. Why? — Because he knows that the earth has made ten revolutions. Although he has himself, like the other man, been around the earth once, it has been in such a direction as apparently to cancel one of its revolutions, and take it out of the count, instead of adding one, as in the other case; and now he must add it in, to be in harmony with the real condition of things.
“ ‘A common illustration, which may be observed almost any day, may serve to make it a little clearer to the minds of some. Suppose a freight train a quarter of a mile in length. It starts, and moves along slowly the distance of its own length, or a quarter of a mile, bringing the rear of the train, when it stops, to the same place where the head of the train stood when it started. Suppose now that a brakeman started from the rear of the train, when the train started, and walked along on the cars toward the front, his rate of motion being the same as the train itself. When the train stops, he has reached the head of the train, so that although the rain has carried him but a quarter of a mile, he has walked another quarter, and so is, in space, half a mile from where he started. But suppose another brakeman, when the train begins to move, starts from the head of the train, and walks toward the rear at the same rate of motion. When the train stops, he has reached the rear. But his motion, being opposite to that of the train, has just balanced, or canceled, for him, the motion of the train; so he finds himself, in space, or compared with surrounding objects, just where he was when the train started. Thus brakeman number 1 walks a quarter of a mile, doubles the movement of the train, and finds himself at last half a mile from the place he started; and brakeman number 2 also walks a quarter of a mile, but his motion cancels the movement of the train, and he finds himself at last just where he was in the beginning. On the same principle it is that one going around the earth eastward adds a day to his reckoning, while one going around westward loses a day out of his.’ “
Why the Day Line Is Where It Is
Mr. Severance, the merchant, now asked the privilege of supplementing Captain Mann’s extract by one which he had preserved. He read as follows:
“ ‘The reason for this [the adding or dropping of a day at the day line] will be apparent upon a little careful thought; for it is always sunset at some point on the earth, and always sunrise, and noon, and midnight, at other points at the same time. Let us imagine that we could travel around the earth as rapidly as the earth revolves upon its axis, and we start out from London, or from any other place, at sunrise on Tuesday morning, and travel west. It would remain sunrise of the same day with us all the time. Yet when we came to the starting place, we should have to call it the next day; for those who remained there would have had noon, sunset, midnight, and now would have their second morning, which would be Wednesday. Therefore we must change our reckoning, so that at that instant, in any place east of London, we would call it Tuesday morning; but at any point west of that line, it would be Wednesday. That would be the place where the day would change. But for convenience, men have chosen a line that passes through no habitable country, and have fixed that point as a place where the day would change. We may believe, too, that this is the line on which the Maker designed that the new day should begin. Now it makes no difference at what time we cross that line either way; we must recognize that there is one day on one side of it, and another day on the other side. The line chosen is the 180th meridian of longitude from Greenwich.
“ ‘By this arrangement, each day is measured off by one revolution of the earth; and when it is finished, it is discharged from the calendar, and a new one takes its place at this point. Hence, wherever we may be on the face of the earth, the day comes to us with its full measure of twenty-four hours, and then is succeeded by another of exactly equal length. It is true that by our traveling east or west, the length of the day may be to us varied; but at the day line, these variations are all rectified, and in circumnavigating the globe, we find that we have done so without disarranging our calendar.’“
“Say, captain, who fixed up this day line scheme? And, say, was it agreed to peacefully?” The speaker was a rough-and-ready man from the Western plains, as jovial as he was rough.
“Our friend has suggested a good thought, Captain Mann; so please tell us something of the day line history,” said Mr. Severance.
The History of the Day Line
“The day line is a natural result of the order of the peopling of the earth. Taking my Bible, I find that the cradle of the human family, after the Deluge, was in the valley of the Euphrates, in the Eastern Hemisphere. From that point, they went eastward and westward to the farthest parts of Europe and Africa, and centuries later, still farther west, across the Western Hemisphere. The day originally known in the Euphrates Valley was carried unchanged both east and west, the only difference being that as they went east, they began it earlier, while as they went west, they began it later.
“That this is true is easily seen from the fact that a man may begin a journey at Peking, in China, and travel westward to San Francisco, and all the way around will find his computation in perfect agreement with the time of the places through which he passes. In other words, he is following the natural route of the day, and thus need make no change. If, however, he goes east from Peking to San Francisco, he passes the natural starting point, and likewise the finishing point, of the day, and must adjust himself to what he finds.
“To my mind, as was just read in your hearing, the Most High, who controlled the peopling of the earth, Himself providentially arranged that the beginning and end of days, the particular point at which men would mark and number the earth’s revolutions, should be in the Pacific.”
“Doesn’t it bother you at all about keeping Sunday, captain?” asked the friend who sat near him.
“Not in the least sir,” was the reply. “It aids me in my keeping of Sunday, just as it aids every one who is conscientiously seeking to obey God’s commandments.”
Mr. Anderson Invited to Speak.
“Say, captain, I’m not a Christian, and don’t keep any day, you see; but ever since I was a boy, I have wondered about this Sabbath matter, which the preachers were arguing about yesterday. I can understand about the day line now, but I want to know if you honestly think people keep God’s commandment when they keep Sunday. Is Sunday the seventh day of the week? I could almost believe it is, if you would tell me so. What do you say, captain?”
The simplicity and sincerity of the questioner awakened in the captain a tremendous desire to confess what he was rapidly coming to see; namely, that the fourth commandment was not fulfilled in the observance of Sunday.
But just as the truth was about to escape his lips, he checked himself. Perhaps the time was not opportune, he thought. With a gracious smile, he therefore said: “Let us refer the theological questions, my dear sir, to the clergy. They will gladly help in such matters.”
Harold Wilson, who was standing near Mr. Severance, whispered a word in that gentleman’s ear.
Mr. Severance was a large-hearted, liberal-minded man of affairs; and acting upon Harold’s suggestion, he arose and said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us on our vessel a Christian gentleman, a man of the cloth, one of deep learning and piety, and to my mind, an authority on this question of the Sabbath. I have heard him preach, and therefore feel competent to judge of his ability. I believe we could do no better than to invite the Rev. Mr. Anderson to give us the privilege of hearing from him in reply to the question we have just heard. All in favor, please raise the hand.”
There was an almost unanimous response, though it was noticed that Mr. Spaulding did not vote.
It was arranged that Mr. Anderson should meet his fellow passengers the next day at the same hour.
Mr. Severance created much interest in the meeting of the next day by suggesting that the other clergymen aboard the vessel be present at the service and interrogate the speaker, and thus bring out all phases of the subject.