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consists in the maintenance of order among the monks, in the repair of the building, and the management of its estates; the second, in regulating divine service, in receiving the vows of those who enter into the society, giving the torisure, and bestowing the benefices or livings that are in the gift of the monastery; the third, in correcting, excommunicating, and suspending offenders. It was because certain abbots and priors in England, in right of their monasteries, held lands of the crown, for which they owed military service, that they obtained the title of LORDS, and were summoned, as barons, to parliament; and from this custom, bishops, in modern times, have the same honour.
ABBREVIATION OF FRACTIONS, in arithmetic and algebra, the reducing them to lower terms: that is, the proportional lessening of both the numerator and denominator. This may be performed either by continual division of the respective terms, or by dividing at once by the greatest common-measure. Thus H=: by dividing both terms continually by 3, 4, and 2. Or, since 24 is the greatest common measure we have, at once, =, by dividing by 24.
ABDOMEN, in anatomy, the lower part of the trunk of the body reaching from the thorax to the bottom of the pelvis.
ABDOMINALES, an order of fishes having ventral fins placed behind the pectoral in the abdomen. This order contains sixteen genera.
ABERRATION, in astronomy, a small apparent motion of the celestial bodies, occasioned by the progressive motion of light; and the earth's annual motion in her orbit. The word is compounded of ab from, and erro to wander, because the stars appear to wander from their true situations. This apparent motion is so minute, that it could never have been discovered by observations, unless they had been made with extreme care and accuracy ; and although it naturally arises from the combina-, tion of the two causes just mentioned, yet as it was never even suggested by theorists, until it was discovered by observation, it furnishes us with one of the strongest proofs of the truth of the Coperpican system. The discovery is owing to the accuracy and ingenuity of Dr. Bradley, astronomer royal: he was led to it accidentally by the result, of some careful observations, which he had made with a view of determining the annual parallax of the fixed stars.
Aberration, in optics, that error or deviation of the rays of light, when inflected by a lens or speculum, whereby they are hindered from meeting or uniting in the same point, called the geometrical focus; it is either lateral or longitudinal. The lateral aberration is measured by a perpendicular to the axis of the speculum, produced from the focus, to meet the reflected or refracted ray: the longitudinal aberration is the distance of the focus from the point in which the same ray intersects the axis.
ABEYANCE, in law-books, something that only exists in expectation, or in the intendment, or remembrance of the law.
ABJURATION. A forswearing, or renouncing by oath: in the old law it signified a sworn banishment, or an oath taken to forsake the realm for
even to pay
7 In its modern, and now more usual signification, it extends to persons, and doctrines, as well as places. Thus for a man to abjure the pretender by oath, is to bind himself not to own any regal authority in the person called the Pretender, nor
any obedience, &c. ABLUTION, a' ceremonious washing of the whole, or part of the body, instituted by the several founders of the religions of the East, for the prevention of those disorders that, especially in warm climates, result from the filth in which the greater part of the people were, and still are condemned to live. For this purpose it was made a religious rite ; and by an easy transition of idea, the purity of the body was made to typify the purity of the soul: an idea the more rational, as it is perhaps physically certain that outward wretchedness debases the inward mind. A frequent change of the clothes next the skin, affords, perhaps, especially in cold countries, the same advantages as ablution; and hence, in Europe, the custom has almost universally fallen into disuse. Ablution is still practised in Turkey, as well as in most other parts of the ancient continent.
ABOMASUS, a name used for the fourth stomach of ruminating beasts, or such as chew the cud. These have four stomachs: the last, where the chyle is formed, and from which the food descends into the intestines, is called the Abomasus.
ABORIGINES, originally a proper name, given to a certain people in Italy, who inhabited the ancient Latium, or country now called Campayna di Roma. Whence this people came by the appellation is much disputed. The name is now given to the primitive inhabitants of a country, in contradistinction to colonies, or new races of people.
ABRIDGEMENT, in a literary sense, is the compression of the matter of a work into a smaller compass than that in which it has been originally written. With respect to private abridgements and commonplace books, theorists in education have frequently taken pains to engage youth in their compilation. On this subject, however, it may be doubted whether the practice will confer any advantage, and even suspected that it may do much mischief. If the mind is desirous of acquiring a thorough knowledge of any particular subject, the notation of facts, dates, &c. will, no doubt, most effectually enable it to accomplish the purpose; but where this is not the design, the time that is devoted to the tedious task of copying one author, had better be employed in reading twenty. If, as has been said before, any minute study is the object, copying is useful; but if it be done merely to assist the memory with sentiments, terms of expression, &c. it is wrong: for the habit of making memorandums, by discharging memory from its office, takes from it every opportunity of improvement.
ABSCISS, or ABSCISSA, of a conic section, or other curve, is a part or segment cut off by a line at some certain point, which is determined by an ordinate to the curve.
ABSORBENTS, calcarious earths, or other medicines which soak up the redundant humours of the body. Also, a system of vessels that absorb and convey fluids from every cavity of the body to the thoracic duct, which is their common trunk. These last are likewise denominated lymphatics, and those of the ABY smaller intestines, from the milky hue of the Auid in most animals, lacteals.
ABSTINENCE may be defined, the habit of refraining from what is either useful, agreeable, or pernicious. The Christian system more particularly enjoins the discipline of the passions, and an abstinence from those pleasures which have a tendency to degrade our nature. In England, certain days have been appointed, called vigils and fasts, in which flesh is prohibited, and fish enjoined: this, however, being more a political restriction than a religious obligation, was first enacted in the reign of queen Elizabeth, with a view to encourage our fisheries. Of the brute animals, many are remarkable for their long abstinence from food, such as the serpent, the rattlesnake, tortoise, bear, dormouse, elephant, &c. Instances may also be found of men who have been abstemious to a degree almost incredible; and experience has demonstrated that, from habit and use, the power of abstinence may be either increased or diminished.
ABYSSINIA, is bounded on the north by Nubia ; on the east by the Arabian gulf, or Red Sea, and the kingdom of Adel ; on the south by the kingdoms of Ajan, Alaba, and Gingiro; and on the west by the kingdom of Gorem, and part of Gingiro. In this country the famous river Nile has its source. On the mountains the air is pretty temperate; therefore their towns and fortresses are generally placed on them; but in the valleys the heat is intense. The torrents of water in the rainy seasons wash a great deal of gold from the mountains. These seasons commence in May, and end in September, The inhabitants of this country, in