On the Magnet, by William Gilbert

Chap. viii.

On the geography of the Earth, and of the Terrella.

D esiring that what follows may be better understood, we must now say something also about magnetick circles and limits. Astronomers, in order to understand and observe methodically the motion of the planets and the revolution of the heavens, and to describe with more accuracy the celestial attire of the fixed stars, settled upon certain circles and definite limits in the sky (which geographers also imitate), so that the varied face of the earth and the beauty of its districts might be delineated. But we, in a way differing from them, recognize those limits and circles, and have found very many fixed by nature, not merely conceived by the imagination, both in the earth and in our terrella. The earth they mark out166 chiefly by means of the æquator and the poles; and those limits indeed have been arranged and marked out by nature. The meridians also indicate straight paths from pole to pole through distinct points on the æquator; by which way the magnetick virtue directs its course and moves. But the tropics and arctic circles, as also the parallels, are not natural limits placed on the earth; but all parallel circles indicate a certain agreement of the lands situated in the same latitude, or diametrically opposite. All these the Mathematicians use for convenience, painting them on globes and maps. In like manner also in a terrella all these are required; not, however, in order that its exterior appearance may be geographically delineated, since the loadstone may be perfect, even, and uniform on all sides. And there are no upper and lower parts in the earth, nor are there in a terrella; unless perchance some one considers those parts superior which are in the periphery, and those inferior which are situated more towards the centre.

166 Page 78, line 14. Page 78, line 16. Orbem terrarum distinguunt.— The editions of 1628 and 1633 here add a figure of a globe marked with meridians and parallels of latitude, but with an erroneous versorium pointing to the south. These editions also both read existentiam for the word existentium in line 20.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 22:17