On the Magnet, by William Gilbert

Chap. xx. Variation in the Eastern Ocean.

V ariation in the Eastern Ocean throughout the whole voyage to Goa and the Moluccas is observed by the Portuguese; but they err greatly in many things, following, as they do, the first observers who note down variations in certain places with ill-adapted instruments, and by no means accurate observations, or by some conjectures. As, for instance, in Brandöe Island, they make the versorium deviate by 22 degrees to the north-west. For in no region or place in the whole world, of not greater latitude, is there so great a deviation; and, in reality, there the deviation is slight. Also when they make out that at Mosambique the compass deviates by one rumbe to the north-west, it is false; even though they use (as they are accustomed to do) the Portuguese compass: for beyond all doubt on the shore of Mosambique the versorium inclines ¼ rumbe or even more to the south-west. Very wrongly also beyond the æquator in the course to Goa they make the little compass incline by 1½ rumbe to the west: whereas they should rather have said that in the first part of the course the Portuguese compass inclines by 1 rumbe: but that the true meridional compass inclines by ½ rumbe only. In order that the amount of variation in the Eastern Ocean may be accurately settled in most places by our rules, there is needed a more exact and truer survey of the southern land, which spreads out from the south to the æquinoctial more than is commonly described on maps and globes.


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