On the Magnet, by William Gilbert

Chap. v. An island in Ocean does not change the variation223, as neither do mines of loadstone.

223 Page 161, line 2. Page 161, line 2. Insula in Oceano variationem non mutat.— The conclusions derived from the magnetic explorations of the Challenger expedition, 1873-1876, are briefly these: That in islands north of the magnetic equator there is a tendency to produce a local perturbation, attracting the north-seeking end of the needle downwards, and horizontally towards the higher parts of the land; while south of the magnetic equator, the opposite effects are observed. (See Challenger Reports, Physics and Chemistry, vol. ii., part vi., Report on the Magnetical Results by Staff-Commander Creak, F.R.S.)

I slands, although they be more magnetick than the sea, yet do not change the magnetick directions or variations. For since direction is a motion derived from the power of the whole earth, not from the attraction of any hill but from the disposing and turning power of the whole; so variation (which is a perturbation of the direction) is an aberration of the real turning power arising from the great inequalities of the earth, in consequence of which it, of itself, slightly diverts movable magneticks toward those which are the largest and the more powerful. The cause now shown may suffice to explain that which some so wonder at about the Island of Elba (and although this is productive of loadstone, yet the versorium (or mariners’ compass) makes no special inclination toward it whenever vessels approach it in the Tyrrhenian sea); and the following causes are also to be considered, viz.: that the virtue of smaller magnetick bodies extends scarcely or not at all of itself beyond their own mines: for variation does not occur because of attraction, as they would have it who have imagined magnetick poles. Besides, magnetick mines are only agnate to the true earth, not innate: hence the whole globe does not regard them, and magneticks are not borne to them, as is demonstrated by the diagram of eminences.


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