magnet the Earth; A new science,

with many both argument &

experiment proofs.



TRANSLATED by Vincent Wilmot 2015

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Clearer proofs, in the discovery of secrets, and in the investigation of the hidden causes of things, being afforded by reliable experiments and by demonstrated arguments, than by the probable guesses and opinions of the ordinary professors of philosophy: so, therefore, that the noble substance of that great magnet, our common Mother (Earth) to date quite unknown, and the conspicuous and prominent powers of this globe may be the better understood, we have proposed to begin with the common magnetic, stony, and iron material, and with magnetic bodies, and with the nearer parts of the Earth which we can feel with our hands and perceive with our senses; then to proceed with demonstrable magnetic experiments; and so penetrate, for the first time, into the innermost parts of the Earth. For after we had, in order finally to learn the true substance of the Earth, seen and thoroughly examined many of those things which have been obtained from mountain heights or ocean depths, or from the profoundest caverns and from hidden mines: we applied much prolonged labour on investigating the magnetic forces; so wonderful indeed are they compared with the forces of all other minerals, surpassing even the powers of all other bodies about us. Nor have we found this our labour useless or unfruitful; since daily during our experimenting, new and unexpected properties came to light; and our Philosophy hath grown so much from the things diligently observed, that we have attempted to expound the interior parts of the terrene globe, and its native substance, upon magnetic principles; and to reveal to men the Earth (our common mother), and to point it out as if with the finger, by real demonstrations and by experiments manifestly apparent to the senses. And as geometry ascends from sundry very small and very easy principles to the greatest and most difficult; by which the wit of man climbs above the sky: so our magnetical doctrine and science first sets forth in convenient order the things which are less obscure; from these there come to light others that are more remarkable; and at length in due order there are opened the concealed and most secret things of the globe of the Earth, and the causes are made known of those things which, either through the ignorance of the ancients or the neglect of moderns, have remained unrecognized and overlooked. But why should I, in so vast an ocean of books by which the minds of studious men are confused and fatigued, through which very foolish productions the world and unreasoning men are intoxicated and puffed up, rave and create literary broils, and while professing to be philosophers, physicians, mathematicians and astrologers, and ignore and despise men of learning: why should I, I say, add aught further to this so-perturbed republic of letters, and expose this noble philosophy, which seems new and incredible by reason of so many things to date unrevealed, to be damned and torn to pieces by the maledictions of those who are either already sworn to the opinions of other men, or are foolish corruptors of good arts, learned idiots, grammatists, sophists, wranglers, and perverse little folk? But to you alone, true philosophizers, honest men, who seek knowledge not from books only but from things themselves, have I addressed these magnetical principles in this new sort of Philosophizing. But if any see not fit to assent to these self-same opinions and paradoxes, let them nevertheless mark the great array of experiments and discoveries (by which notably every philosophy flourishes), which have been wrought out and demonstrated by us with many pains and vigils and expenses. In these rejoice, and employ them to better uses, if ye shall be able. I know how arduous it is to give freshness to old things, lustre to the antiquated, light to the dark, grace to the despised, credibility to the doubtful; so much the more by far is it difficult to win and establish some authority for things new and unheard-of, in the face of all the opinions of all men. Nor for that do we care, since philosophizing, as we deemed, is for the few. To our own discoveries and experiments we have affixed asterisks, larger and smaller, according to the importance and subtlety of the matter. Whoso desires to make trial of the same experiments, let him handle the substances, not negligently and carelessly, but prudently, deftly, and in the proper way; nor let him (when a thing doth not succeed) ignorantly denounce our discoveries: for nothing hath been set down in these books which hath not been explored and many times performed and repeated amongst us. Many things in our reasonings and hypotheses will, perchance, at first sight, seem rather hard, when they are foreign to the {iij}commonly received opinion; yet I doubt not but that hereafter they will yet obtain authority from the demonstrations themselves. Wherefore in magnetical science, they who have made most progress, trust most in and profit most by the hypotheses; nor will anything readily become certain to anyone in a magnetical philosophy in which all or at least most points are not ascertained. This science is almost entirely new and unheard-of, save what few matters a very few writers have handed down concerning certain common magnetical powers. Wherefore we but seldom quote ancient Greek authors in our support, because neither by using greek arguments nor greek words can the truth be demonstrated or elucidated either more precisely or more significantly. For our magnetical doctrine is at variance with most of their principles and dogmas. Nor have we brought to this work any pretence of eloquence or adornments of words; but this only have we done, that things difficult and unknown might be so handled by us, in such a mode of speech, and in such words as are needed to be clearly understood: Sometimes therefore we use new and unusual words, not that by means of foolish veils of vocabularies we should cover over the facts with shades and mists (as Alchemists are wont to do) but that hidden things which have no name, never having been to date perceived, may be plainly and correctly enunciated. After describing our magnetical experiments and our information of the homogenic parts of the Earth, we proceed to the general nature of the whole globe; wherein it is permitted us to philosophize freely and with the same liberty which the Egyptians, Greeks, and Latins formerly used in publishing their dogmas: whereof very many errors have been handed down in turn to later authors: and in which smatterers still persist, and wander as though in perpetual darkness. To those early forefathers of philosophy, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen, let due honour be ever paid: for by them wisdom hath been diffused to posterity; but our age hath detected and brought to light very many facts which they, were they now alive, would gladly have accepted. Wherefore we also have not hesitated to expound in demonstrable hypotheses those things which we have discovered by long experience. Farewell.


Dr. William Gilbert,

a distinguished Doctor of Medicine amongst the

Londoners, and Father of Magnetical Philosophy,

an Encomiastic Preface of Edward Wright

on the subject of these magnetic

books, Edward Wright.

Should there by chance be anyone, most eminent Sir, who reckons as of small account these magnetic books and labours of yours, and thinks these studies of yours of too little moment, and by no means worthy enough of the attention of an eminent man devoted to the weightier study of Medicine: truly he must deservedly be judged to be in no common degree void of understanding. For that the use of the magnet is very important and wholly admirable is better known for the most part to men of even the lowest class than to need from me at this time any long address or commendation. Nor truly in my judgment could you have chosen any topic either more noble or more useful to the human race, upon which to exercise the strength of your philosophic intellect; since indeed it has been brought about by the divine agency of this stone [loadstone], that continents of such vast circuit, such an infinite number of lands, islands, peoples, and tribes, which have remained unknown for so many ages, have now only a short time ago, almost within our own memory, been quite easily discovered and quite frequently explored, and that the circuit of the whole terrestrial globe also has been more than once circumnavigated by our own countrymen, Drake and Cavendish; a fact which I wish to mention to the lasting memory of these men. For by the pointing of the iron touched by a loadstone, the points of South, North, East, and West, and the other quarters of the world are made known to navigators even under an overcast sky and in the darkest night; so that thus they always very easily understand to which point of the world they ought to direct their ship̓s course; which before the discovery of this wonderful action of the magnetic (βορεοδείξις) was clearly impossible. Hence in old times (as is established in histories), an incredible anxiety and immense danger was continually threatening sailors; for at the coming on of a storm and the obscuring of the view of sun and stars, they were left entirely in ignorance whither they were making; nor could they find out this by any reasoning or skill. With what joy then may we suppose them to have been filled, to what feelings of delight must all shipmasters have given utterance, when that magnetic indicator first offered itself to them as a most sure guide, and as it were a Mercury, for their journey? But neither was this sufficient for this magnetic Mercury; to indicate, namely, the right way, and to point, as it were, a finger in the direction toward which the course must be {iiij}directed; it began also long ago to show distinctly the distance of the place toward which it points. For since the magnetic indicator does not always in every place look toward the same point of the North, but deviates from it often, either toward the East or toward the West, yet always has the same deviation in the same place, whatever the place is, and steadily preserves it; it has come about that from that deviation, which they call variation, carefully noticed and observed in any maritime places, the same places could afterwards also be found by navigators from the drawing near and approach to the same variation as that of these same places, taken in conjunction with the observation of the latitude. Thus the Portuguese in their voyages to the East Indies had the most certain indications of their approach to the Cape of Good Hope; as appears from the narrations of Hugo van Lynschoten and of the very learned Richard Hakluyt, our countryman. Hence also the experienced skippers of our own country, not a few of them, in making the voyage from the Gulf of Mexico to the islands of the Azores, recognized that they had come as near as possible to these same islands; although from their sea-charts they seemed to be about six hundred British miles from them. And so, by the help of this magnetic indicator, it would seem as though that geographical problem of finding the longitude, which for so many centuries has exercised the intellects of the most learned Mathematicians, were going to be in some way satisfied; because if the variation for any maritime place whatever were known, the same place could very readily be found afterward, as often as was required, from the same variation, the latitude of the same place being not unknown.

It seems, however, that there has been some inconvenience and hindrance connected with the observation of this variation; because it cannot be observed excepting when the sun or the stars are shining. Accordingly this magnetic Mercury of the sea goes on still further to bless all shipmasters, being much to be preferred to Neptune himself, and to all the sea-gods and goddesses; not only does it show the direction in a dark night and in thick weather, but it also seems to exhibit the most certain indications of the latitude. For an iron indicator, suspended on its axis (like a pair of scales), with the most delicate workmanship so as to balance in equilibrium, and then touched and excited by a loadstone, dips to some fixed and definite point beneath the horizon (in our latitude in London, for example, to about the seventy-second degree), at which it at length comes to rest. But under the equator itself, from that admirable agreement and congruency which, in almost all and singular magnetic experiments, exists between the Earth itself and a terrella (that is, a spherical magnet), it seems exceedingly likely (to say the very least), and indeed more than probable, that the same indicator (again stroked with a loadstone) will remain in equilibrium in an horizontal position. Whence it is evident that this also is very probable, that in an exceedingly small progress from the South toward the North (or contrariwise) there will be at least a sufficiently perceptible change in that declination; so that from that declination in any place being once carefully observed along with the latitude, the same place and the same latitude may be very easily recognized afterward, even in the darkest night and in the thickest mist by a declination instrument. Wherefore to bring our oration at length back to you, most eminent and learned Dr. Gilbert (whom I gladly recognize as my teacher in this magnetical philosophy), if these books of yours on the Magnet had contained nothing else, excepting only this finding of latitude from magnetic declination, by you now first brought to light, our shipmasters, Britains, French, Belgians, and Danes, trying to enter the British Channel or the Straits of Gibraltar from the Atlantic Ocean in dark weather, would still most deservedly judge them to be valued at no small sum of gold. But that discovery of yours about the whole globe of the Earth being magnetic, although perchance it will seem to many "most paradoxical," producing even a feeling of astonishment, has yet been so firmly defended by you at all points and confirmed by so many experiments so apposite and appropriate to the matter in hand, in Bk. 2, chap. 34; Bk. 3, chap. 4 and 12; and in almost the whole of the fifth book, that no room is left for doubt or contradiction. I come therefore to the cause of the magnetic variation, which to date has distracted the minds of all the learned; for which no mortal has ever adduced a more probable reason than that which has now been set forth by you for the first time in these books of yours on the Magnet. The ὀρθοβορεοδείξις of the magnetic indicator in the middle of the ocean, and in the middle of continents (or at least in the middle of their stronger and more lofty parts), its inclining near the shore toward those same parts, even by sea and by land, agreeing with the experiments Bk. 4, chap. 2, on an actual terrella (made after the likeness of the terrestrial globe, uneven, and rising up in certain parts, either weak or wanting in firmness, or imperfect in some other way),—this inclination having been proved, very certainly demonstrates the probability that that variation is nought else than a certain deviation of the magnetic needle toward those parts of the Earth that are more vigorous and more prominent. Whence the reason is readily established of that irregularity which is often perceived in the magnetic variations, arising from the inequality and irregularity of those eminences and of the terrestrial forces. Nor of a surety have I any doubt, that all those even who have either imagined or admitted points attractive or points respective in the sky or the Earth, and those who have imagined magnetic mountains, or rocks, or poles, will immediately begin to waver as soon as they have perused these books of yours on the Magnet, and willingly will march with your opinion. Finally, as to the views which you discuss in regard to the circular motion of the Earth and of the terrestrial poles, although to some perhaps they will seem most supposititious, yet I do not see why they should not gain some favour, even among the very men who do not recognize a spherical motion of the Earth; since not even they can easily clear themselves from many difficulties, which necessarily follow from the daily motion of the {v}whole sky. For in the first place it is against reason that that should be effected by many causes, which can be effected by fewer; and it is against reason that the whole sky and all the spheres (if there be any) of the stars, both of the planets and the fixed stars, should be turned round for the sake of a daily motion which can be explained by the mere daily rotation of the Earth. Then whether will it seem more probable, that the equator of the terrestrial globe in a single second (that is, in about the time in which anyone walking quickly will be able to advance only a single pace) can accomplish a quarter of a British mile (of which sixty equal one degree of a great circle on the Earth), or that the equator of the primum mobile in the same time should traverse five thousand miles with celerity ineffable; and in the twinkling of an eye should fly through about five hundred British miles, swifter than the wings of lightning, if indeed they maintain the truth who especially assail the motion of the Earth). Finally, will it be more likely to allow some motion to this very tiny terrestrial globe; or to build up with mad endeavour above the eighth of the fixed spheres those three huge spheres, a ninth, a tenth, and an eleventh, marked by not a single star, especially since it is plain from these books on the magnet, from a comparison of the Earth and the terrella, that a circular motion is not so alien to the nature of the Earth as is commonly supposed. Nor do those things which are adduced from the sacred Scriptures seem to be specially adverse to the doctrine of the mobility of the Earth; nor does it seem to have been the intention of Moses or of the Prophets to promulgate any mathematical or physical niceties, but to adapt themselves to the understanding of the common people and their manner of speech, just as nurses are accustomed to adapt themselves to infants, and not to go into every unnecessary detail. Thus in Gen. i. v. 16, and Psal. 136, the moon is called a great light, because it appears so to us, though it it is agreed nevertheless by those skilled in astronomy that many of the stars, both of the fixed and wandering stars, are much greater. Therefore neither do I think that any solid conclusion can be drawn against the Earth̓s mobility from Psal. 104, v. 5; although God is said to have laid the foundations of the Earth that it should not be removed for ever; for the Earth will be able to remain evermore in its own and self-same place, so as not to be moved by any wandering motion, nor carried away from its seat (wherein it was first placed by the Divine artificer). We, therefore, with devout mind acknowledging and adoring the inscrutable wisdom of the Divine trinity (having more diligently investigated and observed his admirable work in the magnetic motions), induced by philosophical experiments and reasonings not a few, do deem it to be probable enough that the Earth, though resting on its centre as on an immovable base and foundation, nevertheless is borne around circularly.

But passing over these matters (concerning which I believe no one has ever demonstrated anything with greater certainty), without any doubt those matters which you have discussed concerning the causes of the variation and of the magnetic dip below the horizon, not to mention many other matters, which it would take too long to speak of here, will gain very great favour amongst all intelligent men, and especially (to speak after the manner of the Chemists) amongst the sons of the magnetical doctrine. Nor indeed do I doubt that when you have published these books of yours on the Magnet, you will excite all the diligent and industrious shipmasters to take no less care in observing the magnetic declination beneath the horizon than the variation. Since (if not certain) it is at least probable, that the latitude itself, or rather the effect of the latitude, can be found (even in very dark weather) much more accurately from that declination alone, than can either the longitude or the effect of the longitude from the variation, though the sun itself is shining brightly or all the stars are visible, with the most skilful employment likewise of all the most exact instruments. Nor is there any doubt but that those most learned men, Peter Plancius (not more deeply versed in Geography than in magnetic observations), and Simon Stevinus, the most distinguished mathematician, will rejoice in no moderate degree, when they first see these magnetical books of yours, and observe their λιμενευρετική, or Haven-finding Art, enlarged and enriched by so great and unexpected an addition; and without doubt they will urge all their own shipmasters (as far as they can) to observe also everywhere the magnetic declination below the horizon no less than the variation. May your Magnetical Philosophy, therefore, most learned Dr. Gilbert, come forth into the light under the best auspices, after being kept back not till the ninth year only (as Horace prescribes), but already unto almost a second nine, a philosophy rescued at last by so many toils, studyings, watchings, with so much ingenuity and at no moderate expense maintained continuously through so many years, out of darkness and dense mist of the idle and feeble philosophizers, by means of endless experiments skilfully applied to it; yet without neglecting anything which has been handed down in the writings of any of the ancients or of the moderns, all which you did diligently peruse and perpend. Do not fear the boldness or the prejudice of any supercilious and base philosophaster, who by either enviously calumniating or stealthily arrogating to himself the investigations of others seeks to snatch a most empty glory. Verily

Envy detracts from great Homer̓s genius;


Whoever thou art, Zoilus, thou hast thy name from him.

May your new science of the Magnet, I say (kept back for so many years), come forth now at length into the view of all, and your Philosophy, never to be enough admired, concerning the great Magnet (that is, the Earth); for, believe me (if there is any truth in the forebodings of seers), these books of yours on the Magnet will avail more for perpetuating the memory of your name than the monument of any great Magnet placed upon your tomb.


Interpretation of certain words.

Terrella, a spherical loadstone [magnetic model Earth].

Polarity, polar power, not περιδίνησις but περιδίνεισιος δύναμις: not a vertex or πόλος but a turning tendency.

Electrics, things which attract in the same manner as [rubbed] amber.

Excited Magnetic, that which has acquired its powers from a loadstone.

Magnetic Versorium [compass], a piece of iron upon a pin, empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone.

Non-magnetic Versorium [electroscope], a versorium of any metal, serving for electrical experiments.

Capped loadstone, which is furnished with an iron cap, or snout.

Meridionally, that is, along the projection of the meridian.

Paralleletically, that is, along the projection of a parallel.

Cusp, tip of a versorium [compass] empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone.

Cross, sometimes used of the end that has not been touched and empowered by a loadstone, though in many instruments both ends are empowered by the appropriate termini of the stone.

Cork, that is, bark of the cork-oak.

Radius of the Sphere of Action of a magnet, is a straight line drawn from the summit of the sphere of action of the magnet, by the shortest way, to the surface of the body, which, continued, will reach the centre of the magnet.

Sphere of action [magnetic signal range, ‘orbis virtutis’], is all that space through which the action of any magnet extends [or its magnetic signal range].

Sphere of Coition [attraction signal range], is all that space through which the smallest magnetic is moved by a magnet [or its attraction signal range].

Proof, for a demonstration shown by means of a body.

Magnetic Coition [mutual attraction aggregation]: since in magnetic bodies, motion does not occur by an attractive faculty, but by a concourse or concordance of both, not as if there were an ἑλκτικὴ δύναμις of one only, but a συνδρομή of both; there is always a coition [mutual attraction aggregation] of the power: and even of the body if its mass should not obstruct.

Declinatorium, a piece of Iron capable of turning about an axis, empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone, in a declination instrument.

[Magnetical philosophy, emission-response science or attraction science.]

[NOTE: In this text square brackets enclose translator clarifications.]


Book 1.

Chap. 1. Ancient and modern writings on the Loadstone, with certain matters of mention only, various opinions & vanities.

Chap. 2. Magnet Stone, of what kind it is, and its discovery.

Chap. 3. The loadstone has parts distinct in their natural power, & poles conspicuous for their property.

Chap. 4. Which pole of the stone [loadstone] is the North: and how it is distinguished from the South.

Chap. 5. Loadstone seems to attract loadstone when in natural position: but repels it when in a contrary one, and brings it back to order.

Chap. 6. Loadstone attracts the ore of iron, as well as iron proper, smelted & wrought.

Chap. 7. What iron is, and of what substance, and its uses.

Chap. 8. In what countries and districts iron originates.

Chap. 9. Iron ore attracts iron ore.

Chap. 10. Iron ore has poles, and acquires them, and settles itself toward the poles of the world.

Chap. 11. Wrought iron, not empowered by a loadstone, attracts iron.

Chap. 12. A long piece of Iron (even though not empowered by a loadstone) settles itself toward North & South.

Chap. 13. Wrought iron has in itself certain parts North & South: a magnetic power, polarity, and determinate vertices or poles.

Chap. 14. Concerning other powers of loadstone, & its medicinal properties.

Chap. 15. The medicinal power of iron.

Chap. 16. That loadstone & iron ore are the same, but iron an extract from both, as other metals are from their own ores; & that all magnetic powers, though weaker, exist in the ore itself & in smelted iron.

Chap. 17. That the globe of the Earth is magnetic, & a magnet; & how in our hands the magnet stone has all the primary forces of the Earth, while the Earth by the same powers remains constant in a fixed direction in the universe.

Book 2.

Chap. 1. On Magnetic Motions.

Chap. 2. On the Magnetic Coition [mutual attraction aggregation], and first on the attraction of Amber, or more truly, on the attaching of bodies to Amber.

Chap. 3. Opinions of others on Magnetic Coition [mutual attraction aggregation], which they call Attraction.

Chap. 4. On Magnetic Force & Form, what it is; and on the cause of Coition [mutual attraction aggregation].

Chap. 5. How the Power dwells in the Loadstone.

Chap. 6. How magnetic pieces of Iron and smaller loadstones conform themselves to a terrella [magnetic model Earth] & to the Earth itself, and by them are disposed.

Chap. 7. On the Potency of the Magnetic Power, and on its nature capable of spreading out into a sphere.

Chap. 8. On the geography of the Earth, and of the Terrella.

Chap. 9. On the equinoctial Circle of the Earth and of a Terrella.

Chap. 10. Magnetic Meridians of the Earth.

Chap. 11. Parallels.


Chap. 12. The Magnetic Horizon.

Chap. 13. On the Axis and Magnetic Poles.

Chap. 14. Why at the Pole itself the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is stronger than in the other parts intermediate between the equator and the Pole; and on the proportion of forces of the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] in various parts of the Earth and of the terrella.

Chap. 15. The Magnetic Power which is conceived in Iron is more apparent in an iron rod than in a piece of Iron that is round, square, or of other figure.

Chap. 16. Showing that Movements take place by the Magnetic Power though solid bodies lie between; and on the interposition of iron plates.

Chap. 17. On the Iron Cap of a Loadstone, with which it is armed at the pole (for the sake of the power), and on the efficacy of the same.

Chap. 18. An armed Loadstone does not endow an empowered [or magnetized] piece of Iron with greater power than an unarmed.

Chap. 19. Union with an armed Loadstone is stronger; hence greater weights are raised; but the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is not stronger, but generally weaker.

Chap. 20. An armed Loadstone raises an armed Loadstone, which also attracts a third; which likewise happens, though the power in the first be somewhat small.

Chap. 21. If Paper or any other Medium be interposed, an armed loadstone raises no more than an unarmed one.

Chap. 22. That an armed Loadstone attracts Iron no more than an unarmed one: and that an armed one is more strongly united to iron is shown by means of an armed loadstone and a polished Cylinder of iron.

Chap. 23. The Magnetic Force causes motion toward unity, and binds firmly together bodies which are united.

Chap. 24. A piece of Iron placed within the Sphere of Action of a Loadstone hangs suspended in the air, if on account of some impediment it cannot approach it.

Chap. 25. Enhancing the power of the magnet.

Chap. 26. Why there should appear to be a greater love between iron & loadstone, than between loadstone & loadstone, or between iron & iron, when close to the loadstone, within its sphere of action [signal range].

Chap. 27. The Centre of the Magnetic Powers in the Earth is the centre of the Earth; and in a terrella is the centre of the stone.

Chap. 28. A Loadstone attracts magnetics not only to a fixed point or pole, but to every part of a terrella save the equinoctial zone.

Chap. 29. On Variety of Strength due to Quantity or Mass.

Chap. 30. The Shape and Mass of the Iron are of most importance in cases of coition [mutual attraction aggregation].

Chap. 31. On long and round stones [loadstones].

Chap. 32. Certain Problems and Magnetic Experiments about the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation], and Separation, and regular Motion of magnetic Bodies.

Chap. 33. On the Varying Ratio of Strength, and of the Motion of coition [mutual attraction aggregation], within the sphere of action [signal range].

Chap. 34. Why a Loadstone should be stronger in its poles in a different ratio; as well in the Northern regions as in the Southern.

Chap. 35. On a Perpetual Motion Machine, mentioned by authors, by means of the attraction of a loadstone.

Chap. 36. How a more robust Loadstone may be recognized.

Chap. 37. Use of a Loadstone as it affects iron.

Chap. 38. On Attraction in other Bodies.

Chap. 39. On Bodies which mutually repel one another.

Book 3.

Chap. 1. On Direction.

Chap. 2. The Directive or Versorial Action (which we call polarity): what it is, how it exists in the loadstone; and in what way it is acquired when innate.

Chap. 3. How Iron acquires polarity through a loadstone, and how that polarity is lost and changed.

Chap. 4. Why Iron touched by a Loadstone acquires an opposite polarity, and why iron touched by the true North side of a stone turns to the North of the Earth, by the true South side to the South; and does not turn to the South when rubbed by the Northern point of the stone, and when by the South to the North, as all who have written on the Loadstone have falsely supposed.

Chap. 5. On the Touching of pieces of Iron of divers shapes.

Chap. 6. What seems an Opposing Motion in Magnetics is a proper motion toward unity.

Chap. 7. A determined polarity and a disponent Faculty are what arrange magnetics, not a force, attracting them or pulling them together, nor merely a strongish coition [mutual attraction aggregation] or unition.

Chap. 8. Of Discords between pieces of Iron upon the same pole of a Loadstone, and how they can agree and stand joined together.

Chap. 9. Figures illustrating direction and showing varieties of rotations.

Chap. 10. On Mutation of polarity and of Magnetic Properties, or on alteration in the power excited by a loadstone.

Chap. 11. On the Rubbing of a piece of Iron on a Loadstone in places midway between the poles, and upon the equinoctial of a terrella.

Chap. 12. In what way polarity exists in any Iron that has been smelted though not empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone.

Chap. 13. Why no other Body, excepting a magnetic, is imbued with polarity by being rubbed on a loadstone, and why no body is able to instil and excite that action, unless it be a magnetic.

Chap. 14. The Placing of a Loadstone above or below a magnetic body suspended in equilibrium changes neither the power nor the polarity of the magnetic body.

Chap. 15. The Poles, equator, Centre in an entire Loadstone remain and continue steady; by diminution and separation of some part they vary and acquire other positions.

Chap. 16. If the South Portion of a Stone [Loadstone] be lessened, something is also taken away from the power of the North Portion.

Chap. 17. On the Use and Excellence of Versoria: and how iron versoria used as pointers in sun-dials, and the fine needles of the mariners’ compass, are to be rubbed, that they may acquire stronger polarity.


Book 4.

Chap. 1. On Variation.

Chap. 2. That the variation is caused by the inequality of the projecting parts of the Earth.

Chap. 3. The variation in any one place is constant.

Chap. 4. The arc of variation is not changed equally in proportion to the distance of places.

Chap. 5. An island in Ocean does not change the variation, as neither do mines of loadstone.

Chap. 6. The variation and direction arise from the disponent power of the Earth, and from the natural magnetic tendency to rotation, not from attraction, or from coition [mutual attraction aggregation], or from other occult cause.

Chap. 7. Why the variation from that lateral cause is not greater than has to date been observed, having been rarely seen to reach two points of the mariners’ compass, except near the pole.

Chap. 8. On the construction of the common mariners’ compass, and on the diversity of the compasses of different nations.

Chap. 9. Whether the terrestrial longitude can be found from the variation.

Chap. 10. Why in various places near the pole the variations are much more ample than in a lower latitude.

Chap. 11. Cardan’s error when he seeks the distance of the centre of the Earth from the centre of the cosmos by the motion of the stone of Hercules; in his book 5, On Proportions.

Chap. 12. On the finding of the amount of variation: how great is the arc of the Horizon from its arctic to its antarctic intersection of the meridian, to the point respective of the magnetic needle.

Chap. 13. The observations of variation by seamen vary, for the most part, and are uncertain: partly from error and inexperience, and the imperfections of the instruments: and partly from the sea being seldom so calm that the shadows or lights can remain quite steady on the instruments.

Chap. 14. On the variation under the equinoctial line, and near it.

Chap. 15. The variation of the magnetic needle in the great ethiopic and American sea, beyond the equator.

Chap. 16. On the variation in Nova Zembla.

Chap. 17. Variation in the Pacific Ocean.

Chap. 18. On the variation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Chap. 19. The variation in the interior of large Continents.

Chap. 20. Variation in the Eastern Ocean.

Chap. 21. How the deviation of the versorium [compass] is augmented and diminished by reason of the distance of places.

Book 5.

Chap. 1. On Declination.

Chap. 2. Diagram of declinations of the magnetic needle, when empowered, in the various positions of the sphere, and horizons of the Earth, in which there is no variation of the declination.

Chap. 3. An indicatory instrument, showing by the action of a stone [loadstone] the degrees of declination from the horizon of each several latitude.

Chap. 4. Concerning the length of a versorium [compass] convenient for declination on a terrella.

Chap. 5. That declination does not arise from the attraction of the loadstone, but from a disposing and rotating influence.

Chap. 6. On the proportion of declination to latitude, and the cause of it.

Chap. 7. Explanation of the diagram of the rotation of a magnetic needle.

Chap. 8. Diagram of the rotation of a magnetic needle, indicating magnetic declination in all latitudes, and from the rotation and declination, the latitude itself.

Chap. 9. Demonstration of direction, or of variation from the true direction, at the same time with declination, by means of only a single motion in water, due to the disposing and rotating action.

Chap. 10. On the variation of the declination.

Chap. 11. On the essential magnetic activity spherically emitted.

Chap. 12. Magnetic force is animate, or imitates life; and in many things surpasses human life, while this is bound up in the organic body.

Book 6.

Chap. 1. On the globe of the Earth, the great magnet.

Chap. 2. The Magnetic axis of the Earth persists invariable.

Chap. 3. On the daily magnetic revolution of the Earth’s globe, as a probable assertion against the time-honoured opinion of a Primum Mobile.

Chap. 4. That the Earth moves circularly.

Chap. 5. Arguments of those denying the Earth’s motion, and their confutation.

Chap. 6. On the cause of the definite time of an entire rotation of the Earth.

Chap. 7. On the primary magnetic nature of the Earth, whereby its poles are parted from the poles of the Ecliptic.

Chap. 8. On the Precession of the equinoxes, from the magnetic motion of the poles of the Earth, in the Arctic & Antarctic circle of the Zodiack.

Chap. 9. On the anomaly of the Precession of the equinoxes, & of the obliquity of the Zodiack.







on the Loadstone, with certain matters of mention only,
various opinions, & vanities.

At an early period, while philosophy lay as yet rude and uncultivated in the mists of error and ignorance, few were the powers and properties of things that were known and clearly perceived: there was a bristling forest of plants and herbs, things metallic were hidden, and the knowledge of stones was unheeded. But no sooner had the talents and toils of many brought to light certain commodities necessary for the use and safety of men, and handed them on to others (while at the same time reason and experience had added a larger hope), than a thorough examination began to be made of forests and fields, hills and heights; of seas too, and the depths of the waters, of the bowels of the Earth’s body; and all things began to be looked into. And at length by good luck the magnet-stone was discovered in iron lodes, probably by smelters of iron or diggers of metals. This, on being handled by metal folk, quickly displayed that powerful and strong attraction for iron, a force not latent and obscure, but easily proved by all, and highly praised and commended. And in after time when it had emerged, as it were out of darkness and deep dungeons, and had become dignified of men on account of its strong and amazing attraction for iron, many philosophers as well as physicians of ancient days discoursed of it, in short celebrated, as it were, its memory only; as for instance Plato in the Io, Aristotle in the De Anima, in Book I. only, Theophrastus the Lesbian, Dioscorides, C. Plinius Secundus, and Julius Solinus. As handed down by them the loadstone merely attracted iron, the rest of its powers were all undiscovered. But that the story of the {2}loadstone might not appear too bare and too brief, to this singular and sole known quality there were added certain figments and falsehoods, which in the earliest times, no less than nowadays, used to be put forth by raw smatterers and copyists to be swallowed of men. As for instance, that if a loadstone be anointed with garlic, or if a diamond be near, it does not attract iron. Tales of this sort occur in Pliny, and in Ptolemy’s Quadripartitum; and the errors have been sedulously propagated, and have gained ground (like ill weeds that grow apace) coming down even to our own day, through the writings of a host of men, who, to fill put their volumes to a proper bulk, write and copy out pages upon pages on this, that, and the other subject, of which they knew almost nothing for certain of their own experience. Such fables of the loadstone even Georgius Agricola himself, most distinguished in letters, relying on the writings of others, has embodied as actual history in his books De Natura Fossilium. Galen noted its medicinal power in the ninth book of his De Simplicium Medicamentorum Facultatibus, and its natural property of attracting iron in the first book of De Naturalibus Facultatibus; but he failed to recognize the cause, as Dioscorides before him, nor made further inquiry. But his commentator Matthiolus repeats the story of the garlic and the diamond, and moreover introduces Mahomet’s shrine vaulted with loadstones, and writes that, by the exhibition of this (with the iron coffin hanging in the air) as a divine miracle, the public were imposed upon. But this is known by travellers to be false. Yet Pliny relates that Chinocrates the architect had commenced to roof over the temple of Arsinoe at Alexandria with magnet-stone, that her statue of iron placed therein might appear to hang in space. His own death, however, intervened, and also that of Ptolemy, who had ordered it to be made in honour of his sister. Very little was written by the ancients as to the causes of attraction of iron; by Lucretius and others there are some short notices; others only make slight and meagre mention of the attraction of iron: all of these are censured by Cardan for being so careless and negligent in a matter of such importance and in so wide a field of philosophizing; and for not supplying an ampler notion of it and a more perfect philosophy: and yet, beyond certain received opinions and ideas borrowed from others and ill-founded conjectures, he has not himself any more than they delivered to posterity in all his bulky works any contribution to the subject worthy of a philosopher. Of modern writers some set forth its power in medicine only, as Antonius Musa Brasavolus, Baptista Montanus, Amatus Lusitanus, as before them Oribasius in his thirteenth chapter De Facultate Metallicorum, etius Amidenus, Avicenna, Serapio Mauritanus, Hali Abbas, Santes de Ardoynis, Petrus Apponensis, Marcellus, Arnaldus. Bare mention is made of certain points relating to the loadstone in very few words by Marbodeus Callus, Albertus, {3}Mattheus Silvaticus, Hermolaus Barbarus, Camillus Leonhardus, Cornelius Agrippa, Fallopius, Johannes Langius, Cardinal Cusan, Hannibal Rosetius Calaber; by all of whom the subject is treated very negligently, while they merely repeat other people’s fictions and ravings. Matthiolus compares the alluring powers of the loadstone which pass through iron materials, with the mischief of the torpedo, whose venom passes through bodies and spreads imperceptibly; Guilielmus Pateanus in his Ratio Purgantium Medicamentorum discusses the loadstone briefly and learnedly. Thomas Erastus, knowing little of magnetic nature, finds in the loadstone weak arguments against Paracelsus; Georgius Agricola, like Encelius and other metallurgists, merely states the facts; Alexander Aphrodiseus in his Problemata considers the question of the loadstone inexplicable; Lucretius Carus, the poet of the Epicurean school, considers that an attraction is brought about in this way: that as from all things there is an efflux of very minute bodies, so from the iron atoms flow into the space emptied by the elements of the loadstone, between the iron and the loadstone, and that as soon as they have begun to stream towards the loadstone, the iron follows, its corpuscles being entangled. To much the same effect Johannes Costeus adduces a passage from Plutarch; Thomas Aquinas, writing briefly on the loadstone in Chapter VII. of his Physica, touches not amiss on its nature, and with his divine and clear intellect would have published much more, had he been conversant with magnetic experiments. Plato thinks the power divine. But when three or four hundred years afterwards, the magnetic movement to North and South was discovered or again recognized by men, many learned men attempted, each according to the bent of his own mind, either by wonder and praise, or by some sort of reasonings, to throw light upon a power so notable, and so needful for the use of mankind. Of more modern authors a great number have striven to show what is the cause of this direction and movement to North and South, and to understand this great miracle of nature, and to disclose it to others: but they have lost both their oil and their pains; for, not being practised in the subjects of nature, and being misled by certain false physical systems, they adopted as theirs, from books only, without magnetic experiments, certain inferences based on vain opinions, and many things that are not, dreaming old wives’ tales. Marsilius Ficinus ruminates over the ancient opinions, and in order to show the reason of the direction seeks the cause in the heavenly constellation of the Bear, supposing the power of the Bear to prevail in the stone [loadstone] and to be transferred to the iron. Paracelsus asserted that there are stars, endowed with the power of the loadstone, which attract to themselves iron. Levinus Lemnius describes and praises the compass, and infers its antiquity on certain grounds; he does not divulge the hidden miracle which he propounds. In the kingdom {4}of Naples the Amalfians were the first (so it is said) to construct the mariners’ compass: and as Flavius Blondus says the Amalfians boast, not without reason, that they were taught by a certain citizen, Johannes Goia, in the year thirteen hundred after the birth of Christ. That town is situated in the kingdom of Naples not far from Salerno, near the promontory of Minerva; and Charles V. bestowed that principality on Andrea Doria, that great Admiral, on account of his signal naval services. Indeed it is plain that no invention of man’s device has ever done more for mankind than the compass: some notwithstanding consider that it was discovered by others previously and used in navigation, judging from ancient writings and certain arguments and conjectures. The knowledge of the little mariners’ compass seems to have been brought into Italy by Paolo, the Venetian, who learned the art of the compass in the Chinas about the year MCCLX.; yet I do not wish the Amalfians to be deprived of an honour so great as that of having first made the construction common in the Mediterranean Sea. Goropius attributes the discovery to the Cimbri or Teutons, forsooth because the names of the thirty-two winds inscribed on the compass are pronounced in the German tongue by all ship-masters, whether they be French, British, or Spaniards; but the Italians describe them in their own vernacular. Some think that Solomon, king of Judea, was acquaint with the use of the mariners’ compass, and made it known to his ship-masters in the long voyages when they brought back such a power of gold from the West Indies: whence also, from the Hebrew word Parvaim, Arias Montanus maintains that the gold-abounding regions of Peru are named But it is more likely to have come from the coast of lower ethiopia, from the region of Cephala, as others relate. Yet that account seems to be less true, inasmuch as the Phœnicians, on the frontier of Judea, who were most skilled in navigation in former ages (a people whose talents, work, and counsel Solomon made use of in constructing ships and in the actual expeditions, as well as in other operations), were ignorant of magnetic aid, the art of the mariners’ compass: For had it been in use amongst them, without doubt the Greeks and also Italians and all barbarians would have understood a thing so necessary and made famous by common use; nor could matters of much repute, very easily known, and so highly requisite ever have perished in oblivion; but either the learning would have been handed down to posterity, or some memorial of it would be extant in writing. Sebastian Cabot was the first to discover that the magnetic iron varied. Gonzalus Oviedus is the first to write, as he does in the Historia, that in the south of the Azores it does not vary. Fernelius in his book De Abditis Rerum Causis says that in the loadstone there is a hidden and abstruse cause, elsewhere calling it celestial; and he brings forth nothing but the unknown by means of what is still more unknown. {5}For clumsy, and meagre, and pointless is his inquiry into hidden causes. The ingenious Fracastorio, a distinguished philosopher, in seeking the reason for the direction of the loadstone, feigns Hyperborean magnetic mountains attracting magnetic things of iron: this view, which has found acceptance in part by others, is followed by many authors and finds a place not in their writings only, but in geographical tables, marine charts, and maps of the globe: dreaming, as they do, of magnetic poles and huge rocks, different from the poles of the Earth. More than two hundred years earlier than Fracastorio there exists a little work, fairly learned for the time, going under the name of one Peter Peregrinus, which some consider to have originated from the views of Roger Bacon, the Englishman of Oxford: In which book causes for magnetic direction are sought from the poles of the heaven and from the heaven itself. From this Peter Peregrinus, Johannes Taisnier of Hainault extracted materials for a little book, and published it as new. Cardan talks much of the rising of the star in the tail of the Greater Bear, and has attributed to its rising the cause of the variation: supposing that the variation is always the same, from the rising of the star. But the difference of the variation according to the change of position, and the changes which occur in many places, and are even irregular in southern regions, preclude the influence of one particular star at its northern rising. The College of Coimbra seeks the cause in some part of the heaven near the pole: Scaliger in section CXXXI. of his Exercitationes on Cardan suggests a heavenly cause unknown to himself, and terrestrial loadstones nowhere yet discovered. A cause not due to those sideritic mountains named above, but to that power which fashioned them, namely that portion of the heaven which overhangs that northern point. This view is garnished with a wealth of words by that erudite man, and crowned with many marginal subtilities; but with reasonings not so subtile. Martin Cortes considers that there is a place of attraction beyond the poles, which he judges to be the moving heavens. One Bessardus, a Frenchman, with no less folly notes the pole of the zodiack. Jacobus Severtius, of Paris, while quoting a few points, fashions new errors as to loadstones of different parts of the Earth being different in direction: and also as to there being eastern and western parts of the loadstone. Robert Norman, an Englishman, fixes a point and region respective, not attractive; to which the magnetic iron is collimated, but is not itself attracted. Franciscus Maurolycus treats of a few problems on the loadstone, taking the trite views of others, and avers that the variation is due to a certain magnetic island mentioned by Olaus Magnus. Josephus Acosta, though quite ignorant about the loadstone, nevertheless pours forth vapid talk upon the loadstone. Livio Sanuto in his Italian Geographia, discusses at length the question whether the prime magnetic {6}meridian and the magnetic poles are in the heavens or in the Earth; also about an instrument for finding the longitude: but through not understanding magnetic nature, he raises nothing but errors and mists in that so important notion. Fortunius Affaytatus philosophizes foolishly enough on the attraction of iron, and its turning to the poles. Most recently, Baptista Porta, no ordinary philosopher, in his Magia Naturalis, has made the seventh book a custodian and distributor of the marvels of the loadstone; but little did he know or ever see of magnetic motions; and some things that he noted of the powers which it manifested, either learned by him from the Reverend Mestro Paolo, the Venetian, or evolved from his own vigils, were not so well discovered or observed; but abound in utterly false experiments, as will be clear in due place: still I deem him worthy of high praise for having attempted so great a subject (as he has done with sufficient success and no mean result in many other instances), and for having given occasion for further research. All these philosophizers of a previous age, philosophizing about attraction from a few vague and untrustworthy experiments, drawing their arguments from the hidden causes of things; and then, seeking for the causes of magnetic directions in a quarter of the heavens, in the poles, the stars, constellations, or in mountains, or rocks, space, atoms, attractive or respective points beyond the heavens, and other such unproven paradoxes, are whole horizons wrong, and wander about blindly. And as yet we have not set ourselves to overthrow by argument those errors and impotent reasonings of theirs, nor many other fables told about the loadstone, nor the superstitions of impostors and fabulists: for instance, Franciscus Rueus’ doubt whether the loadstone were not an imposture of evil spirits: or that, placed underneath the head of an unconscious woman while asleep, it drives her away from the bed if an adulteress: or that the loadstone is of use to thieves by its fume and sheen, being a stone born, as it were, to aid theft: or that it opens bars and locks, as Serapio crazily writes: or that iron held up by a loadstone, when placed in the scales, added nothing to the weight of the loadstone, as though the gravity of the iron were absorbed by the force of the stone: or that, as Serapio and the Moors relate, in India there exist certain rocks of the sea abounding in loadstone, which draw out all the nails of the ships which are driven toward them, and so stop their sailing; which fable Olaus Magnus does not omit, saying that there are mountains in the north of such great powers of attraction, that ships are built with wooden pegs, lest the iron nails should be drawn from the timber as they passed by amongst the magnetic crags. Nor this: that a white loadstone may be procured as a love potion: or as Hali Abbas thoughtlessly reports, that if held in the hand it will cure gout and spasms: Or that it makes one acceptable and in favour with princes, or eloquent, as Pictorio has {7}sung; Or as Albertus Magnus teaches, that there are two kinds of loadstones, one which points to the North, the other to the South: Or that iron is directed toward the Northern stars by an influence imparted by the polar stars, even as plants follow the sun, as Heliotrope does: Or that there is a magnet-stone situated under the tail of the Greater Bear, as Lucas Gauricus the Astrologer stated: He would even assign the loadstone, like the Sardonyx and onyx, to the planet Saturn, yet at the same time he assigns it with the adamant, Jasper, and Ruby, to Mars; so that it is ruled by two planets. The loadstone moreover is said by him to pertain to the sign Virgo; and he covers many such shameful pieces of folly with a veil of mathematical erudition. Such as that an image of a bear is engraved on a loadstone when the Moon faces towards the north, so that when hung by an iron wire it may conciliate the influence of the celestial Bear, as Gaudentius Merula relates: Or that the loadstone drew iron and directed it to the north, because it is superior in rank to iron, at the Bear, as Ficinus writes, and Merula repeats: Or that by day it has a certain power of attracting iron, but by night the power is feeble, or rather null: Or that when weak and dulled the power is renewed by goats’ blood, as Ruellius writes: Or that Goats’ blood sets a loadstone free from the venom of a diamond, so that the lost power is revived when bathed in goats’ blood by reason of the discord between that blood and the diamond: Or that it removed sorcery from women, and put to flight demons, as Arnaldus de Villanova dreams: Or that it has the power to reconcile husbands to their wives, or to recall brides to their husbands, as Marbodeus Gallus, chorus-leader of vanities, teaches: Or that in a loadstone picled in the salt of a sucking fish there is power to pic up gold which has fallen into the deepest wells, according to the narratives of Celius Calcagninus. With such idle tales and trumpery do plebeian philosophers delight themselves and satiate readers greedy for hidden things, and unlearned devourers of absurdities: But after the magnetic nature shall have been disclosed by the discourse that is to follow, and perfected by our labours and experiments, then will the hidden and abstruse causes of so great an effect stand out, sure, proven, displayed and demonstrated; and at the same time all darkness will disappear, and all error will be torn up by the roots and will lie unheeded; and the foundations of a grand magnetical philosophy [attraction-physics or signal-physics science] which have been laid will appear anew, so that high intellects may be no further mocked by idle opinions. Some learned men there are who in the course of long voyages have observed the differences of magnetic variation: the most scholarly Thomas Hariot, Robert Hues, Edward Wright, Abraham Kendall, all Englishmen; Others there are who have invented and produced magnetic instruments, and ready methods of observation, indispensable for sailors and to those travelling afar: {8}as William Borough in his little book on the Variation of the Compass or Magnetic Needle, William Barlowe in his Supply, Robert Norman in his Newe Attractive. And this is that Robert Norman (a skilful seaman and ingenious artificer) who first discovered the declination of the magnetic needle. Many others I omit wittingly; modern Frenchmen, Germans, and Spaniards, who in books written for the most part in their native tongues either misuse the placets of others, and send them forth furbished with new titles and phrases as tricy traders do old wares with meretricious ornaments; or offer something not worthy of mention even: and these lay hands on some work filched from other authors and solicit someone as their patron, or go hunting after renown for themselves among the inexperienced and the young; who in all branches of learning are seen to hand on errors and occasionally add something false of their own.


Magnet Stone, of what kind it is, and its

Loadstone, the stone which is commonly called the Magnet, derives its name either from the discoverer (though he was not Pliny’s fabulous herdsman, quoted from Nicander, the nails of whose shoes and the tip of whose staff stuck fast in a magnetic area while he pastured his flocks), or from the region of Magnesia in Macedonia, rich in loadstones: Or else from the city Magnesia in Ionia in Afia Minor, near the river Meander. Hence Lucretius says,

The Magnet’s name the observing Grecians drew
From the Magnetic region where it grew.

It is called Heraclean from the city Heraclea, or from the invincible Hercules, on account of the great strength and domination and power which there is in iron of subduing all things: it is also called siderite, as being of iron; being not unknown to the most ancient writers, to the Greeks, Hippocrates, and others, as also (I believe) to Jewish and Egyptian writers; For in the oldest mines of iron, the most famous in Asia, the loadstone was often dug out with its uterine brother, iron. And if the tales be true which are told of the people of the Chinas, they were not unacquainted in primitive times with magnetic experiments, for even amongst {9}them the finest magnets of all are still found. The Egyptians, as Manetho relates, gave it the name Os Ori: calling the power which governs the turning of the sun Orus, as the Greeks call it Apollo. But later by Euripides, as narrated by Plato, it was designated under the name of Magnet. By Plato in the Io, Nicander of Colophon, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Pliny, Solinus, Ptolemy, Galen, and other investigators of nature it was recognized and commended; such, however, is the variety of magnets and their points of unlikeness in hardness, softness, heaviness, lightness, density, firmness, and friability of substance: so great and manifold are the differences in colour and other qualities, that they have not handed down any adequate account of it, which therefore was laid aside or left imperfect by reason of the unfavourable character of the time; for in those times varieties of specimens and foreign products never before seen were not brought from such distant regions by traders and mariners as they have been lately, and now that all over the globe all kinds of merchandise, stones, woods, spices, herbs, metals, and ore in abundance are greedily sought after: neither was metallurgy so generally cultivated in a former age. There is a difference in power; as whether it is male or female: for it was thus that the ancients used often to distinguish many individuals of the same species. Pliny quotes from Sotacus five kinds; those from ethiopia, Macedonia, Bœotia, the Troad, and Asia, which were especially known to the ancients: but we have posited as many kinds of loadstones as there are in the whole of nature regions of different kinds of soil. For in all climates, in every province, on every soil, the loadstone is either found, or else lies unknown on account of its rather deep site and inaccesible position; or by reason of its weaker and less obvious strength it is not recognized by us while we see and handle it. To the ancients the differences were those of colour, how they are red and black in Magnesia and Macedonia, in Bœotia red rather than black, in the Troad black, without strength: While in Magnesia in Asia they are white, not attracting iron, and resemble pumice-stone. A strong loadstone of the kind celebrated so often nowadays in experiments presents the appearance of unpolished iron, and is mostly found in iron mines: it is even wont to be discovered in an unbroken lode by itself: Loadstones of this sort are brought from East India, China, and Bengal, of the colour of iron, or of a dark blood or liver colour; and these are the finest, and are sometimes of great size, as though broken off a great rock, and of considerable weight; sometimes single stones, as it were, and entire: some of these, though of only one pound weight, can lift on high four ounces of iron or a half-pound or even a whole pound. Red ones are found in Arabia, as broad as a tile, not equal in weight to those brought from China, but strong and good: they are a little darker in the island of Elba in the Tuscan sea, and together with {10}these also grow white ones, like some in Spain in the mines of Caravaca: but these are of lesser power. Black ones also are found, of lower strength, such as those of the iron mines in Norway and in sea-coast places near the strait of Denmark. Amongst the blue-black or dusky blue also some are strong and highly commended. Other loadstones are of a leaden colour, fissile and not-fissile, capable of being split like slates in layers. I have also some like gray marble of an ashen colour, and some speckled like gray marble, and these take the finest polish. In Germany there are some perforated like honeycombs, lighter than any others, and yet strong. Those are metallic which smelt into the best iron; others are not easily smelted, but are burned up. There are loadstones that are very heavy, as also others very light; some are very powerful in catching up pieces of iron, while others are weaker and of less capacity, others so feeble and barren that they with difficulty attract ever so tiny a piece of iron and cannot repel an opposite magnetic. Others are firm and tough, and do not readily yield to the artificer. Others are friable. Again, there are some dense and hard as emery, or loose-textured and soft as pumice; porous or solid; entire and uniform, or varied and corroded; now like iron for hardness, yea, sometimes harder than iron to cut or to file; others are as soft as clay. Not all magnets can be properly called stones; some rather represent rocks; while others exist rather as metallic lodes; others as clods and lumps of soil. Thus varied and unlike each other, they are all endowed, some more, some less, with the peculiar power. For they vary according to the nature of the soil, the different admixture of clods and humours, having respect to the nature of the region and to their subsidence in this last-formed crust of the Earth, resulting from the confluence of many causes, and the perpetual alternations of growth and decline, and the mutations of bodies. Nor is this stone of such potency rare; and there is no region wherein it is not to be found in some sort. But if men were to search for it more diligently and at greater outlay, or were able, where difficulties are present, to mine it, it would come to hand everywhere, as we shall hereafter prove. In many countries have been found and opened mines of efficacious loadstones unknown to the ancient writers, as for instance in Germany, where none of them has ever asserted that loadstones were mined. Yet since the time when, within the memory of our fathers, metallurgy began to flourish there, loadstones strong and efficacious in power have been dug out in numerous places; as in the Black Forest beyond Helceburg; in Mount Misena not far from Schwartzenberg; a fairly strong kind between Schneeberg and Annaberg in Joachimsthal, as was noticed by Cordus: also near the village of Pela in Franconia. In Bohemia it occurs in iron mines in the Lessa district and other places, as Georgious Agricola and several other men learned in metallurgy {11}witness. In like manner in other countries in our time it is brought to light; for as the stone remarkable for its powers is now famous throughout the whole world, so also everywhere every land produces it, and it is, so to speak, indigenous in all lands. In East India, in China, in Bengal near the river Indus it is common, and in certain maritime rocks: in Persia, Arabia, and the islands of the Red Sea; in many places in ethiopia, as was formerly Zimiri, of which Pliny makes mention. In Asia Minor around Alexandria and the Troad; in Macedonia, Bœotia, in Italy, the island of Elba, Barbary; in Spain still in many mines as aforetime. In England quite lately a huge power of it was discovered in a mine belonging to Adrian Gilbert, gentleman; also in Devonshire and the Forest of Dean; in Ireland, too, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Lapland, Livonia, Prussia, Poland, Hungary. For although the terrestrial globe, owing to the varied humours and natures of the soil arising from the continual succession of growth and decay, is in the lapse of time efflorescing through all its ambit deeper into its surface, and is girt about with a varied and perishable covering, as it were with a veil; yet out of her womb arises in many places an offspring nigher to the more perfect body and makes its way to the light of day. But the weak and less vigorous loadstones, enfeebled by the flow of humours, are visible in every region, in every strath. It is easy to discover a vast quantity of them everywhere without penetrating mountains or great depths, or encountering the difficulties and hardships of miners; as we shall prove in the sequel. And these we shall take pains so to prepare by an easy operation that their languid and dormant power shall be made manifest. It is called by the Greeks ἑράκλιος, as by Theophrastus, and μαγνῆτις; and μάγνης, as by Euripides, as quoted by Plato in the Io: by Orpheus too μαγνῆοσα, and σιδερίτης as though of iron: by the Latins magnes, Herculeus; by the French aimant, corruptly from adamant; by the Spaniards piedramant: by the Italians calamita; by the English loadstone and adamant stone, by the Germans magness and siegelstein: Among English, French, and Spaniards it has its common name from adamant; perhaps because they were at one time misled by the name sideritis being common to both: the magnet is called σιδερίτης from its power of attracting iron: the adamant is called σιδερίτης from the brilliancy of polished iron. Aristotle designates it merely by the name of the stone: Ἔοικε δὲ καὶ θαλῆς ἐξ ὧν ἀπομνημονεύουσι, κινητικόν τι τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπολαβεῖν, ἔιπερ τὸν λίθον ἔφη ψυχὴν ἔχειν, ὅτι τὸν σίδηρον κινεῖ: De Anima, Lib. I. The name of magnet is also applied to another stone differing from siderite, having the appearance of silver; it is like Amianth in its nature; and since it consists of lamine (like specular stone), it differs in power: in German Katzensilber and Talke.



The Loadstone has parts distinct in their natural
power, & poles conspicuous for their property.

The stone [loadstone] itself manifests many qualities which, though known afore this, yet, not having been well investigated, are to be briefly indicated in the first place so that students may understand the powers of loadstone and iron, and not be troubled at the outset through ignorance of reasonings and proofs. In the heaven astronomers assign a pair of poles for each moving sphere: so also do we find in the terrestrial globe natural poles preeminent in power, being the points that remain constant in their position in respect to the daily rotation, one tending to the Bears and the seven stars; the other to the opposite quarter of the heaven. In like manner the loadstone has its poles, by nature north and south, being definite and determined points set in the stone, the primary boundaries of motions and effects, the limits and governors of the many actions and powers. However, it must be understood that the strength of the stone does not emanate from a mathematical point, but from the parts themselves, and that while all those parts in the whole belong to the whole, the nearer they are to the poles of the stone the stronger are the forces they acquire and shed into other bodies: these poles are observant of the Earth’s poles, move toward them, and wait upon them. Magnetic poles can be found in every magnet, in the powerful and mighty (which Antiquity used to call the masculine) as well as in the weak, feeble and feminine; whether its figure is due to art or to chance, whether long, flat, square, three-cornered, polished; whether rough, broken, or unpolished; always the loadstone contains and shows its poles.
* But since the spherical shape, which is also the most perfect, agrees best with the Earth, being a globe, and is most suitable for use and experiment, we accordingly wish our principal demonstrations by the stone [loadstone] to be made with a globe-shaped magnet as being more perfect and adapted for the purpose. Take, then, a powerful loadstone, solid, of a just size, uniform, hard, without flaw; make of it a globe upon the turning tool used for rounding crystals and some other stones, or with other tools as the material and firmness of the stone requires, for sometimes it is difficult to be worked. The stone thus prepared is a true, homogeneous offspring of the Earth and of the same shape with it: artificially possessed of the spherical shape which nature granted from the beginning to the common mother Earth: and it is a physical corpuscle imbued with many powers, by {13}means of which many abstruse and neglected truths in philosophy buried in piteous darkness may more readily become known to men. This round stone is called by us a μικρόγη or Terrella [magnetic model Earth]. To find, then, the poles conformable to the Earth’s, take the round stone [loadstone] in hand, and place upon the stone a needle or wire of iron: the ends of the iron move upon their own centre and suddenly stand still. Mark the stone with ochre or with chalk where the wire lies and sticks: move the middle or centre of the wire to another place, and so on to a third and a fourth, always marking on the stone along the length of the iron where it remains at rest: those lines show the meridian circles, or the circles like meridians on the stone [loadstone], or terrella, all of which meet as will be manifest at the poles of the stone. By the circles thus continued the poles are made out, the north as well as the south, and in the middle space betwixt these a great circle may be drawn for an equator, just as Astronomers describe them in the heavens and on their own globes, or as Geographers do on the terrestrial globe: for that line so drawn on this our terrella is of various uses in our magnetic demonstrations and experiments. Poles are also found in a round stone by a versorium [compass], a piece of iron touched with a loadstone, and placed upon a needle or point firmly fixed on a foot so as to turn freely about in the following way:


On the stone [loadstone] A B the versorium [compass] is placed in such a way that the versorium may remain in equilibrium: you will mark with chalk the course of the iron when at rest: Move the instrument to another spot, and again make note of the direction and aspect: do the same thing in several places, and from the concurrence of the lines of direction you will find one pole at the point A, the other at B. A versorium placed near the stone also indicates the true pole; when at right angles it eagerly beholds the stone and seeks the pole itself directly, and is turned in a straight line through the axis to the {14}centre of the stone.
* For instance, the versorium D faces toward A and F, the pole and centre, whereas E does not exactly respect either the pole A or the centre F. A bit of rather fine iron wire, of the length of a barley-corn, is placed on the stone, and is moved over the regions and surface of the stone, until it rises to the perpendicular: for it stands erect at the actual pole, whether North or South; the further from the pole, the more it inclines from the vertical. The poles thus found you shall mark with a sharp file or gimlet.


Which pole of the stone [loadstone] is the North: & how it is
distinguished from the South.

One pole of the Earth turns toward the constellation of the Cynosure (Ursa Minor, or the North Star), and constantly regards a fixed point in the heaven (except so far as it changes by the fixed stars being shifted in longitude, which motion we recognize as existing in the Earth, as we shall hereafter prove): While the other pole turns to the opposite face of heaven, unknown to the ancients, now visible on long voyages, and adorned with multitudinous stars: In the same way the loadstone has the property and power of directing itself North and South (the Earth herself consenting and contributing force thereto) according to the conformation of nature, which arranges the movements of the stone towards its native situation. Which thing is proved thus: Place a magnetic stone (after finding the poles) in a round wooden vessel, a Bowl or dish, at the same time place it together with the vessel (like a sailor in a skiff) upon water in some large vessel or cistern, so that it may be able to float freely in the middle, nor touch the edge of it, and where the air is not disturbed by winds, which would thwart the natural movement of the stone. Hereupon the stone placed as it were in a ship, in the middle of the surface of the still and unruffled water, will at once put itself in motion along with the vessel that carries it, and revolve circularly, until its south pole points to the north, and its north pole to the south. For it reverts from the contrary position to the poles: and although by the first too-vehement impulse it over-passes the poles; yet after returning again and again, it rests at length at the poles, or at the meridian (unless because of local reasons it is diverted some little from those points, or from the meridional line, by some sort of variation, the cause of which we will hereafter state). However often you move it away from its place, so often by virtue of nature’s noble dower does it seek again those sure and {15}determined goals; and this is so, not only if the poles have been disposed in the vessel evenly with the plane of the horizon, but also in the case of one pole, whether South or North, being raised in the vessel ten, or twenty, or thirty, or fifty or eighty degrees, above the plane of the horizon, or lowered beneath it: Still you shall see the nort part of the stone seek the south, and the south part seek the north; So much so that if the pole of the stone shall be only one degree distant from the Zenith and highest point of the heaven, in the case of a spherical stone, the whole stone revolves until the pole occupies its own site; though not in the absolutely direct line, it will yet tend toward those parts, and come to rest in the meridian of the directive action. With a like impulse too it is borne if the southern pole have been raised toward the upper quarters, the same as if the northern had been raised above the Horizon. But it is always to be noted that, though there are various kinds of unlikeness in the stones, and one loadstone may far surpass another in power and efficiency; yet all hold to the same limits, and are borne toward the same points.
* Further it is to be remembered that all who before our time wrote of the poles of the stone, and all the craftsmen and navigators, have been very greatly in error in considering the part of the stone which tended to the north as the north pole of the stone, and that which verged toward the south, the south pole, which we shall hereafter prove to be false. So badly to date hath the whole magnetical philosophy been cultivated, even as to its foundation principles.


Loadstone seems to attract Loadstone when in natural
position: but repels it when in a contrary one, and brings
it back to order.

First of all we must declare, in familiar language, what are the apparent and common powers of the stone [loadstone]; afterward numerous subtilities, to date abstruse and unknown, hidden in obscurity, are to be laid open, and the causes of all these (by the unlocking of nature’s secrets) made evident, in their place, by fitting terms and devices. It is trite and commonplace that loadstone attracts iron; in the same way too does loadstone attract loadstone. Place the stone which you have seen to have poles clearly distinguished, and marked South and North, in its vessel so as to float; and let the poles be rightly arranged with respect to the plane of the horizon, or, at any rate not much raised or awry: hold in your hand another stone the poles of which are also known; in {16}such a way that its south pole may be toward the north pole of the one that is swimming, and near it, sideways: for the floating stone forthwith follows the other stone (provided it be within its force and dominion) and does not leave off nor forsake it until it adheres; unless by withdrawing your hand, you cautiously avoid contact. In like manner if you set the north pole of the one you hold in your hand opposite the south pole of the swimming stone, they rush together and follow each other in turn. For contrary poles allure contrary. If, however, you apply in the same way the north to the north, and the south to the south pole, the one stone puts the other to flight, and it turns aside as though a pilot were pulling at the helm and it makes sail in the opposite ward as one that ploughs the sea, and neither stands anywhere, nor halts, if the other is in pursuit. For stone disposes stone; the one turns the other around, reduces it to range, and brings it back to harmony with itself. When, however, they come together and are conjoined according to the order of nature, they cohere firmly mutually. For instance, if you were to set the north pole of that stone which is in your hand before the tropic of Capricorn of a round floating loadstone (for it will be well to mark out on the round stone, that is the terrella, the mathematical circles as we do on a globe itself), or before any point between the equator and the south pole; at once the swimming stone revolves, and so arranges itself that its south pole touches the other’s north pole, and forms a close union with it. In the same way, again, at the other side of the equator, with the opposite poles, you may produce similar results; and thus by this art and subtilty we exhibit attraction, repulsion, and circular motion for attaining a position of agreement and for declining hostile encounters. Moreover ’tis in one and the same stone that we are thus able to demonstrate all these things and also how the same part of one stone may on division become either north or south. Let A D be an oblong stone, in which A is the north, D the south pole; cut this into two equal parts, then set part A in its vessel on the water, so as to float.

A stone divided


And you will then see that A the northern point will turn to the south, as before; in like manner also the point D will move to the north, in the divided stone [loadstone], as in the whole one. Whereas, of the parts B and C, which were before continuous, and are now divided, the one is south B, the other north C. B attracts C, desirous to be united, and to be brought back into its pristine continuity: for these which are now two stones were made out of one: and for this cause C of the one turning itself to B of the other, they mutually attract each other, and when freed from obstacles and relieved of their own weight, as upon the surface of water, they run together and are conjoined. But if you direct the part or point A to C in the other stone, the one repels or turns away from the other: for so were nature perverted, and the form of the stone perturbed, a form that strictly keeps the laws which it imposed upon bodies: hence, when all is not rightly ordered according to nature, comes the flight of one from the other’s perverse position and from the discord, for nature does not allow of an unjust and inequitable peace, or compromise: but wages war and exerts force to make bodies acquiesce well and justly. Rightly arranged, therefore, these mutually attract each other; that is, both stones, the stronger as well as the weaker, run together, and with their whole forces tend to unity, a fact that is evident in all magnets, not in the ethiopian only, as Pliny supposed. The ethiopian magnets if they be powerful, like those brought from China, because all strong ones show the effect more quickly and more plainly, attract more strongly in the parts nearest the pole, and turn about until pole looks directly at pole. The pole of a stone more persistently attracts and more rapidly seizes the corresponding part (which they term the adverse part) of another stone; for instance, North pulls South; just so it also summons iron with more vehemence, and the iron cleaves to it more firmly whether it have been previously empowered [or magnetized] by the magnet, or is untouched. For thus, not without reason hath it been ordained by nature, that the parts nearer to the pole should more firmly attract: but that at the pole itself should be the seat, the throne, as it were, of a consummate and splendid power, to which magnetic bodies on being brought are more vehemently attracted, and from which they are with utmost difficulty dislodged. So the poles are the parts which more particularly spurn and thrust away things strange and alien perversely set beside them.



Loadstone attracts the ore of iron, as well as iron
proper, smelted and wrought.

* Principal and manifest among the powers of the magnet, so much and so anciently commended, is the attraction of iron; for Plato states that the magnet, so named by Euripides, allures iron, and that it not only attracts iron rings but also endows the rings with power to do the same as the stone [loadstone]; to wit, attract other rings, so that sometimes a long chain of iron objects, nails or rings is created, some hanging from others. The best iron (like that which is called acies from its use, or chalybs from the country of the Chalybes) is best and strongly attracted by a powerful loadstone; whereas the less good sort, which is impure, rusty, and not thoroughly purged from dross, and not wrought in second furnaces, is more feebly attracted; and yet more weakly when covered and defiled with thick, greasy, and sluggish humours. It also attracts ores of iron, those that are rich and of iron colour; the poorer and not so productive ores it does not attract, except they be prepared with some art. A loadstone loses some attractive power, and, as it were, pines away with age, if exposed too long to the open air instead of being laid in a case with filings or scales of iron. Whence it should be buried in such materials; for there is nothing that plainly resists this exhaustless power which does not destroy the form of the body, or corrode it; not even if a thousand adamants were conjoined. Nor do I consider that there is any such thing as the Theamedes, or that it has a power opposite to that of the loadstone. Although Pliny, that eminent man and prince of compilers (for it is what others had seen and discovered, not always or mainly his own observations, that he has handed down to posterity) has copied from others the fable now made familiar by repetition: That in India there are two mountains near the river Indus; the nature of one being to hold fast all that is iron, for it consists of loadstone; the other’s nature being to repel it, for it consists of the Theamedes. Thus if one had iron nails in one’s boots, one could not tear away one’s foot on the one mountain, nor stand still on the other. Albertus Magnus writes that a loadstone had been found in his day which with one part drew to itself iron, and repelled it with its other end; but Albertus observed the facts badly; for every loadstone attracts with one end iron that has been touched with a loadstone, and drives it away with the other; and attracts iron that been touched with a loadstone more powerfully than iron that has not been so touched.



What Iron is, and of what substance,
and its uses.

For that now we have declared the origin and nature of the loadstone, we think it necessary first to add a history of iron and to indicate the to date unknown forces of iron, before this our discourse goes on to the explanation of magnetic difficulties and demonstrations, and to deal with the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] and harmony of loadstone with iron. Iron is by all reckoned in the class of metals, and is a metal livid in colour, very hard, glows red-hot before it melts, being most difficult of fusion, is beaten out under the hammer, and is very resonant. Chemists say that if a bed of fixed earthy sulphur be combined with fixed earthy quicksilver, and the two together are neither pure white but of a livid whiteness, if the sulphur prevail, iron is created. For these stern masters of metals who by many inventions twisting them about, pound, calcine, dissolve, sublime, and precipitate, decide that this metal, both on account of the earthy sulphur and of the earthy mercury, is more truly a son of the Earth than any other; they do not even think gold or silver, lead, tin, or copper itself so earthy; for that reason it is not smelted except in the hottest furnaces, with bellows; and when thus fused, on having again grown hard it is not melted again without heavy labour; but its slag with the utmost difficulty. It is the hardest of metals, subduing and breaking all things, by reason of the strong concretion of the more earthy matter. Wherefore we shall better understand what iron is, when we shall declare what are the causes and substance of metals, in a different way from those who before our time have considered them. Aristotle takes the material of the metals to be vapour. The chemists in chorus pronounce their actual elements to be sulphur and quicksilver. Gilgil Mauritanus gives it as ashes moistened with water. Georgius Agricola makes it out to be water and soil mixed; nor, to be sure, is there any difference between his opinion and the position taken by Mauritanus. But ours is that metals arise and effloresce at the summits of the Earth’s globe, being distinguished each by its own form, like some of the other substances dug out of it, and all bodies around us. The Earth’s globe does not consist of ashes or inert dust. Nor is fresh water an element, but a more simple consistency of evaporated fluids of the Earth. Unctuous bodies, fresh water devoid of properties, quicksilver and sulphur, none of these are principles of metals: these latter, {20}things are the results of a different nature, they are neither constant nor antecedent in the course of the generation of metals. The Earth emits various humours, not begotten of water nor of dry soil, nor from mixtures of these, but from the substance of the Earth itself: these humours are not distinguished by contrary qualities or substance, nor is the Earth a simple substance, as the Peripatetics dream. The humours proceed from vapours sublimated from great depths; all waters are extracts and, as it were, exudations from the Earth. Rightly then in some measure does Aristotle make out the matter of metals to be that exhalation which in continuance thickens in the lodes of certain soils: for the vapours are condensed in places which are less hot than the spot whence they issued, and by help of the nature of the soils and mountains, as in a womb, they are at fitting seasons congealed and changed into metals: but it is not they alone which make ores, but they flow into and enter a more solid material, and so make metals. So when this concreted matter has settled down in more temperate beds, it begins to take shape in those tepid places, just as seed in the warm womb, or as the embryo acquires growth: sometimes the vapour conjoins with suitable matter alone: hence some metals are occasionally though rarely dug up native, and come into existence perfect without smelting: but other vapours which are mixed with alien soils require smelting in the way that the ores of all metals are treated, which are rid of all their dross by the force of fires, and being fused flow out metallic, and are separated from earthy impurities but not from the true substance of the Earth. But in so far as that it becomes gold, or silver, or copper, or any other of the existing metals, this does not happen from the quantity or proportion of material, nor from any forces of matter, as the Chemists fondly imagine; but when the beds and region concur fitly with the material, the metals assume forms from the universal nature by which they are perfected; in the same manner as all the other minerals, plants, and animals whatever: otherwise the species of metals would be vague and undefined, which are even now turned up in such scanty numbers that scarce ten kinds are known. Why, however, nature has been so stingy as regards the number of metals, or why there should be as many as are known to man, it is not easy to explain; though the simple-minded and raving Astrologers refer the metals each to its own planet. But there is no agreement of the metals with the planets, nor of the planets with the metals, either in numbers or in properties. For what connexion is there of iron with Mars? unless it be that from the former numerous instruments, particularly swords and engines of war, are fashioned. What has copper to do with Venus? or how does tin, or how does spelter correspond with Jupiter? They should rather be dedicated to Venus. But this is old wives’ talk. Vapour is then a remote cause in the generation of the metals; the fluid condensed from {21}vapours is a more proximate one, like the blood and semen in the generation of animals. But those vapours and juices from vapours pass for the most part into bodies and change them into marcasites and are carried into lodes (for we have numerous cases of wood so transmuted), the fitting matrices of bodies, where these metals are created. They enter most often into the truer and more homogeneous substance of the globe, and in the process of time a vein of iron results; loadstone is also produced, which is nought else than a noble kind of iron ore: and for this reason, and on account of its substance being singular, alien from all other metals, nature very rarely, if ever, mixes with iron any other metal, while the other metals are very often minutely mixed, and are produced together. Now when that vapour or those juices happen to meet, in fitting matrices, with efflorescences deformed from the Earth’s homogenic substance, and with divers precipitates (the forms working thereto), the remainder of the metals are generated (a specific nature affecting the properties in that place). For the hidden primordial elements of metals and stones lie concealed in the Earth, as those of herbs and plants do in its outer crust. For the soil dug out of a deep well, where would seem to be no suspicion of a conception of seed, when placed on a very high tower, produces, by the incubation of sun and sky, green herbage and unbidden weeds; and those of the kind which grow spontaneously in that region, for each region produces its own herbs and plants, also its own metals.

Here corn exults, and there the grape is glad,

Here trees and grass unbidden verdure add.

So mark how Tmolus yields his saffrone store,

But ivory is the gift of Indian shore;

With incense soft the softer Shebans deal;

The stark Chalybeans’ element is steel:

With acrid castor reek the Pontic wares,

Epirus wins the palm of Elian mares.

But what the Chemists (as Geber, and others) call fixed earthy sulphur in iron is nothing else than the homogenic Earth-substance concreted by its own humour, amalgamated with a double fluid: a metallic humour is inserted along with a small quantity of the substance of the Earth not devoid of humour. Wherefore the common saying that in gold there is pure earth, but in iron mostly impure, is wrong; as though there were indeed such a thing as natural earth, and that the globe itself were (by some unknown process of refining) depurate. In iron, especially in the best iron, there is earth in its own nature true and genuine; in the other metals there is not so much earth as that in place of earth and precipitates there are consolidated and (so to speak) fixed salts, which are efflorescences of the Earth, and which differ also greatly {22}in firmness and consistency: In the mines their force rises up along with a twofold humour from the exhalations, they solidify in the underground spaces into metallic veins: so too they are also connate by virtue of their place and of the surrounding bodies, in natural matrices, and take on their specific forms. Of the various constitutions of loadstones and their diverse substances, colours, and powers, mention has been made before: but, now having stated the cause and origin of metals, we have to examine ferruginous matter not as it is in the smelted metal, but as that from which the metal is refined. Quasi-pure iron is found of its proper colour and in its own lodes; still, not as it will presently be, nor as adapted for its various uses. It is sometimes dug up covered with white silex or with other stones. It is often the same in river sand, as in Noricum. A nearly pure ore of iron is now often dug up in Ireland, which the smiths, without the labours of furnaces, hammer out in the smithy into iron implements. In France iron is very commonly smelted out of a liver-coloured stone, in which are glittering scales; the same kind without the scales is found in England, which also they use for craftsmen’s ruddle. In Sussex in England is a rich dusky ore and also one of a pale ashen hue, both of which on being dried for a time, or kept in moderate fires, presently acquire a liver-colour; here also is found a dusky ore square-shaped with a black rind of greater hardness. An ore having the appearance of liver is often variously intermingled with other stones: as also with the perfect loadstone which yields the best of iron. There is also a rusty ore of iron, one of a leaden hue tending to black, one quite black, or black mixed with true cobalt: there is another sort mixed either with pyrites, or with sterile plumbago. One kind is also like jet, another like bloodstone. The emery used by armourers, and by glaziers for glass-cutting, called amongst the English Emerelstone, by the Germans Smeargel, is ferruginous; albeit iron is extracted from it with difficulty, yet it attracts the versorium [compass]. It is now and then found in deep iron and silver diggings. Thomas Erastus says he had heard from a certain learned man of iron ores, of the colour of iron, but quite soft and fatty, which can be smoothed with the fingers like butter, out of which excellent iron can be smelted: somewhat the same we have seen found in England, having the aspect of Spanish soap. Besides the numberless kinds of stony ores, iron is extracted from clay, from clayey soil, from ochre, from a rusty matter deposited from chalybeate waters; In England iron is copiously extracted in furnaces often from sandy and clayey stones which appear to contain iron not more than sand, marl, or any other clay soils contain it. Thus in Aristotle’s book De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, "There is said" (he states) "to be a peculiar formation of Chalybean and Misenian iron, for instance the sort collected from river gravel; some say {23}that after being simply washed it is smelted in the furnace; others declare that it and the sediment which subsides after several washings are cast in and purified together by the fire; with the addition of the stone pyrimachus which is found there in abundance" Thus do numerous sorts of things contain in their various substances notably and abundantly this element of iron and earth. However, there are many stones, and very common ones, found in every soil, also earths, and various and mixed materials, which do not hold rich substances, but yet have their own iron elements, and yield them to skilfully-made fires, yet which are left aside by metallic men because they are less profitable; while other soils give some show of a ferruginous nature, yet (being very barren) are hardly ever smelted down into iron; and being neglected are not generally known. Manufactured irons differ very greatly amongst themselves. For one kind is tenacious in its nature, and this is the best; one is of medium quality: another is brittle, and this is the worst. Sometimes the iron, by reason of the excellency of the ore, is wrought into steel, as to-day in Noricum. From the finest iron, too, well wrought and purged from all dross, or by being plunged in water after heating, there issues what the Greeks call στόμωμα; the Latins acies; others aciarium, such as was at times called Syrian, Parthian, Noric, Comese, Spanish; elsewhere it is named from the water in which it is so often plunged, as at Como in Italy, Bambola and Tarazona in Spain. Acies fetches a much larger price than mere iron. And owing to its superiority it better accords with the loadstone, from which more powerful quality it is often smelted, and it acquires the powers from it more quickly, retains them longer at their full, and in the best condition for magnetic experiments. After iron has been smelted in the first furnaces, it is afterward wrought by various arts in large worksteads or mills, the metal acquiring consistency when hammered with weighty blows, and throwing off the dross. After the first smelting it is rather brittle and by no means perfect. Wherefore with us in England when the larger military guns are cast, they purify the metal from dross more fully, so that they may be stronger to withstand the force of the firing; and they do this by making it pass again (in a fluid state) through a chink, by which process it sheds its recremental matter. Smiths render iron sheets tougher with certain liquids, and by blows of the hammer, and from them make shields and breastplates that defy the blows of battle-axes. Iron becomes harder through skill and proper tempering, but also by skill turns out in a softer condition and as pliable as lead. It is made hard by the action of certain waters into which while glowing it is plunged, as at Bambola and Tarazona in Spain: It grows soft again, either by the effect of fire alone, when without hammering and without water, it is left to cool by itself; or by that of grease into which it is plunged; or {24}(that it may the better serve for various trades) it is tempered variously by being skilfully besmeared. Baptista Porta expounds this art in book 13 of his Magia Naturalis. Thus this ferric and telluric nature is included and taken up in various bodies of stones, ores, and earths; so too it differs in aspect, in form, and in efficiency. Art smelts it by various processes, improves it, and turns it, above all material substances, to the service of man in trades and appliances without end. One kind of iron is adapted for breastplates, another serves as a defence against shot, another protects against swords and curved blades (commonly called scimitars), another is used for making swords, another for horseshoes. From iron are made nails, hinges, bolts, saws, keys, grids, doors, folding-doors, spades, rods, pitchforks, hooks, barbs, tridents, pots, tripods, anvils, hammers, wedges, chains, hand-cuffs, fetters, hoes, mattocks, sicles, baskets, shovels, harrows, planes, rakes, ploughshares, forks, pans, dishes, ladles, spoons, spits, knives, daggers, swords, axes, darts, javelins, lances, spears, anchors, and much ship’s gear. Besides these, balls, darts, pikes, breastplates, helmets, cuirasses, horseshoes, greaves, wire, strings of musical instruments, chairs, portcullises, bows, catapults, and (pests of human kind) cannon, muskets, and cannon-balls, with endless instruments unknown to the Latins: which things I have rehearsed in order that it may be understood how great is the use of iron, which surpasses a hundred times that of all the other metals; and is day by day being wrought by metal-workers whose stithies are found in almost every village. For this is the foremost of metals, subserving many and the greatest needs of man, and abounds in the Earth above all other metals, and is predominant. Wherefore those Chemists are fools who think that nature’s will is to perfect all metals into gold; she might as well be making ready to change all stones to diamonds, since diamond surpasses all in splendour and hardness, because gold excels in splendour, gravity, and density, being invincible against all deterioration. Iron as dug up is therefore, like iron that has been smelted, a metal, differing a little indeed from the primary homogenic terrestrial body, owing to the metallic humour it has imbibed; yet not so alien as that it will not, after the manner of refined matter, admit largely of the magnetic forces, and may be associated with that prepotent form belonging to the Earth, and yield to it a due submission.



In what countries and districts iron

Plenty of iron mines exist everywhere, both those of old time recorded in early ages by the most ancient writers, and the new and modern ones. The earliest and most important seem to me to be those of Asia. For in those countries which abound naturally in iron, governments and the arts flourished exceedingly, and things needful for the use of man were discovered and sought after. It is recorded to have been found about Andria, in the region of the Chalybes near the river Thermodon in Pontus; in the mountains of Palestine which face Arabia; in Carmania: in Africa there was a mine of iron in the Isle of Meroe; in Europe in the hills of Britain, as Strabo writes; in Hither Spain, in Cantabria. Among the Petrocorii and Cubi Biturges (peoples of Gaul), there were worksteads in which iron used to be wrought. In greater Germany near Luna, as recorded by Ptolemy; Gothinian iron is mentioned by Cornelius Tacitus; Noric iron is celebrated in the verses of poets; and Cretan, and that of Eubœa; many other iron mines were passed over by these writers or unknown to them; and yet they were neither poor nor scanty, but most extensive. Pliny says that Hither Spain and all the district from the Pyrenees is ferruginous, and on the part of maritime Cantabria washed by the Ocean (says the same writer) there is (incredible to relate) a precipitously high mountain wholly composed of this material. The most ancient mines were of iron rather than of gold, silver, copper or lead; since mainly this was sought because of the demand; and also because in every district and soil they were easy to find, not so deep-lying, and less beset by difficulties. If, however, I were to enumerate modern iron workings, and those of this age and over Europe only, I should have to write a large and bulky volume, and sheets of paper would run short quicker than the iron, and yet for one sheet they could furnish a thousand worksteads. For amongst minerals, no material is so ample; all metals, and all stones distinct from iron, are outdone by ferric and ferruginous matter. For you will not readily find any region, and scarcely any country district over the whole of Europe (if you search at all deeply), that does not either produce a rich and abundant vein of iron or some soil containing or slightly charged with ferruginous stuff; and that this is {26}true any expert in the arts of metals and chemistry will easily find. Beside that which has ferruginous nature, and the metallic lode, there is another ferric substance which does not yield the metal in this way because its thin humour is burnt out by fierce fires, and it is changed into an iron slag like that which is separated from the metal in the first furnaces. And of this kind is all clay and argillaceous earth, such as that which apparently makes a large part of the whole of our island of Britain: all of which, if subjected very vehemently to intense heat, exhibits a ferric and metallic body, or passes into ferric vitreous matter, as can be easily seen in buildings in bricks baked from clay, which, when placed next the fires in the open kilns (which our folk call clamps) and burned, present an iron vitrification, black at the other end. Moreover all those earths as prepared are attracted by the magnet, and like iron are attracted by it. So perpetual and ample is the iron offspring of the terrestrial globe. Georgius Agricola says that almost all mountainous regions are full of its ores, while as we know a rich iron lode is frequently dug in the open country and plains over nearly the whole of England and Ireland; in no other wise than as, says he, iron is dug out of the meadows at the town of Saga in pits driven to a two-foot depth. Nor are the West Indies without their iron lodes, as writers tell us; but the Spaniards, intent upon gold, neglect the toilsome work of iron-founding, and do not search for lodes and mines abounding in iron. It is probable that nature and the globe of the Earth are not able to hide, and are evermore bringing to the light of day, a great mass of inborn matter, and are not invariably obstructed by the settling of mixtures and efflorescences at the Earth’s surface. It is not only in the common mother (the terrestrial globe) that iron is produced, but sometimes also in the air from the Earth’s exhalations, in the highest clouds. It rained iron in Lucania, the year in which M. Crassus was slain. The tale is told, too, that a mass of iron, like slag, fell from the air in the Nethorian forest, near Grina, and they narrate that the mass was many pounds in weight; so that it could neither be conveyed to that place, on account of its weight, nor be brought away by cart, the place being without roads. This happened before the civil war waged between the rival dukes in Saxony. A similar story, too, comes to us from Avicenna. It once rained iron in the Torinese, in various places (Julius Scaliger telling us that he had a piece of it in his house), about three years before that province was taken over by the king. In the year 1510 in the country bordering on the river Abdua (as Cardan writes in his book De Rerum Varietate) there fell from the sky 1200 stones, one weighing 120 pounds, another 30 or 40 pounds, of a rusty iron colour and remarkably hard. These occurrences being rare are regarded as portents, like the showers of soil and stones mentioned in Roman history. But that it ever rained other metals is not {27}recorded; for it has never been known to rain from the sky gold, silver, lead, tin, or spelter. Copper, however, has been at some time noticed to fall from the sky, and this is not very unlike iron; and in fact cloud-born iron of this sort, or copper, are seen to be imperfectly metallic, incapable of being cast in any way, or wrought with facility. For the Earth hath of her store plenty of iron in her highlands, and the globe contains the ferric and magnetic element in rich abundance. The exhalations forcibly derived from such material may well become concreted in the upper air by the help of more powerful causes, and hence some monstrous progeny of iron be begotten.


Iron ore attracts iron ore.

From various substances iron (* like all the rest of the metals) is extracted: such substances being stones, earth, and similar concretions which miners call veins because it is in veins, as it were, that they are generated. We have spoken above of the variety of these veins. If a properly coloured ore of iron and a rich one (as miners call it) is placed, as soon as mined, upon water in a bowl or any small vessel (as we have shown before in the case of a loadstone), it is attracted by a similar piece of ore brought near by hand, yet not so powerfully and quickly as one loadstone is attracted by another loadstone, but slowly and feebly. Ores of iron that are stony, cindery, dusky, red, and several more of other colours, do not attract one another mutually, nor are they attracted by the loadstone itself, even by a strong one, no more than wood, or lead, silver, or gold. Take those ores and burn, or rather roast them, in a moderate fire, so that they are not suddenly split up, or fly asunder, keeping up the fire ten or twelve hours, and gently increasing it, then let them grow cold, skill being shown in the direction in which they are placed: These ores thus prepared a loadstone will now attract, and they now show a mutual sympathy, and when skilfully arranged run together by their own forces.




Iron ore has poles, and acquires them, and settles
itself toward the poles of the universe.

Deplorable is man’s ignorance in natural things, and modern philosophers, like those who dream in darkness, need to be aroused, and taught the uses of things and how to deal with them, and to be induced to leave the learning sought at leisure from books alone, and that is supported only by unrealities of arguments and by conjectures. For the knowledge of iron (than which nothing is in more common use), and that of many more substances around us, remains unlearned; iron, a rich ore of which, placed in a vessel upon water, by an innate property of its own directs itself, just like the loadstone, North and South, at which points it rests, and to which, if it be turned aside, it reverts by its own inherent power. But many ores, less perfect in their nature, which yet contain amid stone or earthy substances plenty of iron, have no such motion; but when prepared by skilful treatment in the fires, as shown in the foregoing chapter, they acquire a polar power (which we call polarity); and not only the iron ores in request by miners, but even soil merely charged with ferruginous matter, and many rocks, do in like manner tend and lean toward those portions of the heavens, or more truly of the Earth, if they be skilfully placed, until they reach the desired location, in which they eagerly repose.




Wrought Iron, not empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone,
attracts iron.

From the ore, which is converted, or separated, partly into metal, partly into slag, by the intense heat of fires, iron is smelted in the first furnaces in a space of eight, ten, or twelve hours, and the metal flows away from the dross and useless matter, forming a large and long mass, which being subjected to a sharp hammering is cut into parts, out of which when reheated in the second hearth of the forge, and again placed on the anvil, the smiths fashion quadrangular lumps, or more specially bars which are bought by merchants and blacksmiths, from which in smithies usually it is the custom to fashion the various implements. This iron we term wrought, and its attraction by the loadstone is manifest to all. But we, by more carefully trying everything, have found out that iron merely, by itself alone, not empowered by any loadstone, not charged by any alien forces, attracts other iron; though it does not so eagerly snatch and suddenly pluck at it as would a fairly strong loadstone; this you may know thus: A small piece of cork, the size of a hazel-nut, rounded, is traversed by an iron wire up to the middle of the wire: when set swimming on still water apply to one end of it, close (yet so as not to touch), the end of another iron wire; and wire attracts wire, and one follows the other when slowly drawn back, and this goes on up to the proper boundaries. Let A be the cork with the iron wire, B one end of it raised a little above the surface of the water, C the end of the second wire, showing the way in which B is attracted by C. You may prove it in another way in a larger body. Let a long bright iron rod (such as is made for hangings and window curtains) be hung in balance by a slender silken cord: to one end of this as it rests in the air bring a small oblong mass of polished iron, with its proper {30}end at the distance of half a digit. The balanced iron turns itself to the mass; do you with the same quickness draw back the mass in your hand in a circular path about the point of equilibrium of the suspension; the end of the balanced iron follows after it, and turns in an orbit.

Attraction of iron wires



A long piece of Iron, even though not empowered [or magnetized] by a
loadstone, settles itself toward North and South.

Every good and perfect piece of iron, if drawn out in length, points North and South, just as the loadstone or iron rubbed with a magnetic body does; a thing that our famous philosophers have little understood, who have sweated in vain to set forth the magnetic powers and the causes of the friendship of iron for the stone. You may experiment with either large or small iron works, and either in air or in water. A straight piece of iron six feet long of the thickness of your finger is suspended (in the way described in the foregoing chapter) in exact equipoise by a strong and slender silken cord. But the cord should be cross-woven of several silk filaments, not twisted simply in one way; and it should be in a small chamber with all doors and windows closed, that the wind may not enter, nor the air of the room be in any way disturbed; for which reason it is not expedient that the trial should be made on windy days, or while a storm is brewing. For thus it freely follows its bent, and slowly moves until at length, as it rests, it points with its ends North and South, just as iron touched with a loadstone does in shadow-clocks, and in compasses, and in the mariners’ compass. You will be able, if curious enough, to balance all at the same time by fine threads a number of small rods, or iron wires, or long pins with which women knit stockings; you will see that all of them at the same time are in accord, unless there be some error in this delicate operation: for unless you prepare everything fitly and skilfully, the labour will be void. Make trial of this thing in water also, which is done both more certainly and more easily. Let an iron wire two or three digits long, more or less, be passed through a round cork, so that it may just float upon water; and as soon as you have committed it to the waves, it turns upon its own centre, and one end tends to the North, the other to the South; the causes {31}of which you will afterwards find in the laws of the direction.
* This too you should understand, and hold firmly in memory, that as a strong loadstone, and iron touched with the same, do not invariably point exactly to the true pole but to the point of the variation; so does a weaker loadstone, and so does the iron, which directs itself by its own forces only, not by those impressed by the stone; and so every ore of iron, and all bodies naturally endowed with something of the iron nature, and prepared, turn to the same point of the horizon, according to the place of the variation in that particular region (if there be any variation therein), and there abide and rest.



Wrought iron has in itself certain parts North and South:
A magnetic power, polarity, and determinate
vertices, or poles.

Iron settles itself toward the North and South; not with one and the same point toward this pole or that: for one end of the piece of ore itself and one extremity also of a wrought-iron wire have a sure and constant destination to the North, the other to the South, whether the iron hang in the air, or float on water, be the iron large rods or thinner wires. Even if it be a little rod, or a wire ten or twenty or more ells in length; one end as a rule is North, the other South. If you cut off part of that wire, and if the end of that divided part were North, the other end (which was joined to it) will be South. Thus if you divide it into several parts, before making an experiment on the surface of water, you can recognize the vertex. In all of them a North end attracts a South and repels a North, and contrariwise, according to the magnetic laws. Yet herein wrought iron differs from the loadstone and from its own ore, inasmuch as in an iron ball of any size, such as those used for artillery or cannon, or bullets used for carbines or fowling-pieces, polarity is harder to acquire and is less apparent than in a piece of loadstone, or of ore itself, or than in a round loadstone. But in long and extended pieces of iron a power is at once discerned; the causes of which fact, and the methods by which it acquires its polarity and its poles without use of a loadstone, as well as the reasons for all the other obscure features of polarity, we shall set forth in describing the motion of direction.



Concerning other powers of loadstone, and its
medicinal properties.

Dioscorides prescribes loadstone to be given with sweetened water, three scruples’ weight, to expel gross humours. Galen writes that a like quantity of bloodstone avails. Others relate that loadstone perturbs the mind and makes folk melancholic, and mostly kills. Gartias ab Horto thinks it not deleterious or injurious to health. The natives of East India tell us, he says, that loadstone taken in small doses preserves youth. On which account the aged king, Zeilam, is said to have ordered the pans in which his victuals were cooked to be made of loadstone. The person (says he) to whom this order was given told me so himself. There are many varieties of loadstone produced by differences in the mingling of earths, metals, and juices; hence they are altogether unlike in their powers and effects, due to propinquities of places and of agnate bodies, and arising from the pits themselves as it were from the matrices being soul. One loadstone is therefore able to purge the stomach, and another to check purging, to cause by its fumes a serious shock to the mind, to produce a gnawing at the vitals, or to bring on a grave relapse; in case of which ills they exhibit gold and emerald, using an abominable imposture for lucre. Pure loadstone may, indeed, be not only harmless, but even able to correct an over-fluid and putrescent state of the bowels and bring them back to a better temperament; of this sort usually are the oriental magnets from China, and the denser ones from Bengal, which are neither misliking nor unpleasant to the actual senses. Plutarch and Claudius Ptolemy, and all the copyists since their time, think that a loadstone smeared with garlic does not allure iron. Hence some suspect that garlic is of avail against any deleterious power of the magnet: thus in philosophy many false and idle conjectures arise from fables and falsehoods. Some physicians have that a loadstone has power to extract the iron of an arrow from the human body. But it is when whole that the loadstone attracts, not when pulverized and formless, buried in plasters; for it does not attract by reason of its material, but is rather adapted for the healing of open wounds, by reason of exsiccation, closing up and drying the sore, an effect by which the arrow-heads would rather be retained in the wounds. Thus vainly and preposterously do the sciolists {33}look for remedies while ignorant of the true causes of things. The application of a loadstone for all sorts of headaches no more cures them (as some make out) than would an iron helmet or a steel cap. To give it in a draught to dropsical persons is an error of the ancients, or an impudent tale of the copyists, though one kind of ore may be found which, like many more minerals, purges the stomach; but this is due to some defect of that ore and not to any magnetic property. Nicolaus puts a large quantity of loadstone into his divine plaster, just as the Augsburgers do into a black plaster for fresh wounds and stabs; the action of which dries them up without smart, so that it proves an efficacious medicament. In like manner also Paracelsus to the same end mingles it in his plaster for stab wounds.


The Medicinal Activity of Iron.

Not foreign to our present purpose will it be to treat briefly also of the medicinal activity of iron: for it is a prime remedial for some diseases of the human body, and by its actions, both those that are natural and those acquired by suitable preparation, it works marvellous changes in the human body, so that we may the more surely recognize its nature through its medicinal activity and through certain manifest experiments. So that even those tyros in medicine who abuse this most famous medicament may learn to prescribe it with better judgment for the healing of the sick, and not, as too often they use it, to their harm. The best iron, Stomoma, or Chalybs, Acies, or Aciarium, is reduced to a fine powder by a file; the powder is steeped in the sharpest vinegar, and dried in the sun, and again soused in vinegar, and dried; afterwards it is washed in spring water or other suitable water, and dried; then for the second time it is pulverized and reduced on porphyry, passed through a very fine sieve, and put back for use. It is given chiefly in cases of laxity and over-humidity of the liver, in enlargement of the spleen, after due evacuations; for which reason it restores young girls when pallid, sickly, and lacking colour, to health and beauty; since it is very siccative, and is astringent without harm. But some who in every internal malady always talk of obstruction {34}of the liver and spleen, think it beneficial in those cases because it removes obstructions, mainly trusting to the opinions of certain Arabians: wherefore they administer it to the dropsical and to those suffering from tumour of the liver or from chronic jaundice, and to persons troubled with hypochondrical melancholia or any stomachic disorder, or add it to electuaries, without doubt to the grievous injury of many of their patients. Fallopius commends it prepared in his own way for tumours of the spleen, but is much mistaken; for loadstone is pre-eminently good for spleens relaxed with humour, and swollen; but it is so far from curing spleens thickened into a tumour that it mightily confirms the malady. For those drugs which are strong siccatives and absorb humour force the viscera when hardened into a tumour more completely into a quasi-stony body. There are some who roast iron in a closed oven with fierce firing, and burn it strongly, until it turns red, and they call this Saffron of Mars; which is a powerful siccative, and more quickly penetrates the intestines. Moreover they order violent exercise, that the drug may enter the viscera while heated and so reach the place affected; wherefore also it is reduced to a very fine flour; otherwise it only sticks in the stomach and in the chyle and does not penetrate to the intestines. As a dry and earthy medicament, then, it is shown by the most certain experiments to be, after proper evacuations, a remedy for diseases arising from humour (when the viscera are charged and overflowing with watery rheum). Prepared steel is a medicament proper for enlarged spleen. Iron waters too are effectual in reducing the spleen, although as a rule iron is of a frigid and astringent efficiency, not a laxative; but it effects this neither by heat nor by cold, but from its own dryness when mixed with a penetrative fluid: it thus disperses the humour, thickens the villi, hardens the tissues, and contracts them when lax; while the inherent heat in the member thus strengthened, being increased in power, dissipates what is left. Whereas if the liver be hardened and weakened by old age or a chronic obstruction, or the spleen be shrivelled and contracted to a schirrus, by which troubles the fleshy parts of the limbs grow flaccid, and water under the skin invades the body, in the case of these conditions the introduction of iron accelerates the fatal end, and considerably increases the malady. Amongst recent writers there are some who in cases of drought of the liver prescribe, as a much lauded and famous remedy, the electuary of iron slag, described by Rhazes in his ninth book ad Almansorem, Chap. 63, or prepared filings of steel; an evil and deadly advice: which if they do not some time understand from our philosophy, at least everyday experience, and the decline and death of their patients, will convince them, even the sluggish and lazy. Whether iron be warm or cold is variously contended by {35}many. By Manardus, Curtius, Fallopius and others, many reasons are adduced on both sides; each settles it according to his own sentiment. Some make it to be cold, saying that iron has the property of refrigerating, because Aristotle in his Meteorologica would put iron in the class of things which grow concreted in cold by emission of the whole of their Heat: Galen, too, says that iron has its consistency from cold; also that it is an earthy and dense body. Further that iron is astringent, also that Chalybeate water quenches thirst: and they adduce the cooling effect of thermal iron waters. Others, however, maintain that it is Warm, because of Hippocrates making out that waters are warm which burst forth from places where iron exists. Galen says that in all metals there is considerable substance, or essence, of fire. Paolo affirms that iron waters are warm. Rhazes will have it that iron is warm and dry in the third degree. The Arabians think that it opens the spleen and liver; wherefore also that iron is warm. Montagnana recommends it in cold affections of the uterus and stomach. Thus do the smatterers cross swords together, and puzzle inquiring minds by their vague conjectures, and wrangle for trifles as for goats’ wool, when they philosophize, wrongly allowing and accepting properties: but these matters will appear more plainly by and by when we begin to discuss the causes of things; the clouds being dispersed that have so darkened all Philosophy. Filings, scales, and slag of iron are, as Avicenna makes out, not wanting in deleterious power (haply when they are not well prepared or are taken in larger quantity than is fit), hence they cause violent pain in the bowels, roughness of the mouth and tongue, marasmus, and shrivelling of the limbs. But Avicenna wrongly and old-womanishly makes out that the proper antidote to this iron poison is loadstone to the weight of a drachm taken as a draught in the juice of mercurialis or of Beet; for loadstone is of a twofold nature, usually malefiant and pernicious, nor does it resist iron, since it attracts it; nor when drunk in a draught in the shape of powder does it avail to attract or repel, but rather inflicts the same evils.



That loadstone & iron ore are the same, but iron an
extract from both, as other metals are from their own
ores; & that all magnetic powers, though
weaker, exist in the ore itself & in
smelted iron.

To date we have declared the nature & powers of the loadstone, & also the properties & essence of iron; it now remains to show their mutual affinities, & kinship, so to speak, & how very closely conjoined these substances are. At the highest part of the terrestrial globe, or at its perishable surface & rind, as it were, these two bodies usually originate & are produced in one and the same matrix, as twins in one mine. Strong loadstones are dug up by themselves, weaker ones too have their own proper vein. Both are found in iron mines. Iron ore most often occurs alone, without strong loadstone (for the more perfect are rarely met with). Strong loadstone is a stone resembling iron; out of it is usually smelted the finest iron, which the Greeks call stomoma, the Latins acies, the Barbarians (not amiss) aciare, or aciarium. This same stone attracts, repels, controls other loadstones, directs itself to the poles of the world, picks up smelted iron, and works many other wonders, some already set forth by us, but many more which we must demonstrate more fully.
* A weaker loadstone, however, will exhibit all these powers, but in a lesser degree; while iron ore, & also wrought iron (if they have been prepared) show their strength in all magnetic experiments not less than do feeble and weak loadstones; & an inert piece of ore, & one possessed of no magnetic properties, & just thrown out of the pit, when roasted in the fire & prepared with due art (by the elimination of humours & foreign excretions) awakes, and becomes in power & potency a magnet,
* occasionally a stone or iron ore is mined, which attracts forthwith without being prepared: for native iron of the right colour attracts and governs iron magnetically. One form then belongs to the one mineral, one species, one self-same essence. For to me there seems to be a greater difference, & unlikeness, between the strongest {37}loadstone, & a weak one which scarce can attract a single chip of iron; between one that is stout, strong, metallic, & one that is soft, friable, clayey; amidst such variety of colour, substance, quality, & weight; than there is on the one hand between the best ore, rich in iron, or iron that is metallic from the beginning, and on the other the most excellent loadstone. Usually, too, there are no marks to distinguish them, and even metallurgists cannot decide between them, because they agree together in all respects. Moreover we see that the best loadstone and the ore of iron are both as it were distressed by the same maladies & diseases, both run to old age in the same way & exhibit the same marks of it, are preserved & keep their properties by the same remedies & safeguards; & yet again the one increases the potency of the other, & by artfully devised adjuncts marvellously intensifies, & strengthens it. For both are impaired by the more acrid juices as by poisons, & the aqua fortis of the Chemists inflicts on both the same wounds, and when exposed too long to harm from the atmosphere, they both alike pine away, so to speak, & grow old; each is preserved by being kept in the dust & scrapings of the other; & when a fit piece of steel or iron is adjoined above its pole, the loadstone’s power is augmented through the firm union. The loadstone is laid up in iron filings, not that iron is its food; as though loadstone were alive and needed feeding, as Cardan philosophizes; nor yet that so it is delivered from the inclemency of the weather (for which cause it as well as iron is laid up in bran by Scaliger; mistakenly, however, for they are not preserved well in this way, and keep for years their own fixed forms): nor yet, since they remain perfect by the mutual action of their powders, do their extremities waste away, but are cherished & preserved, like by like. For just as in their own places, in the mines, bodies like to each other endure for many ages entire and uncorrupt, when surrounded by bodies of the same stuff, as the lesser interior parts in a great mass: so loadstone and ore of iron, when inclosed in a mound of the same material, do not exhale their native humour, do not waste away, but retain their soundness. A loadstone lasts longer in filings of smelted iron, & a piece of iron ore excellently also in dust of loadstone; as also smelted iron in filings of loadstone & even in those of iron. Then both these allied bodies have a true & just form of one & the same species; a form which until this day was considered by all, owing to their outward unlikeness & the inequality of the potency that is the same innate in both, to be different & unlike in kind; the smatterers not understanding that the same powers, though differing in strength, exist in both alike. And in fact they both are true & intimate parts of the Earth, & as such retain the prime natural properties of mutually attracting, of moving, & of disposing themselves toward the position of the world, {38}and of the terrestrial globe; which properties they also impart to each other, and increase, confirm, receive, and retain each other’s forces. The stronger fortifies the weaker, not as though aught were taken away from its own substance, or its proper power, nor because any corporeal (particulate) substance is imparted, but the dormant power of the one is aroused by the other, without loss. For if with a single small stone you touch a thousand bits of iron for the use of mariners, that loadstone attracts iron no less strongly than before; with the same stone weighing one pound, anyone will be able to suspend in the air a thousand pounds of iron. For if any one were to fix high up on the walls so many iron nails of so great a weight, & were to apply to them the same number of nails touched, according to the art, by a loadstone, they would all be seen to hang in the air through the force of one small stone. So this is not solely the action, labour, or outlay of the loadstone; but the iron, which is in a sense an extract from loadstone, and a fusion of loadstone into metal, & conceives power from it, & by proximity strengthens the magnetic faculties, doth itself, from whatever lode it may have come, enhance its own inborn forces through the presence & contact of the stone, even when solid bodies intervene. Iron that has been touched, acts anew on another piece of iron by contact, & adapts it for magnetic movements, & this again a third. But if you rub with a loadstone any other metal, or wood, or bones, or glass, as they will not be moved toward any particular and determinate quarter of heaven, nor be attracted by any magnetic body, so they are able not to impart any magnetic property to other bodies or to iron itself by attrition, & by infection. Loadstone differs from iron ore, as also from some weaker magnets, in that when molten in the furnace into a ferric & metallic fused mass, it does not so readily flow & dissolve into metal; but is sometimes burnt to ashes in large furnaces; a result which it is reasonable to suppose arises from its having some kind of sulphureous matter mixed with it, or from its own excellence & simpler nature, or from the likeness & common form which it has with the common mother, the Great Magnet. For earths, and iron stones, magnets abounding in metal, are the more imbued & marred with excrementitious metallic humours, and earthy corruptions of substance, as numbers of loadstones are weaker from the mine; hence they are a little further remote from the common mother, & are degenerate, & when smelted in the furnace undergo fusion more easily, & give out a more certain metallic product, & a metal that is softer, not a tough steel. The majority of loadstones (if not unfairly burnt) yield in the furnace a very excellent iron. But iron ore also agrees in all those primary qualities with loadstone; for both, being nearer and more closely akin to the Earth above all bodies known to us, have in themselves {39}a magnetic substance, & one that is more homogenic, true & cognate with the globe of the Earth; less infested & spoiled by foreign blemish; less confused with the outgrowths of Earth’s surface, & less debased by corrupt products. And for this reason Aristotle in the fourth book of his Meteora seems not unfairly to separate iron from all the rest of the metals. Gold, he says, silver, copper, tin, lead, belong to water; but iron is of the Earth. Galen, in the fourth chapter of De Facultatibus Simplicium Medicamentorum, says that iron is an earthy & dense body. Accordingly a strong loadstone is on our showing especially of the Earth: the next place is occupied by iron ore or weaker loadstone; so the loadstone is by nature and origin of iron, and it and magnetic iron are both one in kind. Iron ore yields iron in furnaces; loadstone also pours forth iron in the furnaces, but of a much more excellent sort, that which is called steel or blade-edge; and the better sort of iron ore is a weak loadstone, the best loadstone being a most excellent ore of iron, in which, as is to be shown by us, the primary properties are grand and conspicuous. Weaker loadstone or iron ore is that in which these properties are more obscure, feeble, and are scarce perceptible to the senses.


That the globe of the Earth is magnetic, & a magnet; &
how in our hands the magnet stone has all the primary
forces of the Earth, while the Earth by the
same powers remains constant in a
fixed direction in the

Prior to bringing forward the causes of magnetic motions, & laying open the proofs of things hidden for so many ages, & our experiments (the true foundations of terrestrial philosophy), we have to establish & present to the view of the learned our New & unheard of doctrine about the Earth; and this, when argued by us on the grounds of its probability, with subsequent {40}experiments & proofs, will be as certainly assured as anything in philosophy ever has been considered & confirmed by clever arguments or mathematical proofs. The terrene mass, which together with the vast oceans produce the spheric figure & constitutes our globe, being of a firm & constant substance, is not easily changed, does not wander about, & fluctuate with uncertain motions, like the seas, & flowing waves: but holds all its volume of moisture in certain beds & bounds, & as it were in oft-met veins, that it may be the less diffused & dissipated at random. Yet the solid magnitude of the Earth prevails & reigns supreme in the nature of our globe. Water, however, is attached to it, & as an appendage only, & a flux emanating from it; whose force from the beginning is conjoined with the Earth through its smallest parts, and is innate in its substance. This moisture the Earth as it grows hot throws off freely when it is of the greatest possible service in the generation of things. But the thews and dominant stuff of the globe is that terrene body which far exceeds in quantity all the volume of flowing streams and open waters (whatever vulgar philosophers may dream of the magnitudes and proportions of their elements), and which takes up most of the whole globe and almost fills it internally, and by itself almost suffices to endow it with spheric shape. For the seas only fill certain not very deep or profound hollows, since they rarely go down to a depth of a mile and generally do not exceed a hundred or 50 fathoms. For so it is ascertained by the observations of seamen when by the plumb-line and sinker its abysms are explored with the nautical sounder; which depths relatively to the dimensions of the globe, do not much deform its spherical shape. Small then appears to be that portion of the real Earth that ever emerges to be seen by man, or is turned up; since we cannot penetrate deeper into its bowels, further than the wreckage of its outer efflorescence, either by reason of the waters which gush up in deep workings, as through veins, or for want of a wholesome air to support life in the miners, or on account of the vast cost that would be incurred in pumping out such huge workings, and many other difficulties; so that to have gone down to a depth of four hundred, or (which is of rarest occurrence) of five hundred fathoms as in a few mines, appears to all a stupendous undertaking. But it is easy to understand how minute, how almost negligibly small a portion that 500 fathoms is of the Earth’s diameter, which is 6,872 miles. It is then parts only of the Earth’s circumference and of its prominences that are perceived by us with our senses; and these in all regions appear to us to be either loamy, or clayey, or sandy, or full of various soils, or marls: or lots of stones or gravel meet us, or beds of salt, or a metallic lode, and metals in abundance. In the sea and in deep waters, however, either reefs, and huge boulders, or smaller stones, or sands, or mud {41}are found by mariners as they sound the depths. Nowhere does the Aristotelian element of earth come to light; and the Peripatetics are the sport of their own vain dreams about elements. Yet the lower bulk of the Earth and the inward parts of the globe consist of such bodies; for they could not have existed, unless they had been related to and exposed to the air and water, and to the light and influences of the heavenly bodies, in like manner as they are generated, and pass into many dissimilar kinds of things, and are changed by a perpetual law of succession. Yet the interior parts imitate them, and betake themselves to their own source, on the principle of terrene matter, albeit they have lost the first qualities and the natural terrene form, and are borne towards the Earth’s centre, and cohere with the globe of the Earth, from which they cannot be wrenched asunder except by force. But the loadstone and all magnetics, not the stone only, but every magnetic homogenic substance, would seem to contain the power of the Earth’s core and of its inmost bowels, and to hold within itself and to have conceived that which is the secret and inward principle of its substance; and it possesses the actions peculiar to the globe of attracting, directing, disposing, rotating, stationing itself in the universe, according to the rule of the whole, and it contains and regulates the dominant powers of the globe; which are the chief tokens and proofs of a certain distinguishing combination, and of a nature most thoroughly conjoint. For if among actual bodies one sees something move and breathe, and experience sensations, and be inclined and impelled by reason, will one not, knowing and seeing this, conclude that it is a man or something rather like a man, than that it is a stone or a stick? The loadstone far excels all other bodies known to us in powers and properties pertaining to the common mother: but those properties have been far too little understood or realized by philosophers: for to its magnetic body bodies rush in from all sides and cleave to it, as we see them do in the case of the Earth. It has poles, not mathematical points, but natural termini of force excelling in primary efficiency by the co-operation of the whole: and there are poles in like manner in the Earth which our forefathers sought ever in the sky: it has an equator, a natural dividing line between the two poles, just as the Earth has: for of all lines drawn by the mathematicians on the terrestrial globe, the equator is the natural boundary, and is not, as will hereafter appear, merely a mathematical circle. It, like the Earth, acquires Direction and stability toward North and South, as the Earth does; also it has a circular motion toward the position of the Earth, wherein it adjusts itself to its rule: it follows the ascensions and declinations of the Earth’s poles, and conforms exactly to the same, and by itself raises its own poles above the {42}horizon naturally according to the law of the particular country and region, or sinks below it. The loadstone derives temporary properties, and acquires its polarity from the Earth, and iron is affected by the polarity of the globe even as iron is by a loadstone: Magnetics are conformable to and are regulated by the Earth, and are subject to the Earth in all their motions. All its movements harmonize with, and strictly wait upon, the geometry and form of the Earth, as we shall afterwards prove by most conclusive experiments and diagrams; and the chief part of the visible Earth is also magnetic, and has magnetic motions, although it be disfigured by corruptions and mutations without end. Why then do we not recognize this the chief homogenic substance of the Earth, likest of substances to its inner nature and closest allied to its very marrow? For none of the other mixed earths suitable for agriculture, no other metalliferous veins, nor stones, nor sand, nor other fragments of the Earth which have come to our view possess such constant and peculiar powers. And yet we do not assume that the whole interior of this globe of ours is composed of stones or iron (although Franciscus Maurolycus, that learned man, deems the whole of the Earth’s interior to consist of solid stone). For not every loadstone that we have is a stone, it being sometimes like a clod, or like clay and iron either firmly compacted together out of various materials, or of a softer composition, or by heat reduced to the metallic state; and the magnetic substance by reason of its location and of its surroundings, and of the metallic matrix itself, is distinguished, at the surface of the terrene mass, by many qualities and adventitious natures, just as in clay it is marked by certain stones and iron lodes. But we maintain that the true Earth is a solid substance, homogeneous with the globe, closely coherent, endowed with a primordial and (as in the other globes of the universe) with a prepotent form; in which position it persists with a fixed polarity, and revolves with a necessary motion and an inherent tendency to turn, and it is this constitution, when true and native, and not injured or disfigured by outward defects, that the loadstone possesses above all bodies apparent to us, as if it were a more truly homogenic part taken from the Earth. Accordingly native iron which sui generis (as metallurgists term it), is created when homogenic parts of the Earth grow together into a metallic lode; Loadstone being created when they are changed into metallic stone, or a lode of the finest iron, or steel: so in other iron lodes the homogenic matter that goes together is somewhat more imperfect; just as many parts of the Earth, even the high ground, is homogenic but so much more deformate. Smelted iron is fused and smelted out of homogenic stuffs, and cleaves to the Earth more tenaciously than the ores themselves. Such then is our Earth in its {43}inward parts, possessed of a magnetic homogeneous nature, and upon such more perfect foundations as these rests the whole nature of things terrestrial, manifesting itself to us, in our more diligent scrutiny, everywhere in all magnetic minerals, and iron ores, in all clay, and in numerous soils and stones; while Aristotle’s simple element, that most empty terrestrial phantom of the Peripatetics, a rude, inert, cold, dry, simple matter, the universal substratum, is dead, devoid of power, and has never presented itself to anyone, not even in sleep, and would be of no potency in nature. Our philosophers were only dreaming when they spoke of a kind of simple and inert matter. Cardan does not consider the loadstone to be any kind of stone, "but a sort of perfected portion of some kind of earth that is absolute; a token of which is its abundance, there being no place where it is not found. And there is" (he says) "a power of iron in the wedded earth which is perfect in its own kind when it has received fertilizing force from the male, that is to say, the stone of Hercules" (in his book De Proportionibus). And later: "Because" (he says) "in the previous proposition I have taught that iron is true earth" A strong loadstone shows itself to be of the inward Earth, and upon innumerable tests claims to rank with the Earth in the possession of a primary form, that by which Earth herself abides in her own station and is directed in her courses. Thus a weaker loadstone and every ore of iron, and nearly all clay, or clayey soil, and numerous other sorts (yet more, or less, owing to the different labefaction of fluids and slimes), keep their magnetic and genuine Earth-properties open to view, falling short of the characteristic form, and deformate. For it is not iron alone (the smelted metal) that points to the poles, nor is it the loadstone alone that is attracted by another and made to revolve magnetically; but all iron ores, and other stones, as Rhenish slates and the black ones from Avignon (the French call them Ardoises) which they use for tiles, and many more of other colours and substances, provided they have been prepared; as well as all clay, grit, and some sorts of rocks, and, to speak more clearly, all the more solid soil that is everywhere apparent; given that that earth be not fouled with fatty and fluid corruptions; as mud, as mire, as accumulations of putrid matter; nor deformate by the imperfections of sundry admixtures; nor dripping with ooze, as marls; all are attracted by the loadstone, when simply prepared by fire, and freed from their refuse humour; and as by the loadstone so also by the Earth herself they are attracted and controlled magnetically, in a way different from all other bodies; and by that inherent force settle themselves according to the orderly arrangement and fabric of the universe and of the Earth, as will appear {44}later. Thus every part of the Earth which is removed from it exhibits by sure experiments every impulse of the magnetic nature; by its various motions it observes the sphere of the Earth and the principle common to both.







Divers things concerning opinions about the magnet-stone, and its variety, concerning its poles and its known faculties, concerning iron, concerning the properties of iron, concerning a magnetic substance common to both of these and to the Earth itself, have been spoken briefly by us in the former book. There remain the magnetic motions, and their fuller philosophy, shown and demonstrated. These motions are incitements of homogeneous parts either among themselves or toward the primary conformation of the whole Earth. Aristotle admits only two simple motions of his elements, from the centre and toward the centre; of light ones upward, heavy ones downward; so that in the Earth there exists one motion only of all its parts towards the centre of the world,—a rude and inert precipitation. But what of it is light, and how wrongly it is inferred by the Peripatetics from the simple motion of the elements, and also what is its heavy part, we will discuss elsewhere. But now our inquiry must be into the causes of other motions, depending on its true form, which we have plainly seen in our magnetic bodies; and these we have seen to be present in the Earth and in all its homogenic parts also. We have noticed that they harmonize with the Earth, and are bound up with its forces. Five movements or differences of motions are then observed by us: Coition ([mutual attraction aggregation] commonly called attraction), the {46}incitement to magnetic union; Direction towards the poles of the Earth, and the polarity and continuance of the Earth towards the determinate poles of the universe; Variation, a deflexion from the meridian, which we call a perverted movement; Declination, a descent of the magnetic pole below the horizon; and circular motion, or Revolution. Concerning all these we shall discuss separately, and how they all proceed from a nature tending to aggregation, either by polarity or by volubility. Jofrancus Offusius makes out different magnetic motions; a first toward a centre; a second toward a pole at seventy-seven degrees; a third toward iron; a fourth toward loadstone. The first is not always to a centre, but exists only at the poles in a straight course toward the centre, if the motion is magnetic; otherwise it is only motion of matter toward its own mass and toward the Earth. The second toward a pole at seventy-seven degrees is no motion, but is direction with respect to the pole of the Earth, or variation. The third and fourth are magnetic and are the same. So he truly recognizes no magnetic motion except the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation] toward iron or loadstone, commonly called attraction. There is another motion in the whole Earth, which does not exist towards the terrella [magnetic model Earth] or towards its parts; gravitation, a motion of aggregation, and that movement of matter which is called by philosophers a right motion, of which elsewhere.


On the Magnetic Coition [mutual attraction aggregation], and first on the
Attraction of Amber, or more truly, on the
Attaching of Bodies to Amber.

Celebrated has the fame of the loadstone and of amber ever been in the memoirs of the learned. Loadstone and also amber do some philosophers invoke when in explaining many secrets their senses become dim and reasoning cannot go further. Inquisitive theologians also would throw light on the divine mysteries set beyond the range of human sense, by means of loadstone and amber; just as idle Metaphysicians, when they are setting up and teaching useless phantasms, have recourse to the loadstone as if it were a Delphic sword, an illustration always applicable to everything. But physicians even (with the authority of {47}Galen), desiring to confirm the belief in the attraction of purgative medicines by means of the likeness of substance and the familiarities of the juices—truly a vain and useless error—bring in the loadstone as witness as being a nature of great authority and of conspicuous efficacy and a remarkable body. So in very many cases there are some who, when they are pleading a cause and cannot give a reason for it, bring in loadstone and amber as though they were personified witnesses. But these men (apart from that common error) being ignorant that the causes of magnetic motions are widely different from the forces of amber, easily fall into error, and are themselves the more deceived by their own cogitations. For in other bodies a conspicuous force of attraction manifests itself otherwise than in loadstone; like as in amber, concerning which some things must first be said, that it may appear what is that attaching of bodies, and how it is different from and foreign to the magnetic actions; those mortals being still ignorant, who think that inclination to be an attraction, and compare it with the magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation]. The Greeks call it ἤλεκτρον because it attracts straws to itself, when it is warmed by rubbing; then it is called ἅρπαξ; and χρυσοφόρον from its golden colour. But the Moors call it Carabe, because they are accustomed to offer the same in sacrifices and in the worship of the Gods. For Carab signifies to offer in Arabic; so Carabe, an offering: or seizing chaff, as Scaliger quotes from Abohalis, out of the Arabic or Persian language. Some also call it Amber, especially the Indian and Ethiopian amber, called in Latin Succinum, as if it were a juice. The Sudavienses or Sudini call it geniter, as though it were generated terrestrially. The errors of the ancients concerning its nature and origin having been exploded, it is certain that amber comes for the most part from the sea, and the rustics collect it on the coast after the more violent storms, with nets and other tackle; as among the Sudini of Prussia; and it is also found sometimes on the coast of our own Britain. It seems, however, to be produced also in the soil and at spots of some depth, like other bitumens; to be washed out by the waves of the sea; and to become concreted more firmly from the nature and saltness of the sea-water. For it was at first a soft and viscous material; wherefore also it contains enclosed and entombed in pieces of it, shining in eternal sepulchres, flies, grubs, gnats, ants; which have all flown or crept or fallen into it when it first flowed forth in a liquid state. The ancients and also more recent writers recall (experience proving the same thing), that amber attracts straws and chaff. The same is also done by jet, which is dug out of the soil in Britain, in Germany, and in very many lands, and is a rather hard concretion from black bitumen, and as it were a transformation into stone. There are many modern authors who have written and copied from others about amber and jet attracting chaff, and about other {48}substances generally unknown; with whose labours the shops of booksellers are crammed. Our own age has produced many books about hidden, abstruse, and occult causes and wonders, in all of which amber and jet are set forth as enticing chaff; but they treat the subject in words alone, without finding any reasons or proofs from experiments, their very statements obscuring the thing in a greater fog, forsooth in a cryptic, marvellous, abstruse, secret, occult, way. Wherefore also such philosophy produces no fruit, because very many philosophers, making no investigation themselves, unsupported by any practical experience, idle and inert, make no progress by their records, and do not see what light they can bring to their theories; but their philosophy rests simply on the use of certain Greek words, or uncommon ones; after the manner of our gossips and barbers nowadays, who make show of certain Latin words to an ignorant populace as the insignia of their craft, and snatch at the popular favour.
* For it is not only amber and jet (as they suppose) which entice small bodies; but Diamond, Sapphire, Carbuncle, Iris gem, Opal, Amethyst, Vincentina, and Bristolla (an English gem or spar), Beryl, and Crystal do the same. Similar powers of attraction are seen also to be possessed by glass (especially when clear and lucid), as also by false gems made of glass or Crystal, by glass of antimony, and by many kinds of spars from the mines, and by Belemnites. Sulphur also attracts, and mastic, and hard sealing-wax compounded of lac tinctured of various colours. Rather hard resin entices, as does orpiment, but less strongly; with difficulty also and indistinctly under a suitable dry sky, Rock salt, muscovy stone, and rock alum. This one may see when the air is sharp and clear and rare in mid-winter, when the emissions from the Earth hinder electrics less, and the electric bodies become more firmly indurated; about which hereafter.
* These substances attract everything, not straws and chaff only, but all metals, woods, leaves, stones, soils, even water and oil, and everything which is subject to our senses, or is solid; although some write that amber does not attract anything but chaff and certain twigs; (wherefore Alexander Aphrodiseus falsely declares the question of amber to be inexplicable, because it attracts dry chaff only, and not basil leaves), but these are the utterly false and disgraceful tales of the writers. But in order that you may be able clearly to test how such attraction occurs, and what those materials are which thus entice other bodies (for even if bodies incline towards some of these, yet on account of weakness they seem not to be raised by them, but are more easily turned), make yourself a versorium [electroscope] of any metal you like, three or four digits in length, resting rather lightly on its point of support after the manner of a magnetic needle, to one end of which bring up a piece of amber or a smooth {49}Versorium (electroscope) and polished gem which has been gently rubbed; for the versorium [electroscope] turns forthwith. Many things are thereby seen to attract, both those which are created by nature alone, and those which are by art prepared, fused, and mixed; nor is this so much a singular property of one or two things (as is commonly supposed), but the manifest nature of very many, both of simple substances, remaining merely in their own form, and of compositions, as of hard sealing-wax, & of certain other mixtures besides, made of unctuous stuffs. We must, however, investigate more fully whence that tendency arises, and what those forces be, concerning which a few men have brought forward very little, the crowd of philosophizers nothing at all. By Galen three kinds of attractives in general were recognized in nature: a First class of those substances which attract by their elemental quality, namely, heat; the Second is the class of those which attract by the succession of a vacuum; the Third is the class of those which attract by a property of their whole substance, which are also quoted by Avicenna and others. These classes, however, cannot in any way satisfy us; they neither embrace the causes of amber, jet, and diamond, and of other similar substances (which derive their forces on account of the same power); nor of the loadstone, and of all magnetic substances, which obtain their force by a very dissimilar and alien influence from them, derived from other sources. Wherefore also it is fitting that we find other causes of the motions, or else we must wander (as in darkness), with these men, and in no way reach the goal.
* Amber truly does not allure by heat, since if warmed by fire and brought near straws, it does not attract them, whether it be tepid, or hot, or glowing, or even when forced into the flame. Cardan (as also Pictorio) reckons that this happens in no different way than with the cupping-glass, by the force of fire. Yet the attracting force of the cupping-glass does not really come from the force of fire. But he had previously said that the dry substance wished to imbibe fatty humour, and therefore it was borne towards it. But these statements are at variance with one another, and also foreign to reason. For if amber had moved towards its food, or if other bodies had inclined towards amber as towards provender, there would have been a diminution of the one which was devoured, just as there would have been a growth of the other which was sated. Then why should an attractive force of fire be looked for in amber? If the attraction existed from heat, why should not very many other bodies also attract, if warmed by fire, by the sun, or by friction? Neither can the attraction be on account of the dissipating of the air, when it takes place in open air (yet Lucretius the poet adduces this as the reason for magnetic motions). Nor in the cupping-glass can heat or fire attract by feeding on air: in the cupping-glass air, having been exhausted into flame, {50}when it condenses again and is forced into a narrow space, makes the skin and flesh rise in avoiding a vacuum.
* In the open air warm things cannot attract, not metals even or stones, if they should be strongly incandescent by fire. For a rod of glowing iron, or a flame, or a candle, or a blazing torch, or a live coal, when they are brought near to straws, or to a versorium, do not attract; yet at the same time they manifestly call in the air in succession; because they consume it, as lamps do oil. But concerning heat, how it is reckoned by the crowd of philosophizers, in natural philosophy and in materia medica to exert an attraction otherwise than nature allows, to which true attractions are falsely imputed, we will discuss more at length elsewhere, when we shall determine what are the properties of heat and cold. They are very general qualities or kinships of a substance, and yet are not to be assigned as true causes, and, if I may say so, those philosophizers utter some resounding words; but about the thing itself prove nothing in particular. Nor does this attraction accredited to amber arise from any singular quality of the substance or kinship, since by more thorough research we find the same effect in very many other bodies; and all bodies, moreover, of whatever quality, are allured by all those bodies. Similarity also is not the cause; because all things around us placed on this globe of the Earth, similar and dissimilar, are allured by amber and bodies of this kind; and on that account no cogent analogy is to be drawn either from similarity or identity of substance. But neither do similars mutually attract one another, as stone stone, flesh flesh, nor aught else outside the class of magnetics and electrics. Fracastorio would have it that "things which mutually attract one another are similars, as being of the same species, either in action or in right subjection. Right subjection is that from which is emitted the emanation which attracts and which in mixtures often lies hidden on account of their lack of form, by reason of which they are often different in act from what they are in potency. Hence it may be that hairs and twigs move towards amber and towards diamond, not because they are hairs, but because either there is shut up in them air or some other principle, which is attracted in the first place, and which bears some relation and analogy to that which attracts of itself; in which diamond and amber agree through a principle common to each" Thus far Fracastorio. Who if he had observed by a large number of experiments that all bodies are attracted to electrics except those which are aglow and aflame, and highly rarefied, would never have given a thought to such things. It is easy for men of acute intellect, without experiments and practice, to slip and err. In greater error do they remain sunk who maintain these same substances to be not similar, but to be substances near akin; and hold that on that account a thing moves towards another, its like, by which it is brought to more perfection. But these are {51}ill-considered views; for towards all electrics all things move except such as are aflame or are too highly rarefied, as air, that is the universal Earth and planet emission. Vegetable substances draw moisture by which their shoots are rejoiced and grow; from analogy with that, however, Hippocrates, in his De Natura Hominis, Book I., wrongly concluded that the purging of morbid humour took place by the specific force of the drug. Concerning the action and potency of purgatives we shall speak elsewhere. Wrongly also is attraction inferred in other effects; as in the case of a flagon full of water, when buried in a heap of wheat, although well stoppered, the moisture is drawn out; since this moisture is rather resolved into vapour by the emanation of the fermenting wheat, and the wheat imbibes the freed vapour. Nor do elephants’ tusks attract moisture, but drive it into vapour or absorb it. Thus then very many things are said to attract, the reasons for whose energy must be sought from other causes.
* Amber in a fairly large mass allures, if it is polished; in a smaller mass or less pure it seems not to attract without friction.
* But very many electrics (as precious stones and some other substances) do not attract at all unless rubbed. On the other hand many gems, as well as other bodies, are polished, yet do not allure, and by no amount of friction are they aroused; thus the emerald, agate, carnelian, pearls, jasper, chalcedony, alabaster, porphyry, coral, the marbles, touchstone, flint, bloodstone, emery, do not acquire any power; nor do bones, or ivory, or the hardest woods, as ebony, nor do cedar, juniper, or cypress; nor do metals, silver, gold, brass, iron, nor any loadstone, though many of them are finely polished and shine. But on the other hand there are some other polished substances of which we have spoken before, toward which, when they have been rubbed, bodies incline. This we shall understand only when we have more closely looked into the prime origin of bodies. It is plain to all, and all admit, that the mass of the Earth, or rather the structure and crust of the Earth, consists of a twofold material, namely, of fluid and humid matter, and of material of more consistency and dry. From this twofold nature or the more simple compacting of one, various substances take their rise among us, which originate in greater proportion now from the earthy, now from the aqueous nature. Those substances which have received their chief growth from moisture, whether aqueous or fatty, or have taken on their form by a simpler compacting from them, or have been compacted from these same materials in long ages, if they have a sufficiently firm hardness, if rubbed after they have been polished and when they remain bright with the friction—towards those substances everything, if presented to them in the air, turns, if its too heavy weight does not prevent it. For amber has been compacted of moisture, and jet also. Lucid gems are made of water; just as Crystal, which has been concreted from clear water, not {52}always by a very great cold, as some used to judge, and by very hard frost, but sometimes by a less severe one, the nature of the soil fashioning it, the humour or juices being shut up in definite cavities, in the way in which spars are produced in mines. So clear glass is fused out of sand, and from other substances, which have their origin in humid juices.
* But the dross of metals, as also metals, stones, rocks, woods, contain earth rather or are mixed with a good deal of earth; and therefore they do not attract. Crystal, mica, glass, and all electrics do not attract if they are burnt or roasted; for their primordial supplies of moisture perish by heat, and are changed and exhaled. All things therefore which have sprung from a predominant moisture and are firmly concreted, and retain the appearance of spar and its resplendent nature in a firm and compact body, allure all bodies, whether humid or dry. Those, however, which partake of the true Earth-substance or are very little different from it, are seen to attract also, but from a far different reason, and (so to say) magnetically; concerning these we intend to speak afterwards. But those substances which are more mixed of water and earth, and are produced by the equal degradation of each element (in which the magnetic force of the Earth is deformed and remains buried; while the watery humour, being fouled by joining with a more plentiful supply of earth, has not concreted in itself but is mingled with earthy matter), can in no way of themselves attract or move from its place anything which they do not touch. On this account metals, marbles, flints, woods, herbs, flesh, and very many other things can neither allure nor solicit any body either magnetically or electrically.
* (For it pleases us to call that an electric force, which hath its origin from the humour.) But substances consisting mostly of humour, and which are not very firmly compacted by nature (whereby do they neither bear rubbing, but either melt down and become soft, or are not levigable, such as pitch, the softer kinds of resin, camphor, galbanum, ammoniack, storax, asafœtida, benzoin, asphaltum, especially in rather warm weather) towards them small bodies are not borne;
* for without rubbing most electrics do not emit their peculiar and native exhalation and emission [signal emission]. The resin turpentine when liquid does not attract; for it cannot be rubbed; but if it has hardened into a mastic it does attract. But now at length we must understand why small bodies turn towards those substances which have drawn their origin from water; by what force and with what hands (so to speak) electrics seize upon kindred natures. In all bodies in the world two causes or principles have been laid down, from which the bodies themselves were produced, matter and form. Electric motions become strong from matter, but magnetic from form chiefly; and they differ widely from one another and turn out unlike, since the one is ennobled by numerous powers and is prepotent; the other is ignoble and of less potency, and {53}mostly restrained, as it were, within certain barriers; and therefore that force must at times be aroused by attrition or friction, until it is at a dull heat and gives off an emission [signal emission] and a polish is induced on the body.
* For spent air, either blown out of the mouth or given off from moister air, chokes the power. If indeed either a sheet of paper or a piece of linen be interposed, there will be no movement. But a loadstone, without friction or heat, whether dry or suffused with moisture, as well in air as in water, invites magnetics, even with the most solid bodies interposed, even planks of wood or pretty thick slabs of stone or sheets of metal.
* A loadstone appeals to magnetics only; towards electrics all things move. A loadstone raises great weights; so that if there is a loadstone weighing two ounces and strong, it attracts half an ounce or a whole ounce. An electrical substance only attracts very small weights; as, for instance, a piece of amber of three ounces weight, when rubbed, scarce raises a fourth part of a grain of barley. But this attraction of amber and of electrical substances must be further investigated; and since there is this particular affection of matter, it may be asked why is amber rubbed, and what affection is produced by the rubbing, and what causes arise which make it lay hold on everything? As a result of friction it grows slightly warm and becomes smooth; two results which must often occur together. A large polished fragment of amber or jet attracts indeed, even without friction, but less strongly;
* but if it be brought gently near a flame or a live coal, so that it equally becomes warm, it does not attract small bodies because it is enveloped in a cloud from the body of the flaming substance, which emits a hot breath, and then impinges upon it vapour from a foreign body which for the most part is at variance with the nature of amber. Moreover the spirit of the amber which is called forth is enfeebled by alien heat; wherefore it ought not to have heat excepting that produced by motion only and friction, and, as it were, its own, not sent into it by other bodies.
* For as the igneous heat emitted from any burning substance cannot be so used that electrics may acquire their force from it; so also heat from the solar rays does not fit an electric by the loosening of its right material, because it dissipates rather and consumes it (albeit a body which has been rubbed retains its power longer exposed to the rays of the sun than in the shade; because in the shade the emissions [signal emissions] are condensed to a greater degree and more quickly).
* Then again the fervour from the light of the Sun aroused by means of a burning mirror confers no power on the heated amber; indeed it dissipates and corrupts all the electric emissions [signal emissions].
* Again, burning sulphur and hard wax, made from shell-lac, when aflame do not allure; for heat from friction resolves bodies into emissions [signal emissions], which flame consumes away. For it is impossible for solid electrics to be resolved into their own true emissions [signal emissions] otherwise than by attrition, save {54}in the case of certain substances which by reason of innate power emit emissions [signal emissions] constantly. They are rubbed with bodies which do not befoul their surface, and which produce a polish, as pretty stiff silk or a rough wool rag which is as little soiled as possible, or the dry palm. Amber also is rubbed with amber, with diamond, and with glass, and numerous other substances. Thus are electrics manipulated. These things being so, what is it which moves? Is it the body itself, inclosed within its own circumference? Or is it something imperceptible to us, which flows out from the substance into the ambient air? Somewhat as Plutarch opines, saying in his Questiones Platonice: That there is in amber something flammable or something having the nature of breath, and this by the attrition of the surface being emitted from its relaxed pores attracts bodies. And if it be an effusion does it seize upon the air whose motion the bodies follow, or upon the bodies themselves? But if amber allured the body itself, then what need were there of friction, if it is bare and smooth? Nor does the force arise from the light which is reflected from a smooth and polished body; for a Gem of Vincent’s rock, Diamond, and clear glass, attract when they are rough; but not so powerfully and quickly, because they are not so readily cleansed from extraneous moisture on the surface, and are not rubbed equally so as to be copiously resolved at that part. Nor does the sun by its own beams of light and its rays, which are of capital importance in nature, attract bodies in this way; and yet the herd of philosophizers considers that humours are attracted by the sun, when it is only denser humours that are being turned into thinner, into spirit and air; and so by the motion of effusion they ascend into the upper regions, or the attenuated exhalations are raised up from the denser air. Nor does it seem to take place from the emissions [signal emissions] attenuating the air, so that bodies impelled by the denser air penetrate towards the source of the rarefaction; in this case both hot and flaming bodies would also allure other bodies; but not even the lightest chaff, or any versorium moves towards a flame. If there is a flow and rush of air towards the body, how can a small diamond of the size of a pea summon towards itself so much air, that it seizes hold of a biggish long body placed in equilibrium (the air about one or other very small part of an end being attracted)? It ought also to have slopped or moved more slowly, before it came into contact with the body, especially if the piece of amber was rather broad and flat, from the accumulation of air on the surface of the amber and its flowing back again. If it is because the emissions [signal emissions] are thinner, and denser vapours come in return, as in breathing, then the body would rather have had a motion toward the electric a little while after the beginning of the application;
* but when electrics which have been rubbed are applied quickly to a versorium [electroscope] then especially at once they act on the versorium, and it is attracted more when near them. But if it is because the rarefied {55}emissions [signal emissions] produce a rarefied medium, and on that account bodies are more prone to slip down from a denser to a more attenuated medium; they might have been carried from the side in this way or downwards, but not to bodies above them; or the attraction and apprehension of contiguous bodies would have been momentary only. But with a single friction jet and amber draw and attract bodies to them strongly and for a long time, sometimes for the twelfth part of an hour, especially in clear weather. But if the mass of amber be rather large, and the surface polished, it attracts without friction. Flint is rubbed and emits by attrition an inflammable matter that turns into sparks and heat. Therefore the denser emissions of flint producing fire are very far different from electrical emissions [signal emissions], which on account of their extreme attenuation do not take fire, nor are fit material for flame. Those emissions [signal emissions] are not of the nature of breath, for when emitted they do not propel anything, but are exhaled without sensible resistance and touch bodies. They are highly attenuated humours much more subtile than the ambient air; and in order that they may occur, bodies are required produced from humour and concreted with a considerable degree of hardness. Non-electric bodies are not resolved into humid emissions [signal emissions], and those emissions mix with the common and general emissions of the Earth, and are not peculiar. Also besides the attraction of bodies, they retain them longer.
* It is probable therefore that amber does exhale something peculiar to itself, which allures bodies themselves, not the intermediate air. Indeed it plainly does attract the body itself in the case of a spherical drop of water standing on a dry surface; for a piece of amber applied to it at a suitable distance pulls the nearest parts out of their position and draws it up into a cone; otherwise,
* if it were drawn by means of the air rushing along, the whole drop would have moved. That it does not attract the air is thus demonstrated: take a very thin wax candle, which makes a very small and clear flame; bring up to this, within two digits or any convenient distance, a piece of amber or jet, a broad flat piece, well prepared and skilfully rubbed,
* such a piece of amber as would attract bodies far and wide, yet it does not disturb the flame; which of necessity would have occurred, if the air was disturbed, for the flame would have followed the current of air. As far as the emissions [signal emissions] are sent out, so far it allures; but as a body approaches, its motion is accelerated, stronger forces attracting it; as also in the case of magnetics and in all natural motion; not by attenuating or by expelling the air, so that the body moves down into the place of the air which has gone out; for thus it would have allured only and would not have retained; since it would at first also have repelled approaching bodies just as it drives the air itself; but indeed a particle, be it ever so small, does not avoid the first application made very quickly after rubbing. An emission [signal emission] exhales from amber and is emitted by rubbing: pearls, carnelian, agate, jasper, chalcedony, coral, metals, {56}and other substances of that kind, when they are rubbed, produce no effect. Is there not also something which is exhaled from them by heat and attrition? Most truly; but from grosser bodies more blended with the earthy nature, that which is exhaled is gross and spent;
* for even towards very many electrics, if they are rubbed too hard, there is produced but a weak attraction of bodies, or none at all; the attraction is best when the rubbing has been gentle and very quick; for so the finest emissions [signal emissions] are evoked. The emissions [signal emissions] arise from the subtile emission of humour, not from excessive and turbulent violence; especially in the case of those substances which have been compacted from unctuous matter, which when the atmosphere is very thin, when the North winds, and amongst us English the East winds, are blowing, have a surer and firmer effect, but during South winds and in damp weather, only a weak one;
* so that those substances which attract with difficulty in clear weather, in thick weather produce no motion at all; both because in grosser air lighter substances move with greater difficulty; and especially because the emissions [signal emissions] are stifled, and the surface of the body that has been rubbed is affected by the spent humour of the air, and the emissions [signal emissions] are stopped at their very starting. On that account in the case of amber, jet, and sulphur, because they do not so easily take up moist air on their surface and are much more plenteously set free, that force is not so quickly suppressed as in gems, crystal, glass, and substances of that kind which collect on their surface the moister breath which has grown heavy. But it may be asked why does amber allure water, when water placed on its surface removes its action?
* Evidently because it is one thing to suppress it at its very start, and quite another to extinguish it when it has been emitted.
* So also thin and very fine silk, in common language Sarcenet, placed quickly on the amber, after it has been rubbed, hinders the attraction of the body; but if it is interposed in the intervening space, it does not entirely obstruct it. Moisture also from spent air, and any breath blown from the mouth, as well as water put on the amber, immediately extinguishes its force.
* But oil, which is light and pure, does not hinder it; for although amber be rubbed with a warm finger dipped in oil, still it attracts. But if that amber, after the rubbing, is moistened with aqua vite or spirits of wine, it does not attract; for it is heavier than oil, denser, and when added to oil sinks beneath it. For oil is light and rare, and does not resist the most delicate emissions [signal emissions]. An energy therefore, proceeding from a body which had been compacted from humour or from a watery liquid, reaches the body to be attracted; the body that is reached is united with the attracting body, and the one body lying near the other within the peculiar radius of its emissions [signal emission range] makes one out of two; united, they come together into the closest accord, and this is commonly called attraction. This unity, according to {57}the opinion of Pythagoras, is the principle of all things, and through participation in it each several thing is said to be one. For since no action can take place by means of matter unless by contact, these electrics do not seem to touch but, as was necessary, something is sent from the one to the other, something which may touch closely and be the beginning of that incitement. All bodies are united and, as it were, cemented together in some way by moisture; so that a wet body, when it touches another body, attracts it, if it is small. So wet bodies on the surface of water attract wet bodies. But the peculiar electrical emissions [signal emissions], which are the most subtile material of diffuse humour, entice corpuscles. Air (the common emission of the Earth) not only unites the disjointed parts, but the Earth calls bodies back to itself through the intervening air; otherwise bodies which are in higher places would not so eagerly make for the Earth. Electrical emissions [signal emissions] differ greatly from air; and as air is the emission of the Earth, so electrics have their own emissions [signal emissions] and properties, each of them having by reason of its peculiar emissions [signal emissions] a singular tendency toward unity, a motion toward its origin and fount, and toward the body emitting the emissions [signal emissions]. But those substances which by attrition emit a gross or vapourous or airlike emission produce no effect; for either such emissions are alien to the humour (the uniter of all things), or being very like common air are blended with the air and intermingle with the air, wherefore they produce no effect in the air, and do not cause motions different from those so universal and common in nature.
* In like manner bodies strive to be united and move on the surface of water, just Union of wet things as the rod C, which is put a little way under water. It is plain that the rod E F, which floats on the water by reason of the cork H, and only has its wet end F above the surface of the water, is attracted by the rod C, if the rod C is wet a little above the surface of the water; they are suddenly united, just as a drop adjoining a drop is attracted. So a wet thing on the surface of water seeks union with a wet thing, since the surface of the water is raised on both; and they immediately flow together, just like drops or bubbles. But they are in much greater proximity than electrics, and are united by their clammy natures. If, however, the whole rod be dry above the water, it no longer attracts, but drives away the stick E F. The same is seen in those bubbles also which are made on {58}water. For we see one drive towards another, and the quicker the nearer they are.
* Solids are impelled towards solids by the medium of liquid: for example, touch the end of a versorium with the end of a rod on which a drop of water is projecting; as soon as the versorium touches the top of the droplet, immediately it is joined strongly by a swift motion to the body of the rod. So concreted humid things attract when a little resolved into air (the emissions in the intermediate space tending to produce unity); for water has on wet bodies, or on bodies wet with abundant moisture on the top of water, the force of an emission. Clear air is a convenient medium for an electrical emission [signal emission] excited from concreted humour. Wet bodies projecting above the surface of water (if they are near) run together so that they may unite; for the surface of the water is raised around wet substances. But a dry thing is not impelled to a wet one, nor a wet to a dry, but seems to run away. For if all is dry above the water, the surface of the water close to it does not rise, but shuns it, the wave sinking around a dry thing. So neither does a wet thing move towards the dry rim of a vessel; but it seeks Union of wet things a wet rim. A B is the surface of the water; C D two rods, which stand up wet above the water; it is manifest that the surface of the water is raised at C and D along with the rods; and therefore the rod C, by reason of the water standing up (which seeks its level and unity), moves with the water to D. On E, on the other hand, a wet rod, the water also rises; but on the dry rod F the surface is depressed; and as it drives to depress also the wave rising on E in its neighbourhood, the higher wave at E turns away from F; for it does not suffer itself to be depressed. All electrical attraction occurs through an intervening humour; so it is by reason of humour that all things mutually come together; fluids indeed and aqueous bodies on the surface of water, but concreted things, if they have been resolved into vapour, in air;—in air indeed, the emission [signal emission] of electrics being very rare, that it may the better permeate the medium and not impel it by its motion; for if that emission [signal emission] had been thick, as that of air, or of the winds, or of saltpetre burnt by fire, as the thick and foul emissions given out with very great force, from other bodies, or air set free from humour by heat rushing out through a pipe (in the instrument of Hero of Alexandria, described in his {59}book Spiritalia), then the emission would drive everything away, not allure it. But those rarer emissions [signal emissions] take hold of bodies and embrace them as if with arms extended, with the electrics to which they are united; and they are attracted to the source, the emissions [signal emissions] increasing in strength with the proximity. But what is that emission [signal emission] from crystal, glass, and diamond, since these are bodies of considerable hardness and firmly concreted? In order that such an emission [signal emission] should be produced, there is no need of any marked or perceptible flux of the substance; nor is it necessary that the electric should be abraded, or worn away, or deformed. Some odoriferous substances are fragrant for many years, exhaling continually, yet are not quickly consumed. Cypress wood as long as it is sound, and it lasts a very long time indeed, is redolent; as many learned men attest from experience. Such an electric only for a moment, when stimulated by friction, emits powers far more subtile and more fine beyond all odours; yet sometimes amber, jet, sulphur, when they are somewhat easily let free into vapour, also pour out at the same time an odour; and on this account they allure with the very gentlest rubbing, often even without rubbing; they also excite more strongly, and retain hold for a longer time, because they have stronger emissions [signal emissions] and last longer.
* But diamond, glass, rock-crystal, and numerous others of the harder and firmly concreted gems first grow warm: therefore at first they are rubbed longer, and then they also attract strongly; nor are they otherwise set free into vapour. Everything rushes towards electrics excepting flame, and flaming bodies, and the thinnest air. Just as they do not attract flame, in like manner they do not affect a versorium [electroscope], if on any side it is very near to a flame, either the flame of a lamp or of any burning matter.
* It is manifest indeed that the emissions [signal emissions] are destroyed by flame and igneous heat; and therefore they attract neither flame nor bodies very near a flame. For electrical emissions [signal emissions] have the power of, and are analogous with, extenuated humour; but they will produce their effect, union and continuity, not by the external impulse of vapours, not by heat and attenuation of heated bodies, but by their humidity itself attenuated into its own peculiar emissions [signal emissions].
* Yet they entice smoke sent out by an extinguished light; and the more that smoke is attenuated in seeking the upper regions, the less strongly is it turned aside;
* for things that are too rarefied are not drawn to them; and at length, when it has now almost vanished, it does not incline towards them at all, which is easily seen against the light. When in fact the smoke has passed into air, it is not moved, as has been demonstrated before. For air itself, if somewhat thin, is not attracted in any way, unless on account of succeeding that which has vacated its place, as in furnaces and such-like, where the air is fed in by mechanical devices for drawing it in. Therefore an emission [signal emission] resulting from a non-fouling friction, and one which {60}is not changed by heat, but which is its own, causes union and coherency, a prehension and a congruence towards its source, if only the body to be attracted is not unfitted for motion, either by the surroundings of the bodies or by its own weight. To the bodies therefore of the electrics themselves small bodies are borne. The emissions [signal emissions] extend out their action—emissions [signal emissions] which are proper and peculiar to them, and sui generis, differing from common air, being produced from humour, excited by a calorific motion from attrition and attenuation. And as if they were material rays, they hold and take up chaff, straws, and twigs, until they become extinct or vanish away: and then they (the corpuscles) being loosed again, attracted by the Earth itself, fall down to the Earth. The difference between Magnetics and Electrics is that all magnetics run together with mutual forces; electrics only allure; that which is allured is not changed by an implanted force, but that which has moved up to them voluntarily rests upon them by the law of matter.
* Bodies are borne towards electrics in a straight line towards the centre of the electric; a loadstone attracts a loadstone directly at the poles only, in other parts obliquely and transversely, and in this way also they adhere and hang to one another. Electric motion is a motion of aggregation of matter; magnetic motion is one of disposition and conformation. The globe of the Earth is aggregated and coheres by itself electrically. The globe of the Earth is directed and turned magnetically; at the same time also it both coheres, and in order that it may be solid, is in its inmost parts cemented together.


Opinions of others on Magnetic Coition [mutual attraction aggregation],
which they call Attraction.

Discussion having now been made concerning electrics, the causes of magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation] must be set forth. We say coition [mutual attraction aggregation], not attraction. The word attraction unfortunately crept into magnetical philosophy from the ignorance of the ancients; for there seems to be force applied where there is attraction and an imperious violence dominates. For, if ever there is talk about magnetic attraction, we understand thereby magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation], or a primary running together. Now in truth it will not be useless here first briefly to set forth the views given by others, both the ancient {61}and the more modern writers. Orpheus in his hymns narrates that iron is attracted by loadstone as the bride to the arms of her espoused. Epicurus holds that iron is attracted by a loadstone just as straws by amber; "and," he adds, "the Atoms and indivisible particles which are given off by the stone and by the iron fit one another in shape; so that they easily cling to one another; when therefore these solid particles of stone or of iron strike against one another, then they rebound into space, being brought against one another by the way, and they draw the iron along with them" But this cannot be the case in the least; since solid and very dense substances interposed, even squared blocks of marble, do not obstruct this power, though they can separate atoms from atoms; and the stone and the iron would be speedily dissipated into such profuse and perpetual streams of atoms. In the case of amber, since there is another different method of attracting, the Epicurean atoms cannot fit one another in shape. Thales, as Aristotle writes, De Anima, Bk. I., deemed the loadstone to be endowed with a soul of some sort, because it had the power of moving and attracting iron towards it. Anaxagoras also held the same view. In the Timeus of Plato there is an idle fancy about the efficacy of the stone of Hercules. For he says that "all flowings of water, likewise the fallings of thunderbolts, and the things which are held wonderful in the attraction of Amber, and of the Herculean stone, are such that in all these there is never any attraction; but since there is no vacuum, the particles drive one another mutually around, and when they are dispersed and congregated together, they all pass, each to its proper seat, but with changed places; and it is forsooth, on account of these intercomplicated affections that the effects seem to arouse the wonder in him who has rightly investigated them" Galen does not know why Plato should have seen fit to select the theory of circumpulsion rather than that of attraction (differing almost on this point alone from Hippocrates), though indeed it does not agree in reality with either reason or experiment. Nor indeed is either the air or anything else circumpelled; and the bodies themselves which are attracted are carried towards the attracting substance not confusedly, or in a circle. Lucretius, the poet of the Epicurean sect, sang his opinion of it thus:

First, then, know,

Ceaseless emissions from the magnet flow,—

emissions, whose superior powers expel

The air that lies between the stone and steel.

A vacuum formed, the steely atoms fly

In a link’d train, and all the void supply;

While the whole ring to which the train is join’d

The influence owns, and follows close behind. &c.


Such a reason Plutarch also alleges in the Questiones Platonice: That that stone gives off heavy exhalations, whereby the adjacent air, being impelled along, condenses that which is in front of it; and that air, being driven round in a circle and reverting to the place it had vacated, drags the iron forcibly along with it. The following explanation of the powers of the loadstone and of amber is propounded by Johannes Costeus of Lodi. For he would have it that "there is mutual work and mutual result, and therefore the motion is partly due to the attraction of the loadstone and partly to a spontaneous movement on the part of the iron: For as we say that vapours issuing from the loadstone hasten by their own nature to attract the iron, so also the air repelled by the vapours, whilst seeking a place for itself, is turned back, and when turned back, it impels the iron, lifts it up, as it were, and carries it along; the iron being of itself also excited somehow. So by being drawn out and by a spontaneous motion, and by striking against another substance, there is in some way produced a composite motion, which motion would nevertheless be rightly referred to attraction, because the terminus from which this motion invariably begins is the same terminus at which it ends, which is the characteristic proper of an attraction" There is certainly a mutual action, not an operation, nor does the loadstone attract in that way; nor is there any impulsion. But neither is there that origination of the motion by the vapours, and the turning of them back, which opinion of Epicurus has so often been quoted by others. Galen errs in his De Naturalibus Facultatibus, Book I., chap. 14, when he expresses the view that whatever agents draw out either the venom of serpents or darts also exhibit the same power as the loadstone. Now of what sort may be the attraction of such medicaments (if indeed it may be called attraction) we shall consider elsewhere. Drugs against poisons or darts have no relation to, no similitude with, the action of magnetic bodies. The followers of Galen (who hold that purgative medicaments attract because of similitude of substance) say that bodies are attracted on account of similitude, not identity, of substance; wherefore the loadstone attracts iron, but iron does not attract iron. But we declare and prove that this happens in primary bodies, and in those bodies that are pretty closely related to them and especially like in kind one to another, on account of their identity; wherefore also loadstone attracts loadstone and likewise iron iron; every really true earth attracts earth; and iron fortified by a loadstone within the sphere of whose action it is placed attracts iron more strongly than it does the loadstone. Cardan asks why no other metal is attracted by any other stone; because (he replies) no metal is so cold as iron; as if indeed cold were the cause of the attraction, or as if iron were much colder than lead, which neither follows nor is deflected towards a loadstone. {63}But that is a chilly story, and worse than an old woman’s tale. So also is the notion that the loadstone is alive and that iron is its food. But how does the loadstone feed on the iron, when the filings in which it is kept are neither consumed nor become lighter? Cornelius Gemma, Cosmographia, Bk. X., holds that the loadstone attracts iron to it by insensible rays, to which opinion he conjoins a story of a sucking fish and another about an antelope. Guilielmus Puteanus derives it, "not from any property of the whole substance unknown to anyone and which cannot be demonstrated in any way (as Galen, and after him almost all the physicians, have asserted), but from the essential nature of the thing itself, as if moving from the first by itself, and, as it were, by its own most powerful nature and from that innate temperament, as it were an instrument, which its substance, its effective nature uses in its operations, or a secondary cause and deprived of its intermediary"; so the loadstone attracts the iron not without a physical cause and for the sake of some good. But there is no such thing in other substances springing from some material form; unless it were primary, which he does not recognize. Nothing but good is shown to the loadstone by the stroke of the iron (as it were, association with a friend); yet it cannot either be discovered or conceived how such disposition may be the instrument of form. For what can temperament do in magnetic motions, which must be compared with the fixed, definite, constant motions of the stars, at great distances in case of the interposition of very dense and thick bodies? To Baptista Porta the loadstone seems a sort of mixture of stone and iron, in such a way that it is an iron stone or stony iron. "But I think" (he says) "the Loadstone is a mixture of stone and iron, as an iron stone, or a stone of iron. Yet do not think the stone is so changed into iron, as to lose its own Nature, nor that the iron is so drowned in the stone, but it preserves itself; and whilst one labours to get the victory of the other, the attraction is made by the combat between them. In that body there is more of the stone than of iron; and therefore the iron, that it may not be subdued by the stone, desires the force and company of iron; that being not able to resist alone, it may be able by more help to defend itself.... The Loadstone attracts not stones, because it wants them not, for there is stone enough in the body of it; and if one Loadstone attract another, it is not for the stone, but for the iron that is in it" As if in the loadstone the iron were a distinct body and not mixed up as the other metals in their ores! And that these, being so mixed up, should fight with one another, and should extend their quarrel, and that in consequence of the battle auxiliary forces should be called in, is indeed absurd. But iron itself, when empowered [or magnetized[ by a loadstone, seizes iron no less strongly than the loadstone. Therefore those fights, seditions, and conspiracies in the stone, as if it were nursing up perpetual quarrels, {64}whence it might seek auxiliary forces, are the ravings of a babbling old woman, not the inventions of a distinguished mage. Others have lit upon sympathy as the cause. There may be fellow-feeling, and yet the cause is not fellow-feeling; for no passion can rightly be said to be an efficient cause. Others hold likeness of substance, many others insensible rays as the cause; men who also in very many cases often wretchedly misuse rays, which were first introduced in the natural sciences by the mathematicians. More eruditely does Scaliger say that the iron moves toward the loadstone as if toward its parent, by whose secret principles it may be perfected, just as the Earth toward its centre. The Divine Thomas does not differ much from him, when in the 7th book of his Physica he discusses the reasons of motions. "In another way," he says, "it may be said to attract a thing, because it moves it to itself by altering it in some way, from which alteration it happens that when altered it moves according to its position, and in this manner the loadstone is said to attract iron. For as the parent moves things whether heavy or light, in as far as it gives them a form, by means of which they are moved to their place; so also the loadstone gives a certain quality to the iron, in accordance with which it moves towards it" This by no means ill-conceived opinion this most learned man shortly afterwards endeavoured to confirm by things which had obtained little credence respecting the loadstone and the adverse forces of garlic. Cardinal Cusan also is not to be despised. "Iron has," he says, "in the loadstone a certain principle of its own effluence; and whilst the loadstone by its own presence excites the heavy and weighty iron, the iron is borne by a wonderful yearning, even above the motion of nature (by which in accordance with its weight it ought to tend downwards) and moves upwards, in uniting itself with its own principle. For if there were not in the iron a certain natural foretaste of the loadstone itself, it would not move to the loadstone any more than to any other stone; and unless there were in the stone a greater inclination for iron than for copper, there would not be that attraction" Such are the opinions expressed about the loadstone attracting (or the general sense of each), all dubious and untrustworthy. But those causes of the magnetic motions, which in the schools of the Philosophers are referred to the four elements and the prime qualities, we relinquish to the moths and the worms.



On Magnetic Force & Form, what it is; and on the
cause of the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation].

Relinquishing the opinions of others on the attraction of loadstone, we shall now show the reason of that coition [mutual attraction aggregation] and the translatory nature of that motion. Since there are really two kinds of bodies, which seem to allure bodies with motions manifest to our senses, Electrics and Magnetics, the Electrics produce the tendency by natural emissions [signal emissions] from humour; the Magnetics by agencies due to form, or rather by the prime forces. This form is unique, and particular, not the formal cause of the Peripatetics, or the specific in mixtures, or the secondary form; not the propagator of generating bodies, but the form of the primary and chief spheres and of those parts of them which are homogeneous and not corrupted, a special entity and existence, which we may call a primary and radical and astral form; not the primary form of Aristotle, but that unique form, which preserves and disposes its own proper sphere of action [signal range]. There is one such in each several globe, in the Sun, the moon, and the stars; one also in the Earth, which is that true magnetic potency which we call the primary power. Wherefore there is a magnetic nature peculiar to the Earth and implanted in all its truer parts in a primary and astonishing manner; this is neither derived nor produced from the whole heaven by sympathy or influence or more occult qualities, nor from any particular star; for there is in the Earth a magnetic power of its own, just as in the sun and moon there are forms of their own, and a small portion of the moon settles itself in moon-manner toward its termini and form; and a piece of the sun to the sun, just as a loadstone to the Earth and to a second loadstone by inclining itself and alluring in accordance with its nature. We must consider therefore about the Earth what magnetic bodies are, and what is a magnet; then also about the truer parts of it, which are magnetic, and how they are affected as a result of the coition [mutual attraction aggregation]. A body which is attracted by an electric is not changed by it, but remains unshaken and unchanged, as it was before, nor does it excel any the more in power.
* A loadstone attracts magnetic substances, which eagerly acquire power from its strength, not in their extremities only, but in their inward parts and their very marrow. For when a rod of iron is laid hold of, it is magnetically empowered in the end by which it is laid hold of, and that {66}force penetrates even to the other extremity, not through its surface only, but through the interior and all through the middle. Electrical bodies have material corporeal emissions [signal emissions]. Is any such magnetic emission [signal emission] given off, whether corporeal [particulate] or incorporeal [energy]? Or is nothing at all given off that subsists? If it really has a body, that body must be thin and spiritual, since it is necessary that it should be able to enter into iron. Or what sort of an exhalation is it that comes from lead, when quicksilver which is bright and fluid is bound together by the odour merely and vapour of the lead, and remains, as it were, a firm metal? But even gold, which is exceedingly solid and dense, is reduced to a powder by the thin vapour of lead. Or, seeing that, as the quicksilver has entrance into gold, so the magnetic odour has entrance into the substance of the iron, how does it change it in its essential property, although no change is perceptible to our senses in the bodies themselves? For without ingression into the body, the body is not changed, as the Chemists not incorrectly teach. But if indeed these things resulted from a material ingression, then if strong and dense and thick substances had been interposed between the bodies, or if magnetic substances had been inclosed in the centres of the most solid and the densest bodies, the iron particles would not have suffered anything from the loadstone. But none the less they strive to come together and are changed. Therefore there is no such conception and origin of the magnetic powers; nor do the very minute portions of the stone exist, which have been wrongly imagined to exist by Baptista Porta, aggregated, as it were, into hairs, and arising from the rubbing of the stone which, sticking to the iron, constitute its strength. Electric emissions [signal emissions] are not only impeded by any dense matter, but also in like manner by flames, or if a small flame is near, they do not allure. But as iron is not hindered by any obstacle from receiving force or motion from a loadstone, so it will pass through the midst of flames to the body of the loadstone and adhere to the stone. Let there be a flame or a candle near the stone; bring up a short piece of iron wire, and when it has come near, it will penetrate through the midst of the flames to the stone;
* and a versorium [compass] turns towards the loadstone nor more slowly nor less eagerly through the midst of flames than through open air. So flames interposed do not hinder the coition [mutual attraction aggregation]. But if the iron itself became heated by a great heat, it is demonstrable that it would not be attracted.
* Bring a strongly ignited rod of iron near a magnetized versorium [compass]; the versorium remains steady and does not turn towards such iron; but it immediately turns towards it, so soon as it has lost somewhat of its heat.
* When a piece of iron has been touched by a loadstone, if it be placed in a hot fire until it is perfectly red hot and remain in the fire some considerable time, it will lose that magnetic strength it had acquired. Even a loadstone itself through a {67}longish stay in the fire, loses the powers of attracting implanted and innate in it, and any other magnetic powers. And although certain veins of loadstone exhale when burnt a dark vapour of a black colour, or of a sulphurous foul odour, yet that vapour was not the soul, or the cause of its attraction of iron (as Porta thinks), nor do all loadstones whilst they are being baked or burnt smell of or exhale sulphur. It is acquired as a sort of inborn defect from a rather impure mine or matrix. Nor does anything analogous penetrate into magnetic iron from such material corporeal [particulate] cause, since the iron conceives the power of attracting and polarity from the loadstone, even if glass or gold or any other stone be interposed. Then also cast iron acquires the power of attracting iron, and polarity, from the polarity of the Earth, as we shall afterwards plainly demonstrate in Direction. But fire destroys the magnetic powers in a stone, not because it takes away any parts specially attractive, but because the consuming force of the flame mars by the demolition of the material the form of the whole; as in the human body the primary faculties of the soul are not burnt, but the charred body remains without faculties. The iron indeed may remain after the burning is completed and is not changed into ash or slag; nevertheless (as Cardan not inaptly says) burnt iron is not iron, but something placed outside its nature until it is reduced. For just as by the rigour of the surrounding air water is changed from its nature into ice; so iron, glowing in fire, is destroyed by the violent heat, and has its nature confused and perturbed; wherefore also it is not attracted by a loadstone, and even loses that power of attracting in whatever way acquired, and acquires another polarity when, being, as it were, born again, it is impregnated by a loadstone or the Earth, or when its form is revived, not having been dead but confused, concerning which many things are manifest in the change of polarity. Wherefore Fracastorio does not confirm his opinion, that the iron is not altered; "for if it were altered," he says, "by the form of the loadstone, the form of the iron would have been spoiled" This alteration is not generation, but the restitution and reformation of a confused form. There is not therefore anything corporeal [particulate] which comes from the loadstone or which enters the iron, or which is sent back from the iron when it is stimulated; but loadstone disposes loadstone by its primary form; iron, however, which is closely related to it, loadstone at the same time recalls to its conformate strength, and settles it; on account of which it rushes to the loadstone and eagerly conforms itself to it (the forces of each in harmony bringing them together). The coition [mutual attraction aggregation] also is not vague or confused, not a violent inclination of body to body, no rash and mad congruency; no violence is here applied to the bodies; there are no strifes or discords; but there is that concord (without which the universe would go to pieces), that analogy, namely, of the {68}perfect and homogeneous parts of the spheres of the universe to the whole, and a mutual concurrency of the principal forces in them, tending to soundness, continuity, position, direction, and to unity. Wherefore in the case of such wonderful action and such a stupendous implanted power (diverse from other natures) the opinion of Thales of Miletus was not very absurd, nor was it downright madness, in the judgment of Scaliger, for him to grant the loadstone a soul; for the loadstone is incited, directed, and orbitally moved by this force, which is all in all, and, as will be made clear afterwards, all in every part; and it seems to be very like a soul. For the power of moving itself seems to point to a soul; and the supernal bodies, which are also celestial, divine, as it were, are thought by some to be animated, because they move with admirable order. If two loadstones be set one over against the other, each in a boat, on the surface of water, they do not immediately run together, but first they turn towards one another, or the lesser conforms to the greater, by moving itself in a somewhat circular manner, and at length, when they are disposed according to their nature, they run together. In smelted iron which has not been empowered by a magnet there is no need for such an apparatus; since it has no polarity, excepting what is adventitious and acquired, and that not stable and confirmed (as is the case with loadstone, even if the iron has been smelted from the best loadstone), on account of the confusion of the parts by fire when it flowed as a liquid; it suddenly acquires polarity and natural aptitude by the presence of the loadstone, by a powerful mutation, and by a conversion into a perfect magnet, and by an absolute metamorphosis; and it flies to the body of the magnet as if it were a real piece of loadstone. For a loadstone has no power, nor can a perfect loadstone do anything which iron when empowered by loadstone cannot perform, even when it has not been touched but only placed in its vicinity. For when first it is within the sphere of action [signal range] of the loadstone, though it may be some distance away, yet it is immediately changed, and has a renovated form, formerly indeed dormant and inert in body, now lively and strong, which will be clearly apparent in the demonstrations of Direction. So the magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is a motion of the loadstone and of the iron, not an action of one; an ἐντελέχεια, of each, not ἔργον; a συνεντελέχεια or conjoint action, rather than a sympathy. There is properly no such thing as magnetic antipathy. For the flight and declination of the ends, or an entire turning about, is an action of each towards unity by the conjoint action and συνεντελέχεια of both. It has therefore newly put on the form, and on account of this being roused, it then, in order that it may more surely acquire it, rushes headlong on the loadstone, not with curves and turnings, as a loadstone to a loadstone. For since in a loadstone both polarity and the power disponent have existed through many ages, or from the very beginnings, {69}have been inborn and confirmed, and also the special form of the terrestrial globe cannot easily be changed by another loadstone, as iron is changed; it happens from the constant nature of each, that one has not the sudden power over another of changing its polarity, but that they can only mutually come to agreement with each other.
* Again, iron which has been empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone, if that iron on account of obstacles should not be able to turn round immediately in accordance with its nature, as happens with a versorium [compass], is laid hold of, when a loadstone approaches, on either side or at either end. Because, just as it can implant, so it can suddenly change the polarity and turn about the formal energies to any part whatever. So variously can iron be transformed when its form is adventitious and has not yet been long resident in the metal. In the case of iron, on account of the fusion of the substance when magnetic ore or iron is smelted, the power of its primary form, distinct before, is now confused; but an entire loadstone placed near it again sets up its primal activity; its adjusted and arranged form joins its allied strength with the loadstone; and both mutually agree and are leagued together magnetically in all their motions towards unity, and whether joined by bodily contact or adjusted within the sphere of action, they are one and the same. For when iron is smelted out of its own ore, or steel (the more noble kind of iron) out of its ore, that is, out of loadstone, the material is loosed by the force of the fire, and flows away, and iron as well as steel flow out from their dross and are separated from it; and the dross is either spoiled by the force of the fire and rendered useless, or is a kind of dregs of a certain imperfection and of mixture in the prominent parts of the Earth. The material therefore is a purified one, in which the metallic parts, which are now mixed up by the melting, since those special forces of its form are confused and uncertain, by the approach of a loadstone are called back to life, as if to a kind of disponent form and integrity. The material is thus awakened and moves together into unity, the bond of the universe and the essential for its conservation. On this account and by the purging of the material into a cleaner body, the loadstone gives to the iron a greater force of attracting than there is in itself.
* For if iron dust or an iron nail be placed over a large loadstone, a piece of iron joined to it takes away the filings and nail from the loadstone and retains them so long as it is near the loadstone; wherefore iron attracts iron more than loadstone does, if it have been conformed by a loadstone and remains within the sphere of its communicated form. A piece of iron even, skilfully placed near the pole of a loadstone, lifts up more than the loadstone. Therefore the material of its own ore is better, and by the force of fire steel and iron are re-purged; and they are again impregnated by the loadstone with its own forms; therefore they move towards it by a spontaneous {70}approach as soon as they have entered within the sphere of the magnetic forces, because they were possessed by it before, connected and united with it in a perfect union; & they have immediately an absolute continuity within that sphere, & have been joined on account of their harmony, though their bodies may have been disjoined. For the iron is not taken possession of and allured by material emissions [particulate signal emissions], after the manner of electrics, but only by the immaterial action of its form or an incorporeal [energy] process, which in a piece of iron as its subject acts and is conceived, as it were, in a continuous homogeneous body, and does not need more open ways. Therefore (though the most solid substances be interposed) the iron is still moved and attracted, and by the presence of loadstone the iron moves and attracts the loadstone itself, and by mutual forces a concurrency is made towards unity, which is commonly called attraction of the iron. But those formal forces pass out and are united to one another by meeting together; a force also, when conceived in the iron, begins to flow out without delay. But Julius Scaliger, who by other examples contends that this theory is absurd, makes in his 344th Exercise a great mistake. For the powers of primary bodies are not to be compared with bodies made from and mixed with them. He would now have been able (had he been still alive) to discern the nature of emitted forms in the chapter on forms emitted by spherical magnetics. But if iron is injured somewhat by rust, it is affected either only slightly or not at all by the stone. For the metal is spoiled when eaten away and deformed by external injuries or by lapse of time (just as has been said about the loadstone), and it loses its prime qualities which are conjoined to its form; or, being worn out by age, retains them in a languid and weak condition; indeed it cannot be properly re-formed, when it has been corrupted. But a powerful and fresh loadstone attracts sound and clean pieces of iron, and those pieces of iron (when they have conceived strength) have a powerful attraction for other iron wires and iron nails, not only one at a time, but even successively one behind another, three, four or five, end to end, sticking and hanging in order like a chain. The loadstone, however, would not attract the last one following in such a row, if there were no nails between. Drawing of nails by loadstone A loadstone placed as at A draws a nail or a bar B; similarly behind B it draws C; and after C, D. But the nails B and C being removed, the loadstone A, if it remain at the same distance, does not raise the nail D into the air. This occurs for this reason: because in the case of a continuous row of nails the presence of the loadstone A, besides its own powers, enhances the magnetic natures of the iron works B and C, and makes them, as it were, forces auxiliary to itself. But B and C, like a continuous magnetic body, extend as far as {71}D the forces by which D is taken and conformed, though they are weaker than those which C receives from B. And those iron nails indeed from that contact only, and from the presence of the loadstone even without contact, acquire powers which they retain in their own bodies, as will be demonstrated most clearly in the passage on Direction. For not only whilst the stone is present does the iron assume these powers, and take them, as it were, vicariously from the stone, as Themistius lays down in his 8th book on Physics. The best iron, when it has been melted down (such is steel), is allured by a loadstone from a greater distance, is raised though of greater weight, is held more firmly, assumes stronger powers than the common and less expensive, because it is cast from a better ore or loadstone, imbued with better powers. But what is made from more impure ore turns out weaker and is moved more feebly. As to Fracastorio’s statement that he saw a piece of loadstone attract a loadstone by one of its faces, but not iron; by another face iron, but not loadstone; by another both; which he says is an indication that in one part there is more of the loadstone, in another more of the iron, in another both equally, whence arises that diversity of attraction; it is most incorrect and badly observed on the part of Fracastorio, who did not know how to apply skilfully loadstone to loadstone. A loadstone attracts iron and also a loadstone, if both are suitably arranged and free and unrestrained. That is removed more quickly from its position and place which is lighter; for the heavier bodies are in weight, the more they resist; but the lighter both moves itself to meet the heavier and is allured by the other.


How the Power dwells in the

That a loadstone attracts loadstone, iron and other magnetic bodies, has been shown above in the previous book, and also with what strength the magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is ordered; but now we must inquire how that power is disposed in a magnetic substance. And indeed an analogy must be inferred from a large loadstone. Any magnetic substance joins itself with a loadstone strongly, if the loadstone itself is strong; but more weakly, when it is somewhat imperfect or has been weakened by some flaw. A loadstone does not attract iron equally well with every part; or a magnetic substance does not approach every part of a loadstone alike; because a loadstone has its points, that is its true poles, in which an exceptional power excels. Parts nearer the pole are {72}stronger, those far away more weak, and yet in all the power is in a certain way equal. The poles of a terrella [magnetic model Earth] are A, B; the equinoctial is C, D. At A and B the alluring force seems greatest.


At C and D there is no force alluring magnetic ends to the body, for the forces tend toward both poles. But direction is powerful on the equator. At C, D, the distances are equal from both poles; therefore iron which is at C, D, when it is allured in contrary ways, does not adhere with constancy; but it remains and is joined to the stone, if only it incline to the one or other side. At E there is a greater power of alluring than at F, because E is nearer the pole. This is not so because there is really greater power residing at the pole, but since all the parts are united in the whole, they direct their forces towards the pole. From the forces flowing from the plane of the equinoctial towards the pole, the power increases.
* A fixed polarity exists at the pole, so long as the loadstone remains whole; if it is divided or broken, the polarity obtains other positions in the parts into which it is divided. For the polarity always changes in consequence of any change in the mass, and for this cause, if the terrella be divided from A to B, so that there are two stones, the poles will not be A, B, in the divided parts, but F, G, and H, I.

Terrella divided


Although these stones now are in agreement with one another, so that F would not seek H, yet if A was previously the north pole, F is now north, and H also north; for the polarity is not changed (as Baptista Porta incorrectly affirms in the fourth chapter of his seventh book); since, though F and H do not agree, so that the one would incline to the other, yet both turn to the same point of the horizon. If the hemisphere H I be divided into two quadrants, the one pole takes up its position in H, the other in I. The whole mass of the stone, as I have said, retains the site of its vertex constant; and any part of the stone, before it was cut out from the block, might have been the pole or vertex. But concerning this more under Direction. It is important now to comprehend and to keep firmly in mind that the poles are strong on account of the force of the whole, so that (the command being, as it were, divided by the equinoctial) all the forces on one side tend towards the north; but those of an opposite way towards the south, so long as the parts are united, as in the following demonstration.

polarity from the equinoctial circle towards the poles

For so, by an infinite number of curves from every point of the equator dividing the sphere into two equal parts, and from every point of the surface from the equator towards the North, and from the equator towards the south pole, the whole force tends asunder toward the poles. So the polarity is from the equinoctial {74}circle towards the pole in each direction. Such is the power reposed in the undivided stone. From A power is sent to B, from A, B, to C, from A, B, C, to D, and from them likewise to E. In like manner from G to H, and so forth, as long as the whole is united. But if a piece A B be cut out (although it is near the equator), yet it will be as strong in its magnetic actions as C D or D E, if torn away from the whole in equal quantity. For no part excels in special worth in the whole mass except by what is owing to the other adjoining parts by which an absolute and perfect whole is attained.

Diagram of Magnetic Power
transmitted from the plane of the equator
to the peripherery of the terrella
or of the Earth

Magnetic Power transmitted to the peripherery


HEQ is a terrella, E a pole, M the centre, HMQ the equinoctial plane. From every point of the equinoctial plane power extends to the periphery, but by various methods; for from A the formal force is transmitted towards C, F, N, E, and to every point from C up to E, the pole; but not towards B; so neither from G towards C. The power of alluring is not strengthened in the part FHG from that which is in GMFE, but FGH increases the force in the eminence FE. So no force rises from the internal parts, from the lines parallel to the Axis above those parallels, but always inwards from the parallels to the pole. From every point of the plane of the equator force proceeds to the pole E, but the point F has its powers only from GH, and N from OH; but the pole E is strengthened from the whole plane HQ. Wherefore in it the mighty power excels (just as in a palace); but in the intermediate intervals (as in F) only so much force of alluring is exerted as the portion HG of the plane can contribute.


How magnetic pieces of Iron and smaller
loadstones conform themselves to a terrella [magnetic model Earth] & to
the Earth itself, and by them are

Coition [mutual attraction aggregation] of those bodies which are divided, and do not naturally cohere, if they are free, occurs through another kind of motion. A terrella sends out in a sphere its powers in proportion to its power and quality. But when iron or any other magnetic of convenient magnitude comes within its sphere of action [signal range, ‘orbis virtutis’], it is allured;
* but the nearer it comes to the body, the more quickly it runs up to it. They move towards the magnet, not as to a centre, nor towards its centre. For they only do this in the case of the poles themselves, when namely that which is being allured, and the pole of the loadstone, and its centre, are in the same straight line. But in the intervening spaces they tend obliquely, just as is evident in the following figure, in which it is shown how the influence is extended to the adjoining magnetics within its range; in the case of the poles straight out.


Oblique Magnetics

The nearer the parts are to the equinoctial, the more obliquely are magnetics allured; but the parts nearer the poles appeal more directly, at the poles quite straight. The principle of the turning of all loadstones, of those which are round and those which are long, is the same, but in the case of the long ones the experiment is easier. For in whatever shape they are the polarity exists, and there are poles; but on account of bad and unequal form, they are often hindered by certain evils. If the stone were long, the vertex is at the ends, not on the sides; it allures more strongly at the vertex. For the parts bring together stronger forces to the pole in right lines than oblique. So the stone and the Earth conform their magnetic motions by their nature.


On the Potency of the Magnetic Force, and on
its nature capable of spreading out into a sphere.

From about a magnetic body the magnetic force is poured out on every side around in a sphere; around a terrella; in the case of other shapes of stones, more confusedly and unevenly. But yet there exists in nature no sphere or permanent or essential force spread through the air, but a magnet {77}only excites magnetics at a convenient distance from it. And as light comes in an instant (as the opticians teach), so much more quickly is the magnetic power present within the limits of its strength; and because its activity is much more subtile than light, and does not consent with a non-magnetic substance, it has no intercourse with air, water, or any non-magnetic; nor does it move a magnetic with any motion by forces rushing upon it, but being present in an instant, it invites friendly bodies. And as light strikes an object, so a loadstone strikes a magnetic body and excites it. And just as light does not remain in the air above vapours and emissions, and is not reflected from those spaces, so neither is the magnetic ray held in air or water. The appearances of things are apprehended in an instant in mirrors and in the eye by means of light; so the magnetic force seizes upon magnetics. Without the more intangible and shining bodies, the appearances of things are not seized or reflected; so without magnetic objects the magnetic power is not perceived, nor are the forces thus conceived sent back again to the magnetic substance. In this, however, the magnetic power excels light, in that it is not hindered by any opaque or solid substance, but proceeds freely, and extends its forces on every side. In a terrella and globe-shaped loadstone the magnetic power is extended outside the body in a sphere; in a longer one, however, not in a sphere, but it is extended in an ambit conformably to the shape of the stone. As in the somewhat long stone A, the power is extended to the ambient limit F C D, equidistant on every side from the stone A.

Power of a long stone



On the geography of the Earth,
and of the Terrella [magnetic model Earth].

Desiring that what follows may be better understood, we must now say something also about magnetic 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 out chiefly by means of the equator 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 equator; by which way the magnetic force 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 someone considers those parts superior which are in the periphery, and those inferior which are situated more towards the centre.



On the equinoctial Circle of the Earth
and of a Terrella [magnetic model Earth].

As conceived by astronomers the equinoctial circle is equidistant from both poles, cutting the world in the middle, measures the motions of their primum mobile or tenth sphere, and is named the zone of the primum mobile. It is called equinoctial, because when the sun stands in it (which must happen twice in the year) the days are equal to the nights. That circle is also spoken of as equidialis, wherefore it is called by the Greeks ἰσημερινός. In like manner it is also properly called equator, because it divides the whole frame of the Earth between the poles into equal parts. So also an equator may be rightly assigned to a terrella, by which its power is naturally divided, and by the plane of which permeating through its centre, the whole globe is divided into equal parts both in quantity and strength (as if by a transverse septum) between poles on both sides imbued with equal power.


Magnetic Meridians of the Earth.

Meridians have been thought out by the geographer, by means of which he might both distinguish the longitude and measure the latitude of each region. But the magnetic meridians are infinite, running in the same direction also, through fixed and opposite limits on the equator, and through the poles themselves. On them also the magnetic latitude is measured, and declinations are reckoned from them; and the fixed direction in them tends to the poles, unless it varies from some defect and the magnetic is disturbed from the right way. What is commonly called a magnetic meridian is not really magnetic, nor is it really a meridian, but it is understood to pass through the termini of the variation on the horizon. The variation is a depraved deviation from a meridian, nor is it fixed and constant in various places on any meridian.




In parallel circles the same strength and equal power are perceived everywhere, when various magnetics are placed on one and the same parallel either on the Earth or on a terrella [magnetic model Earth]. For they are distant from the poles by equal intervals and have equal tendencies of declination, and they are attracted and held, and they come together with like forces; just as those regions which are situated under the same parallel, even if they differ in longitude, yet we say possess the same quantity of daylight and a climate equally tempered.


The Magnetic Horizon.

Horizon is the name given to the great circle, separating the things which are seen from those which are not seen; so that a half part of the heaven always is open and easily seen by us, half is always hidden. This seems so to us on account of the great distance of the star-bearing sphere: yet the difference is as great as may arise from the ratio of the semi-diameter of the Earth compared with the semi-diameter of the starry heaven, which difference is in fact not perceived by our senses. We maintain, however, that the magnetic horizon is a plane level throughout touching the Earth or a terrella in the place of some one region, with which plane the semi-diameter, whether of the Earth or of the terrella, produced to the place of the region, makes right angles on every side. Such a plane is to be considered in the Earth itself and also in the terrella, for magnetic proofs and demonstrations. For we consider the bodies themselves only, not the general appearances of the world. Therefore not with the idea of outlook (which varies with the elevations of the lands), but taking it as a plane which makes equal angles with the perpendicular, we accept in magnetic demonstrations a sensible horizon or boundary, not that which is called by Astronomers the rational horizon.



On the Axis and Magnetic Poles.

Let the line be called the axis which is drawn in the Earth (as in a terrella) through the centre to the poles. They are called πόλοι by the Greeks from πολεῖν, to turn, and by the Latins they are also called Cardines or poles; because the world rotates and is perpetually carried around them. We are about to show, indeed, that the Earth and a terrella are turned about them by a magnetic influence. One of them in the Earth, which looks towards the Cynosure, is called Northern and Arctic; the other one, opposite to this, is called Southern and Antarctic. Nor do these also exist on the Earth or on a terrella for the sake of the turning merely; but they are also limits of direction and position, both as respects destined districts of the world, and also for correct turnings among themselves.


Why at the Pole itself the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is stronger than in
the other parts intermediate between the equator and the pole;
and on the proportion of forces of the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] in
various parts of the Earth and of the terrella [magnetic model Earth].

Observation has already been made that the highest power of alluring exists in the pole, and that it is weaker and more languid in the parts adjacent to the equator. And as this is apparent in the declination, because that disponent and rotational action has an augmentation as one proceeds from the equator towards the poles: so also the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] of magnetics grows increasingly fresh by the same steps, and in the same proportion. For in the parts more remote from the poles the loadstone does not attract magnetics straight down towards its own viscera; but they tend obliquely and they allure obliquely. For as the smallest chords in a circle differ from the diameter, so much do the forces of attracting differ between themselves in different parts of the terrella. {82}For since attraction is coition [mutual attraction aggregation] towards a body, but magnetics run together by their magnetic tendency, it comes about that in the diameter drawn from pole to pole the body appeals directly, but in other places less directly. So the less the magnetic is turned toward the body, the less, and the more feebly, does it approach and adhere. Oblique magnetics Just as if A B were the poles and a bar of iron or a magnetic fragment C is allured at the part E; yet the end laid hold of does not tend towards the centre of the loadstone, but verges obliquely towards the pole; and a chord drawn from that end obliquely as the attracted body tends is short; therefore it has less power and likewise less inclination. But as a greater chord proceeds from a body at F, so its action is stronger; at G still longer; longest at A, the pole (for the diameter is the longest way) to which all the parts from all sides bring assistance, in which is constituted, as it were, the citadel and tribunal of the whole province, not from any worth of its own, but because a force resides in it contributed from all the other parts, just as all the soldiers bring help to their own commander. Wherefore also a slightly longer stone attracts more than a spherical one, since the length from pole to pole is extended, even if the stones are both from the same mine and of the same weight and size. The way from pole to pole is longer in a longer stone, and the forces brought together from other parts are not so scattered as in a round magnet and terrella, and in a narrow one they agree more and are better united, and a united stronger force excels and is preeminent. A much weaker office, however, does a plane or oblong stone perform, when the length is extended according to the leading of the parallels, and the pole stops neither on the apex nor in the circle and sphere, but is spread over the flat. Wherefore also it invites a friend wretchedly, and feebly retains him, so that it is esteemed as one of an abject and contemptible class, according to its less apt and less suitable figure.




The Magnetic Force which is conceived in Iron is
more apparent in an iron rod than in a piece of iron that
is round, square, or of other figure.

Duly was it said before that the longer magnet attracts the greater weight of iron; so also in a longish piece of iron which has been touched the magnetic force conceived is stronger when the poles exist at the ends. For the magnetic forces which are driven from the whole in every part into the poles are not scattered but united in the narrow ends. In square and other angular figures the influence is dissipated, and does not proceed in straight lines or in convenient arcs. Suppose also an iron globe have the shape of the Earth, yet for the same reasons it drags magnetic substances less; wherefore a small iron sphere, when empowered [or magnetized], attracts another piece of iron more sluggishly than an empowered rod of equal weight.


Showing that Movements take place by the Magnetic
Power though solid bodies lie between; and on
the interposition of iron plates.

Float a piece of iron wire on the surface of water by transfixing it through a suitable cork; or set a magnetic piece of iron on a pin or in a seaman’s compass (a magnet being brought near or moved about underneath), it is put into a state of motion; neither the water, nor the vessel, nor the compass-box offering resistance in any way. thick boards do not obstruct, nor earthen vessels nor marble vases, nor the metals themselves; nothing is so solid as to carry away or impede the forces excepting an iron plate. Everything which is interposed (even though it is very dense) does not carry away its influence or obstruct its path, or indeed in any way hinder, diminish, or retard it. But all the force is not suppressed by an iron plate, but it is in some measure diverted aside.
* For when the power passes into the middle of an iron plate within the sphere of the magnetic action or placed just {84}opposite the pole of the stone, that force is scattered in very large measure towards its extremities; so that the edges of a small round plate of suitable size allure iron wires on every side.
* This is also apparent in the case of a long iron wand, which, when it has been touched by a magnet in the middle, has a like polarity at either end.

Rod magnetized in the middle

B is a loadstone, C D a long rod magnetized in the middle A; E being the North pole; C is a South end or pole; in like manner also the end D is another south pole.
* But observe here the exactness with which a versorium [compass] touched by a pole, when a round plate is interposed, turns towards the same pole in the same way as before the interposition, only weaker; the plate not standing in the way, because the power is diverted through the edges of the small plate, and passes out of its straight course, but yet the plate retains in the middle the same polarity, when it is in the neighbourhood of that pole, and close to it; wherefore the versorium tends towards the plate, having been touched by the same pole. If a loadstone is rather weak, a versorium hardly turns when a plate is put in between; for the power of the rather weak loadstone, being diffused through the extremities, passes less through the middle.
* But if the plate has been touched in this way by a pole in the middle and has been removed from the stone outside its sphere of action [signal range], then you will see the point of the same versorium tend in the contrary direction and desert the centre of the small plate, which formerly it desired; for outside the sphere of action it has an opposite polarity, in the vicinity the same; for in the vicinity it is, as it were, a part of the loadstone, and has the same pole.

magnetized plate

A is an iron plate near the pole, B a versorium [compass] which tends with its point towards the centre of the small plate, which has been touched by the pole of the loadstone C. But if the same small plate be {85}placed outside the sphere of magnetic action, the point will not turn towards its centre, but the cross E of the same versorium does.
* But an iron globe interposed (if it is not too large) attracts the point of the iron on the other side of the stone. For the polarity of that side is the same as that of the adjoining pole of the stone.
* And this turning of the cusp (that is, of the end touched by that pole) as well as of the cross-end, at a greater distance, takes place with an iron globe interposed, which would not happen at all if the space were empty, because the magnetic force is passed on and continued through magnetic bodies.

Magnetic force passed on

A is a terrella [magnetic model Earth], B an iron globe; between the two bodies is F, a versorium [compass] whose point has been empowered [or magnetized] by the pole C. In the other figure A is a terrella, C its pole, B an iron globe; where the versorium tends towards C, the pole of the terrella, through the iron globe. So a versorium placed between a terrella and an iron globe vibrates more forcibly towards the pole of the terrella; because the loadstone sends an instantaneous polarity into the opposite globe. There is the same efficiency in the Earth, produced from the same cause. For if a revolvable needle is shut up in a rather thick gold box (this metal indeed excels all others in density) or a glass or stone box, nevertheless that magnetic needle has its forces connected and united with the influences of the Earth, and the iron will turn freely and readily (unhindered by its prison) to its desired points, North and South.
* It even does this when shut up in iron caverns, if they are sufficiently spacious. Whatever bodies are produced among us, or are artificially forged from things which are produced, consist of matter of the terrestrial globe; nor do those bodies hinder the prime forces of nature which are derived from their primary form, nor can they resist them except by contrary forms. But no forms of mixed bodies are inimical to the primary implanted Earth-nature, although some often do not agree with one another. But in the case of all those substances which have a material cause for their inclining (as amber, {86}jet, sulphur), their action is impeded by the interposition of a body (as paper, leaves, glass, or the like) when that way is impeded and obstructed, so that that which exhales cannot reach the corpuscle to be allured. Terrestrial and magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation] and motion, when corporeal impediments are interposed, is demonstrated also by the efficiencies of other chief bodies due to their primary form. The moon (more than all the stars) agrees with internal parts of the Earth on account of its nearness and similarity in form. The moon produces the movements of the waters and the tides of the sea; twice it fills up the shores and empties them whilst it moves from a certain definite point in the sky back to the same point in a daily revolution. This motion of the waters is incited and the seas rise and fall no less when the moon is below the horizon and in the lowest part of the heavens, than if it had been raised at a height above the horizon. So the whole mass of the Earth interposed does not resist the action of the moon, when it is below the Earth; but the seas bordering on our shores, in certain positions of the sky when it is below the horizon, are kept in motion, and likewise stirred by its power (though they are not struck by its rays nor illuminated by its light), rise, come up with great force, and recede. But about the reason of the tides anon; here let it suffice to have merely touched the threshold of the question. In like manner nothing on the Earth can be hidden from the magnetic disposition of the Earth or of the stone, and all magnetic bodies are reduced to order by the dominant form of the Earth, and loadstone and iron show sympathy with a loadstone though solid bodies be interposed.


On the Iron Cap of a Loadstone, with which
it is armed at the pole to increase its
power, and on the efficacy of the same.

Conceive a small round plate, concave in shape, of the breadth of a digit to be applied to the convex polar surface of a loadstone and skilfully attached; or a piece of iron shaped like an acorn, rising from the base into an obtuse cone, hollowed out a little and fitted to the surface of the stone, to be tied to the loadstone. Let the iron be the best steel, smoothed, shining, and even. A loadstone with such an appliance, which before only bore four ounces of iron, will now raise twelve.
{87} But the greatest force of a combining or rather united nature is seen when two loadstones, armed with iron caps, are so joined by their concurrent (commonly called contrary) ends, that they mutually attract and enhance one another. In this way a weight of twenty ounces is raised, when either stone unarmed would only allure four ounces of iron. Iron unites to an armed loadstone more firmly than to a loadstone; and on that account raises greater weights, because the pieces of iron stick more pertinaciously to one that is armed. For by the near presence of the magnet they are cemented together, and since the armature conceives a magnetic power from its presence and the other conjoined piece of iron is at the same time endued with power from the presence of the loadstone, they are firmly bound together. Therefore by the mutual contact of strong pieces of iron, the cohesion is strong. Which thing is also made clear and is exhibited by means of rods sticking together, Bk. 3, chap 4; and also when the question of the concretion of iron dust into a united body was discussed. For this reason a piece of iron set near a loadstone attracts away any suitable piece of iron from the loadstone, if only it touch the iron; otherwise it does not snatch it away, though in closest proximity. For magnetic pieces of iron within the sphere of action [signal range], or near a loadstone, do not rush together with a greater endeavour than the iron and the magnet; but joined they are united more strongly and, as it were, cemented together, though the substance remain the same with the same forces acting.


An armed Loadstone does not endow an
empowered piece of Iron with greater power
than an unarmed.

* Suppose there are two pieces of iron, one of which has been empowered by an armed loadstone, the other by one unarmed; and let there be applied to one of them another piece of iron of a weight just proportional to its strength, it is manifest that the remaining one in like manner raises the same and no more. Magnetic versoria [compasses] touched by an armed loadstone turn with the same velocity and constancy towards the poles of the Earth as those magnetized by the same loadstone unarmed.



Union with an armed Loadstone is stronger;
hence greater weights are raised; but the
coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is not stronger, but
generally weaker.

An armed magnet raises a greater weight, as is manifest to all; but a piece of iron moves towards a stone at an equal, or rather greater, distance when it is bare, without an iron cap.
* This must be tried with two pieces of iron of the same weight and figure at an equal distance, or with one and the same versorium [compass], the test being made first with an armed, then with an unarmed loadstone, at equal distances.

Armed Magnets cohere firmly



An armed Loadstone raises an armed Loadstone,
which also attracts a third; which likewise
happens, though the power in the first
be somewhat small.

Magnets armed cohere firmly when duly joined, and accord into one; and though the first be rather weak, yet the second one adheres to it not only by the strength of the first, but of the second, which mutually give helping hands; also to the second a third often adheres and in the case of robust stones, a fourth to the third.




If Paper or any other Medium be interposed,
an armed loadstone raises no more than an
unarmed one.

Observation has shown above that an armed loadstone does not attract at a greater distance than an unarmed one; yet raises iron in greater quantity, if it is joined to and made continuous with the iron. But if paper be placed between, that intimate cohesion of the metal is hindered, nor are the metals cemented together at the same time by the operation of the magnet.

Magnetics in conjunction make one magnetic



That an armed Loadstone attracts Iron no more than an
unarmed one: And that an armed one is more strongly united
to iron is shown by means of an armed loadstone
and a polished cylinder of iron.

If a cylinder be lying on a level surface, of too great a weight for an unarmed loadstone to lift, and (a piece of paper being interposed) if the pole of an armed loadstone be joined to the middle of it; if the cylinder were attracted from there by the loadstone, it would follow rolling; but if no medium were interposed, the cylinder would be drawn along firmly united with the armed loadstone, and in no wise rolling. But if the same loadstone be unarmed, it will attract the cylinder rolling with the same speed as the armed loadstone with the paper between or when it was wrapped in paper.

* Armed loadstones of diverse weights, of the same ore power and form, cling and hang to pieces of iron of a convenient size and proportionate figure with an equal proportion of strength. The same is apparent in the case of unarmed stones. A suitable piece of iron being applied to the lower part of a loadstone, which is hanging from a magnetic body, excites its power, so that the loadstone hangs on more firmly. For a pendent loadstone clings {90}more firmly to a magnetic body joined to it above with a hanging piece of iron added to it, than when lead or any other non-magnetic body is hung on.

* A loadstone, whether armed or unarmed, joined by its proper pole to the pole of another loadstone, armed or unarmed, makes the loadstone raise a greater weight by the opposite end. A piece of iron also applied to the pole of a magnet produces the same result, namely, that the other pole will carry a greater weight of iron; just as a loadstone with a piece of iron superposed on it (as in this figure) holds up a piece of iron below, which it cannot hold, if the upper one be removed.
* Magnetics in conjunction make one magnetic. Wherefore as the mass increases, the magnetic power is also augmented.

* An armed loadstone, as well as an unarmed one, runs more readily to a larger piece of iron and combines more firmly with a larger piece than with a lesser one.


Magnetic Force causes motion towards unity,
and binds firmly together bodies which are united.

* Magnetic fragments cohere within their strength well and harmoniously together. Pieces of iron in the presence of a loadstone (even if they are not touching the loadstone) run together, seek one another anxiously and embrace one another, and when joined are as if they were cemented.
* Iron filings or the same reduced to powder inserted in paper tubes, placed upon a stone meridionally or merely brought rather close to it, coalesce into one body, and so many parts suddenly are concreted and combine;
* and the whole company of corpuscles thus conspiring together affects another piece of iron and attracts it, as if it constituted one integral rod of iron; and above the stone it is directed toward the North and South. But when they are removed a long way from the stone, the particles (as if loosed again) are separated and move apart singly. In this way also the foundations of the world are connected and joined and cemented together magnetically. So let Ptolemy of Alexandria, and his followers, and those philosophers of ours, be the less terrified if the Earth do move round in a circle, nor threaten its dissolution.

Iron filings, after being heated for a long time, are attracted by a loadstone, yet not so strongly or from so great a distance as when not heated. A loadstone loses some of its power by too great a heat; for its humour is set free, whence its peculiar nature is marred. Likewise also, if iron filings are well burnt in a reverberatory furnace and converted into saffron of Mars, they are not attracted by a loadstone; but if they are heated, but not thoroughly burnt, they do stick to a magnet, but less strongly than the filings themselves not acted upon by fire. For the saffron has become totally deformate, but the heated metal acquires a defect from the fire, and the forces in the enfeebled body are less empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone; and, the nature of the iron being now ruined, it is not attracted by a loadstone.


A piece of Iron placed within the Range of a
Loadstone hangs suspended in the air, if on account
of some impediment it cannot approach it.

Within the magnetic range a piece of iron moves towards the more powerful points of the stone, if it be not hindered by force or by the material of a body placed between them; either it falls down from above, or tends sideways or obliquely, or flies up above. But if the iron cannot reach the stone on account of some obstacle, it cleaves to it and remains there, but with a less firm and constant connection, since at greater intervals or distances the alliance is less amicable. Fracastorio, in the eighth chapter of his De Sympathia, says that a piece of iron is suspended in the air, so that it can be moved neither up nor down, if a loadstone be placed above which is able to attract the iron up just as much as the iron itself inclines downwards with equal force; for thus the iron would be supported in the air: which thing is absurd; because the force of a magnet is {92}always the stronger the nearer it is. So that when a piece of iron is raised a very little from the Earth by the force of the magnet, it needs must be drawn steadily on towards the magnet (if nothing else come in the way) and cleave to it. Baptista Porta suspends a piece of iron in the air (a magnet being fixed above), and, by no very subtile process, the iron is detained by a slender thread from its lower part, so that it cannot rise up to the stone.
* The iron is raised upright by the magnet, although the magnet does not touch the iron, but because it is in its vicinity; but when the whole iron on account of its greater nearness is moved by that which erected it, immediately it hurries with a swift motion to the magnet and cleaves to it. For by approaching the iron is more and more empowered [or magnetized], and the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] grows stronger.


Enhancing the power of the Magnet.

One loadstone far surpasses another in power, since one attracts iron of almost its own weight, another can hardly stir some shreds. Whatever things, whether animals or plants, are endowed with life need some sort of nourishment, by which their strength not only persists but grows firmer and more vigorous. But iron is not, as it seemed to Cardan and to Alexander Aphrodiseus, attracted by the loadstone in order that it may feed on shreds of it, nor does the loadstone take up power from iron filings as if by a repast on victuals. Since Porta had doubts on this and resolved to test it, he took a loadstone of ascertained weight, and buried it in iron filings of not unknown weight; and when he had left it there for many months, he found the stone of greater weight, the filings of less. But the difference was so slender that he was even then doubtful as to the truth. What was done by him does not convict the stone of voracity, nor does it show any nutrition; for minute portions of the filings are easily scattered in handling. So also a very fine dust is insensibly born on a loadstone in some very slight quantity, by which something might have been added to the weight of the loadstone but which is only a surface accretion and might even be wiped off with no great difficulty. Some think that a weak and sluggish stone can bring itself back into better condition, and that a very powerful one also might present it with the highest powers. Do they acquire strength like animals when {93}they eat and are sated? Is the medicine prepared by addition or subtraction? Is there anything which can re-create this primary form or bestow it anew? And, certes, nothing can do this which is not magnetic. Magnetics can restore a certain soundness to magnetics (when not incurable); some can even enhance them beyond their proper strength; but when a body is at the height of perfection in its own nature, it is not capable of being strengthened further. So that that imposture of Paracelsus, who affirms that the force and power can be increased and transmuted tenfold, turns out to be the more infamous. The method of effecting this is as follows, viz., you make it semi-incandescent in a fire of charcoal (that is, you heat it very hot), so that it does not become red-hot, however, and immediately slake it, as much indeed as it can imbibe, in oil of saffron of Mars, made from the best Carynthian steel. "In this way you will be able so to strengthen a loadstone that it can draw a nail out of a wall and accomplish many other like wonderful things, which are not possible for a common loadstone" But a loadstone thus slaked in oil not only does not gain power, but suffers also a certain loss of its inborn strength. A loadstone is improved if polished and rubbed with steel. Buried in filings of the best iron or of pure steel, not rusty, it preserves its strength. Sometimes also a somewhat good and strong one gains Loadstones combined some strength when it is rubbed on the pole of another, on the opposite part, and receives power. In all these experiments it is an advantage to observe the pole of the Earth, and to adjust according to magnetic laws the stone which we wish to strengthen; which we shall set forth below. A somewhat powerful and fairly large loadstone increases the strength of a loadstone as it does of iron.
* {94} A loadstone being placed over the north pole of a loadstone, the north pole becomes stronger, and an iron rod (like an arrow) sticks to the north pole A, but not at all to the pole B. The pole A also, when it is at the top in a right line with the axis of both loadstones joined in accordance with magnetic laws, raises the rod to the perpendicular, which it cannot do if the large loadstone be removed, on account of its own weaker strength.
* But as a small iron globe, when placed above the pole of a terrella, raises the rod to the perpendicular, so, when placed at the side, the rod is not directed towards the centre of the globe, but is raised obliquely and cleaves anywhere, because the pole in a round piece of iron is always the point which is joined most closely to the pole of the terrella and is not constant as in a smaller terrella. The parts of the Earth, as of all magnetics, are in agreement and take delight in their mutual proximity; if placed in the highest power, they do not harm their inferiors, nor slight them; there is a mutual love among them all, a perennial good feeling. The weaker loadstones are re-created by the more powerful, and the less powerful cause no harm to the stronger. But a powerful one attracts and turns a somewhat strong one more than it does an impotent one. Because a strenuous one confers a stronger activity, and itself hastens, flies up to the other, and solicits it more keenly; therefore there is a more certain and a stronger co-action and coherency.


Why there should appear to be a greater love between
iron and loadstone, than between loadstone and loadstone, or
between iron and iron, when close to the loadstone,
within its sphere of action.

Magnet attracts magnet, not in every part and on every side with equal conditions, as iron, but at one and a fixed point; therefore the poles of both must be exactly disposed, otherwise they do not cleave together duly and strongly. But this disposition is not easy and expeditious; wherefore a loadstone seems not to conform to a loadstone, when nevertheless they agree very well together. A piece of iron by the sudden impression of a loadstone is not only allured by the stone, but is renewed, its forces being drawn forth; by which it follows and solicits the loadstone with no less impulse, and even leads another piece of iron captive. Let there be a small iron spike above a loadstone clinging firmly to it; if you apply an unmagnetized rod of iron to the spike, not, however, {95}so that it touches the stone, you will see the spike when it has touched the iron, leaving the loadstone, follow the rod, try to grasp it by leaning toward it, and (if it should touch it) cleave firmly to it: for a piece of iron, when united and joined to another piece of iron placed within the sphere of action of the loadstone, attracts it more strongly than does the loadstone itself. The natural magnetic power, confused and dormant in the iron, is aroused by the loadstone, is linked to the loadstone, and rejoices with it in its primary form; then smelted iron becomes a perfect magnetic, as robust as the loadstone itself. For as the one imparts and stirs, so the other conceives, and being stirred remains in action, and pours back the forces also by its own activity. But since iron is more like iron than loadstone, and the power in both pieces of iron is enhanced by the proximity of the loadstone, so in the loadstone itself, in case of equal strength, likeness of substance prevails, and iron gives itself up rather to iron, and they are united by their very similar homogenic powers. Which thing happens not so much from a coition [mutual attraction aggregation], as from a firmer unition; and a knob or snout of steel, fixed skilfully on the pole of the stone, raises greater weights of iron than the stone of itself could. When steel or iron is smelted from loadstone or iron ore, the slag and corrupt substances are separated from the better by the fusion of the material; whence (in very large measure) that iron contains the nature of the Earth, purified from alien flaw and blemish, and more homogenic and perfect, though deformed by the fusion. And when that material indeed is activated by a loadstone, it detects the magnetic powers [signals], and within their range is enhanced in strength more than the weaker loadstone, which with us is often not free from some admixture of impurities.



The Centre of the Magnetic Powers in the Earth
is the centre of the Earth; and in a terrella [magnetic model Earth]
is the centre of the stone.

Rays of magnetic power spread out in every direction in a sphere; the centre of this sphere is not at the pole (as Baptista Porta reckons, Chap. 22), but in the centre of the stone [loadstone] and of the terrella. So also the centre of the Earth is the centre of the magnetic motions of the Earth; though magnetics are not borne directly toward the centre by magnetic motion, except when they are attracted by the true pole. For since the formal {96}power of the stone and of the Earth does not promote anything but the unity and conformity of disjoined bodies, it comes about that everywhere at an equal distance from the centre or from the circumference, just as it seems to attract perpendicularly at one place, so at another it is able even to dispose and to turn, provided the stone is not uneven in power.
* For if at the distance C from the pole D the stone is able to allure a versorium [compass], at an equally long interval above the equator at A that stone can also direct and turn the versorium. So the very centre and middle of the terrella is the centre of its power, and from this to the circumference of the sphere [signal range, ‘orbis virtutis’], at equal intervals on every side, its magnetic powers are emitted.

Magnetic powers emitted to a sphere


A Loadstone attracts magnetics not only to a
fixed point or pole, but to every part of a
terrella save the equinoctial zone.

Coitions [mutual attraction aggregations] are always more powerful when poles are near poles, since in them by the concordancy of the whole there exists a stronger force; wherefore the one embraces the other more strongly. Places declining from the poles have attractive forces, but a little weaker and languid in the ratio of their distance; so that at length on the equinoctial circle they are utterly enervated and evanescent. Neither do even the poles attract as mathematical points; nor do magnetics come into conjunction by their own poles, only on the poles of a loadstone. But coition [mutual attraction aggregation] {97}is made on every part of the periphery, both Northern and Southern, by power emanating from the whole body; magnetics nevertheless incline languidly towards magnetics in the parts bordering on the equator, but quickly in places nearer the pole. Wherefore not the poles, not the parts alone nearest to the pole allure and invite magnetics, but magnetics are disposed and turned round and combine with magnetics in proportion as the parts facing and adjoined unite their forces together, which are always of the same potency in the same parallel, unless they are distributed otherwise from causes of variation.


On Variety of Strength due to Quantity
or Mass.

Quite similar in potency are those stones [loadstones] which are of the same mine, and not corrupted by adjacent ores or veins. Nevertheless that which excels in size shows greater powers, since it seizes greater weights and has a wider sphere of action [signal range]. For a loadstone weighing one ounce does not lift a large nail as does one weighing a pound, nor does it rule so widely, nor extend its forces; and if from a loadstone of a pound weight a portion is taken away, something of its power will be seen to go also; for when a portion is abstracted the power is lessened.
* But if that part is properly applied and united to it, though it is not fastened to nor grown into it, yet by the application it obtains its pristine power and its power returns.
* Sometimes, however, when a part is taken away, the power turns out to be stronger on account of the bad shape of the stone, namely, when the power is scattered through inconvenient angles. In various species the ratio is various, for one stone of a drachm weight attracts more than another of twenty pounds. Since in very many the influence is so effete that it can hardly be perceived, those weak stones are surpassed by prepared pieces of clay. But, it may be asked, if a stone of the same species and goodness weighing a drachm would seize upon a drachm of iron, would a stone of an ounce weight seize on an ounce, a pound on a pound, and so on? And this is indeed true; for it both strains and remits its strength proportionately, so that if a loadstone, one drachm of which would attract one drachm of iron, were in equal proportion applied either to a suitably large obelisk or to an immense pyramid of iron, it would lift it directly in such {98}proportion and would attract it towards itself with no greater effort of its nature or trouble than a loadstone of a drachm weight embraces a drachm. But in all such experiments as this let the power of the magnets be equal; let there be also a just proportion in all of the shapes of the stones, and let the shape of the iron to be attracted be the same, and the goodness of the metal, and let the position of the poles of the loadstones be most exact. This is also no less true in the case of an armed loadstone than of an unarmed one. For the sake of experiment, let there be given a loadstone of eight ounces weight, which when armed lifts twelve ounces of iron;
* if you cut off from that loadstone a certain portion, which when it has been reduced to the shape of the former whole one is then only of two ounces, such a loadstone armed lifts a piece of iron applied to it of three ounces, in proportion to the mass. In this experiment also the piece of iron of three ounces ought to have the same shape as the former one of twelve ounces; if that rose up into a cone, it is necessary that this also in the ratio of its mass should be given a pyramidal shape proportioned to the former.


The Shape and Mass of the Iron are of most
importance in coition [mutual attraction aggregation].

Observation has shown above that the shape and mass of the loadstone have great influence in magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation]; likewise also the shape and mass of the iron bodies give back more powerful and steady forces. Oblong iron rods are both attracted more quickly to a loadstone and cleave to it with greater obstinacy than round or square pieces, for the same reasons which we have proven in the case of the loadstone. But, moreover, this is also worthy of observation,
* that a smaller piece of iron, to which is hung a weight of another material, so that it is altogether in weight equal to another large whole piece of iron of a right weight (as regards the strength of the loadstone), is not lifted by the loadstone as the larger piece of iron would be. For a smaller piece of iron does not join with a loadstone so firmly, because it sends back less strength, and only that which is magnetic conceives strength; the foreign material hung on cannot acquire magnetic forces.



On Long and Round Stones [Loadstones].

Pieces of iron join more firmly with a long stone [loadstone] than with a round one, provided that the pole of the stone is at the extremity and end of its length; because, forsooth, in the case of a long stone, a magnetic is directed at the end straight towards the body in which the force proceeds in straighter lines and through the longer diameter. But a somewhat long stone has but little power on the side, much less indeed than a round one.
* It is demonstrable, indeed, that at A and B the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is stronger in a round stone than at C and D, at like distances from the pole.

Long and Round Stones


Certain Problems and Magnetic Experiments about
the Coition [mutual attraction aggregation], and Separation, and regular Motion
of magnetic bodies.

* Equal loadstones come together with equal incitation.

* Also magnetic bodies of iron, if alike in all respects, come together when empowered with similar incitation.

* Furthermore, bodies of iron not empowered by a loadstone, if they are alike and not weighed down by their inertial mass, move towards one another with equal motion.

Two loadstones, disposed on the surface of some water in {100}suitable skiffs, if they are drawn up suitably within their spheres of action, incite one another mutually to an embrace. So a proportionate piece of iron in one skiff hurries with the same speed towards the loadstone as the loadstone itself in its boat strives towards the iron. From their own positions, indeed, they are so borne together, that they are joined and come to rest at length in the middle of the space.
* Two iron wires magnetically empowered, floating in water by means of suitable pieces of cork, strive to touch and mutually strike one another with their corresponding ends, and are conjoined.

* Coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is firmer and swifter than repulsion and separation in equal magnetic substances. That magnetic substances are more sluggishly repelled than they are attracted is manifest in all magnetic experiments in the case of stones [loadstones] floating on water in suitable skiffs; also in the case of iron wires or rods swimming (transfixed through corks) and well empowered by a loadstone, and in the case of versoria [compasses]. This comes about because, though there is one faculty of coition [mutual attraction aggregation], another of conformation or disposition, repulsion and aversion is caused merely by something disposing; on the other hand, the coming together is by a mutual alluring to contact and a disposing, that is, by a double power.

A disponent power is often only the precursor of coition [mutual attraction aggregation], in order that the bodies may stand conveniently for one another before conjunction; wherefore also they are turned round to the corresponding ends, if they cannot reach them through the hindrances.

Loadstone divided through a meridian

* If a loadstone be divided through a meridian into two equal parts, the separate parts mutually repel one another, the poles being placed directly opposite one another at a convenient and equal distance. They repel one another also with a greater velocity than when pole is put opposite pole incongruously. Just as the part B of the loadstone, placed almost opposite the part A, repels it floating in its skiff, because D turns away from F, and E from C; but if B is exactly joined with A again, they agree and become one magnetic body {101}; but in proximity they raise enmities. But if one part of the stone is turned round, so that C faces D and F faces E, then A pursues B within its range until they are united.

The South parts of the stone [loadstone] avoid the South parts, and the North parts the North. Nevertheless, if by force you move up the South cusp of a piece of iron too near the South part of the stone, the cusp is seized and both are linked together in friendly embraces: because it immediately reverses the implanted polarity of the iron, and it is changed by the presence of the more powerful stone, which is more constant in its forces than the iron. For they come together according to their nature, if by reversal and mutation true conformity is produced, and just coition [mutual attraction aggregation], as also regular direction. Loadstones of the same shape, size, and power, attract one another mutually with like efficacy, and in the opposite position repel one another mutually with a like power.

* Iron rods not touched, though alike and equal, do yet often act upon one another with different forces; because as the reasons of their acquired polarity, also of their stability and power, are different, so the more strongly they are empowered [or magnetized], the more vigorously do they incite.

* Pieces of iron empowered by one and the same pole mutually repel one another by those ends at which they were empowered; then also the opposite ends to those in these iron pieces raise enmities one to another.

* In versoria [compasses] whose cusps have been rubbed, but not their cross-ends, the crosses mutually repel one another, but weakly and in proportion to their length.

* In like versoria the cusps, having been touched by the same pole of the loadstone, attract the cross-ends with equal strength.

* In a somewhat long versorium [compass] the cross-end is attracted rather weakly by the cusp of a shorter iron versorium; the cross of the shorter more strongly by the cusp of the longer, because the cross of the longer versorium has a weak polarity, but the cusp has a stronger.

*The cusp of a longer versorium [compass] drives away the cusp of a shorter one more vehemently than the cusp of the shorter the cusp of the longer, if the one is free upon a pin, and the other is held in the hand; for though both were equally empowered by the same loadstone, yet the longer one is stronger at its cusp on account of its greater mass.

* The South end of an iron rod which is not excited attracts the North, and the North the South; moreover, also the South parts repel the South, and the North the North.

If magnetic substances are divided or in any way broken in pieces, each part has a North and a South end.


* A versorium [compass] is moved as far off by a loadstone when an obstacle is put in the way, as through air and an open medium.

* Rods rubbed upon the pole of a stone [loadstone] strive after the same pole and follow it. Therefore Baptista Porta errs when he says, chapter 40, "If you put that part to it from which it received its force, it will not endure it, but drives it from it, and attracts to it the contrary and opposite part"

The principles of turning round and inclining are the same in the case of loadstone to loadstone, of loadstone to iron, of iron also to iron.

When magnetic substances which have been separated by force and dissected into parts flow together into a true union and are suitably connected, the body becomes one, and one united power, nor have they diverse ends.

* The separate parts assume two opposite poles, if the division has not been made along a parallel: if the division has been made along a parallel, they are able to retain one pole in the same site as before.

Pieces of iron which have been rubbed and empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone are more surely and swiftly seized by a loadstone at fitting ends than such as have not been rubbed.

* If a spike is set up on the pole of a loadstone, a spike or style of iron placed on the upper end is strongly cemented to it, and draws away the erect spike from the terrella when motion is made.

* If to the lower end of the erect spike the end of another spike is applied, it does not cohere with it, nor do they unite together.

As a rod of iron draws away a piece of iron from a terrella, so is it also with a minute loadstone and a lesser terrella, though weaker in strength.

Iron cleaves to terrella

The piece of iron C comes into conjunction with the terrella A, and the power in it is magnetically enhanced and empowered, both in the adjoining end and in the other also which is turned away through {103}its conjunction with the terrella. The end that is turned away also conceives power from the loadstone B; likewise the pole D of that loadstone is powerful on account of its suitable aspect and the nearness of the pole E of the terrella. Several causes therefore concur why the piece of iron C should cleave to the terrella B, to which it is joined more firmly than to the terrella A; the power excited in the rod, the power also excited in the stone B, and the strength implanted in B concur; therefore D is more firmly cemented magnetically with C than E with C.

But if you were to turn the vertex F round to the iron C, C would not adhere to F as formerly to D; for stones so arranged being within the sphere of action are placed contrary to natural order; wherefore F does not receive power from E.

* Two loadstones or empowered pieces of iron, duly cohering, fly asunder on the approach of another more powerful loadstone or magnetized piece of iron. Because the new-comer repels the other with its opposing face, and dominates it, and ends the relationship of the two which were formerly joined. So the forces of the other are lessened and succumb; but if it conveniently could, being diverted of its association with the weaker, and rolling round, it would turn about to the stronger. Wherefore also magnetic bodies suspended in the air fall when a loadstone is brought near them with an opposing face, not (as Baptista Porta teaches) because the faculty of both those which were joined before grows faint and torpid, for no face can be hostile to both the ends which cohere, but to one only; and when the stronger loadstone, coming fresh with opposing face, impels this further from it, it is put to flight by the friendly reception of the former.


On the Varying Ratio of Strength, and of the Motion
of coition [mutual attraction aggregation], within the sphere of action.

Should a very large weight, which at a very small distance is attracted towards a loadstone, be divided into ever so many equal parts, and should the radius of the sphere of magnetic attraction be divided into the same number of parts, the like named parts of the weight will correspond to the intermediate parts of the radius.

The sphere of action [signal range] extends more widely than the sphere of motion of any magnetic; for the magnetic is affected at its extremity, even if it is not moved with local motion, which effect is produced {104}by the loadstone being brought nearer. A small versorium [compass] also is turned when a good distance off, even if at the same distance it would not move towards the loadstone, though free and disengaged from impediment.

The swiftness of the motion of a magnetic body to a loadstone is dependent on either the power of the loadstone, on its mass, on its shape, on the medium, or on its distance within the magnetic range.

* A magnetic moves more quickly towards a more powerful stone than towards a sluggish one in proportion to the strength, and as appears by a comparison of the loadstones together. A lesser mass of iron also is carried more quickly towards a loadstone, just as also one that is a little longer in shape. The swiftness of magnetic motion towards a loadstone is changed by reason of the medium; for bodies are moved more quickly in air than in water, and in clear air than in air that is thick and cloudy.

By reason of the distance, the motion is quicker in the case of bodies near together than when they are far off. At the limits of the sphere of action [signal range] of a terrella a magnetic is moved feebly and slowly. At very short distances close to the terrella the moving impetus is greatest.

A loadstone which in the outmost part of its sphere of action * hardly moves a versorium [compass] when one foot removed from it, doth, if a long piece of iron is joined to it, attract and repel the versorium more strongly with its opposite poles when even three feet distant. The result is the same whether the loadstone is armed or unarmed. Let the iron be a suitable piece of the thickness of the little finger.

For the power of the loadstone excites polarity in the iron and proceeds in the iron and through the iron much further than it extends through the air.

The power proceeds even through several pieces of iron (joined * to one another end to end), not so regularly, however, as through one continuous solid.

Dust of steel placed upon paper rises up when a loadstone is moved near above it in a sort of steely hairiness; but if the loadstone is placed below, such a hairiness is likewise raised.

Steel dust (when the pole of a loadstone is placed near) is cemented * into one body; but when it desires coition [mutual attraction aggregation] with the loadstone, the mass is split and it rises in conglomerated parts.

But if there is a loadstone beneath the paper, the mass is split in the same way and many portions result, each of which consists of very many parts, and remains cemented together, as individual bodies. Whilst the lower parts of these pursue greedily the pole of the loadstone placed directly beneath, even they also are raised up as magnetic wholes, just as a small iron wire of the length of a grain or two grains of barley is raised up, both when the loadstone is moved near both beneath and above.



Why a Loadstone should be stronger in its poles
in a different ratio; as well in the North
regions as in the South.

The extraordinary magnetic power of the Earth is * remarkably demonstrated by the subtility of the following magnetic experiment. Let there be given a terrella [magnetic model Earth] of no contemptible power, or a long loadstone with equal cones as polar extremities; but in any other shape which is not exactly round error is easy, and the experiment difficult. In the Northern regions, raise the true North pole of the terrella above the horizon straight toward the zenith; it is demonstrable that it raises up a larger iron spike on its North pole, than the South pole of the same terrella is able to raise, when turned in the same way toward the highest point of the sky. The same thing is shown by a small terrella placed in the same way above a larger.

Strength of small terrella on a larger

Let a b be the Earth or a somewhat large terrella, also a b a smaller terrella. There is set up above the north pole of the smaller terrella a spike larger than the pole b of the smaller terrella can raise, if it is turned round to the higher parts.
* And the pole a of the {106}smaller terrella has its strength from the larger, declining from the Zenith to the plane of the horizon or to the level. But now, if, leaving the terrella disposed in the same way, you bring a piece of iron to the lower and south pole, it will attract and retain a greater weight than the north pole could, if it were turned round to the lower parts. Which thing is demonstrated thus: let A be the Earth or a terrella; E the north pole or some place in some great latitude; B a rather large terrella above the Earth or a smaller terrella on the top of a larger; D its south pole. It is manifest that D (the south pole) attracts a larger piece of iron, C, than F (the north pole) will be able to, if it is turned round downward to the position D, toward the Earth or the terrella in the Northern regions.

Strength of small terrella near a larger

Magnetics acquire strength through magnetics, if they are properly placed according to their nature, in near neighbourhood and within the sphere of action. Wherefore when a terrella is placed on the Earth or on a terrella, so that its south pole is turned round toward the north pole, its north pole, however, turned away from the north pole, the influence and strength of {107}its poles are increased. And so the north pole of a terrella in such a position lifts up a larger spike than the south pole, if the south pole is turned away. Similarly the south pole in a proper and natural arrangement, acquiring strength from the Earth or from a larger terrella, attracts and retains larger rods of iron.
* In the other part of the terrestrial globe toward the South, as also in the Southern portion of a terrella, the reasoning is converse; for the south pole of the terrella being turned away is more robust, as also the north pole when turned round. The more a region on the Earth is distant from the equinoctial (as also in a larger terrella), the larger is the accession of strength perceived; near the equator, indeed, the difference is small, but on the equator itself null; at the poles finally it is greatest.


On a Perpetual Motion Machine, mentioned
by authors, by means of the attraction
of a loadstone.

Cardan writes that out of iron and the Herculean stone can be made a perpetual motion machine; not that he himself had ever seen one, but only conceived the idea from an account by Antonius de Fantis, of Treves. Such a machine he describes, Book 9, De Rerum Varietate. But they have been little practised in magnetic experiments who forge such things as that. For no magnetic attraction can be greater (by any skill or by any kind of instrument) than the retention. Things which are joined and those which are approaching near are retained with a greater force than those which are enticed and set in motion, and are moved; and that coition [mutual attraction aggregation] is, as we have shown above, a motion of both, not an attraction of one. Such a machine Peter Peregrinus feigned many centuries before or else depicted one which he had received from others, and one which was much better fitted for the purpose. Johannes Taysnier published it also, spoiled by wretched figures, and copied out the whole theory of it word for word. O that the gods would at length bring to a miserable end such fictitious, crazy, deformed labours, with which the minds of the studious are blinded!



How a more robust Loadstone may be

Very powerful loadstones sometimes lift into the air a weight of iron equal to their own; a weak one barely attracts a slender wire. Those therefore are more robust which appeal to and retain larger bodies, if there is no defect in their form, or the pole of the stone is not suitably moved up. Moreover, when placed in a boat a keener influence turns its own poles round more quickly to the poles of the Earth or the limits of variation on the horizon. One which performs its function more feebly indicates a defect and an effete nature. There must always be a similar preparation, a similar figure, and a like size; for in such as are very dissimilar and unlike, the experiment is doubtful. The method of testing the strength is the same also with a versorium [compass] in a place somewhat remote from a loadstone; for the one which is able to turn the versorium round at the greater distance, that one conquers and is held the more potent. Rightly also is the force of a loadstone weighed in a balance by B. Porta; a piece of loadstone is placed in one scale-pan, in the other just as much weight of something else, so that the scale-pans hang level. Soon a piece of iron lying on the table is adjusted so that it sticks to the loadstone placed in the scale, and they cling together most perfectly, according to their friendly points; into the other scale-pan sand is gradually thrown, and that until the scale in which the loadstone is placed is separated from the iron. Thus by weighing the weight of sand, the magnetic force becomes known. Similarly also it will be pleasing to try with another stone, in equilibrium, the weight of the sand being observed, and to find out the stronger by means of the weights of sand. Such is the experiment of Cardinal Cusan in his De Staticis, from whom it would seem that B. Porta learnt the experiment. The better loadstones turn themselves round more quickly toward the poles or points of variation; then they also lead along and turn round more quickly, according to the greater quantity and mass of wood, a boat and other stuff. In a declination instrument, the more powerful force of a loadstone is looked for and required. Those therefore are more lively when they get through their work readily, and pass through and come back again with speed, and swiftly at length settle at their own point. Languid and effete ones move more sluggishly, settle more tardily, adhere more uncertainly, and are easily disturbed from their possession.



Use of a Loadstone as it affects

By magnetic coition [mutual attraction aggregation] we test iron ore in a blacksmith’s forge. It is burnt, broken in pieces, washed and dried, in which way it lays down its alien humours; in the bits collected from the washing is placed a loadstone, which attracts the iron dust to itself; this, being brushed off with feathers, is received in a crucible, and the loadstone is again placed in the bits collected from the washing, and the dust wiped off, as long as any remains which it will attract to itself. This is then heated in the crucible along with sal nitri until it is liquid, and from this a small mass of iron is cast. But if the loadstone attracts the dust to itself quickly and readily, we conjecture that the iron ore is rich; if slowly, poor; if it seems altogether to reject it, there is very little iron in it or none at all. In like manner iron dust can be separated from another metal. Many tricks there are also, when iron is secretly applied to lighter bodies, and, being attracted by the motion of a loadstone which is kept out of sight, causes movements which are amazing to those who do not know the cause. Very many such indeed every ingenious mechanician will perform by sleight of hand, as if by incantations and jugglery.


On Cases of Attraction in other Bodies.

Very often the herd of philosophizers and plagiarists repeat from the records of others in natural philosophy opinions and errors about the attractions of various bodies; as that Diamond attracts iron, and snatches it away from a magnet; that there are various kinds or magnets, some which attract gold, others silver, brass, lead; even some which attract flesh, water, fishes. The flame of sulphur is said to seek iron and stones; so white naphtha is said to attract fire. I have said above that {110}inanimate natural bodies do not attract, and are not attracted by, others on the Earth, excepting magnetically or electrically. Wherefore it is not true that there are magnets which attract gold or other metals; because a magnetic substance attracts nothing but magnetic substances. Though Fracastorio says that he has shown a magnet attracting silver; if this were true, it must have happened on account of iron skilfully mixed with that silver or concealed in it, or else because nature (as she does sometimes, but rarely) had mixed iron with the silver; iron indeed is rarely mixed with silver by nature; silver with iron very rarely or never. Iron is mixed with silver by forgers of false coin or from the avarice of princes in the coining of money, as was the case with the denarius of Antony, provided that Pliny is recording a true incident. So Cardan (perhaps deceived by others) says that there is a certain kind of loadstone which attracts silver; he adds a most foolish test of this: "If therefore" (he says) "a slender rod of silver be steeped in that in which a magnetic needle has stood, it will turn toward silver (especially toward a large quantity) although it be buried; by this means anyone will be able easily to dig up concealed treasures" He adds that "it should be very good stone, such as he has not yet seen" Nor indeed will either he or anyone else ever see such a stone or such an experiment. Cardan brings forward an attraction of flesh, wrongly so named and very dissimilar from that of the loadstone; for his magnes creagus or flesh-magnet, from the experiment that it sticks to the lips, must be hooted out from the assembly of loadstones, or by all means from the family of things attractive. Lemnian earth, ruddle, and very many minerals do this, and yet they are fatuously said to attract. He will have it that there is another loadstone, as it were, a third species, into which, if a needle is driven and afterwards stuck into the body, it is not felt. But what has attraction to do with stupefaction, or stupor with a Philosopher’s intellect, when he is discoursing about attraction? There are many stones, both found in nature and made by art, which have the power of stupefying. Sulphur flame is said by some to attract, because it consumes certain metals by its power of penetration. So white naphtha attracts flame, because it gives off and exhales an inflammable vapour, on which account it is kindled at some distance, just as the smoke of a recently extinguished candle takes fire again from another flame; for fire creeps to fire through an inflammable medium. Why the sucking fish Echineis or the Remora should stay ships has been variously treated by Philosophers, who are often accustomed to fit this fable (as many others) to their theories, before they find out whether the thing is so in nature. Therefore, in order that they may support and agree with the fatuities of the ancients, they put forward even the most fatuous ratiocinations and ridiculous problems, cliffs that attract, where the {111}sucking fish tarry, and the necessity of some vacuum, I know not what, or how produced. Pliny and Julius Solinus make mention of a stone Chatochitis. They say that it attracts flesh, and keeps hold of the hands, just as a loadstone does iron, and amber chaff. But that happens only from a stickiness and from glue contained in it, since it sticks more easily to the hands when they are warm. Sagda or Sagdo, of the colour of a sard, is a precious stone mentioned by Pliny, Solinus, Albertus, and Evax; they describe its nature and relate, on the authority of others, that it specially attracts wood to itself. Some even babble that woods cannot be wrenched away except they are cut off. Some also narrate that a stone is found which grows pertinaciously into ships, in the same way as certain testacea on long voyages. But a stone [loadstone] does not attract because it sticks; and if it drew, it would certainly attract shreds electrically, Encelius saw in the hands of a sailor such a stone of feeble power, which would hardly attract even the smallest twigs; and in truth, not of the colour of the sard. So Diamond, Carbuncle, Crystal, and others do attract. I pass over other fabulous stones; Pantarbe, about which Philostratus writes that it attracts other stones to itself; Amphitane also, which attracts gold. Pliny in his origin of glass will have it that a loadstone is an attractor of glass, as well as of iron. For in his method of preparing glass, when he has indicated its nature, he subjoins this about loadstone. "Soon (such is the astute and resourceful craft) it was not content to have mixed natron; loadstone also began to be added, since it was thought to attract to itself the liquor of glass (as it does iron)" Georgius Agricola writes that to the material of glass (sand and natron) one part also of loadstone is added. "Because that force is believed, in our times just as in former times, to attract the liquor of glass to itself, as it attracts iron to itself, purges it when drawn, and makes clear glass from green or muddy; but the fire afterwards burns up the loadstone" It is true indeed that some sort of magnes (as the magnesia of the glass-makers imbued with no magnetic powers) is sometimes put in and mixed with the material of the glass; not, however, because it attracts glass. But when a loadstone is burnt, it does not lay hold of iron at all, nor is iron when red-hot allured by any loadstone; and loadstone also is burnt up by more powerful fires and loses its attractive potency. Nor is this a function of loadstone alone in the glass furnaces; but also of certain pyrites and of some easily combustible iron ores, which are the only ones used by our glass-makers, who make clear, bright glass. They are mixed with the sand, ashes, and natron (just as they are accustomed to make additions in the case of metallic ores whilst they are smelted), so that when the material slows down into glass, the green and muddy colour of the glass may be purged by the penetrating heat. For no other material becomes so hot, {112}or bears the fire for such a convenient time, until the material of the glass is perfectly fluid, and is at the same time burnt up by that ardent fire. It happens, however, sometimes, that on account of the magnetic stone, the magnesia, or the ore, or the pyrites, the glass has a dusky colour, when they resist the fire too much and are not burnt up, or are put in in too great quantity. Wherefore manufacturers are seeking for a stone suitable for them, and are observing also more diligently the proportion of the mixture. Badly therefore did the unskilful philosophy of Pliny impose upon Georgius Agricola and the more recent writers, so that they thought the loadstone was wanted by glass-makers on account of its magnetic strength and attraction. But Scaliger in De Subtilitate ad Cardanum, in making diamond attract iron, when he is discussing magnetics, wanders far from the truth, unless it be that diamond attracts iron electrically, as it attracts wood, straws, and all other minute bodies when it is rubbed. Fallopius reckons that quicksilver attracts metals by reason of an occult property, just as a loadstone iron, amber chaff. But when quicksilver enters metals, it is wrongly called attraction. For metals imbibe quicksilver, just as clay water; nor do they do this unless they are touching, for quicksilver does not allure gold or lead to itself from afar, but they remain motionless in their places.


On Bodies which mutually repel one another.

Writers who have discoursed on the forces of bodies which attract others have also spoken about the powers of bodies which repel, but especially those who have instituted classes for natural objects on the basis of sympathy and antipathy. Wherefore it would seem necessary for us to speak also about the mutual strife of bodies, so that published errors should not creep further, and be received by all to the ruin of true philosophy. They say that, just as like things attract for the sake of preservation, so unlike and contrary things for the same purpose mutually repel and put one another to flight. This is evident in the reaction of many things, but it is most manifest in the case of plants and animals, which attract kindred and familiar things, and in like manner reject foreign and unsuitable things. But in other bodies there is not the same reason, so that when they are separated, they should come together by mutually {113}attracting one another. Animals take food (as everything which grows), and draw it into their interior; they absorb the nourishment by certain parts and instruments (through the action and operation of the anima). They enjoy by natural instinct only the things set in front of them and near them, not things placed afar off; and this without any alien force or motion. Wherefore animals neither attract any bodies nor drive them away. Water does not repel oil (as some think) because the oil floats on water; nor does water repel mud, because the mud, if mixed in water, settles down in time. This is a separation of unlike bodies or such as are not perfectly mixed as respects the material; the separated bodies nevertheless remain joined without any natural strife. Wherefore a muddy sediment settles quietly on the bottom of vessels, and oil remains on the top of the water and is not sent further away. A drop of water remains intact on a dry surface, and is not expelled from the dry substance. Wrongly therefore do those who discourse on these matters infer an antipathy (that is, the force of repelling by contrary passions); for there is no repelling force in them; and repulsion comes from action, not from passion. But their greek vocables please them too much. We, however, must inquire whether there is any body which drives anything else further off without material impetus, as a loadstone attracts. But a loadstone seems even to repel loadstone. For the pole of one loadstone repels the pole of another, which does not agree with it according to nature; by repelling, it turns it round in an orbit so that they may exactly agree according to their nature. But if a somewhat weak loadstone, floating freely on water, cannot readily be turned round on account of impediments, the whole loadstone is repelled and sent further away from the other. All electrics attract all things: they never repel or propel anything at all. As to what is related about certain plants (as about the cucumber, which turns aside when oil is applied to it), there is a material change from the vicinity, not a hidden antipathy. But when they show a candle flame put against a cold solid substance (as iron) turn away to the side, and allege antipathy as the cause, they say nothing. The reason of this they will see clearer than the day, when we discourse on what heat is. But Fracastorio’s opinion that a loadstone can be found, which would drive iron away, on account of some opposing principle lurking in the iron, is foolish.






On referring to the earlier books it will be found shown that a loadstone has its poles, and that a piece of iron has also poles, and rotation, and a certain polarity; finally, that the loadstone and the iron direct their poles toward the poles of the Earth. Now, however, we must make clear the causes of these things and their admirable workings, pointed out indeed before, but not proven. All those who have written before us about these rotations have left us their opinions so briefly, so meagrely, and with such hesitating judgment that they seem hardly likely ever to persuade anyone, or even to be able to satisfy themselves; and all their petty reasons are rejected by the more prudent as useless, uncertain, and absurd, being supported by no proofs or arguments; whence also magnetic science, being all the more neglected and not understood, has been in exile.
* The true south pole of a loadstone, not the north (as all before us used to think), if the loadstone is placed in its boat on the surface of water, turns to the North; in the case of a piece of iron also, whether it has been empowered by a loadstone or not, the south end moves toward the North. An oblong piece of iron of three or four digits’ length, when skilfully rubbed with a loadstone, quickly turns north and south. Wherefore mechanicians, taking a piece of iron prepared in this way, balance it on a pin in a box, and fit it up with the requisites of a sun-dial; or they prepare the versorium [compass] out of two curved pieces of iron with their ends touching one another, so that the motion may be more constant. In this way the mariners’ versorium is arranged, which is an instrument beneficial, useful, and auspicious to sailors for indicating, like a good genius, safety and the right way. But it must be understood on the threshold of this argument (before we proceed further) that these pointings of the loadstone or of iron are not perpetually made {116}toward the true poles of the world, do not always seek those fixed and definite points, or remain on the line of the true meridian; but usually diverge some distance to the East or to the West. Sometimes also at certain places on land or sea they do indicate exactly the true poles. This discrepancy is called the Variation of the iron or of the loadstone; and since this is brought about by other causes, and is merely a certain disturbance and perversion of the true direction, we are directing our attention in this place to the true direction of the compass and of the magnetic iron (which would be equally toward the true poles and on the true meridian everywhere on the Earth, unless other obstacles and an untoward pervertency hindered it). Of its variation and the cause of the perversion we shall treat in the next book. Those who wrote about the world and about natural philosophy a century ago, especially those remarkable elementary philosophers, and all those who trace their knowledge and training to them down to our own times, those men, I say, who represented the Earth as always at rest and, as it were, a useless weight, placed in the centre of the universe at an equal distance from the sky on every side, and its nature to be simple, imbued only with the qualities of dryness and cold, sought diligently for the causes of all things and of all effects in the heavens, the stars, the planets, in fire, air, waters and substances of mixed natures. Never indeed did they recognize that the terrestrial globe had, besides dryness and cold, some special, effective, and predominant properties, strengthening, directing, and moving the globe itself through its whole mass and its very deepest vitals; nor did they ever inquire whether there were any such. For this reason the crowd of philosophizers, in order to discover the reasons of the magnetic motions, called up causes lying remote and far away. And one man seems to me beyond all others worthy of censure, Martin Cortes, who, since there was no cause which could satisfy him in the whole of nature, dreamed that there was a point of magnetic attraction beyond the heavens, which attracted iron. Peter Peregrinus thinks that the direction arises from the poles of the sky. Cardan thought that the turning of iron was caused by a star in the tail of the Great Bear; Bessard, the Frenchman, opines that a magnetic turns toward the pole of the zodiack. Marsilius Ficinus will have it that the loadstone follows its own Arctic pole; but that iron follows the loadstone, straws amber; whilst this perhaps follows the Antarctic pole—a most foolish dream. Others have recourse to I know not what magnetic rocks and mountains. Thus it is always customary with mortals, that they despise things near home, whilst foreign and distant things are dear and prized. But we study the Earth itself and observe in it the cause of so great an effect. The Earth, as the common mother, has these causes inclosed in her innermost parts; in accordance with her rule, {117}position, condition, polarity, poles, equator, horizons, meridians, centre, circumference, diameter, and the nature of the whole interior of her substance, must all magnetic motions be discussed. The Earth has been ordered by the highest Artificer and by nature in such a way that it should have parts dissimilar in position, bounds of the whole and complete body, ennobled by certain functions, by which it might itself remain in a definite direction. For just as a loadstone, when it is floated on water in a suitable vessel, or is hung by slender threads in the air, by its implanted polarity conforms its poles to the poles of the common mother in accordance with magnetic laws; so if the Earth were to deviate from its natural direction and its true position in the universe, or if its poles were to be drawn aside (if this were possible) toward the sun-rising or the sun-setting or toward any other points whatsoever in the visible firmament, they would return again to the north and south by magnetic motion, and would settle at the same points at which they are now fixed. The reason why the terrestrial globe seems to remain more steadily with the one pole toward those parts and directed toward the Cynosure, and why its pole diverges by 23 degrees 29 minutes, with a certain variation not sufficiently investigated as yet by Astronomers, from the poles of the ecliptic, depends on its magnetic power. The causes of the precession of the equinoxes and the progression of the fixed stars, and of the change, moreover, in the declinations of the sun and of the tropics, must be sought from magnetic influences; so that neither that absurd motion of trepidation of Thebit Bencora, which is at great variance with observations, nor the monstrous superstructures of other heavens, are any longer needed. A magnetic iron turns to the position of the Earth, and if disturbed ever so often returns always to the same points. For in the far regions of the north, in a latitude of 70 or 80 degrees (to which at the milder seasons of the year our sailors are accustomed to penetrate without injury from the cold); in the regions halfway between the poles; on the equator in the torrid zone; and again in all the maritime places and lands of the south, in the highest latitude which has thus far been reached, always the iron magnetic finds its way, and points to the poles in the same manner (excepting for the difference of variation); on this side of the equator (where we live), and on the other side to the south, less well known, but yet in some measure explored by sailors: and always the lily of the compass points toward the North. This we have had confirmed by the most eminent captains, and also by very many of the more intelligent sailors. These facts have been pointed out to me and confirmed by our most illustrious Sea-god, Francis Drake, and by another circumnavigator of the globe, Thomas Candish; our terrella [magnetic model Earth] also indicates the same thing. This is demonstrated in the case of the {118}Versorium on loadstone spherical stone [loadstone], whose poles are A and B; an iron wire CD, which is placed upon the stone, always points directly along the meridian toward the poles AB, whether the centre of the wire is on the central line or equator of the stone, or on any other part situated between the equator and the poles, as at H, G, F, E.
* So the cusp of a versorium on this side of the equator points toward the north; on the other side the cross is always directed toward the south; but the cusp or lily does not, as someone has thought, turn toward the south beyond the equator. Some inexperienced people indeed, who in distant parts beyond the equator have seen the versorium sometimes become more sluggish and less prompt, thought that the distance from the arctic pole or from the magnetic rocks was the cause of this. But they are very much mistaken; for it is as powerful, and adjusts itself as quickly to the meridian or to the point of variation in the southern as in the northern parts of the Earth. Yet sometimes the motion appears slower, namely, when the supporting pin by lapse of time and long voyaging has become somewhat blunt, or the magnetic iron parts have lost, by age or rust, some of their acquired power. This may also be shown experimentally by the magnetic iron of a small sun-dial placed on a very short pin set perpendicular to the surface of the stone, for the iron when touched by a loadstone points toward the poles of the stone and leaves the poles of the Earth; for the general and remoter cause is overcome by the particular and powerful cause which is so near at hand. Magnetic bodies have of themselves an inclination toward the position of the Earth and are influenced by a terrella. Two equal stones of equal strength adjust themselves to a terrella in accordance with magnetic laws. The iron conceives power from the loadstone and is influenced by the magnetic motions. Wherefore true direction is the motion of a magnetic body in regard to the polarity of the Earth, the natures of both agreeing and working together toward a natural position and unity. For indeed we have found out at length, by many experiments and in many ways, that there is a disposing nature, moving them together by reason of their various positions by one form that is common {119}to both, and that in all magnetic substances there is attraction and repulsion. For both the stone [loadstone] and the magnetic iron arrange themselves by inclination and declination, according to the common position of their nature and the Earth. And the force of the Earth by the power of the whole, by attracting toward the poles, and repelling, arranges all magnetics which are unfixed and loose. For in all cases all magnetics conform themselves to the globe of the Earth in the same ways and by the same laws by which another loadstone or any magnetics do to a terrella.


The Directive or Versorial Activity (which we call
polarity): what it is, how it exists in the loadstone;
and in what way it is acquired when innate.

Directive force, which is also called by us polarity, is a force which spreads by an innate power from the equator in both directions toward the poles. That power, inclining in both directions towards the termini, causes the motion of direction, and produces a constant and permanent position in Nature, not only in the Earth itself but also in all magnetics. Loadstone is found either in veins of its own or in iron mines, when the homogeneous substance of the Earth, either having or assuming a primary form, is changed or concreted into a stony substance, which besides the primary qualities of its nature has various dissimilitudes and differences in different quarries and mines, as if from different matrices, and very many secondary qualities and varieties in its substance. A loadstone which is dug out in this breaking up of the Earth’s surface and of protuberances upon it, whether created complete in itself (as sometimes in China) or in a larger vein, is fashioned by the Earth and follows the nature of the whole. All the interior parts of the Earth mutually conspire together in combination and produce direction toward north and south. But those magnetic bodies which come together in the uppermost parts of the Earth are not true united parts of the whole, but appendages and parts joined on, imitating the nature of the whole; wherefore when floating free on water, they dispose themselves just in the same way as they are placed in the terrestrial system of nature.
* We had a large loadstone of twenty pounds weight, dug up and cut out of its vein, after we had first observed and marked its ends; then after it was dug out, we placed it in a boat on water, so that it could turn freely; then immediately the face which had looked toward the north in the quarry began to {120}turn to the north on the waves and at length settled toward that point. For that face which looked toward the north in the quarry is the southern, and is attracted by the northern parts of the Earth, magnetic ore in the same way as pieces of iron which acquire their polarity from the Earth. About this point we intend to speak afterwards under change of polarity. But there is a different rotation of the internal parts of the Earth, which are perfectly united to the Earth and which are not separated from the true substance of the Earth by the interposition of bodies as are loadstones in the upper portion of the Earth, which is maimed, corrupt, and variable. Let A B be a piece of magnetic ore; between which and the uniform globe of the Earth lie various soils or mixtures which separate the ore to a certain extent from the globe of the true Earth. It is therefore influenced by the forces of the Earth just in the same way as C D, a piece of iron, in the air. So the face B of some ore or of that piece of it is moved toward the north pole G, just as the extremity C of the iron, not A or D. But the condition of the piece E F is different, which piece is produced in one connected mass with the whole, and is not separated from it by any earthy mixture. For if the part E F were taken out and floated freely in a boat by itself, it is not E that would be directed toward the north pole, but F. So in those substances which acquire their polarity in the air, C is the south part and is seen to be attracted by the north pole G. In the case of others which are found in the upper unstable portion of the Earth, B is the south, and in like manner inclines toward the north pole.
* But if those pieces deep down which are produced along with the Earth are dug up, they turn about on a different plan. For F turns toward the northern parts of the Earth, because it is the south part; E toward the south, because it is the north. So of a magnetic body, C D, placed close to the Earth, the end C turns toward the north pole; of one that is adnate to it B A, B inclines to the North; of one that is innate in it, E F, E turns toward the south pole; which is confirmed by the {121}Magnetic action of material of terrella following demonstration, and comes about of necessity according to all magnetic laws. Let there be a terrella [magnetic model Earth] with poles A B; from its mass cut out a small part E F; if this be suspended by a fine thread above the hole or over some other place, E does not seek the pole A but the pole B, and F turns to A; very differently from a rod of iron C D; because C, touching some northern part of the terrella, being magnetically carried away makes a turn round to A, not to B.
* And yet here it should be observed, that if the pole A of the terrella were moved toward the Earth’s south, the end E of the piece cut out by itself, if not brought too near to the stone, would also move of itself toward the south. But the end C of the piece of iron, placed beyond its sphere of action, will turn toward the north. The part E F of the terrella, whilst in the mass, produced the same direction as the whole; but when it is separated and suspended by a thread, E turns to B, and F to A. Movement of cut material of terrella {122}So parts having the same polarity with the whole, when separated, are impelled in the contrary direction; for contrary parts solicit contrary parts. Nor yet is this a true contrariety, but the highest concordancy, and the true and genuine conformation of magnetic bodies in the system of nature, if they shall have been divided and separated: for the parts thus divided should be raised some distance from the whole, as will be made clear afterwards. Magnetic substances seek a unity as regards form; they do not so much respect their own mass.
* Wherefore the part F E is not attracted into its former bed; but when once it is unsettled and at a distance, it is solicited by the opposite pole. But if the small piece F E is placed back again in its bed or brought close to, without any substances intervening, it acquires its former combination, and, as a part of the whole once more united, accords with the whole and sticks readily in its former position; and E remains toward A, and F toward B, and they settle steadily in their mother’s lap.
* The reasoning is the same when the stone is divided into equal parts through the poles. Movement of divided terrelle A spherical stone is divided into two equal parts along the axis A B;
* whether therefore the surface A B is in the one part facing upward (as in the former diagram) or lying on its face in both parts (as in the latter), the end A tends toward B. But it must also be understood that the point A is not carried with a definite aim always toward the point B, because in consequence of the division the polarity proceeds to other points, as to F G, as appears in the fourteenth chapter of this book. And L M are now the axes in each, and A B is no longer the axis; for magnetic bodies, as soon as they are divided, become single magnetic wholes; and they have {123}poles in accordance with their mass, new poles arising at each end in consequence of the division. Yet the axis and the poles always follow the leading of a meridian; because that force passes along the meridians of the stone from the equator to the poles, by an everlasting rule, the inborn power of the substance agreeing thereto from the long and lasting position and the facing of a suitable substance toward the poles of the Earth; by whose strength continued through many centuries it has been fashioned; toward fixed and determined parts of which it has remained since its origin firmly and constantly turned.


How Iron acquires polarity through
a Loadstone, and how that polarity
is lost and changed.

Friction between an oblong piece of iron and a loadstone imparts to the former magnetic powers, which are not corporeal nor inherent and persistent in any body, as we showed in the discussion on coition [mutual attraction aggregation]. It is plain that the iron, when it has been rubbed hard with one end and applied to the stone for a pretty long time, receives no stony nature, acquires no weight; for if, before the iron is touched by the stone, you weigh it in a small and very exact goldsmith’s balance, you will see after the rubbing that it has exactly the same weight, neither diminished nor increased.
* But if you wipe the iron with cloths after it has been touched, or wash it in water, or scour it with sand or on a grindstone, still it in nowise lays aside its acquired strength. For the force is spread through the whole body and conceived in the inmost parts, and cannot in any way be washed or wiped away. Let an experiment then be made in fire, that untamed tyrant of nature. Take a piece of iron of the length of a palm and the thickness of a goosequill pen; let this iron be passed through a suitable round cork and placed on the surface of water, and observe the end which turns to the north; rub this particular end with the true south end of a loadstone; the iron so rubbed turns toward the south.
* Remove the cork, and place the end which was excited in the fire until the iron is just red-hot; when it is cooled, it will retain the strength of the loadstone and the polarity, though it will not be so prompt, whether because the force of the fire had not yet continued long enough to overcome all its {124}strength, or because the whole iron was not heated to redness, for the power is diffused through the whole. Remove the cork a second time, and putting the whole iron in the fire, blow the fire with the bellows, so that it may be all aglow, and let it remain a little longer time red-hot;
* when cooled (so, however, that, whilst it is cooling, it does not rest in one position), place it again on the water with the cork, and you will see that it has lost the polarity which it had acquired from the stone. From these experiments it is clear how difficult it is for the property of polarity implanted by the loadstone to be destroyed. But if a small loadstone had remained as long in the same fire, it would have lost its strength. Iron, because it does not so easily perish, and is not so easily burnt up as very many loadstones, retains its strength more stably, and when it is lost can recover it again from a loadstone; but a loadstone when burnt does not revive. But now that iron, which has been deprived of its magnetic form, moves in a different way from any other piece of iron, for it has lost its polar nature; and whereas before the touch of the loadstone it may have had a motion toward the north, and after contact toward the south; now it turns to no definite and particular point;
* but afterwards, very slowly and after a long time, it begins to turn in a doubtful fashion toward the poles of the Earth (having acquired some power from the Earth). I have said that the cause of direction was twofold, one implanted in the stone and iron, but the other in the Earth, implanted by the disponent power; and for that reason (the distinction of poles and the polarity in the iron having now been destroyed) a slow and weak directive power is acquired anew from the polarity of the Earth. We may see, therefore, with what difficulty and only by the application of hot fires and by long ignition of the iron heated to softness, the imparted magnetic power is eradicated. When this ignition has overcome the acquired polarity, and it has been now completely subdued and not awakened again, that iron is left unsettled and utterly incapable of direction. But we must further inquire how iron remains affected by polarity. It is manifest that it strongly affects and changes the nature of the iron, because the presence of a loadstone attracts the iron to itself with an altogether wonderful readiness. Nor is it only the part that is rubbed, but on account of the rubbing (on one end only) the whole iron is affected together, and gains by it a permanent though an unequal power. This is demonstrated as follows.
* Rub an iron wire on the end so that it is empowered, and it will turn towards the north; afterward cut off some portion of it; you will see that it still turns toward the north (as before), but more feebly. For it must be understood that the loadstone excites a steady polarity in the whole iron (if the rod be not too long) more vigorous throughout the whole mass in a shorter bar, and as long as the iron remains touching the loadstone a little {125}stronger. But when the iron is separated from contact with it, then it becomes much weaker, especially in the end that was not touched. Just as a long rod, one end of which is placed in the fire and heated, grows exceedingly hot at that end, less so in the parts adjoining and in the middle, whilst at the other end it can be held in the hand, and that end is only warm; so the magnetic power diminishes from the empowered end to the other end; but it is present there instantly, and does not enter after an interval of time nor successively, as the heat in the iron; for as soon as a piece of iron has been touched by a loadstone it is empowered throughout its whole length.
* For the sake of experiment, let there be a rod of iron 4 or 5 digits long, untouched by a loadstone; as soon as you touch one end only with a loadstone, the opposite end immediately, or in the twinkling of an eye, by the power that it has conceived, repels or attracts a versorium [compass], if it be applied to it ever so quickly.


Why Iron touched by a Loadstone acquires an opposite
polarity, and why iron touched by the true North side of a stone
turns to the North of the Earth, by the true South side
to the South; and does not turn to the South when rubbed
by the North point of the stone, and when by
the South to the North, as all who have
written on the loadstone have
falsely supposed.

Demonstration has already been given that the north part of a loadstone does not attract the north part of another stone, but the south, and repels the north part of another stone from its north side when it is applied to it. That general magnet, the terrestrial globe, disposes iron touched by a loadstone in the same way, and likewise magnetic iron stirs this same iron by its implanted strength, and excites motion and controls it.
* For whether the comparison and experiment has been made between loadstone and loadstone, or loadstone and iron, or iron and iron, or the Earth and loadstone, or the Earth and iron conformed by the Earth or strengthened by the power of a loadstone, the strength and inclinations of each must mutually harmonize and accord in the same way. But the reason must be sought, why a piece of iron when touched by a loadstone acquires a disposition to motion toward the opposite pole of the Earth, and not toward that {126}pole of the Earth to which that pole of that loadstone turned by which it was empowered. It has been pointed out that iron and loadstone are of one primary nature; when the iron is joined to the loadstone, they become, as it were, one body, and not only is the end of the iron changed, but the remaining parts also are affected along with it. A, the north pole of a loadstone, is placed against the cusp of a piece of iron; the cusp of the iron has now become the south part of the iron, Sense of magnetisation because it is touching the north part of the stone; the cross-end of the iron has become the north. For if that contiguous magnetic substance be separated from the pole of the terrella [spherical loadstone], or from the parts near the pole, the one end (or the end which, whilst the connection was kept up, was touching the north part of the stone) is the south, whilst the other is the north. So also if a versorium [compass] empowered by a loadstone be divided into ever so many parts (however small), those parts when separated will, it is clear, arrange themselves in the same disposition as that in which they were disposed before, when they were undivided. Wherefore whilst the cusp remains over the north pole A, it is not the south end, but is, as it were, part of a whole; but when it is taken away from the stone, it is the south end, because when rubbed it tended toward the northern parts of the stone, and the cross (the other end of the versorium) is the north end. The loadstone and the iron make one body; B is the south pole of the whole; C (that is, the cross) is the north end of the whole; divide the iron also at E, and E will be the south end with respect to the cross; and E will likewise be the north end in respect to B. A is the true north pole of the stone and is attracted by the south pole of the Earth. The end of the iron which is touched by the true north part of the stone becomes the south end, and turns to A, the north [north pole] of the stone, if it be near; or if it be some distance from the stone it turns to the north [north pole] of the Earth.
* So always iron which is touched (if it is free and unrestrained) tends to the opposite part of the Earth from that part to which the loadstone that touched it tends. Nor does it make any difference how it is rubbed, whether straight up or slanting in some way. For in any case the polarity flows into the iron, {127}All the cusps at B acquire the same
  polarity provided it is touched by either end. Wherefore all the cusps at B acquire the same polarity, after they are separated, but opposite to that pole of the stone; wherefore also they are united to the loadstone at the pole B; and all the crosses in the present figure have the opposite polarity to the pole E, and are moved and laid hold of by E when they are in a convenient position. It is exactly the same in the case of the long stone F H divided at G; F and H always move, both in the whole and in the divided stone, to opposite poles of the Earth, and O and P mutually attract one another, the one of them being the north, the other the south. For, supposing H to have been the south in the whole stone and F the north, P will be the north with respect to H in the divided stone, and O the south with respect to F. So also F and H mutually incline to a connection, if they are turned a very little toward one another, and run together at length and join. But supposing the division of the stone to have been meridional (that is, according to the line of a meridian, not of any parallel circle), then they turn Stone divided on a
  meridian round, and A attracts B, and the end B is attracted to A and attracts A, until, being turned round, they are connected and cemented together; because magnetic attraction is not made along the parallels, but meridionally.
* For this reason pieces of iron placed on a terrella whose poles are A B, near the equator along parallels, do not combine or stick together firmly: {128}Opposite magnetisation
* But if applied to one another along a meridian they are immediately joined firmly together, not only on and near the stone, but even at some distance within the force of the controlling sphere. Thus they are joined and cemented together at E, but not at C in the other figure. For the opposite ends C and F meet and adhere together in the case of the iron just in the same way as A and B before in the case of the stone. But they are opposite ends, because the pieces of iron proceed from the opposite sides and poles of the terrella; and C in reference to the north pole A is south, and F is north in reference to the south pole B.
* In like manner also they are cemented together, if the rod C (being not too long) be moved further toward A, and F toward B, and they be joined together over the terrella, like A and B of the divided stone above.
* But now if the cusp A, which has been touched by a loadstone, be the south end, and you were to touch and rub with this the cusp of another iron needle B, which has not been touched, B will be north, and will point to the south. But if you were to touch with the north point B any other iron needle, still new, on its cusp, this again will be south, and will turn to the north. The iron not only receives the necessary strength from the loadstone, if it be a good loadstone, but also imparts its acquired strength to another piece of iron, and the second to a third (always in strict accordance with magnetic laws). In all these demonstrations of ours it should always be borne in mind that the poles of a stone, as well as those of iron, whether touched or untouched, are always in fact and by nature opposite to the pole toward which they point and are so designated by us, as we have laid down above.
* For in them all it is always the north which tends to the south, either of the Earth or of the stone, and the south which tends to the north of the stone. North parts are attracted by the southern of the Earth; so in the boat they {129}tend toward the south. A piece of iron touched by the northern parts of a loadstone becomes south at the one end and tends always (if it is near and within the range of the loadstone) to the north of the stone, and if it be free and left to itself at some distance from the stone, it tends to the northern part of the Earth. The north pole A of a loadstone turns to G, the south of the Earth; a versorium touched at its cusp by the part A follows A, because it has become south.
* But the versorium C, placed farther away from the loadstone, turns its cusp to F, the north of the Earth, because the cusp has become south by contact with the north part of the stone. So the ends touched by the north part of the stone are made south, or are empowered [or magnetized] with a southern polarity, and tend toward the north of the Earth; those touched by the south pole are made north, or are empowered with a northern force, and turn to the south of the Earth.

Versoria orientated by the terrella or the Earth


On the Touching of pieces of Iron
of divers shapes.

Bars of iron, when touched by a loadstone, have one end north, the other south, and in the middle is the limit of polarity, like the equinoctial circle on the globe of a terrella or on an iron globe.
* But when an iron ring is rubbed on one side on a loadstone, then the one pole is on the place that was in contact, whilst the other is at the opposite point; and the magnetic power divides the ring into two parts by a natural distinction which, though not in shape, yet in power and effect is like an equator. But if a thin straight rod be bent into a ring without any welding or union of the ends, and be touched in the middle by a loadstone, both ends will be of the same polarity.
* Let a ring be taken which is whole and continuous, and which has been touched by a loadstone at one place, and let it be divided afterward {130}at the opposite point and straightened out, both ends will also be of the same polarity, no otherwise than a thin rod touched in the middle or a ring not coherent at the joint.


What seems an Opposing Motion in Magnetics
is a proper motion toward unity.

Division of a magnetic body

In things magnetic nature always tends to unity, not merely to confluence and agglomeration, but to harmony; in such a way that the rotational and disponent faculty should not be disturbed, as is variously shown in the following example. Let C D be an entire body of some magnetic substance, in which C tends to B, the north of the Earth, and D to the south, A. Then divide it in the middle in its equator, and it will be E that is tending toward A, and F tending toward B.
* For just as in the undivided body, so in the divided, nature aims at these bodies being united; the end E again joins with F harmoniously and eagerly and they stick together, but E is never joined to D, nor F to C; for then C must be turned contrary to nature toward A, the south, or D toward B, the north, which is foreign to them and incongruous. Separate the stone in the place where it is cut and turn D round to C; they harmonize and combine excellently. For D is tending to the south, as before, and C to the north; E and F, parts which were cognate in the ore, are now widely separated, for they do not move together on account of material affinity, but they take their motion and inclination from their form. So the ends, whether joined or divided, tend magnetically in the same way to the Earth’s poles in the first figure where there is one whole, or divided as in the second figure;
* and F E in the second figure is a perfect magnetic joined together into one body and C D, just as it was primarily produced in its ore, and F E in its boat, turn in {131}this way to the poles of the Earth and are conformed to them.
* This harmony of the magnetic form is shown also in the forms of plants. Let A B be a twig from a branch of osier or other tree which sprouts easily. Let A be the upper part, B the lower part toward the root; divide it at C D; I say that the end D, if grafted again to C by the primer’s art, grows to it; just as also if B is grafted to A, they grow together and germinate. But D being grafted on A, or C on B, they are at variance, and never grow into one another, but one of them dies on account of the inverted and inharmonious arrangement, since the vegetative force, which moves in one way, is now impelled in opposite directions.

An analogy in tree grafting


A determined polarity and a disponent Faculty are what
arrange magnetics, not a force, attracting or pulling them
together, nor merely strongish coition [mutual attraction aggregation] or unition.

Snouts raised obliquely


In the neighbourhood of the equinoctial A there is no coition [mutual attraction aggregation] of the ends of a piece of iron with the terrella; at the poles there is the strongest. The greater the distance from the equinoctial, the stronger is the coition [mutual attraction aggregation] with the stone itself, and with any part of it, not with its pole alone. Yet pieces of iron are not raised up on account of some peculiar attracting force or a stronger combined force, but on account of that common directing or conforming and rotating force;
* nor indeed is a spike in the part about B, even one that is very small and of no weight, raised up to the perpendicular by the strongest terrella, but cleaves to it obliquely.
* Also just as a terrella attracts magnetic bodies variously with dissimilar forces, so also an iron snout placed on the stone obtains a different potency in proportion to the latitude, just as a snout at L by its firmer connection resists a greater weight more stoutly than one at M, and at M than at N. But neither does the snout raise the spike to the perpendicular except at the poles, as is shown in the figure.
* A snout at L may hold and lift from the Earth two ounces of iron in one piece; yet it is not strong enough to raise an iron wire of two grains weight to the perpendicular, which would happen if the polarity arose on account of a stronger attraction, or rather coition [mutual attraction aggregation] or unition.


Of Discords between pieces of Iron upon the same pole
of a loadstone, and how they can agree and
stand joined together.

* Suppose two iron wires or a pair of needles stuck on the pole of a terrella; though they ought to stand perpendicularly, they mutually repel one another at the upper end, and produce the appearance of a fork; and if one end be forcibly impelled toward the other, the other declines and bends away from association with it, as in the following figure. Spikes raised obliquely
  due to their nearness {133}A and B, iron spikes, adhere obliquely upon the pole on account of their nearness to one another; either alone would otherwise stand erect and perpendicular. For the extremities A B, being of the same polarity, mutually abhor and fly one another. For if C be the north pole of the terrella, A and B are also north ends; but the ends which are joined to and held at the pole C are both south.
* But if those spikes be a little longer (as, for example, of two digits length) and be joined by force, they adhere together and unite in a friendly style, and are not separated without force. For they are magnetically welded, and there are now no longer two distinct ends, but one end and one body; no less than a wire which is doubled and set up perpendicularly.
* But here is seen also another subtile point, that if those spikes were shorter, not as much as the breadth of one digit, or even the length of a barleycorn, they are in no way willing to harmonize or to stand straight up at the same time, because naturally in shorter wires the polarity is stronger in the ends which are distant from the terrella and the magnetic discord more vehement than in long ones. Wherefore they in no way admit of an intimate association and connection.

Wires suspended near a pole

* Likewise if those lighter pieces of iron or iron wires be suspended, hanging, as A and B, from a very fine silk thread, not twisted but braided, distant from the stone the length of a single barleycorn, then the opposing ends, A and B, being situated within the sphere of action above the pole, keep a little away from one another for the same reason; except when they are very near the pole of the stone C, the stone then attracting them more strongly toward one end.



Figures illustrating direction and showing varieties
of rotations.

Versorium on loadstone

Passing from the probable cause of motion toward fixed points (according to magnetic laws and principles), it remains for us to indicate those motions. Above a round loadstone (whose poles are A, B) let a magnetic needle [compass] be placed whose cusp has been empowered by the pole A; that cusp is certainly directed toward A, and is strongly attracted by A; because, having been touched by A, it is in true harmony with A, and combines with it; and yet it is called contrary, because when the versorium is separated from the stone, it is seen to be moved toward the opposite part of the Earth to that toward which the pole A of the loadstone is moved. For if A be the north pole of the terrella, the cusp is the south end of the needle, of which the other end (namely, the cross) is pointed to B; so B is the south pole of the loadstone, but the cross is the north end of the versorium.
* So also the cusp is attracted by E, F, G, H, and by every part of a meridian, from the equator toward the pole, by the faculty disponent; and when the versorium is on the same parts of the meridian, the cusp is directed toward A. For it is not the point A that turns the versorium toward it, but the whole loadstone; as also the whole Earth does, in the turning of loadstones to the Earth.

Directions above the body of a loadstone

Figures illustrating magnetic directions in a right sphere of stone [loadstone], and in the right sphere of the Earth, as well as the polar directions to the perpendicular of the poles. All these cusps have been touched by the pole A; all the cusps are turned toward A, excepting that one which is repelled by B.


Directions above the body of an oblique loadstone

Figures illustrating horizontal directions above the body of a loadstone. All the cusps that have been made south by rubbing on the north pole, or some place round the north pole A, turn toward the pole A, and turn away from the south pole B, toward which all the crosses look.
* I call the direction horizontal, because it is arranged along the plane of the horizon; for nautical and horological instruments are so constructed that the iron hangs or is supported in equilibrium on the point of a sharp pin, which prevents the dipping of the versorium [compass], about which we intend to speak later. And in this way it is of the greatest use to man, indicating and distinguishing all the points of the horizon and the winds. Otherwise on every oblique sphere (whether of stone or the Earth) versoria and all magnetic substances would have a dip by their own nature below the horizon; and at the poles the directions would be perpendicular, which appears in our discussion On Declination.

Terrella cut in two at the equator

A terrella [magnetic model Earth] cut in two at the equator; and all the cusps have been touched by the pole A. The points at the centre of the Earth, and between the two parts of the terrella which has been cut in two through the plane of the equator, {136}are directed as in the present diagram. This would also happen in the same way if the division of the stone were through the plane of a tropic, and the mutual separation of the divided parts and the interval between them were the same as before, when the loadstone was divided through the plane of the equator, and the parts separated. For the cusps are repelled by C, are attracted by D; and the versoria [compasses] are parallel, the poles or the polarity in both ends mutually requiring it.

Half a terrella by itself

Half a terrella by itself and its directions, unlike the directions * of the two parts close to one another as shown in the figure above. All the cusps have been touched by A; all the crosses below except the middle one tend toward the loadstone, not straight, but obliquely; because the pole is in the middle of the plane which before was the plane of the equator. All cusps touched by places distant from the pole move toward the pole (exactly the same as if they had been rubbed upon the pole itself), not toward the place where they were rubbed, wherever that may have been in the undivided stone in some latitude between the pole and the equator. And for this reason there are only two distinctions of regions, north and south, in the terrella, just {137}as in the general terrestrial globe, and there is no eastern nor western place; nor are there any eastern or western regions, rightly speaking; but they are names used in respect of one another toward the eastern or western part of the sky. Wherefore it does not appear that Ptolemy did rightly in his Quadripartitum, making eastern and western districts and provinces, with which he improperly connects the planets, whom the common crowd of philosophizers and the superstitious soothsayers follow.


On Mutation of polarity and of Magnetic
Properties, or on alteration in the power
empowered by a loadstone.

Friction with a loadstone gives to a piece of iron a polarity strong enough; not, however, so stable that the iron may not by being rubbed on the opposite part (not only with a more powerful loadstone, but with the same) be changed and deprived of all its former polarity, and endowed with a new and opposite one. Take a piece of iron wire and rub each end of the wire equally with one and the same pole of a loadstone, and let it be passed through a suitable cork and place it on water. Then truly one end of the wire will be directed toward that pole of the Earth toward which that end of the stone will not turn. But which end of the iron wire will it be?
* That certainly which was rubbed last. Rub the other end of this again with the same pole, and immediately that end will turn itself in the opposite direction. Again touch the former end of the iron wire only with the same pole of the loadstone as before; and that end, having gained the command, immediately changes to the contrary side. So you will be able to change the [magnetic] property of the iron frequently, and that end of the wire rules which has been touched the last. Now then merely hold the north pole of the stone for some time near the northern part of the wire which was last touched, so that it does not touch, but so that it is removed from it by one, two, or even three digits, if the stone have been pretty strong; and again it will change its [magnetic] property and will turn round to the contrary side; which will also happen (albeit rather more feebly) even if the loadstone be removed to a distance of four digits. You will be able to do the same thing, moreover, with both the south and the north part of the stone in all these experiments.
* Polarity may likewise be acquired and changed when thin plates of gold, silver, and glass are interposed between the stone and the end of the iron or iron wire, if the stone were rather strong, even if the {138}intermediate lamina is not touched either by the iron or the stone. And these changes of polarity take place in smelted iron. Indeed what the one pole of the stone implants and excites, the other disturbs and extinguishes, and confers a new force. For it does not require a stronger loadstone to take away the weaker and sluggish power and to implant the new one; nor is iron inebriated by the equal strength of loadstones, and made utterly uncertain and neutral, as Baptista Porta teaches; but by one and the same loadstone, or by loadstones endowed with equal power and might, its strength is, in accordance with magnetic rules, turned round and changed, empowered, repaired, or disturbed. But a loadstone itself, by being rubbed on another, whether a larger or a more powerful stone, is not disturbed from its own [magnetic] property and polarity, nor does it turn round toward the opposite direction in its boat, or to the other pole opposite to that to which it inclines by its own nature and implanted polarity.
* For strength which is innate and has been implanted for a very long time abides more firmly, nor does it easily yield from its ancient holding; and that which has grown for a long time is not all of a sudden brought to nothing, without the destruction of the substance containing it. Nevertheless in a long interval of time a change does take place; in one year, that is to say, or two, or sometimes in a few months; doubtless when a weaker loadstone remains lying by a stronger one contrary to the order of nature, namely, with the north pole of one loadstone adjoined to the north pole of another, or the south to the south. For so the weaker strength gradually declines with the lapse of time.


On the Rubbing of a piece of Iron on a Loadstone
in places midway between the poles, and upon
the equinoctial of a terrella.

Select a piece of iron wire of three digits length, not touched by a loadstone (but it will be better if its acquired polarity be rather weak or have been damaged in some way); touch it and rub it on the equator of a terrella, exactly on the equinoctial line in the direction of its length, on the one end, or the ends only, or in all its parts. Place the wire touched in this way on water in a cork fitted for it;
* it will swim about doubtfully on the waves without any acquired polarity, and the polarity previously implanted will be disturbed. If, however, it float by chance toward the poles, it will be checked a little by the poles of the Earth, and will at length by the influence of the Earth be endowed with polarity.



In what way polarity exists in any Iron that has
been smelted though not empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone.

Working iron in a smithy

Having thus far demonstrated natural and inborn causes and powers acquired by means of the stone, we will now examine the causes of magnetic powers in smelted iron that has not been empowered by a stone. Loadstone and iron furnish and exhibit to us wonderful subtilities. It has been repeatedly shown above that iron not empowered by a stone turns north and south; further that it has polarity, that is, special and peculiar polar distinctions, just as a loadstone, or iron which has been rubbed upon a loadstone. This indeed seemed to us at first wonderful and incredible; the metal of iron from the mine is smelted in the furnace; it runs out of the furnace, and hardens into a great mass; this mass is divided in great worksteads, and is drawn into iron bars, from which smiths again construct many instruments and necessary pieces of iron-work. Thus the same mass is variously worked up and transformed into very many similitudes. What is it, then, which {140}preserves its polarity, and whence is it derived? So take this first from the above smithy. Let the blacksmith beat out upon his anvil a glowing mass of iron of two or three ounces weight into an iron spike of the length of a span of nine inches.
* Let the smith be standing with his face to the north, his back to the south, so that the hot iron on being struck has a motion of extension to the north; and let him so complete his work with one or two heatings of the iron (if that be required); let him always, however, whilst he is striking the iron, direct and beat out the same point of it toward the north, and let him lay down that end toward the north. Let him in this way complete two, three, or more pieces of iron, nay, a hundred or four hundred; it is demonstrable that all those which are thus beaten out toward the north, and so placed whilst they are cooling, turn round on their centres; and floating pieces of iron (being transfixed, of course, through suitable corks) make a motion in the water, the determined end being toward the north.
* In the same way also pieces of iron acquire polarity from their direction whilst they are being beaten out and hammered or drawn out, as iron wires are accustomed to do toward some point of the horizon between east and south or between south and west, or in the opposite direction.
* Those, however, which are pointed or drawn out rather toward the eastern or western point, conceive hardly any polarity or a very undecided one. That polarity is especially acquired by being beaten out.
* But a somewhat inferior iron ore, in which no magnetic powers are apparent, if put in a fire (its position being observed to be toward the poles of the world or of the Earth) and heated for eight or ten hours, then cooled away from the fire, in the same position towards the poles, acquires a polarity in accordance with the position of its heating and cooling.
* Let a rod of cast iron be heated red-hot in a strong fire, in which it lies meridionally (that is, along the path of a meridian circle), and let be removed from the fire and cooled, and let it return to its former temperature, remaining in the same position as before; then from this it will turn out that, if the same ends have been turned to the same poles of the Earth, it will acquire polarity, and the end which looked toward the North on water with a cork before the heating, if it have been placed during the heating and cooling toward the fourth, now turns round to the south. But if perchance sometimes the rotation have been doubtful and somewhat feeble, let it be placed again in the fire, and when it is taken out at a red heat, let it be perfectly cooled toward the pole from which we desire the polarity, and the polarity will be acquired.
* Let the same rod be heated in the contrary position, and let it be placed so at a red heat it is cool; for it is from its position in cooling (by the operation of the polarity of the Earth) that polarity is put into the iron, and it turns round to parts contrary to its former polarity. So {141}the end which formerly looked toward the north now turns to the south.
* In accordance with these reasonings and in these ways the north pole of the Earth gives to the end of a piece of iron turned toward it a southern polarity, and that end is attracted by that pole. And here it must be observed that this happens to iron not only when it is cooled in the plane of the horizon, but also at any angle to it almost up to the perpendicular toward the centre of the Earth. So the heated iron conceives power and polarity from the Earth more quickly in the course of its return to its normal state, and in its recovery, as it were (in the course of which it is transformed), than by its mere position alone.
* This is effected better and more perfectly in winter and in colder air, when the metal returns more certainly to its natural temperature, than in summer and in warm regions. Let us see also what position alone and a direction toward the poles of the Earth can effect by itself without fire and heat.
* Iron rods which have been placed and fixed for a long time, twenty or more years, from south to north (as they not infrequently are fixed in buildings and across windows), those rods, I say, by that long lapse of time acquire polarity and turn round, whether hanging in the air, or floating (being placed on cork), to the pole toward which they were pointing, and magnetically attract and repel a balanced iron magnetic; for the long continued position of the body toward the poles is of much avail. This fact (although conspicuous by manifest experiments) is confirmed by an incident related in an Italian letter at the end of a book of Mestro Filippo Costa, of Mantua, Sopra le Compositioni degli Antidoti written in Italian, which translated runs thus: "A druggist of Mantua showed me a piece of iron entirely changed into a magnet, attracting another piece of iron in such a way that it could be compared with a loadstone. Now this piece of iron, when it had for a long time held up a bric ornament on the top of the tower of the church of St. Augustine at Rimini, had been at length bent by the force of the winds, and remained so for a period of ten years. When the monks wished to bend it back to its former shape, and had handed it over to a blacksmith, a surgeon named Mestro Giulio Cesare discovered that it was like a magnet and attracted iron" This was caused by the turning of its extremities toward the poles for so long a time. And so what has been laid down before about change of polarity should be borne in mind; how in fact the poles of iron spikes are altered, when a loadstone is placed against them only with its pole and points toward them, even at a rather long distance. Clearly it is in the same way that that large magnet also (to wit, the Earth itself) affects a piece of iron and changes its polarity. For, although the iron may not touch the pole of the Earth, nor any magnetic part of the Earth, yet polarity is acquired and changed; not because the poles of the Earth and the point itself which is 39° distant {142}from our city of London, changes the polarity at a distance of so many miles; but because the whole magnetic Earth, that which projects to a considerable height, and to which the iron is near, and that which is situated between us and the pole, and the power existing within the sphere of its magnetic action (the nature of the whole conspiring thereto), produces the polarity. For the magnetic emission of the Earth rules everywhere within the sphere of its action, and transforms bodies; but those things which are more similar to it, and specially connected with it by nature, it rules and controls; as loadstone and iron. Wherefore in very many matters of business and actions it is clearly not superstitious and idle to observe the positions and conditions of lands, the points of the horizon and the places of the stars. For as when a babe is brought forth into the light from its mother’s womb, and acquires respiration and certain animal activities, then the planets and celestial bodies, according to their position in the universe, and according to that configuration which they have with regard to the horizon and the Earth, instil peculiar and individual qualities into the newly born; so that piece of iron, whilst it is being made and lengthened out, is affected by the common cause (to wit, the Earth); whilst it is returning also from its heated condition to its former temperature, it is imbued with a special polarity in accord with its position.
* Rather long pieces of iron sometimes have the same polarity at each end; wherefore they have motions which are less certain and well ordered on account of their length and of the aforesaid processes, exactly as when an iron wire four feet long is rubbed at each end upon the same pole of a loadstone.


Why no other Body, excepting a magnetic, is imbued
with polarity by being rubbed on a loadstone; and why no
body is able to instil and excite that power,
unless it be a magnetic.

Ligneous substances floating on water never by their own strength turn round toward the poles of the Earth, save by chance. So wires of gold, silver, brass, tin, lead, or glass, pushed through corks and floating, have no sure direction; and for this reason they do not show poles or points of variation when rubbed with a loadstone. For those things which do not of themselves incline toward the poles and obey the Earth are also not ruled by {143}the touch of a loadstone; for the magnetic power has no entrance into their inward parts; neither is the magnetic form received by them, nor are their forms magnetically empowered; nor, if it did enter, would it effect anything, because in those bodies (mixed up with various kinds of efflorescent humours and forms, corrupted from the original property of the Earth) there are no primary qualities. But those prime qualities of iron are empowered by the juxtaposition of a loadstone, just as brute animals or men, when they are awakened out of sleep, move and put forth their strength. Here one must marvel at a demonstrable error of B. Porta, who, while rightly opposing a very old falsehood about the diamond, in speaking of a power contrary to that of the loadstone, introduces another still worse opinion; that forsooth iron, when touched by a diamond, turns to the north. "If" (he says) "you rub a steel-Needle on a Diamond, and then put it in a Boat, or thrust it through a reed, or hang it up by a Thread, it will presently turn to the North, almost as well as if it had been touched with the Loadstone; but something more faintly. And, what is worth noting, the contrary part will turn the iron to the South: and when I had tried this in many steel-Needles, and put them all into the water, I found, that they all stood equi-distant, pointing to the North"
* This indeed would be contrary to our magnetic rules. For this reason we made an experiment with seventy excellent diamonds, in the presence of many witnesses, on a large number of spikes and wires, with the most careful precautions, floating (thrust, of course, through their corks) on the surface of water; never, however, could we observe this. He was deceived by the polarity acquired from the Earth (as stated above) in the spike or wire of iron itself, and the iron itself turned aside to its own definite pole; and he, being ignorant of this, thought it was done by the diamond. But let the investigators of natural phenomena take heed that they are not the more deceived by their own badly observed experiments, and disturb the commonwealth of letters with their errors and stupidities. Diamond is sometimes designated by the name of Sideritis, not because it is made of iron or because it attracts iron, but on account of its lustre, resembling flashing steel; with such a lustre do the choicest pieces of diamond shine; hence by very many writers many qualities are imputed to diamond which really belong to siderite loadstone.



The Placing of a Loadstone above or below a magnetic
body suspended in equilibrium changes neither the power
nor the polarity of the magnetic body.

Quietly to pass this over would be improper, because a recent error arising from a defective observation of Baptista Porta must be overthrown; on which he (by an unfortunate repetition) even writes three chapters, namely, the 18th, the 31st, and the 42nd. For if a loadstone or a piece of magnetic iron, hanging in equilibrium or floating on water, is attracted and disposed toward certain definite points, when you bring above it a piece of iron or another loadstone, it will not, if you afterward put the same below it, turn round to the contrary parts; but the same ends of the iron or the loadstone will always be directed toward the same ends of the stone, even if the loadstone or the iron is suspended in any way in equilibrium or is poised on a needle, so that it can turn round freely. He was deceived by the irregular shape of some stone, or because he did not arrange the experiment suitably. Wherefore he is led astray by a vain opinion, and thinks he may infer that, just as a stone has an arctic and antarctic pole, so also it has a western and an eastern, and an upper and a lower pole. So from foolish ideas conceived and admitted arise other fallacies.


The Poles, Equator, Centre, in an entire Loadstone
remain and continue steady; by diminution and
separation of some part they vary and
acquire other positions.

Terrella divided at the arctic circle *

Suppose A B to be a terrella [magnetic model Earth], whose centre is E, and whose diameter (as also its equinoctial circle) is D F. If you cut off a portion (through the arctic circle, for example), G H, it is demonstrable that the pole which was at A now has a position at I.
* But the centre and the equinoctial recede toward B {145}merely so that they are always in the middle of the mass that is left between the plane of the arctic circle G I H and the antarctic pole B. Therefore the segment of the terrella comprised between the plane of the former equinoctial (that, of course, which was the equator before cutting that part away) D E F and the newly acquired equator M L N will always be equal to the half of that part which was cut off, G I H A. Terrella divided at the side
* But if the portions have been taken away from the side C D, the poles and axis will not be in the line A B, but in E F, and the axis would be changed in the same proportion as the equator in the former figure. For those positions of forces and powers, or rather limits of the powers, which are derived from the whole form, are moved forward by change of quantity and shape; since all these limits arise from the conspiring together of the whole and of all {146}the parts united; and the polarity or the pole is not a power innate in one part, or in some definite limit, or fixed in the substance; but it is an inclination of the power to that part. And just as a terrella separated from the Earth has no longer the Earth’s poles and equator, but individual ones of its own; so also if it again be divided, those limits and distinctions of the qualities and powers pass on to other parts. But if a loadstone be divided in any way, either along a parallel, or meridionally, so that by the change of shape either the poles or the equator move to other positions, if the part cut off be merely applied in its natural position and joined to the whole, even without any agglutination or cementing together, the determining points of the powers return again to their former sites, as if no part of the body had been cut off. When a body is entire, its form remains entire; but when the body is lessened, a new whole is made, and there arises a new entirety, determined for every loadstone, however small, even for magnetic gravel, and for the finest sand.


If the South Portion of a Stone [Loadstone] be lessened,
something is also taken away from the power
of the North Portion.

Now although the south end of a magnetic iron is attracted by a north end, and repelled by a south, yet the south portion of a stone does not diminish, but increases the potency of the north part. Wherefore if a stone be cut in two and divided through the arctic circle, or through the tropic of Cancer or the equator, the south portion does not attract magnetic substances so strongly with its pole as before; because a new whole arises, and the equator is removed from its old position and moves forward on account of that cutting of the stone. In the former condition, since the opposite portion of the stone increases the mass beyond the plane of the equator, it strengthens also the polarity, and the potency, and the motion to unity.



On the Use and Excellence of Versoria: and how iron
versoria used as pointers in sun-dials and the fine needles
of the mariners’ compass, are to be rubbed, that
they may acquire stronger polarity.

Magnetic versoria [compasses] prepared by the loadstone subserve so many actions in human life that it will not be out of place to record a better method of touching them and exciting them magnetically, and a suitable manner of operating. Rich ores of iron and such as yield a greater proportion of metal are recognized by means of an iron needle suspended in equilibrium and magnetically prepared; and magnetic stones, clays, and earths are distinguished, whether crude or prepared. An iron needle (the soul of the mariners’ compass), the marvellous director in voyages and finger of God, one might almost say, indicates the course, and has pointed out the whole way around the Earth (unknown for so many ages). The Spaniards (as also the English) have frequently circumnavigated (by an immense circuit) the whole globe by aid of the mariners’ compass. Those who travel about through the world or who sit at home have sun-dials. A magnetic indicator follows and searches out the veins of ore in mines. By its aid mines are driven in taking cities; catapults and engines of war are aimed by night; it has been of service for the topography of places, for marking off the areas and position of buildings, and for excavating aqueducts for water under ground. On it depend instruments designed to investigate its own dip and variation.

When iron is to be quickened by the stone [loadstone], let it be clean and bright, disfigured by no rust or dirt, and of the best steel. Let the stone itself be wiped dry, and let it not be damp with any moisture, but let it be filed gently with some smooth piece of iron. But the hitting of the stone with a hammer is of no advantage. By these means let their bare surfaces be joined, and let them be rubbed, so that they may come together more firmly; not so that the material substance of the stone being joined to the iron may cleave to it, but they are rubbed gently together with friction, and (useless parts being rubbed off) they are intimately united; whence a more notable Good and bad ways of touching versoria power arises in the iron that is empowered. A is the best way of touching a versorium [compass] when the cusp touches the pole and faces it; B is a moderately good way, when, though facing it, it is a little way {148}distant from the pole; also in like manner C is only moderately good on account of the cusp being turned away from the pole; D, which is farther distant, is hardly so good; F, which is prepared crosswise along a parallel, is bad; of no power and entirely irresponsive and feeble is the magnetic indicator L, which is rubbed along the equator; oblique and not pointing towards the pole as G, and oblique, not pointing toward but turned away from the pole as H, are bad. These have been placed so that they might indicate the distinct forces of a round stone. But mechanicians very often have a stone tending more to a cone shape, and more powerful on account of that shape since the pole, on which they rub their wires, is at the apex of the projecting part. Sometimes the stone has on the top and above its own pole an artificial acorn or snout made of steel for the sake of its power. Iron needles are rubbed on the top of this; wherefore they turn toward the same pole as if they had been prepared on that part of the stone with the acorn removed. Let the stone be large enough and strong; the needle, even if it be rather long, should be sufficiently thick, not very slender; with a moderate cusp, not too sharp, although the power is not in the cusp itself only, but in the whole piece of iron. A strong large stone is not unfit for rubbing all needles on, excepting that sometimes by its strength it occasions some dip and disturbance in the iron in the case of longer needles; so that one which, having been touched before, rested in equilibrium in the plane of the horizon, now when touched and empowered dips at one end, as far as the upright pin on which it turns permits it. Wherefore in the case of longer versoria, the end which is going to be the north, before it is rubbed, should be a little lighter, so that it may remain exactly in equilibrium after it is touched.
* But a needle in this way prepared does its {149}work worse the farther it is beyond the equinoctial circle. Let the prepared needle be placed in its capsule, and let it not be touched by any other magnetics, nor remain in the near vicinity of them, lest by their opposing forces, whether powerful or sluggish, it should become uncertain and dull. If you also rub the other end of the needle on the other pole of the stone, the needle will perform its functions more steadily, especially if it be rather long. A piece of iron touched by a loadstone retains the magnetic power, empowered in it even for ages, firm and strong, if it is placed according to nature meridionally and not along a parallel, and is not injured by rust or any external injury from the surrounding medium. Porta wrongly seeks for a proportion between the loadstone and the iron: because, he says, a little piece of iron will not be capable of holding much power; for it is consumed by the great force of the loadstone. A piece of iron receives its own power fully, even if it be only of the weight of one scruple, whilst the mass of the loadstone is a thousand pounds. It is also useless to make the needle rather flat at the end that is touched, so that it may be better and more perfectly magnetic, and that it may best receive and hold certain magnetic particles; since hardly any part will stick on a sharp point; because he thought that it was by the adhesion of parts of the loadstone (as it were, hairs) that the influence is imparted and conserved, though those particles are merely rubbed off by the rubbing of the iron over the softer stone, and the iron none the less points toward the North and South, if after it is touched it be scoured with sand or emery powder, or with any other material, even if by long rubbing of this kind the external parts of it are lessened and worn away. When a needle is being rubbed, one should always leave off at the end; otherwise, if it is rubbed on the loadstone from the point toward the middle, less polarity is empowered in the iron, sometimes none at all, or very little. For where the last contact is, there is the pole and goal of polarity.
* In order that a stronger polarity may be produced in the iron by rubbing on the loadstone, one ought in northern lands to turn the true north pole of the loadstone toward the highest part of the sky; on this pole that end of the needle is going to be rubbed, which shall afterwards turn toward the north of the Earth; whilst it will be an advantage for the other end of the needle to be rubbed on the south pole of the terrella [magnetic model Earth] turned toward the Earth, and this being so empowered will incline toward the south. In southern regions beyond the equator the plan is just the contrary. The reason of this dissimilarity is demonstrated, Book II., chap, xxxiv., in which it is shown (by a manifest combination of a terrella and the Earth) why the poles of a loadstone, for different reasons, are one stronger than the other.
* If a needle be touched between the mutually accordant poles of two loadstones, equal in power, shape, and mass, no strength {150}Power is acquired from
  the stronger of two loadstones is acquired by the needle. A and B are two loadstones attracting one another, according to nature, at their dissimilar ends;
* C, the point of a needle touched by both at once, is not empowered (even if those loadstones be connected according to nature), if they are equal; but if they are not equal, power is acquired from the stronger. When a needle is being empowered [or magnetized] by a loadstone, begin in the middle, and draw the needle toward its end; at the end let the application be continued with a very gentle rubbing around the end for some time; that is to say, for one or two minutes; do not repeat the motion from the middle to the end (as is frequently done) for in this way the polarity is injured. Some delay is desirable, for although the power is imparted instantly, and the iron empowered, yet from the vicinity of the loadstone and a suitable delay, a more steady polarity arises, and one that is more firmly durable in the iron. Although an armed stone raises a greater weight of iron than an unarmed one, yet a needle is not more strongly empowered by an armed stone than by an unarmed one. Let there be two iron wires of the same length, wrought from the same wire; let one be empowered by an armed end, the other by an unarmed end; it is manifest that the same needles have a beginning of motion or a sensible inclination at equal distances from the same armed and unarmed loadstone; this is ascertained by measuring with a longish reed. But objects which are more powerfully empowered move more quickly; those which are less powerfully empowered, more feebly, and not unless brought rather close; the experiment is made on water with equal corks.






Direction has to date been spoken of as if in nature there were no variation; for in the preceding natural history we wished to omit and neglect this, inasmuch as in a terrestrial globe, perfect and in every sense complete, there would be none. Since, however, in fact, the Earth’s magnetic direction, owing to some fault and slip, deviates from its right course and from the meridian, we must extract and demonstrate the obscure and hidden cause of that variance which has troubled and sore racked in vain the minds of many. Those who before us have written on the magnetic movements have made no distinction between direction and variation, but consider the motion of magnetic iron to be uniform and simple. Now true direction is the motion of the magnetic body to the true meridian and its continuance therein with its appropriate ends towards the poles.
* But it very often happens at sea and on land that the magnetic iron does not point to the true pole, and that not only a versorium and magnetic pieces of iron, and the needle of a compass, or a mariners’ compass, but also a terrella in its boat, as well as iron ore, iron stones, and magnetic earths, properly prepared, are drawn aside and deviate towards some point of the Horizon very near to the meridian. For they with their poles frequently face termini away from the meridian. This variation {152}(observed by means of instruments or a nautical variation compass) is therefore the arc of the horizon between the common point of intersecion of it with the true meridian, and the terminus of the deflecion on the horizon or projection of the deviating needle. That arc varies and differs with change of locality. To the terminus of the variation is commonly assigned a great circle, called the circle of variation, and also a magnetic meridian passing through the zenith and the point of variation on the horizon. In the northern regions of the Earth this variation is either from the north toward the east or from the north toward the west: similarly in the southern regions it is from the south toward the east or toward the west.
* Wherefore one should observe in the northern regions of the Earth that end of the versorium or compass which turns toward the North; but in the southern regions the other end looking to the south—which seamen and sciolists for the most part do not understand, for in both regions they observe only the northern lily of the compass (that which faces North). We have before said that all the motions of the magnet and iron, all its turning, its inclination, and its settlement, proceed from bodies themselves magnetic and from their common mother the Earth, which is the source, the propagatrix, and the origin of all these qualities and properties. Accordingly the Earth is the cause of this variation and inclination toward a different point of the horizon: but how and by what powers must be more fully investigated. And here we must at the outset reject that common opinion of recent writers concerning magnetic mountains, or any magnetic rock, or any phantasmal pole distant from the pole of the Earth, by which the motion of the compass or versorium is controlled. This opinion, previously invented by others, Fracastorio himself adopted and developed; but it is entirely at variance with experience. For in that case in different places at sea and on land the point of variation would change toward the east or west in proportion and geometrical symmetry, and the versorium would always respect the magnetic pole: but experience teaches that there is no such definite pole or fixed terminus on the Earth to account for the variation.
* For the arcs of variation are changed variously and erratically, not only on different meridians but on the same meridian; and when, according to this opinion of the moderns, the deviation should be more and more toward the east, then suddenly, with a small change of locality, the deviation is from the north toward the west as in the northern regions near Nova Zembla. Moreover, in the southern regions, and at sea at a great distance from the equator towards the antarctic pole, there are frequent and great variations, and not only in the northern regions, from the magnetic mountains. But the cogitations of others are still more vain and trifling, such as that of Cortes about a moving influence beyond all the heavens; that of {153}Marsilius Ficinus about a star in the Bear; that of Peter Peregrinus about the pole of the world; that of Cardan, who derives it from the rising of a star in the tail of the Bear; of Bessardus, the Frenchman, from the pole of the Zodiack; that of Livio Sanuto from some magnetic meridian; that of Franciscus Maurolycus from a magnetic island; that of Scaliger from the heavens and mountains; that of Robert Norman, the Englishman, from a point respective. Leaving therefore these opinions, which are at variance with common experience or by no means proved, let us seek the true cause of the variation. The great magnet or terrestrial globe directs iron (as I have said) toward the north and south; and empowered iron quickly settles itself toward those termini. Since, however, the globe of the Earth is defective and uneven on its surface and marred by its diverse composition, and since it has parts very high and convex (to the height of some miles), and those uniform neither in composition nor body, but opposite and dissimilar: it comes to pass that the whole of that force of the Earth diverts magnetic bodies in its periphery toward the stronger and more prominent connected magnetic parts. Hence on the outermost surface of the Earth magnetic bodies are slightly perverted from the true meridian. Moreover, since the surface of the globe is divided into high lands and deep seas, into great continental lands, into ocean and vastest seas, and since the force of all magnetic motions is derived from the constant and magnetic terrestrial nature which is more prevalent on the greater continent and not in the aqueous or fluid or unstable part; it follows that in certain parts there would be a magnetic inclination from the true pole east or west away from any meridian (whether passing through seas or islands) toward a great land or continent rising higher, that is, obviously toward a stronger and more elevated magnetic part of the terrestrial globe. For since the diameter of the Earth is more than 1,700 German miles, those large lands can rise from the centre of the Earth more than four miles above the depth of the ocean bottom, and yet the Earth will retain the shape of a globe although somewhat uneven at the top. Wherefore a magnetic body is turned aside, so far as the true polarity, when disturbed, admits, and departs from its right (the whole Earth moving it) toward a vast prominent mass of land as though toward what is stronger. But the variation does really take place, not so much because of the more prominent and imperfect terrestrial parts and continent lands as because of the inequality of the magnetic globe, and because of the real Earth, which stands out more under the continent lands than under the depths of the seas. We must see, therefore, how the apodixis of this theory can be sustained by more definite observations. Since throughout all the course from the coast of Guinea to Cape Verde, the Canary Isles, and the border of the kingdom of Morocco, and {154}thence along the coasts of Spain, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, there lie on the right hand and toward the east a continent and extensive connected regions, and on the left extensive seas and a vast ocean lie open far and wide, it is consonant with the theory (as has been carefully observed by many) that magnetic bodies should turn slightly to the East from the true pole toward the stronger and more remarkable elevations of the Earth. But it is far otherwise on the eastern shores of northern America; for from Florida by Virginia and Norumbega to Cape Race and away to the north the versorium [compass] is turned toward the west. But in the middle spaces, so to speak, as in the more westerly Azores, it looks toward the true pole. That any magnetic body turns itself similarly to the same regions of the Earth is not, however, because of that meridian or because of the concordancy of the meridian with any magnetic pole, as the crowd of philosophizers reckon, since it is not so throughout the whole of that meridian,
* for on the same meridian near Brazil something very different occurs, as we will show further on. The variation (ceteris paribus) is always less near the equator, greater in higher latitudes, with the limitation that it be not very near the pole itself.
* Hence the variation is greater on the coast of Norway and Belgium than on the coast of Morocco or Guinea: greater also near Cape Race than in the harbours of Norumbega or of Virginia. On the coast of Guinea magnetic implements deviate by a third part of one rumbe to the East: in Cape Verde Islands by a half: on the coast of Morocco by two thirds: in England at the mouth of the Thames by a whole rumbe: and at London by nearly eleven degrees and one third. For indeed the moving magnetic power is stronger in a higher latitude; and the larger regions extending toward the poles dominate the more, as is easily apparent anywhere on a terrella. For as in the case of true Direction magnetic bodies tend toward the pole (namely, toward the stronger end, the whole Earth causing the motion), so also do they incline a little toward the stronger and higher parts by the action of the whole along with the conjoint action of iron bodies.



That the variation is caused by the inequality of the
projecting parts of the Earth.

* Demonstration of this may manifestly be made Variation on imperfect terrella by means of a terrella [magnetic model Earth] in the following way: let there be a round loadstone somewhat imperfect in some part, and impaired by decay (such an one we had with a certain part corroded to resemble the Atlantic or Great Ocean): place upon it some fine iron wire of the length of two barleycorns, as in the following figure. A B, a Terrella in certain parts somewhat imperfect and of unequal power on the circumference. The versoria [compasses] E, F, do not vary, but look directly to the pole A; for they are placed in the middle of the firm and sound part of the terrella and somewhat distant from the imperfect part: that part of the surface which is distinguished by dots and transverse lines is the weaker. The versorium O also does not vary (because it is placed in the middle of the imperfect part), but is directed toward the pole, {156}just as near the western Azores on the Earth. The versoria H and L do vary, for they incline toward the sounder parts very near them. As this is manifest in a terrella whose surface is sensibly rather imperfect, so also is it in others whole and perfect, when often one part of the stone has stronger external parts, which nevertheless do not disclose themselves manifestly to the senses.
* In such a terrella the demonstration of the variation and the discovery of the stronger parts is on this wise. Terrella with stronger
  regions Let A be the pole, B the place of the variation, C the stronger regions; then the horizontal versorium at B varies from the pole A toward C: so that both the variation is shown and the stronger places of the loadstone recognized. The stronger surface is also found by a fine iron wire of the length of two barleycorns: for since at the pole of the terrella it rears up perpendicularly, but in other places inclines toward the equator, if in one and the same parallel circle it should be more erect in one place than in another; where the wire is raised more upright, there the part and surface of the terrella is stronger. Also when the iron wire placed over the pole inclines more to one part than to another. Wire will not rest in certain directions {157}
* Let the experiment be made by means of a fine iron wire of three digits length placed over the pole A, so that its middle lies over the pole. Then one end is turned away from B toward C, and is not willing to lie quietly toward B; but on a terrella which is perfect all round and even it rests on the pole directed toward any point of the equator you please.
* Otherwise, let there be two Unequal raising of wires meridians meeting in the poles A B, let iron wires be reared just at the ends D and C of the equal arcs D A and C A; then the wire at D (the stronger region) will be more raised up than that at C, the weaker. And thus the sounder and stronger part of the loadstone is recognized, which otherwise would not be perceived by the touch. In a terrella which is perfect, and even, and similar in all its parts, there is, at equal distances from the pole, no variation.
* Variation is shown by means of a terrella, a considerable part of which, making a surface a little higher than the rest, does, although it be not decayed and broken, allure the versorium from the true direction (the whole terrella co-operating).

A terrella uneven in surface.

A terrella uneven in surface


It is shown by a small spike placed over a terrella or by a small versorium [compass]; for they are turned by the terrella toward the mass that stands out and toward the large eminences. In the same way on the Earth the polarity is perturbed by great continents, which are mostly elevated above the depths of the seas and make the versorium deviate sometimes from the right tracks (that is, from the true meridians). On a terrella it is thus demonstrated: the end of the versorium A is not directed straight to the pole P, if there be a large protuberance B on the terrella; so also the cusp C deviates from the pole because of the eminence F. In the middle between the two eminences the versorium G collimates to the true pole because, being at equal distances from the two eminences B and F, it turns aside to neither, but observes the true meridian, especially when the protuberances are of equal power. But the versorium N on the other side varies from the pole M toward the eminences H, and is not held back, stopped, or restrained by the small eminence O on the terrella (as it were, some island of land in the ocean). L, however, being unimpeded, is directed to the pole M. The variation is demonstrated in another way on a terrella, just as on the Earth. Let A be the pole of the Earth, B the equator, C the parallel circle of latitude of 30 degrees, D a great eminence spread out toward the pole, E another eminence spread out from the pole toward the equator. It is manifest that in the middle of D the versorium F {159}does not vary; while G is very greatly deflected: but H very little, because it is further removed from D. Similarly also the versorium I placed directly toward E does not deviate from the pole: but L and M turn themselves away from the pole A toward the eminence E.

Terrella with great eminences


The variation in any one place
is constant.

Inclination of a versorium toward a second magnet

Unless there should be a great dissolution of a continent and a subsidence of the land such as there was of the region Atlantis of which Plato and the ancients tell, the variation will continue perpetually immutable; the arc of the variation remains the same in the same place or region, whether it be at sea or on land, as in times past a magnetic body has declined toward the East or the West. The constancy of the variation and the pointing of the versorium [compass] to a definite point on the horizon in individual regions is demonstrated by a small versorium placed over a terrella [magnetic model Earth] the surface of which is uneven: for it always deviates from the meridian by an equal arc. It is also shown by the inclination of a versorium toward a second magnet; although in reality it is by the turning power of the whole, whether in the Earth or in a terrella. Place upon a plane a versorium whose cusp is directed toward the north A: place beside it a loadstone, B, at such a distance that the versorium may turn aside toward B to the point C, and not beyond. Then move the needle of the versorium as often as you will (the box and the loadstone not being moved), and it will certainly always return to the point C. In the same manner, if you {160}placed the stone so that it may be truly directed toward E, the cusp always reverts to E, and not to any other point of the compass. Accordingly, from the position of the land and from the distinctive nature of the highest parts of the Earth (certain terrene and more magnetic eminences of the regions prevailing), the variation indeed becomes definite in one and the same place, but diverse and unequal from a change of place, since the true and polar direction originating in the whole terrestrial globe is diverted somewhat toward certain stronger eminences on the broken surface.


The arc of variation is not changed equally
in proportion to the distance of places.

In the open sea, when a vessel is borne by a favourable wind along the same parallel, if the variation be changed by one degree in the course of one hundred miles, the next hundred miles do not therefore lessen it by another degree; for the magnetic needle varies erratically as respects position, form, and power of the land, and also because of the distance. As, for example, when a course from the Scilly Isles to Newfoundland has proceeded so far that the compass is directed to the true pole, then, as the vessel proceeds, in the first part of the course the variation increases toward the north-west, but rather indistinctly and with small difference: thence, after an equal distance, the arc is increased in a greater proportion until the vessel is not far from the continent: for then it varies most of all. But before it touches actual land or enters port, then at a certain distance the arc is again slightly diminished.
* But if the vessel in its course should decline greatly from that parallel either toward the south or the north, the magnetic needle will vary more or less, according to the position of the land and the latitude of the region. For, other things equal, the greater the latitude the greater the variation.



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

Islands, although they be more magnetic than the sea, yet do not change the magnetic 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 magnetics 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 power of smaller magnetic 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 magnetic poles. Besides, magnetic mines are only agnate to the true Earth, not innate: hence the whole globe does not regard them, and magnetics are not borne to them, as is demonstrated by the diagram of eminences.


That variation and direction arise from the disponent
power of the Earth, and from the natural magnetic tendency
to rotation, not from attraction, or from coition [mutual attraction aggregation],
or from other occult cause.

Owing to the loadstone being supposed (amongst the crowd of philosophizers) to seize and drag, as it were, magnetic bodies; and since, in truth, sciolists have remarked no other forces than those so oft besung of attractive ones, they therefore deem every motion toward the north and south to be caused by some alluring and inviting quality. But the Englishman, {162}Robert Norman, first strove to show that it is not caused by attraction: wherefore, as if tending toward hidden principles, he imagined a point respective, toward which the iron touched by a loadstone would ever turn, not a point attractive; but in this he erred greatly, although he effaced the former error about attraction. He, however, demonstrates his opinion in this way:

Robert Norman’s demonstration

Let there be a round vessel filled with water: in the middle of the surface of the water place a slender iron wire on a perfectly round cork, so that it may just float in equilibrium on the water; let the wire be previously touched by a magnet, so that it may more readily show the point of variation, the point D as it were: and let it remain on the surface for some time. It is demonstrable that the wire together with the cork is not moved to the side D of the vessel: which it would do if an attraction came to the iron wire by D: and the cork would be moved out of its place. This assertion of the Englishman, Robert Norman, is plausible and appears to do away with attraction because the iron remains on the water not moving about, as well in a direction toward the pole itself (if the direction be true) as in a variation or altered direction; and it is moved about its own centre without any transference to the edge of the vessel. But direction does not arise from attraction, but from the disposing and turning power which exists in the whole Earth, not in the pole or in some other attracting part of the stone, or in any mass rising above the periphery of the true circle so that a The magnetic force exists in the whole variation should occur because of the attraction of that mass. Moreover, it is the directing power of the loadstone and iron and its natural power of turning around the centre which cause the motion of direction, and of conformation, in which is included also the motion of the dip. And the terrestrial pole does not attract as if the terrene force were implanted only in the pole, for the magnetic force exists in the whole, although it predominates and excels at the pole. Wherefore that the cork should rest quiescent in the middle and that the iron empowered by a loadstone should not be moved toward the side of the vessel are agreeable to and in conformity {163}with the magnetic nature, as is demonstrated by a terrella:
* for an iron spike placed on the stone at C clings on at C, and is not pulled further away by the pole A, or by the parts near the pole: hence it persists at D, and takes a direction toward the pole A; nevertheless it clings on at D and dips also at D in virtue of that turning power by which it conforms itself to the terrella: of which we will say more in the part On Declination.


Why the variation from that lateral cause is not
greater than has to date been observed, having been
rarely seen to reach two points of the mariners’
compass, except near the pole.

The Earth, by reason of lateral eminences of the stronger globe, diverts iron and loadstone by some degrees from the true pole, or true meridian. As, for example, with us English at London it varies eleven degrees and ⅓: in some other places the variation is a little greater, but in no other region is the end of the iron ever moved aside very much more from the meridian. For as the iron is always directed by the true polarity of the Earth, so the polar nature of the continent land (just as of the whole terrene globe) acts toward the poles: and even if that mass divert magnetic bodies from the meridian,
* yet the polarity of those lands (as also of the whole Earth) controls and disposes them so that they do not turn toward the East by any greater arc. But it is not easy to determine by any general method how great the arc of variation is in all places, and how many degrees and minutes it subtends on the horizon, since it becomes greater or less {164}from diverse causes. For both the strength of true polarity of the place and of the elevated regions, as well as their distances from the given place and from the poles of the world, must be considered and compared; which indeed cannot be done exactly: nevertheless by our method the variation becomes so known that no grave error will perturb the course at sea. If the positions of the lands were uniform and straight along meridians, and not defective and rugged, the variations near lands would be simple; such as appear in the following figure.

If only lands were like this

This is demonstrated by a long loadstone the poles of which are in the ends A B; let C D be the middle line and the equinoctial, and let G H and E F (the lines) be for meridians on which versoria [compasses] are disposed, the variations of which are greater at a greater distance from the equator. But the inequalities of the maritime parts of the habitable Earth, the enormous promontories, the very wide gulfs, the mountainous and more elevated regions, render the variations more unequal, or sudden, or more obscure; and, moreover, less certain and more inconstant in the higher latitude.



On the construction of the common mariners’
compass, and on the diversity of the compasses
of different nations.

In a round hollow wooden bowl, all the upper part of which is closed with glass, a versorium is placed upon a rather long pin which is fixed in the middle. The covering prevents the wind, and the motion of air from any external cause. Through the glass everything within can be discerned. The versorium is circular, consisting of some light material (as card) to the under part of which the magnetic pieces of iron are attached. On the upper part 32 spaces (which are commonly called points) are assigned to the same number of mathematical intervals in the horizon or winds which are distinguished by certain marks and by a lily indicating the north. The bowl is suspended in the plane of the horizon in equilibrium in a brass ring which also is itself suspended transversely in another ring within a box sufficiently wide with a leaden weight attached; hence it conforms to the plane of the horizon even though the ship be tossed to and fro by the waves. The iron works are either a pair with their ends united, or else a single one of a nearly oval shape with projecting ends, which does its work more certainly and more quickly. This is to be fitted to the cardboard circle so that the centre of the circle may be in the middle of the magnetic iron. But inasmuch as variation arises horizontally from the point of the meridian which cuts the horizon at right angles, therefore on account of the variation the makers in different regions and cities mark out the mariners’ compass in different ways, and also attach in different ways the magnetic needles to the cardboard circle on which are placed the 32 divisions or points. Hence there are commonly in Europe 4 different constructions and kinds. First that of the States on the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily, Genoa, and the Republic of Venice. In all these the needles are attached under the rose or lily on the cardboard versorium, so that (where there is no variation) they are directed to the true north and south points. Wherefore the north part marked with the lily always shows exactly the point of variation when the apex itself of the lily on the movable circle, together with the ends of the magnetic wires attached below, rests at the point of variation. Yet another is that of Dantzig, and throughout the Baltic Sea, and the Belgian provinces; {166}in which the iron works fixed below the circle diverge from the lily ¼ of a rumbe to the east. For navigation to Russia the divergency is ⅔. But the compasses which are made at Seville, Lisbon, Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen, and throughout all England have an interval of ½ a rumbe. From those differences most serious errors have arisen in navigation, and in the marine science. For as soon as the bearings of maritime places (such as promontories, havens, islands) have been first found by the aid of the mariners’ compass, and the times of sea-tide or high water determined from the position of the moon over this or that point (as they say) of the compass, it must be further inquired in what region or according to the custom of what region that compass was made by which the bearings of those places and the times of the sea-tides were first observed and discovered. For one who should use the British compass and should follow the directions of the marine charts of the Mediterranean Sea would necessarily wander very much out of the straight course. So also he that should use the Italian compass in the British, German, or Baltic Sea, together with marine charts that are made use of in those parts, will often stray from the right way. These different constructions have been made on account of the dissimilar variations, so that they might avoid somewhat serious errors in those parts of the world. But Pedro Nunez seeks the meridian by the mariners’ compass, or versorium (which the Spanish call the needle), without taking account of the variation: and he adduces many geometrical demonstrations which (because of his slight use and experience in magnetic matters) rest on utterly vicious foundations. In the same manner Pedro de Medina, since he did not admit variation, has disfigured his Arte de Navegar with many errors.


Whether the terrestrial longitude can be found from
the variation.

Grateful would be this work to seamen, and would bring the greatest advance to Geography. But B. Porta in chap. 38 of book 7 is mocked by a vain hope and fruitless opinion. For when he supposes that the magnetic needle would follow order and proportion in moving along meridians, so that "the neerer it is to the east, the more it will decline from the Meridian line, toward the east; and the neerer it comes to the west, the {167}point of the needle will decline the more to the west" (which is totally untrue), he thinks that he has discovered a true indicator of longitude. But he is mistaken. Nevertheless, admitting and assuming these things (as though they were perfectly true), he makes a large compass indicating degrees and minutes, by which these proportional changes of the versorium might be observed. But those very principles are false, and ill conceived, and very ill considered; for the versorium does not turn more to the east because a journey is made toward the east: and although the variation in the more westerly parts of Europe and the adjoining ocean is to the east and beyond the Azores is changed a little to the west, yet the variation is, in various ways, always uncertain, both on account of longitude and of latitude, and because of the approach toward extensive tracts of land, and also because of the form of the dominant terrestrial eminences; nor does it, as we have before demonstrated, follow the rule of any particular meridian. It is with the same vanity also that Livio Sanuto so greatly torments himself and his readers. As for the fact that the crowd of philosophizers and sailors suppose that the meridian passing through the Azores marks the limits of variation, so that on the other and opposite side of that meridian a magnetic body necessarily respects the poles exactly, which is also the opinion of Joannes Baptista Benedictus and of many other writers on navigation, it is by no means true. Stevinus (on the authority of Hugo Grotius) in his Havenfinding Art distinguishes the variation according to the meridians: "It may be seene in the Table of variations, that in Corvo the Magnetic needle points due North: but after that, the more a man shall go towards the East, so much the more also shall he see the needle varie towards the East (ἀνατολίζειν), till he come one mile to the Eastward from Plymouth, where the variation comming to the greatest is 13 degr. 24 min. From hence the Northeasting (Anatolismus) begins to decrease, til you come to Helmshude (which place is Westward from the North Cape of Finmark) where againe the needle points due North. Now the longitude from Corvo to Helmshude is 60 degr. Which things being well weighed, it appeares that the greatest variation (Chalyboclysis) 13 degr. 24 minutes at Plymouth (the longitude whereof is 30 degr.) is in the midst betweene the places where the needle points due North" But although this is in some part true in these places, yet it is by no means true that along the whole of the meridian of the island of Corvo the versorium looks truly to the north; nor on the meridian of Plymouth is the variation in other places 13 deg. 24 min.—nor again in other parts of the meridian of Helmshuda does it point to the true pole. For on the meridian passing through Plymouth in Latitude 60 degrees the North-easterly variation is greater: in Latitude 40 deg. much less; in Latitude 20 deg. very small indeed. On the meridian of Corvo, although there is no variation near the {168}island, yet in Latitude 55 degrees the variation is about ½ a rumbe to the North-west; in Latitude 20 deg. the versorium inclines ¼ of a rumbe toward the East. Consequently the limits of variation are not conveniently determined by means of great circles and meridians, and much less are the ratios of the increment or decrement toward any part of the heavens properly investigated by them. Wherefore the rules of the abatement or augmentation of Northeasting or Northwesting, or of increasing or decreasing the magnetic deviation, can by no means be discovered by such an artifice. The rules which follow later for variation in southern parts of the Earth investigated by the same method are altogether vain and absurd. They were put forth by certain Portuguese mariners, but they do not agree with the observations, and the observations themselves are admitted to be bad. But the method of haven-finding in long and distant voyages by carefully observed variation (such as was invented by Stevinus, and mentioned by Grotius) is of great moment, if only proper instruments are in readiness, by which the magnetic deviation can be ascertained with certainty at sea.


Why in various places near the pole the variations
are much more ample than in a
lower latitude.

Variations are often slight, and generally null, when the versorium [compass] is at or near the Earth’s equator. In a higher Latitude of 60, 70 or 80 deg. there are not seldom very wide variations. The cause of this is to be sought partly from the nature of the Earth and partly from the disposition of the versorium. The Earth turns magnetic bodies and at the equator directs them strongly toward the pole: at the poles there is no direction, but only a strong coition [mutual attraction aggregation] through the congruent poles. Direction is therefore weaker near the poles, because by reason of its own natural tendency to turn, the versorium dips very much, and is not strongly directed. But since the force of those elevated lands is more vigorous, for the power flows from the whole globe, and since also the causes of variation are nearer, therefore the versorium deflects the more from its true direction toward those eminences. It must also be known that the direction of the versorium on its pin along the plane of the Horizon is much stronger at the equator than anywhere else by reason of the disposition of the {169}versorium; and this direction falls off with an increase of latitude. For on the equator the versorium is, following its natural property, directed along the plane of the horizon; but in other places it is, contrary to its natural property, compelled into equilibrium, and remains there, compelled by some external force: because it would, according to its natural property, dip below the horizon in proportion to the latitude, as we shall demonstrate in the book On Declination. Hence the direction falls off and at the pole is itself nothing: and for that reason a feebler direction is easily vanquished by the stronger causes of variation, and near the pole the versorium deflects the more from the meridian. It is demonstrated by means of a terrella: if an iron wire of two digits length be placed on its equator, it will be strongly and rapidly directed toward the poles along the meridian, but more weakly so in the mid-intervals; while near the poles one may discern a precipitate variation.


Cardan’s error when he seeks the distance of the
centre of the Earth from the centre of the cosmos by the
motion of the stone of Hercules; in his
book 5, On Proportions.

One may very easily fall into mistakes and errors when one is searching into the hidden causes of things, in the absence of real experiments, and this is easily apparent from the crass error of Cardan; who deems himself to have discovered the distances of the centres of the cosmos and of the Earth through a variation of the magnetic iron of 9 degrees. For he reckoned that everywhere on the Earth the point of variation on the Horizon is always distant nine degrees from the true north, toward the east: and from thence he makes, by a most foolish error, his demonstrative ratio of the separate centres.



On the finding of the amount of variation: how great
is the arc of the Horizon from its arctic or antarctic
intersection of the meridian, to the point
respective of the magnetic needle.

Virtually the true meridian is the chief foundation of the whole matter: when that is accurately known, it will be easy by a mariners’ compass (if its construction and the mode of attachment of the magnetic iron works are known) or by some other larger horizontal versorium to exhibit the arc of variation on the Horizon. By means of a sufficiently large nautical variation compass (two equal altitudes of the sun being observed before and after midday), the variation becomes known from the shadow; the altitude of the sun is observed either by a staff or by a rather large quadrant.

On land the variation is found in another way which is easier, and because of the larger size of the instrument, more accurate. Let a thick squared board be made of some suitable wood, the surface of which is two feet in length and sixteen inches in width: describe upon it some semicircles as in the following figure, only more in number. In the centre let a brass style be reared perpendicularly: let there be also a movable pointer reaching from the centre to the outmost semicircle, and a magnetic versorium in a cavity covered over with glass: then let the board be exactly adjusted to the level of the Horizon by the plane instrument with its perpendicular; and turn the lily of the instrument toward the north, so that the versorium may rest truly over the middle line of the cavity, which looks toward the point of variation on the Horizon. Then at some convenient hour in the morning (eight or nine for instance) observe the apex of the shadow thrown by the style when it reaches the nearest semicircle and mark the place of the apex of this shadow with chalk or ink: then bring round the movable indicator to that mark, and observe the degree on the Horizon numbered from the lily, which the indicator shows. In the afternoon see when the end of the shadow shall again reach the periphery of the same semicircle, and, bringing the indicator to the apex of the shadow, seek for the degree on the other side of the lily. From the difference of the degrees becomes known Instrument to find
  variation {172}the variation; the less being taken from the greater, half the remainder is the arc of variation. The variation is sought by many other instruments and methods in conjunction with a convenient mariners’ compass; also by a globe, by numbers, and by the ratios of triangles and sines, when the latitude is known and one observation is made of the sun’s altitude: but those ways and methods are of less use, for it is superfluous to try to find in winding and roundabout ways what can be more readily and as accurately found in a shorter one. For the whole art is in the proper use of the instruments by which the sun’s place is expeditiously and quickly taken (since it does not remain stationary, but moves on): for either the hand trembles or the sight is dim, or the instrument makes an error. Besides, to observe the altitude on both sides of the meridian is just as expeditious as to observe on one side only and at the same time to find the elevation of the pole. And he who can take one altitude by the instrument can also take another; but if the one altitude be uncertain, then all the labour with the globe, numbers, sines and triangles is lost; nevertheless those exercises of ingenious mathematicians are to be commended. It is easy for anyone, if he stand on land, to learn the variation by accurate observations and suitable instruments, especially in a nearly upright sphere; but on the sea, on account of the motion and the restlessness of the waters, exact experiments in degrees and minutes cannot be made: and with the usual instruments scarcely within the third or even the halt of a rumbe, especially in a higher latitude; hence so many false and bad records of the observations of navigators. We have, however, taken care for the finding of the deviation by a sufficiently convenient and ready instrument, by means of the rising of certain stars, by the rising or setting of the sun, and in northern regions by the Pole Star: for the variation is learned with greater certainty even by the skilful with an instrument which is at once simple and less sensitive to the waves of the sea. Its construction is as follows.

Let an instrument be made in the shape of a true and meridional mariners’ compass of at least one foot in diameter (with a versorium which is either nude or provided with a cardboard circle): let the limb be divided into four quadrants, and each quadrant into 90 degrees. The movable compass-box (as is usual in the nautical instrument) is to be balanced below by a heavy weight of sixteen pounds. On the margin of the suspended compass-box, where opposite quadrants begin, let a half-ring rising in an angular frame in the middle be raised (with the feet of the half-ring fixed on either side in holes in the margin) so that the top of the frame may be perpendicular to the plane of the compass; on its top let a rule sixteen digits in length be fastened at its middle on a joint like a balance beam, so that it may move, as it were, about a central axis. At the ends of the rule there are small plates with holes, {173}Another instrument to find variation {174}through which we can observe the sun or stars. The variation is best observed and expeditiously by this instrument at the equinoxes by the rising or setting sun. But even when the sun is in other parts of the zodiack, the deviation becomes known when we have the altitude of the pole: that being known, one can learn the amplitude on the Horizon and the distance from the true east both of the sun and of the following fixed stars by means of a globe, or tables, or an instrument. Then the variation readily becomes known by counting from the true east the degrees and minutes of the amplitude at rising. Observe the preceding star of the three in the Belt of Orion as soon as it appears on the horizon; direct the instrument toward it and observe the versorium, for since the star has its rising in the true east about one degree toward the south, it can be seen how much the versorium is distant from the meridian, account being taken of that one degree. You will also be able to observe the arctic pole star when it is on the meridian, or at its greatest distance from the meridian of about three degrees (the pole star is distant 2 deg. 55 min. from the pole, according to the observations of Tycho Brahe), and by the instrument you will learn the variation (if the star be not on the meridian) by adding or subtracting, secundum artem, the proper reduction (prostapheresis) of the star’s distance from the meridian. You will find when the pole star is on the meridian by knowing the sun’s place and the hour of the night: for this a practised observer will easily perceive without great error by the visible inclination of the constellation: for we do not take notice of a few minutes, as do some who, when they toil to track the minutes of degrees at sea, are in error by a nearly whole rumbe. A practised observer will, in the rising of sun or stars, allow something for refraction, so that he may be able to use a more exact calculation.

Bright and conspicuous stars which are not far distant from the equator which it will be useful to observe at their rising and setting: the amplitude at the Horizon on rising being known from the altitude of the pole and from the declination of the stars, by means of a globe, or tables, or an instrument whence the variation is perceived by technical calculation :


Right Ascension  Declination
Deg. Min.  Deg. Min.
Oculus Tauri   62° 55′ 15° 53′ N
Sinister humerus Orionis   72° 24′   4°   5′ N
Dexter humerus Orionis   83° 30′   6° 19′ N
Precedens in cingulo Orionis   77° 46′   1° 16′ S
Canis major   97° 10′ 15° 55′ S
Canis minor 109° 41′   5° 55′ N
Lucida Hydre 137° 10′   5°   3′ S
Caput Geminorum southern 110° 21′ 28° 30′ N
Caput northern 107°   4′ 32° 10′ N
Cor Leonis 146°   8′ 13° 47′ N
Cauda Leonis 171° 38′ 16° 30′ N
Spica Virginis 195° 44′   8° 34′ S
Arcturus   29° 13′ 21° 54′ N
Cor Aquile 291° 56′   7° 35′ N

An instrument for finding the amplitude at rising on the horizon.

Describe the circumference of a circle and let it be divided into quadrants by two diameters intersecting each other at right angles at its centre. One of these will represent the equinoctial circle, the other the axis of the world. Let each of these quadrants be divided (in the accustomed way) into 90 degrees; on every fifth or tenth of which at each end of each diameter and on each side let marks (showing the numbers) be inscribed on the two limbs or margins made for that purpose outside the circumference. Then from each degree straight lines are drawn parallel to the equator. You will then prepare a rule or alhidade equal to the diameter of that circle and divided throughout into the same parts into which the diameter of the circle representing the axis of the world is divided. Let there be left a small appendage attached to the middle of the rule, by which the middle of the fiducial line itself of the rule may be connected with the centre of the circle: but to every fifth or tenth part of that rule let numbers be attached proceeding from the centre toward each side. This circle represents the plane of the meridian; its centre the actual point of east or west, i.e., the common intersection of the horizon and equator; all those lines equidistant from the equator denote the parallels of the sun and stars; the fiducial line of the rule or alhidade represents the horizon; and its parts signify the degrees of the horizon, beginning from the point of setting or of rising. {176}

Instrument for finding the amplitude at rising on the horizon

Therefore if the fiducial line of the rule be applied to the given latitude of the place reckoned from either end of that diameter which represents the axis of the world; and if further the given declination of the sun or of some star from the equator (less than the complement of the latitude of the place) be found on the limb of the instrument; then the intersection of the parallel drawn from that point of the declination with the horizon, or with the fiducial line of the rule or alhidade, will indicate for the given latitude of the place the amplitude at rising of the given star or the sun.



The observations of variation by seamen vary, for the
most part, and are uncertain: partly from error and inexperience,
and the imperfections of the instruments; and partly
from the sea being seldom so calm that the
shadows or lights can remain quite
steady on the instruments

After the variation of the compass had first been noticed, some more diligent navigators took pains to investigate in various ways the difference of aspect of the mariners’ compass. Yet, to the great detriment of the nautical art, this has not been done so exactly as it ought to have been. For either being somewhat ignorant they have not understood any accurate method or they have used bad and absurd instruments, or else they merely follow some conjecture arising from an ill-formed opinion as to some prime meridian or magnetic pole; whilst others again transcribe from others, and parade these observations as their own; and they who, very unskilful themselves, first of all committed their observations to writing are, as by the prerogative of time, held in esteem by others, and their posterity does not think it safe to differ from them. Hence in long navigations, especially to the East Indies, the records by the Portuguese of the deviating compass are seen to be unskilful: for whoever reads their writings will easily understand that they are in error in very many things, and do not rightly understand the construction of the Portuguese compass (the lily of which diverges by half a rumbe from the needles toward the west), nor its use in taking the variation. Hence, while they show the variation of the compass in different places, it is uncertain whether they measure the deviation by a true meridional compass or by some other whose needles are displaced from the lily. The Portuguese (as is patent in their writings) make use of the Portuguese compass, whose magnetic needles are fixed aside from the lily by half of one rumbe toward the east. Moreover on the sea the observation of the variation is a matter of great difficulty, on account of the motion of the ship and the uncertainty of the deviation, even with the more skilful observers, if they use the best made instruments to date known and used. Hence there arise different opinions concerning the magnetic deviation: as, for instance, near the Island of St. Helena the Portuguese Rodriguez de {178}Lagos measures half a rumbe. The Dutch in their nautical log fix it at a whole rumbe. Kendall, the expert Englishman, with a true meridional compass admits only a sixth part of a rumbe. A little to the East of Cape Agullias Diego Alfonso makes no variation, and shows by an Astrolabe that the compass remains in the true meridian. Rodriguez shows that the compass at Cape Agulhas has no variation if it is of Portuguese construction, in which the needles are inclined half a rumbe to the East. And there is the same confusion, negligence, and vanity in very many other instances.


On the variation under the equinoctial line,
and near it.

In the North the magnetic needle varies because of the Northern eminences of the continent; in the South because of the Southern; at the equator, if the regions on both sides were equal, there would be no variation. But because this rarely happens some variation is often observed under the equator; and even at some distance from the equator of three or 4 degrees toward the North, there may be a variation arising from the south, if those very wide and influential southern continents be somewhat near on one side.


The variation of the magnetic needle in the great
ethiopic and American sea, beyond
the equator.

Discourse hath already been had of the mode and reason of the variation in the great Atlantic Ocean: but when one has advanced beyond the equator off the east coast of Brazil the magnetic needle turns aside toward the mainland, namely, with that end of it which points to the south; so that with that end of the versorium [compass] it deviates from the true meridian toward the west; which navigators observe at the other end and suppose a variation to occur toward the east. But throughout the whole way from the first promontory on the east of Brazil, by {179}Cape St. Augustine and thence to Cape Frio, and further still to the mouth of the Strait of Magellan, the variation is always from the south toward the west with that end of the versorium which tends toward the antarctic pole. For it is always with the accordant end that it turns toward a continent. The variation, however, occurs not only on the coast itself, but at some distance from land, such as a space of fifty or sixty German miles or even more. But when at length one has progressed far from land, then the arc begins to diminish: for the magnetic needle turns aside the less toward what is too far off, and is turned aside the less from what is present and at hand, since it enjoys what is present. In the Island of St. Helena (the longitude of which is less than is commonly marked on charts and globes) the versorium varies by one degree or nearly two. The Portuguese and others taught by them, who navigate beyond the Cape of Good Hope to the Indies, set a course toward the Islands of Tristan d’Acunha, in order that they may enjoy more favourable winds; in the former part of their course the change of variation is not great; but after they have approached the islands the variation increases; and close to the islands it is greater than anywhere else in the whole course. For the end of the versorium tending to the south (in which lies the greatest source of the variation) is caught and allured toward the south-west by the great promontory of the southern land. But when they proceed onward toward the Cape of Good Hope the variation diminishes the more they approach it. But on the prime meridian in the latitude of 45 degrees, the versorium tends to the south-east: and one who navigates near the coast from Manicongo to the tropic, and a little beyond, will perceive that the versorium tends from the south to the east, although not much. At the promontory of Agulhas it preserves slightly the variation which it showed near the islands of d’Acunha, which nevertheless is very much diminished because of the greater remoteness from the cause of variation, and consequently there the south end of the versorium does not yet face exactly to the pole.


On the variation in Nova Zembla.

Variations in parts near the pole are greater (as has been shown before) and also have sudden changes, as in former years the Dutch explorers observed not badly, even if those observations were not exact—which indeed is pardonable in them; for with the usual instruments it is with difficulty {180}that the truth becomes known in such a high latitude (of about 80 degrees). Now, however, from the deviation of the compass the reason for there being an open course to the east by the Arctic Ocean appears manifest; for since the versorium has so ample a variation toward the north-west, it is demonstrable that a continent does not extend any great distance in the whole of that course toward the east. Therefore with the greater hope can the sea be attempted and explored toward the east for a passage to the Moluccas by the north-east than by the north-west.


Variation in the Pacific Ocean.

Passing the Strait of Magellan the deviation on the shore of Peru is toward the south-east, i.e., from the south toward the east. And a similar deflection would be continued along the whole coast of Peru as far as the equator. In a higher latitude up to 45 deg. the variation is greater than near the equator; and the deflection toward the south-east is in nearly the same proportion as was the deviation from the south toward the west on the eastern shore of South America. From the equator toward the North there is little or no variation until one comes to New Galicia; and thence along the whole shore as far as Quivira the inclination is from the north toward the east.


On the variation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sicilian and Italian sailors think that in the Sicilian Sea and toward the east up to the meridian of the Peloponnesus (as Franciscus Maurolycus relates) the magnetic needle "grecizes," that is, turns from the pole toward what is called the greek wind or Boreas; that on the shore of the Peloponnesus it looks toward the true pole; but that when they have proceeded further east, then it "mistralizes," because it tends from the pole toward the mistral or north-west wind: which agrees with our rule for the variation. For as the Mediterranean Sea is extended toward the west from that meridian, so on the side {181}toward the east the Mediterranean Sea lies open as far as Palestine; as toward North and East lie open the whole Archipelago and the neighbouring Black Sea. From the Peloponnesus toward the north pole the meridian passes through the largest and most elevated regions of all Europe; through Achaia, Macedonia, Hungary, Transylvania, Lithuania, Novogardia, Corelia and Biarmia.


The variation in the interior of large

Most of the great seas have great variations; in some parts, however, they have none, but the true directions are toward the pole. On continents, also, the magnetic needle often deviates from the meridian, as on the edge of the land and near the borders; but it is generally accustomed to deviate by a somewhat small arc. In the middle, however, of great regions there are no variations. Hence in the middle lands of Upper Europe, in the interior of Asia, and in the heart of Africa, of Peru, and in the regions of North or Mexican America, the versorium [compass] rests in the meridian.


Variation in the Eastern Ocean.

Variation 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 Brandoe Island, they make the versorium [compass] 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 {182}Mosambique the versorium inclines ¼ rumbe or even more to the south-west. Very wrongly also beyond the equator 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 equinoctial more than is commonly described on maps and globes.


How the deviation of the versorium [compass] is augmented and
diminished by reason of the distance of places.

In the middle of great and continent lands there is no variation. Nor, generally, in the middle of very great seas. On the margin of those lands and seas the variation is often ample, yet not so great as at a little further distance on the sea. As, for example, near Cape St. Augustine the compass varies; but at 50 miles from land toward the East it varies more; and 80 miles off it varies still more; and yet still more at a distance of 100 miles. But from a distance of 100 miles the diminutions of deviation are slower, when they are navigating toward the mainland, than at a distance of 80 miles, and at a distance of 80 miles than at 50: for the deviations change and are diminished rather more swiftly the more they approach and draw near land than when at a great distance off. As, for instance, navigating toward Newfoundland the change of variation is more rapid (that is, it decreases a degree in a smaller arc of the course on the parallel) when they are not far from land than when they are a hundred miles distant: but when travelling on land toward the interiors of regions the changes are slower in the first parts of the journey than when they come more into the interior.

The ratio of the arcs on a parallel circle, when a versorium is moved toward continents which extend to the pole, corresponds with the degrees of variation. Let A be the pole; B the eminences of the dominant lands; at C there is no variation caused by B, for it is too far away; at D the variation is very great because the versorium is allured or turned by the whole Earth toward the eminent {183}land B; and moreover it is not hindered, or restrained or brought back to the pole by the polarity of the Earth; but, tending of its own nature to the pole, it is nevertheless deflected from it by reason of the site, or position, and convenient distance of the dominant and high lands.

Change in variation with position

Now from C toward D the variation increases; the versorium, however, does not deviate so rapidly in the first spaces as near D: for more miles are traversed on the parallel circle C D, near C, in order that the versorium may deviate by one degree from the pole A, than near D. So also in order that the variation may be diminished from D toward E more miles are required near D than near E. Thus the deviations become equal in unequal courses, whether the variation be increasing or decreasing; and yet the variation decreases by lesser intervals than it increases. There intervene, however, many other causes which perturb this proportion.






In due course we have now come to that notable experiment, and remarkable motion of magnetic bodies dipping below the horizon by their own rotatory nature; by the knowledge of which is revealed a unity, a concordancy, and a mutual agreement between the terrestrial globe and the loadstone (or the magnetic iron), which is wonderful in itself, and is made manifest by our teaching. This motion we have made known in many striking experiments, and have established its rules; and in the following pages we shall demonstrate the causes of it, in such a way that no sound, logical mind can ever rightly set at nought or disprove our chief magnetic principles. Direction, as also variation, is demonstrated in a horizontal plane, when a balanced magnetic needle comes to rest at some definite point; but declination is seen to be the motion of a needle, starting from that point of the horizon, first balanced on its own axis, then empowered by a loadstone, one end or pole of it tending toward the centre of the Earth. And we have found that it takes place in proportion to the latitude of each region. But that motion arises in truth, not from any motion from the horizon toward the centre of the Earth, but from the turning of the whole magnetic body toward the whole of the Earth, as we shall show hereafter. Nor does the iron dip from the horizontal in some oblique sphere, according to the number of degrees of elevation of the pole in the given region, or by an equal arc in the quadrant, as will appear hereafter. {185}

Instrument of the Declination

Instrument of the Declination


Now how much it dips at every horizon may be ascertained in the first place by a contrivance, which, however, is not so easily made as is that in dials for measuring time, in which the needle turns to the points of the horizon, or in the mariners’ compass. From a plank of wood let a smooth and circular instrument be prepared, at least six digits in diameter, and affix this to the side of a square pillar, which stands upright on a wooden base. Divide the periphery of this instrument into 4 quadrants: then each quadrant into 90 degrees. At the centre of the instrument let there be placed a brass peg, at the centre of the end of which let there be a small hollow, well polished. To this wooden instrument let a brass circle or ring be fixed, about two digits in width, with a thin plate or flat rod of the same metal, representing the horizon, fixed across it, through the middle of the circle. In the middle of the horizontal rod let there be another hollow, which shall be exactly opposite the centre of the instrument, where the former hollow was made. Afterward let a needle be fashioned out of steel, as versoria [compasses] are accustomed to be made. Divide this at right angles by a thin iron axis (like a cross) through the very middle and centre of the wire and the cross-piece. Let this dipping-needle be hung (with the ends of the cross resting in the aforesaid holes) so that it can move freely and evenly on its axis in the most perfect equilibrium, so accurately that it turns away from no one point or degree marked on the circumference more than from another, but that it can rest quite easily at any. Let it be fixed upright to the front part of the pillar, whilst at the edge of the base is a small versorium to show direction. Afterward touch the iron, suspended by this ingenious method, on both ends with the opposite ends of a loadstone, according to the scientific method, but rather carefully, lest the needle be twisted in any way; for unless you prepare everything very skilfully and cleverly, you will secure no result. Then let another brass ring be prepared, a little larger, so as to contain the former one; and let a glass or a very thin plate of mica be fitted to one side of it. When this is put over the former ring, the whole space within remains inclosed, and the versorium is not interfered with by dust or winds. Dispose the instrument, thus completed, perpendicularly on its base, and with the small versorium horizontal, in such a way that, while standing perpendicularly, it may be directed toward the exact magnetic point respective. Then the end of the needle which looks toward the north dips below the horizon in northern regions, whilst in southern regions the end of the needle which looks toward the south tends toward the centre of the Earth, in a certain proportion (to be explained afterward) to the latitude of the district in question, from the equator on either side. The needle, however, must be rubbed on {187}a powerful loadstone; otherwise it does not dip to the true point, or else it goes past it, and does not always rest in it. A larger instrument may also be used, whose diameter may be 10 or 12 digits; but in such an instrument more care is needed to balance the versorium truly. Care must be taken that the needle be of steel; also that it be straight; likewise that both ends of the cross-piece be sharp and fixed at right angles to the needle, and that the cross-piece pass through the centre of the needle. As in other magnetic motions there is an exact agreement between the Earth and the stone, and a correspondence manifestly apparent to our senses by means of our experiments; so in this declination there is a clear and evident concordance of the terrestrial globe with the loadstone. Of this motion, so important and so long unknown to all men, the following is the sure and true cause. A magnet-stone is moved and turned round until one of its poles being impelled toward the north comes to rest toward a definite point of the horizon. This pole, which settles toward the north (as appears from the preceding rules and demonstrations), is the south, not the north; though all before us deemed it to be the north, on account of its turning to that point of the horizon. A wire or versorium touched on this pole of the stone turns to the south, and is made into a north pole, because it was touched by the south terminal of the stone. So if the cusp of a versorium be empowered [or magnetized] in a similar manner, it will be directed toward the south pole of the Earth, and will adjust itself also to it; but the cross (the other end) will be south, and will turn to the north of the Earth (the Earth itself being the cause of its motion); for so direction is produced from the disposition of the stone or of the empowered iron, and from the polarity of the Earth. But declination takes place when a magnetic is turned round toward the body of the Earth, with its south end toward the north, at some latitude away from the equator. For this is certain and constant, that exactly under the cœlestial equator, or rather over the equator of the terrestrial globe, there is no declination of a loadstone or of iron; but in whatever way the iron has been empowered or rubbed, it settles in the declination instrument precisely along the plane of the horizon, if it were properly balanced before. Now this occurs thus because, when the magnetic body is at an equal distance from either pole, it dips toward neither by its own magnetic nature, but remains evenly directed to the level of the horizon, as if it were resting on a pin or floating free and unhindered on water. But when the magnetic substance is at some latitude away from the equator, or when either pole of the Earth is raised (I do not say raised above the visible horizon, as the commonly imagined pole of the revolving universe in the sky, but above the horizon or its centre, or its proper diameter, equidistant from the plane of the visible horizon, which is the true elevation of the terrestrial pole), {188}Explanation of declination then declination is apparent, and the iron inclines toward the body of the Earth in its own meridian. Let A B, for example, be the visible horizon of a place; C D the horizontal through the Earth, dividing it into equal parts; E F the axis of the Earth; G the position of the place. It is manifest that the north pole E is elevated above the point C by as much as G is distant from the equator. Wherefore, since at E the magnetic needle stands perpendicularly in its proper turning (as we have often shown before), so now at G there is a certain tendency to turn in proportion to the latitude (the magnetic dipping below the plane of the horizon), and the magnetic body intersects the horizon at unequal angles, and exhibits a declination below the horizon. For the same reason, if the declinatory needle be placed at G, its south end, the one namely which is directed toward the North, dips below the plane of the visible horizon A B. And so there is the greatest difference between a right sphere and a polar or parallel sphere, in which the pole is at the very Zenith. For in a right sphere the needle is parallel to the plane of the horizon; but when the cœlestial pole is vertically overhead, or when the pole of the Earth is itself the place of the region, then the needle is perpendicular to the horizon. This is shown by a round stone. Let a small dipping-needle, of two digits length (rubbed with a magnet), be hung in the air like a balance, and let the stone be carefully placed under it; and first let the terrella be at right angles, as in a right sphere, and as in the first figure; for so the magnetic needle will remain in equilibrium. But in an oblique position of the terrella, as in an oblique sphere, and in the second figure, the needle dips obliquely at one end toward the near pole, but does not rest on the pole, nor is its dip ruled by the pole, but by the body and mass of the whole; for the {189}dip in higher latitudes passes beyond the pole.
*But in the third position of the terrella the needle is perpendicular; because the pole of the stone is placed at the top, and the needle tending straight toward the body reaches to the pole. The cross in the preceding figures always turns toward the north pole of the terrella, having been touched by the north pole of the terrella; the cusp of the needle, having been touched by the south pole of the stone, turns to the south. Thus one may see on a terrella the level, oblique, and perpendicular positions of a magnetic needle.

Examples of declination on terrella


Diagram of declinations of the magnetic needle, when
empowered, in the various portions of the sphere, and horizons
of the Earth, in which there is no variation
of the declination.

Declinations of the magnetic needle


As equator let A B be taken, C the north pole, D the south, E G dipping-needles in the northern, H F in the southern part of the Earth or of a terrella [magnetic model Earth]. In the diagram before us all the cusps have been touched by the true Arctic pole of the terrella.

Here we have the level position of the magnetic needle on the equator of the Earth and the stone, at A and B, and its perpendicular position at C, D, the poles; whilst at the places midway between, at a distance of 45 degrees, the crosses of the needle dip toward the south, but the cusps just as much toward the north. Of which thing the reason will become clear from the demonstrations that follow.

* Diagram of the rotation and declination of a terrella
conforming to the globe of the Earth, for a
latitude of 50 degrees north.

Declinations of the magnetic needle

A is the north pole of the Earth or of a rather large terrella, B the south, C a smaller terrella, E the south pole of the smaller terrella, dipping in the northern regions. The centre C is placed on the surface of the larger terrella, because the smaller terrella shows some variation on account of the length of the axis; inappreciable, however, on the Earth. Just as a magnetic needle dips in a regional latitude of 50 degrees, so also the axis of a stone (of a spherical stone, of course) is depressed below the horizon, and its natural south pole falls, and its north pole is raised on the {191}south toward the Zenith. In the same way also a circular disc of iron behaves, which has been carefully touched at opposite parts on its circumference; but the magnetic experiments are less clear on account of the feebler forces in round pieces of iron.

Variety in the declinations of iron spikes at various latitudes of a terrella.

Variety in the declinations of iron spikes

The declination of a magnetic needle above a terrella is shown by means of several equal iron wires, of the length of a barleycorn, arranged along a meridian. The wires on the equator are directed by the power of the stone toward the poles, and lie down upon its body along the plane of its horizon. The nearer they are brought to the poles, the more they are raised up by their magnetic nature. At the poles themselves they point perpendicularly toward the very centre. But iron spikes, if they are of more than a due length, are not raised straight up except on a vigorous stone.



An indicatory instrument, showing by the power of a
stone [loadstone] the degrees of declination from the horizon
of each several latitude.


Indicatory instrument


Description of the Instrument, and its use.

Take a terrella of the best strong loadstone, and homogeneous throughout, not weakened by decay or by a flaw in any parts; let it be of a fair size, so that its diameter is six or seven digits; and let it be made exactly spherical. Having found its poles according to the method already shown, mark them with an iron tool; then mark also the equinoctial circle. Afterwards in a thick squared block of wood, one foot in size, make a hemispherical hollow, which shall hold half of the terrella, and such that exactly one half of the stone shall project above the face of the block. Divide the limb close to this cavity (a circle having been drawn round it for a meridian) into 4 quadrants, and each of these into 90 degrees. Let the terminus of the quadrants on the limb be near the centre of a quadrant described on the block, also divided into 90 degrees. At that centre let a short, slender versorium (its other end being rather sharp and elongated like a pointer) be placed in equilibrium on a suitable pin. It is manifest that when the poles of the stone are at the starting points of the quadrants, then the versorium lies straight, as if in equilibrium, over the terrella. But if you move the terrella, so that the pole on the left hand rises, then the versorium rises on the meridian in proportion to the latitude, and turns itself as a magnetic body; and on the quadrant described on the flat surface of the wood, the degree of its turning or of the declination is shown by the versorium. The rim of the cavity represents a meridional circle, to which corresponds some meridian circle of the terrella, since the poles on both sides are within the circumference of the rim itself. These things clearly always happen on the same plan on the Earth itself when there is no variation; but when there is variation, either in the direction or in the declination (a disturbance, as it were, in the true turning, on account of causes to be explained later), then there is some difference. Let the quadrant be near the limb, or have its centre on the limb itself, and let the versorium be very short, so as not to touch the terrella, because with a versorium that is longer or more remote, there is some error; for it has a motion truly proportionate to the terrella only on the surface of the terrella. But if the quadrant, being far distant from the terrella, were moved within the sphere of action of the terrella toward the pole on some circle concentric with the terrella, then the versorium would indicate the degrees of declination on the quadrant, in proportion to and symmetrically with that circle, not with the terrella.



Concerning the length of a versorium convenient
for declination on a terrella.

Declination being investigated on the Earth itself by means of a declination instrument, we may use either a short or a very long versorium, if only the magnetic power of the stone [loadstone] that touches it is able to permeate through the whole of its middle and through all its length. For the greatest length of a versorium has no moment or perceptible proportion to the Earth’s semi-diameter. On a terrella, however, or in a plane near a meridian of a terrella, a short versorium is desirable, of the length, say, of a barleycorn; for longer ones (because they reach further) dip and turn toward the body of the terrella suddenly and irregularly in the first degrees of declination. Too long a versorium For example, as soon as the long versorium is moved forward from the equator A to C, it catches on the stone with its cusp (as if with a long extended wing), when the cusp reaches to the parts about B, which produce a greater rotation than at C. And the extremities of longer wires also and rods turn irregularly, just as iron wires and balls of iron and other spherical loadstones are likewise turned about irregularly by a long non-spherical loadstone. Just so magnetics or iron bodies on the surface of a terrella ought not to have too long an axis, but a very short one; so that they may make a declination on the terrella truly and naturally proportionate to that on the Earth. A long versorium also close to a terrella with difficulty stands steady in a horizontal direction on a right sphere, and, beginning to waver, it dips immediately to one side, especially the end that was touched, or (if both were touched) the one which felt the stone last.



That declination does not arise from the attraction
of the loadstone, but from a disposing and
rotating influence.

In the universe of nature that marvellous provision of its Maker should be noticed, whereby the principal bodies are restrained within certain habitations and fenced in, as it were (nature controlling them). For this reason the stars, though they move and advance, are not thrown into confusion. Magnetic rotations also arise from a disposing influence, whether in greater and dominating quantity, or in a smaller, and compliant quantity, even though it be very small. For the work is not accomplished by attraction, but by an incitation of each substance, by a motion of agreement toward fixed bounds, beyond which no advance is made. For if the versorium dipped by reason of an attractive force, then a terrella made from a very strong magnetic stone would cause the versorium [compass] to turn toward itself more than one made out of an average stone, and a piece of iron touched with a vigorous loadstone would dip more. This, however, never happens. Moreover, an iron snout placed on a meridian in any latitude does not raise a spike more toward the perpendicular than the stone itself, alone and unarmed; although when thus equipped, it plucks up and raises many greater weights. But if a loadstone be sharper toward one pole, toward the other blunter, the sharp end or pole allures a magnetic needle more strongly, the blunt, thick end makes it rotate more strongly;
* but a spherical stone makes it rotate strongly and truly, in accordance with magnetic rules and its spherical shape. A long stone, on the other hand, extended from pole to pole, moves a versorium toward it irregularly; for in this case the pole of the versorium always looks down on the pole itself. Similarly also, if the loadstone have been made in the shape of a circle, and its poles are on the circumference, whilst the body of it is plane, not spherical, if the plane be brought near a versorium, the versorium does not move with the regular magnetic rotation, as on a terrella; but it turns looking always toward the pole of the loadstone, which has its seat on the circumference of the plane.
* Moreover, if the stone caused the versorium to rotate by attracting it, then in the first degrees of latitude, it would attract the end of a short versorium toward the body itself of the terrella; yet it does not so attract it that they are brought into contact and unite; but the versorium rotates just so far as nature demands, as is clear from this example. {196}Dipping of a versorium For the cusp of a versorium placed in a low latitude does not touch the stone or unite with it, but only inclines toward it. Moreover, when a magnetic body rotates in dipping, the pole of the versorium is not stayed or detained by the pole of the Earth or terrella; but it rotates regularly, and does not stop at any point or bound, nor point straight to the pole toward which the centre of the versorium is advancing, unless on the pole itself, and once only between the pole and the equator; but it dips as it advances, according as the change of position of its centre gives a reason for its inclination in accordance with magnetic rules. The declination of a magnetic needle in water also, as demonstrated in the following pages, is a fixed quantity; the magnetic needle does not descend to the bottom of the vessel, but remains steady in the middle, rotated on its centre according to its due amount of declination. This would not happen, if the Earth or its poles by their attraction drew down the end of the magnetic needle, so that it dipped in this way.


On the proportion of declination to latitude, and
the cause of it.

Concerning the making of an instrument for finding declination, the causes and manner of declination, and the different degrees of rotation in different places, the inclination of the stone [loadstone], and concerning an instrument indicating by the influence of a stone the degree of declination from any horizon we have already spoken. Then we spoke about needles on the meridian of a stone, and their rotation shown for various latitudes by their rise toward the perpendicular. We must now, however, treat more fully of the causes of the degree of that inclination. Whilst a loadstone and a magnetic iron wire are moved along a meridian from the equator toward the pole, they rotate toward a round loadstone, as also toward the Earth with a circular movement. On a right horizon (just as also on the equinoctial of {197}the stone) the axis of the iron, which is its centre line, is a line parallel to the axis of the Earth. When that axis reaches the pole, which is the centre of the axis, it stands in the same straight line with the axis of the Earth. The same end of the iron which at the equator looks south turns to the north. For it is not a motion of centre to centre, but a natural turning of a magnetic body to a magnetic body, and of the axis of the body to the axis; it is not in consequence of the attraction of the pole itself that the iron points to the Earth’s polar point. Under the equator the magnetic needle remains in equilibrium horizontally; but toward the pole on either side, in every latitude from the beginning of the first degree right up to the ninetieth, it dips. The magnetic needle does not, however, in proportion to any number of degrees or any arc of latitude fall below the horizon just that number of degrees or a similar arc, but a very different one: because this motion is not really a motion of declination, but is in A magnetic body rotates more quickly than
  the centre advances reality a motion of rotation, and it observes an arc of rotation according to the arc of latitude. Therefore a magnetic body A, while it is advancing over the Earth itself, or a little Earth or terrella, from the equinoctial G toward the pole B, rotates on its own centre, and halfway on the progress of its centre from the equator to the pole B it is pointing toward the equator at F, midway between the two poles. Much more quickly, therefore, must the versorium rotate than its centre advances, in order that by rotating it may face straight toward the point F. Wherefore the motion of this rotation is rapid in the first degrees from the equator, namely, from A to L; but more tardy in the later degrees from L to B, when facing from the equator at F to C. But if the declination were equal to the latitude (i.e., always just as many degrees from the horizon, as the centre of the versorium has receded from the equator), then the magnetic needle would be following some potency and peculiar power of the centre, as if it {198}were a point operating by itself.
* But it pays regard to the whole, both its mass, and its outer limits; the forces of both uniting, as well of the magnetic versorium as of the Earth.


Explanation of the diagram of the rotation of
a magnetic needle.

Diagram of the rotation of a magnetic needle

Suppose A C D L to be the body of the Earth or of a terrella, its centre M, equator A D, Axis C L, A B the Horizon, which changes according to the place. From the point F on a Horizon distant from the equator A by the length of C M, the semi-diameter of the Earth or terrella, an arc is described to H as the limit of the quadrants of declination; for {199}all the quadrants of declination serving the parts from A to C begin from that arc, and terminate at M, the centre of the Earth. The semi-diameter of this arc is a chord drawn from the equator A to the pole C; and a line produced along the horizon from A to B, equal to that chord, gives the beginning of the arc of the limits of arcs of rotation and revolution, which is continued as far as G. For just as a quadrant of a circle about the centre of the Earth (whose beginning is on the horizon, at a distance from the equator equal to the Earth’s semi-diameter) is the limit of all quadrants of declination drawn from each several horizon to the centre; so a circle about the centre from B, the beginning of the first arc of rotation, to G is the limit of the arcs of rotation. The arcs of rotation and revolution of the magnetic needle are intermediate between the arcs of rotation B L and G L. The centre of the arc is the region itself or place in which the observation is being made; the beginning of the arc is taken from the circle which is the limit of rotations, and it stops at the opposite pole; as, for example, from O to L, in a latitude of 45 degrees. Let any arc of rotation be divided into 90 equal parts from the limit of the arcs of rotation toward the pole; for whatever is the degree of latitude of the place, the part of the arc of rotation which the magnetic pole on or near the terrella or the Earth faces in its rotation is to be numbered similarly to this. The straight lines in the following larger diagram show this. The magnetic rotation at the middle point in a latitude of 45 degrees is directed toward the equator, in which case also that arc is a quadrant of a circle from the limit to the pole; but previous to this all the arcs of rotation are greater than a quadrant, whilst after it they are smaller; in the former the needle rotates more quickly, but in the succeeding positions gradually more slowly. For each several region there is a special arc of rotation, in which the limit to which the needle rotates is according to the number of degrees of latitude of the place in question; so that a straight line drawn from the place to the point on that arc marked with the number of degrees of latitude shows the magnetic direction, and indicates the degree of declination at the intersection of the quadrant of declination which serves the given place. Take away the arc of the quadrant of declination drawn from the centre to the line of direction; that which is left is the arc of declination below the horizon. As, for example, in the rotation of the versorium N, whose line respective proceeds to D, from the quadrant of declination, S M, take away its arc R M; that which is left is the arc of declination: how much, that is, the needle dips in the latitude of 45 degrees.



Diagram of the rotation of a magnetic needle,
indicating magnetic declination in all latitudes, and
from the rotation and declination, the
latitude itself.

In the more elaborate diagram a circle of rotations and a circle of declinations are adjusted to the body of the Earth or terrella, with a first, a last, and a middle arc of rotation and declination. Now from each fifth division of the arc which limits all the arcs of rotation (and which are understood as divided into 90 equal parts) arcs are drawn to the pole, and from every fifth degree of the arc limiting the quadrants of declination, quadrants are drawn to the centre; and at the same time a spiral line is drawn, indicating (by the help of a movable quadrant) the declination in every latitude. Straight lines showing the direction of the needle are drawn from those degrees which are marked on the meridian of the Earth or a terrella to their proper arcs and the corresponding points on those arcs.

To ascertain the elevation of the pole or the latitude of a place anywhere
in the world, by means of the following diagram, turned into
a magnetic instrument, without the help of the cœlestial
bodies, sun, planets, or fixed stars, in fog
and darkness

More elaborate diagram

We may see how far from unproductive magnetic science is, how agreeable, how helpful, how divine! Sailors when tossed about on the waves with continuous cloudy weather, and unable by means of the cœlestial luminaries to learn anything about the place or the region in which they are, with a very slight effort and with a small instrument are comforted, and learn the latitude of the place. With a declination instrument the degree of declination of the magnetic needle below the horizon is observed; that degree is noted on the inner arc of the quadrant, and the quadrant is turned round about the centre of the instrument until that degree on the quadrant touches the spiral line; then in the open space B at the centre of the quadrant the latitude of the region on {201}the circumference of the Earth is discerned by means of the fiducial line A B. Let the diagram be fixed on a suitable flat board, and let the centre of the corner A of the quadrant be fastened to the centre of it, so that the quadrant may rotate on that centre. But it must be understood that there is also in certain places a variation in the declination on account of causes already mentioned (though not a large one), which it will be an assistance also to allow for on a likely estimate; and it will be especially helpful to observe this variation in various places, as it seems to present greater difficulty than the variation in direction; but it is easily learnt with a declination instrument, when it dips more or less than the line in the diagram.


To observe magnetic declination at sea.

Set upon our variation instrument a declination instrument; a wooden disc being placed between the round movable {202}compass and the declination instrument: but first remove the versorium, lest the versorium should interfere with the dipping needle. In this way (though the sea be rough) the compass box will remain upright at the level of the horizon. The stand of the declination instrument must be directed by means of the small versorium at its base, which is set to the point respective of the variation, on the great circle of which (commonly called the magnetic meridian), the plane of the upright box is arranged; thus the declinatorium (by its magnetic nature) indicates the degree of declination.

In a declination instrument the magnetic needle, which
in a meridional position dips, if turned
along a parallel hangs perpendicularly.

In a proper position a magnetic needle, while by its rotatory nature conformed to the Earth, dips to some certain degree below the horizon on an oblique sphere. But when the plane of the instrument is moved out of the plane of the meridian, the magnetic needle (which tends toward the pole) no longer remains at the degree of its own declination, but inclines more toward the centre; for the force of direction is stronger than that of declination, and all power of declination is taken away, if the plane of the instrument is on a parallel. For then the magnetic needle, because it cannot maintain its due position on account of the axis being placed transversely, faces down perpendicularly to the Earth; and it remains only on its own meridian, or on that which is commonly called the magnetic meridian.


Demonstration of direction, or of variation from the
true direction, at the same time with declination, by
means of only a single motion in water, due
to the disposing and rotating force.

Floating versorium shows both motions

* Fix a slender iron wire of three digits length through a round cork, so that the cork may support the iron in water. Let this water be in a good-sized glass vase or bowl. Pare the round cork little by little with a very sharp knife (so that it may remain round), until it will stay motionless one or two digits below the face of the water; and let the wire be evenly balanced. {203}Rub one end of the wire thus prepared on the north end of a loadstone and the other on the south part of the stone (very skilfully, so that the cork may not be moved ever so little from its place) and again place it in the water; then the wire will dip with a circular motion on its own centre below the plane of the horizon, in proportion to the latitude of the region; and, even while dipping, will also show the point of variation (the true direction being perturbed). Let the loadstone (that with which the iron is rubbed) be a strong one, such as is needed in all experiments on magnetic declination. When the iron, thus put into the water and prepared by means of the loadstone, has settled in the dip, the lower end remains at the point of variation on the arc of a great circle or magnetic meridian passing through the Zenith or vertex, and the point of variation on the horizon, and the lowest point of the heavens, which they call the Nadir. This fact is shown by placing a rather long magnetic versorium on one side a little way from the vase. This is a demonstration of a more absolute conformity of a magnetic body with the Earth’s body as regards unity; in it is made {204}apparent, in a natural manner, the direction, with its variation, and the declination. But it must be understood that as it is a curious and difficult experiment, so it does not remain long in the middle of the water, but sinks at length to the bottom, when the cork has imbibed too much moisture.


On the variation of the declination.

* Direction has been spoken of previously, and also variation, which is like a kind of dragging aside of the direction. Now in declination such irregular motion is also noticed, when the needle dips beyond the proper point or when sometimes it does not reach its mark. There is therefore a variation of declination, being the arc of a magnetic meridian between the true and apparent declination. For as, on account of terrestrial elevations, magnetic bodies are drawn away from the true meridian, so also the needle dips (its rotation being increased a little) beyond its genuine position. For as variation is a deviation of the direction, so also, owing to the same cause, there is some error of declination, though often very slight. Sometimes, also, when there is no variation of direction in the horizontal, there may nevertheless be variation of the declination; namely, either when more vigorous parts of the Earth crop out exactly meridionally, i.e. under the very meridian; or when those parts are less powerful than nature in general requires; or when the force is too much intensified in one part, or weakened in another, just as one may observe in the Great Ocean [Atlantic]. And this discrepant nature and varying effect may be easily seen in certain parts of almost any round loadstone. Inequality of power is recognized in any part of a terrella by trial of the demonstration in chap. 2 of this book. But the effect is clearly demonstrated by the instrument for showing declination in chap. 3 of this book.



On the essential magnetic activity spherically

* Discourse hath often been held concerning the poles of the Earth and of the stone, and concerning the equinoctial zone; whilst lately we have been speaking about the declining of magnetics toward the Earth and toward the terrella, and the causes of it. But while by various and complicated devices we have laboured long and hard to arrive at the cause of this declination, we have by good fortune found out a new and admirable (beyond the marvels of all magnetical forces) science of the spheres of action themselves. For such is the power of magnetic globes, that it is diffused and extended into spheres outside the body itself, the form being carried beyond the limits of the corporeal substance; and a mind diligently versed in this study of nature will find the definite causes of the motions and revolutions. The same powers of a terrella exist also within the whole sphere of its power; and these spheres at any distance from the body of the terrella have in themselves, in proportion to their diameter and the magnitude of their circumference, their own limits of influences, or points wherein magnetic bodies rotate; but they do not look toward the same part of the terrella or the same point at any distance from the same (unless they be on the axis of the spheres and of the terrella); but they always tend to those points of their own spheres, which are distant by similar arcs from the common axis of the spheres. As, for example, in the following diagram, we show the body of a terrella, with its poles and equator; and also a versorium [compass] on three other concentric spheres around the terrella at some distance from it. In these spheres (as in all those which we may imagine without end) the magnetic body or versorium conforms to its own sphere in which it is located, and to its diameter and poles and equator, not to those of the terrella; and it is by them and according to the magnitude of their spheres that the magnetic body is governed, rotated, and directed, in any arc of that sphere, both while the centre of the magnetic body stands still, and also while it moves along. And yet we do not mean that the magnetic forms and spheres exist in air or water or in any medium that is not magnetic; as if the air or the water were susceptible of them, or were induced by them; for the forms are only emitted and really subsist when magnetic substances are there; whence a magnetic body is laid hold of within the forces and limits of the spheres; and within the spheres magnetics {206}dispose magnetics and incite them, as if the spheres of action were solid and material loadstones. For the magnetic force does not pass through the whole medium or really exist as in a continuous body; so the spheres are magnetic, and yet not real spheres nor existent by themselves.

Diagram of motions in magnetic spheres of action.

motions in magnetic spheres of action

A B is the axis of the terrella and of the spheres, C D the equator. On all the spheres, as on the terrella, at the equator the versorium [compass] arranges itself along the plane of the horizon; on the axis it everywhere looks perpendicularly toward the centre; in the intermediate spaces E looks toward D; and G looks toward H, not toward F, as the versorium L does on the surface of the terrella. But as is the relation of L to F on the surface of the terrella, so is that of G to H on its sphere and of E to D on its sphere; also all the rotations on {207}the spheres toward the termini of the spheres are such as they are on the surface of the terrella, or toward the termini of its surface. But if in the more remote spheres this fails somewhat at times, it happens on account of the sluggishness of the stone, or on account of the feebler forces due to the too great distance of the spheres from the terrella.


Set upon the instrumental diagram described farther back [chap. 3] a plate or stiff circle of brass or tin, on which may be described the magnetic spheres, as in the diagram above; and in the middle let a hole be made according to the size of the terrella, so that the plate may lie evenly on the wood about the middle of the terrella on a meridional circle. Then let a small versorium [compass] of the length of a barley-corn be placed on any sphere; upon which, when it is moved to various positions on the same circle, it will always pay regard to the dimensions of that sphere, not to those of the stone; as is shown in the diagram of the emitted magnetic forms.

While some assign occult and hidden powers of substances, others a property of matter, as the causes of the wonderful magnetic effects; we have discovered the primary substantive form of the [magnetic] spheres, not from a conjectural shadow of the truth of reasons variously controverted; but we have laid hold of the true efficient cause, as from many other demonstrations, so also from this most certain diagram of magnetic forces emitted by the form. Though this (the form) has not been brought under any of our senses, and on that account is the less perceived by the intellect, it now appears manifest and conspicuous even to the eyes through this essential activity which proceeds from it as light from a lamp. And here it must be noted that a magnetic needle, moved on the top of the Earth or of a terrella or of the emitted spheres, makes two complete rotations in one circuit of its centre, like some epicycle about its orbit.



Magnetic force is animate, or imitates life; and in
many things surpasses human life, while this is bound
up in the organic body.

A loadstone is a wonderful thing in very many experiments, and like a living creature. And one of its remarkable powers is that which the ancients considered to be a living soul in the sky, in the globes and in the stars, in the sun and in the moon. For they suspected that such various motions could not arise without a divine and animate nature, immense bodies turned about in fixed times, and wonderful powers infused into other bodies; whereby the whole universe flourishes in most beautiful variety, through this primary form of the globes themselves. The ancients, as Thales, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Parmenides, Plato, and all the Platonists, and not only the older Greeks, but the Egyptians and Chaldeans, seek for some universal life in the universe, and affirm that the whole universe is endowed with life. Aristotle affirms that not the whole universe is animate, but only the sky; but he maintains that its elements are inanimate; whilst the stars themselves are animate. We, however, find this life in the globes only and in their homogenic parts; and though it is not the same in all globes (for it is much more eminent in the sun and in certain stars than in others of less nobility) yet in very many the lives of the globes agree in their powers. For each several homogenic part attracts to its own globe in a similar manner, and has an inclination to the common direction of the whole in the universe; and the emitted forms extend outward in all, and are carried out into a sphere, and have bounds of their own; hence the order and regularity of the motions and rotations of all the planets, and their courses, not wandering away, but fixed and determined. Wherefore Aristotle concedes life to the spheres themselves and to the spheres of the heavens (which he feigns), because they are suitable and fitted for a circular motion and actions, and are carried along in fixed and definite courses. It is surely wonderful, why the globe of the Earth alone with its emissions is condemned by him and his followers and cast into exile (as senseless and lifeless), and driven out of all the perfection of the excellent universe. It is treated as a small corpuscle in comparison with the whole, and in the numerous concourse of many thousands it is obscure, disregarded, and unhonoured. {209}With it also they connect the kindred elements, in a like unhappiness, wretched and neglected. Let this therefore be looked upon as a monstrosity in the Aristotelian universe, in which everything is perfect, vigorous, animated; whilst the Earth alone, an unhappy portion, is paltry, imperfect, dead, inanimate, and decadent. But on the other hand Hermes, Zoroaster, Orpheus, recognize a universal life. We, however, consider that the whole universe is animated, and that all the globes, all the stars, and also the noble Earth have been governed since the beginning by their own appointed souls and have the motives of self-conservation. Nor are there wanting, either implanted in their homogenic nature or scattered through their homogenic substance, organs suitable for organic activity, although these are not fashioned of flesh and blood as animals, or composed of regular limbs, which are also hardly perceptible in certain plants and vegetables; since regular limbs are not necessary for all life. Nor can any organs be discerned or imagined by us in any of the stars, the sun, or the planets, which are specially operative in the universe; yet they live and imbue with life the small particles in the prominences on the Earth. If there be anything of which men can boast, it is in fact life, intelligence; for the other animals are ennobled by life; God also (by whose nod all things are ruled) is a living soul. Who therefore will demand organs for the divine intelligences, which rise superior to every combination of organs and are not restrained by materialized organs? But in the several bodies of the stars the implanted force acts otherwise than in those divine existences which are supernaturally ordained; and in the stars, the sources of things, otherwise than in animals; in animals again otherwise than in plants. Miserable were the condition of the stars, abject the lot of the Earth, if that wonderful dignity of life be denied to them, which is conceded to worms, ants, moths, plants, and toadstools; for thus worms, moths, grubs would be bodies more honoured and perfect in nature; for without life no body is excellent, valuable, or distinguished. But since living bodies arise and receive life from the Earth and the sun, and grass grows on the Earth apart from any seeds thrown down (as when soil is dug up from deep down in the Earth, and put on some very high place or on a very high tower, in a sunny spot, not so long after various grasses spring up unbidden) it is not likely that they can produce what is not in them; but they awaken life, and therefore they are living. Therefore the bodies of the globes, as important parts of the universe, in order that they might be independent and that they might continue in that condition, had a need for souls to be united with them, without which there can be neither life, nor primary activity, nor motion, nor coalition, nor controlling power, nor harmony, nor endeavour, nor sympathy; and without which there would be no generation {210}of anything, no alternations of the seasons, no propagation; but all things would be carried this way and that, and the whole universe would fall into wretchedest Chaos, the Earth in short would be vacant, dead, and useless. But it is only on the superficies of the globes that the concourse of living and animated beings is clearly perceived, in the great and pleasing variety of which the great master-workman is well pleased. But those souls which are restrained within a kind of barrier and in prison cells as it were, do not emit immaterial emitted forms outside the limits of their bodies; and bodies are not moved by them without labour and waste. They are brought and carried away by a breath; and when this has calmed down or been suppressed by some untoward influence, their bodies lie like the dregs of the universe and as the refuse of the globes. But the globes themselves remain and continue from year to year, move, and advance, and complete their courses, without waste or weariness. The human soul uses reason, sees many things, inquires about many more; but even the best instructed receives by his external senses (as through a lattice) light and the beginnings of knowledge. Hence come so many errors and follies, by which our judgments and the actions of our lives are perverted; so that few or none order their actions rightly and justly. But the magnetical force of the Earth and the formate life or living form of the globes, without perception, without error, without injury from ills and diseases so present with us, has an implanted activity, vigorous through the whole material mass, fixed, constant, directive, executive, governing, consentient; by which the generation and death of all things are carried on upon the surface. For, without that motion, by which the daily revolution is performed, all Earthly things around us would ever remain savage and neglected, and more than deserted and absolutely idle. But those motions in the sources of nature are not caused by thinking, by petty syllogisms, and theories, as human actions, which are wavering, imperfect, and undecided; but along with them reason, instruction, knowledge, discrimination have their origin, from which definite and determined actions arise, from the very foundations that have been laid and the very beginnings of the universe; which we, on account of the infirmity of our minds, cannot comprehend. Wherefore Thales, not without cause (as Aristotle relates in his book De Anima), held that the loadstone was animate, being a part and a choice offspring of its animate mother the Earth.





great magnet.

To date our subject hath been the loadstone and things magnetic: how they conspire together, and are acted upon, how they conform themselves to the terrella [magnetic model Earth] and to the Earth. Now must we consider separately the globe of the Earth itself. Those experiments which have been proved by means of the terrella, how magnetic things conform themselves to the terrella, are all or at least the principal and most important of them, displayed by means of the Earth’s Body: And to the Earth things magnetic are in all respects associate. First, as in the terrella the equator, meridians, parallels, axis, poles are natural boundaries, as numerous experiments make plain: So also in the Earth these boundaries are natural, not mathematical only (as all before us used to suppose). These boundaries the same experiments display and establish in both cases alike, in the Earth no less than in the terrella. Just as on the periphery of a terrella a loadstone or a magnetic piece of iron is directed to its proper pole: so on the Earth’s surface are there turnings-about, peculiar, manifest, and constant on either side of the equator. Iron is endowed with polarity by being extended toward a pole of the Earth, just as toward a pole of the terrella: By its being placed down also, and cooling toward the Earth’s pole after the pristine polarity has {212}been annulled by fire, it acquires new polarity, conformable to its position Earthward. Iron rods also, when placed some considerable time toward the poles, acquire polarity merely by regarding the Earth; just as the same rods, if placed toward the pole of a loadstone, even without touching it, receive polar power. There is no magnetic body that in any way runs to the terrella which does not also wait upon the Earth. As a loadstone is stronger at one end on one side or other of its equator: so is the same property displayed by a small terrella upon the surface of a larger terrella. According to the variety and artistic skill in the rubbing of the magnetic iron upon the terrella, so do the magnetic things perform their function more efficiently or more feebly. In motions toward the Earth’s body, as toward the terrella a variation is displayed due to the unlikeness, inequality, and imperfection of its eminences: So every variation of the versorium or mariners’ compass, everywhere by land or by sea, which thing has so sorely disturbed men’s minds, is discerned and recognized as due to the same causes. The magnetic dip (which is the wonderful turning of magnetic things to the body of the terrella) in systematic course, is seen in clearer light to be the same thing upon the Earth. And that single experiment, by a wonderful indication, as with a finger, proclaims the grand magnetic nature of the Earth to be innate and diffused through all her inward parts. A magnetic power exists then in the Earth just as in the terrella, which is a part of the Earth, homogenic in nature with it, but rounded by Art, so as to correspond with the Earth’s globous shape and in order that in the chief experiments it might accord with the globe of the Earth.


The Magnetic axis of the Earth
persists invariable.

As in the very first beginnings of the world’s motion, the Earth’s magnetic axis passed through the midst of the Earth: so now it tends through the centre to the same points of the superficies; the circle and plane of the equinoctial line also persisting. For not without the vastest overthrow of the terrene mass can these natural boundaries be changed, as it is easy to gather from magnetic demonstrations. Wherfore the opinion of Dominicus Maria of Ferrara, a most talented man, who was the teacher of Nicolas Copernicus, must be abolished; a view {213}which, according to certain observations of his own, is as follows. "I," he says, "in former years while studying Ptolemy’s Geographia discovered that the elevations of the North pole placed by him in the several regions, fall short of what they are in our time by one degree and ten minutes: which divergence can by no means be ascribed to an error of the tables: For it is not credible that the whole series in the book is equally wrong in the figures of the tables: Hence it is necessary to allow that the North pole has been tilted toward the vertical point. Accordingly a lengthy observation has already begun to disclose to us things hidden from our forefathers; not indeed through any sloth of theirs, but because they lacked the prolonged observation of their predecessors: For before Ptolemy very few places were observed with regard to the elevations of the pole, as he himself also bears witness at the beginning of his Cosmographia: (For, says he) Hipparchus alone hath handed down to us the latitudes of a few places, but a good many have noted those of distances; especially those which lie toward sunrise or sunset were received by some general tradition, not owing to any sloth on the part of authors themselves, but to the fact that there was as yet no practice of more exact mathematics. ’Tis accordingly no wonder, if our predecessors did not mark this very slow motion: For in one thousand and seventy years it shows itself to be displaced scarce one degree toward the apex of dwellers upon the Earth. The strait of Gibraltar shows this, where in Ptolemy’s time the North pole appears elevated 36 degrees and a quarter from the Horizon: whereas now it is 37 and two-fifths. The like divergence is also shown at Leucopetra in Calabria, and at particular spots in Italy, namely those which have not changed from Ptolemy’s time to our own. And so by reason of this movement, places now inhabited will some day become deserted, while those regions which are now parched at the torrid zone will, though long hence, be reduced to our temper of climate. Thus, as in a course of three hundred and ninety five thousands of years, is that very slow movement completed" Thus, according to these observations of Dominicus Maria, the North pole is at a higher elevation, and the latitudes of places are greater than formerly; whence he argues a change of latitudes. Now, however, Stadius, taking just the contrary view, proves by observations that the latitudes have decreased. For he says: "The latitude of Rome in Ptolemy’s Geographia is 41 degrees ⅔: and that you may not suppose any error of reckoning to have crept in on the part of Ptolemy, on the day of the equinox in the city of Rome, the ninth part of the gnomon of the sun-dial is lacking in shadow, as Pliny relates and Vitruvius witnesses in his ninth book" But the observation of moderns (according to Erasmus Rheinholdus) gives the same in our time as 41 degrees with a sixth: so that you are in doubt as to half of one degree in {214}the centre of the world, whether you show it to have decreased by the Earth’s obliquity of motion. One may see then how from inexact observations men rashly conceive new and contradictory opinions and imagine absurd motions of the mechanism of the Earth. For since Ptolemy only received certain latitudes from Hipparchus, and did not in very many places make the observations himself; it is likely that he himself, knowing the position of the places, made his estimate of the latitude of cities from probable conjecture only, and then placed it in the maps. Thus one may see, in the case of our own Britain, that the latitudes of cities are wrong by two or three degrees, as experience teaches. Wherefore all the less should we from those mistakes infer a new motion, or let the noble magnetic nature of the Earth be debased for an opinion so lightly conceived. Moreover, those mistakes crept the more readily into geography, from the fact that the magnetic power was utterly unknown to those geographers. Besides, observations of latitudes cannot be made sufficiently exactly, except by experts, using also finer instruments, and taking into account the refraction of lights.


On the magnetical daily revolution of the Earth’s
globe, as a probable assertion against the time-honoured
opinion of a Primum Mobile.

Among the ancients Heraclides of Pontus and Ecphantus, afterwards the Pythagoreans, as Nicetas of Syracuse and Aristarchus of Samos, and some others (as it seems), used to think that the Earth moves, and that the stars set by the interposition of the Earth and rose by her retirement. In fact they set the Earth moving and make her revolve around her axis from west to east, like a wheel turning on its axle. Philolaus the Pythagorean would have the Earth to be one of the stars, and believed that it turned in an oblique circle around fire, just as the sun and moon have their own courses. He was a distinguished mathematician, and a most able investigator of nature. But after Philosophy became a subject treated of by very many and was popularized, theories adapted to the vulgar intelligence or based on sophistical subtility occupied the minds of most men, and prevailed like a torrent, the multitude consenting. Thereupon many valuable discoveries of the ancients were rejected, and were dismissed to perish in banishment; or at least by not being further cultivated and developed became obsolete. So that Copernicus (among later discoverers, a man most deserving of literary honour) is the first who attempted to illustrate the φαινόμενα of {215}moving bodies by new hypotheses: and these demonstrations of reasons others either follow or observe in order that they may more surely discover the phenomenal harmony of the movements; being men of the highest attainments in every kind of learning. Thus supposed and imaginary orbs of Ptolemy and others for finding the times and periods of the motions are not necessarily to be admitted to the physical inquiries of philosophers. It is then an ancient opinion and one that has come down from old times, but is now augmented by important considerations that the whole Earth rotates with a daily revolution in the space of 24 hours. Well then, since we see the Sun and Moon and other planets and the glory of all the stars approach and retire within the space of one natural day, either the Earth herself must needs be set in motion with a daily movement from West to East, or the whole heaven and the rest of nature from East to West. But, in the first place, it is not likely that the highest heaven and all those visible splendours of the fixed stars are impelled along that most rapid and useless course. Besides, who is the Master who has ever made out that the stars which we call fixed are in one and the same sphere, or has established by reasoning that there are any real and, as it were, adamantine spheres? No one has ever proved this as a fact; nor is there a doubt but that just as the planets are at unequal distances from the Earth, so are those vast and multitudinous lights separated from the Earth by varying and very remote altitudes; they are not set in any spheric frame or firmament (as is feigned), nor in any vaulted body: accordingly the intervals of some are from their unfathomable distance matter of opinion rather than of verification; others do much exceed them and are very far remote, and these being located in the heaven at varying distances, either in the thinnest ether or in that most subtile quintessence, or in the void: how are they to remain in their position during such a mighty swirl of the vast sphere of such uncertain substance. There have been observed by astronomers 1022 stars; besides these, numberless others are visible, some indeed faint to our senses, in the case of others our sense is dim and they are hardly perceived and only by exceptionally keen eyes, and there is no one gifted with excellent sight who does not when the Moon is dark and the air at its rarest, discern numbers and numbers dim and wavering with minute lights on account of the great distance: hence it is credible both that these are many and that they are never all included in any range of vision. How immeasurable then must be the space which stretches to those remotest of fixed stars! How vast and immense the depth of that imaginary sphere! How far removed from the Earth must the most widely separated stars be and at a distance transcending all sight, all skill and thought! How monstrous then such a motion {216}would be! It is evident then that all the heavenly bodies set as if in destined places are there converged into spheres of whatever tend to their own centres, and that round them there is a confluence of all their parts. And if they have motion, that motion will rather be that of each round its own centre, as that of the Earth is; or a forward movement of the centre in an orbit, as that of the Moon: there would not be circular motion in the case of a too numerous and scattered flock. Of these stars some situate near the equator would seem to be borne around at a very rapid rate, others nearer the pole to have a somewhat gentler motion, others, apparently motionless, to have a slight rotation. Yet no differences in point of light, mass or colours are apparent to us: for they are as brilliant, clear, glittering and duskish toward the poles, as they are near the equator and the Zodiack: those which remain set in those positions do not hang, and are neither fixed, nor bound to anything of the nature of a vault. All the more insane were the circumvolution of that fictitious Primum Mobile, which is higher, deeper, and still more immeasurable. Moreover, this inconceivable Primum Mobile ought to be material and of enormous depth, far surpassing all inferior nature in size: for nohow else could it conduct from East to West so many and such vast bodies of stars, and the universe even down to the Earth: and it requires us to accept in the government of the stars a universal power and a despotism perpetual and intensely irksome. That Primum Mobile bears no visible body, is nohow recognizable, is a fiction believed in by those people, accepted by the weak-minded folk, who wonder more at our terrestrial mass than at bodies so vast, so inconceivable, and so far separated from us. But there can be no movement of infinity and of an infinite body, and therefore no daily revolution of that vastest Primum Mobile. The Moon being neighbour to the Earth revolves in 27 days; Mercury and Venus have their own moderately slow motions; Mars finishes a period in two years, Jupiter in twelve years, Saturn in thirty. And those also who ascribe a motion to the fixed stars make out that it is completed in 36,000 years, according to Ptolemy, in 25,816 years, according to Copernicus’ observations; so that the motion and the completion of the journey always become slower in the case of the greater circles. And would there then be a daily motion of that Primum Mobile which is so great and beyond them all immense and profound? ’Tis indeed a superstition and in the view of philosophy a fable now only to be believed by idiots, deserving more than ridicule from the learned: and yet in former ages, that motion, under the pressure of an importunate mob of philosophizers, was actually accepted as a basis of computations and of motions, by mathematicians. The motions of the bodies (namely planets) seem to take place eastward and following the order of the signs. {217}The common run of mathematicians and philosophers also suppose that the fixed stars in the same manner advance with a very slow motion: and from ignorance of the truth they are forced to join to them a ninth sphere. Whereas now this first and unthinkable Primum Mobile, a fiction not comprehended by any judgment, not evidenced by any visible constellation, but devised of imagination only and mathematical hypothesis, unfortunately accepted and believed by philosophers, extended into the heaven and beyond all the stars, must needs with a contrary impulse turn about from East to West, in opposition to the inclination of all the rest of the Universe. Whatsoever in nature is moved naturally, the same is set in motion both by its own forces and by the consentient compact of other bodies. Such is the motion of parts to their whole, of all interdependent spheres and stars in the universe: such is the circular impulse in the bodies of the planets, when they affect and incite one another’s courses. But with regard to the Primum Mobile and its contrary and exceeding rapid movement, what are the bodies which incite it or propel it? What is the nature that conspires with it? Or what is that mad force beyond the Primum Mobile? Since it is in bodies themselves that acting force resides, not in spaces or intervals. But he who thinks that those bodies are at leisure and keeping holiday, while all the power of the universe appertains to the very orbits and spheres, is on this point not less mad than he who, in some one else’s house, thinks that the walls and floors and roof rule the family rather than the wife and thoughtful paterfamilias. Therefore not by the firmament are they borne along, or are moved, or have their position; much less are those confused crowds of stars whirled around by the Primum Mobile, nor are they torn away and huddled along by a contrary and extremely rapid movement. Ptolemy of Alexandria seems to be too timid and weak-minded in dreading the dissolution of this nether world, were the Earth to be moved round in a circle. Why does he not fear the ruin of the Universe, dissolution, confusion, conflagration, and infinite disasters celestial and super-celestial, from a motion transcending all thoughts, dreams, fables, and poetic licences, insurmountable, ineffable, and inconceivable? Wherefore we are carried along by a daily rotation of the Earth (a motion for sure more congruous), and as a boat moves above the waters, so do we turn about with the Earth, and yet seem to ourselves to be stationary, and at rest. Great and incredible it seems to some philosophers, by reason of inveterate prejudice, that the Earth’s vast body should be swirled wholly round in the space of 24 hours. But it would be more incredible that the Moon should travel through her orbit, or complete an entire course in a space of 24 hours; more so the Sun or Mars; still more Jupiter and Saturn; more than marvellous would be the velocity in the case of the {218}fixed stars and the firmament; what in the world they would have to wonder at in the case of their ninth sphere, let them imagine as they like. But to feign a Primum Mobile and to attribute to the thing thus feigned a motion to be completed in the space of 24 hours, and not to allow this motion to the Earth in the same interval of time, is absurd. For a great circle of the Earth is to the ambit of the Primum Mobile less than a furlong to the whole Earth. If the daily rotation of the Earth seem headlong, and not admissible in nature by reason of its rapidity, worse than insane will be the movement of the Primum Mobile both for itself and the whole universe, agreeing as it does with no other motion in any proportion or likeness. It seems to Ptolemy and the Peripatetics that nature must be disordered, and the framework and structure of this globe of ours be dissolved, by reason of so swift a terrestrial revolution. The Earth’s diameter is 1718 German miles; the greatest elongation of the new Moon is 65, the least is 55 semi-diameters of the Earth: the greatest altitude of the half moon is 68, the least 52: yet it is probable that its sphere is still larger and deeper. The sun in its greatest eccentricity has a distance of 1142 semi-diameters of the Earth; Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, being slower in motion, are so proportionately further remote from the Earth. The distances of the firmament and of the fixed stars seem to the best mathematicians inconceivable. Leaving out the ninth sphere, if the convexity of the Primum Mobile be duly estimated in proportion to the rest of the spheres, the vault of the Primum Mobile must in one hour run through as much space as is comprised in 3000 great circles of the Earth, for in the vault of the firmament it would complete more than 1800; but what iron solidity can be imagined so firm and tough as not to be disrupted and shattered to fragments by a fury so great and a velocity so ineffable. The Chaldeans indeed would have it that the heaven consists of light. In light, however, there is no so-great firmness, neither is there in Plotinus’ fiery firmament, nor in the fluid or aqueous or supremely rare and transparent heaven of the divine Moses, which does not cut off from our sight the lights of the stars. We must accordingly reject the so deep-set error about this so mad and furious a celestial velocity, and the forced retardation of the rest of the heavens. Let theologians discard and wipe out with sponges those old women’s tales of so rapid a spinning round of the heavens borrowed from certain inconsiderate philosophers. The sun is not propelled by the sphere of Mars (if a sphere there be) and by his motion, nor Mars by Jupiter, nor Jupiter by Saturn. The sphere, too, of the fixed stars, seems well enough regulated except so far as motions which are in the Earth are ascribed to the heavens, and bring about a certain change of phenomena. The superiors do not exercise a despotism over the inferiors; for the heaven of {219}philosophers, as of theologians, must be gentle, happy, and tranquil, and not at all subject to changes: nor shall the force, fury, swiftness, and hurry of a Primum Mobile have dominion over it. That fury descends through all the celestial spheres, and celestial bodies, invades the elements of our philosophers, sweeps fire along, rolls along the air, or at least draws the chief part of it, conducts the universal ether, and turns about fiery impressions (as if it were a solid and firm body, when in fact it is a most refined essence, neither resisting nor drawing), leads captive the superior. O marvellous constancy of the terrestrial globe, the only one unconquered; and yet one that is holden fast, or stationary, in its place by no bonds, no heaviness, by no contiguity with a grosser or firmer body, by no weights. The substance of the terrestrial globe withstands and sets itself against universal nature. Aristotle feigns for himself a system of philosophy founded on motions simple and compound, that the heavens revolve in a simple circle, its elements moving with a right motion, the parts of the Earth seeking the Earth in straight lines, falling on its surface at right angles, and tending together toward its centre, always, however, at rest therein; accordingly also the whole Earth remains immovable in its place, united and compacted together by its own weight. That cohesion of parts and aggregation of matter exist in the Sun, in the Moon, in the planets, in the fixed stars, in fine in all those round bodies whose parts cohere together and tend each to their own centres; otherwise the heaven would fall, and that sublime ordering would be lost: yet these cœlestial bodies have a circular motion. Whence the Earth too may equally have her own motion: and this motion is not (as some deem it) unsuitable for the assembling or adverse to the generation of things. For since it is innate in the terrestrial globe, and natural to it; and since there is nothing external that can shock it, or hinder it by adverse motions, it goes round without any ill or danger, it advances without being forced, there is nothing that resists, nothing that by retiring gives way, but all is open. For while it revolves in a space void of bodies, or in the incorporeal ether, all the air, the exhalations of land and water, the clouds and pendent meteors, are impelled along with the globe circularly: that which is above the exhalations is void of bodies: the finest bodies and those which are least coherent almost void are not impeded, are not dissolved, while passing through it. Wherefore also the whole terrestrial globe, with all its adjuncts, moves bodily along, calmly, meeting no resistance. Wherefore empty and superstitious is the fear that some weak minds have of a shock of bodies (like Lucius Lactantius, who, in the fashion of the unlettered rabble and of the most unreasonable men scoffs at an Antipodes and at the spheric ordering of the Earth all round). So for these reasons, not only probable but manifest, does the daily rotation of the Earth seem, {220}since nature always acts through a few rather than through many; and it is more agreeable to reason that the Earth’s one small body should make a daily rotation, than that the whole universe should be whirled around. I pass over the reasons of the Earth’s remaining motions, for at present the only question is concerning its daily movement, according to which it moves round with respect to the Sun, and creates a natural day (which we call a nycthemeron). And indeed Nature may be thought to have granted a motion very suitable to the Earth’s shape, which (being spherical) is revolved about the poles assigned it by Nature much more easily and fittingly than that the whole universe, whose limit is unknown and unknowable, should be whirled round; and than there could be imagined an orbit of the Primum Mobile, a thing not accepted by the ancients, which Aristotle even did not devise or accept as in any shape or manner existing beyond the sphere of the fixed stars; which finally the sacred scriptures do not recognize any more than they do the revolution of the firmament.


That the Earth moves circularly.

If then the philosophers of the common sort, with an unspeakable absurdity, imagine the whole heaven and the vast extent of the universe to rotate in a whirl, it yet remains that the Earth performs a daily change. For in no third way can the apparent revolutions be explained. This day, then, which is called natural, is a revolution of some meridian of the Earth from Sun to Sun. It revolves indeed in an entire course, from a fixed star round to that star again. Those bodies which in nature are moved with a circular, equable and constant motion, are furnished, in their parts, with various boundaries. But the Earth is not a Chaos nor disordered mass; but by reason of its astral activity, it has boundaries which subserve the circular motion, poles not mathematical, an equator not devised by imagination, meridians also and parallels; all of which we find permanent, certain and natural in the Earth: which by numerous experiments the whole magnetical philosophy sets forth. For in the Earth there are poles set in fixed bounds, and at them the polarity mounts up on either side from the plane of the Earth’s equator, with forces which are mightier and prepotent from the common action of the whole; and with these poles the daily revolution is in agreement. But in no turnings-about of bodies, in none of the motions of the planets are there to be recognized, beheld, or assured to us by any reasoning any sensible or natural poles in the firmament, or in any Primum {221}Mobile; but those are the conception of an unsettled imagination. Wherefore we, following an evident, sensible and tested cause, do know that the Earth moves on its own poles, which are apparent to us by many magnetic demonstrations. For not only on the ground of its constancy, and its sure and permanent position, is the Earth endowed with poles and polarity: for it might be directed toward other parts of the universe, toward East or West or some other region. By the wondrous wisdom then of the Builder forces, primarily animate, have been implanted in the Earth, that with determinate constancy the Earth may take its direction, and the poles have been placed truly opposite, that about them as the termini, as it were, of some axis, the motion of daily turning might be performed. But the constancy of the poles is regulated by the primary soul. Wherefore, for the Earth’s good, the collimations of her poles do not continually regard a definite point of the firmament and of the visible heaven. For changes of the equinoxes take place from a certain deflection of the Earth’s axis; yet in regard to that deflection, the Earth has a constancy of motion The revolving Earth derived from her own forces. The Earth, that she may turn herself about in a daily revolution, leans on her poles. For since at A and B there is constant polarity, and the axis is straight; at C and D (the equinoctial line) the parts are free, the whole forces on either side being spread out from the plane of the equator toward the poles, in ether which is free from resistance, or else in a vacuum; and A and B remaining constant, C revolves toward D both from innate conformity and aptitude, and for necessary good, and the avoidance of evil; but being chiefly moved forward by the emission of the solar spheres of action, and by their lights. And ’tis borne around, not upon a new and strange course, but (with the {222}tendency common to the rest of the planets) it tends from West to East. For all planets have a like motion Eastward according to the succession of the signs, whether Mercury and Venus revolve beneath the Sun, or around the Sun. That the Earth is capable of and fitted for moving circularly its parts show, which when separated from the whole are not only borne along with the Floating loadstone straight movement [gravity] taught by the Peripatetics, but rotate also. A loadstone fixed in a wooden vessel is placed on water so as to swim freely, turn itself, and float about. If the pole B of the loadstone be set contrary to nature toward the South, F, the Terrella is turned about its own centre with a circular motion in the plane of the Horizon, toward the North, E, where it rests, not at C or D. So does a small stone if only of four ounces; it has the same motion also and just as quick, if it were a strong magnet of one hundred pounds. The largest magnetic mountain will possess the same turning-power also, if launched in a wide river or deep sea: and yet a magnetic body is much more hindered by water than the whole Earth is by the ether. The whole Earth would do the same, if the north pole were to be diverted from its true direction; for the north pole would run back with the circular motion of the whole around the centre toward the Cynosure. But this motion by which the parts naturally settle themselves in their own {223}resting-places is no other than circular. The whole Earth regards the Cynosure with her pole according to a steadfast law of her nature: and thus each true part of it seeks a like resting-place in the world, and is moved circularly toward that position. The natural movements of the whole and of the parts are alike: wherefore when the parts are moved in a circle, the whole also has the potency of Loadstone moves into conformity with the
  Earth moving circularly. A spherical loadstone placed in a vessel on water moves circularly around its centre (as is manifest) in the plane of the Horizon, into conformity with the Earth.

So also it would move in any other great circle if it could be free; as in the declination instrument, a circular motion takes place in the meridian (if there were no variation), or, if there should be some variation, in a great circle drawn from the Zenith through the point of variation on the horizon. And that circular motion of the magnet to its own just and natural position shows that the whole Earth is fitted and adapted, and is sufficiently furnished with peculiar forces for daily circular motion. I omit what Peter Peregrinus constantly affirms, that a terrella suspended above its poles on a meridian moves circularly, making an entire revolution in 24 hours: which, however, it has not happened to ourselves as yet to see; and we even doubt this motion on account of the weight [gravity] of the stone itself, as well as because the whole Earth, as she is moved of herself, so also is she propelled by other stars: and this does not happen in proportion (as it does in the terrella) {224}in every part. The Earth is moved by her own primary form [energy] and natural desire, for the conservation, perfection, and ordering of its parts, toward things more excellent: and this is more likely than that the fixed stars, those luminous globes, as well as the Wanderers [planets], and the most glorious and divine Sun, which are in no way aided by the Earth, or renewed, or urged by any power therein, should circulate aimlessly around the Earth, and that the whole heavenly host should repeat around the Earth courses never ending and of no profit whatever to the stars. The Earth, then, which by some great necessity, even by a power innate, evident, and conspicuous, is turned circularly about the Sun, revolves; and by this motion it rejoices in the solar activities and influences, and is strengthened by its own sure polarity, that it should not rovingly revolve over every region of the heavens. The Sun (the chief agent in nature) as he forwards the courses of the Wanderers [planets], so does he prompt this turning about of the Earth by the emission of the [magnetical or gravitational] action of his spheres, and of light. And if the Earth were not made to spin with a daily revolution, the Sun would ever hang over some determinate part with constant beams, and by long tarriance would scorch it, and pulverize it, and dissipate it, and the Earth would sustain the deepest wounds; and nothing good would issue forth; it would not vegetate, it would not allow life to animals, and mankind would perish. In other parts, all things would verily be frightful and stark with extreme cold; whence all high places would be very rough, unfruitful, inaccessible, covered with a pall of perpetual shades and eternal night. Since the Earth herself would not choose to endure this so miserable and horrid appearance on both her faces, she, by her magnetical astral genius, revolves in an orbit, that by a perpetual change of light there may be a perpetual alternation of things, heat and cold, risings and settings, day and night, morn and eve, noon and midnight. Thus the Earth seeks and re-seeks the Sun, turns away from him and pursues him, by her own wondrous magnetical power. Besides, it is not only from the Sun that evil would impend, if the Earth were to stay still and be deprived of solar benefit; but from the Moon also serious dangers would threaten. For we see how the ocean rises and swells beneath certain known positions of the Moon: And if there were not, through the daily rotation of Earth, a speedy transit of the Moon, the flowing sea would be driven above its level into certain regions, and many shores would be overwhelmed with huge waves. In order then that Earth may not perish in various ways, and be brought to confusion, she turns herself about by magnetical and primary power: and the like motions exist also in the rest of the Wanderers [planets], urged specially by the movement and light of other bodies. For the Moon also turns herself about in a monthly course, to receive in succession the Sun’s beams in which she, like the Earth, {225}rejoices, and is refreshed: nor could she endure them for ever on one particular side without great harm and sure destruction. Thus each one of the moving globes is for its own safety borne in an orbit either in some wider circle, or only by a rotation of its body, or by both together. But it is ridiculous for a man a philosopher to suppose that all the fixed stars and the planets and the still higher heavens revolve to no other purpose, save the advantage of the Earth. It is the Earth then that revolves, not the whole heaven, and this motion gives opportunity for the growth and decrease of things, and for the generating of things animate, and awakens internal heat for the bringing of them to birth. Whence matter is quickened for receiving forms; and from the primary rotation of the Earth natural bodies have their primary impetus and original activity. The motion then of the whole Earth is primary, astral, circular, around its own poles, whose polarity arises on both sides from the plane of the equator, and whose power is infused into opposite termini, in order that the Earth may be moved by a sure rotation for its good, the Sun also and the stars helping its motion. But the simple straight motion downwards [gravity] of the Peripatetics is a motion of weight, a motion of the aggregation of disjoined parts, in the ratio of their matter, along straight lines toward the body of the Earth: which lines tend the shortest way toward the centre. The motions of disjoined magnetic parts of the Earth, besides the motion of aggregation, are coition [mutual attraction aggregation], revolution, and the direction of the parts to the whole, for harmony and concordancy of form.


Arguments of those denying the Earth’s motion, and
their confutation.

Now it will not be superfluous to weigh well the arguments of those who say the Earth does not move; that we may be better able to satisfy the crowd of philosophizers who assert that this constancy and stability of the Earth is confirmed by the most convincing arguments. Aristotle does not allow that the Earth moves circularly, on the ground that each several part of it would be affected by this particular motion; that whereas now all the separate parts of the Earth are borne toward the middle in straight lines, that circular motion would be violent, and strange to nature, and not enduring. But it has been before proved that all actual portions of the Earth move in a circle, and that all magnetic bodies (fitly disposed) are borne around in a sphere. They are borne, however, toward the centre of the Earth in a {226}straight line (if the way be open) by a motion of aggregation [gravity] as though to their own origin: they move by various motions agreeably to the conformation of the whole: a terrella is moved circularly by its innate forces. "Besides" (says he), "all things which are borne in a sphere, afterwards would seem to be abandoned by the first motion, and to be borne by several motions besides the first. The Earth must also be borne on by two sorts of motion, whether it be situate around a mid-point, or in the middle site of the universe: and if this were so, there must needs be at one time an advance, at another time a retrogression of the fixed stars: This, however, does not seem to be the case, but they rise and set always the same in the same places" But it by no means follows that a double motion must be assigned to the Earth. But if there be but one daily motion of the Earth around its poles, who does not see that the stars must always in the same manner rise and set at the same points of the horizon, even although there be another motion about which we are not disputing: since the mutations in the smaller orbit cause no variation of aspect in the fixed stars owing to their great distance, unless the axis of the Earth have varied its position, concerning which we raise a question when speaking of the cause of the precession of the equinoxes. In this argument are many flaws. For if the Earth revolve, that we asserted must needs occur not by reason of the first sphere, but of its innate forces. But if it were set in motion by the first sphere, there would be no successions of days and nights, for it would continue its course along with the Primum Mobile. But that the Earth is affected by a double movement at the time when it rotates around its own centre, because the rest of the stars move with a double motion, does not follow. Besides, he does not well consider the argument, nor do his interpreters understand the same. τούτου δὲ συμβαίνοντος, ἀναγκαῖον γίγνεσθαι παρόδους καὶ τροπὰς τῶν ἐνδεδεμένων ἄστρων. (Arist. de Cœlo, ii. chap. 14.) That is, "If this be so, there must needs be changes, and retrogressions of the fixed stars" What some interpret as retrogressions or regressions, and changes of the fixed stars, others explain as diversions: which terms can in no way be understood of axial motion, unless he meant that the Earth moved by the Primum Mobile is borne and turned over other poles diverse even from those which correspond to the first sphere, which is altogether absurd. Other later theorists suppose that the eastern ocean ought to be impelled so into western regions by that motion, that those parts of the Earth which are dry and free from water would be daily flooded by the eastern ocean. But the ocean is not acted upon by that movement, since nothing opposes it; and even the whole atmosphere is carried round: And for that reason in the Earth’s course all the things in the air are not left behind by us nor do they seem to move toward the West: Wherefore also the clouds {227}are at rest in the air, unless the force of the winds drive them; and objects which are projected into the air fall again into their own place. But those foolish folk who think that towers, temples, and buildings must necessarily be shaken and overthrown by the Earth’s motion, may fear lest men at the Antipodes should slip off into an opposite sphere, or that ships when sailing round the entire globe should (as soon as they have dipped under the plane of our horizon) fall into the opposite region of the sky. But those follies are old wives’ gossip, and the rubbish of certain philosophizers, men who, when they essay to treat of the highest truths and the fabric of the universe, and hazard anything, can scarce understand aught more than a sandal. They would have the Earth to be the centre of a circle; and therefore to rest motionless amid the rotation. But neither the stars nor the wandering globes [planets] move about the Earth’s centre: the high heaven also does not move circularly round the Earth’s centre; nor if the Earth were in the centre, is it a centre itself, but a body around a centre. Nor is it confident with reason that the heavenly bodies of the Peripatetics should attend on a centre so decadent and perishable as that of the Earth. They think that Nature seeks rest for the generation of things, and for promoting their increase while growing; and that accordingly the whole Earth is at rest. And yet all generation takes place from motion, without which the universal nature of things would become torpid. The motion of the Sun, the motion of the Moon, cause changes; the motion of the Earth awakens the internal breath of the globe; animals themselves do not live without motion, and the ceaseless activity of the heart and arteries. For of no moment are the arguments for a simple straight motion toward the centre 'gravity], that this is the only kind in the Earth, and that in a simple body there is one motion only and that a simple one. For that straight motion [gravity] is only a tendency toward their own origin, not of the parts of the Earth only, but of those of the Sun also, of the Moon, and of the rest of the spheres which also move in an orbit. Joannes Costeus, who raises doubts concerning the cause of the Earth’s motion, looking for it externally and internally, understands magnetic power to be internal, active, and disponent; also that the Sun is an external promotive cause, and that the Earth is not so vile and abject a body as it is generally considered. Accordingly there is a daily movement on the part of the Earth for its own sake and for its advantage. Those who make out that that terrestrial motion (if such there be) takes place not only in longitude, but also in latitude, talk nonsense. For Nature has set in the Earth determinate poles, and definite unconfused revolutions. Thus the Moon revolves with respect to the Sun in a monthly course; yet having her own definite poles, facing determinate parts of the heaven. To suppose that the air moves the Earth would be {228}ridiculous. For air is only exhalation, and is an enveloping emission from the Earth itself; the winds also are only a rush of the exhalations in some part near the Earth’s surface; the height of its motion is slight, and in all regions there are various winds unlike and contrary. Some writers, not finding in the matter of the Earth the cause (for they say that they find nothing except solidity and consistency), deny it to be in its form; and they only admit as qualities of the Earth cold and dryness, which are unable to move the Earth. The Stoics attribute a soul to the Earth, whence they pronounce (amid the laughter of the learned) the Earth to be an animal. This magnetic form, whether power or soul, is astral. Let the learned lament and bewail the fact that none of those old Peripatetics, nor even those common philosophizers heretofore, nor Joannes Costeus, who mocks at such things, were able to apprehend this grand and important natural fact. But as to the notion that surface inequality of mountains and valleys would prevent the Earth’s daily revolution, there is nothing in it: for they do not mar the Earth’s roundness, being but slight excrescences compared with the whole Earth; nor does the Earth revolve alone without its emissions. Beyond the emissions, there is no resistance. There is no more labour exerted in the Earth’s motion than in the march of the rest of the Stars: nor is it excelled in dignity by some stars. To say that it is frivolous to suppose that the Earth rather seeks a view of the Sun, than the Sun of the Earth, is a mark of great obstinacy and unwisdom. Of the theory of the rotation we have often spoken. If anyone seek the cause of the revolution, or of other tendency of the Earth, from the sea surrounding it, or from the motion of the air, or from the Earth’s gravity, he would be no less silly as a theorist than those who stubbornly ground their opinions on the sentiments of the ancients. Ptolemy’s reasonings are of no weight; for when our true principles are laid down, the truth comes to light, and it is superfluous to refute them. Let Costeus recognize and philosophers see how unfruitful and vain a thing it becomes then to take one’s stand on the principles and unproved opinions of certain ancients. Some raise a doubt how it can be that, if the Earth move round its own axis, a globe of iron or of lead dropped from the highest point of a tower falls exactly perpendicularly to a spot of the Earth below itself. Also how it is that cannon balls from a large culverin, fired with the same quantity and strength of powder, in the same direction and at a like elevation through the same air, would be cast at a like distance from a given spot both Eastward and Westward, supposing the Earth to move Eastward. But those who bring forward this kind of argument are being misled: not attending to the nature of primary globes, and the combination of parts with their globes, even though they be not adjoined by solid parts. Whereas the motion of the Earth in the daily revolution does not involve the separation of her more {229}solid circumference from the surrounding bodies; but all her emissions surround her, and in them heavy bodies projected in any way by force, move on uniformly along with the Earth in general coherence. And this also takes place in all primary bodies, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the parts betaking themselves to their first origins and sources, with which they connect themselves with the same appetite as terrene things, which we call heavy, with the Earth. So lunar things tend to the Moon, solar things to the Sun, within the spheres of their own emissions [gravity signal emissions]. The emissions hold together by continuity of substance, and heavy bodies are also united with the Earth by their own gravity, and move on together in the general motion: especially when there is no resistance of bodies in the way. And for this cause, on account of the Earth’s daily revolution, bodies are neither set in motion, nor retarded; they do not overtake it, nor do they fall short behind it when violently projected toward East or West.

Body falls perpendicularly

Let E F G be the Earth’s globe, A its centre, L E the ascending emissions [signal emissions]: Just as the sphere of the emissions [signal emissions] progresses with the Earth, so also does the unmoved part of the circle at the straight line L E progress along with the general revolution. At L and E, a heavy body, M, falls perpendicularly toward E, taking the shortest way to the centre, nor is that right movement of weight or of aggregation compounded with a circular movement, but is a simple right motion, never leaving the line L E. But when thrown with an equal force from E toward F, and from E toward G, it completes an equal distance on either side, even though the daily rotation of the Earth is in process: just as twenty paces of a man mark an equal space whether toward East or West: so the Earth’s daily motion {230}is by no means refuted by the illustrious Tycho Brahe, through arguments such as these.

The Earth is balanced The tendency toward its origin (which, in the case of the Earth, is called by Philosophers weight [gravity]) causes no resistance to the daily revolution, nor does it direct the Earth, nor does it retain the parts of the Earth in place, for in regard to the Earth’s solidity they are weightless, nor do they incline further, but are at rest in the mass. If there be a flaw in the mass, such as a deep cavity (say 1000 fathoms), a homogenic portion of the Earth, or compacted terrestrial matter, descends through that space (whether filled with water or air) toward an origin more assured than air or water, seeking a solid globe. But the centre of the Earth, as also the Earth as a whole, is weightless; the separated parts tend toward their own origin, but that tendency we call weight; the parts united are at rest; and even if they had weight, they would introduce no hindrance to the daily revolution. For if around the axis A B, there be a weight at C, it is balanced from E; if at F, from G; if at H, from I. So internally at L, they are balanced from M: the whole globe, then, having a natural axis, is balanced in equilibrium, and is easily set in motion by the slighted cause, but especially because the Earth in her own place is nowise heavy nor lacking in balance. Therefore weight neither hinders the daily revolution, nor influences either the direction or continuance in position. Wherefore it is manifest that no sufficiently strong reason has yet been found out by Philosophers against the motion of the Earth.



On the cause of the definite time, of an entire
rotation of the Earth.

Daily motion is due to causes which have now to be sought, arising from magnetical power and from the confederated bodies; that is to say, why the daily rotation of the Earth is completed in the space of twenty-four hours. For no curious art, whether of Clepsydras or of sand-clocks, or those contrivances of little toothed wheels which are set in motion by weights, or by the force of a bent steel band, can discover any degree of difference in the time. But as soon as the daily rotation has been gone through, it at once begins over again. But we would take as the day the absolute turning of a meridian of the Earth, from sun to sun. This is somewhat greater than one whole revolution of it; in this way the yearly course is completed in 365 and nearly ¼ turnings with respect to the sun. From this sure and regular motion of the Earth, the number and time of 365 days, 5 hours, 55 minutes, in solar tropical years is always certain and definite, except that there are some slight differences due to other causes. The Earth therefore revolves not fortuitously, or by chance, or precipitately; but with a rather high intelligence, equably, and with a wondrous regularity, in no other way than all the rest of the movable stars, which have definite periods belonging to their motions. For the Sun himself being the agent and incitor of the universe in motion, other wandering globes [planets] set within the range of his forces, when acted on and stirred, also regulate each its own proper courses by its own forces; and they are turned about in periods corresponding to the extent of their greater rotation, and the differences of their emitted forces, and their intelligence for higher good. And for that cause Saturn, having a wider orbit, is borne round it in a longer time, Jupiter a shorter, and Mars still less; while Venus takes nine months, Mercury 80 days, on the hypotheses of Copernicus; the Moon going round the Earth with respect to the Sun in 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes. We have asserted that the Earth moves circularly about its centre, completing a day by an entire revolution with respect to the Sun. The Moon revolves in a monthly course around the Earth, and, repeating a conjunction with the Sun after a former synodic conjunction, constitutes the month or Lunar day. The Moon’s mean concentric orbit, according to numerous observations of Copernicus and later astronomers, is found to be distant 29 and about 5/6 diameters of the Earth from the Earth’s centre. The Moon’s revolution with respect to the Sun takes place in 29½ days and 44 minutes of time. We reckon the motion with respect to the sun, not the periodic motion, {232}just as a day is one entire revolution of the Earth with respect to the Sun, not one periodic revolution; because the Sun is the cause of lunar as of terrestrial motion: also, because (on the hypotheses of later observers) the synodical month is truly periodic, on account of the Earth’s motion in a great orbit. The proportion of diameters to circumferences is the same. And the concentric orbit of the Moon contains twice over 29 and ½ great circles of the Earth & a little more. The Moon & the Earth, then, agree together in a double proportion of motion; & the Earth moves in the space of twenty-four hours, in its daily motion; because the Moon has a motion proportional to the Earth, but the Earth a motion agreeing with the lunar motion in a nearly double proportion. There is some difference in details, because the distances of the stars in details have not been examined sufficiently exactly, nor are mathematicians as yet agreed about them. The Earth therefore revolves in a space of 24 hours, as the Moon in her monthly course, by a magnetical confederation of both stars, the globes being forwarded in their movement by the Sun, according to the proportion of their orbits, as Aristotle allows, de Cœlo, bk. ii., chap. 10. "It happens" (he says) "that the motions are performed through a proportion existing between them severally, namely, at the same intervals in which some are swifter, others slower," But it is more agreeable to the relation between the Moon and the Earth, that that harmony of motion should be due to the fact that they are bodies rather near together, and very like each other in nature and substance, and that the Moon has more evident effects upon the Earth than the rest of the stars, the Sun excepted; also because the Moon alone of all the planets conducts her revolutions, directly (however diverse even), with reference to the Earth’s centre, and is especially akin to the Earth, and bound to it as with chains. This, then, is the true symmetry and harmony between the motions of the Earth and the Moon; not that old oft-besung harmony of cœlestial motions, which assumes that the nearer any sphere is to the Primum Mobile and that fictitious and pretended rapidest Prime Motion, the less does it offer resistance thereto, and the slower it is borne by its own motion from west to east: but that the more remote it is, the greater is its velocity, and the more freely does it complete its own movement; and therefore that the Moon (being at the greatest distance from the Primum Mobile) revolves the most swiftly. Those vain tales have been conceded in order that the Primum Mobile may be accepted, and be thought to have certain effects in retarding the motions of the lower heavens; as though the motion of the stars arose from retardation, and were not inherent and natural; and as though a furious force were perpetually driving the rest of the heaven (except only the Primum Mobile) with frenzied incitations. Much more likely is it that the stars are borne around symmetrically by their own forces, with a certain mutual concert and harmony.



On the primary magnetical nature of the Earth,
whereby its poles are parted from the poles
of the Ecliptic.

Primarily having shown the manner and causes of the daily revolution of the Earth, which is partly brought about from the action of the magnetical power, partly effected by the pre-eminence and light of the Sun; there now follows an account of the distance of its poles from the poles of the Ecliptic—a supremely necessary fact. For if the poles of the universe or of the Earth remained fast at the poles of the Zodiack, then the equator of the Earth would lie exactly beneath the line of the Ecliptic, and there would be no variation in the seasons of the year, no Winter, no Summer, nor Spring, nor Autumn: but one and the same invariable aspect of things would continue. The direction of the axis of the Earth has receded therefore from the pole of the Zodiack (for lasting good) just so far as is sufficient for the generation and variety of things. Accordingly the declination of the tropics and the inclination of the Earth’s pole remain perpetually in the twenty-fourth degree; though now only 23 degrees 28 minutes are counted; or, as others make out, 29 minutes: But once it was 23 degrees 52 minutes, which are the extreme limits of the declinations to date observed. And that has been prudently ordained by nature, and is arranged by the primary excellence of the Earth. For if those poles (of the Earth and the Ecliptic) were to be parted by a much greater distance, then when the Sun approached the tropic, all things in the other deserted part of the globe, in some higher latitude, would be desolate and (by reason of the too prolonged absence of the Sun) brought to destruction. As it is, however, all is so proportioned that the whole terrestrial globe has its own varying seasons in succession, and alternations of condition, appropriate and needful: either from the more direct and vertical radiation of light, or from its increased tarriance above the horizon.

Around these poles of the Ecliptic the direction of the poles of the Earth is borne: and by this motion the precession of the equinoxes is apparent to us.



On the Precession of the equinoxes, from the magnetic
motion of the poles of the Earth, in the Arctic
and Antarctic circle of the Zodiack.

Primitive mathematicians, since they did not pay attention to the inequelities of the years, made no distinction between the equinoctial, or solstitial revolving year, and that which is taken from some one of the fixed stars. Even the Olympic years, which they used to reckon from the rising of the dogstar, they thought to be the same as those counted from the solstice. Hipparchus of Rhodes was the first to call attention to the fact that these differ from each other, and discovered that the year was longer when measured by the fixed stars than by the equinox or solstice: whence he supposed that there was in the fixed stars also some motion in a common sequence; but very slow, and not at once perceptible. After him Menelaus, a Roman geometer, then Ptolemy, and long afterward Mahometes Aractensis, and several more, in all their literary memoirs, perceived that the fixed stars and the whole firmament proceeded in an orderly sequence, regarding as they did the heaven, not the Earth, and not understanding the magnetic inclinations. But we shall demonstrate that it proceeds rather from a certain rotatory motion of the Earth’s axis, than that that eighth sphere (so called) the firmament, or non-moving empyrean, revolves studded with innumerable globes and stars, whose distances from the Earth have never been proved by anyone, nor can be proved (the whole universe gliding, as it were). And surely it should seem much more likely that the appearances in the heavens should be clearly accounted for by a certain inflection and inclination of the comparatively small body of the Earth, than by the setting in motion of the whole system of the universe; especially if this motion is to be regarded as ordained solely for the Earth’s advantage: While for the fixed stars, or for the planets, it is of no use at all. For this motion the rising and settings of stars in every Horizon, as well as their culminations at the height of the heavens, are shifted so much that the stars which once were vertical are now some degrees distant from the zenith. For nature has taken care, through the Earth’s soul or magnetic power, that, just as it was needful in tempering, receiving, and warding off the sun’s rays and light, by suitable seasons, that the points toward which the Earth’s pole is directed should be 23 degrees and more {235}from the poles of the Ecliptic: so now for moderating and for receiving the luminous rays of the fixed stars in due turn and succession, the Earth’s poles should revolve at the same distance from the Ecliptic at the Ecliptic’s arctic circle; or rather that they should creep at a gentle pace, that the actions of the stars should not always remain at the same parallel circles, but should have a rather slow mutation. For the influences of the stars are not so forceful as that a swifter course should be desired. Slowly, then, is the Earth’s axis inflected; and the stars’ rays, falling upon the face of the Earth, shift only in so long a time as a diameter of the arctic or polar circle is extended: whence the star at the extremity of the tail of the Cynosure, which once was 12 degrees 24 minutes (namely, in the time of Hipparchus) distant from the pole of the universe, or from that point which the pole of the Earth used to face, is now only 2 degrees and 52 minutes distant from the same point; whence from its nearness it is called by the moderns Polaris. Some time it will be only ½ degree away from the pole: afterward it will begin to recede from the pole until it will be 48 degrees distant; and this, according to the Prutenical tables, will be in Anno Domini 15000. Thus Lucida Lyre (which to us southern Britons now almost culminates) will some time approach to the pole of the world, to about the fifth degree. So all the stars shift their rays of light at the surface of the Earth, through this wonderful magnetical inflection of the Earth’s axis. Hence come new varieties of the seasons of the year, and lands become more fruitful or more barren; hence the characters and manners of nations are changed; kingdoms and laws are altered, in accordance with the power of the fixed stars as they culminate, and the strength thence received or lost in accordance with the singular and specific nature of each; or on account of new configurations with the planets in other places of the Zodiack; on account also of risings and settings, and of new concurrences at the meridian. The Precession of the equinoxes arising from the equable motion of the Earth’s pole in the arctic circle of the Zodiack is here demonstrated. Let A B C D be the Ecliptic line; I E G the arctic circle of the Zodiack. Then if the Earth’s pole look to E, the equinoxes are at D, C. Let this be at the time of Metho, when the horns of Aries were in the equinoctial colure. Now if the Earth’s pole have advanced to I; then the equinoxes will be at K, L; and the stars in the ecliptic C will seem to have progressed, in the order of the signs, along the whole arc K C: L will be moved on by the precession, against the order of the signs, along the arc D L. But this would occur in the contrary order, if the point G were to face the poles of the Earth, and the motion were from E to G: for then the equinoxes would be M N, and the fixed stars would anticipate the same at C and D, counter to the order of the signs.

Motion of the Earth’s pole



On the anomaly of the Precession of the Equinoxes,
and of the obliquity of the Zodiack.

At one time the shifting of the equinoxes is quicker, at another slower, being not always equal: because the poles of the Earth travel unequally in the arctic and antarctic circle of the Zodiack; and decline on both sides from the middle path: whence the obliquity of the Zodiack to the equator seems to change. And as this has become known by means of long observations, so also has it been perceived, that the true equinoctial points have been elongated from the mean equinoctial points, on this side and on that, by 70 minutes (when the prostapheresis is greatest): but that the solstices either approach the equator unequally 12 minutes nearer, or recede as far behind; so that the nearest approach is 23 degrees 28 minutes, and the greatest elongation 23 degrees 52 minutes. Astronomers have given various explanations to account for this inequality of the precession and also of the obliquity of the tropics. Thebit, with the view of {237}laying down a rule for such considerable inequalities in the motion of the stars, explained that the eighth sphere does not move with a continuous motion from west to east; but is shaken with a certain motion of trepidation, by which the first points of Aries and Libra in the eighth heaven describe certain small circles with diameters equal to about nine degrees, around the first points of Aries and Libra in the ninth sphere. But since many things absurd and impossible as to motion follow from this motion of trepidation, that theory of motion is therefore long since obsolete. Others therefore are compelled to attribute the motion to the eighth sphere, and to erect above it a ninth heaven also, yea, and to pile up yet a tenth and an eleventh: In the case of mathematicians, indeed, the fault may be condoned; for it is permissible for them, in the case of difficult motions, to lay down some rule and law of equality by any hypotheses. But by no means can such enormous and monstrous celestial structures be accepted by philosophers. And yet here one may see how hard to please are those who do not allow any motion to one very small body, the Earth; and notwithstanding they drive and rotate the heavens, which are huge and immense above all conception and imagination: I declare that they feign the heavens to be three (the most monstrous of all things in Nature) in order that some obscure motions forsooth may be accounted for. Ptolemy, who compares with his own the observations of Timocharis and Hipparchus, one of whom flourished 260 years, the other 460 years before him, thought that there was this motion of the eighth sphere, and of the whole firmament; and proved by help of numerous phenomena that it took place over the poles of the Zodiack, and, supposing its motion to be so far equable, that the non-planetary stars in the space of 100 years completed just one degree beneath the Primum Mobile. After him 750 years Albategnius discovered that one degree was completed in a space of 66 years, so that a whole period would be 23,760 years. Alphonsus made out that this motion was still slower, completing one degree and 28 minutes only in 200 years; and that thus the course of the fixed stars went on, though unequally. At length Copernicus, by means of the observations of Timocharis, Aristarchus of Samos, Hipparchus, Menelaus, Ptolemy, Mahometes Aractensis, Alphonsus, and of his own, detected the anomalies of the motion of the Earth’s axis: though I doubt not that other anomalies also will come to light some ages hence. So difficult is it to observe motion so slow, unless extending over a period of many centuries; on which account we still fail to understand the intent of Nature, what she is driving after through such inequality of motion. Let A be the pole of the Ecliptic, B C the Ecliptic, D the equator; when the pole of the Earth near the arctic circle of the Zodiack faces the point M, then there is an anomaly of the precession of the equinox at F; {238}but when it faces N, there is an anomaly of the precession at E. But when it faces I directly, then the maximum obliquity G is observed at the solstitial colure; but when it faces L, there is the minimum obliquity H at the solstitial colure.


Copernicus’ contorted circlet in the Arctic circle of the Zodiack.

Let F B G be the half of the Arctic circle described round the pole of the Zodiack: A B C the solstitial colure: A the pole of the Zodiack; D E the anomaly of longitude 140 minutes at either side on both ends: B C the anomaly of obliquity 24 minutes: B the greater obliquity of 23 degrees 52 minutes: D the mean obliquity of 23 degrees 40 minutes: C the minimum obliquity of 23 degrees 28 minutes.


Variable obliquity
Contorted circlet


The period of motion of the precession of the equinoxes is 25,816 egyptian years; the period of the obliquity of the Zodiack is 3434 years, and a little more. The period of the anomaly of the precession of the equinoxes is 1717 years, and a little more. If the whole time of the motion AI were divided into eight equal parts: in the first eighth the pole is borne somewhat swiftly from A to B; in the second eighth, more slowly from B to C; in the third, with the same slowness from C to D; in the fourth, more swiftly again from D to E; in the fifth, with the same swiftness from E to F; again more slowly from F to G; and with the same slowness from G to H; in the last eighth, somewhat swiftly again from H to I. And this is the contorted circlet of Copernicus, fused with the mean motion into the curved line which is the path of the true motion. And thus the pole attains the period of the anomaly of the precession of the equinoxes twice; and that of the declination or obliquity once only. It is thus that by later astronomers, but especially by Copernicus (the Restorer of Astronomy), the anomalies of the motion of the Earth’s axis are described, so far as the observations of the ancients down to our own times admit; but there are still needed more and exact observations for anyone to establish aught certain about the anomaly of the motion of the precessions, and at the same time that also of the obliquity of the Zodiack. For ever since the time at which, by means of various observations, this anomaly was first observed, we have only arrived at half a period of the obliquity. So that all the more all these matters about the unequal motion both of the precession and of the obliquity are uncertain and not well known: wherefore neither can we ourselves assign any natural causes for it, and establish it for certain. Wherefore also do we to our magnetical reasonings and experiments here set an end and period.



I N D E X.

Abano, Pietro di (Apponensis or Apianus), 2.

Abbas, Hali (’Ali ibn Al ’Abbās, Al Majusi, 2, 6.

Abohalis, 47. See also Avicenna.

aciarium or acies, also aciare, 18, 23, 33, 36.

Acosta, Josephus, 5.

adamant, 11.

equator, the magnetic, 13, 79.

etius Amidenus, 2.

Affaytatus, Fortunius, 6.

agate, non electric, 51, 53.

Agricola, Georgius, 2, 3, 10, 19, 26, 111, 112.

Agrippa, H. Cornelius, 3.

aimant, 11.

Albategnius (Muhammad ibn Jābir, Al-Battāni, 237.

Albertus Magnus, 2, 7, 18, 111.

Alexander Aphrodiseus, 3, 48, 92.

Alexandria, Hero of, 58.

Alfonso, Diego, 178.

Alfonsus the Wise (Alphonsus X.), 237.

Amalfians said to have first constructed the compass, 4.

Amatus Lusitanus, 2.

amber, 47, 49-60, 85, 112, 116.

amethyst, electrical properties of, 48.

amianth, 11.

Amidenus, etius, 2.

amphitane, 111.

Anatolismus, or Northeasting, 167.

Anaxagoras, 61, 208.

Andrea Doria (Admiral), 4.

Antonius de Fantis, 107.

Antonius Musa Brasavolus, 2.

Antony, the denarius of, 110.

Apianus. See Abano.

Apponensis. See Abano.

Aquinas, Thomas, 3, 64.

Aractensis, Mahometes, 234, 237.

Archelaus, 208.

Ardoynis, Santes de, 2.

Arias Montanus, 4.

Aristarchus, 214, 237.


De Anima, 1, 11, 61, 210.

De Cœlo, 226, 232.

De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, 22.

Meteorologica, 35, 39.

on material of the metals, 19, 20.

on the element of earth, 43.

on motions, 45, 219, 225.

on primary form, 65.

on the Primum Mobile, 220.

on animate nature of planets, 208.

armature, 87.

armed loadstones, 86, 87, 88, 89.

Arnaldus de Villa nova, 2, 7.

Arsinoe, Temple of, 2.

Attraction, 46, 60, 64, 68, 90, 98, 109.

Avicenna (Abu ’Ali Husain ibn ’Abd Allah, Ibn Sina; also called Abohalis):

writes on the magnet, 2.

on falling masses of iron, 26.

alleges loadstone an antidote to iron poison, 35.

on the property of attraction, 49.

Augsburgers (Augustani), the, prescribe loadstone in plaster, 33.

axis, the magnetic, 13, 81, 212.

Azores, variation of compass at the, 4, 154, 156, 167.

Bacon, Roger, 5.

Bambola, or Bilbilis, 23.

Baptista Montanus, 2.

Baptista Porta. See Porta.

Barbarus, Hermolaus, 3.

Barlowe, William (Rev. Archdeacon), his book, The Navigators Supply, 8.

basil leaves alleged not to be attracted, 48.

belemnites are electrical, 48.

Bencora (Thābit ibn Kurrah, Al Harrani; also called Thebitius), 117, 236.

Benedictus, Joannes Baptista (Giambattista Benedetti), 167.

beryl, electric properties of, 48.

Bessardus (Toussaincte de Bessard), 5, 116, 153.

Blondus, Flavius, the historian, 4.

Borough, William, his book on the Variation of the Compass, 8.

Borrholybicum (North-north-west), 160.

Brahe, Tycho, 174, 229.

Brandoe, the island of, 181.

Brasavolus, Antonius Musa, 2.

Bristolla, or Bristol gem, 48.

burnt clay, magnetic properties of, 26, 43.


Cabot, Sebastian, 4.

Celius Calcagninus, 7.

Cesare, or Cesare, Giulio, 141.

Calaber, Hannibal Rosetius, 3,

calamita or kalamita, 11.

Calcagninus, Celius, 7.

Camillus Leonhardus, 3.

Candish, or Cavendish, Thomas, *iij, 117.

cap of iron for a loadstone, 86, 89, 90, 95.

carabe, or karabe, 47.

carbuncle, electric properties of, 48, 111.

Cardan, Hieronymo, 2.

De Proportionibus:

on iron and earth, 43, 62, 67.

on distance of centre of cosmos, 169.

De Rerum Varietate:

on fall of meteoric iron, 26.

on attraction of amber, 49.

on a perpetual motion engine, 107.

De Subtilitate:

alleges magnet to feed on iron, 37, 63, 92.

on magnet that attracts silver, 110.

on magnetical influence of star in tail of Ursa Minor, 5, 116, 153.

carnelian, the, 51, 55.

catoblepas, the antelope called, 63.

Cesare, Giulio, 141.

chalybs, 18, 25, 33.

chatochitis, 111.

chemists, the, 19, 20, 21, 24, 37, 66.

China, 4, 8, 9, 11, 17, 32, 119.

Chinocrates, 2.

circumpulsion, doctrine of, 3, 61.

clamps (open kilns), 26.

clay when burnt is magnetic, 26, 43, 97.

clepsydra, 231.

Coimbra, College of, 5.

coition [mutual attraction aggregation] (mutual attraction), 45, 46, 60, 65, 67, 68, 81, 98, 99, 103, 109, 131.

definition of, *vj, 68.

sphere of, *vj.

colours of loadstones, 9, 10, 27.

Como, 23.

compass, alleged invention of, by Amalfians, 4.

origin of the compass-card, 4, 165.

the mariners’ (pyxis), 3, 115, 147, 165, 172.

the little (pyxidula), 181, 202.

different kinds of, Italian, Baltic, Portuguese, English, 165, 166, 177, 181.

conduction, magnetic, 85, 104, 125.

consequent poles, 129, 142.

Copernican system, 231.

Copernicus, Nicolas, 212, 214, 216, 231, 237, 238, 240.

Cordus, Valerius, 10.

Cornelius Agrippa, 3.

Cornelius Gemma, 63.

Cornelius Tacitus, 25.

corolla insorta, or contorted circlet, 238, 240.

Cortes, Martin, 5, 116, 152.

Corvo, Island of, 167.

Costa, Filippo (of Mantua), 141.

Costeus, Joannes, 3, 62, 227, 228.

creagus, the, or flesh-magnet, 110.

crystal, rock, 48, 52, 59, 111

Curtius, Nicolaus, 35.

Cusan (Michel Khrypffs), Cardinal de Cusa, 3, 64, 108.

Cynosure, the, or Pole-star, 14, 81, 117, 222, 235.

Dean, Forest of, loadstone found in the, 11.

decay of the magnetic power, 18, 37, 124, 138, 149.

declination, the, or dip, 184.

denarius of Antony, 110.

diamond, an electric, 48, 50, 59, 111.

alleged power to attract iron, 109, 112.

alleged antipathy to magnet, 2, 7, 109, 143.

experiments upon, 143.

Diego Alfonso, 178.

Differences between electrics and magnetics, 47, 60, 65.

Dioscorides, 1, 2, 9, 32.

dip, the, also called declination, 8, 46, 184-204.

dipping-needle, or declination instrument, 185, 203.

direction, or directive force, 41, 46, 115, 119.

dividing a loadstone, 16, 72, 100, 121, 122, 127, 130, 136, 145, 146.

Dominicus Maria Ferrariensis, 212, 213.

Doria, Andrea (Admiral), 4.

Drake, Sir Francis, *iij bis, 117.

Du Puys (also called Puteanus), 3, 63.

Earth, the, a great magnet, 38, 39, 40, 41, 44, 119, 211.

echeneis (the sucking fish), 7, 63, 110.

Ecphantus, 214.

emissions [signal emissions], electrical, 52, 53, 59, 66.

magnetic, 61.

electrical attraction, 50, 51, 111.

electric force, definition of, 52.

electrics, *vj, 46-60.

electrum (ἤλεκτρον), 47.

emerald is non-electric, 51.

emery, 22, 51.

Empedocles, 208.

Encelius (or Entzelt, Christoph.), 3, 111.

Epicurius, 61, 62.

Erasmus Rheinholdus, 213.

Erastus, Thomas, 3, 22.

errors in navigation, 166, 177.

Evax, King of Arabia, 111.

Euripides, 9, 11, 18.


Fallopius, Gabriellus, 3, 34, 35, 112.

Fantis, Antonius de, 107.

Fernelius, Joannes Franciscus, 4.

Ficinus, Marsilius (or Marsiglio Ficino), 3, 7, 116 153.

filings of iron, 37, 69, 90, 91, 92, 104.

Filippo Costa. See Costa.

fire destroys magnetic properties, 66, 67, 91, 124.

flame destroys electrification, 59.

flame hinders not magnetic attractions, 66.

Flavius Blondus. See Blondus.

flies in amber, 47.

form versus matter, 52, 65.

Fra Paolo, 6.

Fracastorio, Hieronymo, 5, 50, 67, 71, 91, 110, 113, 152.

Franciscus Maurolycus. See Maurolycus.

Franciscus Rueus. See Rueus.

Gagates. See jet.

Galen, 2, 9, 32, 35, 39, 46, 49, 61, 62, 63.

Gallus, Marbodeus, 2, 7.

garlic, its reputed antagonism to magnetics, 2, 32, 64.

Gartias ab Horto, 32.

Gaudentius Merula, 7.

Gauricus, Lucas, 7.

Geber (Jābir ibn Haiyan, Al-Tarsusī) 21.

Gemma, Cornelius, 63.

gems, electric properties of, 48, 51.

geniter, 47.

Georgius Agricola. See Agricola.

Gilbert, Adrian, 11.

Gilgil Mauritanus, 19.

Gioia, or Goia, of Amalfi, 4.

Giulio Cesare, 141.

glass, an electric by friction, 48, 54, 59.

use of loadstone in making, 111.

goat’s blood, 7.

Gonzalus Oviedus, 4.

Goropius, Henricus Becanus, 4.

Grotius, Hugo, 167, 168.

Hematite, 22, 51.

Hali Abbas (’Ali ibn Al ’Abbas, Al Masufi), 2, 6.

Hannibal Rosetius Calaber, 3.

Hariot, Thomas, 7.

Heat, effect of on loadstone, 66, 67, 93, 123, 124.

Helmshuda, 167.

Heraclea, the city of, 8.

Heraclean stone, or stone of Hercules, 8, 43, 61, 169.

Heraclides, 214.

Heraclitus, 208.

Hermes, 209.

Hermolaus Barbarus, 3.

Hero of Alexandria, 58.

Hipparchus, 213, 214, 234, 235, 237.

Hippocrates, 8, 35, 51, 61.

horizon, the magnetic, defined, 80.

Horto, Gartias ab, 32.

Horus, the bone of, or Os Ori, 9.

hot iron not magnetic, 66.

Hues, Robert, 7.

Hugo Grotius, 167, 168.

Inclination. See dip.

interposition of bodies, 53, 66, 83, 85, 89, 137.

iris gem, the, 48.

iron, its nature and occurrence, 19, 20, 22, 25.

filings of, 37, 69, 90, 91, 92, 104.

its various names and qualities, 23, 33, 36.

its various uses, 23, 24, 39, 86, 90, 95.

medical uses of, 33, 35.

surpasses loadstone, 69, 95.

polarity in, 85, 123, 139.

iron ore is magnetic, 18, 27, 38, 43.

has poles, 28.

islands, magnetic influence of, 5, 153,161.

Jacobus Severtius, 5.

jet, 47, 48, 53, 55, 86.

Joannes Baptista Porta. See Porta.

Joannes Baptista Montanus, 2.

Joannes Costeus. See Costeus.

Joannes Franciscus Offusius, 46.

Joannes Goia. See Gioia.

Joannes Langius, 3.

Joannes Taisner, or Taisnier. See Taisnier.

Jofrancus Offusius, 46.

Josephus Acosta, 5.

Julius Cesar Moderatus, 141.

Julius Cesar Scaliger. See Scaliger.

Kendall, Abraham, 7, 178.

Korrah, Thebitius Ben. See Bencora.

Lactantius, Lucius, 219.

Lagos, Rodriguez de, 177.

Langius, Joannes, 3.

lapis magnetis, 8.

lapis specularis, muscovy stone, or mica, 11, 48, 52.

latitude in relation to dip, 196, 200.

Leonardus (or Leonhardus), Camillus, 3.

Levinus Lemnius, 3.


lifting power of loadstones, 86, 89, 97.

lily of the compass, 117, 152, 165, 177.

liquids, electrical attraction of, 55.

attraction on surface of, 57.

Livio Sanuto, 5, 153, 167.

loadstone armed and unarmed, 86, 87, 88.

as medicine, 32.

in plasters, 33.

rock, the, 5, 6, 18, 116, 152.

various names of, 11.

colours of, 9, 10, 27.

various sources of, 8, 25, 32.

London, magnetic variation at, 154, 163.

longitude, magnetic finding at, 166.

long magnets, advantage of, 82, 83, 99, 101

Lucania, fall of meteoric stones in, 26.

Lucas Gauricus, 7.

Lucretius, 2, 3, 8, 49, 61.

Lusitanus, Amatus, 2.

Lynschoten, Hugo van, *iiij.

Magnes, μάγνης, μαγνῆτις, 11.

Magnesia, 8.

Magnetic axis of terrella, 81, 212.

axis of Earth, 13, 81, 212.

horizon, 80.

meridian, 79, 152.

mountains or rocks, 5, 6, 18, 116, 152.

islands, 5, 153, 161.

motions, the five, 45.

Magnus, Albertus. See Albertus.

Magnus, Olaus, 5, 6.

Mahometes Aractensis, 234, 237.

Mahomet’s tomb, 2.

Manardus, Joannes, 35.

Marbodeus Gallus, 2, 7.

Marcellus Empiricus, 2.

Marco Polo (Paulus Venetus), 4.

mariners’ compass. See compass.

Mars, saffron of (Crocus Martis), 34, 91.

Marsiglio Ficino. See Ficinus.

Martin Cortes, 5, 116, 152.

matter and form, 52, 65.

Mattheus Silvaticus, 3.

Matthiolus, Petrus, 2, 3.

Mauritanus, Gilgil, 19.

Mauritanus, Serapio, 2, 6.

Maurolycus, Franciscus, 5, 42, 153, 180.

medicinal use of iron, 33.

of loadstone, 32.

Medina, Pedro de, 166.

Menelaus, 234, 237.

meridian, magnetic, 79, 152, 163.

Merula, Gaudentius, 7.

meteoric stones, falls of, 26, 27.

mica (or muscovy stone), 11, 48, 52.

μικρόγη. See terrella.

moisture stops electric action, 53, 56.

Montagnana, B., 35.

Montanus, Arias, 4.

Montanus, Joannes Baptista, 2.

Moors, Serapio and the, 6.

mountains, magnetic, 5, 6, 18, 116, 152.

movement of trepidation, 117.

Musa Brasavolus, Antonius, 2.

muscovy stone, 11, 48, 52. See also mica.

myths of the magnet, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 18, 32, 63, 107, 109, 110, 111, 116, 143, 153, 228

motions, the various magnetic, 46.

Names of amber, 47.

names of the loadstone, 11.

names given to the magnetic poles, 15, 115, 125, 129.

Nicander of Colophon, 8, 9.

Nicetas, 214.

Nicolas Copernicus, 212, 214, 216, 231, 237, 238, 240

Nicolaus Myrepsus, or Prepositas, 33.

non-electric bodies, 51, 55.

Nonius, Petrus (Pedro Nunez), 166.

Norman, Robert, 5, 8, 153, 161, 162.

supposes a point respective, 5, 153, 161, 162.

his Newe Attractive, 8.

discoverer of the dip, 8.

Norumbega, the city of, 154.

Nova Zembla, 152, 179.

Offusius, Jofrancus, 46.

Olaus Magnus, 5, 6.

opal becomes electrical, 48.

sphere of action, 76, 96, 191, 205

spheres of action of planets, 208, 215.

Oribasius, 2.

Orpheus, 11, 61, 209.

Oviedus, Gonzalus (Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes), 4.

Pantarbes, 111.

Paolo (Paulus egine), 35.

Paolo, Rev. Mestro (Fra Paolo Sarpi), 6

Paolo the Venetian (Marco Polo), 4.

Paracelsus (Bombast von Hohenheim).

asserts the stars to attract iron, 3.

his emplastrum of loadstone, 33.

his method of strengthening loadstones, 93.

Parmenides, 208.

pearls are not electric, 51, 55.

Pedro de Medina, 166.

percussion excites polarity, 139.

Peregrinus, Peter,

his book, 5.

on cause of magnetic direction, 5, 116, 153.

on perpetual motion engine, 107.

affirms a terrella to revolve daily, 223.


Peripatetics, the, 20, 41, 43, 45, 65, 218, 222, 225, 227, 228.

perpetual motion machine, 107.

Peter Peregrinus. See Peregrinus.

Peter Plancius. See Plancius.

Petrus Apponensis. See Abano, Pietro di.

Petrus Nonius. See Nonius or Nunez.

Philolaus, 214.

Philostratus, 111.

Pictorio, G., 6, 49.

piedramant, 11.

Plancius, Peter, *v bis.

planets, influence of, 20, 137, 142.

plasters, magnetic, 32, 33.

Plato, 3.

in the Io, discusses name and properties of the magnet, 1, 9, 11, 18.

in the Timeus, suggests the theory of circumpulsion, 61.

his Atlantis, 159.

on life in the universe, 208.

Pliny (C. Plinius Secundus).

on loadstone fables, 1, 2, 9, 18.

his mistake about ethiopian loadstones, 17.

on the five kinds of loadstones, 9.

on the alleged discovery of the loadstones, 8.

on the alleged magnetic mountains, 18.

on a locality where loadstone was found, 11.

on the occurrence of iron in Spain, 25.

on the Sagda and the Catochites, 111.

on the silver denarius of Antony, 110.

on the use of loadstone by glass-makers, 111.

on the shadow of a gnomon of a sun-dial at Rome, 213.

Plotinus, 218.

Plutarch, Claudius.

on the garlic fable, 32.

says something flammable exists in amber, 54.

his theory of circumpulsion, 3, 62.

polarity. See polarity.

pole, the, elevation of, 200, 213.

poles, magnetic, of a loadstone, 13, 41, 72, 81, 144.

poles are not points, 12, 41, 72, 96.

Polo, Marco, 4.

Porta, Joannes Baptista (Giambattista della Porta).

his narration of marvels, 6.

on various tempering of iron, 24.

asserts loadstone a mixture of stone and iron, 63.

on his assertion that loadstones have hairs, 66.

asserts vapour to be cause of attraction, 67.

his error as to change of polarity, 73.

suspends iron upwards by a thread, 92.

his error as to centre of the sphere of action, 95.

his error as to the polarity which causes repulsion, 102.

his error as to magnetic opposing forces, 103.

experiment with a balance, 108.

his error as to iron being intoxicated, 138.

his error as to iron excited by a diamond, 143.

his error as to the pointing of a magnet, 144.

proportion between loadstone and iron, 149.

his error as to variation and longitude, 166.

precession of the equinoxes, 234, 236.

primum mobile, the, 79, 214, 216, 218, 220, 226, 232, 237.

prostapheresis, 174, 236.

Prutenical Tables, the, 235.

Ptolemeus, Claudius.

on loadstone fables, 2, 32.

on the occurrence of loadstone and of iron, 9,25.

on the dissolution of the Earth, 91, 217, 218.

alleged relation of regions with the planets, 137.

on the elevation of the pole at different latitudes, 213, 214.

on the Primum Mobile, and the daily movement of the stars, 216, 228, 234.

on the anomalies of the Earth’s motion, 237.

Puteanus, Gulielmus (Du Puys), 3, 63.

pyrimachus (i.e., pyrites), 23.

Pythagoras, 57, 208.

pyxidula, 4, 181.

pyxis, 3, 115, 147, 165, 172.

Radius, the, of the Earth’s orbit, 218.

Rasis. See Rhazes.

rays of magnetic force, 95.

Reinoldus, Erasmus (or Rheinholdus), 213.

remora, the (or sucking fish), 7, 63, 110.

resin becomes electrical by friction, 48, 52.

respective points, 5, 153, 161, 162.

reversal of polarity, 101, 137.

revolution of the Earth, 46, 81, 91, 220.

repulsion, electrical, denied to exist, 113.

Rhazes (Muhammad ibn Zakarīyā), 34, 35.

rings, on the polarity of, 129.

Rodriguez de Lagos, 177.

Rosetius Calaber, Hannibal, 3.

Ruellius, Joannes, 7.

Rueus, Franciscus (de la Rue), 6.

Saffron of Mars, 34, 91, 93.

sagda, or sagdo, the, 111.

Sanuto, Livio, 5, 153, 167.

sapphire, the, 48.

scales of iron, 22.

Scaliger, Julius Cesar.

on cause of magnetic direction, 5, 64, 153.

on a fall of meteoric iron, 26.

on preservation of loadstones, 37.

on amber, 47.

on magnetic attraction, 70.

admits the loadstone to have a soul, 68.

on diamond attracting iron, 112.

scoria or slag of iron, 34, 35.

sealing wax is electrical, 48, 53.

Sebastian Cabot. See Cabot.

Serapio, or Serapio Mauritania (Yuhanna ibn Sarapion), 2, 6.

Severtius, Jacobus, 5.

shielding, magnetic, by iron plate, 83, 85.


siderites (σιδερίτης) 8, 11, 143.

siegelstein 11.

silk suspension for magnetic iron, 29, 30.

Silvaticus, Mattheus, 3.

silver, loadstone for, 109, 110.

similars, doctrine of attraction of, 50, 62.

Simon Stevinus, *v bis, 167, 168.

slate, magnetic properties of, 43.

smeargel (emery), 22.

Solinus, Caius Julius, 1, 9, 111.

Solomon the King, 4.

Sotacus, 9.

Stadius, 213.

stars are at various distances, 215.

steel, 23, 39, 69, 71, 93, 95, 147.

Stevinus, Simon, *v bis, 167, 168.

stomoma (στόμωμα) 23, 33, 36.

Strabo, 25.

succinum. See amber.

Sudini, or Sudavienses, 47.

sulphur, electrical by friction, 48, 53, 56, 59.

συνδρόμη, *vj.

συνεντελέχεια, 68.

Sussex, iron ore in, 22.

sympathy and antipathy, 65, 68, 112.

Tacitus, Cornelius, 25.

Taisner, or Taisnier, Joannes, 5, 107.

Tariassiona or Tarazona, 23.

terrella [magnetic model Earth].

definition of, *vj, 12, 13.

poles and axis of, 13, 72, 81, 144.

divided into two parts, 72.

magnetic power, diagram of, 74, 75.

how small pieces of iron behave toward, 75, 76.

sphere of action of, 76, 77, 104.

"geography" of, 78.

equinoctial circle of, 79, 144.

parallels of, 80, 211.

magnetic horizon of, 80.

proportion of the forces in, 81, 82.

experiment with iron sphere, 85.

small iron sphere and rod, 94, 102.

centre of magnetic force in, 95.

irregular terrella to exhibit variation, 155, 157.

to illustrate the dip of the needle, 190, 192.

analogy of, with the Earth, 41, 78, 119, 211.

testing loadstones, methods of, 108.

Thales of Miletus, 11, 61, 68, 208, 210.

theamedes, the, 18.

Thebitius, or Thebit ben Korrah, 117, 236.

Themistius, 71.

Theophrastus, 1, 9, 11.

Thomas Aquinas, 3, 64.

tides, the cause of, 86.

Tycho Brahe, 174, 229.

Variation of the compass, 7, 46, 79, 116, 151-163, 166, 167, 180.

variation at the Azores, 4, 154, 156, 167.

versorium, magnetic, definition of, *vj.

use of, 13, 115, 147.

versorium, non-magnetic, use of, 48, 49, 50.

polarity, 28, 115, 119-147.

acquired, 67, 68, 84, 85, 104, 123, 125, 129, 138, 139, 141, 142, 211.

in iron plates touched by loadstone, 84.

in iron sphere, 85.

how, in iron, 123, 139, 212.

in bracket in tower of St. Augustine’s Church, Rimini, 141.

similar at ends of rod touched in middle, 84, 129.

by percussion, 139.

through interposed matter, 67.

not in bodies other than magnetic, 142.

equator separates two kinds of, 79.

possessed by the Earth, as a "Cause," 117.

change of, through change of mass, 72.

definition of, *vj.

described, 119, 120, 121.

destroyed by heat, 66, 93, 124.

Earth produces it in loadstone and iron, 42, 140, 211, 212.

empowered through greater distances in iron than in air, 104.

exists in all shapes of loadstone, 76.

helps the Earth to keep its orbit, 224.

inherent in wrought iron, 31, 115.

as a magnetic motion, 46.

mutation of, 120, 137.

magnitude of Earth prevents variation of, 163, 164.

none acquired by iron rubbed on equator of terrella, 148.

not affected by position of loadstone, 144.

of one loadstone as affected by another, 69, 138.

opposite, acquired by iron touched by loadstone, 115, 125, 129.

parts having same repel, 122, 133.

pole of, where last contact is, 149.

strengthened in versoria [compasses], 147-150.

strength of, decreases at once in both poles, 146.

Villa nova, Arnaldus de, 2, 7.

vincentina, the, 48.

Vincent’s Rock, gem of, 54.

Weather affects electrics, 48, 53, 55, 56.

weighing the magnetic force, 108.

Wright, Edward, his prefatory address, *iij bis, 7.

wrought iron is magnetic, 29, 139.

Youth preserved by loadstone, 32.

Zeilam, the king of, 32.

Zimiri, 11.

Zoroaster, 209.


Lion and Anchor

TRANSLATION by Vincent Wilmot 2015

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