Superphysics
Chapter 6

# Variation and direction arise from the disponent power of the earth

by Gilbert
##### February 20, 2024 5 minutes  • 1014 words

Variation and direction arise from:

• the disponent power of the earth, and
• the natural magnetick tendency to rotation.

It does not come from:

• attraction, or
• coition,
• other occult causes.

Owing to the loadstone being supposed (amongst the crowd of philosophizers) to seize and drag, as it were, magnetick 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[224], 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 æquilibrium 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:

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 magnetick 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 magnetick 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 excited by a loadstone should not be moved toward the side of the vessel are agreeable to and in conformity {163}with the magnetick 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.

## CHAP. 7: Why the variation from that lateral cause is not greater than has hitherto 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 verticity 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 magnetick bodies from the meridian, yet the verticity 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 verticity 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 æquinoctial, and let G H and E F (the lines) be for meridians on which versoria are disposed, the variations of which are greater at a greater distance from the æquator. 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.

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