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Upon quitting the marbles to pass on to the other more remarkable stones, who can for a moment doubt that the magnet1 will be the first to suggest itself? For what, in fact, is there endowed with more marvellous properties than this? or in which of her departments has Nature displayed a greater degree of waywardness? She had given a voice to rocks, as already2 mentioned, and had enabled them to answer man, or rather, I should say, to throw back his own words in his teeth. What is there in existence more inert than a piece of rigid stone? And yet, behold! Nature has here endowed stone with both sense and hands. What is there more stubborn than hard iron? Nature has, in this instance, bestowed upon it both feet and intelligence. It allows itself, in fact, to be attracted by the magnet, and, itself a metal which subdues all other elements, it precipitates itself towards the source of an influence at once mysterious and unseen. The moment the metal comes near it, it springs towards the magnet, and, as it clasps it, is held fast in the magnet's embraces. Hence it is that this stone is sometimes known by the name of "sideritis;"3 another name given to it being "heraclion."4 It received its name "magnes," Nicander informs us, from the person who was the first to discover it, upon Ida.5 It is found, too, in various other countries, as in Spain, for example. Magnes, it is said, made this discovery, when, upon taking his herds to pasture, he found that the nails of his shoes and the iron ferrel of his staff adhered to the ground.

Sotacus6 describes five7 different kinds of magnet; the Æthiopian magnet; that of Magnesia, a country which borders on Macedonia, and lies to the right of the road which leads from the town of Bœbe to Iolcos; a third, from Hyettus in Bœotia; a fourth, from Alexandria in Troas; and a fifth, from Magnesia in Asia. The leading distinction in magnets is the sex, male and female,8 and the next great difference in them is the colour. Those of Magnesia, bordering on Macedonia, are of a reddish black; those of Bœotia are more red than black; and the kind that is found in Troas is black, of the female sex, and consequently destitute of attractive power. The most inferior, however, of all, are those of Magnesia in Asia: they are white, have no attractive influence on iron, and resemble pumice in appearance. It has been found by experience, that the more nearly the magnet approaches to an azure colour, the better it is in quality. The Æthiopian magnet is looked upon as the best of all, and is purchased at its weight in silver: Zmiris in Æthiopia is the place where it is found, such being the name of a region there, covered with sand.

In the same country, too, the magnet called "hæmatites"9 is found, a stone of a blood-red colour, and which, when bruised, yields a tint like that of blood, as also of saffron. The hæmatites has not the same property10 of attracting iron that the ordinary magnet has. The Æthiopian magnet is recognized by this peculiarity, that it has the property, also, of attracting other magnets to it.11 All these minerals are useful as ingredients in ophthalmic preparations, in certain proportions according to the nature of each: they are particularly good, too, for arresting defluxions of the eyes. Triturated in a calcined state, they have a healing effect upon burns.

In Æthiopia, too, not far from Zmiris, there is a mountain in which the stone called "theamedes"12 is found, a mineral which repels and rejects all kinds of iron. Of the attractive and repulsive properties of iron, we have spoken13 more than once.

1 "Magnes."

2 In Chapter 23 of this Book.

3 "Iron earth;" from σίδηρος, "iron." The magnet, or loadstone itself, is an oxide of iron, known as Oxidulated iron, or Ferroso-ferric oxide; sometimes in combination with quartz or alumine.

4 From Heraclea, in Lydia, or in Thessaly, according to some accounts. It is not improbable, however, that it was so called after "Heracles," or Hercules, on account of its powerful influence upon iron ores.

5 Isidorus says, "India," in B. 16 of the "Origines."

6 See the list of authors at the end of this Book.

7 Varieties, no doubt, of oxide of iron.

8 An absurd distinction, as Ajasson remarks; based, probably, on Eastern notions, and with reference to the comparative powers of attraction.

9 From ἅιμα, "blood." He alludes to Specular iron, red ochre, or red hematite, another oxide of iron.

10 Sometimes it has, but in a very slight degree.

11 Ajasson remarks that most probably the possessors of this pretended variety knew the distinction between the two poles of the magnet, and took care, when it was their interest to do so, to place the opposite pole towards that of the other loadstone.

12 It was the belief of the Duke of Noya Caraffa, that this stone was identical with Tourmaline: but, as Beckmann says, tourmaline, when heated, first attracts iron, and then repels it. Hist. Inv. Vol. I. pp. 87, 88. Bohn's Edition. Ajasson is of opinion that the Theamedes was neither more nor less than the ordinary loadstone, with the negative pole presented, by designing persons, towards another magnet.

13 In B. ii. c. 98, and B. xx. c. l.

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