A large circular tub that figured prominently in the magnetic
treatment that Charles dEslon, a friend and follower of
Franz A. Mesmers, prescribed for his patients. The marquis of
Puységur tells us in his book Du Magnétisme Animal (1807) that
some bottles, arranged in a particular manner, were placed in
the baquet and partly covered with water. The tub was fitted with
a lid having several holes through which passed iron rods connecting
the patients, who sat around the contrivance. The operator
was armed with a shorter iron rod. While the patients
waited for a response to the treatment, someone played a pianoforte,
a device frequently used at Spiritualist séances. Reactions
included violent convulsions, cries, laughter, and vomiting.
This state, called the crisis, was supposed to hasten the
A commission appointed in 1784 by the French government
to report on mesmerism suggested that such practices were exceedingly
dangerous and in no way proved the existence of an
alleged magnetic fluid.
Darnton, Robert. Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment
in France. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1968.
Harte, Richard. Hypnotism and the Doctors. I. MesmerDe
Puységur. London L. N. Fowler, 1902.