Cottin, Angelique (ca. 1846)
A French peasant girl from a small village near Montagne,
in Normandy, who as a teen exhibited remarkable phenomena
of an apparently electric nature for a period of about ten weeks.
Her first manifestation took place on the evening of January
15, 1846, while she was engaged in weaving gloves with three
other girls. The frame at which they were working began to
jump about. The parish priest was the first to investigate, since
witchcraft was suspected. Realizing the money-making possibilities
in such a mysterious power, Angelique’s parents soon
took her to Paris.
A Dr. Tanchou accidentally heard of her curious phenomena,
investigated, and found them to be of an electrical nature.
Balls of pith or feathers hung on a silken thread were alternately
attracted or repelled by a force emanating from her body.
She could distinguish between the poles of a magnet by touch.
A compass was violently agitated in her presence. Chairs and
tables leapt away from her touch in bright daylight and against
strong counterpressure. A bed rocked and shook beneath her.
Tanchou sometimes noticed a cold wind during the phenomena.
He reported to the scientist François Arago, who tested
the girl in his laboratory. Their report revealed sudden and
violent movements of the chair on which the girl was sitting.
They were not satisfied, however, that these movements were
not due to muscular force. But Tanchou and many others remained
convinced that the phenomena was proof of the existence
of a new force. According to Lafontaine, ‘‘When she
brought her left wrist near a lighted candle the flame bent over
horizontally, as if continually blown upon.’’ The power was especially
strong in the evening, from seven to nine o’clock. It radiated
only from the front part of Cottin’s body, especially at
her wrist and elbow, but only on the left side. Her left arm was
of higher temperature than the other. If she was seated on a
chair without her feet touching the floor, made to sit down on
her hands, or stood on a wax floor, a piece of oiled silk, or a
plate of glass, no phenomena took place.
At every manifestation of the mysterious force Cottin was
seized with terror and sought refuge in flight. During the phenomena
she was extremely hyperesthetic; her muscles convulsed
and her heartrate increased to 120 beats a minute. The
force was so excessive that a 60-pound table would rise into the
air if her apron merely touched it.
The telekinetic phenomena of Eusapia Palladino seem to
have been similarly produced. Frank Podmore in his examination
of the facts found this a suspicious circumstance. He also
observed that when chairs were thrown about there was a double
movement on the part of the girl, first in the direction of
the object thrown and then away from it, the first movement
being so rapid that it generally escaped attention.
Rochas, Eugene A. A. L’Exteriorisation de la Motricité. 1896.
Reprint, N.p., 1899.