Remarkable Phenomenon.

Remarkable Phenomenon.

  The following narrative deserves, and will from the thoughtful receive, the greatest attention, as the [illegible]ticated as it is by the names engaged in the investigation. The name of Arago precludes all suspicion of quackery, credulity, or inaccuracy. The facts are of a class which claims daily more and more attention and seems to promise light as to VITAL DYNAMICS—those motive causes which, because so closely interwoven with all our thoughts, have hitherto almost wholly eluded the cognizance of the Intellect. We have not been able to get a point of view distant enough from our habits and prejudices to see from.*

Translated for The New-York Daily Tribune from the Courrier des Etats Unis.

  The Academy of Science was much moved, at its sitting on the 16th of February, by an account of the most extraordinary phenomena. This recital was given to the illustrious assembly by M. Arago, with the spirit and courage of a man who does not fear being misunderstood. We repeat the facts for our readers. Angelica Cottin, a child of 13 years, is a villager of the department of Finistére and works in a manufactory of ladies thread gloves. She knows how to read and write, though only of mediocre intelligence. In the early part of January last she was winding silk with her workshop companions when suddenly the cylinder which she turned was thrown to a distance. Not knowing how to explain that accident the young girls replaced the cylinder and recommenced their labor. But the same event recurred and they soon perceived that Angelica Cottin was the cause of the extraordinary occurrence. General terror was communicated to the entire village. They ran to the curate who exorcised the young girl and pronounced the “Vade retro Satanas” (Get thee behind me, Satan). But the curate having thrown away his holy water and his Latin, was obliged to conclude that Satan had nothing to do with the phenomenon, consequently the physician succeeded to the curate. Accompanied by the physician and her father and mother, Angelica came to Paris. She was conducted by M. Arago to the observatory, and it was in his presence and before Messieurs Laugier and Goujon that the following observations were made and mentioned. It is the left side of the body which appears to acquire this, sometimes attractive, but more frequently repulsive property. A sheet of paper, a pen or any other light body being placed upon a table, if the young girl approach her left hand, even before she touches it, the object is driven to a distance as by a gust of wind. The table itself is overthrown the moment it is touched by her hand or even by a thread which she may hold it. This causes instantaneously a strong commotion in her side which draws her toward the table, but it is in the region of the pelvis that this singular repulsive force appears to concentrate itself. As had been observed the first day, if she attempted to sit, the seat was thrown far from her with such force, that any other person occupying it was carried away with it. One day a chest upon which three men were seated, was moved in the same manner. Another day, although the chair was held by two strong men, it was broken between their hands. These phenomenon are not produced in a continued manner. They manifest themselves in a greater or less degree, and from time to time during the day, but they show themselves in all their intensity, in the evening from 7 to 9 o’clock. Then the girl is obliged to continue standing and is in great agitation. She can touch no object without breaking it or throwing it upon the ground. All the articles of furniture which her garments touch are displaced and overthrown. At that moment many persons have felt, by coming in contact with her, a true electrical shock. During the entire duration of the paroxysms, the left side of the body is warmer than the right. It is affected by jerks, unusual movements and a kind of trembling which seems to communicate itself to the hand which touches it. This young person presents moreover a peculiar sensibility to the action of the magnet. When she approaches the North Pole of the Magnet she feels a violent shock, while the South Pole produces no effect, so that of the experimenter changes the poles, but without her knowledge, she always discovers it by the difference of sensations which she experiences. M. Arago wished to see if the approach of this young girl would cause a deviation of the needle of the compass. The deviation which had been foretold was not produced. But perhaps the phenomena did not exist at that moment in their greatest intensity. The electrical fishes themselves exercise no action upon the magnetic needle, excepting by the aid of particular precautions. The general health of Angelica Cottin is very good. We must nevertheless consider her as being in a diseased state. The extraordinary movements, the paroxysms observed every evening, resemble what one observes in some nervous maladies. Angelica feels herself violent commotions every time that a discharge of the influence takes place. Her wrist is subjected to a sort of rotation upon itself and she is in a state of great suffering during all the continuance of this attack. M. Arago has requested the Academy of Sciences to appoint a commission to examine Angelica Cottin. The Academy have named a commission composed of MM. Arago, Becquerel, Babinet, Rayer and Pariset.

“Remarkable Phenomenon,” New-York Daily Tribune, 1 April 1846, p. 1.