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A BUUK ()}• fRorOlM) Sli.MIU.IXCI:


M.D., PH.D., LITT.D., LL.D.

Professor of Psycliology in Harvard i')iivc} sity

8t'o, $2.00 »('/.

Hy iiuiil. $2.20.

Trill II It I

A maslerl\- discussion, wrillcn in simple un-
technical language, of the Psychological
IJasis of Psychotherapy, its Methods, Re-
suits and Place in Civilization. It is the
second hook in a series which Prof. Miin-
sterherg is writing "to discuss for a wider
public the practical applications of modern
psychology." it deals with the relation of
psychology to medicine. 1

"Undoubtedly the most important publij
tion of the year." — Phila. Public Ledger.'.

"On tlie whole, the best popular presentat| A
the subject has ever had in English." — /:/7»(^ 1
can Journal of Psycliology.

"Places for tlie first time the whole ma
ler of the ni'W(.st and most wonder fvil o
s plainly, clearly and effecli\ely befnre an interested pul)lic."- — Minneapolis




Eusapia Palladino





"the PHYBICAL phenomena of 8PIKITUALI8M,"


"the coming science," "HINDU


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Copyright, 1909, by

Entered in Stationtrt' Hall, London
AH Right* Reserved

Printed In the United States of America








lereward Carrington, a firm believer in Mme. Palladino and
her manager on her recent visit to America





While much has been written in France and Italy con-
cerning the remarkable woman who forms the subject of
this book, but little has appeared either in England or
America — with the exception of M. Flammarion's work,
Mysterious Psychic Forces, and a series of articles that have
appeared from time to time in the English edition of the
Annals of Psychical Science. Yet the case is one of the most
remarkable that has come to the attention of the scientific
world for many years — since we are concerned, apparently,
with movements of physical objects without contact, and
even far more startling phenomena — contrary to the known
laws of physics and physiology.

In the following book I propose to lay before the reader
a summary of all the historic evidence available, together
with a detailed record of our own experiments with this
medium, conducted in Naples, in November and December,
1908; a complete resume of every theory that has been ad-
vanced to date — with a provisional hypothesis of my own;
and then to discuss at some length the biological and psy-
chological peculiarities of the case — from the point of view
of one who assumes, on the strength of the existing testi-
mony, that the facts are established.

One forms a very different opinion of Eusapia's seances
before and after he has obtained personal sittings. Before,
although I was vastly impressed with the cumulative evi-




dence, I was far from being irrevocably convinced — an atti-
tude vv^hich I occupy to-day. I had given a rapid survey of
the Palladino case in one of my previous books, The Physi-
cal Phenomena of Spirit ualisni, saying in part:

"And thus the matter stands: One half the world is con-
vinced that Eusapia is a fraud, and the other half is con-
vinced that the phenomena witnessed in her presence are
genuine! What the ultimate verdict will be it is hard to
foresee; but it is certain that the case, as it stands, is not
convincing to the scientific world, and fresh evidence must
be forthcoming if the case is ever to be decided in her favor.
If Eusapia possesses genuine mediumistic gifts, it ought only
to be a matter of time and sufficiently careful experimenting
in order to establish that fact."

Professor Morselli took occasion to make this the text
of a lengthy reply to my book (appearing in the Annals of
Psychical Science, August-September, 1908), based on his
seances with Eusapia, in which he said:

"I hope and believe that my voluminous work on Palla-
dino's spiritism will give a satisfactory answer to the dis-
tinguished American psychist, who is so severe on physical
mediumship, and only accepts as valid, in general, the bygone
categories of the historical phenomena of spiritism. He is
guided by the preconceived idea that in the earlier times,
from the Fox Sisters to Home, the physical phenomena were
more authentic, because then the mediums did not copy one
another and mediumship was confined to the spontaneous
revelation of new biopsychical forces, without the interven-
tion of mimicry. . . .

"Now it is hazardous to express judgments on a powerful
but variable medium like Eusapia on such slight documentary
evidence; but Mr. Carrington, like all the English and
American psychists, is still under the impression received
from the check at Cambridge, caused by an excess of rigidity

Preface ix

In the interpretation of the movements of the medium's hands
and feet. We have the obsession of tricker>^ by the substi-
tution of one hand for the other, according to the formal
accusation made by E. Torelli-Viollier against Palladino in
1892, at the time of the celebrated experiments in Milan,
at the house of M. E. Finzi. And in reality, in America
also, where the conjuring ability of mediums has reached
the highest degree, the trick of the freeing of one hand from
the chain of controllers is practised every day by charlatan
mediums, v^^ho are very numerous there. I append two very
significant illustrations which Mr. Carrington has inserted
in his book, . . . which show very plainly the method of
deception used by mediums for evading the surveillance of
the controllers to right and left; with the freed hand they
are able to produce touchings, raps, noises, slight move-
ments of objects, apports, etc. . . .

"Mr. Carrington, whom I still quote for precaution, for
he is not only a firm believer in immortality, but also a
psychist of authority, assumes an attitude of extreme distrust
when he says:

" 'It is not only probable, but certain, that the vast ma-
jority of modern occult phenomena are fraudulent. I am
disposed to believe that fully ninety-eight per cent, of the
phenomena, both mental and physical, are fraudulently pro-
duced. . . .*

"No critic or skeptic, were it Dr. Hodgson returned to
earth, could ever convince me that, in a long series of seances
with Eusapia, and especially in the last ones of 1906-7, I
had only seen, in all, two genuine phenomena in every hun-
dred! This Is my opinion, and I live in this confidence
toward myself and my fellow-investigators, notwithstanding
all that Carrington writes about Eusapia Palladino. . . ."

This will, I trust, serve to show the reader that I did not
go to Eusapia's seances any too ready to be convinced ; and
the fact that I was so convinced (this being the first case
of genuine physical mediumship I had ever seen during ten

X Preface

years continuous investigation) proves, it seems to me, that
the severest skeptics are likely to become converted if they
would but deign to stop criticising the reports and sittings
of others, and go and have sittings themselves. Only in
that manner can one's mental attitude be changed, and the
genuine nature of the facts be forced upon one — as they were
iorced upon me.

In spite of my conviction, however, I wish to say that I
am just as skeptical as ever of all other professional mediums;
and still think that as large a percentage of fraud exists as
when I wrote the above passage. Eusapia is genuine; but
she is, so far as I know, almost unique; and I shall believe in
the genuineness of none other, until they have submitted
their mediumship and their phenomena to tests similar to
those Imposed upon Eusapia. It Is very true that, granting
that her seances are genuine, it is highly probable that many
others are genuine also — only the evidence does not prove
it. However, until phenomena are produced under condi-
tions which preclude the possibility of fraud, it is useless
to speculate as to whether they are genuine or not. Of
course It is possible that phenomena only occur under condi-
tions which render fraud possible; but if that be the case,
it Is useless to continue the investigation, since nothing will
ever be proved. We should always have to assume that
fraud was the real explanation of the facts so long as it
was possibly operative.

In our own seances, we (my fellow-investigators and my-
self) felt that we had obtained phenomena under conditions
that absolutely precluded fraud ; we were forced to the con-
clusion, In consequence, that genuine phenomena occurred;
and, that being the case, they should be studied by scientists
— not with the object of detecting trickery, but in the hope

Preface xi

of discovering the hidden causes and laws of certain unknown
and as yet unrecognized biological phenomena. Of course
each investigator must, unfortunately, be convinced in turn
before he can approach the case from that point of view.
The consequence is that years of valuable time have been
consumed in attempts to establish the facts; and, by the
time they are accepted by the skeptical world, it is probable
that Eusapia will have died, and that we shall have to await
the advent of another equally gifted medium before we can
study the significance of the phenomena in the spirit in which
they should be approached!

I think I ought to say in conclusion that, although this
book represents my own opinions concerning these phenom-
ena — for which I alone am responsible — the task of estab-
lishing the facts was equally shared by my colleagues, the
Hon. Everard Feilding, and Mr. W. W. Baggally, to whom
I wish to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation for
their cooperation and support, and to whom credit is equally
due, for whatever certitude has been reached regarding the
existence of these preternormal events. Only by their ex-
haustive and painstaking investigations and by their sympa-
thetic cooperation has the issuance of this book been rendered

I wish to acknowledge my thanks, also, to the English
Society for Psychical Research, for their permission to quote
extended passages from our official Report upon Eusapia —
which originally appeared in the S. P. R. Proceedings: also
to the editor of The Annals of Psychical Science, for permis-
sion to quote from the valuable collection of material upon
Eusapia's mediumship that has appeared in that journal.

I also wish to acknowledge, in this place, my indebtedness
to all those investigators of Eusapia whose records have been

xii Preface

utilized in the compilation of this book; and particularly
to those eminent men of science whose courageous champion-
ing of an unpopular cause has paved the way for this investi-

H. C.



Preface vii


I. The Place of Eusapia Palladino in the History

OF Modern Spiritualism i

II. Biographical Sketch 19

III. Historical Resume of the Palladino Case 28

§ I. Professor Lombroso's Conversion — 189 1.

§ 2. The Report of the Milan Commission — 1892.

§ 3. Experiments at Naples and at St. Peters-
burg— 1893.

§ 4. Experiments at Rome — 1893-94.

§ 5. Experiments at Warsaw — 1893-94.

§ 6. Experiments at the ile Roubaud — 1894.

§ 7. Experiments at Cambridge — 1895.

§ 8. Experiments at L'Agnelas — 1895.

§ 9. Experiments at Naples — 1895.

§ 10. Experiments at Tremezzo, Auteuil, and at
Choisy-Yvrac — 1896.

§ II. Experiments at Naples — 1897.

§ 12. Experiments at Montfort-l'Amaury — 1897.

§ 13. Experiments at Paris— 1898.

§ 14. Experiments at Genoa — 1901.

§ 15. Experiments at Palermo — 1902; at Rome
and at Paris — 1905.

§ 16. Experiments at Genoa — 1906-07.

§ 17. Experiments at Turin (Lombroso) — 1907.


xiv Contents


§ i8. Experiments at Turin (Foa, etc.) — 1907.
§ 19. Experiments at Naples — 1907.
§ 20. Report of a Seance held in Naples — 1908.
§ 21. Report of the Psychological Institute (Paris)

— 1908.
§ 22. Miscellaneous Cases Illustrative of the

IV. Personal Experiments with Eusapia — Naples,

1908 152

Seance I, November 21.
Seance 2, November 23.
Seance 3, November 26.
Seance 4, November 29.
Seance 5, December z.
Seance 6, December 4.
Seance 7, December 7.
Seance 8, December 10.
Seance 9, December 13.
Seance 10, December 15.
Seance 11, December 19.
V. Resume of Theories Advanced to Explain these

Phenomena 240

VI. Mv Own Hypothesis to Account for the Facts. 283
VII. Biological and Psychological Considerations. 302

Appendix 339

Index 349




Eusapfa Palladlno/ the Italian medium who forms the
' subject of this book, occupies a unique place in the history
! of Spiritualism. No other medium, producing "physical phe-
; nomena," has been studied with so much care, for so long a
' period, and by so many scientific men, as she. The case
most nearly resembling It is that of Mrs. Piper — and she
is not a medium for the production of physical phenomena,
but is a trance medium, solely, and nothing has ever oc-
curred in her presence resembling the phenomena asserted
to have taken place In the presence of Eusapia Palladlno.
Mrs. Piper has been studied continuously, by men of scien-
tific repute, for some twenty-five years (since 1885) — in-
cluding some of the leading scientists of England, France
and America; but the Investigation was left for the most
part In the hands of Dr. Hodgson, and the men and women
who Investigated her scientifically might be counted on the
two hands. Further, as I have said before, there Is no re-
semblance whatever between the types of phenomena wlt-

* Mme. Palladino told me personally that she spells her name with two, Ts,"
contrary to the all but universal custom. — H. C.


2 Eusapia Palladino

nessed through the mediumship of the two mediums. Mrs.
Piper merely sits at a table, and, while conversing, passes
into a trance, in which state she remains for some two hours.
During that period, her hand writes out certain messages
automatically — ^which are read at the time by the sitter. It
is all done openly, and in the light. In her case, there is
no mystery; no dark seances; no physical phenomena; every-
thing is perfectly clear and open, so far as the actual produc-
tion of the phenomena is concerned. The whole point of
interest, in her case, is the content of the written message.
Does it or does it not contain any facts unknown to the
medium, that are apparently gained supernormally ? That
is the problem, in her case. It is a mental problem; not
a physical one. The phenomena are mental or psychologi-
cal, and not physical. The problems to be solved are, it will
be seen, of a very different order from any that occur in
the physical world.

In the case of Eusapia Palladino, on the other hand, every-
thing is as different as possible. Here, the phenomena are
almost entirely physical in their character, and very rarely
are mental or psychological phenomena obtained.

In order that the reader may understand the case which we
are to discuss, it will be necessary, first of all, to give a brief
outline of what happens at these seances, so that the phe-
nomena which take place at these sittings may be familiar
to him.

Eusapia Palladino is a "physical medium" — that is to
say, physical phenomena occur in her presence, and mental
or intellectual manifestations — such as are usually seen in
the presence of trance mediums — are missing. Tables and
chairs move about the room of their own accord, untouched
by visible hands; the table around which the sitters are seated,

Eusapia Palladino 3

rocks violently, and finally goes completely into the air, con-
trary to the law of gravitation. Lights are seen in various
parts of the room ; musical instruments are played, no hand
touching them; hands and faces appear — not belonging to
any member of the circle, or to the medium; and various
other phenomena of a kindred nature occur, quite inexpli-
cable by any of the known laws of physical science. The
above list will at least serve to show the general character
of the phenomena observed in the presence of this medium. -

Of course the most obvious explanation of the facts is that
the medium succeeds in some manner in producing the phe-
nomena by fraudulent means; that she succeeds, e.g., in
freeing one hand, and producing the touchlngs, playing upon
the various musical Instruments, lifting the table, etc., unseen
by the sitters. That is the most natural explanation, and
its possibility we should certainly have to eliminate before
we could accept the facts as genuine. So much fraud has
existed in the past, in connection with the physical phe-
nomena of spiritualism, that we should have to take the
greatest precautions that the mediums could not by any
artifice produce the results seen by any normal means, or
by any process of trickery. That is the obvious problem
which all investigators of this medium's powers have been
called upon to face, and which they have endeavored to over-
come by imposing test after test, and obtaining phenomena
under more and more stringent conditions, which precluded
all possibility of fraud.

It must not be thought that the investigators of Eusapia
have been blind to the possibility of fraud in her case. On
the contrary, they have been on the Incessant watch for it;
and have frequently detected it in operation. If fraud had
never been detected, the problem would be a comparatively

4 Eusapia Palladino

simple one; but, unfortunately, it is well known that this
medium will resort to trickery whenever she can — sometimes
in a normal state, sometimes in a state of semi-trance.

I have said before that Eusapia Palladino holds almost
a unique place in the history of spiritualism, and for several
reasons. The chief reason is this: That in her may now be
said to culminate and focus the whole evidential case for the
physical phenomena of spiritualism. If it could be shown
that — in spite of all these years of work, in spite of the
elaborate precautions taken, in spite of the testimony of the
numerous scientific men who have carefully investigated her,
and brought in favorable reports — her performances were
fraudulent throughout, and that nothing but fraud entered
into the production of these phenomena — then the whole case
for the physical phenomena would be ruined — utterly, irre-
trievably ruined.^ If, on the other hand, it becomes evi-
dent that fraud will not cover all the facts, and that genuine
phenomena do occur in her presence — phenomena as yet in-
explicable by science — then it will be proportionately more
probable that many of the historic cases were genuine also;
that the same phenomena occurred in other cases, but not
so frequently, or under such good test conditions as those
reported to occur in this case. The theoretical possibility
of the facts having once been established, it does not neces-

* This statement may be questioned, but it is, I think, valid for this reason:
The phenomena occurring in the presence of this medium have been studied by
more scientific men, for a greater period of time, in a more careful manner, and
with greater precautions against fraud, than any other medium in the history
of the subject. If, then, in spite of all this, it were proved that fraud covered
and explained all the facts, such doubt would be thrown upon the value of human
testimony — so impossible would it obviously be to guard against fraud — that
no amount of testimony for any other phenomena of the sort would be tolerated
or considered for a moment. This may be both wrong and arrogant, but the
case would be hopelessly lost, I am assured. So far as the scientific world is
concerned, it could never again be reconverted after such a crushing blow.

Eusapia Palladino 5

sitate much credulity to imagine that the same phenomena
took place many times in the past, in the presence of lesser
and "weaker" mediums. Thus, Eusapia Palladino forms a
"wedge," as it were, that might be driven home, perhaps —
opening the way for the acceptance of the theoretical possi-
bility of the older facts, and for the actual occurrence of
many historic phenomena. She is, in fact, the crux, the pivot
upon which the whole case for the physical phenomena turns.
Upon her, upon the proof or disproof of her claims, rests
one of the most stupendous crises in the history of science.

Thus, in this medium may be said to rest the case for phy-
sical phenomena — as the case for the mental phenomena rests
with Mrs. Piper. These two mediums are both representa-
tives, in a way, of their particular class of phenomena — the
physical and the mental ; and a very similar problem con-
fronts us in the two cases. In the Piper case, if it could be
shown, now or in after years, that subliminal faculty and
telepathy, or other supernormal powers are sufficient to ex-
plain the facts (or even some more normal and as yet un-
suspected cause), then the case for spiritism would go
to the wall; for no other case is so strong as this. In the
same way, no medium of our day has succeeded in producing
such remarkable phenomena, under such good conditions, as
Eusapia; and the case for the phj^sical phenomena, as before
said, may be said to rest with her.

There was one medium in the past who occupied very
much the same position, in the interested and the scientific
world, as does Eusapia to-day — D. D. Home. The phe-
nomena occurring in the presence of this medium were very
much on the same order as those occurring in the presence of
Eusapia. In many respects, the phenomena were identical;
but, whereas Eusapia, or the forces operating through her,

6 Eusapia Palladino

produce certain phenomena that were never reported to have
occurred in the presence of Home (impressions of hands in
wet putty, e.g.), Home, on the other hand, obtained cer-
tain phenomena that Eusapia never duplicated or equaled —
the handling of red-hot coals, etc. But the phenomena are
very similar in many respects; and there is this further simi-
larity — that both these mediums have been studied by scien-
tific men, who published reports upon them and their phe-
nomena. But while Sir William Crookes was almost the
only man of great eminence who defended Home, numbers
have come forward and published positive testimony in favor
of Eusapia ; and in that respect her case is far stronger than
that of Home, simply by reason of this cumulative testimony
— though it can hardly be said that many of the incidents
are stronger or better evidenced than some of those occurring
in the presence of Home and witnessed by Sir William
Crookes. In many of those incidents, no loophole for fraud
or other natural explanation has ever been found ; and critics
have had to fall back upon the ground that more evidence
of the same character must be forthcoming in order to com-
pel belief. This was perfectly rational and justifiable, but
Home's death prevented this additional evidence from be-
ing accumulated. In the case of Eusapia Palladino, it seems
to have been accumulated, as we shall presently see.

The relative value and significance of the Palladino phe-
nomena can best be estimated, perhaps, by a brief glance at

Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 1 of 27)