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Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

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could only be done by pressing the proper key, and the in-
strument itself could not be tampered with. The medium,
we are assured, never placed her hand inside the cabinet, and
she was, throughout the whole course of the sittings, care-

no Eusapla Palladino

fully watched and controlled by two members of the investi-
gating committee, one on either side of her.

At the first seance, comparatively few startling results
were obtained. The heavy table in the cabinet was violently
and repeatedly shaken and all the objects on it were thrown
on to the floor. The metronome was set in motion, but it
is probable that this and other phenomena resulted from
oscillations of the table.

During the second seance, the small table in the cabinet
came out of its own accord, in a jerky manner, these jerks
corresponding with convulsive movements of Eusapia's hands
or legs. Soon after this, touches by invisible hands were
felt. Nearly all the sitters were touched in turn, Eusapia's
hands being well controlled at the time. Twice an appari-
tion of something black was perceived, resembling a head
with a fairly distinct profile, that came out slowly, remained
two or three seconds, then retired rapidly. Eusapia was
asked to obtain movements of the electric keys and other
instruments placed in the cabinet. She protested for a long
time, saying that she did not know their meaning, that she
could not find them, that she did not know how to do it,
that they were too far off, etc. But in the ensuing seances,
in spite of these protests, the various recording instruments
were moved — buttons were pressed, the rod of the metro-
nome was set swinging, etc. Dr. Bottazzi came to the con-
clusion that the reason these phenomena had not been ob-
tained in the first two seances was that the hands operative
must become "familiar" with the instruments — ^just as human
hands would have to become familiar with them.

At the third seance, several complete levitations were ob-
tained — most of them lasting but a few seconds. One of

Eusapia Palladino in

them, however, was extremely lengthy, and Professor Gal-
eotti was enabled to count fifty with perfect regularity while
the table remained in the air! A large number of visible
and semivisible hands were observed at this seance — hands
described as having the shining appearance of pearl, which
were seen on Eusapia's head, or issued from between the cur-
tains, and caressed the sitters. Alme. Bottazzi, while con-
trolling the left hand of the medium, saw, almost touching
her left cheek, a black hand, with a part of the forearm, and
was so vividly impressed by it that she changed her position
and took one farther off.

Various objects from the cabinet were conveyed by some
mysterious means on to the seance table. The little drum
made repeated attempts to climb on to the table, while Pro-
fessors Galeotti and Bottazzi were closely observing it. A
bouquet of flowers, placed at a distance of more than three
feet from the medium skimmed across the seance table and
landed in Mme. Bottazzi's lap.

At the fourth seance, lights were obtained for the first
time. Hands and closed fists appeared over Eusapia's head,
sometimes of ordinary size, sometimes, we are told, "at least
three times larger than Mme. Palladino's hands and fists."
Professor Bottazzi tried, on two or three occasions, to grasp
these hands, but the apparition invariably dissolved and he
grasped only empty space. Twice a black form was seen. A
stethoscope was taken to pieces and put together again, which
is certainly a very difficult feat with one hand. The follow-
ing incident then occurred, which has great interest:

"While the numerous touches and kissings were going on,
which I felt and announced each time (although everybody
heard them), on one occasion when my forehead had been

112 ' Eusapia Palladino

strongly rubbed, my pince-nez fell off my nose upon my
knees. I wear them without a cord and I thought they had
fallen on to the ground. I inquired at once of 'John,' and I
distinctly felt soon afterwards a very delicate touch on my
knee, as if a hand were trying to find something, and the
pince-nez were immediately replaced on my nose, with a very
precise action. Needless to say I was keeping strict control
of the medium all the time."

The tambourine was then played, various letters on a
typewriter were struck, and the sound was heard as of
fingers running over the typewriter. An electric spring key,
used by telegraphers, was pressed, and finally the key was
torn to one side, and depressed so strongly that the metal
was bent and the key practically destroyed. The metronome
was set going, and, upon request, stopped.

The fifth seance was notable for a number of quite re-
markable phenomena. After several levitations, the mando-
lin was touched and the strings of it twanged. The move-
ment of the mandolin was observed by M. Scarpa, who saw
the mandolin rise, and fall back again, then turn over with-
out any hand touching it and in good light. Every move-
ment of Mme. Palladino's arm was clearly perceivable at
the time. An impression of three fingers was left on a cake
of clay placed in the cabinet, and invisible hands began to
finger the wires and other instruments inside the cabinet.
The following phenomena then occurred:

"Suddenly, without any warning, a sharp rap was heard
upon the table. I looked, I felt. It was one of the glasses
that had arrived, after pouring out on those nearest to it
the solution of sulphate of copper which it contained. Pass-
ing my left hand over my clothes I found them to be quite
jvet, and I complained to Eusapia, begging her not to play

Eusapia Palladino 113

practical jokes of this sort, because, as I told her, the liquid
contained in the glasses was not innocuous, but might injure
us, and leave stains on our clothes. I had hardly said this
when we heard on the floor the sound of a liquid being vio-
lently poured from out of the small vessel, and immediately
afterwards the other glass, almost empty, was placed on the
table beside the first, also making a sharp rap."

At the conclusion of the seance, various graphic records
were obtained by means of raps on the electric key, etc.

At the sixth seance an interesting phenomenon took place,
demonstrating the synchronous character of some of the phe-
nomena with movements of Eusapia's body. Thus, two
electric keys were arranged, one within the reach of Eusapia,
the other beyond it. Eusapia touched one key with her left
hand, and depressed it a number of times. Exactly corre-
sponding with these depressions, the other key, beyond her
reach, was also depressed, showing that the keys were pressed
with perfect synchronism. The sixth seance was largely de-
voted to attempts to obtain graphic records of some of the
phenomena, but no definite results were obtained.

The seventh seance, however, was far more productive of
results. Various touches were experienced by Professor Bot-
tazzi, and, soon after the seance began, his chair was sud-
denly seized from behind, fingers of the hands moving it
being distinctly felt, and he was pulled backward toward
the cabinet. Professor Bottazzi states that he and the chair
together weighed two hundred and four pounds, and the
following day he ascertained if one of his assistants, who was
young and robust, was capable of moving him when seated
upon this same chair. The assistant was obliged to use both
his arms in order to drag Professor Bottazzi a few inches,
and admitted that he had put forth all his strength ! A vase

114 Eusapia Palladino

containing a bunch of flowers was next presented between
the curtains and placed upon Mme. Palladino's head. It
was taken by Professor Bottazzi and placed upon the seance
table. The curtain on the left then advanced toward the
table, and a hand, which was clearly delineated behind it,
seized the bunch, and threw it against the extended face of
Dr. Poso (to whom "John" had taken a violent dislike) as
if in scorn, and carried the glass of water away. A remark-
able incident then followed, which is recorded as follows:

"I have said that the drum advanced behind the left cur-
tain ; Galeotti tried to take it, but 'John' ( I will speak thus
for brevity) pulled it out of his hands, carrying it inside
the cabinet, and reappeared. Galeotti took it back, but the
other did not let go; then followed an amusing struggle
which lasted several seconds, during which we distinctly
saw the drum contested by Galeotti, who held it outside, and
'John,' who held it inside, with a hand covered by the cur-
tain. The struggle was so lively that a little piece of the
case of the drum was torn of^. Finally it remained in
Galeotti's hands. Galeotti then had a good idea. He got
up, raised the drum with one hand against the curtain and
said: 'Hit it, John!' The curtain shook, it was pushed out
toward the drum as if by a hand, and we heard muffled,
yet distinct, beats on the drum; we were amazed. M. Gal-
eotti was standing, be it observed, with his arm raised, and
Mme. Palladino was seated. Even if we suppose that she
could have liberated one hand (certainly not the one under
my control; and Mme. B. declares she did not liberate the
other, but one cannot be absolutely certain), Eusapia, being
seated, could not have touched the drum — unless she had had
gigantically long arms, or unless her natural arms had been
suddenly elongated.

"Once, when the drum was presented above Eusapia's
head from the interior of the cabinet, I said to Dr. Poso:
'Take it.' He got up, approached the drum and stretched
out his arm. But the drum withdrew a little, then it vio-

Eusapia Palladino 115

lently moved as if to give a blow, and pushed back the hand
that tried to seize it. John was still in a bad humor."

"The materializations," saj's Professor Bottazzi, "were
numerous and very important. Four times I saw an enor-
mous black fist come out from behind the left curtain, which
remained motionless, and advance toward the head of Mme.
B. Immediately afterwards this lady said that she had been
touched eitlier on the cheek, the ear, or the neck. The last
time the fist remained so long outside that when, at my re-
quest, everyone looked that way, it was quite distinctly seen
by all. But what I am about to relate is perhaps the phe-
nomenon which most impressed me.

"I felt an open hand seize me from behind, gently, by the
neck. Instinctively I let go of Dr. Peso's right hand with
my left, and I carried it where I clearly felt this sensation
of contact, and I found the hand which was touching me :
a left hand, neither cold nor hot, with rough, bony fingers
which dissolved under pressure ; they did not retire by pro-
ducing a sensation of withdrawal, but they dissolve d, de-
viate rializcd, melted.

"Shortly afterwards, the same hand was laid on my head ;
I carried mine quickly to the spot, I felt it, I grasped it;
it was obliterated and again disappeared in my grasp.

"Another time, later on, the same hand was placed on
my right forearm, without squeezing it. On this occasion
I not only carried my left hand to the spot, but I looked,
so I could see and feel at the saine time ; I saw a human
hand, of natural color, and I felt with mine the fingers and
the back of a lukewarm, nervous, rough hand. The hand
dissolved, and (/ saw it with my eyes) retreated as if into
Mme. Palladino's body, describing a curve. I confess that
I felt some doubt as to whether Eusapia's left hand had freed
itself from my right hand, to reach my forearm ; but at the
same instant I was able to prove to myself that the doubt
was groundless, because our two hands were still in con-
tact in the ordinarj^ way. If all the observed phenomena
of the seven seances were to disappear from my memory,
this one I could never forget. . . .

ii6 Eusapia Palladino

"Two apparitions of human faces were also seen, not
dark, but natural in color, ver}^ pale, almost diaphanous,
but well lit up. Each time the apparition was announced
by Eusapia. The first time a head appeared above hers;
but I did not see it, and I report this according to what I
was told by the others. It was asked: 'Who is it?' and Eusa-
pia replied in a thin voice: 'It isPeppino!' The second time
Eusapia leaned her brow on mine, and said immediately
afterwards: 'Look!' We looked and saw behind the edge
of the left curtain a very pale human head, clearly lit up.
We were not at all in agreement as to the interpretation of
the vision. M. B. affirmed that he saw the head of John
King in a turban, as he has been seen at other seances ; M.
Galeotti also said that he saw something white round a head,
which must have been a turban."

An eighth seance was held in July, 1907, in the physiologi-
cal laboratory, on which occasion Eusapia's hands were secure-
ly tied and sealed to two iron rings fastened to the floor.
Strong cords led to the wrists from these rings, and were
wound round them and securely tied. The length of the
cords was such that, no matter in what direction she moved
her hands, she could reach none of the objects in the cabinet.
At the conclusion of the seance, the ropes and seals were ex-
amined, and were found to be intact. Yet, during the seance,
various articles were carried from the cabinet on to the table —
touches, raps, apparitions of hands, and huge fists were seen,
as well as the following phenomena, recorded by Professor
Bottazzi :

"(i) Eusapia said to me: 'Stretch out your arm on your
wife's shoulder.' I did so, and felt the trumpet being held
out toward me from behind the curtain, and I at once recog-
nized it by the touch. I seized it and placed it on the little

"(2) Later on, without any warning, a sound as if the

Eusapia Palladino 117

curtain were being touched was heard on Eusapia's right
side. The curtain shook a little, while the vase of flowers
advanced on the same side. I seized the latter and placed it
on the small table.

"(3) While Galeotti was controlling Eusapia's right hand,
he distinctly saw the doubling of the left arm of the me-
dium. 'Look,' he exclaimed, 'I see two left arms — identical
in appearance ; one is on the little table, and it is that which
M. Bottazzi touches, and the other seems to come out of her
shoulder — to approach her, and touch her, and then return
and melt into her body again. This is not an hallucina-
tion. I am awake, I am conscious of the two simultaneous
visual sensations, which I experience when Mme. Bottazzi
says that she has been touched.' "

Professor Bottazzi, in commenting on these phenomena,

"It would be necessary to have Mme. Palladino's fingers
in the palm of one's hand, as I had that evening, in order to
be convinced that the levitations, the twanging of the strings,
etc., all synchronized with the very delicate movements of her
fingers, and with the dragging and pushing movements of the
medium's hand, as if she were directed in the execution of these
movements by a will which knew the effect to be produced.
These were not irregular, impulsive, disordered movements
— they were precise and coordinated. Whether they were
movements of one finger, or of several fingers, and were
identical with those which we should make if we tried to
seize or to vibrate the strings with precision and delicacy.
Two of us, M. Scarpa and I, had our eyes fixed on the
mandolin, and we can affirm with assurance that the instru-
ment, lit up by the lamp above it, was not touched by
Eusapia's visible hands, which were at least thirty inches
away, but that it moved by itself, as if, by enchantment,
it had been provided with motor organs. It looked like
the carcass of some monstrous reptile, which had been re-
stored to life. I cannot describe the sensation one experiences

ii8 Eusapia Palladino

when seeing an inanimate object move, not for a mo-
ment merely, but for many minutes in succession, and, watch-
ing it together in silence, moving among immovable objects,
untouched, under the action of some mysterious force. . . .
The medium does not only move objects, but also feels with
her invisible limbs, and while the movement was performed
on the left, phenomena occurred to the right of Mme. Palla-

As the result of his seances, Professor Bottazzi concluded
that the phenomena are undoubted — whatever their inter-
pretation. He further asserted that fraud had never been
even attempted at their seances, that Eusapia never used
any expedients to deceive him, but that, on the contrary, she
invariably warned them every time she moved a table or a
curtain with her own hands. He concludes:

"To those who deny without having seen, affirming
a priori the impossibility of these phenomena, one must reply :
'First see ; then you may argue.' "

§ 20. Report of a Seance Held in Naples — 1908

The following interesting seance was held in Professor
Bottazzi's laboratory, under the same conditions as his former
seances, and was attended by Mr. Gilman Hall, one of the
editors of Everybody's Magazine, and Dr. Herbert R. Moody,
Professor of Chemistry in the College of the City of New
York. These gentlemen drew up the reports of the seance,
which were originally published in Everybody's, and which,
with their kind permission, and that of the magazine, I quote
herewith. It gives us a vivid pen picture of a typical seance
— as seen through the eyes of an unprejudiced investigator.

Eusapia Palladino 119

A Stance with Mme. Palladino

The seance was held in the same laboratory and with the
same cabinet that Professor Bottazzi had used in all his pre-
vious experiments. It was a bare room with cement floor and
bare walls — a room with almost no fixtures or laboratory
paraphernalia. There were one or two shelves around; a
stone pedestal; and a window opening on a garden. The
cabinet was formed by a recess opposite the door by which we
had entered; and the back of it was a door leading into
another laboratory. This door and the door leading out of
the second laboratory were locked by Professor Bottazzi in
Dr. Moody's presence, and Professor Bottazzi put the keys'
in his pocket. The cabinet was about twenty-four inches
deep. Professor Bottazzi had placed in it a shelf nine inches
wide about three feet from the floor, and on this shelf he
had put various things — a scale, a trumpet, a small drum,
a box of matches, a heavy brass candlestick, and an electric

There was no intention on our part of reporting the
seance. The time was too short for extensive preparations.
So, w'hile we took many precautions and made a number of
tests, yet we depended on Professor Bottazzi for all the
preliminary arrangements.

Professor Bottazzi and his assistant joined us at the table,
making a party of nine, which proved an unwieldy number.
Mme. Palladino sat about one foot in front of the curtain
that hung before the recess, and faced the end of the table.
I sat at her right, but around the corner. Mme. Palladino
faced east, I looked north. Mrs. Moody sat beside me and
Dr. Moody beside her, both facing north. Mrs. Hall sat
at the medium's left and opposite me, facing south. The
rest of the party finished out the circle, which extended be-
yond the table. Professor Bottazzi sat directly opposite
Mme, Palladino and at least three feet beyond the end of
the table. Mrs. Hall and I by our position were in charge
of the psychic, and it was our duty to see that all the neces-
sary tests were put on her. I held her right hand. By her

120 Eusapla Palladino

instructions, I pressed my knee against hers and put my left
foot over her right one. Mrs. Hall applied the same tests
on the left.

The curtains in front of the cabinet were black, made of
some thin material like cheesecloth. The table was a light
deal one — about two by four, and the chairs were rather
light, common ones. We began the seance with a red sixteen-
candle electric light on a wall bracket, quite high above Mrs.
Hall's head, and a sixteen-candle white light on a small shelf
back of Professor Bottazzi. Soon, at Mme, Palladino's re-
quest, we turned the white light out. The seance was not
one hour along when, by request of the "spirit" controlling
the medium, we placed a handkerchief over the red light.
Later, we put another handkerchief on. And later still, the
handkerchiefs burned and we took them both off. We could
see plainly all through the seance.

Within a minute after we seated ourselves, the table be-
gan to tremble. I noticed it almost instantly and called the
attention of everyone to it. It seemed to me as though the
fiber of the wood was vibrating.

Within five minutes, the table began to rock and rise from
the floor. One end would lift up from six to twelve inches
and then drop noisily. Now one end, now the other would
come up. Then the table would lift on one side. Dr. Moody
pressed against it at one of these times and said he thought
it took a pressure of three pounds to force a release of the
table from the unseen power.

Soon raps began. The table was pounded on the floor
for raps — generally ordinary ones ; but now and then it would
strike the floor with great violence, giving a startling effect
of emphasis. The table tipping continued at intervals
throughout the seance, growing stronger and more pro-
nounced as time wore on. There was one very dramatic lift
near the end of the sitting. Mme. Palladino suddenly thrust
both her hands high above her — Mrs. Hall and I being drawn
from our chairs in our efforts to retain our holds on her, and
the table — every leg of it — rose all of eighteen inches from
the floor. The synchronism which Mr. Garland told of in

Eusapla Palladino 121

his articles was perfect in this experiment. The table fol-
lowed the psj'chic's hands on the moment.

The first twenty minutes we spent in trying to identify
the "spirit" controlling the raps. There was talk of a "John
King" — wliom Mme. Palladino said was her "spirit control."
We asked if there was anyone in the room wnth whom the
spirit wished to communicate and got an answer — "yes."
It proved to be Mrs. Moody that was meant, and soon the
table moved toward her — nearer and nearer — and finally
pressed against her chest. But the answers were contradic-
tory, the results futile, and we gave it up. Anyway,
we were looking for physical phenomena.

The next manifestation after the table raising was a sud-
den swirl of the curtain, which enveloped me completely.
From hanging limp, it suddenly rose high in the air — as
though blown by a strong wind — and fell over me. I re-
mained in that position a full ten minutes; for it gave me an
excellent view of the inside of the cabinet. But nothing of
importance occurred there, beyond a marked movement of
the other curtain. I had hardly thrown the curtain off when
there was a crackling sound and the table leg under me be-
gan to split, at the point where it joined the table. I felt
the leg press against me as it m.oved. Professor Bottazzi
cried out a protest, "Here, John iving, leave my table
alone," and it stopped.

"He broke a table to pieces for me once. I do not want
it done again," commented Professor Bottazzi.

The action seemed like that of a miniature flash of light-
ning; the sound was of rending wood — a splitting, tearing

We spent sometime trying to persuade the "spirit" to
bring us a fan which lay on the pedestal under the red light,
but we failed utterly. A minute later, though, some force
knocked the matches from the shelf in the cabinet to the
floor. Suddenly Professor Bottazzi cried out excitedly:
"Here comes the candlestick." There darted through my
mind the thought that this was the crucial time for me to
know beyond all doubt that I was holding Mme. Palladino's

122 Eusapia Palladino

hand. I clenched it firmly and instead of looking at the
candlestick I gazed steadfastly at the hand I held. The
candlestick, a heavy brass one, and the candle it held came
from the shelf in the cabinet up through the opening in the
curtains about a foot above the medium's head, and landed
with a crashing blow on the table in front of Mrs. Moody.
The candle fell out and then both candle and stick rolled into
her lap. On the way to the laboratory I had said : "If I could
only see some object moved one inch I should be satisfied."
I had had my wish in full measure.

We had not time to recover before a heavy, clumsy, crock-
ery plate containing a Mad of clay, which Professor Bottazzi
had placed in a vacant chair some two feet to the left of
Mme. Palladino, came hurtling with tremendous force and
almost superhuman speed on to the table. It landed with

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 10 of 27)