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Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

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a really appalling noise. The effect was as though it had
been thrown by a giant's hand and in great anger. There
was a wait of a few minutes. Then some force swept the
remaining objects from the shelf in the cabinet. The drum
fell, the trumpet followed ; there was a succession of various
noises from falling bodies. "There go the scales," said Pro-
fessor Bottazzi, as the heavy thud of falling iron was

For some of his previous experiments, Professor Bottazzi
told me, he had cut a peephole in the door which formed the
back of the cabinet, and one of his assistants had been sta-
tioned there. An electric light was placed on the wall of
the cabinet, the wires for which led to a push button in Pro-
fessor Bottazzi's pocket. During some of the amazing phe-
nomena, such as we witnessed. Dr. Bottazzi had switched on
the light so that his assistant could see clearly into the cabi-
net. He proved beyond a question that no one approached the
cabinet from behind, and that no one was in it.

If Mme. Palladino went into a trance, it was not, for the
major part of the time, a deep one. She was conscious of
almost all our doings. During the seance, and particularly
during the earlier stages of it, she coughed a great deal, cleared
her throat repeatedly, and suffered severely from hiccoughs.

Eusapia Palladino 123

She interspersed her manifestations with remarks to Pro-
fessor Bottazzi, which he sometimes translated. Often she
called out in a half moan asking if we had a good control
over her. "She alwaj's inquires about that," volunteered
our mentor. A dozen times during the evening she cried
out in complaint of our gripping her hands so tightl3^ Just
before anything spectacular happened she moaned, and seemed
to sink suddenly but temporarily into a deeper, perhaps an
entire trance. Her head would roll a little from side to side,
but in a moment she would return to her half consciousness
again, and w^ould show a somewhat dazed knowledge of what
was going on. Before the seance was a half hour old, she
threw her legs up on our laps — her left leg on Mrs. Hall's
lap and her right one on mine. She held this position for
a good part of the sitting. Before and during the manifesta-
tions, there were violent convulsive movements of the arms
and sometimes of the legs. We grew used to these and soon
learned to call out a warning of some impending action wiien
we felt these muscular movements.

The next occurrence was a startling one — and aimed di-
rectly at me. My chair was seized from behind by a power-
ful force, and an attempt was made to drag it from under
me. I had again the impression of a giant at work in our
presence. I cried out. All saw me moving. The force
tugged at the chair and nearly succeeded in getting it from
me. I was swerved around so that I faced Mrs. Moody and
was seated on only a third of the chair. Though everyone
saw me moving, no one saw any figure or apparition back of
me. I had just resumed my position when I felt a hand move
across my back as though some one were reaching by me to
Mrs. Moody. Mrs. Hall, too, felt some one touch her on
the back.

There was a series of remarkable kicks in the cabinet — a
noise like the pounding of a horse's hoof in a near-by stable
in the dead of night. No man could have produced it. It
w^as made apparently within the fiber of the wood. And here
the synchronism between the convulsiv'e workings of the me-
dium's muscles and the manifestations was marked. Mrs.

124 Eusapla Palladino

Hall felt Mme. Palladino's foot thrust forward with great
force, In time with each kick in the cabinet behind her.

Professor Bottazzi here said that he was surprised at our
calmness. We ought to get more excited. We ought to
talk more — to demand manifestations. We should select
some one thing and then clamor for it. Supposing, for in-
stance, we tried to lift the empty chair to the table.

So we tried.

Mme. Palladino asked us to set our minds on the task.
We did. We all talked at one time. We called out de-
mands that the chair be lifted. The noise became a veritable
babel. Mme. Palladino's hands worked convulsively —
though held by us — as if in an effort to lift the chair. And
up it came — a foot or so from the floor, giving the impres-
sion of a magnet's work. Then, as if the magnet's power
had failed, the chair dropped to the floor and rocked back
to its normal position. Twice, three times, four times we
tried, but the lifting power was not strong enough. After
a few moments, however, with amazing swiftness the chair
came on to the table — and lay on its back. It seemed in-
credible. We made several efforts to will the chair to an
upright position, but in that we did not succeed.

Mme. Palladino here spoke to Professor Bottazzi in a
half-querulous voice. "She is complaining of the circle," he
said. "She says it is a poor one and does not help her." I
realized the truth of her complaint. The circle was un-
wieldy in numbers ; having no common language was a serious
handicap ; Mme. Palladino had been ill for two months and
was far from strong; three of our party knew nothing of
psychics; Dr. Moody had come to the meeting under pro-
test and in utter scorn of it all. There were a dozen reasons
why the circle was of small potency.

The blowing out of the curtain was a frequent occurrence,
and those nearest the cabinet felt often a cool breeze — a^
though a window had been thrown open. "Has anyone
noticed a light above Mme. Palladino's head?" inquired Dr.
Bottazzi. We all turned to him. "There it is now," called
Mrs. Hall, and we all turned quickly back. But it had gone.

Eusapia Palladino 125

"Let's will it back," suggested some one, and we set up a
clamor demanding it. It came at once — a pear-shaped light
about six inches above the medium's head. I did not see it,
but every other member of the circle did. It appeared to
them like a faint electric light shining through a ground-glass
bulb. At the same time IVIme. Palladino's face was illumi-
nated. Her skin shone as though phosphorescent.

It was now twelve o'clock and we broke up the circle. We
arose, turned on the white electric light, and I walked around
the table. Professor Bottazzi then took Mme. Palladino's
hand — in bright light and with no circle — and produced
sharp raps. He beat her hand toward the table, stopping
short when within twelve inches of the top — and a rap would
come from under the table. Most of the phenomena had
been synchronous with her movements, but these raps would
follow a perceptible moment after the beat of the finger.

I have been often asked if I was convinced. I can see no
other alternative than acceptance of the phenomena. Only
one of the main phenomena took place entirely in the cabi-
net; only one other important one — the moving of the candle-
stick — originated in the cabinet. All the rest of the mani-
festations occurred in the room and in clear light. There
could not possibly have been any preparations in the labora-
tory that would not have been visible to us. Had Mme.
Palladino used paraphernalia for trickery, we should have
been able to see it when the manifestations were in process —
for it was light enough for that. On these points we are
all agreed.

I asked Professor Bottazzi about the chances of fake. He
was as impatient of the subject as he had been of spiritual-
ism. He had had trained scientific men to help him in his
experiments. Many people had been present at the various
seances. The phenomena had been established in utter final-
ity. But they had led nowhere. He had reached only a
circle of phenomena. He had "come face to a blank wall."
He was through — for the present, anyway.

Professor Bottazzi's assistant brought Mme. Palladino a
cup of strong coffee. She seemed dazed and in real distress.

126 Eusapia Palladino

Where she had been gracious before, she now seemed hardly
to realize our presence. She showed many of the symptoms
of a person in dire seasickness. She looked old and seamed
and yellow. She seemed to have little strength left. She
dranic a little coffee, placed the cup on a shelf, crossed the
room to the window opening on the garden, and vomited.
Professor Bottazzi said she was always weak and nauseated
after a sitting. We all stood about, and I, for one, felt like
a guilty child. It seemed wrong that we should have caused
this woman such sickness just to satisfy our curiosity and
interest in psychical experiments. I gained an added respect
for her from the thought of all she had been doing for
years at so heavy a cost, in her sittings for the various sci-
entists. We waited perhaps twenty minutes and then said
our farewell to Mme. Palladino — a farewell which she re-
turned with a limp hand and an indifference strangely in
contrast with her early greetings. Madame went out first.
As we left the building, we passed her, leaning heavily on
the arm of her husband, who had been waiting for her out-
side; dragging herself slowly and painfully along the nar-
row lane which leads to one of those wonderful streets of
steps in Naples — which, in turn, gives on the larger street
where the carriage waited.

Oilman Hall.

Notes on the Palladino Seance

An ordinary biochemical laboratory, practically unfur-
nished, with a cement floor and a few shelves, in the Uni-
versity of Naples. TwO' double doors — both leading into
other laboratories equipped for regular preparative work, one
door — that by which we had entered — left ajar all the even-
ing, with the room beyond well lighted ; the other door shut
and locked in my presence — after I had thoroughly examined
the rooms — and the key put into Professor Bottazzi's pocket.
This latter door was midway through an alcove, making a
recess about two feet deep on our side of it, the recess cur-

Eusapia Palladino 127

tained off with a simple black cheesecloth curtain. Across
the back, behind the curtain, a shelf eight to ten inches wide.
Equipment :

Ten rush-bottom chairs; a large plate containing clay on
an unoccupied chair two feet from Palladino; a plain deal
table — no drawer (could see under it, a pedestal five
feet high; two wall shelves a foot wide; one red electric
bracket lamp; and one portable white lamp on wall shelf.

Circle formed and all held hands lightly. Those at the
two horns of circle held Palladino's hands and kept their
feet and knees against hers. Later she extended her legs
so that second sitters beyond guarded her feet. Her move-
ments always kept under absolutely perfect surveillance.
White lamp burned at first, later screened, after five minutes
or so extinguished. This left full power red lamp; later,
receiving five raps for less light, this was screened with two
handkerchiefs. Eyes accustomed themselves to dim light —
all could see even the expressions on others' faces.

Almost imperceptible tingling through hands — comparable
to feeble current. Table began to rear almost at once, at
first with Palladino's hands on it, but soon with no hand
whatever touching it. Maximum height of elevation about
eighteen inches. Always descended with violence, not as
if falling but as if thrown down, with noisy clatter. I pushed
it down myself once ; requirecL from three to five pounds'
pressure to overcome elevation. Fiber of table trembled,
quivered. All in full light. Got usual one, two, three, four,
five knocks at will at any time upon request. Their signifi-
cance seemed slight except as directions for more or less light,
or a request to talk among ourselves. Instead of diminish-
ing Palladino's power by talking, during utterly inconsequen-
tial conversation fine results came. This points to possibility
of desire to distract attention of observer until object is
practically accomplished. If so, in our case this was not suc-
cessful; we were continuously alert. Doubt if this were in-
tended, as conditions absolutely gave no chance for fraud

128 Eusapia Palladino

and because at all times when we concentrated our minds on
what we wished done, the end was reached more quickly.
For example, appearance of phosphorescent luminosity in
pear-shaped form about a foot above Palladino's head. Part
of the time her face was mildly luminous. Afterwards Pro-
fessor Bottazzi rather discredited this, but it was apparent
enough to me.

Phenomena of telekinesis were wonderful. Candlestick
and candle came through opening between curtains and pro-
ceeded in a leisurely way in a sort of parabolic trajectory
and fell rather violently on edge of table and into Mrs.
Moody's lap. Plate containing ball of clay rose from chair
a foot from corner of table and dropped to table top with
a violent bang. Nearly everything on shelf in recess was
noisily thrown down and, queerly enough, directly under
the shelf — not on the floor in front of it. Cool draughts de-
veloped, an "arm" appeared around the side of the curtain
at a height of about six feet. Mr. Hall's chair was al-
most pulled from under him, a hand touched Mrs. Hall's
back, and after various slight excursions across the floor
the unoccupied chair finally rose and lay on its back on
the table, then moved off on to the floor. Door behind
curtain was hit several hard blows resembling kick of a

After the circle was broken, and in full light. Professor
Bottazzi held Palladino's hand and moved her finger tip
through space of about an inch. The finger never got nearer
than six inches from the table, and yet there was a distinct
knock as if a force were propelled from finger and struck
the table directly underneath. This was done in various
parts of the table.

Important to observe that all kicks, noises, and movements
were synchronous with spasmodic movements of Palladino's
muscles. Also phenomena were preceded and accompanied
by signs of hysteria, coughs, and unusual noises. Palladino
much exhausted after sitting, had active nausea, and no
strength to leave until twenty minutes after the end of the

Eusapla Palladino 129


Considering the sort of phenomena that I am accustomed
to observe, my preconceived opinions were at variance with
these facts, but I had to accept what I saw.

Herbert R. Moody^ Ph.D.

§ 21. Report of the Psychological Institute, Paris, 1908

One of the latest reports on the mediumship of Eusapia
Palladino is that issued by the "Institut General Psycholo-
gique," of Paris, which appeared in November, 1908, under
the signature of M. Jules Courtier, Secretary of the Insti-
tute. It is based on four series of elaborate experiments,
carried out during the years 1905, 1906, 1907, and 1908.
The Report is divided into two parts, the whole of one part
being devoted to photographs of phenomena — levitations,
etc., of the seance room, apparatus, the medium herself,
graphic tracings of the plienomena, etc.

The text of the Report is roughly divided into four parts:
(i) A description of the phenomena themselves ; (2) psycho-
phjsiological studies of the medium; (3) exploration of the
physical conditions in the vicinity of the medium; and (4)
critical considerations. I shall give a brief resume of these,
in turn.

The chief sitters at the seances held in Paris under the
supervision of the Institute were — in addition to M. Jules
Courtier — M. d'Arsonval, Professor at the College de
France; MM. Ballet, Richet, Perrin, Bergson, and Mme.
Curie — all professors at the University of Paris; M. Char-
pentier, professor at the Nancy Lyceum ; M. Debierne, prin-
cipal at the Sorbonne, and M. Yourievitch, Secretary to the
Russian Ambassador at Paris.

130 Eusapia Palladino

Particular attention was paid throughout to obtaining
tracings of the phenomena by the graphic method. Many
illustrations of such tracings are given in the illustrated por-
tion of the report.

Raps are first considered, and numerous cases are cited in
which these were obtained. I quote two of these cases, by
way of illustrating the manner in which the phenomena were

"Eusapia says that she wishes to hit the table with her
head; she bends her head three times over the table, and
three strong blows are heard in the table. (Controllers: On.
the left, IVIme. Curie; on the right, M. Debierne.)"

"At other times, the blows were heard in the table at the
demand of the controllers and as many times as the con-
trollers asked for them. (Controllers: On the left, M.
Curie; on the right, M. Charles Richet.)"

Partial and complete levitations of the table are then con-
sidered. I quote from an excellent summary of these phe-
nomena in The Annals of Psychical Science (July— Septem-
ber, 1909) :

"The two hands, feet, and knees of Eusapia being con-
trolled, the table is raised suddenly, all four feet leaving the
ground ; then two and again four feet ; Eusapia closes her
fists, and holds them toward the table, which is then com-
pletely raised from the floor five times in succession, five
raps being also given. It is again completely raised, while
each of Eusapia's hands is on the head of a sitter. It is
raised to the height of one foot from the floor and suspended
in the air for seven seconds while Eusapia kept her hand on
the table and a lighted candle was placed under the table ;
it was completely raised to a height of ten inches from the
floor and suspended in the air for four seconds, M. Curie

Eusapia Palladino 131

only having his hand on the table, Eusapia's hand being placed
on top of his. It was completely raised when M. Curie had
his hand on Eusapia's knees and Eusapia had one hand on
the table and the other on M. Curie's head, her two feet
tied to the chair on which she was sitting. . . ."

Wooden cones or tubes were then applied to the table
legs, resembling those used by us (see p. 180), but the
table was several times levitated to such a height that it
came completely out of the "sheaths," An electrical arrange-
ment was then affixed to the legs of the table. Had a foot
been Introduced under the table legs, it would have been
instantly discovered by means of signals. Yet, in spite of
these precautions, the table continued to be levitated, but
no contact was registered by the electrical apparatus.

It was noted that the medium became heavier by the weight
of the table when the table was levitated, showing that the
fulcrum of the force was the subject herself. Yet she was
enabled to voluntarily reduce her weight on another occa-
sion — a phenomenon that has been noted years before at
Milan (pp. 30-31)-

Bulgings or swellings of the curtains and of the medium's
dress were noted. M. Curie suggested that this force might
be directed by some mechanical means toward a distant ob-
ject. Accordingly, at the next seance a wooden frame was
brought, which, it was hoped, might effect this. "It dis-
pleased Eusapia, who criticised it severely: it was strongly
shaken and finally destroyed. When this occurred, Eusapia
was controlled by M. Curie on the left, M. Richet on the
right, and her two feet by M. Yourievitch."

Various heavy objects were seen to be moved without ap-
parent cause; particularly a small, three-legged wooden
table, which went backward and forward at Eusapia's com-

132 Eusapia Palladino

mand. When this was happening, Eusapia's feet Avere tied
by laces to the legs of her chair, and her wrists tied to those
of her controllers. The following remarkable incident then
occurred, which I quote verbatim:

"M. Ballet holds Eusapia's two hands. M. d'Arsonval
has placed his arm on the stool. Eusapia tells M. d'Arson-
val to try to raise the stool. He tries to do so, but finds it
very difficult. Eusapia leans her elbow on the stool, then
she removes it, and asks M. d'Arsonval to raise it again.
M. d'Arsonval cannot succeed. 'One would think it nailed
to the ground,' said he. Eusapia again places her elbow on
the stool, and M. d'Arsonval raises it then with difficulty.
Some minutes afterwards, Eusapia says to the stool, 'Be
light!' and M. d'Arsonval raises it then still more easily."

Following these cases, instances are given of touches by
hands; lights, which formed and disappeared suddenly, etc.
Descriptions are given of the various lights — for the details
of which I must refer the reader to the report itself.

The second portion of the Report is devoted to a psycho-
physiological study of the medium. It is of interest primar-
ily to the medical man and to the psychologist. Her re-
action times, memory of colors, memory of figures, optical
illusions, powers of mental calculation, etc., were tested, and
are accurately recorded in the Report. Experiments testing
her sensibility at a distance yielded negative results- — which
fact is of interest, in view of the theories of the phenomena
advanced by some who have studied them. She is very sensi-
tive to the muscular movements of her controllers during the
seance. Her strength was also tested with a dynamometer
— with varying results.

The investigators next wished to test the effect upon phy-
sical instruments of Eusapia's "fluid." Alterations in weight

Eusapia Palladino 133

were noted ; a depression of a recording scale, of a Roman
scale, and a cocoon weigher. The depression of a letter
weigher seemed to yield uncertain results. Eusapia suc-
ceeded in discharging at a distance three electroscopes of
different construction, but she was not able to charge the
electroscope by means of the cold breeze coming from the
scar in her skull. No phenomena of ionization were observed.

"Sonorous Waves. A glass placed in full light between
her hands, at a distance of three millimeters, was made to
\ibrate without apparent contact, as though a moist finger
had been placed on the edge; then followed the rhythm
of her hands, which began to tremble in a jerky manner; it
glided forward and backward, fell on to the table and

The whole of the second part is devoted to a critical dis-
cussion of the evidence, and need not be summarized here.
Details of the control of the hands and the feet are given ;
and it is stated — what all investigators of Eusapia's medium-
ship know only too well — that she objects to certain kinds
of control. A long discussion of her fraud then follows,
and several instances are given where Eusapia was caught
in the act of trickery. Her frauds are, unfortunately, only
too well known, and it is unnecessary to dwell upon them
here. Skepticism exists in the minds of the majority, in
any case ; and it would be unnecessary to accentuate it by
recitals of fraud. If the reality of the phenomena were
really in doubt, it might be justifiable to do so; hut when
there is no longer any doubt as to the reality of the phe-
nomena, it would be misleading to emphasize, unduly, the
small amount of fraud that had been practised in her seances
in the past. There has been a certain amount of fraud ;
that is certain. But I am convinced that this amount is very


134 Eusapia Palladino

small indeed — compared with the vast mass of the phenomena
that have been observed in the past. It may be said in this
connection that various experiments conducted with the ob-
ject of duplicating the phenomena by fraudulent means, re-
sulted, in almost every case, in complete failure.

§ 22. Miscellaneous Cases Illustrative of the Phenomena

In the August and September (1907) issues of The
Annals of Psychical Science, Dr. Joseph Venzano, a dis-
tinguished doctor of Genoa, gathered together a number of
remarkable instances under the heading: "A Contribution to
the Study of Materializations." I have referred to one of
his cases on pp. 283-84 when elaborating my own explanatory
theory of the facts, and shall give here merely a resume
of his cases, which are partly original and partly gathered
from other sources. "It is certain," he says, "that a large
proportion of mediumistic phenomena suggest the interven-
tion of a conscious entity, who, whatever may be its origin,
is able to objectify itself in such a manner as to acquire
the character of a materialized form." He excludes, how-
ever, from this category, levitations and similar phenomena,
apparently due to a blind force.

The first incident referred to by Dr. Venzano is that
which occurred at the house of M. Alfredo Verisso, at Genoa.
In full light, it will be observed, the following incident
took place:

"When the seance had just begun, and while the room
was still lighted by an electric lamp of sixteen-candle power,
a very important phenomenon was observed, namely, a trum-
pet was distinctly heard playing inside the cabinet, at dif-
ferent distances from the ground, so that all heard it. Shortly

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