Hereward Carrington.

Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

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out and touched his arm. It was far too high for the
medium to have reached. He was then touched by a hand
several times, the fingers of which he could feel. At this
time his outstretched hand was at least three feet above the
medium's head. At this stage of the seance the exact posi-
tion of the medium's hands was verified, and they were
found to be resting on opposite corners of the small table —
a distance of about nine or ten inches separating them. At
11.09, just as B. was getting down from the table, a large
hand came out, grasped his sleeve and nearly pulled him off
the seance table into the cabinet.

A few minutes after the occurrence of these phenomena

Eusapla Palladino 235

the curtains of the cabinet were drawn aside and a white
object — described at the time as resembling "a handful of
white dough" — appeared at the opening of the curtains
about three feet from the medium's head. The position of
the medium's hands rendered any substitution impossible, as
they were held on opposite corners of the seance table, and
the curtain, w^hich had blown out over it, remained separat-
ing the two hands.

Several more touches were experienced under perfect con-
ditions of control. A black hand came out and grasped
]\Irs. H. visibly. She saw the hand approach her and finally
felt it as it grasped her body. A black head, the features
of which were visible, then appeared — coming out from
behind the curtains. The medium's head was resting against
Mr. Feilding's at the moment this phenomenon occurred,
and both her hands were accounted for.

At 11.38 an extremely interesting series of phenomena
occurred, the record of which I quote from the detailed
notes :

"Medium asks F. to pinch him.

"F.^ I am now pinching her.

"Mrs. H. I am pinched on my right arm.

"F. I am pinching again.

"H. Both at the same time now.

"F. I pinched the medium and IMrs. Hutton felt a
pinch simultaneously, but not always: that is to say, some-
times I pinched and she did not feci the pinch."

B. and F. changed places soon after this, but touches con-
tinued to be felt, chiefly by Mrs. Hutton. At one time,
however, a hand was active in both B.'s and Mrs. H.'s laps

'Besides the usual symbols, in this stance, H = Mrs. Hutton, Z = M. Zingar-


Eusapia Palladino

at the same moment. The medium's hands were held on
opposite corners of the table when this was taking place.
Both hands were also visible to F. and Mrs. H.

P05IT!0N If



Several more remarkable touches were experienced under
perfect conditions of control; then the following incident
occurred at 12.11 :

"F, Mrs. H.'s left hand was seized by a hand by the
wrist and dragged across the table to touch B.'s face.
"B. Oh! Here's the hand again. I saw it that time."

At 12.26 one of the most striking phenomena of the
whole series took place, since it would have been utterly
impossible for the medium to have accomplished it, even
granting that she had released one hand. M., the stenog-
rapher, who had the clearest view of this phenomenon,
described it in the following terms:

"As the control was no longer to be given in full, I had
stood up to try to see some of the phenomena and was stand-
ing behind to the right of Mrs. H. I was looking down
at the little stool which was on the floor about a foot from
the curtain and about two and a half feet from the medium's
leg, and wondering whether anything would happen. Sud-

Eusapia Palladino


denly, as I was looking, I saw it approach the curtain and
the curtain go out toward it. It then climbed very slowly
indeed up the curtain, horizontally, one corner only pointing
in and touching the curtain on the outside. It gave me the
impression of being drawn up as if by a kind of magnet on
the other side of the curtain. // slid past the curtain, which
remained motionless. I felt up the curtain as it was climb-
ing up on both sides of the stool, but not between the stool
and the curtain, as I was afraid of interfering with the
movements. There was nothing tangible behind. When
it had climbed up to a distance of about one and a half feet
above Mrs. H.'s shoulder it seemed to turn, and drawing the
curtain with it, went over Mrs. H.'s shoulder on to the
seance table. At the moment it was turning I was curious
to verify the position of the medium's left hand. I began
by Mrs. H.'s shoulder, felt all down her arm, discovered she
was holding the medium's right hand, which I felt right up
to the medium's shoulder. On bringing my hand down
again to the mediimi's hand she made a violent movement
as if to push it away and said : 'Somebody is breaking the
current, Fili!

Position Iff



M155 H



Miss H

B. and Z. here changed places for a short period, but B.
again assumed control of her right hand after a few minutes.

B. continued to receive touches on his hand and arm,
both the medium's hands being securely held and visible;

238 Eusapla Palladino

and at i a.m. he was grasped by a complete hand while
he was holding both the medium's hands in his — as I held
them in the ninth seance. He remarked at the time:

"I have got both her hands now. Yes, it has touched me
again. It is an absolute proof to me that this hand is not
the hand of the medium. I have got both her thumbs. I
am holding her right hand in my left hand, my right hand
is on the right end of the table holding her left. This hand
is still playing about with me.

"F. B.'s left hand is now lying on the corner of the table
and a hand from inside the curtain plays with it. Mean-
while he is holding the two thumbs of the medium in his
right hand visible to me.

"B. Oh! It is touching me again. I have verified the
foot control."

At 1. 1 5 the medium said she was tired, and the seance
officially terminated. Several raps, under excellent condi-
tions of control, were, however, obtained; the account of
which reads as follows:

"Lights are gradually turned up, but medium still keeps
her place as also do B. and H. After a time:

"B. Medium makes three gestures toward the door and
three noises are heard in it.

"M. This in light No. i. Next room door open with
full electric light on.

"H. I heard them.

"B. Several times medium makes gestures and each time
raps are heard in the door. These gestures and raps were
made a considerable number of times, finishing by four large
gestures and four loud raps."

[F. B. called me in from the other room. I asked
medium to repeat the raps. It seemed as though the force
were expended. She made three or four gestures and no
raps followed. Then she made a final gesture and a loud

Eusapia Palladino 239

rap followed. It appeared to me distinctly to come from
the door beside which I was standing; her feet at least three
feet from the door and her hand, as she made the gesture,
did not approach to within six inches of it. There was a
clear space between the whole of the medium and the door.]




Before we can profitably discuss any of the scientific or
philosophical theories that have been advanced to explain
the facts based upon the supposed genuineness of the phe-
nomena, it is, of course, necessary for us, first of all, to
consider and successfully exclude all purely normal explana-

Apart from the notion that the investigators of Eusapia
have deliberately falsified the facts — a notion which cannot
be seriously entertained at this date — there remain only two
normal explanations which can be advanced. These are:
hallucination and fraud.

Now, I contend that hallucination, as an explanation of
these facts, is absolutely excluded by the nature of the evi-
dence. It might conceivably be an explanation of some few
of the facts, but could not be held to explain the greater
number of them. We should have to assume (and for this
there is no warrant whatever) that Eusapia, without speak-
ing a word — frequently, while she is in deep trance, and
absolutely quiescent — can so influence her sitters as to cause
them to see sights and hear noises which had no basis what-
ever in reality! Were one disposed to press this theory, he
would find that there is no analogy whatever in hypnotic
cases or in historic cases of similar type. I discussed this
question of possible hallucination in connection with the


Eusapla Palladino 241

mediumship of D. D. Home at some length in my Physical
Phenomena of Spiritualism, pp. 386-93. I there pointed
out that, although there were a number of facts which
tended to support such a theory, there were, on the contrary,
numerous other facts tending to disprove it, and which, in
fact, were cumulatively so strong as to offset and disprove
this hypothesis. I further analyzed the performances of the
Hindu Yogis and fakirs in connection with this question of
hallucination and found that there was but little evidence
in favor of any such theory — while the difference between
the performances of the Hindu fakirs, as reported, and the
phenomena of Home were many and obvious throughout.^
While the fakir performs his experiments by prefacing
them with various conjurations, incantations, the burning
of incense, etc., the modern medium does not resort to any
such devices (or, at least, Home and Eusapia cannot be said
to have done so), but, on the contrary, they remain passive
throughout, and do not attempt to suggest to their sitters
the phenomena which are to take place. It might be urged
that Home did occasionally suggest phenomena to his sit-
ters; but the same cannot be said of Eusapia, since she very
rarely speaks and when she does it is almost invariably about
some matter-of-fact subject not connected with the seance.
Those who contend, therefore, that Eusapia could by such
means induce full-blown hallucinations in a large circle of
sitters are bound to prove their theory, since they would
find no support whatever from any analogy drawn from
hypnotically induced hallucinations, or hallucinations that
are the result of any process of suggestion.

Throughout the seances we were in a perfectly calm and
critical attitude of mind, closely observing all that took

' See, in this connection, my pamphlet entitled Hindu Magic.

242 Eusapia Palladino

place, while on the constant lookout for fraud. It would
be hard to conceive an attitude of mind further removed
from suggestibility than ours. We were active, alert, and
intent on controlling the phenomena rather than letting
them control us! Further, it must be remembered that
Eusapia speaks no English and very little French, so that all
her remarks had to be translated to me (I speak no
Italian), and yet I saw or failed to see all that Mr. Feilding
and Mr. Baggally did — both of whom speak Italian and
could understand Eusapia at first hand. It is hardly con-
ceivable that any suggestion made by Eusapia could take
effect under these circumstances, or, at any rate, if any critic
thinks so, the responsibility is thrown upon him of proving
his case. There is no analogous case in the whole history
of psychical research. Even if D. D. Home succeeded in
hallucinating some of his sitters, the case would be very
different with Eusapia. Suppose that Eusapia said, "See!
There is a head !" pointing in a certain direction. This
remark would have to be translated to me — into English —
before I would know what it meant, and this waiting and
translation of the remark would surely take the edge off
any suggestion that the medium might make. It is a most
difficult thing to induce full-blown hallucinations in a good
hypnotic subject, and even when he is thoroughly under
control, he frequently refuses to take the suggestion. This
being so, how are we to believe that three men, who have
never been hypnotized, who are not in a suggestible, but, on
the contrary, in a very positive frame of mind, can be
hallucinated in this simple manner? The thing is incredible.
But there is another answer to the critics who would urge
hallucination as an explanation of the facts. Eusapia very
rarely makes suggestions of the kind, and when she does

Eusapia Palladino 243

they are given in a dreamy, far-away voice, very different
from the positive, convincing tone of the hypnotic operator.
In all our sittings, we do not remember that Eusapia directly
suggested to us more than three or four phenomena, and it
is interesting to note that, on at least one occasion, we did
not see what she indicated, or rather what she said would
happen did not happen and she admitted that it had not
taken place. If any phenomenon took place, we all saw it
at one and the same time; and if a hand was seen by one
of us and not by all, it was for the simple reason that the cur-
tain or some material object was between the hand and the
onlooker. Everything indicated that the facts observed by
us were objective in character, and that none of them were
subjective. We felt and still feel that it would only be
necessary for the critic to attend a few seances with this
medium in order to be assured of that fact.

But there is still more conclusive evidence that the phe-
nomena witnessed in the presence of Eusapia are not sub-
jective in their nature, or the result of any process of
hallucination. These phenomena have been photographed,
and it is to be assumed that the camera and the sensitive
plate cannot be hypnotized in the same way as a human
being! Numerous cases are on record in which levitations
of tables and other phenomena have been photographed, and
there is no longer any doubt as to the objective character of
some of these phenomena — whatever the explanation may
be; it is certain that facts, apparently supernormal, have
occurred and have been photographed. Additional evidence
is furnished by those cases in which records of the phenomena
have been obtained by instrumental means. The actual
occurrence of a phenomenon has been proved, e.g., by means
of revolving cylinders, electrical apparatus, and other devices

244 Eusapia Palladino

which have checked the progress of the phenomena by purely
automatic means. Henceforth, therefore, no critic of these
phenomena, whatever theory he may choose to hold regard-
ing them, can contend that hallucination is an adequate ex-
planation of the facts, and it must accordingly be aban-

Now let us turn to the second possible normal explana-
tion of the facts — namely, fraud. It is far more difficult
to combat this theory than the preceding one, and it is in
fact a vera causa, inasmuch as Eusapia has been known to
defraud her sitters whenever she could, and all investigators
have found that, were she permitted, she would occasionally
release one hand or one foot, and endeavor to produce
phenomena with it. This happened at our own sittings,
and has doubtless occurred more or less at every series of
sittings held by other investigators. To the man-in-the-
street it would appear that this effectually bars all further
scientific investigation. If a medium has been caught trick-
ing, he would urge, she is a fraud and need be investigated
no longer! It is useless to look for genuine phenomena in
the presence of a fraudulent medium. In spite of the ap-
parent rationality of this argument, however, all those in-
vestigators who have had much experience with Eusapia,
contend that this argument is not valid in her case and that
genuine phenomena do occur in her presence, if fraud be
prevented, and she is controlled with sufficient accuracy to
prevent her from releasing her hands and feet and produc-
ing or attempting to produce fraudulent manifestations.
The reason for this attempted fraud on her part I shall
endeavor to state presently. Just now I need only say that
fraud alone is incapable of accounting for all the phenomena

Eusapia Palladino 24^

that have been obser\'ed in her presence from time to time
in the past.

Take, for example, the follovrinf; instances. In their
Report on the ile Roubaud phenomena, the savants there
experimenting recorded certain occurrences that took place
when both hands, both feet, and the head of Eusapia were
adequately held — e.g., in the following instance : ^

"A covered wire of the electric battery- came out on to
the table and wrapped itself round R.'s and E.'s hands, and
was pulled until E. called out. Thenceforth R. held her
head and body, M. kept one hand and both feet, while L.
held the other hand, and in this position E. made several
spasmodic movements, each of which was accompanied or
followed by violent movements of the neighboring round

"L., holding both hands of E., was distinctly touched as by
a hand on the shoulder and back of head. The hairy mass
was again felt by him."

"L. was then permitted to hold both hands and both feet,
and he was then touched twice on the back and grasped
distinctly on the left arm. E. then held up one of L.'s
hands, and with it made two small movements and with
each movement a chair not far distant grated along the floor
as if pushed or pulled."

"While Lodge held both the medium's hands on the table
and also her head leaning over on him away from the
chalet and while Richet held both her feet, the suspended
chalet was heard to be wound up partially three times with
brief pauses, making four seconds in all — as heard and re-
corded by Bellier."

It will be observed that in some of the above instances
both hands and both feet, as well as the head of the medium,
were adequately held when the phenomenon took place, and

' R. stands for Richet ; M. for Myers ; L. for Lodge ; O. for Ochorowicz;
and E. for Eusapia.

246 Eusapia Palladino

are accounted for in the notes. Now it is only rational to
suppose that if a man is intrusted with the safe-keeping
of both the medium's hands, he knows when he has these
two hands, and he would not be liable to confuse them with
one hand. If the two hands are being held by different
sitters, who are not on the constant lookout for fraud, who
are not aware of the tricks resorted to by Eusapia in order
to substitute one hand for two, it is at least conceivable that
the hands had been approximated during the seance and that
substitution had taken place. But when, as here, we find
that both hands have been held by the same investigator,
one in each of his, and while both feet and the head have
been held by other investigators, it would really appear in-
conceivable that any substitution could have taken place, or
that the medium could have induced the sitters controlling
her hands and feet to believe that they were holding one
hand and one foot under such conditions! It is, I repeat,
inconceivable ; and doubly so when we remember the scientific
eminence of her investigators, who were all well aware of the
possible methods of trickery and on the constant lookout for
it; and when, moreover, the light was sufficiently abundant
to enable them to see as well as to feel the hands they were
holding and to observe a clear, lighted space between the
medium's body and the object moved. ^

In our own seances I am absolutely certain that fraud
was not and could not have been employed in the vast
majority of cases. Not only did we feel the hands con-

' I think it should be added here that I had the pleasure of discussing these
phenomena with Professor Lombroso, at Turin; with MM. Flammarion, Max-
well, Youri^vitch, Courtier, etc., in Paris, and in every instance a full belief in
the reality of the phenomena had remained with the investigators. None of
them had found any new indications of fraud whatever, or any symptom that
would tend to cause them to change their opinion as to the reality of these

Eusapia Palladino 247

trolled by us, not only did we encircle them with our hands,
trace the arm to the body, and ascertain from the relative
position of the thumb and fingers which hand we were
holding, but we could frequently see, as well as feel, the
medium's hands resting in ours upon the table or stretched
before us perfectly visible. When it is sufficiently light to
see and not only feel the hand; when one can see the very
texture of the flesh, the finger nails, the distance between
the fingers, etc., it is really absurd to talk of substitution,
since it would be as impossible to produce any of these
phenomena unobserved as it would be to do so in full day-
light and during the course of a social chat. When the
light is sufficiently abundant to see as well as feel the hands,
the head, the feet, and all portions of the medium's body;
when the medium is being securely held on both sides by
skeptical investigators, who are themselves conjurers, and
who have exposed numerous mediumistic tricks; when, in
addition to all this, the medium's hands and feet have
remained securely tied with rope to the hands and feet of
the investigators on either side of her — I repeat, it is absurd
to talk of fraud when phenomena have been produced under
such circumstances. I quote a few instances from our own
detailed record, showing how complete was our control of
the medium at the very moment of the production of an
important phenomenon.

"F. I have asked the medium whether I could feel the
hand also (which we had felt through the curtain). She
replied, 'Yes.' F. stands to the left of C. and leans over
with his left hand outstretched about two and a half feet
above and to the left of the medium's head. Immediately
after :

"F. I am touched by something directly upon the point
of my finger.

248 Eusapia Palladino

"12. 1 1 A.M. F. I am touched again. I am taken hold
of by fingers and I can feel the nails quite plainly. [F.
My forefinger was pressed hard by three separate fingers
above it and a thumb below through the curtain. I felt the
nails quite distinctly as they pressed into my finger. Decem-
ber 6, 1908.]

"C. Her head pressing against my head. I am abso-
lutely holding her left hand upon the table. Both her legs
are around my right leg under the chair.

"B. I am absolutely certain that her right hand is on my
left hand on her right knee.

"F. I am touched again. Grasped this time as though
by the lower part of a thumb and fingers.

"B. I am touched gently on my hand and at the same
moment I am touched by a hand on my shoulder. Also the
curtain came out as though struck violently by a hand from

At 12.24 the following phenomenon took place:

"C. I am touched. Oh, my hair is pulled by a complete
hand through the curtain ! Medium's head resting against
mine, medium's left hand [control stated but omitted in
stenographic notes], the whole of her left arm controlled
by my right arm and her left foot on my right foot.

''B. Medium's right hand is on my left hand on the
table. I am sure it is her right hand, as I can feel her
thumb. Her right foot is on my left foot, and I can feel
the side of her leg against my leg.

"F. When Carrington was touched I saw the curtain
come right out over the medium's head."

Now it would appear to me that, unless the skeptic
ch.ooses to believe that we have deliberately falsified the facts,
there is no other alternative in such cases than to accept the
only logical conclusion, and to believe that genuine phe-
nomena were produced. Both hands and both feet were
securely held; both arms were unilcr control; both feet and

Eusapla Palladino 249

the legs as far as the knees were also completely under con-
trol. The same may be said of the medium's head, which
was resting against my head. Farther, the light was suffi-
ciently good to enable us to see the hands we were holding.
We would lift them up to within six inches of our eyes and
examine their texture in detail — ^ascertaining that stuffed
gloves or dummy hands were not held by us, and we manip-
ulated the hands in such a way that we forced responsive
squeezes or pressures from the medium's hands — showing
that the hands we were holding were really living; hands,
and were not mere dummies. We ascertained that these
hands were connected with her body by tracing their con-
nection with our free hands. Further, be it observed, a
substitution of hands would have been impossible; first,
because one hand was held in her lap, while the other was
held upon the surface of the table. This was done pur-
posely and in order to avoid any possibility of approximating
the hands. Secondly, we generally held Eusapia's hand by
the thumb or by encircling the whole of her hand in ours.
By this means it was possible to tell which hand one was
holding — because of the relative position of the thumb
and fingers. When, therefore, phenomena took place un-

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 19 of 27)