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der such circumstances, I think we were quite justified
in asserting that fraud is incapable of explaining the facts
and that, whatever their ultimate explanation may be,
we shall have to seek elsewhere for it than in the sim-
ple hypothesis of trickery and fraudulent substitution of

Before concluding this discussion of fraud and its possibil-
ities, however, I wish to answer, in a general way, one or
two serious critics of these phenomena, by way of illustration.

250 Eusapia Palladino

I shall choose one of the most recent and authoritative of

In the Proceedings of the S. P. R., for February, 1909,
Mrs. Sidgwick published her review of Professor Morselli's
book, Psicologia E Spiritismo, and in her review she answered
several critics of the Cambridge experiments, and stated her
views — and not only hers, but, I feel justified in saying, those
of the majority of the S. P. R. officials — of Eusapia Palla-
dino's mediumship. Mrs. Sidgwick regards Professor Mor-
selli as "a good and careful observer" who is aware that
Eusapia Palladino does sometimes trick, and who has, in
fact, "himself sometimes detected her in trickery, or what
looks suspiciously like it." As a matter of fact, Professor
Morselli estimated that less than ten per cent, of her phe-
nomena were due to fraud (Vol. I, p. 312), the remaining
ninety per cent, being genuine phenomena.

Mrs. Sidgwick emphasizes on several occasions her opinion
that it is useless to speculate as to the nature of the phe-
nomena — i.e., whether or not they are spiritistic in character,
or whether they represent "some unknown biological law"
— until the facts themselves have been established. Until
all normal explanations {e.g., trickery) have been eliminated
and the phenomena proved to exist, it is useless to speculate
concerning them. I think Professor Morselli would agree
with this, but it must be remembered that, in his estimation
at least, the phenomena have been definitely proved, so far
proved that there is no longer any doubt in his mind concern-
ing their reality, and, to himself, he is accordingly justified in
theorizing as to their origin and nature. I must say that be-
fore I obtained my sittings I, too, took Mrs. Sidgwick's view
— writing in my Coming Science, p. 382: "Personally, I
think that it is premature to speculate on the origin and na-

Eusapia Palladino 251

ture of such phenomena as those presented by Eusapia Palla-
dino. The facts are not yet sufficiently well established to
warrant any speculations of the kind, though one can well
see how it would be a temptation to offer such speculations
when one has been thoroughly convinced of the nature and
genuineness of the phenomena."

My own sittings convinced me finally and conclusively that
genuine phenomena do occur, and, that being the case, the
question of their interpretation naturally looms before me.
While Mrs. Sidgwick's attitude is, therefore, justified in so
far as it represents the position of one as yet unconvinced,
it does not necessarily indicate the position of one fully con-
vinced, as I became, and as Professor Morselli became — as
the result of his sittings.

I cannot agree with Mrs. Sidgwick, moreover, when she
says that the hypothesis of the agency of spirits would not
render Eusapia's phenomena more intelligible. For the minor
phenomena, there is certainly no need for such a theory ; in-
deed, the facts seem to point against it (p. 268) ; but for the
more important phenomena of materializations, etc., such, e.g.,
as those quoted on p. 147, I think that not only is the spirit-
istic hypothesis justified as a working theory, but it is, in fact,
the only one capable of rationally explaining the facts. Cer-
tainly we should not be entitled to disregard it ; far less should
we contend that the hypothesis is superfluous — when a large
number of the facts point to it as their only rational ex-

Mrs. Sidgwick is right in saying that there is a great uni-
formity and sameness about Eusapia's seances. Certainly this
would argue that she is only capable of producing a limited
number of phenomena by fraudulent means. But we might
also argue that this sameness pointed to the genuine charac-

252 Eusapia Palladino

ter of the seances — inasmuch as the power which produced
the phenomena was probably capable of producing only a
certain number of phenomena within a limited range. More-
over, the fact that there is this sameness should facilitate the
detection of fraud, when once it is known to exist, and
when we know precisely the kind of fraud to look for.

But it is not altogether true that Eusapia's seances have
a sameness about them. In our own series of sittings, fresh
phenomena were added at every seance, and the phenomena
became more startling and convincing, took place at greater
and greater distances from Eusapia, and we came nearer and
nearer to obtaining full-form materializations as the seances
progressed — inasmuch as we obtained no materializations at
all during the first seance, and but feeble ones during the
first three or four, but they became more numerous and
stronger as the series progressed, until finally distinct heads
and white tangible hands touched us outside the curtains, and
in front of Eusapia — whereas, at first, these hands had only
ventured to touch us through the curtain. When, therefore,
we find that, even in a short series of sittings, materializa-
tions of parts of a body may be obtained, it is only reason-
able to suppose that full-form materializations might be ob-
tained in a large number of sittings, under better and more
favorable conditions than prevailed at ours. It is a question
of degree, not of kind, be it observed ; and inasmuch as we
were definitely convinced that materialized hands did mani-
fest, I can see no rational ground for skepticism.

Mrs. Sidgwick tells us that, at Cambridge, "no dark cur-
tained recess was especially provided." The importance of
a cabinet at Eusapia's seances is certainly obvious to all who
have had sittings with her — at least of late years — and one
can quite understand that, being deprived of it, Eusapia's

Eusapia Palladino 253

mediumship would suffer. We are glad to have Mrs. Sidg-
wick's formal refutation of the current ideas concerning Eu-
sapia's unhappiness and loneliness at Cambridge. She was
submitted to no offensive searching and the investigators evi-
dently did everything in their power to make her happy and
contented. But the Cambridge sittings certainly differed
from ours, and probably from those of other investigators in
one very important point. Speaking of the Cambridge series,
Mrs. Sidgwick says:

"There is, at these sittings, so much moving of the posi-
tion of the whole circle, including the medium, so much rest-
lessness altogether, and so much difficulty in ascertaining
what were the exact relative positions of the phenomena, that
it is difficult to get clear evidence. . . ."

Now, in our sittings, Eusapia remained a passive agent
throughout. Occasionally we changed places, the controller
on the right taking the place of the controller on the left, and
vice versa, but Eusapia rarely moved her position, and during
a large part of every sitting she remained entirely passive,
moving neither hand nor foot — her whole body, on occasion,
resting against ours, and being entirely encircled by our arms
and hands. So far as I am aware, such conditions were not
permitted at Cambridge, but I think that we are justified in
saying that our own seances form an efficient reply to this
objection by Mrs. Sidgwick, and formally and explicitly re-
fute this criticism — based upon the supposed constant rest-
lessness of Eusapia.

I quite agree with Mrs. Sidgwick that numerous suspicious
instances were noticed at Cambridge (e.g., the incident of
the handkerchief, p. 520), even before fraudulent substitu-
tion of hands was actually detected. I also agree that when

254 Eusapla Palladino

the hands were held as they were at that period, one might
have been a good observer and yet tricked into believing that
he was securely holding one hand, when as a matter of fact
he was not. Further and finally, I heartily agree with Mrs.
Sidgwick when she contends that almost the whole force of
the argument for supernormal phenomena rests upon this
single fact: whether the hands and feet were adequately
held at the time.

But I think there are numerous instances on record which
indicate clearly that both hands were securely held during
the production of remarkable phenomena; and, further than
this, and still more conclusive, is the evidence that they were
seen resting upon the table, held in the hands of her con-
trollers. Secondly, there are, as Mrs. Sidgwick herself ad-
mits, many cases on record which cannot be accounted for,
even supposing that Eusapia had one, or even both hands
free — but that in order to produce the manifestations frau-
dulently, she must have left her place at the table and walked
about the room!

Now, in our own series of sittings, phenomena were pro-
duced on various occasions when we felt absolutely certain
that both hands were securely held, and this, not only because
we could feel the whole of her hand, but because both
hands were distinctly visible to us resting upon the table.
Thus, at our ninth seance, at 10.44, Mr. Feilding, who was
sitting at the opposite end of the table from Eusapia — and
certainly farther away from her than either of her controllers
— said : "I can see the medium's left hand on B.'s. I can see
Carrington's hand held out against the curtain. I can see
her right hand on the table. I can see from where I am a
strong movement of the small stool; her head is perfectly
visible to me."

Eusapia Palladino 255

Again, at the same seance, at 12.51, I was touched on the
left side by a hand, while I was holding both the medium's
hands in mine, and while they were both perfectly visible
to me. This occurred again a few moments later. It will
be remembered that Professor Lodge was several times
touched under precisely similar circumstances during the
course of the ile Roubaud phenomena. Again, during our
sixth seance, we were repeatedly touched by a hand through
a curtain, while I was holding Eusapia's left hand in her lap,
and while Mr. Baggally was holding her right hand upon
the table. The hands were separated by more than two feet
from one another, and no attempt whatever was made to ap-
proximate or substitute the hands. One hand was perfectly
visible to us, held in mine. The other hand resting beneath
the curtain on the table. The touches occurred on my side,
and, the hand I held being visible throughout, Eusapia must
have released her right arm in order to produce them. Now,
many of the touches were far beyond her reach, even had she
the right hand free, and Mr. Baggally is absolutely certain
that such was not the case — since he could feel the flesh of
her hand and repeatedly ascertained that the hand he was
holding was connected with her body by means of her nor-
mal arm.

All the objections Mrs. Sidgwick raises might be met if
we could suppose that Eusapia materializes for the time be-
ing a third arm, which produces these phenomena, and which
recedes into her body at the conclusion of a phenomenon. In-
credible as such a supposition doubtless is, there is evidence
tending to show that such is indeed the case. Professor Bot-
tazzi relates that he, on more than one occasion, saw a hand
which a moment before he had felt, and found to be "luke-
warm, nervous and rough" (the exact opposite of Eusapia's

256 Eusapla Palladino

hand), "retreat into Mme. Palladino's shoulder, describing
a curve." At the eighth seance, held in July, 1907, Professor
Galeotti distinctly saw the doubling of the left arm of the
viedium. He exclaimed: "Look, I see two left arms, identi-
cal 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
hallucination. I am awake, I am conscious of two simul-
taneous visual sensations, which I experienced when Mme.
Bottazzi says that she has been touched."

It will be seen, therefore, that, impossible as such an idea
may seem, there is evidence tending to show that such a phe-
nomenon may in fact, occur, and if it were once definitely
proved that such were the case, it would readily explain a
large portion of the Cambridge experiments in a manner
quite compatible with her honesty and with the existence of
her genuine supernormal powers.

Of course there is the objection that fraud was actually
detected at Cambridge, and that, in a very large number of
instances, a suspicious narrowing down of the control of the
hand to two or three fingers was noticed — generally, though
not invariably, followed by an instantaneous release of the
hand altogether from the sitter's control. Such facts would
certainly seem to indicate the practice of fraud, and the only
scientific procedure in such cases would be to assume that
it did indicate fraud — particularly when it was detected in
active operation at later seances. Yet, in view of our own
experiences, I feel constrained to doubt the accuracy of the
deductions. We repeatedly noted that Eusapia worked her
hands into what might be called a good "substitution position,"
without her taking any advantage of the fact, and in many

Eusapia Palladino 257

instances Eusapia's holding of our hands became quite un-
satisfactory, and her hands even left ours altogether for the
fraction of a second, returning to them later — during or im-
mediately before the production of a phenomena. While we
always insisted that her hands should be immediately re-
placed on ours in a satisfactory manner upon these occasions,
we were, nevertheless, quite certain that no substitution had
taken place, for the reason that we could distinctly see her
hand the whole time, and noticed that she did not, in fact,
produce any fraudulent phenomenon with it — though, had the
room been dark and had we been compelled to judge from
the sense of touch alone, unaided by sight, we should cer-
tainly have come to the conclusion that she frequently ef-
fected a substitution of hands, and produced the observed

In view of these facts, then, I cannot but feel that a large
proportion of the supposed substitutions of hands at Cam-
bridge were, in fact, not real substitutions at all, but merely
instinctive or automatic reflexes on Eusapia's part — synchro-
nizing with the phenomenon — and that her hand instinctively
tried to free itself and endeavored to reach the object to be
removed in a normal manner. It must be remembered that
Eusapia has frequently stated that, at the moment of the
production of any phenomenon, she feels a strong desire to
produce the phenomenon normally, by means of her hands,
and unless she is prevented from doing so, her hand will
often shoot out automatically and move the object in a
natural way. But if she be prevented from doing so, and
her hands are securely held, this instinctive desire is pre-
vented from becoming externalized in motor expression and
the phenomenon is produced at a distance from the medium
— in spite of the utmost rigor as to the control of her hands.

258 Eusapia Palladino

It will be observed that almost the whole of Mrs. Sidg-
wick's criticism is based upon the supposed substitution of
hands and feet, and is colored, naturally, by the Cambridge
exposure. But, as I have before pointed out, many phenome-
na have been observed in the past, and were observed by us,
which could not have been accounted for even had Eusapia
freed one hand, or even both hands. I need not give in-
stances in this place, since they are numerous, and Mrs. Sidg-
wick herself admits that such instances exist. But once
grant the genuine character of at least some of the phe-
nomena and what rational ground is there for refusing to
believe that a large proportion of them are also genuine —
only that the evidence does not prove that fact? I feel quite
convinced that at least the majority of the phenomena we
observed were genuine, and could not possibly have been
produced by fraud, and I think this is the opinion, also, of
my colleagues and of the majority of investigators who have
had a large number of sittings with Eusapia, and who pre-
vented, instead of allowed, fraud on her part. The existence
of one single phenomenon having been proved, it opens the
way for numbers of others, equally well established, and even
for those far less conclusively proved — since, all a priori ob-
jection having been removed, it becomes merely a question
of sufficient evidence. We ourselves ascertained, however,
how difficult a matter it is to present evidence of the sort
which would be necessary to convince a skeptic who had not
been present at the sittings ; and, bearing in mind that fact,
and remembering our own previous attitude toward these
phenomena, I am prepared to allow the critic much indul-
gence, and we even have sympathy with those minds who
cannot as yet accept the phenomena as proved. Personal
sittings, I feel assured, would finally convince ; and short of

Eusapla Palladino 259

these, the utmost I can hope for is that the printed evidence,
as presented in our own series of sittings, will at least assist
in removing a large number of doubts and objections that
have existed in the past, relative to Eusapia's mediumship.

Of course it is conceivable that Eusapia might have at-
tached a string or a hair to some of the smaller objects and
moved them by pulling this with her foot, or some part of
her body, unnoticed by us ; but I am quite convinced that she
did not do so, ( I ) because no movement of the sort was dis-
covered; (2) because there was a clearly lighted space be-
tween her body and the object; (3) because we were con-
stantly on the alert for any attempt of the sort on her part,
and were on the lookout for any movement that could be
construed as bending down and affixing hairs, threads, etc.,
to objects; (4) because we ascertained on several occasions
that no such hair, thread, or string was, in fact, pulled
during the actual production of the phenomenon. I cite one
case by way of illustration of this : During the ninth seance,
the small stool which we had placed just outside the cabinet,
about three feet distant from the medium, came out of its
own accord and moved up to within a foot of her. Eusapia
waved one of her hands, still controlled by ours, above the
stool, and it moved in various directions, corresponding to
the movements of her hand. She then approached her hand
to the stool and a complete levitation resulted. One of us
then passed his hands between the stool and the medium's
bod}^, and along the carpet, showing that no thread, hair,
string, or other attachment was possible. We picked up the
stool and examined it, replacing it on the ground. We did
not allow Eusapia to touch the stool with hand or foot, after
it had been placed on the floor, but held her hand in ours
about three feet above the stool, and held her leg by knee

26o Eusapia Palladino

and ankle on the side nearest the stool. There was a brightly
illuminated patch of carpet of about eighteen inches between
the small stool and her skirt. In spite of these precautions,
however, the stool immediately began its movements, and
rose into the air several times under the hands of one of the
investigators and without being touched in any way by Eusa-
pia. We considered that this was a test phenomenon, which
had been obtained under conditions absolutely precluding

If, then, fraud is unable to account for many of the phe-
nomena, it is certainly rational to suppose that the more
marvelous phenomena, observed from time to time, are also
due to some supernormal force, and cannot be accounted for
by any process of trickery or hallucination. It is merely a
question of degree, not of kind. Once grant the existence
of the simplest phenomenon, unrecognized by physical science,
and the way is opened for the admission of the more extraor-
dinary facts, which, in themselves, would prove everwhelm-
ingly incredible.

Before I had had my personal sittings, I had been an ex-
tremely severe critic of the reports of others — I now think,
too severe. It is a very different matter — being convinced
of the phenomena oneself, and convincing others. Never be-
fore had I realized how impossible, almost, it is to frame a
report in such a manner that it shows that fraud was ab-
solutely excluded. To those who have not had much ex-
perience in these phenomena, it would doubtless appear to
be extremely simple ; but such is by no means the case. Facts
which appear to the onlooker obvious are omitted in the
report, and the result is that, when the report appears in
print, these defects — as they seem to be to the public — ap-

Eusapia Palladino 261

pear to be glaringly conspicuous. Thus, when the hands
of the medium are both plainly visible, the average investi-
gator does not think of constantly reiterating the fact that
the hands are visible and constantly held ; yet if he does not
say so, critics who do not see the progress of the seance, but
only the printed reports, will find fault with him for not stat-
ing just such facts, and will hold that the seances are in-
conclusive because of the lack of these recorded impressions.
Only the critic who knows the extreme value of recording
every movement of the medium, would think of recording,
every moment, the exact position of her hands and feet ; so
that, when phenomena took place, they were accounted for.
In our sittings we endeavored to supply this hitherto funda-
mental defect, and supplied, from moment to moment, exact
descriptions of the position of each hand and each foot. This
the reader will see, however, when consulting the detailed

In criticising these seances — i.e., the work of other men,
before obtaining sittings myself — I wrote in part as follows
• — and the reader will see that I certainly did not lack in
skepticism. In reviewing ]VI. Flammarion's book. Myste-
rious Psychic Forces J I said :

"Now, in going over the facts that are recorded in this
book, one finds many loopholes that enable one to think that
fraud might have been practised on such and such an occa-
sion. Thus, for instance: the holding of the medium is care-
fully described, and the amount of light recorded. It is then
stated that the sitters changed places, and soon after this,
wonderful phenomena took place. But it will be observed
that we are not told how the medium was held after the sit-
ters changed places, and if the amount of light was the same.
Again, it is quite inconclusive to anyone who knows the pos-
sibilities of fraud, in such cases, to be told that the 'medium


262 Eusapla Palladino

was securely held' while manifestations were in progress.
What we want to know is hoiv she was held ; and that, not in
general terms but in the greatest and most exact detail. The
position of the fingers and the thumb should be indicated, and
it should be stated what parts of the medium's hand, and how
much of it, they were holding. Again, at the moment of the
production of any phenomenon, the control-holders should
makeit a point of never looking at the phenomenon, but of
examining, minutely, the hands they were controlling, and
exchange remarks at that instant, as to the amount of control
sustained, and how satisfactory it was. Further, when any
object^ is moved, or any musical instrument played, etc., it is
very inconclusive to state that it was 'at some distance'
from the medium. What the critic wants to know is just
hoiv far away the object was, in feet and inches, and he can
then estimate for himself the possibility of fraud on the part
of the medium. In other words, the critic should not be
called upon to accept the judgment of any of those forming
the circle for his conclusions. What he wants is the facts,
and he can form his own opinion from these. These opinions
may be wrong, but it must be emphasized over and over
again that the only way in which the scientific man can ever
be influenced is by patiently recording all the details — they
cannot be too detailed — and allowing the critic to form his
opinions of the phenomena from the facts, and not from the
opinions of the persons witnessing the facts.

"It should be borne in mind, by those having sittings with

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 20 of 27)