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Eusapia, that much of the trickery practised by professional
mediums is prepared beforehand, and almost invariably the
trick is done at some other time than that at which the spec-
tators suppose it is done. Just as the conjurer counts 'one,
two, three!' and, while the attention of the spectators is fo-
cused on the word 'three,' and what is to happen thereat,
the conjurer has opportunity to perform the trick during the
'one, two' period, or even before the counting began at all.
In the Palladino case, this should be borne in mind, and
a close watch kept upon the movements of Eusapia during the
intermissions or rests — to see that she does not attach strings

Eusapia Palladino 263

to the furniture, make imprints in the prepared putty, etc.
At the very time of making the experiments it is quite pos-
sible that Eusapia would be totally unable to use either of
her hands or her feet; but we must have equal surety that
she has not had the opportunity of accomplishing these phe-
nomena before the intermission of the seance closed. Fre-
quently we are told that sitters are enabled to rise and walk
about the room, look behind the cabinet curtains, etc. Does
this mean that they have broken the circle in order to do this,
or was there no circle to break? Another word of caution.
The imprints of hands, faces, etc., in the putty or clay, were
not, apparently, produced by Eusapia — at least at the time of
the holding, and during the seance. But is it possible that
Eusapia had concealed about her person plaster casts of hands
and faces that she could in some manner impress into the
clay at some convenient moment? We are rarely told of the
searching of the medium ; but that surely should be invariably
done. If this had been done, it would make these tests far
more conclusive.

"I have made these remarks and raised these objections,
not because of any a priori objection to the possibility of the
phenomena, but merely to point out and again insist upon the
fact that only by conducting experiments that are not open
to just such objections can these men, experimenting with
Eusapia, hope to convince the skeptical world that here are
indeed phenomena that are not due to fraud and trickery.
The best way, it seems to me, would be to have the medium
securely handcuffed to the sitters on either side of her, and
the keyholes of the cuffs sealed. If the cuffs were tight,
this would be a pretty conclusive test. The ankles of the
medium might be fastened to the legs of the chair in a similar
manner. After this has been done, and before the lights of
the seance room are lowered, one of the circle should inspect
the instruments, plates of clay, etc., and see that they are as
yet untouched. If the medium would not allow this (and
why should she not?), then let the sitter on each side of her
pull the arm straight, and hold the medium's hand against
his chest during the manifestations with his own. A separate

264 Eusapla Palladino

person should be detailed to guard the feet. A code might
be arranged between the controls (those holding the hands)
that a slight and peculiar squeeze of the hand should be made
ever so often, and if one of the controls felt this squer:?;e, he
would be certain that his fellow control had hold of his hand,
instead of that of the medium — and that she had in some
manner managed to free hers. This would be a signal for
closer investigation, and the trick might be discovered.

"Were I to sum up the results of this book, as they appear
to me ; were I to try and express the effect upon my mind of
the facts recorded — endeavoring to keep it as open and im-
partial as possible — I should say that the actual facts, as they
took place, in reality, were doubtless in many instances super-
normal, and were the results of some unknown force or
forces ; but I must also insist that in very rare instances does
the evidence presented in the book prove this. I feel that, had
I been there in person, I, too, should have been convinced ;
but the printed evidence is far from satisfactory and conclu-
sive, and it is that which the critic will see and only that will
he weigh. The conditions of the seance are very rarely such
as to force recognition and acceptance of the facts ; but,
partly because some of the phenomena appear to be indubi-
table, it would be rash and dogmatic to contend, a priori, for
the 'impossibility' of the others. M. Flammarion has done
his best to furnish all particulars of his seances, and he is to
be complimented on his painstaking and worthy effort. But
other reports are far from being sufficiently detailed. When
will the investigators of Eusapia learn that no detail can be
too trivial and insignificant; that in these very details con-
sists, frequently, the clew to the mystery, and that no report
will ever be regarded as final and conclusive without them?
The most minute detail should be given as to the relative po-
sition of the fingers, when holding the hands; when the con-
trol was changed ; how the new control was effected ; whether
the change of control was effected in the light or in the dark,
and a thousand other details that cannot be enumerated here.
It must always be borne in mind that the subjective impres-
sion of the sitters is of no value, relatively, to one who has

Eusapia Palladino 26^

not had sittings with the medium; and, to one who knows
the possibilities of fraud, there is always a grave doubt in the
mind as to sureness of conditions, sufficiency of control, etc.
— especially in a case like Eusapia's — where fraud has been
proved to exist over and over again. Accounts of some of
the Liter seances — those narrated in the Annals of Psychical
Science, e.g. — appear to render fraud quite impossible, but
these cannot be considered here, since they are not included
in M. Flammarion's book. It is at any rate a comfort to
know that a series of experiments is being conducted by
scientific men, and that Eusapia is not to pass from us as D.
D. Home did, with virtually no indorsements, save that of Sir
William Crookes. If experiments upon the present lines can
be carried on for a number of years, with constantly improving
conditions, we may be assured that conviction will ultimately
be borne in upon the scientific world ; and then what a re-
casting of old prejudices and conceptions there will be! It
may be said that M. Flammarion, in the excellent and in-
tensely interesting book under review, will doubtless have
helped greatly to bring this result to pass; to have demon-
strated that the present scheme of science is not a 'closed
circle' but that, behind and beyond this world of matter and
effects there is a world of forces and causes the width and
depth and extent of which we are only just beginning to
fathom and realize."

I further proposed that luminous paint might be applied
to the hands, so that they might be seen the more easily in
the dark — not knowing that her hands are usually more or
less visible throughout the sittings. I also found fault with
the photographs that had been published, saying: "I do not
for a moment question the interest and value of these photo-
graphs, I only say that they appear to me to be inconclusive.
And all photographs are open to this fundamental objection.
They give us a picture, merely, of what is actually happen-
ing at any one time, without telling us the preceding actions
of the medium and others present, leading up to that event.

266 Eusapia Palladino

What we should have, in order to be conclusive, is a series
of photographs, and preferably a cinematographic record of
the seance. In that manner we should be enabled to follow
every movement of the medium throughout. Might not such
an apparatus be devised ? We should not, in that case, have
to depend on the unaided powers of observation of the sitters,
but would have demonstrable proof that the phenomena
were objective realities." It will be seen from my own pre-
vious attitude in the matter that I could not be accused of
credulity, whatever else might be laid to my door. And I
think the fact that I was completely convinced of the
reality of the phenomena, in spite of my previous skepticism,
should at least have some weight. Fraud, I am quite
convinced, cannot explain the facts observed in Eusapia's

Having thus exhausted all normal explanations of these
phenomena, let us now turn to their possible explanation by
other theories. Before doing so, however, I wish to insist
upon one point, which is of great importance. It is this:
That, having once given up the theory of fraud as inadequate
to account for the facts, it is useless to keep reverting to it,
and keeping it in the back of the mind as a "possible" ex-
planation. I trust that I have shown that fraud is unable
to explain all the phenomena witnessed at Eusapia's seances,
and that being the case, let us seek in other directions, and
glance at the various theories that have been advanced from
time to time in the past, by way of explaining these phe-
nomena. Having once eliminated what might be called the
"natural" or "normal" explanations, let us turn to a con-
sideration of those theories that attempt to explain the facts
upon other lines — those theories that admit their reality,
while attempting to account for the facts as best they can.

Eusapia Palladino 267

Several writers agree more or less in their interpretation
of the phenomena, though differing in the detail of their
theor5\ Thus, several writers have advanced the idea first
proposed by Gasparin — that some fluid emanates from the
body of the medium and produces the effects seen. Thury
took a very similar view, calling this hypothetical fluid
psychode. Sir William Crookes, many years ago, advanced
his theory of "psychic force," which is closely akin to the
above theories. This force it is which produces the phe-
nomena. It will be seen that there is a very close approxi-
mation of theories, but none of them can be said to explain
all the facts, inasmuch as this fluid has never been discovered ;
and because, while it would explain all the lesser phenomena
— movements of objects, etc. — it would not explain the cases
of materializations, etc., that have taken place from time
to time, and which still need explanation. The intelligence
connected with the phenomena would still have to be ac-
counted for.

Professor Lombroso was at first inclined to believe that
in these phenomena are to be found instances of "trans-
formation of forces" — a theory which he abandoned later, and
has practically adopted the spiritistic hypothesis — a position
already taken by Alfred Russel Wallace, and numerous other
scientists. Certainly his earlier theory would not account for
the facts — and the spiritistic hypothesis as generally held,
cannot be said to do so either. And for the following rea-

Even if the existence of spirits were granted, we should
still have great difficulty in accounting for many of the facts
in detail, and the theory seems to be in direct opposition to
other phenomena. Thus, when Eusapia says, "I am going
to fetch something out of the cabinet with my foot" — and

268 Eusapia Palladino

then proceeds to kick about under the table and the instru-
ment in the cabinet comes out with a rush — this is certainly
in consequence of a force controlled by herself — which force
appears to be under the direction of her own conscious mind.
No external agent is involved in the production of such a
phenomenon, therefore — which appears to be the result of
a voluntarily controlled force, issuing from the medium's
body. When the medium wills the production of a phe-
nomenon, and the thing immediately occurs, it is absurd
to contend that "spirits" are involved in its production. That
would be clearly reverting to "animism" in its most primi-
tive form; and we should have to abandon all our ideas of
scientific causation. No ; while such a theory may be said
to explain a large number of the facts, and even explain them
in a satisfactory manner, it cannot be said to explain them
all, and any theory which cannot do that cannot be said to
be final and conclusive.

Colonel Albert de Rochas believes that these phenomena
are due to an "exteriorization (or externalization) of mo-
tivity." An astral body of the medium, composed of some
sort of nerve fluid, is supposed to exist, and this duplicate
body is enabled to perceive and act at a distance from the
medium's physical body. It is a sort of projection beyond
the periphery of the nervous force of the medium (as in the
first theories), only in this case this force is more than a
mere blind, liberated energy — it might be considered as being
the astral double or replica of the medium's body. This is
the view which the astronomer Porro is inclined to take, as
well as other noted scientists. Professor Ochorowicz also be-
lieves in a "fluidic double," which produces these phenomena.

There are many facts which seem to prove conclusively
that some such vital emanation does proceed from the me-

Eusapia Palladino 269

dium, and that it can condense and produce plastic effects in
space outside the body of the medium. Dr. Fere observed
luminous radiations proceeding from the body of several of
his patients in broad daylight. Reichenbach's experiments
have never been satisfactorily explained. An emanation of
the kind is seen to be issuing from the medium's body in
several photographs that have been taken at various times —
photographs which were intended to prove other things en-
tirely. Colonel de Rochas' experiments are, some of them,
very striking.

In discussing these phenom.ena this authority says:

"With certain persons, who are known as psychics, the
adhesiveness of the nervous fluid to the carnal organism is
feeble, so that they may even, under various influences, pro-
ject this nervous fluid outside their bodies. . . . Experiment
has also shown that this fluidic body is able to model itself
under the influence of the will, like clay under a sculptor's
hand, and thus to present the form of this or that personage
called up by the thought of the medium or that of the
magnetizer. . . . The frequent formation of hands above
Eusapia's head, exactly on the spot where she has a hypno-
genic opening, would be the result of an almost abnormal
withdrawal of a large quantity of fluid at this point. . . ."

Is any proof offered for this theory? Colonel de Rochas
does oifer one case, which, he asserts, goes to prove his con-
tention, and which is certainly very striking. It is the fol-
lowing strange incident:

"One day M. de Watteville desired, in my presence, to
photograph Eusapia between Count de Grammont and Dr.
Dariex. The photograph having been taken, I chaffed Dr.
Dariex, who is small of stature and who was standing with
his hand in his waistcoat, saying to him: 'Doctor, you re-
semble Napoleon.' The plate, however, was preserved, but

270 Eusapia Palladino

a thing which no one could foresee is that the profile of Napo-
leon stands out very clearly on the background by the side
of the water post which seems to serve as a pedestal for it,
but there was nothing to explain this appearance, notwith-
standing other attempts afterwards made in the same place."^

Now it would seem to me that this case fails to prove its
point, first, for the reason that (as stated in the text) the
exposure had been made before the remark was passed about
Napoleon, and hence we cannot assume that the contents
of the medium's mind could have affected the results in any
manner — even if his theory were true. In the next place, this
is but one case against all past experience. In the third place,
the resemblance to Napoleon may have been more fancied
than real. And in the fourth place, the hypothesis does not
cover those cases in which knowledge is exhibited by the
phantom which the medium did not know at the time and
never had known. An example of this will be given on p.

While there Is much to be said in favor of such a theory,
therefore, there is also much to be said against it. How can
this etheric double be possessed of a will and intelligence of
its own — as the phenomena frequently show must be the
case? How can an "etheric double" or anything correspond-
ing to it produce impressions of altogether different faces and
hands in wet clay, as is so often done? If these impressions
were those of the medium, we could understand it; but when
they are those of persons entirely dissimilar to Eusapia, how
can we conceive that this body could produce such impres-
sions? It would seem impossible for it to do so; and we
must, accordingly, reject this hypothesis, as we have rejected
all those in the past, as inadequate to account for the facts.

^Annals of Psychical Science, April- June, 1909, pp. 227-8,

Eusapla Palladino 271

Dr, Grasset, a celebrated physician, thinks that the expla-
nation is to be found in the "psychopathology of the nervous
centers." When it has been shown just how the nervous
centers produce these phenomena, I think we may seriously
consider this hypothesis, and not before! Dr. J. Maxwell
believes that most of the phenomena are to be explained by
the operation of a force within us; and that the intelligence
operative in their production is some kind of a "composite
consciousness" — composed of the minds of the circle of ex-
perimenters. It is, in fact, a sort of "collective conscious-
ness." M. IVIarcel Mangin is also disposed to adopt this
idea. I think there is not one particle of evidence that
can be urged in favor of such a theory — but that, on the con-
trary, nearly all the facts are opposed to it.

Other investigators speak of "ectenic force," "psycho-
dynamism," and other hypothetical forces, more or less in-
telligent, which are supposed to issue from the body of the
medium. The objections that have been urged above apply
to all these theories: viz., we have not the least evidence,
outside of these phenomena, of the existence of such a force;
and it is contrary to scientific method to explain unknown
facts in terms of the unknown. We can only "explain" phe-
nomena by bringing them into the realm of the known, and
showing their connection with the known. And until evi-
dence of the existence of these "forces" is obtained, it is use-
less to explain remarkable phenomena by means of them.

Yet other observers have come to the conclusion that a third
arm is materialized during the seances, and that this arm
is that which produces the phenomena! So positive of the
fact were these investigators, indeed, that they insisted on
stripping and searching Eusapia, to see whether or not such
an appendage might not be there. None such was found!

272 Eusapia Palladino

Those experimenters who defended this theory did so on the
ground that real hands appeared, and produced phenomena,
when both hands of the medium were clearly held. As this
third hand seemed to be under the dominating influence of
Eusapia, they concluded that some artificial prolongation had
actually taken place. They were forced to conclude that
some prolongation, usually invisible, and impalpable, became
visible and palpable, and took the form of an artificial hand,
having flesh and muscles.

The a priori objections to this hypothesis need hardly be
pointed out; but I shall not consider these. Within itself,
the hypothesis is unable to explain all the facts. It might
explain touches and movements of objects in the immediate
vicinity of the medium, but the more distant phenomena —
the appearance of heads and faces, the appearance of lights,
the impressions, in clay, of faces, differing from that of the
medium — it explains none of these things, nor does any simi-
lar theory, advanced to date.

Sir Oliver Lodge, in his original Report upon Eusapia,
advanced a tentative theory, based on the sympathetic move-
ments observed whenever objects at a distance were moved,
or other similar phenomena occurred. He says in part:

"When the accordion is being played, the fingers of the
medium are moving in a thoroughly appropriate manner,
and the process reminds one of the twitching of a dog's legs
when he is supposed to be dreaming that he is chasing a
hare. It is as if Eusapia were dreaming that she was finger-
ing an instrument, and dreaming it so vividly that the in-
strument was actually played. It is as if a dog dreamed of
the chase with such energy that a distant hare was really cap-
tured and killed, as if by a phantom dog; and, fanciful as
for the moment it may seem, and valueless as I must suppose
such speculations are, I am, I confess, at present more than

Eusapia Palladino 273

half disposed to look in some such direction for a clew to
these effects. In an idealistic interpretation of nature, it has
by many philosophers been considered that thought is the
reality, and that material substratum is but a consequence of
thought. So, in a minor degree, it appears here: it is as if,
let us say, the dream of the entranced person were vivid
enough to physically affect surrounding objects and actually
to produce objective results — to cause not only real and per-
manent movements of ordinary objects, but also temporary
fresh aggregations of material particles into extraordinary
objects; these aggregations being objective enough to be felt,
heard, seen, and probably even photographed, while they

There is at least one class of phenomena, however, which
cannot be explained upon this theory — namely, those in
which an independent intelligence is displayed, other than
that of the medium — since we should have to assume, on the
above theory, that only Eusapia's will was responsible for
the facts. Yet there are many phenomena which do not
seem to be controlled by her will, but on the contrary occur
in direct opposition to it. An instance of this occurred in our
own sittings, when Eusapia said she was tired, and asked
John if the seance might end. John replied by rapping twice
for "No," and the seance was resumed. Soon after we ob-
tained four complete levitations of the table, in rapid suc-
cession, and under excellent test conditions, and John then per-
mitted the seance to terminate. Here, then, we have evidence
of an external intelligence, differing from that of Eusapia,
and expressing wishes in direct opposition to her own. Can
we assume that any such theory as the above would explain
these facts?

The theory has been advanced that, while the conscious
mind of the medium is not involved in the production of the

274 Eusapla Palladino

phenomena, the subconscious mind is active, and in fact it is
that which is operative and which produces these phenomena.
Myers first proposed this theory, and has elaborated it in
great detail in his Human Personality. This subconscious
mental life supposedly possesses thoughts, desires, and voli-
tions of its own ; and possesses also, according to the hypothe-
sis, various faculties and powers, which normally remain latent
in this life, but w-hich may be called into activity at certain
times, under certain exceptional conditions. This subcon-
sciousness is supposed, by some, to be endowed with the facul-
ties, not only of telepathy and clairvoyance, but with the
capacity for moving physical objects at a distance from the
body of the medium! As Dr. Geley expressed it: "A certain
amount of force, intelligence, and matter of the body may
perform work outside of the organism — act, perceive, or-
ganize, and think, without the collaboration of muscles, or-
gans, senses, and brain. It is nothing less than the uplifte^l
subconscious portion of our being; it constitutes, in truth,
an externalizable subconscious nature, existing in the Me
with the normal conscious nature." ( The Subconscious Na-
ture, p. 82.)

Hartmann, as we know, attempted to explain all phenom-
ena on his theory of "The Unconscious." The theory was
( I ) that a nervous force can produce, outside the limits of
the human body, mechanical and plastic effects; (2) that
duplicate hallucinations of this same nervous force exist, pro-
ducing also physical and plastic effects; (3) that a latent,
somnambulistic consciousness (the subject being in the nor-
mal state) capable of reading in the intellectual background
of another man his present and his past, and being able to
divine the future, is operative.

Aksakof, in his Animism and Spiritism^ replied at great

Eusapia Palladino 275

length to this theory, and showed that it was unable to ex-
plain all the phenomena that had been observed bj^ various
investigators. I do not think that many readers will hesi-

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 21 of 27)