Copyright
Hereward Carrington.

Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

. (page 6 of 27)
Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 6 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


held in Naples, under the direction of Dr. Paolo Visani-
Scozzi, Professor of Nervous Diseases at Florence.

Four seances were held, which were also attended by Dr.
Visani, Countess Helena Mainardi, Professor Chiaia, and
others. Precautions were taken against fraud — which, how-
ever, are not detailed in the report — and the following phe-
nomena were observed and vouched for by the experimenters :

I. In plain light: Movements of objects without contact;
levitations of the table, raps — which frequently kept time to
music — and answered questions.



6o Eusapia Palladino

2. In semidarkness (the light being sufficient to dis-
tinguish all the sitters, however) there occurred: Touches
by invisible hands; very loud raps on the table; movements
of chairs, and kisses were heard distinctly in the room. A
shadow formed near to the medium, as though issuing from
her, and assumed colossal proportions. During the produc-
tion of this phenomenon the medium was in deep trance, and
completely immobile.

3. In complete darkness: Movements of the table, chairs,
and other objects (which were sometimes, when the lights
were relighted, found to be turned upside down). The
formation of hands, which touched the sitters, the forma-
tion of invisible heads, which gave kisses and rubbed the
faces of the sitters with their silky beards; the formation
of a misty ball, which emitted a whitish light; and the for-
mation of a phantom, which assumed the form of a very
large man.

A trumpet, a tambourine, and a bell played at the same
time, all being raised in the air simultaneously. All the fur-
niture in the room was then moved about. In tune to a
march playeid by the above-mentioned instruments, the table
promenaded toward the door, keeping time to the music with
its feet — while the medium, half asleep, was dragged with her
chair along with the table.

The most important phenomenon was an imprint of a
hand and of a face, obtained in clay, which in no way re-
sembled those of the medium.

Although these seances were striking in character, we can-
not, unfortunately, attribute to them much evidential value,
since the conditions of the experiments, and particularly the
manner of controlling the medium, were very insufficiently
recorded throughout.



Eusapia Palladino 6i

§ 10. Experiments at Tremezzo, at Auteuil, and at
Choisy-Yvrac — 1896

In 1896 an interesting seance was held at Tremezzo, which
was accurately recorded by Mme. Z. Blech. Various inter-
esting phenomena were observed, when both hands of Eusapia
were distinctly seen, resting upon the table. Four days later
a new series of seances was held at Auteuil, under the direc-
tion of Dr. Dariex, ]\I. Desdeaux, M. Guerronnan, M. Mar-
cel Mangin, and M. Sully-Prudhomme. The result of the
seven seances was, again, to convince the sitters of Eusapia's
undoubted supernormal powers.

Following these experiments, a new series of seances was
held at Choisy-Yvrac, which were attended by M. Maxwell,
Count de Grammont, Count de Watteville, Colonel de
Rochas, and other well-known investigators. The usual phe-
nomena were observed, and, in addition, various experiments
were tried, such as the effects of electricity upon the medium
and the phenomena; magnetizing and hypnotizing the me-
dium — an interesting account of which will be found in
Colonel de Rochas' book, before referred to. It was ascer-
tained, apparently, that electricity in some manner increased
her "forces," and assisted in the levitation of a small stool,
which she had been unable to raise. As, however, such levi-
tations have been obtained at various times without any elec-
trical apparatus, its value seems doubtful.

§ II. Experiments at Naples — 1897

In April, 1897, sittings were held at Naples by MM.
Ernest Mayer, and Leon BouUoche. These were followed
by a seance held in June, in Rome, by M. de Siemiradski —
followed again by seances held in Paris in July, and later in



62 Eusapia Palladino

the same month at Montfort rAmaur>\ These latter seances,
which are by far the most noteworthy, were attended by M.
de Fontenay, who published a lengthy report, and has since
written a book, Apropos d'Eusapia Palladino, based largely
upon these sittings. Since then, M. de Fontenay has obtained
a number of seances, and has especially devoted himself to
the task of photographing the phenomena, and particularly
the heads, faces, and hands that are supposed to materialize
at Eusapia's seances. In an article entitled Fraud, and the
Hypothesis of Hallucination, in the Study of the Phenomena
Produced by Eusapia Palladino (Annals of Psychical Science,
April, 1908), M. de Fontenay succeeded in photographing
various hands appearing over Mme. Palladino's head — one
of which, particularly, is of interest, inasmuch as both the
medium's hands are seen (in the photograph) to be securely
held by her investigators outside the cabinet. The "hand"
in this case, however, does not appear to be a fully formed
hand, but rather a claw, or an exceedingly malformed or
half-formed hand. M. de Fontenay was forced to the con-
clusion that he had on this occasion photographed "matter
in the course of condensation" — i.e., a materialization. It
is true that other photographs taken by M. de Fontenay are
far less convincing, but, as he himself says, "in any case one
point is settled — the appearance of hands in the vicinity of
Eusapia are not generally hallucinatory, nor are the forma-
tions of lights, which are observed to occur with this me-
dium. If my photographs prove no more than this, their im-
portance would not be negligible."

§ 12. Experiments at Montfort I'Amaury — 1897

In 1897 a short series of three seances was held at the
home of M. Blech, at Montfort I'Amaury. M. Blech, Mme.



Eusapla Palladino 63

Blech, Mme. Z. Blech, and Mile. A. Blech, together with
M. G. de Fontenay, formed the circle at first, and they were
afterwards joined by M. Flammarion. These seances seem
to have been very successful in character, a great variety of
phenomena being obtained under what appear to be good
conditions of control. A full account of these seances will
be found in M. de Fontenay's book. Apropos d'Eusapia Palla-
dino, to which I would refer the reader for an exhaustive
discussion of these sittings, and accompanying theoretical
data. The book is a remarkable one, and is well worthy
of careful perusal. IM. Flammarion, who was present at
one of these seances, gives us a vivid picture of the course of
events, which I quote from his own book. Mysterious Psychic
Forces, pp. 70-75 :

"Five raps in the table indicate, according to a convention
arranged by the medium, that the unknown cause seeks for
less light. This is always annoying; I have already said
what I think of this. The candles are blown out, the lamp
turned down, but the light is strong enough for us to see
very distinctly everything that takes places in the salon. The
round table, which I had lifted and set aside, approaches the
table and tries several times to climb up on it, I lean upon it,
in order to keep it down, but I experience an elastic resist-
ance and am unable to do so. The free edge of the round
table places itself on the edge of the rectangular table, but,
hindered by its triangular foot, it does not succeed in clear-
ing itself sufficiently to climb upon it. Since I am holding
the medium I ascertain that she makes no effort of the kind
that would be needed for this style of performance.

"The curtain swells out and approaches my face. It is
at this moment that the medium falls into a trance. She ut-
ters sighs and lamentations and only speaks now in the third
person, saying that she is John King, a psychic personality
who claims to have been her father in another existence, and
who calls her 'My daughter.'



64 Eusapia Palladino

"Five new taps ask for still less light, and the lamp is al-
most completely turned down, but not extinguished. The
eyes, growing accustomed to the clare-obscure, still distin-
guish pretty well what is taking place.

"The curtain swells out again, and I feel that I am
touched on the shoulder, through the stuff of the curtain, as
if by a closed fist. The chair in the cabinet, upon which are
placed the music box and the bell, is violently shaken, and
the objects fall to the floor. The medium again asks for less
light, and a red photographic lantern is placed upon the piano,
the light of the lamp being extinguished. The control is
rigorously kept up, the m.edium agreeing to it with the great-
est docility.

"For about a minute the music box plays intermittent airs
behind the curtain, as if it was turned by some hand.

"The curtain moves forward again toward me, and a
rather strong hand seizes my arm. I immediately reach for-
ward to seize the hand, but I grasp only the empty air. I
then press the two legs of the medium between mine, and I
take her left hand in my right. On the other side, the right
hand is firmly held in the left hand of M. de Fontenay.
Then Eusapia brings the hand of the last named toward my
cheek, and imitates upon the cheek, with the finger of M. de
Fontenay, the movement of a little revolving crank or handle.
The music box, which has one of these handles, plays at the
same time behind the curtain in perfect synchronism. The
instant that Eusapia's hand stops, the music stops; all the
movements correspond, just as in the Morse telegraph
system. . . .

"I feel several touches on the back arid on the side.
M. de Fontenay receives a sharp slap on the back that every-
body hears. A hand passes through my hair. The chair of
M. de Fontenay is violently pulled, and a few moments after-
wards he cries, 'I see the silhouette of a man passing between
M. Flammarion and me, above the table, shutting out the red
light!'

"This thing is repeated several times. I do not myself
succeed in seeing this silhouette. I then propose to M. de
Fontenay that I take his place, for, in that case, I should be



Eusapia Palladino 6^

likely to see it also. I soon distinctly perceive a dim sil-
houette passing before the red lantern, but I do not recognize
any precise form. It is only an opaque shadow (the profile
of a man) which advances as far as the light and retires.

"In a moment, Eusapia says there is some one behind the
curtain. After a slight pause she adds:

" 'There is a man by your side, on the right; he has a
great soft forked beard.' I ask if I may touch this beard.
In fact, while lifting my hand, I feel rather a soft beard
brushing against it.

"A block of paper is put on the table with a lead pencil,
with the hope of getting writing. The pencil is flipped clear
across the room. I then take the block of paper and hold it
in the air: it is snatched violently from me, in spite of all
my efforts to retain it. At this moment, M. de Fontenay,
with his back turned to the light, sees a hand (a white hand
and not a shadow), the arm showing as far as the elbow,
holding the block of paper; but all the others declare that
they only see the paper shaking in the air.

"I did not see the hand snatch the packet of paper from
me ; but only a hand could have been able to seize it with such
violence, and this did not appear to be the hand of the me-
dium, for I held her right hand in my left, and the paper with
arm extended in my right hand, and ]\I. de Fontenay de-
clared that he did not let go her left hand.

"I was struck several times in the side, touched on the
head, and my ear was smartly pinched. I declare that after
several repetitions I had enough of this ear-pinching; but
during the whole seance, in spite of my protestations, some-
body kept hitting me.

"The little round table, placed outside of the cabinet, at
the left of the medium, approaches the table, climbs clear up
on it and lies across it. The guitar in the cabinet is heard
moving about and giving out sounds. The curtain is puffed
out, and the guitar is brought upon the table, resting upon
the shoulder of M. de Fontenay. It is then laid upon the
table, the large end toward the medium. Then it rises and
moves over the heads of the company without touching them.
It gives forth several sounds. The phenomenon lasts about



66 Eusapia Palladino

fifteen seconds. It can readily be seen that the guitar is
floating in the air, and the reflection of the red lamp glides
over its shining surface. A rather bright gleam, pear-shaped,
is seen on the ceiling of the other corner of the room.

"The medium, who is tired, asks for rest. The candles
are lighted. Mme. Blech returns the objects to their places,
ascertains that the cakes of putty are intact, places the small-
est upon a little round table and the large one upon the chair
in the cabinet, behind the medium. The sitting is resumed
by the feeble glimmer of the red lantern.

"The medium, whose hands and feet are carefully con-
trolled by M. de Fontenay and myself, breathes heavily.
Above her head the snapping of fingers is heard. She still
pants, groans, and sinks her fingers into my hand. Three
raps are heard. She cries, 'It is done !' M. de Fontenay
brings the little dish beneath the light of the red lantern and
discovers the impression of four fingers in the putty, in the
position which they had taken when she had gripped my
hand.^

"Seats are taken, the medium asks for rest, and a little
light is turned on.

"The sitting is soon resumed as before, by the extremely
feeble light of the red lantern. John is spoken of as if he

^ Professor Chiaia, of Naples, writes, a propos of these impressions in clay:
"I have imprints in boxes of clay weighing anywhere between sixty-five and
sixty-eight pounds. I mention the weight in order to let you see the impos-
sibility of lifting and transporting with one hand alone so heavy a tray — even
upon the supposition that Eusapia might, unknown to us, free one of her hands.
In almost every case, in fact, this tray, placed upon a chair, three feet behind the
medium, was brought forward and placed very gently upon the table about
which we were seated. The transfer was made with such nicety that the per-
sons who formed the chain and held firmly the hands of Eusapia did not hear
the least noise, did not perceive the least rustling. We were forewarned of the
arrival of the tray upon the table by several taps, which, according to our con-
ventional arrangement, 'John' struck in the wall to inform us that we could
turn on the light. I did so at once by turning the cock of the gas fixture, which
was suspended above the table. [We had never completely extinguished it.]
We then found the tray upon the table, and, upon the clay, the imprint which
we supposed must have been made before its transfer, and while it was behind
Eusapia, in the cabinet where 'John' usually materializes and manifests him-
self."




<
<



5 i J?
t; - -:;
c ■^ -j

c 5 *- .

> < i) i«

~ EL c

o

C .— ^ JJ

•i S '-J ~



A 'J u iJ
.= C 1>
— CD






01 Vl c

c/j .= x; -tJ
o n a>

^ -

iO O •- -yi

JH<= -5.il

i) :: . —

1/1 — o P






^ S E






-y. — (L»
C a> *^

Ox: —



Eusapla Palladino 67

existed, as if it was he whose head we perceived in silhouette ;
he is asked to continue his manifestations, and to show the
impression of his head in the putty, as he has already several
times done. Eusapia replies that it is a difficult thing and
asks us not to think of it for a moment, but to go on speaking.
These suggestions of hers are always disquieting, and we re-
double our attention, though without speaking much. The
medium pants, groans, writhes. The chair in the cabinet
comes forward and places itself by the side of the medium,
then it is lifted and placed upon the head of Mme. Z. Blech,
while the tray is lightly placed in the hands of M. Blech, at
the other end of the table. Eusapia cries that she sees before
her a head and a bust, and saj^s 'E fatto' (It is done). We
do not believe her, because M. Blech has not felt any pressure
on the dish. Three violent blows as of a mallet are struck
upon the table. The light is turned on, and a human profile
is found imprinted in the putty. Mme. Z. Blech kisses Eu-
sapia upon both cheeks, for the purpose of finding out whether
her face has not some odor (glazier's putty having a very
strong odor of linseed oil, which remains for sometime upon
the fingers). She discovers nothing abnormal. . . ."

§ 13. Experiments in Paris — 1898

In November, 1898, Eusapia went to Paris on the invita-
tion of a scientific committee, composed of MM. Flamma-
rion, Charles Richet, A. de Rochas, Victorien Sardou, Jules
Claretie, Adolphe Brisson, Rene Baschet, Arthur Levy, Gus-
tave Le Bon, Jules Bois, Gaston Mer}', G. Delanne, G. de
Fontenay, G. Armelin, Andre Bloch, etc. These seances
were held in M. Flammarion's salon under good conditions
of control. Before each seance, Eusapia was undressed and
dressed in the presence of two ladies. The following inci-
dents are taken from the reports of various members of
this committee, which follow one another, and which I shall
briefly summarize here. The full account of these seances



68 Eusapia Palladino

is to be found in M. Flammarion's book, Mysterious Psychic
Forces.

M. Arthur Levy records one case, typical of a number
of others, of the depression of a spring-balance letter-weight
of the ordinary kind:

"While we are talking some one puts a letter weight on
the table. Putting her hands down on each side of the letter
weigher, and at a distance of four inches, she causes the
needle to move to No. 35, engraved on the dial place of the
scales. Eusapia herself asked us to convince ourselves, by
inspection, that she did not have a hair leading from one
hand to the other, and with which she could fraudulently
press upon the tray of the letter weigher. This little b)^-
play took place when all the lamps of the salc«i were fully
lighted. . . ."

At this seance, a series of remarkable events transpired
in rapid succession. After describing a number of minor phe-
nomena, and finally a struggle between himself and two in-
visible hands over the possession of a tambourine, in which
he was worsted, M. Levy continues:

"Eusapia utters repeated cries — a kind of rattling in the
throat. She writhes nervously, and, as if she were calling
for help, cries: 'The chain, the chain!' We thereupon form
the chain by taking hold of hands. Then, just as if she were
defying some monster, she turns, with inflamed looks, to-
ward an enormous divan, which thereupon marches up to us.
She looks at it with a satanic smile. Finally, she blows upon
the divan, M^hich goes immediately back to its place. . . .

"Eusapia was evidently very tired; her burning hands
seemed to contract or shrivel ; she gasped aloud with heaving
breast, her foot quitting mine every moment, scraping the
floor and tediously rubbing along it back and forth. She
uttered hoarse, panting cries, shrugging up her shoulders
and sneering. The sofa came forward when she looked at
it, then recoiled before her breath; all the instruments were



Eusapla Palladino 69

thrown pellmell upon the table; the tambourine rose almost
to the height of the ceiling;; the cushions took part in the
sport, overturning everything on the table ; AI. M. was
thrown from his chair. This chair — a heavy dining-room
chair of black walnut, with stuffed seat — rose into the air,
came up on the table with a great clatter, then was pushed
off. . . .

At a seance held September 26, 1896, the following in-
cident occurred:

"A dark bust moves forward upon the table, coming from
where Eusapia sits; then another, and still another. 'They
look like Chinese ghosts,' says M. Mangin, 'with this dif-
ference, that I, who am better placed, owing to the light
from the window, am able to perceive the dimensions of
these singular images, and, above all, their thickness.' All
these black busts are busts of women, of life size; but, al-
though vague, they do not look like Eusapia. The last of
them, of fine shape, is that of a woman who seems young and
pretty. These half lengths, which seem to emanate from the
medium, glide along between us; and when they have gone as
far as the middle of the table, or two thirds of its length,
thej' sink down altogether (all of a piece, as it were) and
vanish. This rigidity makes me think of the reproductions,
or facsimiles, of a bust escaped from a sculptor's atelier,
and I murmur, 'One would think he was looking at busts
molded in papier mache.' Eusapia hears me. 'No, not
papier mache,' she says indignantly. She docs not give any
other explanation, but says (this time in Italian) : 'In order
to prove to you that it is not the body of the medium, I
am going to show you a man with a beard. Attention !' I
do not see anything, but Dr. Dariex feels his face rubbed
against for quite a time by a beard."

Dr. Le Bon, speaking of the one seance he attended, says:

"Eusapia is undoubtedly a marvellous subject. It struck
me as something wonderful that, while I was holding her



70 Eusapia Palladino

hand, she was playing on an imaginary tambourine, to which
the sounds of the tambourine that was behind the curtain
accurately corresponded. I do not see how any trick is pos-
sible in such a case, any more than in the case of the table.

"My cigarette holder was grasped by a very strong hand,
which wrenched the object from me with a good deal of
energy. I was on my guard and asked to see the experiment
again. The phenomenon was so singular, and so beyond
all that we can comprehend, that we must first try natural
explanations:

"i. It is impossible that it could have been Eusapia. I
was holding one of her hands, and was looking at the other
arm, and I placed my cigarette holder in such a position that,
even with tw-o arms free, she would not have been able to
accomplish such a marvellous thing.

"2. It is not probable that it could have been an ac-
complice; but is it not possible that the unconscious mind
of Eusapia suggested to the unconscious mind of the per-
son near the curtain to pass a hand behind it and operate
there? Everybody would be acting in good faith, and would
have been deceived by the unconscious element. This im-
portant point ought to be verified, for no experiment would
be so valuable if it were once demonstrated."

M. Armelin, in his report of the seance of November 2ist,

writes :

"At 10.03 the table is lifted clean off its four feet at
once, at first on the side opposite to the medium, rising about
eight inches, then it falls abruptly back. While it is in the
air Eusapia calls to her two neighbors to make sure that
they are closely holding her hands and her feet, and that she
is not in contact with the table. . . . Suddenly, M. Anto-
niadi exclaims that he is enveloped by the curtain, which
rests upon his shoulders. Eusapia cries: 'What is this that
is passing over me?' The round table comes forth beneath
the curtain. Mme. Flammarion, who is standing opposite
the window, and has kept looking behind the curtain, says
that she sees some very white object. At the same moment



Eusapia Palladino 71

M. Flammarion, Mme. Fourton, and M. Jules Bois exclaim
that they have just seen a white hand between the curtains,
above Eusapia's head, and at the same moment M. Mathieu
says that his hair is being pulled. The hand we saw seemed
small, like that of a woman or of a child."

M. Le Bocain asserts that at one of these seances he ad-
dressed a materialized spirit in Arabic in the following terms:

" 'If it is really thou, Rosalie, who art in the midst of
us, pull the hair on the back of my head three times in suc-
cession.' About ten minutes later, when he had almost com-
pletely forgotten his request, he felt his hair pulled three
times in response to this wish. It is hardly necessary to say
that Eusapia knows no Arabic."

As Is well known, the famous medium Home succeeded in
causing an accordion to play by itself, and untouched, in
the presence of Sir William Crookes. M. Flammarion
wished to see if this same phenomenon could be duplicated
in Eusapia's presence. He accordingly tried the following
experiment, which seems to have been completely successful:

"I therefore take a little new accordion bought that even-
ing in a bazaar, and, approaching the table, and remaining
in a standing position, I hold the accordion by one side, rest-
ing two fingers upon two keys, in such a way to permit the air
to pass, in case the instrument should begin to play. So
held, it is vertically suspended by the stretching out of my
right hand to the height of my head and above the head



Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 6 of 27)