Hereward Carrington.

Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

. (page 8 of 27)
Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 8 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

phenomenon, the table marked each second as it was counted
by raising and lowering one of its ends ; and, strange to say,
it was the end farthest from the medium which thus oscil-
lated. As we followed the count of seconds we were amazed

Eusapia PalladiPxO 85

at its length. But the table evidently felt some pride in its
performance, as it continued pluckily ; when sixty seconds had
been counted, the table fell back to the ground ; it had reached
the record of a minute, not hitherto attained by any aero-
plane.^ But it was not yet satisfied; a moment later it rose
up again to the same height, and the count began again ;
this time it managed to reach 78 seconds before it fell to the

On a little camp bed, which had been fitted up in the
cabinet, a lump of prepared modelers' clay, weighing a little
less than six pounds, had been placed on a board, with its
surface carefully smoothed. M. Barzini wished to reach
this, but it was at the back of the bed, so far that he could
not do so. He raised the curtain at the extreme left of the
cabinet, and was just extending his hands when the lump
of clay rose up from the bed and came to meet him, as though
to save him the trouble. It stopped at the level of the jour-
nalist's chest, after having brushed against Professor Mor-
selli's shoulder. It looked as if a plate were being held with
both hands by a well-trained servant; this object remained
isolated in the air, in contact with nothing except the corner
of the curtain, which was slightly folded at this point. The
object waited politely until M. Barzini took it, which he
did carefully, without feeling any resistance; just as he took
it, however, he felt a sudden increase in its weight, as though
someone had let go of it and left it in his hands. The marks
of three fingers were found on the lump of clay.

Unknown to the others Dr. Morselli had brought with
him a piece of string, about sixteen inches long; this he laid
on the table. The string disappeared, then came back, shak-
ing like the tail of an animal. The Professor examined it

' Written in 1907,

86 Eusapia Palladino

and then said, in a tone of disappointment: "But it is as it
was before! I wanted to see it knotted." It evidently had not
understood what was expected of it. It was not lacking in
good will, however, as it at once proved by disappearing
again, and returning shortly afterwards neatly knotted in
three different places. The knots were all alike, well made
and symmetrical, placed at equal distances from each other.
The medium entered the cabinet and was fastened carefully
to the bed, her hands and feet tied ; the investigators remained
at a distance of about two yards from the curtain ; in the
space thus left vacant stood the table with no one at it;
nevertheless, it moved, rose and fell, slid over the floor, and
at last leaned over toward the cabinet, lifting its two legs in
the air. A sound was heard like that of a pencil writing
rapidly. As M. Barzini had left several sheets of paper on
the table it was thought that direct writing would be ob-
tained. When the sound had ceased the journalist went to
pick up the sheets; they each in turn lifted one of their
corners as though to make it easier for him to lay hold of
them. "They are lifting themselves," said M. Barzini, "as
if equal, steady breaths of wind, coming from my direction,
were acting on each of them in an orderly and discreet way.
The sheets are all blank."

The Fifth Seance. In the course of this seance the in-
vestigators decided that the medium should go into the cabi-
net with a view to obtain materializations if possible, but
they then remembered that they had forgotten the cords. In
spite of this they placed the medium on the little bed. But
she kept on complaining and asking to be tied : she is aware
that the phenomena are not considered of much value unless
she is tied. Under these conditions, and after waiting some

Eusapia Palladino 87

time, a round form, looking like a pale face surrounded by
white drapery, appeared twice in the opening of the curtains.
No sound was heard, although it had been noticed that the
least movement of anyone on the bed caused loud crackings
to resound in it ; but this is the only indication there was of
the genuineness of the phenomena.

Eusapia came out of the cabinet, took off all her white
clothing, threw down even her handkerchief, keeping on
only her skirt and bodice, and returned to her position on the
camp bed. Twenty minutes later the curtains opened again
and the face of a woman appeared surrounded wuth bandages.
The medium had been completely undressed and searched
before the seance.

The Sixth and Last Seance. This time Eusapia was tied
to the bed in an original manner. The investigators pro-
vided themselves with a special kind of strong cord used in
asylums to fasten violent maniacs — a thick, broad, greenish
band, which can be tied ver>^ tightly, without' risk of cutting
the flesh (as would be the case with cord) and can be
knotted in the most complicated manner. The operation was
intrusted to Professor Morselli, who, as an alienist, was
specially qualified for this task. He secured the wrists and
ankles of the medium in such a way that the hands and feet
could not slip through the knots, and made them fast to
iron rings, through which the lateral bars of the bed passed.

A red electric lamp of ten-candle power was lighted. The
table, which was standing isolated in the free space, moved
from time to time. The curKiins opened, allowing the in-
terior of the cabinet to be seen, as well as the head and feet
of the medium. These phenomena were inexplicable con-
sidering that the position of the medium rendered movement

88 Eusapia Palladino

on her part impossible — but these were the only results pro-
duced except that many small lights were seen about twenty
inches above the medium's head ; and at one moment a hand
was also perceived at the upper part of the curtain, and again
a little lower down ; this was seen several times.

Let us turn to the part of the seance during which the me-
dium remained outside the cabinet. The room was then dim-
ly lighted by the night lamp. A mandolin, which had been
placed on the bed, after having sounded several times at a
distance, came on to the table, where, absolutely isolated, it
began to play. It was plainly visible before the very eyes
of the sitters. They felt all round to verify its complete
isolation. Eusapia was held by her hands, one of which was
on the edge of the table, the other on her knees. The mando-
lin went on playing; nothing very melodious, of course, but
the strings vibrated forcibly and clearly. The investigators
placed their hands a few inches above the strings, and these
were felt to vibrate more strongly than ever. Professor
Morselli seized the handle of the mandolin with his left
hand, and the instrument still continued sounding, at in-
tervals, beginning again every time the investigator ex-
pressed a wish that it should do so. Each sound, however,
corresponded exactly to movements of the fingers of the me-
dium, who, at a distance, performed the action of playing, and
who finally pinched out the last notes on Professor Morselli's
forehead. It is needless to say that the mandolin does not
belong to Eusapia, that it was bought by the investigators,
and that, as M. Barzini says, "it is a modest instrument in-
capable of fraud."

M. Barzini took a tiny musical box which had also been
purchased by the investigators, placed it on the table and said
to the medium: "Please make it play without touching it."

Eusapia Palladino 89

She held out her hands above the instrument, moving her
fingers. After many useless efforts, two feeble sounds were
at last heard from the interior of the instrument.

"Did you hear?" asked Eusapia.

"No," said the experimenter, "try again."

She made another attempt. Scarcely half a minute had
passed when the box again resounded, giving forth five or
six notes without any motion of the handle. "It was as if
an invisible hand had entered the box and had touched the
little metallic tongues with its nail. It was evident that some
unknown force was working in the interior of the musical
box, for it was even slightly displaced on the table. Eusapia
continued her attempts and the phenomenon was repeated
with greater intensity and obviousness; finally, the musical
box tilted up and began rolling on its edge, and in this posi-
tion it made the entire circuit of the table."

§ 17. Experiments at Turin — 1907 (Lombroso)

In 1907 Professor Lombroso, aided by his two assistants,
Dr. Imoda and Dr. Audenino, held a series of seances in
Turin. These seances were held in the clinical chamber of
ps3^chiatry in the University, and were attended by a num-
ber of eminent men. The unanimous opinion was that
"even the cleverest trickery could not begin to explain the
majority of the phenomena observed." The account of the
seances first appeared in La Stampa, a well-known Italian
paper, and was reprinted, in part, in The Annals of Psychi-
cal Science. The account proceeds:

"Two doctors took control, one on cither side of the me-
dium. An electric lamp, of ten-candle power, hung from the
ceiling, and clearly lit up the room.

90 Eusapia Palladino

The medium asked one of the persons who formed the
chain to rap on the table with the palm of the hand in some
sort of rh^'thm. The experimenter rapped three times and
leaned his hand lightly on the table at the spot where he had
rapped. At the same spot, an instant later, exactly the same
rhythm was heard repeated, like an echo. The red light was
now turned on and the white light turned off.

A footstool of common wood, which was inside the me-
dium's cabinet, shook and fell; the curtain also shook; be-
hind it a hand grasped repeatedly the extended hands of those
present; shook them, and caressed them. Suddenly, to the
surprise of all, a little closed hand, the arm covered with
a dark sleeve, showed itself in the full light, quite visibly;
it was pink, plump, and fresh. "Surprise did not prevent
our at once giving attention to the control of the medium ;
her hands were firmly inclosed in those of the two watch-
ful doctors." A few minutes later a cold wind came from
behind the curtain, which suddenly opened as if it had been
opened by two hands, a human head came out, with a pale,
haggard face, of sinister evil aspect. It lingered a moment
and then disappeared.

The wooden stool rose up in the air and seemed to want
to leave the cabinet, pushing aside the curtains. It was
liberated from the curtains, then it continued to ascend in
an inclined position toward the circle. Several hands
stretched out following the curious phenomenon and lightly
touched the object.

The woman's small hand then reappeared near the cur-
tain, seized one of the feet of the footstool, and pushed it.
Signor Mucchi broke the chain and, by a rapid action, seized
the warm hand, which at once seemed to dissolve and dis-
appeared. Immediately observations were made to ascer-
tain if the medium's two hands were well controlled ; such
was found to be the case. The footstool kept on rising, and
passed over the heads of the sitters, but at this moment the
medium seemed in distress, and cried out: "It will kill us!
Catch it !" The hands that were following the movements
gf the small piece of furniture then seized hold of it to with-

Eusapia Palladino 91

draw it from this perilous position, but an invisible force
withdrew it to the center of the table, where it finally re-
mained at repose.

At the close of the seance, the reporter placed his hand on
the deep scar which the medium has on the left side of her
head and felt a cold, strong, continuous breeze issuing from
it, like a human breath. He subsequentl}^ felt the same cold
breeze issuing, though less strongly, from the tips of her

Second Seance. In order to eliminate all doubt as to
whether some of the sitters might have produced, or helped
to produce, the phenomena, it was decided to connect every-
one by forming a double chain : the first six being round the
table, the other eight, behind, joining hands in a second row
connected at each end with the inner chain, Ever\' move-
ment was thus under the observation of the next sitter. Two
small tables were placed in the cabinet, on which were placed
a toy piano, an otoscope for scientific experiments, a tam-
bourine, a hand bell, a trumpet, and a few other small ob-

"The trance began this time with the familiar explosive
sound ; in sight of everyone, the medium's hands and feet
being securely held by the two controllers, we saw the center
of the table vibrating under a heavy blow comparable to
that which might be produced by the toe of a heavy boot,
on the top of the table. This phenomenon was repeated
several times during the seance ; in order to make it more
evidential the medium asked one of the sitters to lay hold
of one of her feet under the table and to observe its move-
ments; she then raised the foot sliglitly and the blow was
produced on the top of the table. The other foot was also
controlled ; moreover, Eusapia only wears woolen slippers
during the seance.

There was another instance of synchronous raps: the me-

92 Eusapia Palladino

dium raised her hand with that of the controller on the left,
and made the action of striking the air; at once, with abso-
lute synchronism, blows resounded on the tables inside the
medium's cabinet. The medium moved her fingers on the
hand of her controller as if playing the tambourine, and
the experimenters heard corresponding sounds on the tam-
bourine in the cabinet.

Some one having expressed a desire to hear the sound of
the toy piano, an inexplicable preparatory work was heard
going on in the cabinet ; furniture was heard being moved
about, the clink of glasses and other objects, and finally it
was observed that the table bearing the little piano was
moving toward the medium, as if issuing from the cabinet;
the object of this movement was probably to draw the piano,
which was quite at the back of the cabinet, within the radius
of the mediumistic activity.

At a certain moment the curtain shook forcibly, one of
its extremities being pushed as far as the center of the table
and a white box, locked and sealed, containing a sheet of
smoked paper, came out. This object paused for some seconds
on the arm of the controller on the right, then, as if it had
been seized by a real but invisible hand, it was lifted toward
the center of the table, shaking as if to draw attention to it,
and thrown down on the table, eliciting from everyone an,
exclamation of surprise and admiration. "The phenome-
non," says the reporter, "was indeed complete, clearly visible
in all its phases, distinct, incontestible, and convincing."

Attention was called to the control of the medium by
five raps, and the little piano which had been repeatedly
heard in movement was at last played upon as if with a finger
feeling for the notes, not striking them at hazard but with
a vague musical intention. The rhythm was not very pre-
cise, but neither was it the mere noise that a child might
make on a piano ; there was in fact a clearly expressed musi-
cal intention.

A little later a toy sheep, made to bleat Vv-hen squeezed,
which was in the cabinet, first appeared on the medium's

Eusapla Palladino 93

head, where It rested for sometime, and was then thrown
among the sitters, by some invisible hand.

A desire being expressed to hear the piano again, a few
notes sounded. One of the experimenters expressed a doubt
whether these came from the otoscope; this instrument was
then in its turn thrown on the table, and it was evident
that the sounds came from the piano.

The medium begged M. Bocca to kneel on the table, and,
having done so, he felt, behind the curtain, a hand, which
grasped his own at a height to which the medium could not
reach; a phenomenon which, as we have alreadj' reported,
occurred at Genoa with M. Barzini.

Then lights appeared; they started from the medium's
head, and were projected like a minute Roman candle.

Third Seance. On this occasion some important addi-
tions were introduced into the medium's cabinet : a red elec-
tric lamp, with a reflector, was hung on the interior wall
at the back of the cabinet at the height of about six feet
from the floor, and this lighted up the interior verj^ well :
the object of this was to make it possible to follow the de-
velopment of the phenomena at the spot where they are the
most frequently forthcoming.

A "tambourine Marey," with its curious structure of
cylinders and needles, was spread out on a table placed near
the cabinet; an india-rubber tube connected it with a Marey
cardiograph in the interior of the cabinet ; another tube led
to a Morse apparatus placed on the experimental table. The
desire was to register simultaneously, on the smoked paper
of the tambourine, the pressure of the medium's finger on
the Morse apparatus outside, and that exerted by the "entity"
on the button of the cardiograph inside the cabinet, and to
verify the synchronism of the tvvo phenomena. A round
table on four legs, weighing twenty-four pounds, occupied
the left angle of the cabinet and supported a lump of mold-
ing clay weighing sixty pounds and covered by a damp cloth.

When the medium had fallen into a trance, the move-
ment of the heavy table bearing the clay was heard inside

94 Eusapia Palladino

the cabinet. The curiosity of the sitters was at once con-
centrated on this spot. Would they be able to see the im-
pression of a face or hand forming? The reply to this ques-
tion came immediately, and it was of a rather unexpected
and disrespectful character. A lump of wet clay was thrown
out of the cabinet and lodged on the thumb of the individ-
ual who had put the question. The medium began making
little movements and contractions, and simultaneously the
table moved noisily a few inches toward the curtain. This
lasted about a quarter of an hour, after which the clay was
found behind the medium's back on her right, at a distance
of about thirty inches. The table rapped five times to
ask for less light; the interior lamp, which was not neces-
sary for verification, was then put out, but the possibility of
seeing the phenomena in process of formation was thus re-
linquished. Great raps were heard on the table; and the
table on which the clay was placed rapped out with its feet:
"The impression is made."

"I was asked," writes Dr. Mucchi, "to take the mold:
I was about to enter the cabinet, but was repelled by two
hands 'made of nothing.' I felt them; they were agile and
prompt, they seized me and pushed me back — the struggle
lasted for sometime; the hands seemed to take pleasure in
resisting me; they pushed me back if I tried to enter and
pulled me forward if I retired. I ended by seizing the lump
of clay which these satanic hands persisted in claiming for
themselves; when I withdrew they thrust me out with a
violent shove which nearly upset everything. There were ob-
servable on the clay two or three impressions such as might be
made by a closed fist."

One of the sitters was asked to take a mandolin, which
was in the room, and to place it on the table from which the
clay had been taken. This gentleman also found himself

Eusapla Palladino 95

resisted by the mj^sterlous hands, who alternately would, and
would not, let him enter; when he had once got hold of it
he was afraid lest it should escape him and placed it quickly
on the table inside, with the strings turned downward. The
mandolin was soon raised from there in some inexplicable
way and carried on to the experimental table, where, in
view of everyone, it played all by itself, first one string at
a time, giving forth a clear sound as if it were being played
with a finger nail; then with all the strings, as if a finger
were being passed across them. One of us was asked to play
on the medium's fingers as if they were a mandolin ; a string
sounded in correspondence with each touch, and if the touch
was vague the sound was incomplete or strident. Afterwards,
a hand, which suddenly materialized, seized the instrument
by the handle and placed it on the shoulder of the player,
and there, under his very nose, the strings shook and twanged,
while the hand dissolved and disappeared.

The mandolin returned to- the table, and the medium made
it advance and retire as if she had a thread in her hands;
the strings creaked as if rubbed by this invisible contact.

"All this time," says the reporter, "the control was very
rigorous. At my right, one of the circle, who was standing
up, was very attentive to all that was happening, when sud-
denly his hand was seized by the index finger and drawn up-
ward ; he did not resist, but had no cause to rejoice, for he
felt his middle finger seized by the teeth of a mouth from
behind the curtain.

"He wished to know who the invisible entity was, and the
unknow'n hand drew his up to the level of a face to make
him touch it. I asked this investigator if he could recognize
whether it was a man or a woman, and his hand was drawn
to trace the lines of a profile which was moving behind the
curtain. The same hand struck him several times on the

96 Eusapia Palladino

shoulder, and we heard the sharp, characteristic sound of the
blow. . . .

"The medium then asked that a venerable old man whom
she had known for years, and who had already experimented
with her for sometime, might sit beside her. He leaned
toward the curtain and we heard the sound of kisses. The
light at this moment came from a red electric lamp placed
outside, a little behind and to the left of the medium's cabi-
net ; thus the wall on the left of the room was well lit up
and afforded a light background against which the profiles
of the medium and the old man were clearly visible.

"The medium rested her head against the shoulder of
the controller on the right; her hands were held in his; sud-
denly the curtain shook violently, a cold wind passed out,
then a human form covered by the thin material of the cur-
tain was visible against this light background. The head
of a woman, unstable and staggering, approached the face
of the old man ; she moved tremblingly like an old woman ;
she seemed to lean forward and touch the old gentleman,
perhaps she kissed him ; the old man encouraged her ; she
withdrew, returned, seemed as if she were afraid to venture,
then advanced resolutely. It was a moment of uncontrollable
emotion. Skeptic though I am, adverse to all mysticism, I
was conscious of the intense feeling of this silent scene. . . ."

Fourth and last Seance. The room and the cabinet were
emptied as much as possible of all little objects — the mando-
lin, the trumpet, etc., which might distract the attention of
the mysterious beings. It was earnestly desired to concen-
trate the force upon the narrow circle of the scientific ap-
paratus which had been prepared.

First a photograph was taken by magnesium light of the
complete levitation of the table. The photograph was a
complete success, the table being very high up. The con-
trol conditions were perfect, but the controllers observed
that a contraction of the muscles of the thighs and rigidity

Eusapia Palladino 97

of the whole muscular S3'Stem corresponded with each levi-

"A hand Issued from the curtain near my head," writes
M. Mucchi ; "it first showed with closed fist, then the hand
opened and the fingers stretched out. This phenomenon was
repeated several times; everj'one could take note of it, be-
cause the hand stood out against the illuminated wall. The
same hand subsequently laid hold of the wood of the cabinet
and shook it violently ; I tried in my turn and I found that
to do this required considerable effort. While I was doing
so the invisible hand seized mine, pressed it and let go, giving
me a friendly pat on the shoulder.

"I left my place as controller, being replaced by Engineer
Pomba. While a few ordinary phenomena w^ere occurring
I observed the dynamometer, and I placed the needle at zero.
My maneuver was, however, perceived by the medium's sub-
liminal consciousness, and she asked that that object might
be laid on the table.

" 'What object?' asked the controller on the right.

"I was even uncertain whether she meant me, because I
was at a spot where she absolutely could not see me. But
the medium insisted, and finally indicated me by a move-
ment of her head. I hastened to satisfy her. It really
seems that the medium has tlie faculty of using her senses

Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 8 of 27)