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Mysterious Psychic Forces by Camille Flammarion

CHAPTER III

MY EXPERIMENTS WITH EUSAPIA PALADINO.

In the earlier pages of this volume some of my later experiments with the Neapolitan Medium, Eusapia Paladino, have been described. We shall now revert to the earlier ones.

My first experimental seance with this remarkable Medium took place on the 27th of July, 1897. In response to the invitation of an excellent and honourable family,---that of Blech,---the name of which has for a long time been happily associated with modern researches in theosophy, occultism, and psychological studies, I betook myself to Montfort-l'Amaury, to make the personal acquaintance of this medium, whose case had already been studied in several particulars by MM. Lombroso, Charles Richet, Ochorowicz, Aksakof, Schiaparelli, Myers, Lodge, A. De Rochas, Dariex, J. Maxwell, Sabatier, De Watteville, and a great number of other scholars and scientists of high standing. Mme. Paladino's gifts had even been made the subject of a work by Count de Rochas upon The Externalization of Motivity, as well as of innumerable articles in the special reviews.

The impression that results from the reading of all the official reports is not altogether satisfactory, and besides leaves us with our curiosity entirely ungratified. On the other hand, I can say, as I have already had occasion to remark, that, during the last forty years, almost all the celebrated Mediums have been present at one time or another in my salon in the avenue l'Observatoire in Paris, and

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that I have detected them nearly all in trickery. Not that they always deceive: those who affirm this are wrong. But, consciously or unconsciously, they bring with them an element of trouble against which one is obliged to be constantly on guard, and which places the experimenter in conditions diametrically opposed to those of scientific observation.

Apropos of Eusapia I had received from my illustrious colleague, M. Schiaparelli, director of the observatory at Milan, to whom science is indebted for so many important discoveries, a long letter from which I will quote a few passages:

During the autumn of 1892 I was invited by M. Aksakof to be present at a certain number of Spiritualistic seances held under his direction and care, for the purpose of meeting the medium Eusapia Paladino, of Naples. I saw a number of very surprising things, a part of which, to tell the truth, could be explained by very ordinary means. But there are others the production of which I should not know how to explain by the known principles of natural philosophy. I add, without any hesitation, that, if it had been possible to entirely exclude all suspicion of deceit, one would have had to recognize in these facts the beginning of a new science pregnant with consequences of the highest importance. But it must be admitted that these experiments have been made in a manner little calculated to convince impartial judges of their sincerity. Conditions were always imposed that hindered the right comprehension of what was really taking place. When we proposed modifications in the program suited to give to the experiments the stamp of clearness and to furnish evidence that was lacking, the medium invariably declared that, if we did so, the success of the séance would thereby be made impossible. In fine, we did not experiment in the true sense of the word: we were obliged to be content with observing that which occurred under the unfavourable circumstances imposed by the Medium. Even when mere observation was pushed a little too far, the

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phenomena were no longer produced or lost their intensity and their marvellous nature. Nothing is more offensive than these games of hide-and-seek to which we are obliged to submit

All that kind of thing excites distrust. Having passed all my life in the study of nature, which is always sincere in its manifestations and logical in its processes, it is repugnant to me to turn my thoughts to the investigation of a class of truths, which it seems as if a malevolent and disloyal power was hiding from us with an obstinacy the motive of which we cannot comprehend. In such researches it is not sufficient to employ the ordinary methods of natural philosophy, which are infallible, but very limited in their action. We must have recourse to that other critical method, more subject to error, but more audacious and more powerful, of which police officers and examining magistrates make use when they are trying to bring out a truth in the midst of disagreeing witnesses, a part at least of whom have an interest in hiding that truth.

In accordance with these reflections, I cannot say that I am convinced of the reality of the things which are comprised under the ill-chosen name of Spiritualism. But neither do I believe in our right to deny everything; for, in order to have a good basis for denial, it is not sufficient to suspect fraud, it is necessary to prove it. These experiments, which I have found very unsatisfactory, other experimenters of great confidence and of established reputation, have been able to make in more favourable circumstances. I have not enough presumption to oppose a dogmatic and unwarranted denial to proofs in which scientists of great critical ability, such as MM. Crookes, Wallace, Richet, Oliver Lodge, have found a solid basis of fact and one worthy their examination, to such an extent that they have given to it years of study. And we should deceive ourselves if we believed that men convinced of the truth of Spiritualism are all fanatics. During the experiments of 1892 I had the pleasure of knowing some of these men. I was obliged to admire their sincere desire to know the truth; and I found, in the case of several of them, philosophic ideas very sensible and very profound, joined to a moral character altogether worthy of esteem.

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That is the reason why it is impossible for me to declare that Spiritualism is a ridiculous absurdity. I ought, then, to abstain from pronouncing any opinion whatever: my mental state on this subject may be defined by the word "agnosticism."

I have read with much attention all that the late Professor Zollner has written on this subject. His explanation has a purely material basis,---that is to say, it is the hypothesis of the objective existence of a fourth dimension of space, an existence which cannot be comprised within the scope of our intuition, but the possibility of which cannot be denied on that ground alone. Once grant the reality of the experiments which he describes, and it is evident that his theory of these things is the most ingenious and probable that can be imagined. According to this theory, mediumistic phenomena would lose their mystic or mystifying character and would pass into the domain of ordinary physics and of physiology. They would lead to a very considerable extension of the sciences, an extension such that their author would deserve to be placed side by side with Galileo and Newton. Unfortunately, these experiences of Zollner were made with a medium of poor reputation. It is not only the sceptics who doubt the good faith of M. Slade: it is the Spiritualists themselves. M Aksakof, whose authority is very great in similar matters, told me himself that he had detected him in trickery. You see by this that these theories of Zollner lose any support they might have derived from the exact demonstration of experiment, at the same time that they remain very beautiful, very ingenious, and quite possible.

Yes, quite possible in spite of everything; in spite of the lack of success that I had when I tried to reproduce them with Eusapia. On the day when we shall be enabled to make, with absolute sincerity, a single one of these experiments, the matter will have made great progress; from the hands of charlatans it will have passed into those of physicists and physiologists.

Such is the communication made to me by M. Schiaparelli. I found his reasoning to be without defect, and it was in a state of mind entirely analogous to his that I

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arrived at Monfort-l'Amaury (with all the more interest because Slade was one of the Mediums of whom I was just now speaking).

Eusapia Paladino was introduced to me. She is a woman of very ordinary appearance, a brunette, her figure a little under the medium height. She was forty-three years old, not at all neurotic, rather stout. She was born on January 21, 1854, in a village of La Pouille; her mother died while giving birth to the child; her father was assassinated eight years afterward, in 1862, by brigands of southern Italy. Eusapia Paladino is her maiden name. She was married at Naples to a merchant of modest means named Raphael Delgaiz, a citizen of Naples. She manages the petty business of the shop, is illiterate, does not know how to either read or write, and understands only a little French. I conversed with her, and soon perceived that she has no theories and does not burden herself by trying to explain the phenomena produced by her.

The salon in which we are going to conduct our experiments is a room on the ground floor, rectangular, measuring twenty feet in length by nineteen in breadth; there are four windows, an outside entrance door and another in the vestibule.

Before the sitting, I make sure that the large doors and windows are closely shut by window-blinds with hooks and by wooden blinds on the inside. The door of the vestibule is simply locked with a key.

In an angle of the salon, at the left of the large entrance door, two curtains of a light colour have been stretched on a rod, joining in the middle and forming thus a little cabinet. In this cabinet there is a sofa, and leaning against this a guitar; on one side is a chair, on which have been placed a music-box and a bell. In the recess of the window which is included in the cabinet there is a music-rack, upon which

[Pg 68]

has been placed a plate containing a well-smoothed cake of glazier's putty, and under which, on the floor, is a huge tray containing a large smoothed cake of the same. We have prepared these plaques of putty because the annals of Spiritualism have often shown the imprint of hands and of heads produced by the unknown beings whom it is our business in this work to investigate. The large tray weighs about nine pounds.

Why this dark cabinet? The Medium declares it is necessary to the production of the phenomena "that relate to the condensation of fluids."

I should prefer that there should be nothing of the kind. But the conditions must be accepted, though we must have an exact understanding about them. Behind the curtain the stillness of the aerial waves is at its maximum, the light at its minimum. It is curious, strange, infinitely regrettable that light prohibits certain effects. Undoubtedly, it would not be either philosophic or scientific to oppose this condition. It is possible that the radiations, the forces, which act may be the rays of the invisible end of the spectrum, I have already had occasion to remark, in the first chapter, that he who would seek to make photographs without a dark chamber would cloud over his plate and obtain nothing. The man who would deny the existence of electricity because he had been unable to obtain a spark in a damp atmosphere would be in error. He who would not believe in the existence of stars because we only see them at night would not be very wise. Modern progress in natural philosophy has taught us that the radiations that impinge on the retina represent only the smallest fraction of the totality. We can then admit the existence of forces which do not act in the full light of day. But, in accepting these conditions, the essential point is not to be their dupe.

Hence, before the seance, I examined carefully the

[Pg 69]

narrow corner of the room before which the curtain was stretched, and I found nothing except the objects mentioned above. Nowhere in the room was there any sign whatever of concealed mechanism, no electric wires or batteries or anything of the kind, either on the floor or in the walls. Moreover, the perfect sincerity of M. and Mme. Blech is beyond all suspicion.

Before the seance, Eusapia was undressed and dressed before Mme. Zelma Blech. Nothing suspicious was found.

The sitting was begun in full light, and I constantly laid stress upon obtaining the largest number of phenomena we could in the full light of day. It was only gradually, according as the "Spirit" begged for it, that the light was turned down. But I obtained the concession that the darkness should never be absolute. At the last limit, when the light had to be entirely extinguished, it was replaced by one of the red lanterns used by photographers.

The Medium sits before the curtain, turning her back to it. A table is placed before her,--a kitchen table, made of spruce, weighing about fifteen pounds. I examined this table and found nothing in it suspicious. It could be moved about in every direction.

I sit at first on the left of Eusapia, then at her right side. I make sure as far as possible of her hands, her legs, and her feet, by personal control. Thus, for example, to begin with, in order to be sure that she should not lift the table either by her hands or her legs, or her feet, I take her left hand in my left hand, I place my right open hand upon her knees, and I place my right foot upon her left foot. Facing me, M. Guillaume de Fontenay, no more disposed than I to be duped, takes charge of her right hand and her right foot.

There is full light,---a big kerosene lamp with a wide burner and a light yellow shade, besides two lighted candles.

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At the end of three minutes the table begins to move, balancing itself, and rising sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. A minute afterwards it is lifted entirely from the floor, to a height of about nine inches, and remains there two seconds.

In a second trial, I take the two hands of Eusapia in mine. A notable levitation is produced, nearly under the same conditions.

We repeat the same experiments thrice, in such a way that five levitations of the table take place in a quarter of an hour, and for several seconds the four feet are completely lifted from the floor, to the height of about nine inches. During one of the levitations the experimenters did not touch the table at all, but formed the chain above it and in the air; and Eusapia acted in the same way.

So then it seems that an object can be lifted, in opposition to the law of gravity, without the contact of the hands which have just been acting upon it. (Proof already given above, pp. 5-8, 16.)

A round centre table placed at my right comes forward without contact towards the table, always in full light, be it understood, as if it would like to climb up on it, and falls down. Nobody has moved aside or approached the curtain, and no explanation of this movement can be given. The Medium has not yet entered into a trance and continues to take part in the conversation.

Five raps in the table indicate, according to a convention arranged by the medium, that the unknown cause asks 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 place 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.

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I lean upon it in order to keep it down, but I experience an elastic resistance 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 clearing 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 utters 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" (mia figlia). This is an auto-suggestion proving nothing as to the identity of the force.

Five new taps ask for still less light, and the lamp is most completely turned down, but not extinguished. The eyes, growing accustomed to the clare-obscure, still distinguish 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 asks again 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 medium agreeing to it with the greatest 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 forward to seize the hand, but I grasp only the empty air. I

[Pg 72]

then press the two legs of the medium between mine and I take her left hand in my right. On the other side, her 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 telegraphic system. We all amused ourselves with this. The thing was tried several times in succession, and every time the movement of the finger tallied the playing of the music.

I feel several touches in the back and on the side. M. de Fontenay receives a hard slap on the back that everybody hears. A hand passes through my hair. The chair of M. de Fontenay is violently pulled, and a few moments afterwards 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 likely to see it also. I soon distinctly perceive a dim silhouette 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 my side, on the right: he has a great soft forked beard." I ask if I may touch this beard. In

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fact, while lifting my hand, I feel a rather soft beard brushing against it.

A block of paper is put on the table with a lead-pencil, with the hope of getting writing. This 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 Medium, for I held her right hand in my left, and the paper with arm extended in my right hand, and M. de Fontenay declared that he did not let go of 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, somebody 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 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

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bright gleam, pear-shaped, is seen on the ceiling in 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, and places the smallest upon the 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 controlled 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" ("E fatto"). 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 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 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 redouble our attention, though without speaking much. The Medium pants, groans, writhes. The chair in the cabinet on which the putty is placed is heard to move. The chair 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.

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Eusapia cries that she sees before her a head and a bust, and says, "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 upon the putty.

Mme. Z. Blech kisses Eusapia upon both cheeks, for the purpose of finding out whether her face has not some odour (glazier's putty having a very strong odour of linseed oil which remains for some time upon the fingers). She discovers nothing abnormal.

This discovery of a "Spirit Head" in the putty is so astonishing, so impossible to admit without sufficient verification, that it is really still more incredible than all the rest. It is not the head of the man whose profile I perceived, and the beard I felt on my hand is not there. The imprint has a resemblance to Eusapia's face. If we supposed she produced it herself, that she was able to bury her nose up to the cheeks and up to the eyes in that thick putty, we should still have to explain how that large and heavy tray was transported from the other end of the table and gently placed in the hands of M. Blech.

The resemblance of the imprint to Eusapia was undeniable. I reproduce both the print and the portrait of the medium. Every one can assure himself of it. The simplest thing, evidently, is to suppose the Italian woman imprinted her face in the putty.

But how?

We are in the dark as to this, or nearly so. I sit at the right hand of Eusapia, who rests her head upon my left shoulder, and whose right hand I am holding. M. de Fontenay is at her left, and has taken great care not to let go

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of the other hand. The tray of putty, weighing nine pounds, has been placed upon a chair, twenty inches behind the curtain, consequently behind Eusapia. She cannot touch it without turning around, and we have her entirely in our power, our feet on hers. Now the chair upon which was the tray of putty has drawn aside the hangings, or portieres, and moved forward to a point above the head of the medium, who remained seated and held down by us; moved itself also over our heads,---the chair to rest upon the head of my neighbour, Mme. Blech, and the tray to rest softly in the hands of M. Blech, who is sitting at the end of the table. At this moment Eusapia rises, declaring that she sees upon the table another table and a bust, and cries out, "E fatto" ("It is done"). It was not at this time, surely, that she would have been able to place her face upon the cake, for it was at the other end of the table. Nor was it before this, for it would have been necessary to take the chair in one hand and the cake with the other, and she did not stir from her place. The explanation, as can be seen, is very difficult indeed.

Let us admit, however, that the fact is so extraordinary that a doubt remains in our mind, because the Medium rose from her chair almost at the critical moment. And yet her face was immediately kissed by Mme. Blech, who perceived no odour of the putty.

 

 

Plate IV. Plaster Cast of Imprint Made in Putty

without Contact by the Medium Eusapia Paladino.

 

 

Plate V. Eusapia Paladino, Showing Resemblance

to the Imprint in Putty.

 

Dr. Ochorowicz writes as follows apropos of these prints of faces and of the study which he made of them at Rome:

The imprint of this face was obtained in darkness, yet at a moment when I held the two hands of Eusapia, while my arms were entirely around her. Or, rather, it was she who clung to me in such a way that I had accurate knowledge of the position of all her limbs. Her head rested against mine,

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and even with violence. At the moment of the production of the phenomenon a convulsive trembling shook her whole body, and the pressure of her head on my temples was so intense that it hurt me.

At the moment when the strongest convulsion took place, she cried, "Ah, che dura!" ("Oh, how severe!") We at once lighted a candle and found a print, rather poor in comparison with those which other experimenters have obtained,---a thing due, perhaps, to the bad quality of the clay which I used. This clay was placed about twenty inches to the right of the Medium, while her head was inclined to the left. Her face was not at all soiled by the clay, which was yet so moist as to leave traces upon the fingers when touched. Moreover, the contact of her head with mine made me suffer so much that I am absolutely sure it was not intermitted for a single moment. Eusapia was very happy when she saw a verification made under conditions in which it was impossible to suspect her good faith.

I then took the tray of clay, and we passed into the dining-room in order to better examine the imprint, which I placed on a large table near a big kerosene lamp. Eusapia, who had fallen into a trance, remained for some moments standing, her hands resting upon the table, motionless and as if unconscious. I did not lose sight of her, and she looked at me without seeing anything. Then, with an uncertain step, she moved backward toward the door and passed slowly into the chamber which we had just left. We followed her, observing her all the while, and leaving the clay behind upon the table. We had already got into the chamber when, leaning against one of the halves of the double door, she fixed her eyes upon the tray of clay which had been left upon the table. The Medium was in a very good light: we were separated from her by a distance of from six to ten feet, and we perceived distinctly all the details. All of a sudden Eusapia stretched her hand out abruptly toward the clay, then sank down uttering a groan. We rushed precipitately towards the table and saw, side by side with the imprint of the head, a new imprint, very marked, of a hand which had been thus produced under the very light of the lamp, and which resembled the hand of Eusapia. I have,

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myself, obtained head prints a dozen times, but always rather poor, owing to the quality of the clay, and often broken while the experiment was going on.

The Chevalier Chiaia, of Naples, who first obtained these fantastic pictures through the agency of Eusapia, wrote as follows, in this connection, to Count de Rochas:

I have imprints in boxes of clay weighing anywhere between fifty-five and sixty-five pounds. I mention the weight in order to let you see the impossibility 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 persons 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 seven taps, which, according to our conventional 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 himself.

The totality of these observations (which are very numerous) leads us to the thought that, in spite of the improbability of the thing, these imprints are produced at a distance by the Medium.

However, some days after the seance at Montfort-l'Amaury I wrote as follows:

These different manifestations are not to me equally authentic. I am not sure of all of them, for the phenomena

[Pg 79]

were not all produced under the same conditions of certainty. I should wish to class the facts in the following order of decreasing certainty:

1. Levitations of the table.

2. Movements of the round table without contact.

3. Mallet blows.

4. Movements of the curtain.

5. Opaque silhouette passing before the red lamp.

6. Sensation of a beard upon the back of the hand.

7. Touchings.

8. Snatching of the block of paper.

9. Throwing of the lead-pencil.

10. Transference of the round table to the top of the other table.

11. Music from the little box.

12. Transfer of the guitar to a point above the head.

13. Imprints of a hand and of a face.

The first four events, having taken place in full light, are incontestable. I should put almost in the same rank Nos. 5 and 6. No. 7 may perhaps be due very often to fraud. The last in the list, having been produced toward the end of the seance, at a time when attention was necessarily relaxed, and being still more extraordinary than all the others, I confess that I cannot admit it with certainty, although I can not understand how it could have been due to fraud. The four others seem genuine; but I should like to observe them anew; a man could wager ninety-nine to one hundred that they are true. I was absolutely sure of them during the seance. But the vividness of the impressions grows weak, and we have a tendency to listen only to the voice of plain common sense,---the most reasonable and the most deceptive of our faculties.

The first impression we get upon the reading of these reports is that these different manifestations are rather vulgar, altogether banal, and do not tell us anything about the other world---or about other worlds. Surely it does not seem probable that any spiritual being would take part in such performances. For these phenomena are of an absolutely material class.

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On the other hand, however, it is impossible not to recognize the existence of unknown forces. The simple fact, for example, of the levitation of a table to a height of six and one-half, eight, sixteen inches from the floor is not banal at all. It seems to me, speaking for myself alone, so extraordinary that my opinion is very well expressed when I say that I do not dare to admit it without having seen it myself, with my own eyes: I mean that which is called seeing, in full light and under such conditions that it would be impossible to suspect. While we are very sure that we have proved it, we are at the same time sure that in such experiments there emanates from the human body a force that may be compared with the magnetism of the loadstone, able to act upon wood, upon matter (somewhat as the loadstone acts upon iron), and counterbalancing for some moments the action of gravity. From the scientific point of view, that is a weighty fact in itself. I am absolutely certain that the Medium did not lift that weight of fifteen pounds either by her hands or by her legs, or by her feet, and, furthermore, no one of the company was able to do it. The table was lifted by its upper surface. We are, therefore, certainly in the presence of an unknown force here which emanates from the persons present, and above all from the Medium.

A rather curious observation ought to be made here. Several times during the course of this seance, and during the levitation of the table, I said, "There is no Spirit." Every time I said this two violent blows of protestation were struck in the table. I have already remarked that, generally, we are supposed to admit the Spiritualistic hypothesis and to ask a Spirit to exert himself in order that we may obtain the phenomena. We have here a psychological matter not without importance. Still, it does not seem to me, for all that, to prove the real existence of Spirits, for it might

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happen that this idea was necessary to the concentration of the forces present and had a purely subjective value. Religious zealots who believe in the efficacy of prayer are the dupes of their own imagination; and yet no one can doubt that certain of these petitions appear to have been granted by a beneficent deity. The Italian or Spanish girl who goes to beg of the Virgin Mary that she will punish her lover for an infidelity may be sincere, and never suspects the strangeness of her request. In dreams we all converse every night with imaginary beings. But there is something more here: the Medium really duplicates herself.

I take the point of view solely of the physicist whose business is to observe, and I say, whatever may be the explanatory hypothesis you may adopt, there exists an invisible force derived from the organism of the Medium, and having the power to emerge from him and to act outside of him.

That is the fact: what is the best hypothesis to explain it?

1. Is it the Medium who herself acts, in an unconscious manner, by means of an invisible force emanating from her?

2. Is it an intelligent cause apart from her, a soul that has already lived upon this earth, who draws from the Medium a force which it needs in order to act?

3. Is it another kind of invisible beings? Nothing authorizes us to affirm that there may not exist, side by side with us, living, invisible forces. There you have three very different hypotheses, none of which seems to me, as far as my personal experience goes, to be as yet conclusively proved.

But there certainly emanates from the Medium an invisible force; and the participants, by forming the psychic chain and by uniting their sympathetic wills, increase this force. This force is not immaterial. It may be a substance, an agent emitting radiations of wave-lengths which make no impression on our retina, and which are nevertheless very powerful. In the absence of light rays it is able

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to condense itself, take shape, affect even a certain resemblance to the human body, to act as do our organs, to violently strike a table, or touch us.

It acts as if it were an independent being. But this independence does not really exist; for this transitory being is intimately connected with the organism of the Medium, and its apparent existence ceases when the conditions of its production themselves cease.

While writing these monstrous scientific heresies, I feel very deeply that it is difficult to accept them. Still, after all, who can trace the limits of science? We have all learned, especially during the last quarter of a century, that our knowledge is not a very colossal affair, and that, apart from astronomy, there is as yet no exact science founded upon absolute principles. And then, when all is said, there are the facts to be explained. Doubtless it is easier to deny them. But it is not decent or civil. He who has merely failed to find what satisfies him has no right to deny. The best he can do is simply to say, "I know nothing about it."

The fact is that, as yet, we have not elementary data enough to enable us to characterize these forces; but we ought not to lay the blame upon those who study them.

To sum up, I believe that I am able to go a little farther than M. Schiaparelli and affirm the certain existence of unknown forces capable of moving matter and of counterbalancing the action of gravity. There is a complex totality, as yet difficult to disentangle, of psychic and physical forces. But such facts, however extravagant they may appear, are worthy of coming within the sphere of scientific observation. It is even probable that they tend powerfully to elucidate the problem (a matter of supreme importance to us) of the nature of the human soul.

After the end of that seance of the 27th of July, 1897, as I desired to see again the levitation of a table in full

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light, the chain was formed standing, the hands lightly placed upon the table. The latter began to oscillate, then rose up to a height of nine inches from the floor, remained there several seconds (all the participators remaining on their feet), and fell heavily back again.

 

Plate VI

Photograph of the Table Resting on the Floor.

 

 

 Photograph of the Same Table Raised to a Height of

Twenty-five Centimetres. Made by M. G. de Fontenay.

  

M. G. de Fontenay succeeded in getting several photographs by the magnesium light. I reproduce two of them here (Pl. VI.). There are five experimenters who are, from left to right, M. Blech, Mme. Z. Blech, Eusapia, myself, Mlle. Blech. In the first photograph the table rests upon the floor. In the second it floats in air, coming up as high as the arms, at a height of about ten inches on the left and eight inches on the right. I hold my right foot resting upon Eusapia's feet and my right hand upon her knees. With my left hand I hold her left hand. The hands of all the others are upon the table. It is therefore altogether impossible for her to employ any muscular action. This photographic record confirms that of Pl. I., and it seems to me difficult not to recognize its undeniable documentary value.

After this seance my most ardent desire was to see the same experiments reproduced at my own house. In spite of all the care I took with my observations, several objections can be taken to the absolute certainty of the phenomena. The most important arises from the existence of the little dark cabinet. Personally, I was sure of the perfect probity of the honourable Blech family, and I am unable to accept the idea of any trickery whatever on the part of any of its members. But the opinion of readers of the formal report may

[Pg 84]

not be so well assured. It was not impossible that, even unknown to the members of the family, some one, with the connivance of the Medium, glided into the room, favoured by the dim light, and produced the phenomena. An accomplice entirely clothed in black and walking barefoot would have been able to hold the instruments up in the air, put them in movement, make the touches, and cause the black mask to move at the end of a rod, etc.

This objection could be verified or quashed by renewing the experiments at my house, in a room of my own, where I should be absolutely certain that no confederate could enter. I should myself arrange the curtain, I should place the chairs, I should be certain that Eusapia would come alone to my apartments, she would be asked to undress and dress in the presence of two lady examiners, and every supposition of fraud alien to her proper personality would thus be annihilated.

At this epoch (1898) I was preparing, for l'Annales politiques et litteraires, some articles upon psychic phenomena, which, revised and amplified, afterwards formed my work, The Unknown. The eminent and sympathetic editor of the review showed himself assiduous in examining with me the best means of realizing this scheme of personal experiences. Upon our invitation, Eusapia came to Paris to pass the month of November, 1898, and to devote eight soirees especially to us---namely, the 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 19th, 21st, 25th, and 28th of November. We had invited several friends to be present. Each one of these seances was the subject of a formal report by several of those who were present, notably by MM. Charles Richet, A. de Rochas, Victorien Sardou, Jules Claretie, Adolphe Brisson, Rene Baschet, Arthur Levy, Gustave Le Bon, Jules Bois, Gaston Mery, G. Delanne, G. de Fontenay, G. Armelin, Andre Bloch, etc.

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We met in my salon in the avenue de l'Observatoire, in Paris. There were no special arrangements, except the stretching of two curtains in one corner, before the angle of two walls, thus forming a kind of triangular cabinet, the walls about which are there unbroken, without door or window. The front of the cabinet was closed by these two curtains, reaching from the ceiling to the floor and meeting in the middle.

It is before this kind of cabinet that the reader will please imagine the Medium to be seated, with a white wooden table (kitchen table) before her.

Behind the curtain, upon the plinth of the projection of a bookcase and upon a table, we placed a guitar, also a violin, a tambourine, an accordion, a music-box, cushions, and several small objects, which were to be shaken, seized, thrown about by the unknown force.

The first result of these seances in Paris, at my house, was absolutely to establish the fact that the hypothesis of a confederate is inadmissible and ought to be entirely eliminated. Eusapia acts alone.

The fifth seance led me, moreover, to think that the phenomena take place (at least a certain number) when the hands of Eusapia are closely held by two controllers, that it is not generally with her hands that she acts, in spite of certain possible trickeries; for it would be necessary to admit (an abominable heresy!) that a third hand could be formed in organic connection with her body!

Before every seance Eusapia was undressed and dressed again in the presence of two ladies charged with seeing that she did not hide any tricking apparatus under her clothes.

It would be a little long to go thoroughly into the details of these eight sittings, and it would be partly to go over what has already been described and commented upon in the first chapter, as well as in the preceding pages. But it will

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not be uninteresting to give here the estimate of several of the sitters, by reproducing some of the reports.

I will begin with that of M. Arthur Levy, because he describes very fully the installation, the impression produced upon him by a Medium, and the greater part of the facts observed.

 

Report of M. Arthur Levy

Seance of November 16

That which I am going to relate I saw yesterday at your house. I saw it with distrust, closely observing all that might have resembled trickery; and, after I had seen it, I found it so far beyond the things that we are accustomed to conceive that I still ask myself if I really saw it. Yet I must confess that I have not been dreaming.

When I arrived at your salon, I found the furniture and all the other arrangements as usual. On entering, only a single change could be remarked at the left, where two thick curtains of grey and green rep concealed a little corner. Eusapia was to perform her wonders before this kind of alcove. This was the mysterious corner: I examined it very minutely. It had in it a little round uncovered table, a tambourine, a violin, an accordion, castanets, and one or two cushions. After this precautionary visit, I was certain that in this place at least there was no preparation, and that no communication with the outside was possible.

I hasten to say that from this moment up to the end of the experiments we did not leave the room for a single minute, and that, so to speak, we had our eyes constantly fixed upon this corner, the curtains of which, however, were always partly open.

Some moments after my examination of the cabinet Eusapia arrives,---the famous Eusapia. As almost always happens, she looks quite different from what I had anticipated. Where I had expected to see---I do not well know why, indeed---a tall thin woman with a fixed look, piercing eyes, with bony hands, and abrupt movements, agitated by nerves

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incessantly trembling under perpetual tension, I find a woman in the forties, rather plump, with a tranquil air, soft hand, simple in her manners, and slightly shrinking. Altogether, she has the air of an excellent woman of the people. Yet two things arrest the attention when you look at her. First, her large eyes, filled with strange fire, sparkle in their orbits, or, again, seem filled with swift gleams of phosphorescent fire, sometimes bluish, sometimes golden. If I did not fear that the metaphor was too easy when it concerns a Neapolitan woman, I should say that her eyes appear like the glowing lava fires of Vesuvius, seen from a distance in a dark night.

The other peculiarity is a mouth with strange contours. We do not know whether it expresses amusement, suffering, or scorn. These peculiarities impress themselves on the mind almost simultaneously, without our knowing on which one to fix the attention. Perhaps we should find in these features of her face an indication of forces which are acting in her, and of which she is not altogether the mistress.

She takes a seat, enters into all the commonplaces of the conversation, speaking in a gentle, melodious voice, like many women of her country. She uses a language difficult for herself and not less difficult for others, for it is neither French nor Italian. She makes painful efforts to make herself understood, and sometimes does this by mimicry (or sign-language) and by willing to obtain that which she wants. However, a persistent irritation of the throat, like a pressure of blood returning at short intervals, forces her to cough, to ask for water. I confess that these paroxysms, in which her face became deeply flushed, caused me great anxiety. Were we going to have the inevitable indisposition of the rare tenor, on the day when he was to be heard on the stage? Happily, nothing of the kind took place. It was rather a sign of the contrary, and seemed like a forerunner of the extreme excitement which was going to take possession of her on that evening. In fact, it is very remarkable that from the moment when she put herself---how shall I say it?---in condition for work, the cough, the irritation of the throat, completely disappeared.

When her fingers were placed on black wool,---to be frank,

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upon the trousers cloth of one of the company,---Eusapia called our attention to the kind of diaphanous marks made upon them (the fingers), a distorted, elongated second contour. She tells us that that is a sign that she is going to be given great power to-day.

While we are talking some one puts a letter-weigher 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 plate of the weigher. 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 by-play took place when all the lamps of the salon were fully lighted. Then commenced the main series of experiments.

We sit around a rectangular table of white wood, the common kitchen table. There are six of us. Close to the curtains, at one of the narrow ends of the table, sits Eusapia; at her left, also near the curtains, is M. Georges Mathieu, an agricultural engineer at the observatory in Juvisy; next comes my wife; M. Flammarion is at the other end, facing Eusapia; then Mme. Flammarion; finally myself. I am thus placed at the right hand of Eusapia, and also against the curtain. M. Mathieu and myself each hold a hand of the Medium resting upon his knee, and, furthermore, Eusapia places one of her feet upon ours. Consequently, no movements of her legs or arms can escape our attention. Note well, therefore, that this woman has the use only of her head and of her bust, which latter is of course without the use of the arms, and is in absolute contact with our shoulders.

We rest our hands on the table. In a few moments it begins to oscillate, stands on one foot, strikes the floor, rears up, rises wholly into the air,---sometimes twelve inches, sometimes eight inches, from the ground. Eusapia utters a sharp cry, resembling a cry of joy, of deliverance; the curtain behind her swells out, and, all inflated as it is, comes forward upon the table. Other raps are heard in the table, and simultaneously in the floor at a distance of about ten feet from us. All this in full light.

[Pg 89]

Already excited, Eusapia asks in a supplicating voice and broken words that we lessen the lights. She cannot endure the dazzling glare in her eyes. She affirms that she is tortured, wants us to hurry; "for," she adds, "you shall see fine things." After one of us has placed the lamp on the floor behind the piano, in the corner opposite the place where we are (at a distance of about twenty-three feet), Eusapia no longer sees the light and is satisfied; but we can distinguish faces and hands. Let it not be forgotten that M. Mathieu and I each have a foot of the Medium on ours, and that we are holding her hands and knees, that we are pressing against her shoulders.

The table is always shaking and makes sudden jolts. Eusapia calls to us to look. Above her head appears a hand. It is a small hand, like that of a little girl of fifteen years, the palm forward, the fingers joined, the thumb projecting. The colour of this hand is livid; its form is not rigid, nor is it fluid; one would say rather that it is the hand of a big doll stuffed with bran.

When the hand moves back from the brighter light, as it disappears,---is it an optical illusion?---it seems to lose its shape, as if the fingers were being broken, beginning with the thumb.

M. Mathieu is violently pushed by a force acting from behind the curtain. A strong hand presses against him, he says. His chair is also pushed. Something pulls his hair. While he is complaining of the violence used upon him, we hear the sound of the tambourine, which is then quickly thrown upon the table. Next the violin arrives in the same manner, and we hear its strings sound. I seize the tambourine and ask the Invisible if he wishes to take it. I feel a hand grasping the instrument. I am not willing to let it go. A struggle now ensues between myself and a force which I judge to be considerable. In the tussle a violent effort pushes the tambourine into my hand, and the cymbals penetrate the flesh. I feel a sharp pang, and a good deal of blood flows. I let go of the handle. I just now ascertain, by the light, that I have a deep gash under the right thumb nearly an inch long. The table continues to shake, to strike the floor with redoubled strokes, and the

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accordion is thrown upon the table. I seize it by its lower half and ask the Invisible if he can pull it out by the other end so as to make it play. The curtain comes forward, and the bellows of the accordion is methodically moved back and forth, its keys are touched, and several different notes are heard.

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

Eusapia, faint and depressed, remains relatively calm. Yet she is dejected; her breast heaves violently; she lays her head on my shoulder.

M. Mathieu, tired of the blows which he is constantly receiving, asks to change places with some one. I agree to this. He changes with Mme. F., who then sits at the right of Eusapia, while I am at her left. Mme. F. and I never cease to hold the feet, hands, and knees of the medium. M. F. sets a water bottle and a glass in the middle of the table. The latter's brisk, jolting movements overturn the water bottle, and the water is spilled over its surface. The Medium imperatively requires that the liquid be wiped up; the water upon the table blinds her, tortures, paralyzes her, she says. M. F. asks the Invisible if he can pour water into the glass. After some moments the curtain advances, the carafe is grasped, and the glass seems to be half full. That takes place several different times.

Mme. F., being no longer able to endure the blows given her through the curtain, exchanges seats with her husband.

I put my repeating watch upon the table. I ask the Invisible if he can sound the alarm. (The mechanism of the alarm is very difficult to understand, delicate to operate, even for me, doing it every day. It is formed by a little tube cut in two, one half of which glides smoothly over the other. In reality, there is only a projection of one-fiftieth of an

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inch of thickness of tube, upon which it is necessary to press with the finger-nail and give quite a push in order to start up the alarm.) In a moment the watch is taken by the "Spirit." We hear the stem-winder turning. The watch comes back upon the table without having been sounded.

Another request is made for the alarm to sound. The watch is again taken; the case is heard to open and shut. (Now I cannot open this case with my hands: I have to pry it open with a tool like a lever.) The watch comes back once more without having sounded.

I confess that I experienced a disenchantment. I felt that I was going to doubt the extent of the occult power, which had, nevertheless, manifested itself very clearly. Why could it not sound the alarm of this watch? In making my request, had I overstepped the limits of its powers? Was I going to be the cause of all the well-proved phenomena of which we have had testimony losing the half of their value? I said aloud:

"Am I to show how the alarm is operated?"

"No, no!" Eusapia warmly replies, "it will do it."

I will note here that at the moment when I proposed to point out the mechanism, there passed through my mind the method of pressing upon the little tube. Immediately the watch was brought back to the table; and, very distinctly, three separate times, we heard it sound a quarter to eleven.

Eusapia was evidently very tired; her burning hands seemed to contract or shrivel; she gasped aloud with heaving breast, her foot kept 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 thrown pell-mell 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; M. 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.

Eusapia seems shrunken together and is very much

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affected. We pity her. We ask her to stop. "No, no!" she cries. She rises, we with her; the table leaves the floor, rises to a height of twenty-four inches, then comes clattering down.

Eusapia sinks prostrated into a chair. We sit there troubled, amazed, in consternation, with a tense and constricted feeling in the head, as if the atmosphere were charged with electricity.

With many precautions, M. F. succeeds in calming the agitation of Eusapia. After about a quarter of an hour she returns to herself. When the lamps are again lighted, she is seen to be very much changed her eye dull, her face apparently diminished to half its usual size. In her trembling hands she feels the pricking of needles which she asks us to pull out. Little by little she completely recovers her senses. She appears to remember nothing, not to comprehend at all our expressions of wonder. All that is as foreign to her as if she had not been present at the sitting. She isn't interested in it. So far as she is concerned, it would seem as if we were speaking of things of which she had not the faintest idea.

What have we seen? mystery of mysteries!

We took every precaution not to be the dupes of complicity, of fraud. Superhuman forces acting near us, so near that we heard the very breathing of a living being,---if living being it were,---such are the things our eyes took cognizance of for two mortal hours.

And when, on looking back, doubts begin to creep into the mind, we must conclude that, given the conditions in which we were, the chicanery necessary to produce such effects would be at least as phenomenal as the effects themselves.

How shall we name the mystery?

So much for the report of M. Arthur Lévy. I have no commentary to make at present upon these reports of my fellow-experimenters. The essential thing, it seems to me, is to leave to every one his own exposition and his personal judgment. I shall proceed in the same way with the other reports which are to follow. I shall reproduce the principal

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ones. In spite of some inevitable repetitions, they will surely be read with extreme interest, especially when we take into consideration the high intellectual standing of the observers.

 

Report of M. Adolphe Brisson.

Seance of November 10

(There were present at this séance, besides the hosts of the occasion, M. Prof. Richet, M. and Mme. Ad. Brisson, Mme. Fourton, M. André Bloch, M. Georges Mathieu.)

The following are occurrences which I personally observed with the greatest care. I did not once cease to hold in my right hand the left hand of Eusapia or fail to feel that we were in contact. The contact was only interrupted twice,---at the moment when Dr. Richet felt a pricking in his arm. Eusapia's hand, making violent movements, escaped from my grasp; but I seized it again after two or three seconds.

1. After this sitting had begun,---that is, at the end of about ten minutes,---the table was lifted up away from Eusapia, two of its legs leaving the floor simultaneously.

2. Five minutes later the curtain swelled out as if it had been inflated by a strong breeze. My hand, never letting go of that of Eusapia, pressed gently against the curtain, and I experienced a resistance, just as if I had pressed against the sail of a ship bellied out by the wind.

3. Not only was the curtain puffed out, forming a big pocket, but the perpendicular edge of the curtain that touched the window moved automatically aside and drew back as if it were pushed by an invisible curtain holder, making nearly this kind of a movement.

4. The curtain, inflated anew, took the form of a nose or of an eagle's beak, projecting above the table about eight or ten inches. This shape was visible for several seconds.

5. We heard behind the curtain the noise of a chair rolling over the floor; by a first push it arrived as far as I was; a second push turned it upside down, its feet in the air, in

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the position shown. It was a heavy stuffed chair. Succeeding pushes moved it again, lifted it up, and made it turn somersaults; it finally came to a standstill almost in the place where it had fallen over.

6. We heard the noise of two or three objects falling to the floor (I mean objects behind the curtain upon the centre-table). The curtain parted in the middle, and in the dim light the little violin appeared. Sustained in the air by an invisible hand, it came gently forward above our table, whence it settled down upon my hand and upon that of my neighbour on the left.

On two separate occasions the violin rose from the table and at once fell back again, making a vigorous leap, like a fish flopping upon the sand. Then it glided down to the floor, where it remained motionless until the end of the sitting.

7. A new rolling noise was heard behind the curtain. This time it was the centre-table. A preliminary effort, quite vigorous, enabled it to rise half-way to the top of our table. By a second effort it got clear on top and rested upon my fore-arm.

8. Several times I distinctly felt light blows upon my right side, as if made with the point of a sharp instrument. But the truth compels me to declare that these blows were no longer given after Eusapia's feet were held under the table by M. Bloch. I note this correlation of things without drawing from it any presumption against Eusapia's loyalty. I have so much the less reason to suspect her in that her left foot did not leave my right foot during the whole sitting.

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Report of M. Victorien Sardou

(Seance of November 19)

(There were present at this seance, besides the hosts of the evening, M. V. Sardou, M. and Mme. Brisson, M. A. de Rochas, M. Prof. Richet, M. G. de Fontenay, M. Gaston Mery, Mme. Fourton, M. and Mlle. des Varennes).

I shall only relate here phenomena controlled by myself personally in the seance of last Saturday. Consequently, I say nothing of the arrangement of the apartment, of the experimenters, nor of the events which were first produced in the dark and which all the participants were able to authenticate,---such as cracking sounds in the table, levitations, displacements of the table, raps, etc., as well as the blowing out of the curtain over the table, the bringing on of the violin, of the tambourine, and so forth.

Eusapia having invited me to take the place at her side which had been vacated by M. Brisson, I sat down on her left, while you preserved your place on her right. I took her left hand in my right hand, while my left hand placed upon the table was in contact with that of my neighbour, the Medium insisting on this several times in order that the chain might not be broken. Her left foot rested upon my right foot. All through the experiment I never let go her hand for a single second. She grasped my hand with a strong pressure, and it followed her through all her movements. In the same way her foot always kept in contact with mine. My foot always kept touch with hers in all her foot scrapings on the floor, her shiftings of place, shrinkings, twitchings, etc., which never had anything suspicious in them, nor were they of such a nature as to explain the events which took place at my side, behind me, around me, and upon me.

In the first place, and in less than a minute after I had been placed on the left of the medium, the curtain nearest to me was puffed out and brushed against me, as if impelled by a gust of wind. Then three times I felt upon my right side a pressure which lasted but for a moment, yet was very marked. At that moment we were in a very dim light, yet

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enough to make the faces and the hands of all who were present distinctly visible. After Eusapia's violent nervous contractions, struggles, and energetic pushes (precisely like those which I had seen in similar cases elsewhere and which only astonish those who have slightly studied these phenomena), suddenly the curtain nearest to me was blown forward with an astonishing propulsive power between Eusapia and me, in the direction of the table, entirely concealing from me the face of the Medium; and the violin, which, with the tambourine, had, before my introduction, been replaced in the dark chamber, was hurled to the middle of the table, as if by an invisible arm. To accomplish this, the arm must have lifted the curtain and drawn it along with it.

After this the curtain returned to its first position, but not completely; for it still remained puffed out a little between Eusapia and me, one of its folds remaining upon the edge of the table at my side.

Then you took the violin and held it out at such a distance from the two curtains that it was wholly visible to the company; and you invited the occult agent to take it.

This was done, the mysterious agent taking it back with him into the dark closet, with as much good will as he had shown in bringing it on.

The violin then fell upon the floor behind the curtains, or portieres. One of these which was nearest to me resumed its vertical position, and for a time I heard upon my right upon the floor behind the curtains a kind of scrimmage between the violin and the tambourine, which were displaced, pulled about, and lifted, clashing and resounding at a great rate; and yet it was impossible to attribute any of these manifestations to Eusapia, whose foot never moved, but remained firmly pressed against my own.

A little after, I felt against my right leg, behind the curtain, the rubbing of a hard body which was trying to climb upon me, and I thought it was the violin. And so it was, in fact; and, after an unsuccessful effort to climb higher than my knee, this apparently living creature fell with a bang upon the floor.

Almost immediately I felt a new pressure upon my right

[Pg 97]

hip, and mentioned the circumstance. You disengaged your left hand from the chain, and, turning toward me, twice made in the air the gesture of the director of an orchestra moving his baton to and fro. And each time, with perfect precision, I felt upon my side the repercussion of a blow exactly tallying your gesture, which reached me after the delay of a second more or less, and which seemed to me to correspond exactly to the time necessary for the transference of a billiard ball or a tennis ball from you to me.

Some one, Dr. Richet, I believe, having spoken at that time of strokes upon the shoulders of the sitters in which the action and shape of a human hand was very marked, I will mention as a proof of his remark that I received in succession three blows upon the left shoulder (that is to say, the one most distant from the curtain and from the Medium), more violent than the preceding ones; and this time the heavy pressure of the five fingers was very evident. Then a last blow with the flat of the hand, applied in the small of the back, without hurting me at all, was strong enough to make me lean forward, in spite of myself, toward the table.

Some moments after, my chair, moving under me, glided over the floor, and was shifted in such a way as to leave my back turned a little in the direction of the dark closet.

I leave to other witnesses the task of telling the results of their personal observations,—how, for example, the violin, having been picked up by you from the floor and replaced upon the table, was held out by Mme. Brisson, as you had already done, and lifted up in the same way in the sight of all, while I held the left hand of Eusapia, you her right hand, and with the hand which remained free you pressed the wrist of her left hand.

Nor do I say anything of a hand-pressure through the opening in the curtain, having seen nothing of this myself.

But that which I did see very well indeed was the sudden appearance of three very vivid little lights between my neighbour and myself. They were promptly extinguished and seemed like a kind of will-o'-the-wisp, similar to electric sparks coming and going with great rapidity.

In short, I can only repeat here what I have said during

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the course of these experiments, "If I had not been convinced forty years ago, I should be this evening."

 

Report of M. Jules Claretie.

(Seance of November 25)

(There were present at this sitting, in addition to the hosts of the occasion, M. Jules Claretie and his son, M. Brisson, M. Louis Vignon, Mme. Fourton, Mme. Gagneur, M. G. Delanne, M. Rene Baschet, M. and Mme. Basilewska, M. Mairet, photographer.)

I note only the impressions I received after the moment when Eusapia, who had taken my hand at the time when M. Brisson was still seated by her, asked me to replace him. I am certain that I did not let go of Eusapia's hand during all the experiments. Every moment I felt the pressure of her foot upon mine, the heel being especially perceptible. I do not believe that I relaxed my fingers for a moment, nor released the hand that I held. I was struck with the throbbing of the arteries at the end of Eusapia's fingers: the blood bounded feverishly through them.

I sat next the curtain. It goes without saying that it was drawn from right to left or from left to right just as it happened. That which I can't understand is that it could swell out until it floated over the table like a sail inflated by the wind.

I felt at first a little light blow on my right side. Then, through the curtain, two fingers seized me and pinched my cheek. The pressure of the two fingers was evident. A blow more violent than the first hit me on the right shoulder, as if it came from a hard, square body. My chair was twice moved and turned, first backward, then forward.

Those two fingers which pinched my cheek I had already felt---before I took my place at Eusapia's side---when I was holding over against the curtain the little white book which M. Flammarion had given me. This book was seized by two naked fingers (I say naked, because the folds of the curtain did not cover them) and then disappeared. I did not see these fingers: I touched them, or they touched me, if

[Pg 99]

you will. My son held out and handed over also a leather cigar-holder, which was grabbed in the same way.

One of the persons present saw a rather heavy little music-box disappear in the same way.

With hardly a moment's delay the box was removed from our side with some violence; and I can speak with the more feeling of the force of the projection and of the weight of the object, because it struck me under the eye, and this morning I still have upon my face the only too visible mark of it, and feel the pain of it. I don't understand how a woman seated by my side could have the strength to throw with such force a box which, so to speak, should have come from quite a distance.

I observe, however, that all the phenomena are produced on the same side of the curtain; namely, behind it, or through it, if you will. I saw leafy branches fall upon the table, but they came from the side of the said curtain. Some persons assert that they saw a green twig come in through the open window which gives upon Cassini Street. But I did not see that.

There was a little round table behind the curtain, very near me. Eusapia takes my hand and places it, held in hers, upon the round table. I feel this table shaking, moving. At a given moment I believe that I perceive two hands near by and upon mine. I am not deceived; but this second hand is that of M. Flammarion, who, on his side, is holding the hand of the Medium. The round table bestirs itself. It leaves the floor, it rises. I have the feeling of this at once. Then, the curtain having lifted and, as it were, spread itself over the table, I can distinctly see what passes behind it. The round table moves; it rises; it falls.

Suddenly tipping partly over, it rises and comes toward me, upon me. It is no longer vertical, but is caught between the table and me in a horizontal position. It comes with sufficient force to make me recoil, draw in my shoulders, and try to push back my chair to let this moving piece of furniture pass. It seems, like a living thing, to struggle between the table and me. Or, again, it seems like an animated being struggling against an obstacle, desiring to pass or move on and not being able to do so, being stopped by the

[Pg 100]

table or by myself. At a given moment the round table is upon my knees, and it moves, it struggles (I repeat the word), without my being able to explain to myself what force is moving it.

This force is a formidable one. The little table literally pushes me back, and in vain I throw myself backward to let it pass.

Some of those present, M. Baschet among others, have said to me that at this moment it was upon two fingers. Two fingers of Eusapia push up the round table!

But I, who had not lost my hold on her left hand nor her foot,---I, who had by me the little round table (quite visible in the semi-obscurity to which we had accustomed ourselves), saw nothing, nor did I perceive any effort on the part of Eusapia.

I should like to have seen luminous phenomena produced, visions of brilliant lights, of sudden gleams of fire. M. Flammarion hoped that we were going to see some of these. He asked for them. But Eusapia was evidently fatigued by this long and very interesting séance. She asked for "un poco di luce" ("a little light"). The lamps were relighted. Everything was finished.

This morning I recall with a kind of anxious curiosity the least details of this very fascinating soirée. When we had returned to the observatory, on leaving our amiable hosts, I asked myself if I had been in a dream. But I said to myself, "We were present at the skilful performances of a woman prestidigitator; we witnessed only theatrical tricks." My son recalled to me the prodigies of skill of the brothers Isola. This morning, strange to say, reflection makes me at once more perplexed and less incredulous. We perhaps witnessed (we undoubtedly did witness) the manifestation of an unknown force which will hereafter be studied and perhaps one day utilized. I should no longer dare to deny the genuineness of Spiritualism. It isn't a question of animal magnetism: it is something else, I know not what; a quid divinum (a divine something), although science will some day analyze it and catalogue it. That which perhaps

[Pg 101]

astonished me the most was the curtain swelling out like a sail! Where did the puff of wind come from? A regular breeze would have been needed to put such life into it as that. However, I do not discuss: I give in my evidence. I have seen these things, observed them carefully. I shall think of them for a long time. I do not stop here. I shall seek an explanation. Possibly I shall find one. But this much is certain, that we ought to be modest in the presence of all that appears to us to be for the moment inexplicable, and that, before affirming or denying, we ought to wait, to reserve our judgment.

In the mean time, while feeling of my right maxillary tooth, which is a little sore, I think of that line of Regnard and allow myself to mangle it a little while recalling that hard music-box,---

"Je vois que c'est un corps et non pas un esprit."

(I see that it is a body and not a Spirit.)

 

Report of Dr. Gustave Le Bon

(Seance of November 28)

(There were present at this seance, besides the hosts, M. and Mme. Brisson, MM. Gustave Le Bon, Baschet, de Sergines, Louis Vignon, Laurent, Ed. de Rothschild, Delanne, Bloch, Mathieu, Ephrussi, Mme. la Comtesse de Chevigne, Mmes. Gagneur, Syamour, Fourton, Basilewska, Bisschofsheim.)

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

[Pg 102]

that we can comprehend that we must first try natural explanations.

1. 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 her two 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 accomplice; but is it not possible that the unconscious mind of Eusapia suggested to the unconscious mind of a person 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 important point ought to be verified, for no experiment would be so valuable if it were once demonstrated.

Could not Eusapia's departure be put off? We shall not have a similar opportunity, and we surely ought to clear up that phenomenon of the hand.

It is very evident that the table was lifted; but that is a material phenomenon which one can readily grant. The hand which came to seize my cigarette-holder performed an act of the will implying an intelligence, but the other is nothing of the kind. Eusapia might lift a table to the height of three feet without my scientific conception of the world being changed by it; but to bring in the intervention of a spirit, that would be to prove the existence of spirits, and you see the consequences.

As for the hand which seized the cigarette-case, it is absolutely certain that it was not that of Eusapia (you know that I am very sceptical and that I was looking about me); but close to the curtain, in the salon, there were a good many people, and several times you heard me ask people to stand aside from the curtain. If we two had been able to study Eusapia absolutely alone, in a room to which we had the key, the problem would soon be solved.

I have not been able to make this verification, the sitting at which Dr. Le Bon was present having been the last which Eusapia had consented to give at my house. But his objection

[Pg 103]

is of no value. I am absolutely certain that nobody glided behind the curtain, neither in this particular case nor in any other. My wife, also, particularly occupied herself in observing what took place in that part of the room and never was able to discover anything suspicious. There is only one hypothesis; that is, that Eusapia herself handled the objects. Since Dr. Le Bon declares that the thing was impossible, he himself personally inspecting it, we are compelled to admit the existence of an unknown psychic force.

 

Report of M. Armelin

(Seance of November 21)

(For this sitting I had asked three members of the Astronomical Society of France to exercise the severest control possible; namely, M. Antoniadi, my assistant astronomer at the observatory of Juvisy, M. Mathieu, agricultural engineer at the same observatory, and M. Armelin, secretary of the Astronomical Society. The last-named gentleman sent me the following report. There were also present M. and Mme. Brisson, M. Baschet, M. Jules Bois, Mme. Fourton, Mme. La Comtesse de Labadye.)

At quarter of ten Eusapia takes her seat, her back to the place where the two curtains meet, her hands resting upon the table. At the invitation of M. Flammarion, M. Mathieu takes his seat at her right, charged with the duty of keeping constant watch upon her left hand, and M. Antoniadi is enjoined to do the same for her right hand. They also make

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themselves sure of her feet. At the right of M. Mathieu sits Mme. la Comtesse de Labadye; on the left of M. Antoniadi, Mme. Fourton. Facing Eusapia, between Mmes. de Labadye and Fourton, MM. Flammarion, Brisson, Baschet, and Jules Bois.

The gas chandelier is lighted and the full light turned on. This chandelier is almost over the table. A little lamp with a shade is placed on the floor behind an easy-chair, near the opposite side of the room, in the direction of its greatest length, and to the left of the fireplace.

At five minutes of ten the table is lifted from the side opposite to the medium and falls back with a bang.

At ten o'clock it rises from the side of the Medium, who withdraws her hands, the other persons holding their hands lifted up. The same effect is produced three times. The second time, while the table is in the air, M. Antoniadi declares that he is leaning on it with all his weight and is unable to lower it. The third time, M. Mathieu leans on it in the same way and experiences the same resistance. During this time, Eusapia holds her closed fist about four inches above the table, looking as if she were strongly grasping something. The action lasts several seconds. There is no doubt whatever about this levitation. When the table falls back, Eusapia experiences something like a relaxation after a great effort.

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 her two neighbours to witness that they are

[Pg 105]

closely holding her hands and her feet, and that she is not in contact with the table.

Then light raps are heard in the table. Eusapia makes M. Antoniadi lift his hand about eight inches above the table and taps three times upon his hand with her fingers. The three taps are heard simultaneously in the table.

To prove that she is not using either her hands or her feet, she sits down sidewise upon her chair on the left, stretches out her legs, and puts her feet on the edge of the chair of M. Antoniadi: she is in full view and her hands are held. At once the curtain is shaken in the direction of M. A.

From 10.10 to 10.15, several times in succession, five raps are heard in the table. Each time the gas is turned down a little, and each time the table moves without contact.

At 10.20 it balances itself, suspended in the air, and resting upon the two legs of the longer side. Then it rises off of its four feet to a height of eight inches.

10.25. The curtain moves, and M. Flammarion says that there is some one behind it, that somebody is pressing his hand. He holds his hand out toward the curtain, at a distance of about four inches. The curtain is pushed out into something like a pocket made by a hand which is drawing near. The Medium with nervous laugh cries, "Take it, take it." M. A. feels through the curtain the touch of a soft body, like a cushion. But the hand of M. F. is not taken. Objects are heard to move, including the bells of a tambourine.

All of a sudden the Medium, leaving M. Mathieu, stretches her hand above the table toward M. Jules Bois, who takes it. At this moment, behind the curtain, an object falls to the floor with a great noise.

10.35. Eusapia, again freeing her right hand, lifts it up above her left shoulder, the fingers forward, at a distance of several inches from the curtain, and beats four or five strokes in the air which are heard to sound in the tambourine. Several persons think they see a will-o'-the-wisp through the gap between the curtains.

Up to that point the gas has been gradually lowered. After the lapse of a full moment I find that I can no longer

[Pg 106]

read, but I can distinguish very clearly the horizontal lines of my writing. I can see the hour perfectly by my watch, as well as the faces of those present, (that of Eusapia especially) turned toward the light. The gas is now completely extinguished.

At 10.40, the gas being out, I can still read my watch, but with difficulty; I still see the lines of my writing, though without being able to read.

Eusapia wants somebody to hold her head, which is done. Then she asks somebody to hold her feet. M. Baschet gets down on his knees under the table and holds them.

M. Antoniadi cries, "I am touched!" and says that he has felt a hand. I have very distinctly seen the curtain puffing out. Mme. Flammarion, whom I see silhouetted on the bright glass of the window, her head leaning forward, goes behind the curtain in order to assure herself that the medium is not doing anything suspicious in the way of motions.

One of the persons present having changed places, Eusapia utters complaints: "La catena! la catena!" ("The chain! the chain!") The chain is re-established.

At 10.45 the curtain is inflated again. A bump is heard. The round table touches the elbow of M. Antoniadi. Mme. Flammarion, who has kept looking behind the curtain, says that she sees the round table turned over. Its feet are in the air, and it is moving to and fro. She thinks she sees glimmers of light near the floor.

M. Mathieu feels a hand and an arm pushing the curtain against him. M. Antoniadi says that he is touched by a cushion; his chair is pulled and turns under him as if on a pivot. He is touched again on the elbow by some object.

It is ascertained that M. Jules Bois is holding Eusapia's right hand above the table; M. Antoniadi assures us that he is holding her left hand, and M. Mathieu her feet.

The curtain is again shaken twice; M. Antoniadi is hit in the back very hard, he says, and a hand pulls his hair. The only light remaining is the little lamp with a shade, behind an easy-chair at the farther end of the salon. I continue to write, but my strokes take all kinds of shapes.

[Pg 107]

Suddenly, M. Antoniadi 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 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.

"If there is a hand there," says M. Flammarion, "could it perhaps grasp an object?" M. Jules Bois holds a book out toward the middle of the right-hand curtain. The book is taken and held two seconds. Mme. Flammarion, whom I see always silhouetted upon the bright glass of the window, and who is looking behind the curtain, cries that she has seen the book pass through.

M. F. proposes to light up and verify. But everybody agrees in thinking that the curtain may have already changed its position. A moment afterwards the curtain is again puffed out, and M. Antoniadi says that he is hit four or five times on the shoulder. Eusapia has asked him more than ten times whether he is quite "seguro" (sure) that he has hold of her hand and her foot.

"Yes, yes," he replies, "seguro, segurissimo" ("sure, quite sure").

Mme. Fourton says that for the second time she has seen a hand stretched out and that this time it touched the shoulder of M. Antoniadi. M. Jules Bois says that for the second time he has seen a hand stretched out at the end of a small arm, the fingers moving, the palm forward. (It is impossible to decide whether these two visions were simultaneous or not.)

We are getting accustomed to the almost complete darkness; I can still read "11.15" by my watch. M. Antoniadi says his ear is pinched very hard. M. Mathieu says he is touched. M. Antoniadi feels his chair pulled: it falls to

[Pg 108]

the floor. He lifts it again and seats himself on it, and is again hit very hard on the shoulder.

About 11.20, at the request of Eusapia, M. Flammarion replaces M. Mathieu. He holds her two feet and one hand; M. Antoniadi holds the other hand. The lamp is lowered still more. The darkness is almost complete. M. Flammarion, having remarked that an unknown physical force is evidently present, but perhaps not an individual personality, feels his hand seized all of a sudden by some one (or some thing), and is interrupted. Then, a little after, he complains that his beard is being pulled (on the side opposite the Medium, where I am. I did not perceive anything).

At 11.30 the lamp is turned up. It is comparatively bright in the room. The curtain, after all these movements, is seen to be more and more pushed aside, enveloping the head of Eusapia. Suddenly, above her head, we all see the tambourine slowly appear and fall upon the table with a noise like that of sheep-bells. It seems to me brighter than the feeble glimmer of the concealed lamp would justify and as if accompanied by white phosphorescent gleams; but they are perhaps flashes of light from its gilded ornaments, which, however, ought to appear yellower.

When the lamp is turned down, the noise of moving furniture is heard; the round table is fetched clear up onto the top of the large table. It is removed, and the tambourine executes a dance all alone with a peculiar sound like the ringing of bells. Mme. Fourton says that she has had her hand pressed and her fore-arm pinched.

At 11.45 the window curtain is closed in its turn; and, after a moment, we all see in the direction in which the cleft in the corner curtain ought to be, above Eusapia's head, a large white star of the color of Vega, though larger and of a softer light, and which rests motionless for some seconds, then is extinguished. Shortly after, a zigzag glimmer of light, of the same white colour, runs over the right-hand curtain, tracing two or three upright lines of several inches in length, like an N very much elongated.

In spite of the fact that night has fallen, there is still sufficient light entering by the two un-curtained windows, and proceeding from the vague glimmer of the lamp behind the

[Pg 109]

easy-chair, to enable each one of us to distinguish his neighbours. Our silhouettes are outlined in the large mirror near us and above the sofa. The white collars of the men are clearly seen, their faces a little less clearly. Yet on my left I see very plainly M. Baschet, on my right Mme. Brisson, standing and holding her hand up to her face to shield the eyes. I also distinguish Mme. Flammarion, who has come and seated herself near her.

M. Flammarion feels an object gliding over his hair. He begs Mme. de Labadye to take hold of it; and a music-box falls into his hands, which, before the seance, was placed upon the ogee, in the corner concealed by the curtain. M. Brisson has taken the place at the table formerly occupied by M. Flammarion, facing Eusapia. A cushion hits him full in the face. As I am approaching the mirror, I see the reflection of this passing cushion by the comparatively bright light at the far end of the room.

M. Baschet seizes the object and rests his elbow upon it. It is snatched from him, flies over our heads, hits the mirror, falls upon the sofa, and rolls upon my foot. All this without my being able to perceive any movement on the part of the medium.

Midnight draws near. The seance is adjourned.

MM. Antoniadi and Mathieu then declare that the control with which they were charged has not been successful, and that they are not sure that they have always had hold of the Medium's hands.

 

Report of M. Antoniadi

(The Same Seance)

I shall give you an exact account of the role I played, that I may gratify your desire to know the truth.

I restricted myself to ascertaining whether there was a single phenomenon which could not be explained in the most simple manner, and I arrived at the conclusion that there was not. I assure you, on my word of honour, that my watchful, silent attitude convinced me, beyond all manner of

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doubt, that everything is fraudulent, from the beginning to the end; that there is no doubt that Eusapia shifts her hands or her feet, and that the hand or the foot that one is thought to control is never held tight or very strongly pressed at the moment of the production of the phenomena. My certain conclusion is that nothing is produced without the substitution of hands. I ought to add that, at first, I was very much astonished when I was hit hard in the back, from behind the curtain, while I was very clearly holding two hands with my right hand. Happily, however, at this moment, Mme. Flammarion having given us a little light, I saw that I held the right hand of Eusapia and---yours!

The substitution is made by Eusapia with extraordinary dexterity. In order to ascertain it, I was obliged to concentrate my mind upon her very slightest movements with the severest attention. But it is the first step that costs; and, once familiarized with her artifices, I predicted with decision all the phenomena by the sensation of touch alone.

Being a good observer, I am absolutely certain that I was not deceived. I was neither hypnotized, nor was I at all frightened during the "bringing in" of objects. And, as I am not a lunatic, I believe that a certain weight should be given to my affirmations.

It is true that, during the seance, I was not sincere, disguising the truth of the efficacy of my control. I did that with the sole purpose of making Eusapia think that I was a convert to Spiritualism. I did this to avoid scandal. But, once the sitting was over, the Truth choked me, and I was most eager to communicate it to my great benefactor and official superior.

It is not prudent to be too affirmative. It is for that reason that I have always been reserved in my interpretation of natural phenomena. Consequently, I am unable to be so terribly affirmative as to take oath to the absolute charlatanism of the manifestations of Eusapia, before, as Shakespeare says, I have "rendered assurance doubly sure."

I have no personal ambition in the spiritistic line, and all the careful observations that I made during this seance of November 21 are only one stone the more contributed to the edifice of Truth.

[Pg 111]

It is not on account of prejudice that I do not believe in the reality of the manifestations, and I can assure you, if I were able to see the least phenomenon that was really extraordinary or inexplicable, I should be the first to confess my error.

The reading of several books has led me to admit the possible reality of these manifestations, but direct experience has convinced me of the contrary.

My frankness in this report unhappily borders upon indiscretion. But frankness is here synonymous with devotion, for it would be to betray you if I were false for an instant to the sacred cause of Truth.

 

Report of M. Mathieu.

(Seance of November 25)

The seance opens at 9.30. M. Brisson, controller on the left, puts his feet on Eusapia's feet; M. Flammarion, controller on the right, holds her knees. In a moment the table leans to the right, its two left feet are lifted and then it falls back; then follows the lifting of the two right feet, and finally the lifting of the whole table off of its four feet to a height of about seven inches above the floor (contact of feet certain and knees motionless). I take a photograph.

At 9.37 a slight lifting on the left; then a lifting on the right, and a total levitation (photograph).

During the levitations of the table the salon is lighted by a strong Auer burner. It is now extinguished and is replaced by a little lamp which is placed behind a fire-screen at the farther end of the room. Absolute control of the hands and of the feet made by MM. Brisson and Flammarion.

M. Brisson is slightly touched on the right hip, and at this moment the two hands of Eusapia are plainly seen.

At 9.48 the curtain shakes and then puffs out three times in succession. M. Brisson is again touched on the right hip; the curtain is drawn back as if by a curtain-band. M. Flammarion, who holds Eusapia's hand, makes three

[Pg 112]

gestures and to each of his gestures corresponds a new divergence of the portiere. Eusapia recommends that we "give attention to the temperature of the Medium; it will be found to be changed after each phenomenon."

At 9.57 the light is diminished and is henceforth very feeble. The curtain bellies out, and at the same moment M. Brisson is touched; then the curtain is flung forcefully over the table. At the request of Eusapia, M. Delanne lightly touches her head behind, and the curtain slightly trembles.

Eusapia asks that a window be partly opened, the one in the middle of the salon, saying that we shall see something new. M. Flammarion holds with his left hand the knees of the Medium, and with his right hand holds the wrist, the thumb, and the palm of her right hand before him at the height of the eyes. M. Brisson holds the left hand. Eusapia seems to call something from the direction of the window, making gestures, and saying, "I will catch it." Then a little branch of privet comes and touches M. Flammarion's hand, apparently arriving from somewhere near the window. M. F. takes this branch. A moment later two spindle-tree branches come from behind the curtain at the height of M. Brisson's head and past the edge of the curtain, which is pulled up and back. The branches fall on the table.

M. Brisson, all this time at Eusapia's left, is next touched on the hip, at a moment when the hand of the Medium is at the height of M. Flammarion's beard. Then the chair of M. Brisson is pulled and pushed about. We hear distinctly, behind the curtain, sounds from the shaking of the round table, upon which is the tambourine. Certain vibrations of the tambourine are produced, corresponding to the movements of the round table. At this moment M. Brisson mentions the fact that he has been out of touch with the foot of the Medium for about half a second, but he is then holding her two thumbs about ten inches apart, and M. Flammarion has her right hand close to his breast. The right hand of M. Brisson, holding the left of Eusapia, passes behind the curtain, and M. Brisson says that he has the impression of something like a dress-skirt puffed out against his ankle.

Thereupon ensues new jolting and bumping of the round

[Pg 113]

table and the tambourine, with displacement of the round table. (Undoubted control by MM. Flammarion and Brisson.)

10.30. Clattering noises of the round table in the cabinet are heard. M. Flammarion makes gestures with his hand, and synchronistic movements of the table and of the tambourine take place in the dark cabinet.

10.35. Eusapia asks for a few minutes' rest. The sitting is resumed at 10.43. The violin and the bell are hurled with force through the cleft in the curtain (M. Brisson gives assurance that he holds Eusapia's left hand by the thumb, upon her knees, and M. Flammarion the entire right hand). At this moment a photograph is taken by flash-light. Cries and groans from Eusapia, blinded by the light.

The sitting begins again some minutes afterward, and M. Jules Claretie, sitting at the left of M. Brisson, has his fingers twice touched by a hand. M. Baschet, who is standing away from the table, holds out a violin to the curtain: the violin is seized and thrown into the cabinet. He holds a book out to the curtain: this book is seized, but falls to the floor, before the curtain.

M. Claretie presents a cigarette-holder and feels a hand which tries to seize it, but he resists and will not let it go. M. Flammarion asks him to let go of the object: the hand bears off the prize. A moment after, this object is thrown from the cleft between the two curtains against Mme. de Basilewska at the other end of the table. It had been both presented and removed at the middle of the curtain.

At eleven o'clock Eusapia begs for a little more light. M. Claretie has become controller of the left in place of M. Brisson. He is touched on the left side. Then the round table is overturned while advancing toward the main table. M. Claretie perceives that his chair is moving backwards, as if pulled back; then he is hit on the shoulder and experiences a strong pressure under the arm-pit. The curtain suddenly approaches M. Claretie, brushes against him, and envelops both himself and the medium. M. Claretie is then pinched in the cheek. M. Flammarion presents to the curtain the hand of Mme. Fourton, and the two hands are pinched through the curtain.

[Pg 114]

The music-box, which is in the dark cabinet, falls on the table; Mmes. Gagneur and Flammarion at the same moment make mention of a hand. M. Baschet presents the music-box to the curtain; a hand seizes it through the curtain, he resists, the hand pushes him away; he presents it again, the hand seizes it and throws it back, and the box thus thrown wounds M. Claretie, who is struck beneath the left eye. The tambourine is thrown forward upon the table after having remained suspended a moment above the head of the Medium.

At 11.15 a complete levitation of the table for seven or eight seconds. Absolute control by MM. Flammarion and Claretie. M. Flammarion has his knee pinched by a hand. Next the round table is transferred to the knees of M. Claretie and is forced upon him in spite of all his resistance. Levitations of the table take place in full light. Verification of the feet. The feet of one of the controllers are beneath, those of the other above, and those of the Medium between the two.

 

Report of M. Pallotti

(Seance of November 14)

(There are present at this séance, besides the hosts of the evening: M. and Mme. Brisson, M. and Mme. Pallotti, M. le Bocain, M. Boutigny, Mme. Fourton.)

At the commencement of the sitting several levitations of the table took place, and, when I asked the Spirit who was present if he could let me see my daughter Rosalie, I obtained an affirmative reply. I then made an agreement with the said Spirit that a series of eight regular raps would indicate to me the moment when my dear daughter would be present. After some minutes of waiting, the number of raps agreed on was heard in the table. These raps were vigorous and made at fixed intervals.

I found, at this time, that I was placed opposite to the medium,---that is to say, facing her,---at the other end of the table. When I asked the Spirit to embrace me and

[Pg 115]

caress me, I immediately felt an icy breath before my face, but yet without experiencing the least sensation of contact.

When the medium announced the materialization of the spirit in these words, "E venuta, e venuta" ("She is here, she is here"), I distinguished over the middle of the table a spectral form, dim and confused, but which, little by little, grew brighter, and took the shape of the head of a young girl of the same stature as Rosalie.

When objects, such as the music-box, violin, or the like, were unexpectedly brought before us, I saw very plainly the shape of a little hand emerging from the curtain that hung close by me, and which placed these different objects upon the table.

I ought to declare that, during these inexplicable phenomena, the chain was not broken for a single moment: it would consequently have been materially impossible for one of us to have made use of his hands.

I will now describe the last phenomena in which I was for a little while both actor and spectator. These events closed the seance.

One of the company, M. Boutigny, who was affianced to my daughter, having left the table to give his place to one of the spectators, I saw him approach the curtain of which I have spoken, which at once gaped open by his side. I ascertained this fact very precisely.

M. Boutigny then announced to us aloud that he was being very affectionately caressed. The medium, who was at this moment in an extraordinary state of agitation, kept saying, "Amore mio, amore mio!" ("My love, my love!"), and, addressing herself to me, called to me several times in the following words, "Adesso vieni tu! vieni tu!" ("Come at once, come!")

I hastened to take the place which M. Boutigny occupied near the curtain, and I was scarcely there when I felt myself kissed several times. I was able for an instant to touch the head which was kissing me, which, however, drew back from the contact of my hands.

I ought to say that, while these events were taking place, my eyes were carefully observing the medium as well as the persons who were by my side. I can therefore, boldly

[Pg 116]

certify that I was not the victim of any illusion or subterfuge, and that the head which I touched was the head of a real and unknown person. I felt myself afterwards gently stroked several times, upon the face and head, the neck and the breast, by a hand which came out from behind the curtain. At last I saw the portiere move aside and a little hand, very moist, very soft, stretched out and placed on my right hand. Quick as thought, I reached my left hand to this place to seize it; but, after having held it closely pressed in mine for several seconds, it seemed to melt away between my fingers.

Before closing, let me say, by way of additional authentication, that M. Flammarion had the extreme kindness to have this seance given for my family and myself, and it therefore took on a very markedly private character.

The séance having lasted from 9.20 to 11.45 P.M., we several times asked the medium if she felt fatigued. Eusapia said no. It was only when the last experiment took place, when we (myself and my family) had been caressed and embraced, that the medium, feeling tired, decided to end the sitting.

My wife is convinced, as I am, that she embraced her daughter, recognizing her hair and the general appearance of her person.

 

Report of M. Le Bocain

(The Same Seance)

The following are some extraordinary phenomena which I observed during the course of this séance and of which I believe I can give a report as exact as it is impartial, having personally taken the most minute precautions to assure myself of the perfect fairness of the conditions under which these different wonders were produced.

I only speak, be it understood, of circumstances or actions with which I myself was associated both as actor and as spectator.

1. At the opening of the sitting and during the time that the table was engaged in all sorts of noisy pranks, I clearly felt the pressure of a hand clasping me in a friendly way upon the right shoulder. In order to make the matters clear, I ought to depose that---

[Pg 117]

a) I sat at the left of the medium and held her hand; that, furthermore, during the whole sitting her foot was placed on mine.

b) That, with Eusapia's hand always tightly pressed in mine, I proved, by suddenly placing it upon her knees, at the very moment that the table was rising from beside us, that her lower limbs were in a normal position and absolutely motionless.

c) For these different reasons, it seems to me, in fact, impossible that Eusapia could have made any use whatever of these two limbs (which happened to be placed by me) to execute a movement, even unconscious, that could give rise to the least suspicion.

2. At a certain point in the proceedings I felt on my right cheek the sensation of a fondling caress. I felt very distinctly that it was a real hand which was touching my skin, and nothing else. The hand in question seemed to me of small size, and the skin was soft and moist.

3. Towards the end of the seance I felt upon my back a gust of cold air, and at the same time I heard the curtain behind me slowly open.

Then, when I turned around, very much puzzled, I perceived standing at the lower end of this kind of alcove a form,---indistinct, it is true, but not so much so that I could not recognize the silhouette of a young girl whose figure was slightly beneath the average. I ought to say here that my sister Rosalie was also of short stature. The head of this apparition was not very distinct. It seemed surrounded by a short of shaded aureole. The whole form of the statue, if I may so express myself, stood out very little from the dim obscurity from which it had emerged; that is to say, it was not very luminous.

4. I addressed myself to the Spirit in Arabic, in very nearly 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 succession."

About ten minutes later, and when I had almost

[Pg 118]

completely forgotten my request, I felt my hair pulled three separate times, just as I had desired. I certify this fact, which, besides, formed for me a most convincing truth of the presence of a familiar Spirit close about us.

Le Bocain, Illustrator,

Rire, Pele-Mele, Chronique Amusante, etc.

 

I have restricted myself to presenting here these different reports, in spite of certain contradictions, and even because of them. The reports mutually supplement each other and form a complete whole, through the entire independence of each observer.

You see how complex the subject is, and how difficult it is to form a radical conviction, an absolute scientific judgment. Some phenomena are incontestably true: there are others which are doubtful and which we may attribute to fraud, conscious or unconscious, and sometimes also to illusions of the observers. The levitation of the table, for example, its complete detachment from the floor under the action of an unknown force acting in opposition to the law of gravity, is a fact which cannot reasonably be contested.

I may remark, in this connection, that the table almost always rises hesitatingly, after balancings and oscillations, while, on the contrary, when it falls back it goes straight down at one swoop, alighting squarely on its four feet.

[Pg 119]

On the other hand, since the Medium constantly seeks to release one hand (generally her left hand) from the control designed to hinder her from doing so, a certain number of the touches felt and of the displacements of objects may be due to a substitution of hands. This behaviour of hers will be the subject of a special examination in the following chapter.

But it would be impossible by the whole force of the hand to produce the violent movement of the curtain, which seems to be inflated by a tempestuous wind, and projected to the very centre of the table, forming a great hood around the heads of the sitters. To fling out the curtain with such force, it would be necessary for the Medium to rise and push on it as hard as she could with her extended arms---not once merely, but again and again. But how can she do this when she is all the while seated tranquilly in her chair?

These experiments place us in a special environment or atmosphere, on the different physical and psychical characters of which it is difficult to form an opinion.

At the time of the last séance, during which M. and Mme. Pallotti are sure of having seen, touched, and embraced their daughter, I saw nothing, at that moment, of this spectral form, although it was only a few yards from me, and although I had perceived, some moments before, the head of a young girl. It is true that, out of respect for their emotion, I did not approach their group. But I kept careful watch, and I perceived no one but the living.

[Pg 120]

At the seance of November 10 the noise of a sonorous object notified us of a displacement, a movement. We seem to hear the violin strings lightly touched. It is, in fact, the little violin on the round table, which is lifted to a height somewhat above that of the head of the Medium, passes into the opening between the two curtains, and appears before us with the neck forward. The idea comes into my head to grasp this instrument during its slow passage through the air; but I hesitate, because I wish to see what will become of it. It comes as far as the middle of the table, descends, then falls, partly upon the table, partly upon the left hand of M. Brisson and the right hand of Mme. Fourton.

That was one of the most accurate observations that I made at this seance. I did not let go of Eusapia's right hand for a single instant, and M. Brisson did not for a moment let go of her left hand.

But in the face of phenomena so incomprehensible we always revert to scepticism. In the séance of November 19 we had thoroughly resolved this time not to leave any loophole for doubt as to the hands, to hinder every attempt at substitution, and to have the most complete control of each hand, without having our attention withdrawn from this object for a single moment. Eusapia has only two hands. She belongs to the same zoological species that we do, and is neither trimanous nor quadrumanous.

It was enough, then, that there were two of us; that each one took a hand of the medium and kept hold of it between the thumb and the forefinger, that no possible doubt might arise, drew in the elbows, and held the said hand as far removed as possible from the axis of the medium's body and pressed against our own person, so as to remove the objection about the substitution of hands.

That was the essential object of this séance, as far as concerned M. Brisson and me. He had charge of the left

[Pg 121]

hand. I had charge of the right. I need not add that I am as sure of the loyalty of M. Brisson as he is sure of mine, and that, forewarned as we were, and holding this seance for the express purpose of this control, we could neither of us be the dupes of any attempt at fraud, so far as regards that occasion, at least.

The famous Medium, Home, had several times spoken to me of a curious experiment that he and Crookes made with an accordion held in one of his hands and playing all by itself, without the lower end being held by another hand. Crookes has represented this experiment by a sketch in his memoir upon this subject. The medium is seen holding the accordion with one hand in a kind of open-work cage, and the accordion is playing by itself. I shall give the details of this matter farther on.

I tried the experiment in another way, by holding the accordion myself, and not letting it be touched by the medium. The feats which we had just witnessed, and which were performed while Eusapia had her hands securely held, gave me the hope of succeeding, so much the more because we believed that we had seen fluid hands in action.

I, therefore, take a little new accordion, bought that evening in a bazaar, and, approaching the table and remaining in a standing position, I hold the accordion by one side, resting two fingers upon two keys, in such a way as 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 of the Medium. We make sure that her hands are all the time tightly held and that the chain is unbroken. After a short wait of five or six seconds I feel the accordion drawn by its free end, and the bellows is immediately pushed in several times successively; and at the same time the music is heard. There is not the least doubt

[Pg 122]

that a hand, a pair of pincers, or what-not, has hold of the lower end of the instrument. I perceive very well the resistance of this prehensible organ. All possibility of fraud is eliminated; for the instrument is well above Eusapia's head, her hands are firmly held, and I distinctly see the distention of the curtain as far as the instrument. The accordion continues to make it’self heard, and is pulled on so strongly that I say to the invisible power, "Well, since you have such a good hold on it, keep it!" I withdraw my hand, and the instrument remains as if glued to the curtain. It is no longer heard. What has become of it? I propose to light a candle to hunt for it. But the general opinion is that, since things are going so well, it is better to make no changes in the environment. While we are talking, the accordion begins to play,---a slight and rather insignificant air. In order to do that, it must be held by two hands. At the end of fifteen or twenty seconds it is brought to the middle of the table (playing all the while). The certainty that hands are playing it is so complete that I say to the Unknown, "Since you hold the accordion so well, you can doubtless take my hand itself." I reach out my arm at the height of my head, rather a little higher. The curtain inflates, and through the curtain I feel a hand (a pretty strong left hand); that is to say, three fingers and the thumb, and these grasp the end of my right hand.

Let us suppose for an instant that the accordion could have been pulled by one of Eusapia's hands, which she had released, lifted up, and screened behind the curtain. It is a very natural hypothesis. Let us say that the two controllers on the right and on the left respectively were cheated by the dexterity of the Medium. That is not impossible. But, then, that the instrument might play, our heroine would have had to release her two hands and leave the two

[Pg 123]

controllers at loggerheads with their own hands. It is something not to be thought of.

Apropos of the existence of a third hand, a fluid hand, created on the spur of the moment, with muscles and bones (an hypothesis so bold that one hardly dares to express it), I relate here what we observed during the sitting of November 19.

M. Guillaume de Fontenay, with whom the experiments at Montfort-l'Amaury were made, in 1897, at the home of the Blech family, had come on purpose from the centre of France, with a great profusion of apparatus and of new processes, to try to get some photographs. The medium appeared to be enchanted with them, and toward the middle of the soirée said to us, "You are going to have, this evening, something that you did not expect, something which has never been accomplished by any other medium, and which can be photographed as an unimpeachable record." She then explains to us that I am to lift my hand up, while firmly holding hers by the wrist; that M. Sardou, while holding her left hand, will keep watch over it above the table, and that then her third hand will appear in the photograph, her fluidic hand, holding the violin near her head, at some distance from her right hand, behind her, and against the curtain.

We wait pretty long before anything happens. At length, the Medium trembles, sighs, recommends that we breathe deeply and thus aid her, and we feel, rather than see, the moving of the violin through the air, with a slight vibrating noise of the strings. Eusapia cries, "It is time, take the photograph, quick, don't wait, fire!" But the apparatus does not work: the magnesium won't kindle. The Medium grows impatient, still holds out, but cries that she cannot hold out much longer. We all vehemently clamour for the photograph. Nothing moves. In the darkness, which is

[Pg 124]

needed in order that the plate in the camera shall not have to be veiled, M. de Fontenay does not succeed in lighting the magnesium, and the violin is heard to fall to the floor.

The Medium seems exhausted, groans, laments, and we all regret this check to the proceedings; but Eusapia declares that she can begin again, and asks us to get ready. In fact, at the end of five or six minutes the same phenomena are produced. M. de Fontenay explodes a chlorate of potassium pistol. The light is instantaneous, but feeble. It enables us to see Eusapia's left hand being held upon the table by M. Sardou's right hand, her right hand held in the air by my left hand, and at a distance of about twelve inches in the rear, at the height of one's head, the violin, resting vertically against the curtain. But the photograph gives no picture.

Eusapia now asks for a little light ("poco di luce"). The small hand-lamp is lighted again, and the illumination is sufficient for us to see each other distinctly, including the arms, the head of the Medium, the curtain, etc. The chain is formed again. The curtain flares widely out, and M. Sardou is several times touched by a hand which gives him a good whack on the shoulder, making him bend his head forward toward the table. In the presence of this manifestation and of these sensations we have again the impression that there has been a hand there, a hand different from those of the medium (which we continue carefully to hold),---and from ours, because we are holding each other's hands in the chain. Moreover, there is no one near the curtain, which is plainly visible. I thereupon remark, "Since there is a hand there, let it take from me this violin, as it did day before yesterday." I take the violin by the handle and hold it out to the curtain. It is at once taken and lifted, then falls to the floor. I do not for a moment let go the hand of the Medium. Yet I grasp this hand

[Pg 125]

with my right hand, for a moment, in order to pick up with my left the violin that has fallen near me. As I stoop down to the floor, I feel an icy breath upon my hand, but nothing more. I take the violin and put it on the table; then I take again with my left hand the hand of the medium, and, seizing the violin with my right, I hold it out again to the curtain. But Mme. Brisson, peculiarly incredulous, asks me to let her take it herself. She does so, holds it out to the curtain, and the instrument is snatched from her, in spite of all the efforts that she makes to retain it. Everybody declares they saw very distinctly this time.

The hands of the Medium have not been let go a single minute.

It seems as if this experiment, made under these conditions, in sufficient light, ought to leave no doubt about the existence of a third hand of the Medium which acts in obedience to her will. And yet!---

During this same soiree of November 19 I ask that the violin, which has fallen to the floor, be brought again upon the table. We keep holding carefully the Medium's hands, M. Sardou her left hand and I her right. Eusapia, wishing to give still more security, more certainty, proposes that I take her two hands, the right as I am holding it, and her left wrist in my right hand, her left hand always being held by M. Sardou,---the whole show of hands taking place on the table. A noise is heard. The violin is brought on, passes above our hands, thus criss-crossed, and is laid down, farther on, in the middle of the table. A candle is lighted, and the position of our hands is ascertained. They have not moved. Some time after this phenomena in the dim light, we all saw will-o'-the-wisps shining in the cabinet. They were visible through the cleft in the curtains, which at that time was rather wide. For my part, I saw three of them, the first very brilliant, the others less intense. They were not

[Pg 126]

tremulous, nor did they stir in the least, and remained in view scarcely more than a second.

M. Antoniadi having remarked that he is not always sure of holding her left hand, Eusapia says to me in a flush of passion, "Since he is not sure, take my two hands yourself again." I already hold the right, and am absolutely certain of it. I thereupon take her left wrist in my right hand, M. A. declaring that he will take care of the fingers. In this position, Eusapia's two hands being thus held above the table, a cushion, which is at my right upon the table, having been forcibly thrown there some moments before, is seized and thrown over the sofa, brushing my forehead on the left. Those who sit at the table and form the chain affirm that the hands of the chain have not lost touch with each other.

Here is another circumstance recorded in the notes of Mme. Flammarion:

We were almost in complete darkness,---the lamp, removed as far as possible from Eusapia, having only the dim glow of a night-lamp. Eusapia was seated at the experiment table,---between MM. Brisson and Pallotti, who were holding her two hands,---and almost facing this lamp.

Mme. Brisson and I were seated some yards distant from Eusapia, one of us on the side and the other in the middle of the salon, Eusapia facing us, while we had our backs turned to the light. This allowed us to distinguish well enough everything that passed before us.

Up to the moment when the event that I am going to relate took place, Mme. Brisson had remained almost as incredulous as I, apropos of the phenomena, and she had just been expressing to me in a low tone her regret at not having yet seen anything herself, when, all of a sudden, the curtain behind Eusapia began to shake and move gracefully back, as if lifted by an invisible curtain band,---and what do I see? The little table on three feet, and leaping (apparently in high spirits) over the floor, at the height of about eight

[Pg 127]

inches, while the gilded tambourine is in its turn leaping gayly at the same height above the table, and noisily tinkling its bells.

Stupefied with wonder, quick as I can I pull Mme. Brisson to my side, and, pointing with my finger at what is taking place, "Look!" said I.

And then the table and the tambourine begin their carpet-dance again in perfect unison, one of them falling forcibly upon the floor and the other upon the table. Mme. Brisson and I could not help bursting out into laughter; for, indeed, it was too funny! A sylph could not have been more amusing.

Eusapia had not turned around. She was seen seated; and her hands, placed before her, were held by the two controllers. Even if she had been able to free both her hands, she would not have been able to take hold of the round table and tambourine, except by turning around; and the two ladies saw them leaping about all alone.

I observe to Eusapia that she must be very tired, that the seance has lasted over two hours and has yielded extraordinary results, and that it is perhaps time to end it. She replies that she desires to continue still a little longer, and that there will be new phenomena. We accept with pleasure, and sit down and wait.

Then she lays her head on my shoulder, takes my entire right arm, including the hand, and putting my leg between hers, and my feet between her feet, she held me very tight. Then she begins to rub the carpet, drawing my feet along with hers, and squeezing me tighter than before. Then she cries, "Spetta! spetta!" ("Look! look!"); then, "Vieni! vieni!" ("Come! come!") She invites M. Pallotti to take a place behind his wife and see what will happen. I must add that both of them had been earnestly asking, for some minutes, if they might see and embrace their daughter, as they had done at Rome.

[Pg 128]

After a new nervous effort on the part of Eusapia, and a kind of convulsion accompanied by groans, complaints, and cries, there was a great movement of the curtain. Several times I see the head of a young girl bowing before me, with high-arched forehead and with long hair.

She bows three times, and shows her dark profile against the window. A moment after we hear sounds from M. and Mme. Pallotti. They are covering with kisses the face of a being invisible to us, saying to her with passionate affection, "Rosa, Rosa, my dear, my Rosalie," etc. They say they felt between their hands the face and the hair of their daughter.

My impression was that there was really there a fluidic being. I did not touch it. The grief of the parents, revived and consoled at the same time, seemed to me so worthy of respect that I did not approach them. But, as to the identity of the spectral being, I believed it to be a sentimental illusion of theirs.

I come now to the strangest circumstances of all, the most incomprehensible, the most incredible, of any that we experienced in our seances.

On November 21 M. Jules Bois presents a book before the curtain at about the height of a man standing upright. The salon is dimly lighted by a little lamp with a shade, set pretty well to one side. Yet objects are seen with distinctness.

An invisible hand behind the curtain seizes the book. Then all the observers see it disappear as if it had passed through the curtain. It is not seen to fall before the curtain. It is an octavo, rather slender, bound in red, which I have just taken from my library.

Now Mme. Flammarion, almost as sceptical as M. Baschet about these phenomena, had glided past the window to the rear of the curtain, in order to observe carefully what

[Pg 129]

was passing. She hoped to detect a movement of the Medium's arm, and to unmask her, in spite of the courtesy she owed her as her hostess. She saw very plainly Eusapia's head, motionless before the mirror which reflected the light.

Suddenly the book appears to her, it having passed through the curtain,—upheld in the air, without hands or arms, for a space of one or two seconds. Then she sees it fall down. She cries, "Oh! the book: it has just passed through the curtain!" and, pale and stupefied with wonder, she abruptly retires among the observers.

The entire hither side of the curtain was plainly visible, because the left portion of the left-hand curtain had been loosened from its rod by the weight of a person who had sat down on the sofa where the lower part of the curtain had been accidentally placed; and because a large opening had been made fronting the mirror which filled the entire wall of the farther end of the salon,---a mirror that reflected the light of the little lamp.

If such an event had really taken place, we should be forced to admit that the book went through the curtain without any opening, for the tissue of the fabric is wholly intact; and we cannot suppose for a single moment that it passed through at the side, the book having been held out about the middle,---that is to say, about twenty-four inches from each side of the curtain, the breadth of which is four feet.

Nevertheless, this book was seen by Mme. Flammarion, who was looking behind the curtain; and it disappeared from the eyes of the persons who were in front, notably M. Baschet, M. Brisson, M. J. Bois, Mme. Fourton and myself. We were not expecting this miracle in any way; we were stupefied by it; we asked what had become of the book, and it seemed as if it had fallen behind the curtain.

[Pg 130]

Collective hallucination? But we were all in cool blood, entirely self-possessed.

If Eusapia had been able to adroitly slip her hand around and seize the book through the portiere, the bare outline of the book would not have been seen, but a protuberance of the portiere.

How great a value the sight of this thing passing through a portiere would have as a scientific datum, if one were only sure of the absolute honesty of the Medium,---if, indeed, this Medium were a man of science, a physicist, a chemist, an astronomer, whose scientific integrity would be above suspicion! The mere fact of the possibility of fraud takes away ninety-nine one-hundredths of the worth of the observation, and makes it necessary for us to see it a hundred times before being sure. The conditions of certainty ought to be understood by all investigators, and it is curious to hear intelligent persons express surprise at our doubts, and at the strict scientific obligation we are under to lay down these conditions. In order to be sure of abnormalities like these levitations, for example, we must make sure of them a hundred times over; not see them once, but a hundred times.

It seems to us impossible that matter could pass through matter. You place for example a stone upon a napkin. If one should tell you that he has found it under the napkin, without any break in the continuity of the tissue, you would not believe him. However, I take a piece of ice, weighing say two pounds, and place it upon a napkin; I place both upon a strainer, in the oven; the piece of ice melts, passes through the napkin, and falls drop by drop into a basin. I put the whole thing into a freezing machine, the melted water congeals again; the piece of ice weighing two pounds has passed through the napkin.

It is very simple, you think. Yes, it is simple because

[Pg 131]

we understand it. But, of course, this is not the same case as that of the book. Yet, after all, it is matter passing through matter, after a transformation of its physical condition.

We might seek explanations, invoke the hypotheses of the fourth dimension, or discuss the non-Euclidian geometry. It seems to me more simple, however, to think that, on the one hand, these experiments are not yet sufficient for us to make an absolute affirmation, and that, on the other hand, our ignorance of everything is formidable and forbids us to deny anything.

The phenomena of which I am speaking are so extraordinary that one is led to doubt them, even when one feels assured that he has seen them. Thus, for example, I noticed that M. Rene Baschet—my learned friend, present editor of Illustration—affirmed before us all, during the séance and afterward, that he saw with his own eyes, under the table, a head like that of a young girl of about twelve years of age, together with the bust. This head sank down vertically while he was looking at it and disappeared. He made the affirmation on the 21st, repeated it on the 22d at a theatre where we met, and on the 25th again at his home. Some time after, M. Baschet was convinced that he had been deceived, that he had been the dupe of an illusion. That is also possible. I was looking at the same time, as well as other persons, and we did not see anything.

It is then very human, when we are thinking, some days later, of these curious things, for us to suspect ourselves.

But there are prejudices less explicable. Thus, for example, at the séance of November 28 a distinguished engineer, M. L., absolutely refused to admit the levitation of the table, in spite of the evidence. Of this my readers may judge for themselves. Here is a note which I extract from my reports:

[Pg 132]

M. L. tells me that the Medium lifts the table with her feet, while resting her hands upon it. I ask Eusapia to draw back her feet under her chair. The table is lifted.

After this second levitation, M. L. declares that he is not satisfied (although neither of the feet of the medium is under a foot of the table), and that we must begin the experiment again, without having her legs touched at any point. The Medium then proposes that her legs be fastened to those of M. L. A third levitation takes place, after the left leg (the incriminated one) of the Medium has been bound to the left leg of M. L.

This gentleman then declares that the hypotheses he has made, in order to explain the phenomenon, are null and void, but that there must be, all the same, a trick in the thing, because he does not believe in the supernatural.

Neither do I believe in the supernatural. And yet there is no trick.

This manner of reasoning, rather common, does not seem to me scientific. It is to claim that we know the limits of the possible and of the impossible.

People who deny that the earth moves reason in just this way. That which is contrary to common sense is not impossible. Common sense is the average state of popular knowledge; that is to say, of general ignorance.

A man acquainted with the history of the sciences, and who reasons calmly, cannot succeed in understanding the ostracism to which certain sceptics subject unexplained phenomena. "It is impossible," they think. This famous common sense on which they plume themselves is nothing after all, let me say, but common opinion, which accepts habitual facts without comprehending them, and which varies from time to time. What man of good sense would formerly have admitted that we should one day be able to photograph the skeleton of a living being, or store up the voice in a phonograph, or determine the chemical composition of an inaccessible star? What was science a

[Pg 133]

hundred years ago, two hundred years, three hundred? Look at astronomy five hundred years ago, and physiology, and medicine, and natural philosophy, and chemistry. In five hundred years, in a thousand years, in two thousand years, what will these sciences of ours be? And in a hundred thousand years? Yes, in a hundred thousand years, what will human intelligence be? Our actual condition will be to that what the knowledge of a dog is to that of a cultivated man; that is to say, there is no possible comparison.

We smile to-day at the science of learned men of the time of Copernicus or Christopher Columbus or Ambroise Pare, and we forget that, in a few centuries, savants will estimate us in the same fashion. There are properties of matter which are completely hidden from us, and humanity is endowed with faculties still unknown to us. We only advance very slowly in the knowledge of things.

The critics do not always give proof that they possess a very compact logical power. You speak to them of facts proved by centuries of testimony. They challenge the value of popular testimony, and declare that these uncultivated folks, these petty merchants, these manufacturers, these labourers, these peasants, are incapable of observing with any exactitude.

Some days after, you cite the savants, men whose competence has been proved in the objective sciences of observation, which attest these very facts, and you hear the sneerers answer that those savants are competent witnesses in their special lines of study and work, but in nothing apart from these.

So, after this fashion, all testimony is refused. They declare that the thing, being impossible, cannot have been observed at all.

Of course there is room for a good deal of analysis in discussing the claims of human testimony. But, if we

[Pg 134]

suppress every piece of testimony, what will there be left?---our native ignorance.

But, to tell the truth, there are some of these negative gentry who are sure of everything, and who impose their aphorisms upon us with the authority of a Czar giving out his ukase or edict.

From these different experiments with Eusapia Paladino, including those described in the first and second chapters, the impression is left that the phenomena observed are, to a great extent, real and undeniable; that a certain number may be produced by fraud; but that, in fact, the subject is very complex. Again, certain movements simply belong to the material order, while others belong at once to the physical order and the psychical order. All this study is vastly more complicated than people in general have any idea of. I am going to pass summarily in review other experiments made by the same Medium, and shall afterwards devote a special chapter to the examination of frauds and mystifications.

Let us look, first, at other achievements of Eusapia, and select from them whatever they also have to impart in the way of instruction or caution.

The next chapter is on Seances 30 click on here

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