NOTE BY E. J. DINGWALL: The record of these
sittings of which Everard Feilding attended twelve out of the thirteen is of
great interest since it provides good grounds for believing that the experiences
in Naples with Eusapia Palladino had not in any way weakened the critical
appraisal of the physical phenomena so characteristic of these two distinguished
and capable investigators. Moreover, the series is of some importance since it
exemplifies a situation where one of the sitters becomes the medium's
accomplice, a state of things which was soon suspected, tested and proved by Mr.
The early history of Carancini will be found in,
among other places, the Annales des Sciences Psychiques during the years
1908-14 and an account of some of his fraudulent methods was printed in the same
journal for 1913, pp. 243-247.
A SERIES of articles have recently appeared in Italian newspapers, in L'Echo
du Merveilleux, in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques, and in the
Annals of Psychical Science, referring to physical phenomena which it was
alleged took place in the presence of a new medium, Francesco Carancini. The
sťances at which these phenomena occurred were held in the residence of Baron
von Erhardt, a gentleman who has resided in Rome for some time and who has been
instrumental in bringing the alleged supernormal powers of Carancini before the
notice of several scientific men. The phenomena said to occur in connection with
this medium appear, prima facie, to be very similar to those produced by
Eusapia Palladino, such as the transportation and levitation of objects,
impressions on clay, and luminous appearances; but there are others which it is
asserted take place with Carancini and which, so far as my reading and
experience go, are dissimilar to Eusapia's. I refer to the writing on lamp black
in Latin, modern and ancient Greek, and in an unknown language, the passing of
objects into closed wire cages, and the taking off of the medium's jacket while
his hands are presumably securely held by the controllers.
The article that appeared in the April, 1909, number of the Annals of
Psychical Science is illustrated by flashlight photographs which purport to
show the phenomena at the actual moment of their occurrence. Musical instruments
are seen apparently floating in the air, and larger objects, such as tables,
appear to have been raised from the floor and placed upon the medium's
shoulders. In one photograph Carancini is seen levitated. I shall have occasion
to refer to these photographs later on.
Dr. Lancenotti communicated the above mentioned article to the Annals of
Psychical Science. He states therein that "Carancini seems to have
discovered his mediumship one evening when he was present at a sťance at which
Politi was the medium." A few days afterwards another sťance took place at which
Carancini was persuaded to try his powers as a medium, and these were, according
to Dr. Lancellotti, almost at once shown to be even stronger than those of
Politi himself. Carancini, for some time, continued to officiate as medium in
spiritistic circles only. It was not until the beginning of last year that a
series of more carefully controlled experiments could be carried out. These took
place, as I have already stated, in the residence of Baron von Erhardt in Rome.
During the course of a conversation with Professors
Bottazzi and Galeotti (two
gentlemen who were present at some of our recent sťances with Eusapia Palladino)
Mr. Feilding and I were told of the existence of Carancini.
Owing to the short time that I had at my disposal between the termination of the
Eusapia sťances and Christmas day I was obliged to hurry back to England, but
Mr. Feilding while passing through Rome in December, 1908, had an opportunity of
assisting at two sittings with this medium. Dr.
Schiller happening to be in Rome
also assisted at these sittings, and subsequently attended other sťances, and
Mr. Feilding and he were sufficiently interested in what they observed to
recommend the Council to engage in a more systematic study of the case.
Signor Carancini was accordingly invited to England, and during the months of
July and August, 1909, gave a series of thirteen sťances. Nine of these took
place in Mr. Feilding's house in John Street, Mayfair, and four in the country
residence of a mutual friend of Mr. Feilding and myself. At these last a lady
was present who was believed to be a physical medium. It was thought advisable
to try some experiments in the presence of this lady and Carancini.
I was asked to undertake the general conduct of the sittings and to look after
the comfort of the medium. Carancini does not speak English. I spent with him
the greater part of his stay in this country. I understand Italian and was
consequently of service to him.
Mr. Feilding was present at twelve of the sittings, Mr. Sydney Scott at eight,
Sir William Crookes at four, Lady Crookes at three, Sir
Lawrence Jones at four,
Dr. Wm. MacDougall at two, Mr.
Sidgwick and Miss Isabel Newton at one, and I at
all the thirteen. Various other friends of Mr. Feilding and myself were also
invited to several of the sittings in order to make a larger circle in
accordance with the medium's request. Carancini is accustomed to sit outside the
cabinet with his back to it. An oblong table, such as a small kitchen table, is
placed in front of him, upon which he places his hands. These are controlled by
the sitters on either side by holding his hands or by Carancini placing his
hands on theirs. His feet are also controlled by the feet of the same sitters.
At our sťances the controllers took their boots off to enable them better to
feel the medium's feet.
With Eusapia Palladino the musical instruments and other objects used in the
transportations are generally placed inside the cabinet, but with Carancini they
are placed, as a rule, outside on shelves or small tables at his side and at a
short distance from him.
I have already made mention of the writing in foreign languages on smoked glass
and of the passage of objects into a closed wire case. In the hope that these
phenomena would take place with us I had a case made like two picture frames put
together, with a glass front and a glass back to them. The inner surface of one
of the glass plates was smoked, and could be seen through the other plate, but
the smoked surface could not be tampered with without separating the two picture
frames. These were securely sealed together. I also procured a wire cage, the
door and wires of which were strongly soldered. It was impossible for an object
of a larger bulk than the space between the wires to enter the cage, except by
breaking it, unless supernormally. The smoked frame and the wire cage were
examined by Mr. Feilding and myself, at the commencement of each sitting, to
verify that no writing was then on the smoked glass and that no object had been
introduced into the cage. Besides these test apparatus Sir William Crookes
supplied two rings cut out of a piece of parchment. The threading of these rings
together without either being damaged would have conclusively proved the
possibility of the passage of matter through matter. Other objects, such as a
tambourine, a toy trumpet, a bell, a zither, an indiarubber ball, etc., were
also placed on the table on the right of the medium and on the tray stand and
the steps of a ladder on his left. At the third sťance, and at subsequent ones,
a chair was put inside the cabinet with one or two objects on it. An electrical
apparatus with white and red globes hung from the ceiling over the sťance table.
The intensity of the light could be regulated (from light sufficiently strong
for the reading of small print to a mere glimmer) by means of a commutator which
rested on the stenographer's table. This was always done in accordance with the
medium's request. In other respects he willingly submitted to any precautions
that were from time to time suggested. A three-leaved clothes horse, 6 feet in
height, upon which a fine mesh hammock net had been tightly stretched and
nailed, was placed behind him, with the two outer leaves one on each side of
him, at the John Street sťances, so as to prevent contact with any of the
objects placed according to his wont for transportation. I had some pieces of
cardboard painted with luminous paint sewn to his coat sleeves close to his
The general procedure at Carancini's sťances is as follows: After the sitters
have taken their places round the sťance table and formed the chain, i.e. taken
hold of each other's hands, and the control of the medium has been established,
he requests them to keep silence for a short time and then asks them to talk.
While they are doing so Carancini goes into what purports to be a state of
trance. An alleged spirit guide named Giuseppe then controls him and produces
the principal manifestations. Questions asked are now answered by Giuseppe
through the medium or by means of raps.
I will now describe the phenomena that took place at our sittings, giving
extracts from the stenographic notes taken at the time.
Sťance I. July 30th, 1909
Mrs. Sidgwick controlling on the left of medium. Mr. Baggally on the right.
In very dim light.
Mrs. Sidgwick reports: Raps on my chair. I was touched behind at the back just
above the seat of my chair, as if it came through the back of the chair. It was
not a definable touch, only a feeling of something.
Sir William Crookes controlling on left. Dr. Wm. MacDougall on right.
The small tray-stand on left of medium, behind the net screen and close to Sir
William Crookes, is heard to fall over.
Sir William immediately says: I had my hand holding his between my fingers and
the palm of my hand. He was grasping my fingers between his thumb and the first
and second fingers and so tightly that it became almost painful. The foot
control was perfect. On the white light being turned up the tray-stand and the
various objects upon it are found upset on the floor.
Controllers - Sir Wm. Crookes on left. Lady Crookes on right.
Notes taken in the dark. Raps, apparently on the floor behind medium, follow
raps made by ourselves on the table. Both controllers report that his feet are
under control, and his hands are quite still on the table. Scratches are heard
on the woodwork of the net screen. The medium said he was going to try and
produce one more phenomenon. He then raised his two hands, held on each side by
Sir William and Lady Crookes, made a great effort and a noise was heard.
Giuseppe then said that he had lifted the screen 10 centimetres and it had then
fallen back. When the white light was turned up the screen is found changed in
position and partly pushed into the opening of the cabinet.
Controllers - Sir Wm. Crookes on left. Mr. Scott on right.
to the last point.
Three raps are heard, position indeterminable, sort of dull thuds low down. Then
series of raps apparently inside cabinet. Feet of medium stated to be immovable
by both controllers. Hands motionless on table. The medium asks the controllers
to hold his legs well and to place them so that they can feel them all the way
down from the knee. Medium asks that somebody should knock on the table.
Feilding raps four rhythmical knocks; they are answered like an echo, apparently
in the cabinet. Feilding does it again and an extremely bad imitation follows,
Sir William puts his hand between the back of the medium's chair and curtain.
Feilding then asked that raps should be made inside cabinet. Raps are beard of a
different quality of sound and Sir William said that they sounded near where his
hand was. Sir William says: The medium was moving my hand, and whenever he moved
my hand backwards a rap sounded on the floor.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on right. Sir William Crookes on left.
Bright red light.
Raps that cannot be localized, apparently low down on floor
behind Sir William Crookes. Both hands visible and held on the table motionless.
Feet held as before motionless.
Light diminished to No. 3. He moves Sir William's hand, and synchronously with
the movements raps are heard low down behind him. He does the same with his
right hand with Sir Lawrence Jones' hand with the same result.
Medium asks for paper and pencil and writes something. The writing, when the
light was turned up, contained the words, "Non sono Giuseppe sono Zurucruft," (I
am not Joseph, I am Zurucruft,) and then follow a few lines of what looks like
Tamil. Speaking he says that he was an Indian who died 4000 years ago.
Feilding says: I have asked Giuseppe who it was who answered saying he was an
Indian who died 4000 years ago. Giuseppe replied that "HE" did, as the other
entity cannot speak. He says they cannot communicate. He only knows by intuition
what he wants. When asked how he knew he was an Indian who died 4000 years ago,
he said that he has been told by high spirits. He says that Zurucruft often
turns up at sťances, and that it is quite possible that Padre Ludovico da
Castelfino may turn up and address a few words of theological exhortation. He
was a theologian of the Bishop of Torraeini, who died 25 or 26 years ago.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on right. Mr. Scott on left.
Bright red light.
The medium stretches his right hand, clasping Sir Lawrence
Jones' hand, three times towards net screen, and the movements are followed by
three raps apparently on the floor. The medium rapped Sir Lawrence's knuckles on
the table twice, which is followed by raps somewhere behind the medium's chair.
He does the same with his left hand with Mr. Scotts knuckles, and the knocks are
followed by raps somewhere behind the medium's chair.
The medium enters the cabinet. The screen with net work is placed round him.
Medium takes his coat off with the luminous patches on.
A small single light of a bluish colour is seen rather high up. Another light
lower down. All the time medium was gasping a good deal. Another light towards
the middle of the curtain. Another light from the right side of the cabinet,
curtain. Two more lights which appear to be separating. A light quite near the
left wall appeared. A larger and stronger light low down about three feet from
the ground. It is seen by all again. Giuseppe asks us to awaken the medium. Mr.
Scott and Mr. Baggally went into the cabinet immediately afterwards and did not
perceive any smell of phosphorus.
After sťance Mr. Baggally examined the medium all over in order to see if there
were any hidden mechanism or electric batteries or anything that would produce
the lights, but found nothing except a box of safety matches.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on left. Mr. Feilding on right. Red light
lowered to No. 4.
Medium makes gestures with Feilding's hand in the air. Raps are heard down
apparently on the floor to mediums left. Quite unevidential. Feilding asks him
what he did when he wanted to produce a phenomenon. He said, "I send out fluid."
Feilding asked, did he mean muscular contraction? He said, yes.
Controllers - Dr. Wm. MacDougall on left. Mr. Haselton on right.
Medium raps on table and a rap is heard apparently behind him on the floor.
Feilding thereupon gives three raps on the table, and three raps answer
apparently on the same place as before. The medium holds his hands up and raps
are heard behind him. Controllers report feet quite still. Medium writes. When
writing is examined after white light was turned up, it proved to be some more
of that apparently oriental writing.
Medium makes a convulsive effort. MacDougall feels a touch on the elbow - then
Giuseppe says, You must stop at once; wake the medium instantly.
Controllers - Mr. Scott on left. Mr. C. on right.
Red light lowered to lowest
Medium holds his right hand holding G's hand out to screen. His hand trembles.
Raps are heard.
Thumps are heard. The medium asks the controllers to ascertain that the chair
legs are on the carpet. Medium raps twice on table. Raps are heard in reply.
Controllers are changed. Mr. Haselton is now on the right. Mr. Claude Askew on
Mrs. Askew, who is seated next to Mr. Haselton, says: I feel a touch; it touched
my shoulder four times lightly.
Mr. Askew says: I am tapped on left shoulder. The controllers report hands of
medium held; position of his head unknown.
Haselton now says: The left hand back of my chair was touched. I wondered what
it was, and I was tapped three times by a distinct hand. It was a hand; that I
am certain of. Medium's hands reported to be on table and held separately.
Controllers - Mr. C. on the right. Mr. Baggally on the left.
Mrs. Lowry reports: I was touched behind. There is some one behind my chair. My
name has been called twice.
Before referring to the four other sittings which were held at the country
residence of a mutual friend of Mr. Feilding and myself, and at which sittings
the lady who was believed to possess supernormal physical powers was present, I
will comment on the phenomena that I have just described. The first thing that
strikes a reader of the above stenographic notes is the paucity in number of
the phenomena and the unsatisfactory conditions under which they were obtained.
With the exception of some of the raps which occurred in light, more or less
strong, all the other phenomena took place in complete darkness.
Carancini appeared to be willing to submit to any precautions, but somehow no
manifestations occurred, with the exception of the raps, until after the light
had been completely extinguished at the request of the alleged control Giuseppe.
The phenomena were therefore quite unlike those that Mr. Feilding, Mr.
Carrington, and I witnessed with Eusapia Palladino and to which we attach great
importance on account of their occurrence in good light.
It will be noted that, with the exception of the raps on Mrs. Sidgwick's chair
at the first sťance, all the raps were heard to sound behind the medium,
apparently on the floor or in the cabinet behind his chair.
The fact that the raps were heard in that locality and in close proximity to the
medium suggests the probability that they were produced by his tipping the chair
on which he sat and striking the floor with the back legs. Mr. Scott, when he
was controlling, noticed a suspicious movement of the medium's body when he
heard some of the raps, and Mr. C. at sťance VIII just after the note in
stenographer's report which reads, "Thumps are heard. The medium asks the
controllers to ascertain that the chair legs are on the carpet," makes the
following observation, "I should like to correct that as I was looking round to
see if the legs were on the carpet, as I thought, I saw the legs of the chair
moving." The raps at the first sťance, though not loud, were sharp and distinct,
but after a carpet had been placed under Carancini's chair they changed in
sound, being then more like thuds. The controller's statements that when the
raps were heard the medium's hands and feet were immovable do not prove that he
might not have been tipping his chair at those times. His hands and feet could
have been perfectly still and yet his body could have tipped the light chair
upon which he sat. I have stated that at the first sitting Mrs. Sidgwick heard a
few faint raps on her chair. They were inaudible to me. I sat on the other side
of Carancini controlling him. These and the raps at the second sťance, after the
medium had asked the controllers to hold his legs well and place them so that
they could feel them all the way down from the knee, were the most evidential.
Taking into consideration the difficulty of localizing sound, the possibility of
raps being produced by the cracking of a joint (I have met individuals who made
raps in this manner) and the above stated suspicious circumstance of the
medium's chair having been seen to move and also of the chancre in the character
of the sounds when a carpet was placed under Carancini's chair, there seems
strong evidence that the raps were produced normally.
I attach no importance to the scratches heard on the woodwork of the screen nor
to the change of position of the screen at sťance II. The back of the medium's
chair was in close proximity to the framework, and Carancini's convulsive
movements could have produced these phenomena by the rubbing and pushing of his
chair against the framework.
The writing by the medium in apparently oriental characters is of no evidential
value whatever. Even if it had been really in an oriental language this would
not have precluded the possibility of his having learnt to form the characters
previously in his normal condition. This hypothesis is supported by the fact
that some of these characters written by the medium in our own presence
resembled others that are shown in one of the photographs in the Annals of
Psychical Science. These last were alleged to have been produced by an
independent entity, not by the medium. The name of the Indian who died 4000
years ago, "Zurucruft," has a German sound about it, as if it were intended to
represent the past participle of zurŁckrufen, to call back.
When considering the evidential value of a phenomenon it should be borne in mind
that if the conditions under which it occurs are such that it could have been
brought about by normal means, then a normal explanation should be accepted, as
this would be in accordance with our ordinary principles of reasoning.
I apply this rule to the consideration of the other phenomena which took place
at our sittings in total darkness.
The falling over of the tray-stand behind the net when one of the medium's
hands controlled by Sir William Crookes was brought in close proximity to it,
although he did not touch the stand, might have been caused by pushing the net
against it. Sir William Crookes' hand was pressed against the net and the net
yielded a few inches. The tray-stand stood at the time quite close behind the
The lights seen at sťance V, within or close to the cabinet, appeared after
Carancini entered the cabinet by himself and consequently when he was
uncontrolled. He sat on a chair inside the cabinet with the clothes horse
surrounding him; but this precaution, which had been suggested by himself, would
not have prevented him from standing on the chair, as there was no netting on
the top of the clothes horse. A suspicious noise was heard as if the medium were
getting on his chair just before the lights appeared high up towards the
ceiling. One of the sitters, Mrs. Paton, made the remark at the time - "It
sounds as if he were getting on the chair." The medium took his jacket off with
the luminous patches on it before he sat in the cabinet. This was a very
suspicious action on his part. It suggested that he did not wish the position of
his hands to be known at the time that the lights were seen.
When the sťance was over I searched the medium and found in his pocket a box of
safety matches, and amongst them a few phosphorus matches. I took one of these,
and after the medium had retired I produced, in the dark, with the phosphorus
match that I had taken, before Mr. Scott and Miss Saunders the stenographer,
lights which were in all appearances identical with those that had been seen at
The phenomena of the touches remains to be dealt with. Before I refer to these I
will relate our experiences at the country residence of our friend. Some of
these experiences have a bearing on the methods that in my opinion could have
been used for the production of the touches. The results obtained at Mr.
Feilding's house up to the eighth sitting had proved almost wholly negative.
There were, it is true, a certain number of phenomena besides the raps, but
these phenomena had occurred in complete darkness and were of such a nature that
the possibility of their having been produced by normal means could not be
excluded. Both Mr. Feilding and I were greatly disappointed at these results. We
had hoped that the members of our Council and other sitters who attended the
sittings would have witnessed phenomena similar to, and under as good test
conditions as, those that we had obtained with Eusapia Palladino at Naples. We
did not, however, abandon all hope, but decided to continue the investigation in
a different environment and in the presence of fresh sitters.
The boisterous manifestations that we obtained at the first sitting in the
residence of our friend, seemed fully to justify us in the course that we took.
Miss X, the lady to whom I have referred, who was believed to be a physical
medium, sat as controller on Carancini's right, and our host in a like capacity
on his left.
Mr. Feilding graphically describes what took place at this sťance in a letter to
Miss Johnson. These are his words:
August 12th, 1909
We had a sťance last night. The results were sensational to a degree, also
exasperating. Unfortunately we had not got our luminous patches nor the network
screen; nor were Baggally and I controlling, also it was exceedingly dark. I had
every reason to believe that the control was well carried out. The controllers
constantly reported that they had the band firmly by the thumb and their legs
were right round the medium's legs. In these conditions we had a large number of
pinches and touches and transportations of objects. Some of the manifestations
were rather violent and the ladies screamed.
[Our hostess], who sat number two from the medium, had the shoulder of her dress
pulled right down, a handkerchief was wiped all over her face, thrust down the
front of her dress inside, and then pulled out again right across her husband,
who was controlling.
Miss X., who was controlling on the right (and although very nervous appears to
have frozen on like grim death), was seized by the leg and nearly pulled out of
her chair, and subsided in shrieks upon the floor, still grasping the medium's
hand when the light was turned up. Objects at a distance of more than a foot
from my extended hand, when sitting in the medium's position, were moved, one
of them being transported to a second table, added at the further end of the
medium's table, in order to accommodate the large circle. A hand felt about all
over Miss X. and Miss W., who was, holding her in her arms to give her courage.
Further, a dinner bell placed on a chair in the cabinet fell to the ground with
a loud crash.
At last, thought we, the phenomena are genuine. Mr. Feilding and I therefore
decided to use extra precautions and to control the medium ourselves. We did so
the following evening, Mr. Feilding controlling on the right and I on the left.
At this sitting Miss X. occupied a seat next to me on my left.
Shortly after the light was extinguished the usual raps were heard, apparently
on the floor behind the medium, but what surprised me was that they were
accompanied by loud raps under Miss X.'s chair. I very gradually lowered my left
hand, which I had free, and placed it under the chair of this lady, till I could
feel the heels of her feet. I then detected Miss X. striking the floor with the
point of one of her boots, thus producing the loud raps that were heard under
This discovery immediately gave rise in my mind to the suspicion that some of
the phenomena of the previous sťance had been produced by her. I also could no
longer feel sure that she had continuously held the medium's hand while she was
controlling him. The evidence for the genuineness of the manifestation was
further vitiated by Mr. Feilding and my detecting the medium, shortly after, in
the fraudulent production of phenomena by means of his right hand, which he had
liberated after resorting to the trick of substitution of hands. Owing to the
luminous patches on his sleeves the first substitution was immediately detected.
After this the control of his hands was conducted with deliberate carelessness
and the substitution was repeated four or five times. It was carried out with
extreme caution. We could see the medium's right hand being retired, at a
snail's pace, from contact with Mr. Feilding's hand while he substituted his
left hand for it. After this Carancini passed his free hand under the table,
touched us, and pulled our coats. It should be noted that at the time of the
substitutions the medium purported to be in a state of trance and under control
of Giuseppe. I am unable to say whether this was really the case. If it was,
Giuseppe must have been the guilty party who perpetrated the frauds, and he must
have practised them for a long time previously to this series of sittings. I
sometimes think that, with physical mediums, the alleged control serves as a
very convenient scapegoat, ever ready to hand to bear the blame which otherwise
would have attached to the mediums when they are found out in trickery.
Only three phenomena now remain to be described, i.e. the movement of a pencil,
the touches on the shoulders of two sitters at the third sitting at our friend's
house, and the luminous appearances at the fourth sitting. A pencil and paper
had been placed on the sťance table at a distance of about 3 feet in front of
the medium. This pencil was heard, in total darkness, to move apparently
independently two or three times. I must observe that previous to the first
movement Carancini had leaned his head on his outstretched arms on the table. By
this action his hands, which were tied to the hands of our host and myself, were
brought close to the pencil, and it was not impossible for him to have taken
hold of it with the tips of two of his fingers and, after he sat back in his
chair and raised his hands, to have let the pencil drop on the table and thus
produce the sound. When the pencil was heard to move a second time 'Giuseppe'
said, "I did not do that." I have a strong suspicion that Miss X., who was
seated opposite to where the pencil was, produced this phenomenon. I permit
myself to say this as Miss X. has since admitted to our host her offences in
respect to these sittings.
Carancini at this sťance not only had his hands held by the controllers but his
wrists were tied to theirs. It was not possible for him to effect a substitution
of hands, nevertheless our host and I, who were controlling, felt light touches
on our shoulders on the sides next to the medium. When I received a touch I
previously felt a movement of the medium's arm which gave me the impression that
he was leaning his body towards me. The touch felt as if he were pressing my
shoulder gently with his nose.
The only manifestation at the last sťance, held in our friend's house, was the
appearance of a few lights, one at a time, in or near the cabinet, after
Carancini had entered it by himself uncontrolled. Each light resembled a
phosphorus match head when rubbed between the fingers. After the sitting was
over the medium was insistent about my searching him. He possibly may have had
in his mind the fact that I had found a box of matches on him on a previous
occasion. I searched him, but found no matches this time. A single phosphorus
match, however, would have sufficed for the production of the lights, for it is
so small an object that it could have been easily concealed about his person
after the lights were seen.
I have said enough to show that all the phenomena that we obtained with
Carancini were of an unsatisfactory nature. With the exception of the raps they
all took place in absolute darkness.
The medium, or 'Giuseppe,' was detected several times carrying out the trick of
substitution of hands, after which the sitters got touches. When he was not able
to effect a substitution, owing to his hands being tied, there were indications
that he then made use of his head to touch the sitters.
It is by the above methods that be, in my opinion, produced the touches which
were felt at the John Street sittings.
The only touch that could not have been produced by either of the above methods
was the one felt, in the dim light, by Mrs. Sidgwick at the first sťance. I
understood Mrs. Sidgwick to say, however, just after she reported the touch,
that she came to the conclusion that she was mistaken in the cause of her
sensation, which she found was really due to the pressure of the bottom bar of
her chair against her back.
Great importance is attached, by believers in Carancini's phenomena, to the
flash-light photographs which were taken at his sťances. Let us, for a moment,
consider what their value is for evidential purposes. Being instantaneous
photographs, they can, by their very nature, only show the levitated object for
a moment. They do not show the events that cause the object to be in the
position in which it is seen.
We read in Dr. Lancellotti's paper that Carancini's control, 'Giuseppe,'
indicates the exact moment the photographs can be taken by calling out the word
Now, what is to prevent a fraudulent medium, - just at the moment that he throws
a small object into the air, or after he has pinned or booked it to the cabinet
curtain, or after he has placed a heavier object on his shoulders, or on another
point of support, - from calling out the word "Fuoco," or any other word as a
signal for the photograph to be taken at that convenient moment? It will be
noted that in the photographs only small objects appear to be floating in the
air. All the heavier ones have a point of support. Carancini himself at the
moment of his alleged levitation, appears to be standing on his own chair.
It may be said that the medium could not have produced the phenomena
fraudulently, as the photographs show that his hands were controlled at the
time. To this I reply that although both Carancini's hands were in contact with
those of the controllers at the instant that the photographs were taken, yet it
was quite possible that one of his hands was free just before he called out the
word "Fuoco." I have ample grounds for making this assertion. These grounds are
based on the careful observations that Mr. Feilding and I were able to make of
the process that Carancini or 'Giuseppe' resorted to when he carried out the
substitutions of hands at the time that we were controlling him. It was very
interesting to watch the rapidity with which he replaced his right hand on Mr.
Feilding's immediately after he had brought about a phenomenon. He would touch
us or pull our coats with his free right hand and immediately afterwards lift
his left hand from the back of Mr. Feilding's and replace it by his right hand,
the action being accompanied by a strong convulsive movement of his body, by his
then violently pulling our hands, in contact with his own, up into the air, and
by the uttering of a loud groan.
Flash-light photographs do not prove the genuineness of a phenomenon. They
merely give us a picture of what is actually happening at any one time without
showing us the preceding actions of the medium leading up to the event.
In regard to the substitution of hands that was detected at one of our sittings
when the medium professed to be in a trance, if it be asserted that this may
have been an action for which the medium was not responsible, I may repeat that
it was performed at the time with great deliberation and apparent care to avoid
detection, and also that such a trick, to be carried out with success, requires
previous training, which it is difficult to suppose could have been effected in
a trance state.
In conclusion, I would point out that the phenomena obtained at these sťances
differed fundamentally from those we witnessed with Eusapia Palladino at Naples,
not only in that Carancini's phenomena (with the exception of the raps) occurred
in complete darkness, whereas with Eusapia Palladino many of the phenomena took
place in light when her hands and her whole body were in full view, a condition
which is of course essential for any good evidence for supernormality; but also
in that there was definite positive evidence of fraud in Carancini's case.
article above was taken from "Sittings with Eusapia Palladino and Other Studies"
(New York: University Books, 1963).