In spite of the fact that I had discovered the _modus operandi_, I did not wish to act hastily, having been accused so often in the past of condemning too hastily upon discovering the fraud. Accordingly I asked the medium to meet me a few evenings later at the office of my friend, Dr. Gustave Sayer, and here we witnessed a second demonstration. It would be useless to repeat the details of this performance, which was simply a repetition of the first. Suffice it to say that not only was the medium seen using the loop of thread throughout, but this loop broke twice during the evening–once in the middle of the experiment–the thread being heard to break, and the object at once falling to the ground.
On the first occasion the medium made an excuse, retired upstairs, and evidently arranged the thread, for he came down again in a few minutes and proceeded to give us a further test. Upon the thread (audibly) breaking a second time, however, he said that he “did not think he could do any more for us that evening,” and sat down, apparently exhausted.
It was the most flagrant and bare-faced swindle I ever came across, and in this Dr. Sayer agrees with me.
And yet here was a young lawyer practising these tricks, apparently for no motive, and constantly lying about them in a most astonishing manner; and this was a case from which much was to be hoped, apparently.’
This story hardly needs comment; but the writer’s attitude towards another and more famous medium, Eusapia Palladino, is very different.
Until I read the book from which these passages are quoted I thought no one regarded this lady as anything but an exposed fraud; even Sir Oliver Lodge has written concerning her, ‘my only regret is that I allowed myself to make a report, although only a private report, to the Society for Psychical Research, on the strength of a few exceptionally good sittings, instead of waiting until I had likewise experienced some of the bad or tricky sittings to which all the Continental observers had borne frequent witness.'
[Footnote 33: Quoted from _The Question_, p. 118.]
Mr. Carrington says of this lady:–
‘In any event, it appears to me obvious that, even assuming that fraud was intended on this occasion, it proves nothing more than the fact that Eusapia will resort to clever trickery whenever the occasion is given her to do so–a fact which all students of her phenomena know full well already; and it does not in the least prove that the whole séance was fraudulent–which is what is implied in Professor Munsterberg’s article. Every one knows well enough that scores of phenomena have been observed in the past which could not possibly have been accounted for, even assuming that the medium had both her feet free–a fact I have previously pointed out. The difference between Eusapia and the other mediums spoken of in this volume is this, that in their case they invariably fail whenever “test conditions” are imposed, whereas Eusapia generally succeeds; further, the whole tenor and setting of the séance, so to speak, is entirely different. Lastly, we have the unanimity of opinion amongst scientific men as to Eusapia’s powers, whereas we have nothing of the sort in the case of any other medium. On the contrary, whenever they are investigated along these lines, they either fail altogether or are detected in fraud.’
[Footnote 34: _Personal Experiences_, p. 174.]
This gentleman has reason for pride in his powers of observation, but his spiritualist complexes are so firmly enclosed in their logic-tight compartment that his own critical powers beat in vain against the door. It was unfortunate for the young lawyer, but at the same time inexplicable, that Mr. Carrington pitted his observations, made at two sittings only, against those of the people who had had the case under private observation for three and a half years. Surely this respectable young man deserved the laurels of mediumism as much as did Eusapia. What are two failures against three and a half years’ manifestations that ‘had grown more and more numerous and bewildering as time went on’? I am sure that, if Mr. Hereward Carrington had given his blessing, this young man might have become a famous medium instead of being blighted after his years of successful effort.
But Mr. Carrington cannot conceive an alternative between a bare-faced swindle and a spirit manifestation, and in this he is harsher than I. It is plain that this young lawyer had the respect of his friends and was believed to be honest, just like Mrs. Piper and Stainton Moses, and Mr. Carrington missed a chance of useful psychological investigation when he dismissed the case so curtly. The chance cannot be recalled, but a talk with this medium might have helped in the understanding of his distinctly disordered mind. I once had the chance of a frank talk with the accomplice of a professional medium, but, though he had some belief in the occult, he was so fully conscious of his roguery that I learned no more psychology than I have picked up from a three-card trickster. Anyhow, Mr. Carrington gives us an example of a medium in the making who we can only guess was a man whose disappointed ambitions and neurotic ‘Will to Power’ had led him astray.