An online version of the book 'Eusepia Palladino and her Phenomena' by Hereward Carrington has been made available here
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from Open Knowledge Commons and Harvard Medical School
The complete book can be read online at http://ia700500.us.archive.org/11/items/eusapiapalladino1909carr/eusapiapalladino1909carr.pdf
The Preface to the book is outlined below:
While much has been written in France and Italy concerning the remarkable woman who forms the subject of this book, but little has appeared either in England or
America—with the exception of M. Flammarion's work, Mysterious Psychic Forces, and a series of articles that have appeared from time to time in the English edition of the
Annals of Psychical Science. Yet the case is one of the most remarkable that has come to the attention of the scientific world for many years—since we are concerned, apparently, with movements of physical objects without contact, and even far more startling phenomena—contrary to the known laws of physics and physiology.
In the following book I propose to lay before the reader a summary of all the historic evidence available, together with a detailed record of our own experiments with this
medium, conducted in Naples, in November and December, 1908; a complete resume of every theory that has been advanced to date—with a provisional hypothesis of my own; and then to discuss at some length the biological and psychological peculiarities of the case—from the point of view of one who assumes, on the strength of the existing testimony, that the facts are established.
One forms a very different opinion of Eusapia's seances before and after he has obtained personal sittings. Before, although I was vastly impressed with the cumulative evidence, I was far from being irrevocably convinced—an attitude which I occupy to-day. I had given a rapid survey of the Palladino case in one of my previous books, The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, saying in part:
"And thus the matter stands: One half the world is convinced that Eusapia is a fraud, and the other half is convinced that the phenomena witnessed in her presence are
genuine! What the ultimate verdict will be it is hard to foresee; but it is certain that the case, as it stands, is not convincing to the scientific world, and fresh evidence must be forthcoming if the case is ever to be decided in her favor.
If Eusapia possesses genuine mediumistic gifts, it ought only to be a matter of time and sufficiently careful experimenting in order to establish that fact."
Professor Morselli took occasion to make this the text of a lengthy reply to my book (appearing in the Annals of Psychical Science, August-September, 1908), based on his seances with Eusapia, in which he said:
"I hope and believe that my voluminous work on Palladino's spiritism will give a satisfactory answer to the distinguished American psychist, who is so severe on physical mediumship, and only accepts as valid, in general, the bygone categories of the historical phenomena of spiritism. He is guided by the preconceived idea that in the earlier times, from the Fox Sisters to Home, the physical phenomena were more authentic, because then the mediums did not copy one another and mediumship was confined to the spontaneous revelation of new biopsychical forces, without the intervention of mimicry. . . .
"Now it is hazardous to express judgments on a powerful but variable medium like Eusapia on such slight documentary evidence; but Mr. Carrington, like all the English and American psychists, is still under the impression received from the check at Cambridge, caused by an excess of rigidity in the interpretation of the movements of the medium's hands and feet. We have the obsession of trickery by the substitution
of one hand for the other, according to the formal accusation made by E. Torelli-Viollier against Palladino in 1892, at the time of the celebrated experiments in Milan,
at the house of M. E. Finzi. And in reality, in America also, where the conjuring ability of mediums has reached the highest degree, the trick of the freeing of one hand from
the chain of controllers is practised every day by charlatan mediums, who are very numerous there. I append two very significant illustrations which Mr. Carrington has inserted in his book, . . . which show very plainly the method of deception used by mediums for evading the surveillance of the controllers to right and left; with the freed hand they are able to produce touchings, raps, noises, slight movements of objects, apports, etc. . . .
"Mr. Carrington, whom I still quote for precaution, for he is not only a firm believer in immortality, but also a psychist of authority, assumes an attitude of extreme distrust
when he says: " 'It is not only probable, but certain, that the vast majority of modern occult phenomena are fraudulent. I am disposed to believe that fully ninety-eight per cent, of the phenomena, both mental and physical, are fraudulently produced. . .
"No critic or skeptic, were it Dr. Hodgson returned to earth, could ever convince me that, in a long series of seances with Eusapia, and especially in the last ones of 1906-7, I had only seen, in all, two genuine phenomena in every hundred ! This is my opinion, and I live in this confidence toward myself and my fellow-investigators, notwithstanding all that Carrington writes about Eusapia Palladino. . . ."
This will, I trust, serve to show the reader that I did not go to Eusapia's seances any too ready to be convinced; and the fact that I was so convinced (this being the first case of genuine physical mediumship I had ever seen during ten years continuous investigation) proves, it seems to me, that the severest skeptics are likely to become converted if they would but deign to stop criticising the reports and sittings of others, and go and have sittings themselves. Only in that manner can one's mental attitude be changed, and the genuine nature of the facts be forced upon one—as they were
forced upon me. In spite of my conviction, however, I wish to say that I am just as skeptical as ever of all other professional mediums; and still think that as large a percentage of fraud exists as when I wrote the above passage. Eusapia is genuine; but she is, so far as I know, almost unique; and I shall believe in the genuineness of none other, until they have submitted their mediumship and their phenomena to tests similar to those imposed upon Eusapia. It is very true that, granting that her seances are genuine, it is highly probable that many others are genuine also—only the evidence does not prove it. However, until phenomena are produced under conditions
which preclude the possibility of fraud, it is useless to speculate as to whether they are genuine or not. Of course it is possible that phenomena only occur under conditions which render fraud possible; but if that be the case, it is useless to continue the investigation, since nothing will ever be proved. We should always have to assume that fraud was the real explanation of the facts so long as it was possibly operative.
In our own seances, we (my fellow-investigators and myself) felt that we had obtained phenomena under conditions that absolutely precluded fraud; we were forced to the conclusion, in consequence, that genuine phenomena occurred; and, that being the case, they should be studied by scientists —not with the object of detecting trickery, but in the hope of discovering the hidden causes and laws of certain unknown and as yet unrecognized biological phenomena. Of course each investigator must, unfortunately, be convinced in turn before he can approach the case from that point of view. The consequence is that years of valuable time have been consumed in attempts to establish the facts; and, by the time they are accepted by the skeptical world, it is probable that Eusapia will have died, and that we shall have to await the advent of another equally gifted medium before we can
study the significance of the phenomena in the spirit in which they should be approached!
I think I ought to say in conclusion that, although this book represents my own opinions concerning these phenomena— for which I alone am responsible—the task of establishing the facts was equally shared by my colleagues, the Hon. Everard Feilding, and Mr. W. W. Baggally, to whom I wish to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation for their cooperation and support, and to whom credit is equally due, for whatever certitude has been reached regarding the existence of these preternormal events. Only by their exhaustive and painstaking investigations and by their sympathetic cooperation has the issuance of this book been rendered possible.
I wish to acknowledge my thanks, also, to the English Society for Psychical Research, for their permission to quote extended passages from our official Report upon Eusapia
— which originally appeared in the S. P. R. Proceedings: also to the editor of The Annals of Psychical Science, for permission to quote from the valuable collection of material upon Eusapia's mediumship that has appeared in that journal.
I also wish to acknowledge, in this place, my indebtedness to all those investigators of Eusapia whose records have been utilized in the compilation of this book; and particularly to those eminent men of science whose courageous championing of an unpopular cause has paved the way for this investigation.