In Europe monsters never fail to excite much public attention ; they readily obtain a place in museums, and cabinets of the curious ; and even slight deviations from nature, such as a finger or a toe more or less, have been the subject of elaborate memoirs, perhaps in many respects disproportionate to their real importance. In China the case is quite otherwise ; we know of no such collections. I understand from Dr. Morrison that their books are silent on this subject, and that the very extraordinary and interesting monster, which I am about to describe, was born only two days' journey from Canton, about sixteen years ago. It has been exhibited at Canton and all around ever since; yet, so far as my inquiries have extended, no account of this Lusus

Naturas has hitherto been drawn up, or come to the knowledge of any European. When I was first informed that a monster was to be seen in a temporary enclosure near St. Agostinho's church, Macao, I lost no time in attempting to gratify my curiosity; but I learned that the monster was then unwell, and had retired to rest. I then formed the resolution of having him brought to my house, for the double purpose of more deliberate observation, and of having at the same time a correct model made under my own eye; but aware that the only good artist then in Macao was employed, I deferred giving my orders for a few days ; in the meantime, the monster unexpectedly left Macao.

 

However, the modeller had made such careful observations of the subject, that he informed me he could make an exact representation of what he had seen. He has succeeded so well, that I am assured by many friends who had carefully examined the original, that the model is wonderfully exact : a few unimportant exceptions shall be pointed out in the order of my description. I have spared no collecting information from every quarter ; I have had the advantage of receiving accounts from a great many intelligent friends, among whom I have the pleasure to mention three medical gentlemen of this place. All their accounts agree surprisingly well. The model has been shewn to many of them, and my account read, with both of which they are entirely satisfied : so I am persuaded that my own observations could not have added much either to the value or variety of those which I have been so fortunate as to receive from others.


A-ke was born sixteen years ago, in the district of Yun-Ping Heen, with another male child of nearly the same size united to the pit of the stomach by the neck, as if his brother had plunged its head into his breast. The skin of the principal here joins that of the upper part of the neck of the parasite, quite regularly and smoothly, excepting the superficial blood vessels, which appear somewhat turgid. The sufferings of the mother were so great, that she survived the birth of this monster only two days.


Since that time the parasite has not much increased in size,* and at present is not much larger than new-born infants usually are ; but the bones are completely formed. The shoulder bones are remarkably prominent. Here the model is faulty, since it represents the roundness of infancy ; but all this plumpness has disappeared from the original, where bones seem only to be covered with skin. The hips of the model are too prominent. The manner in which the thighs appear is quite happy, but the feet, particularly the left, are not sufficiently clubbed. In the original, generally the feet and toes are less perfect than in the model. The toes adhere, and one or two are wanting.


The attachment of the neck of the parasite to the chest of the principal admits of a semirotatory motion. The natural position of the bellies is towards each other; but A-ke can turn his brother so far round that he can bring either side towards his own belly. He also shows that his brother's arms can be moved freely. The thighs and legs remain stiffly bent, as represented in the model : the thigh being anchylosed with the ossa innominata above, and the tibi?below. The anus is wanting.


A-ke is now about four feet- and ten inches high, of a feeble frame and sickly appearance: but, excepting the encumbrance above described, he is in all respects perfectly formed. He appears to be sufficiently conversable and intelligent, and says that he has the same feeling of pain, if any part of his brother's body is hurt, as if it was the same part of his own body ; even the slightest touch, which would be perceptible if applied to his own person, is equally perceptible if applied to his brother. This statement was most satisfactorily confirmed by an ingenious medical gentleman, who, observing A-ke's attention to be fully employed, and his head turned away in a contrary direction, pinched quickly the hip of the parasite ; A-ke instantly struck the same part of his own person, just as if that had been the pinched place.


Formerly he had reason to imagine, from certain obscure motions which he [* I have the authority of Lieut. Gen. Wood for stating, that a careful admeasurement of the parasite was made at his request; the trunk and neck measured about eleven inches, and the longest limb thirteen inches, making in the extreme length two feet. This accords sufficiently well with the size I have mentioned ; but as the modellers in China do not work by any scale, it would he useless to deduce any exact measurement of the whole figure by knowing a part.] perceived within his brother, when he was himself in pain, that all their feelings were reciprocal ; but for some time past he has not been sensible of this, excepting when he has occasion to make water ; his brother then never fails to void his urine at the same time, whether he has occasion to relieve nature, or to gratify the curiosity of spectators.
 

A-ke*s respiration is never perfectly free ; on the contrary, it is commonly laborious ; and on the slighest exertion, such as walking to a little distance, ascending a flight of steps, or the like, he breathes quickly and with difficulty. To relieve this he supports the parasite with his hands ; but to obtain any considerable degree of ease, a recumbent posture is necessary. His pulse is commonly quick and small. Mr. Gomez felt distinctly the pulsation of the carotids in the neck of the parasite ; it was feeble. He also examined carefully the pulse at the wrists; it was very slow (valde lente.)
 

The usual temperature of both is natural. A-ke wears an unusual quantity of clothes, yet he never appears to perspire even in the warmest weather. His usual gait is unsteady and feeble: when he walks up or
down stairs he supports himself with one hand, and his brother with the other, and brings both his feet upon the same step, before he attempts to advance another foot.


When in his best state of health, he informed Mr. Gomez his appetite was so good that he could take as much food as any three of his age. At present his health in general is much impaired. He complains of weakness of stomach, loss of appetite, defective and painful digestion ; so it is commonly thought that he cannot live long. His countenance is sallow, and more emaciated than it appears in the model.


A-ke's father is one of the poorest class of husbandmen. He has been content to hire his son for five Spanish dollars a month to the man, who has for his trouble all the profits of the exhibition. Ten cash (less than a penny sterling) is the price of admittance into the enclosure, which they make in public places. He walks to private houses; the parasite appearing while going through the streets like a tumor under his clothes. On these occasions the exhibiter is content to receive whatever is given. He commonly gets half a dollar, or a dollar. The concern does not appear to be profitable.


Having stated the circumstances of this wonderful and most interesting case, as they have come to my knowledge, I might be excused from making any observations. The field is ample, and no doubt a variety of ingenious opinions will be formed. I think, however, you will be desirous to have my reflections on some points ; I shall, therefore, mention a few.


It will probably be admitted that as the quantity of nourishment which the parasite derives from the principal system is only sufficient to preserve life without adding to the bulk of its parts, it receives blood only from small arteries, perhaps from the branches of the mammillary arteries, where they freely inosculate with the large branches of the epigastrics, forming arteries which may either immediately anastomose with those of the parasite, and supply its veins and heart with blood, sufficient to support a species of circulation, similar to that of the f?tus in utero : the principal supplying the place of the placenta, or the blood may be returned to the principal, by a set of veins peculiar to the parasitic state of existence. It is highly probable that the entire pulmonary system is wanting, or in a state of complete torpor, and from the flaccid appearance of the abdomen, we can scarcely doubt but the cbylopoietic viscera are in a similar state.


Considering the Chinese account of seminal secretion as founded in error, the parasite can only be regarded as having the kidneys in an efficient state, besides the circulation of the blood and absorbents. This state seems to admit of no other function.
 

This view of our subject accords sufficiently well with that theory of monstrous productions which supposes that two distinct embryos had coalesced by some accidental circumstance, which may have caused the amnions of each to adhere ; and controverts an opinion which at one time had many advocates respecting the use of the liquor amnii. It may be conjectured, on the same view, that the great sympathetic nerve of A-ke supplies the urinary and genital systems, and that the nerves of his skin are diffused over that of his brother also. All this will require that our notions of the nervous system shall be considerably modified, before we can be enabled to account for the few but decisive facts which belong to this part of our subject : to account for these uncommonly received principles, it will be necessary to suppose that the monster had the same conformation in the primordial germ. This conjecture removes some of our difficulties. It explains how the brain of A-ke is in all respects a sensorium commune to both. That the parasite is, therefore, only a duplicate of the principal, is not more difficult to be imagined than a supplementary finger or toe. Here, however, our field expands into a wilderness, into which it would be unsafe to enter without a guide; I shall, therefore, resign the task into the hands of more adventurous discoverers.

(Signed) JOHN LIVINGSTON
Surgeon to the British Factory,
Macao, 8 D??. 1820.

 


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