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JAMA 100 Years Ago
February 3, 1999

CRIPPLE MANUFACTURE FOR BEGGING PURPOSES.

Author Affiliations
 

Edited by Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 1999;281(5):402T. doi:10.1001/jama.281.5.402

The British Medical Journal recently stated that the manufacture of cripples to be let out as decoys for the alms of the charitable, is still said to be a flourishing industry in some parts of the Pyrenees. It would appear, remarks the same journal, that this is not one of the many inventions which make the so-called nineteenth century famous in the records of the ages, for FABRICUS HILDANUS, in his chapter on preternatural tumors, relates the following story: "In the year 1593 there was seen in Paris a boy of fifteen or eighteen months, the skin of whose head was so much stretched that it greatly exceeded the size of a natural hydrocephalus. The father and mother of the child carried him about from place to place as a monstrosity. As the concourse of people was great the magistrate suspected that there was some fraud in the matter and clapped the father and mother into prison. Being put to the question (a euphemism for the torture), they confessed their crime; to-wit, that they had made on the top of the head . . . a small hole, through which having pushed a syringe they blew air between the skin and the muscles in such a fashion that, little by little and repeating the process every day, they had made the swelling. The syringe being taken out, they stopped the hole with wax, or something of the kind."

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