This story was originally published in the Illustrated Police News, August 29, 1896.
The article begins with: “Marvellous Freak of Nature In An Eight Months’ Old Baby“, so you know it’s going to be really sensitive and professional.
“There died on Monday in St. Louis, says a Daily Mail correspondent, the most extraordinary case of lusus naturae [freak of nature] that has probably ever been known. Herman Bench was eight months old at his death, which was caused, the doctors say, through senile decay.
“Imagine the strange course of nature that in eight months converts the baby into the decrepit man of 80. This individual – it can scarcely be called a child – had a fully developed head, its face had the aspect of maturity, and on it age had placed the lines of care. During its brief existence it grew a beard and manifested other signs of maturity. Lastly, with respect to intelligence, it passed through all the mental stages peculiar to mankind, from prattling babyhood to youthful volubility, and from middle-aged meditativeness to senile garrulity and then to extinction. All this in eight months”.
It’s a miracle they didn’t include an equally sensitive illustration of the baby. Jesus, guys. Seriously. You couldn’t have been a little more sensational?
On a different note, do any readers out there know what medical condition could account for this? It’d be interesting (and refreshing) to have a more clinical perspective.