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Limbless Workers., Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
There is now making the tour of Europe, exhibiting in tho different towns, a limbless man, who docs many things that must be seen to bo believed. He was born without either legs or arms ; and yet he can write letters, cut paper with scissors, pour water froip a bottle into a glass, eat with a fork and spoon, take bis watch from his pocket, open it, and put it back, thread a needle, ami fire a pistol! His name is Nicolai Wassiliewitch Kobelkofl'; and ho was born at Troizk, in Siberia, in 1552, a fourteenth child, all his brothers and sisters being properly formed. In 1870 he married an Austrian woman, and has five children, all of whom was fully developed. Kobelkoff has the rudiments of legs, one thigh being six inches long, the other about two inches longer; but for a right arm bo has merely a conical mound, and for a left arm a rounded bone, representing the humerus. And, with these stumps and their atrophied muscles, to conduct an entertainment ia not easy. However, the Russian manages to make himself fairly interesting. He sits at a table, fixes a pen between his cheek and arm, and writes away iu a good, clear, commercial hand. And, with the same combination of cheek and shoulder, he does most of the other things—the most seemingly difficult being that of feeding himself. The way he threads a needle ia to take it in his mouth and stick it in his jacket, and then, putting the thread in his mouth, pats it through tho eye. Ho can draw passably well, and he draws as he writes. The strangest thing is to see him load a pistol, aim it at a lighted candle, and shoot the light out. He even tries some acrobatic performances, but these are not very striking, consisting merely of jumping off his chair and doing a sort of sack race across the floor.
At Antwerp recently there was an artist who copied the masterpieces of Rubens, and yet had no hands. All his work was done with his toes, and so well did he paint that his pictures fetched a higher price for their artistic merit than those of any other artist in the city. On the foot with which ho shook hands he wore a black glove. There are many cases of women sewing with their toes ; and there is one remarkable instance of an armless watchmaker, who used to take watches to pieces and clean them with his toes. In the London streets, daring the last year or so, a man has planted himself in quiet corners, netting with his toes ; and writing with the toes is an ordinary performance that anyone cau do with a little practice. One of the most extraordinary cases of work done by a cripple was, however, that of John Carter, a velvet weaver, who fell from a tree, broke his neck, and yet survived, paralysed from his collar-bone downward. He had no feeling in his body or limbs, and could even bo pinched or bruised without knowing anything about it. For fifteen years he lived in bed, at first reading, and then painting, holding his brush in his lips. His copy was hung by tapes from the roof of hia bed ; and, after a time, ho had a desk made by a friend under his own directions, on which his drawing-paper was secured by pias. It stood beside his right shoulder, about six inches from his face. The pencil with which he drew the outline was placed in his mouth, and guided by hia lips. The rest of the work was carried out with very fine camel’s hair brushes —the cheap ones which may be bought in a country shop. After years of patient endeavor, he could copy accurately, line for line, the finest engravings ; and these copies fetch good prices even in America, where many of them were taken. Considering that no line once made could be erased, and that he could not measure or space out his work, the accuracy which distinguished him was wonderful. Hia masterpiece was a copy of a ‘ Virgin and Child,’ after Albert Durer, in which every line is as if photographed, true in direction, weight, and swell, and delicate as silk, particularly in the veil, which loses nothing in transparency. To draw such lines on this bard metal is not easy ; but to draw them with a brush held in the lips, on paper resting on a little desk in bed, is enough to make us wonder of what the human frame is capable, if only directed with perseverance. Surely, the moral is that those who have all their powers ought not to be discouraged by the little obstacles or even the greater ones which they are sure to meet.—‘Boys' Own Paper.’
Limbless Workers., Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
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