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The Siamese Twins

In  the year 1829, Captain Coffin, of the American ship Sachem, arrived in the United States, with two youths, born in the kingdom of Siam, and united by a strong gristly ligature at the breast. Their names were Eng and Chang, and they were natives of Maklong, a village on the coast of Siam. They were born in May, 1811, of Chinese parents, who were in humble circumstances. They were engaged in fishing, keeping poultry, and manufacturing cocoa-nut oil, till they left their country. When they arrived, they were five feet two inches in height, well made,and muscular. They have been known to carry a person weighing 280 pounds.

The band that united these two persons was a cartilaginous substance, an eighth of an inch thick, and an inch and a half wide. It was flexible, and permitted the youths to turn in either direction. It was covered with skin, and seemed to be without pulsation. It was very strong, and of so little sensibility, that it might be smartly pulled, without seeming to give uneasiness. When touched in the centre, it was equally felt by both; but at half an inch from the centre, it was felt by only one.

They were agile, could walk or run with swiftness, and could swim well. Their intellectual powers were acute; they played at chess and draughts remarkably well, but never against each other. Their feelings were warm and affectionate, and their conduct amiable and well-regulated. They never entered into conversation with each other, beyond a simple remark made by one to the other, which seemed to be rationally accounted for by the fact, that, their experience being all in common, they had nothing to communicate. The attempt has frequently been made to engage them in separate conversations with different individuals, but always without success, as they are invariably inclined to direct their attention to the same thing at the same time.

In their movements perfect equanimity is observed; the one always concurring with the other, so that they appear as if actuated by a common mind. In their employments and amusements, they have never been known to utter an angry word towards each other. Whatever pleases or displeases one, has the same effect on the other. They feel hunger and thirst at the same time, and the quantity of food taken by them as nearly alike as possible. Both feel the desire to sleep simultaneously, and they always awake at the same moment. Upon the possibility of separating them with safety, there is some difference of opinion among medical men.

These two youths excited an extraordinary sensation upon their arrival in this country. For three or four years, they were exhibited here, and in Europe, and, finally, having obtained a competence, they purchased a farm in North Carolina, and established themselves as planters, where they still reside. They furnish the only instance in which two individuals have been thus united, and their case has probably excited more interest than any other freak of nature that has ever happened.

The most curious part of the story of Eng and Chang, is, that on the 13th of April, 1843, they were married to two sisters, Sarah and Adelaide Yeates, of Wilkes county, North Carolina!