In all ages there have been children capable of surprising their contemporaries with their unique talents. However, the most prominent among them is the so-called baby from Lubeck.
A boy named Christian Friedrich Heineken was born in a small town in northern Germany on February 6, 1721 and lived a little over four years, but went down in history as the most brilliant child ever born on earth. According to legend, he met with the king and spoke several languages fluently.
If Christian had to take an IQ test today, his result would probably have surpassed 200. However, he was not autistic. Like a sponge, the baby absorbed knowledge from various fields, not limited to one subject.
He was not withdrawn and communicated well with people, amazing them with his conclusions and harmony of speech. By ten months (according to other sources - by two or three months), the baby did not google like his peers, but built articulate sentences. He repeated them after his parents - the artist and architect Paul Heineken and the owner of an art shop and alchemist Katharina Elizabeth.
The child was helped in learning about the world by his nanny, Sophie Hildebrant, who was called by contemporaries a “soldier in a skirt” for her sergeant-major manners. Sophie abruptly snatched the baby out of the cradle, brought it to the picturesque canvases placed around the house, and repeated: “This is a horse, a pet. This tower with lights is called a lighthouse. This is the ship on which they sail on the sea. Now I will point with my finger, and you will tell me what it is …”.
Surprisingly, the kid spoke without hesitation what he had just heard. When the primitive knowledge of the nanny was exhausted, the governess Madame Adelsmann was discharged from Silesia. She had to, as Heineken Sr. said, "polish this gem."
Two or three months later, when an ordinary child clearly pronounces only "mom" and "dad," Christian Friedrich knew the main events from the first five books of the Bible. By the age of two, he could not only reproduce the facts of the biblical history, but also quoted the entire fragments of the Holy Scriptures in which they were mentioned.
A year later, the boy added world history and geography to his knowledge, combining this with the study of Latin and French, mathematics and biology. In the fourth year, he began studying church history and religion.
It seemed that the kid knew everything in the world. His fame spread with incredible speed. Therefore, the students of the Lübeck gymnasium were not too surprised when the boy took a seat in the pulpit to give a lecture.
Among the audience was Johann Heinrich von Seelen, rector of the Lübeck gymnasium. He recalled the day of January 2, 1724, when he was lucky enough to plunge into the "encyclopedic carousel", which he unrolled in front of the audience by the prodigy.
The boy began by analyzing the biographies of Roman and Germanic emperors - from Caesar and Augustus to Constantine, Ptolemy and Charlemagne. Then he moved smoothly to the Israeli kings, from them to the peculiarities of the geography of Germany.
He finished with a story about the structure of the human skeleton, having previously depicted bones. All this was linked by a strict logical chain, although the facts were from different eras and spheres of knowledge.
“The audience sat spellbound, everyone opened their mouths,” von Seelen wrote in his diary. - But the baby suddenly fell silent, hearing the ringing of the bell: "And now forgive me, gentlemen, I have to go to my sister of mercy!"
"It looks like he carries the whole world in his head," scientists, commoners, church authorities said with superstitious fear. “It’s painfully easy for him to learn!”
After reading hundreds of books, the genius kid loved only one book - the richly illustrated tome in Latin "The World of Sensual Things in Pictures" by the humanist and father of pedagogy Jan Amos Komensky. It was a kind of encyclopedia of the time.
Figures of literature and art, as if in a race, rushed to perpetuate the fame of the baby from Lubeck during his lifetime. The Hamburg-based composer Georg Philipp Telemann dedicated several works to him, moreover literary ones.
He specially arrived in Lubeck to get acquainted with the child prodigy, after which he said: "Indeed, if I were a pagan, I would kneel and bow my head before this child!" Telemann is the author of a poetic dedication, which was later placed under a portrait of a baby written by his mother: “A child who has not been born before, you are the one whom our world will hardly comprehend further, you are our eternal treasure.
The world will not believe your knowledge, partly comprehending them little by little. And we do not comprehend you yet, we ourselves do not understand your secret. " Even Immanuel Kant was involved in the glorification process, calling the young talent "the prodigy of the early mind from ephemeral existence."
A genius child could chant all the psalms, explain the characteristics of all known varieties of Moselle wine and reproduce the genealogical trees of the most prominent families in Europe. But holding the pen for several hours a day became a monstrous burden for the baby.
“Madam,” he once turned to his mother, “I want to go to Denmark to give the good King Frederick detailed nautical charts that I’m ready to draw with my own hand.” His mother replied that he was not yet strong enough to hold a pen in his hands. The boy reassured her, saying that “The Lord is merciful, he will give me strength to draw maps and cross the sea. The main thing is your permission."
I must say that Christian's parents strove to ensure that the whole world knew about the little genius. Therefore, they organized meetings with everyone who was interested in the boy, regardless of the fact that these meetings were very exhausting the prodigy.
When the rumor of the miracle reached King Frederick IV of Denmark, he expressed a desire to meet the miracle child. Frederick was an incredulous man and did not believe it when he was told that a three-year-old baby was fluent in four languages, while the king knew little of his native Danish and had difficulty signing. It was decided to take the child to Copenhagen.
The boy read several lectures on history in front of the king and the courtiers, and with references to authoritative sources, for which he was immediately awarded the nickname Mirakulum (translated from Latin "miracle").
The only thing the kid refused was to dine with the king. He explained as politely as possible that he ate nothing but cereals and dishes made of grain and flour.
The king was amazed again. But he was whispered: feeding the baby is entrusted to the "soldier in a skirt." From birth, the nurse taught the baby that as a true Christian he should not eat animal products. The suggestion was so strong that the boy simply could not be at the family table when the family members put fish or meat dishes in front of them.
Actually, the monotonous diet ruined him. The kid fell on the bed for no apparent reason and moaned from muscle pain, refusing to eat. He suffered from insomnia and lack of appetite. In addition, he could hardly endure any smells and sounds, demanded that he constantly wash his hands and not bother him with requests and visits.
Experts say that these are typical symptoms of celiac disease, an ailment caused by damage to the villi of the small intestine by certain foods containing certain proteins - gluten (gluten).
By the way, in Copenhagen, court doctors, not knowing about such a disease as celiac disease, tried to feed the baby a little differently than the "soldier in a skirt" prescribed. They gave him light soup, beer and sugar.
They told their mother about their suspicions: the cause of the disorder is an imbalance in nutrition, and Sophie is solely to blame for everything. But mom, so as not to “upset Sophie,” whom the baby loved dearly and sincerely, again translated him to porridge.
The journey to the Danish king and back took several months. Only on October 11, 1724, the baby arrived home with his relatives. The period began, as the Lubeck doctors noted, of progressive body weakness, intense joint and headaches, insomnia and lack of appetite. On June 16, 1725, Christian's health deteriorated sharply, his face became covered with edema.
A severe attack of allergies followed: the digestive system rebelled against everything that contains flour. Once, when the boy's feet were being treated with herbs, he said: "Our life is like smoke." After that, he sang several of the 200 church songs he knew, weaving his voice into the chorus of those who sat next to his crib and recited prayers.
The baby died on June 27, 1725 with the words: "God Jesus, take my spirit …" philosopher. For two weeks, the coffin with Christian Heineken, whose forehead was decorated with a laurel wreath, stood open.
The most famous persons of the north of Europe, and simply curious people who want to see the miracle child lying in the coffin for the last time, visited Lubeck to say goodbye to the young genius. At the same time, the parents carefully wrote down the names of all influential persons who came to the church.
Probably every child prodigy has something of Christian Heineken. He is related to Akrit Yasual by his knowledge of anatomy, since at the age of seven the Indian boy performed the first surgical operation.
John Stuart Mill, the famous 19th century philosopher and economist, could read Greek at the age of three. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became a virtuoso pianist by the age of four. William James Sidis learned to read and write at age one and a half and wrote four books by age eight.
Perhaps Christian would have become the youngest academician of that time if he had not obeyed the wet nurse. Or maybe he would have suffered the fate of the young poetess Nika Turbina, who from the age of four dictated poetry to her mother.
Growing up, Nika ceased to be a “little Russian miracle” and her life became like a bad dream: alcohol, drugs, suicide attempts and tragic death.
If a baby from the cradle understands that he is different from others, this inevitably distributes him from society. In addition, parents often emphasize this exclusivity. In many cases, geeks were literally tortured to death with work (and in the case of Christian, visits) and did not know the joys of childhood.
This is how a psychological impasse arises, from which not every young talent can get out. It sounds blasphemous, but, perhaps, celiac disease that was not investigated at the time saved the baby from Lubeck from the cruel disappointment that would have brought him inevitable world fame.
According to the American psychologist Leta Stetter Hollingward, children of genius are often simply emotionally unprepared to deal with serious philosophical and ethical problems, and this leads to tragedies - from insanity to early death.
Could the "baby from Lubeck" live a long and happy life? And who is to blame for his early death: vain parents, the nurse and her views on the diet, nature that endowed Christian with an excessive thirst for knowledge, which the child's body simply could not cope with?
If he was born in our time, the tragedy would probably have been avoided, but history, as you know, does not tolerate the subjunctive mood. Only one thing is known for sure: Christian's achievements have not yet been surpassed by a single child.