Puslapio vaizdai

rods wide, and differing in level by the height of a man. I have also seen the sides of a gully in which a child could not stand undiscovered cut into shelves for making a string of rice-plots no larger than a table-cloth, irrigated by a trickle no bigger than a baby's finger. One of these plots, duly banked and set out with nineteen rice-plants at the regulation eight inches, could be covered by a dinner napkin!

Were it not for an agriculture of incredible painstaking, the fertility of the soil would have been spent ages ago. In a low-lying region like Kiang-su, for example, the farmer digs an oblong settling basin, into which every part of his farm drains. In the spring, from its bottom he scoops for fertilizer the rich muck washed from his fields. It is true the overflow from his pond carries away some precious elements, but these he recovers by dredging the private canal that connects. him with the main artery of the district. In the loess belt of north China the farmer simply digs a pit in the midst of his field and scatters the yellow earth from it as a manure. A Chinese city has no sewers nor does it greatly need them. Long before sunrise, tank-boats from the farms have crept through the city by a network of canals, and by the time the foreigner has finished his morning coffee, a legion of scavengers have collected for the encouragement of the crops that which we cast into our sewers. After a rain, countrymen with buckets prowl about the streets scooping black mud out of hollows and gutters or dipping liquid filth from the wayside sinks. A highway traversed by two hundred carts a day is as free from filth as a garden path, for the neighboring farmers patrol it with basket and rake.

No natural resource is too trifling to be turned to account by the teeming population. The sea is raked and strained for edible plunder. Seaweed and kelp have a place in the larder. Great quantities of shell-fish, no bigger than one's fingernail, are opened and made to yield a food that finds its way far inland. The fungus that springs up in the grass after a rain is eaten. Fried sweet potato-vines furnish the poor man's table. The roadside ditches are bailed out for the sake of fishes no longer than one's finger.

Great panniers of strawberries, half of them still green, are collected in the mountain ravines and offered in the markets. No weed or stalk escapes the bamboo rake of the autumnal fuel-gatherer. The grass tufts on the rough slopes are dug up by the roots. The sickle reaps the grain close to the ground, for straw and chaff are needed to burn under the rice-kettle. The leaves of the trees are a crop to be carefully gathered. One never sees a rotting stump or a mossy log. Bundles of brush, carried miles on the human back, heat the brick-kiln and the potter's furnace. After the last trees have been taken, the far and forbidding heights are scaled by lads with ax and mattock to cut down or dig up the seedlings that, if left alone, would reclothe the devastated ridges. We asked a Szechuenese if he did not admire a certain craggy peak with gnarled pines clinging to it. "No," he replied; "how can it be beautiful when it is so steep that we cannot get at the trees to cut them down?"

The cuisine of China is one of the great toothsome cuisines of the world; but for the common people the stomach and not the palate decides what shall be food. The silkworms are eaten after the cocoon has been unwound from them. After their work is done, horses, donkeys, mules, and camels become butcher's meat. The cow or pig that has died a natural death is not disdained. A missionary who had always let his cook dispose of a dead calf noticed that his calves always died. Finally he saturated the carcass of the calf with carbolic acid and made the cook bury it. Thereafter his calves lived. In Canton dressed rats and cats are exposed for sale. Our boatmen cleaned and ate the head, feet, and entrails of the fowls used by our cook. Scenting a possible opening for a tannery, the governor of Hong-Kong once set on foot an inquiry as to what became of the skins of the innumerable pigs slaughtered in the colony. He learned that they were all made up as "marine delicacy" and sold among the Chinese. Another time he was on the point of ordering the extermination of the mangy curs that infest the villages in the Kowloon district because they harassed the Sikh policemen in the performance of their duties. He found just in time that such an act would "interfere with the


food of the people," something a British colonial governor must never do.

Though the farmer thriftily combs his harvest-field, every foot of the short stubble is gone over again by poor women and children, who are content if in a day's gleaning they can gather a handful of wheat-heads to keep them alive the morrow. On the Hong-Kong water-front the path of the coolies carrying produce between warehouse and junk is lined with tattered women, most of them with a baby on the back. Where bags of beans or rice are in transit, a dozen wait with basket and brush to sweep up the grains dropped from the sacks. On a wharf where crude sugar is being repacked squat sixty women scraping the inside of the discarded sacks, while others run by the bearer, if his sack leaks a little, to catch the particles as they fall. When sugar is being unloaded, a mob of gleaners swarm upon the lighter the moment the last sack leaves and eagerly scrape from the gang-plank and the deck the sugar mixed with dirt, that for two hours has been trampled into a muck by the bare feet of twoscore coolies trotting back and forth across a dusty road.

Haunted by the fear of starving, men spend themselves recklessly for the sake of a wage. It is true that the Chinese are still in the handicrafts stage, and the artisans one sees busy on their own account in the little workshops along the street go their own pace. The smiths in iron, tin, copper, brass, and silver, the carvers of ivory, amber, tortoise-shell, onyx, and jade, the workers in wood, rattan, lacquer, wax, and feathers, the weavers of linen, cotton, and silk-all seem, despite their long hours, less breathless and driven, less prodigal in their expenditure of life energy, than many of the operatives in our machine industries, who feel the spur of piece wage, team work, and "speeding up." Still, it is obvious that those in certain occupations are literally killing themselves by their exertions. The treadmill coolies who propel the stern-wheelers on the West River admittedly shorten their lives. Nearly all the lumber used in China is hand-sawed, and the sawyers are exhausted early. The planers of boards, the marble. polishers, the brass filers, the cotton fluffers, the treaders who work the big ricepolishing pestles, are building their coffins. Physicians agree that carrying coolies


rarely live beyond forty-five or fifty. The term of a chair-bearer is eight years, that of a rickshaw-runner four years; for the rest of his life he is an invalid. Moreover, carriers and chair-bearers are afflicted with varicose veins and aneurisms because the constant tension of the muscles interferes with the return circulation of the blood. A woman physician in Fuhkien who had examined some scores of carrying coolies told me she found only two who were free from the heart trouble caused by burdenbearing.

In Canton, city of a million without a wheel or a beast of burden, even the careless eye marks in the porters that throng the streets the plain signs of overstrain: faces pale and haggard, with the drawn and flat look of utter exhaustion; eyes pain-pinched, or astare and unseeing with supreme effort; jaw sagging; mouth open from weariness. The dog-trot, the whistling breath, the clenched teeth, the streaming face of those under a burden of from one to two hundredweight that must be borne, are as eloquent of ebbing life as a jetting artery. At rest the porter often leans or droops with a corpse-like sag that betrays utter depletion of vital energy. In a few years the face becomes a wrinkled, pain-stiffened mask, the veins of the upper leg stand out like great cords, a frightful net of varicose veins blemishes the calf, lumps appear at the back of the neck or down the spine, and the shoulders are covered with thick pads of callous under a livid skin. Inevitably the children of the people are drawn into these cogs at the age of ten or twelve, and not one boy in eight can be spared till he has learned to read.

There are a number of miscellaneous facts that hint how close the masses live to the edge of subsistence. The brass cash, the most popular coin in China, is worth the twentieth of a cent; but as this has been found too valuable to meet all the needs of the people, oblong bits of bamboo circulate in some provinces at the value of half a cash. A Western firm that wishes to entice the masses with its wares must make a grade of extra cheapness for the China trade. The British-American Tobacco Company puts up a package of twenty cigarettes that sells for two cents. The Standard Oil Company sells by the million. a lamp that costs eleven cents and retails,

chimney and all, for eight and a half cents. Incredibly small are the portions prepared for sale by the huckster. Two cubic inches of bean curd, four walnuts, five peanuts, fifteen roasted beans, twenty melon-seeds, make a portion. The melonvender's stand is decked out with wedges of insipid melon the size of two fingers. The householder leaves the butcher's stall with a morsel of pork, the pluck of a fowl, and a strip of fish as big as a sardine, tied together with a blade of grass. In Anhwei the query corresponding to "How do you make your living?" is "How do you get through the day?" On taking leave of his host, it is manners for the guest to thank him expressly for the food he has provided. Careful observers say that four fifths of the conversation among common Chinese relates to food.

Comfort is scarce as well as food. The city coolie sleeps on a plank in an airless. kennel on a filthy lane with a block for a pillow and a quilt for a cover. When in a south China hospital the beds were provided with springs and mattresses, supplied by a philanthropic American, all the patients were found next morning sleeping on the floor. After being used to a board covered with a mat, they could not get their proper slumber on a soft bed.

Necessity makes the wits fertile in devising new ways of earning a living. In some localities people place about the floors of their chambers and living-rooms fleatraps, tiny joints of bamboo with a bit of aromatic glue at the bottom which attracts and holds fast the vermin. Recently in Szechuen-where there is a proverb, “The sooner you get a son, the sooner you get happiness"-some wight has been enterprising enough to begin going about from house to house cleaning the dead fleas and dried glue from the traps and rebaiting them with fresh glue. For this service he charges each house one twentieth of a cent!

The great number hanging on to existence "by the eyelashes" and dropping into the abyss at a gossamer's touch cheapens life. "Yan to meng ping" ("Many men life cheap"), reply the West River watermen when reproached for leaving a sick comrade on the shore to die. In a thronged six-foot street I beheld a shriveled, horribly twisted leper on his back, hitching himself along sidewise inch by

inch and imploring the by-passers to drop alms into his basket. It held four cash! In Canton the Government furnishes lepers two cents a day, which will buy two bowls of cooked rice; for other needs the lepers must beg. Ax and bamboo are retained in punishment, and prison reform is halted by the consideration that unless the way of the transgressor is made flinty, there are people miserable enough to commit crime for the bare sake of prison fare. Not long ago the commissioner of customs at a great south China port-a foreigner, of course,-impressed by the fact that every summer the bubonic plague there carried off about ten thousand Chinese, planned a rigid quarantine against those ports from which the plague was liable to be brought. When he sought the coöperation of the Chinese authorities, the taotai objected on the ground that there were too many Chinese anyway, and that, by thinning them out and making room for the rest, the plague was a blessing in disguise. The project was dropped, and last summer again the plague ravaged the city like a fire. But the taotai was not unreasonable. After all, it is better to die quickly by plague than slowly by starvation; and, as things now are, if fewer Chinese perished by disease, more would be swept away by famine.

In a press so desperate, if a man stumbles, he is not likely to get up again. I have heard of several cases where an employee, dismissed for incompetence or fault, returned starving again and again, because nowhere could he find work. In China you should move slowly in getting rid of an incompetent. Ruthless dismissal, such as we tolerate, is bitterly resented and leads to extreme unpopularity. Again, no one attempts to stand alone, seeing the lone man is almost sure to go under. The son of Han dares not cut himself off from his family, his clan, or his gild, for they throw him the life-line by which he can pull himself up if his foot slips. Students in the schools are strong in mass action, strikes, walkouts, etc., for their action, however silly or perverse, is always unanimous. The sensible lad never thinks of holding out against the folly of his fellows. The whole bidding of his experience has been "Conform or starve." Likewise no duty is impressed like that of standing by your kinsmen. The official, the arsenal

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