Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/409

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In the south where foot binding is not prevalent the women bear their children very easily, with little outcry, and are expected to be up in a day or two. Dr. Swan, of Canton, testifies that more than once on calling for a sampan to take him across the river he has been asked to wait a quarter or a half hour. By that time the mistress of the boat would have given birth to the child, laid it in a corner among some rags and be ready to row him across. In childbirth the woman attended by a dirty old mid-wife in a filthy hovel escapes puerperal fever under conditions that would certainly kill a white woman. In cases of difficult birth when after a couple of days the white physician, is called in and removes the dead infant, the woman has some fever but soon recovers. The women, moreover, are remarkably free from displacements and other troubles peculiar to the sex.

Living in a super-saturated, man-stifled land, profoundly ignorant of the principles of hygiene, the masses have developed an immunity to noxious microbes which excites the wonder and envy of the foreigner. They are not affected by a mosquito bite that will raise a large lump on the lately come foreigner. They can use contaminated water from canals without incurring dysentery. There is very little typhoid and what there is is so attenuated that it was long doubted to be typhoid. The fact was settled affirmatively only by laboratory tests. All physicians agree that among the Chinese smallpox is a mild disease. One likened it to the mumps. Organic heart trouble, usually the result of rheumatic faver, is declared to be very rare.

It is universally remarked that in taking chloroform the Chinese rarely pass through an excited stage, but go off very quietly. From after nausea they are almost wholly free. One physician of twenty-five years' practise has never had a death from chloroform, although he has not administered ether half a dozen times. The fact is, however, they stolidly endure operations which we would never perform without an anesthetic. Small tumors are usually thus removed and in extracting teeth gas is never administered. Sometimes extensive cutting—e. g., the removal of a tumor reaching down into and involving the excision of the decayed end of a rib—is borne without flinching. Only three physicians interviewed had failed to remark the insensibility of their patients to pain. Here, perhaps, is the reason why no people in the world have used torture so freely as the Chinese. This bluntness of nerve, however, does not appear to be universal. The scholars, who usually neglect to balance their intense brain work with due physical exercise, are not stoical. The meat-eating and wine-bibbing classes lack the insensibility of the vegetarian, non-alcoholic masses. The self-indulgent gentry who shun all activity, bodily or mental, and give themselves up to sensual gratification, are very sensitive to pain and very fearful of it. Some make the point, therefore, that the oft-noted dull-