Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/412

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ister military significance. Nobody fears lest in a stand-up fight Chinese troops could whip an equal number of well-conditioned white troops. But few battles are fought by men fresh from tent and mess. In the course of a prolonged campaign involving irregular provisioning, bad drinking water, lying out, loss of sleep, exhausting marches, exposure, excitement and anxiety, it may be that the white soldiers would be worn down worse than the yellow soldiers. In that case the hardier men with less of the martial spirit might in the closing grapple beat the better fighters with the less endurance.

In view of what has been shown the competition of white laborers and yellow is not so simple a test of human worth as some may imagine. Under good conditions the white man can best the yellow man in turning off work. But under bad conditions the yellow man can best the white man, because he can better endure spoiled food, poor clothing, foul air, noise, heat, dirt, discomfort and microbes. Reilly can outdo Ah San, but Ah San can underlive Reilly. Ah San can not take away Reilly's job as being a better workman; but, because he can live and do some work at a wage on which Reilly can not keep himself fit to work at all, three or four Ah Sans can take Reilly's job from him. And they will do it too, unless they are barred out of the market where Reilly is selling his labor. Reilly's endeavor to exclude Ah San from his labor market is not the case of a man dreading to pit himself on equal terms against a better man. Indeed, it is not quite so simple and selfish and narrow-minded as all that. It is a case of a man fitted to get the most out of good conditions refusing to yield his place to a weaker man able to withstand bad conditions.

Of course, with the coming in of western sanitation, the terrible selective process by which Chinese toughness has been built up will come to an end, and this property will gradually fade out of the race physique. But for our time at least it is a serious and pregnant fact. It will take some generations of exposure to the relaxing effects of drains, ventilation, doctors, district nurses, food inspectors, pure water, open spaces and out-of-door sports to eradicate the peculiar vitality which the yellow race has acquired. During the interim the chief effect of freely admitting coolies to the labor markets of the west would be the substitution of low wages, bad living conditions and the increase of the yellow race for high wages, good living conditions and the increase of the white race.