Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/346

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

326

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

dollars, and such a room would usually be occupied by three or four persons. The house varies in value, from the twenty-dollar cabin of the poor to the thousand-dollar dwelling of the rich. The value of the land in the villages in which the agriculturists live is from six to eight hundred dollars an acre.

As the emigration of men is constant, and the smothering of female infants is common, it is probable that the land will support no more than its present population. One sixth of an acre to each mouth to be filled is commonly declared to be the least that will enable the cultivator to live upon his own land, even with the highest tillage and the utmost frugality. One acre, tilled by the peasant proprietor alone, will feed six persons—the peasant, his wife, his aged father and mother, and his two young children. It will yield rice, hulled in the house, and vegetables, raised between rice-crops, sufficient for food. The straw and stubble will serve as fuel, and the pig and fowls will supply meat. The clothing will be woven and made by the wife, while the old couple take care of the children. The aged and the young are thus provided for through the land which has been the property of the one and will be the inheritance of the other. If dirt, superstition, and mendacity were eliminated from such a home, its inmates would appear eminently fit to survive. A process of natural selection has doubtless adapted the Chinese to their environment.

Two brothers, aged thirty-one and thirty-two years, inherited from their father one acre of land, half of which is watered. Their house, with the ground on which it is built, is worth fifty, their furniture fifteen, their clothing twenty, and their farming appliances thirty dollars. They live as well as do their neighbors, have paid up a debt inherited with their land, and are now laying up money to invest in wives. Twenty years ago a wife could be betrothed for thirty dollars, whereas none can now be obtained for less than a hundred dollars, and the price is rapidly rising. Last year they got twenty-seven dollars' worth of rice from one half their farm, after having put on twelve dollars' worth of fertilizers. On the other half they planted sugar-cane, put on fifteen dollars' worth of manure, and sold the standing crop for forty dollars. The younger brother did nearly all the work.

Pong Hia lives in a village of three hundred persons, in which about thirty men are land-owners, having altogether forty-five acres of land. Pong Hia owns two acres, inherited from the father who adopted him. His land is worth one thousand dollars. His family consists of ten persons. He is himself forty-six years old, his wife is forty-one, his son is twenty-two, his son's wife is twenty-one, his four daughters are from ten to seventeen, and his two grandchildren are three and seven years old. He and his son till the land, hiring help at harvest-time, and weaving straw mats on