Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/407

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403
THE RACE FIBER OF THE CHINESE

THE RACE FIBER OF THE CHINESE
By Professor EDWARD ALSWORTH ROSS

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN

OUT of ten children born among us three, normally the weakest three, will fail to grow up. Out of ten children born in China these weakest three will die and probably five more besides. The difference is owing to the hardships that infant life meets with among the Chinese. If at birth the white infants and the yellow infants are equal in stamina, the two surviving Chinese ought to possess greater vitality of constitution than the seven surviving whites. For of these seven the five that would infallibly have perished under oriental conditions of life are presumably weaker in constitution than the two who could have endured even such conditions. The two Chinese survivors will transmit some of their superior vitality to their offspring; and these in turn will be subject to the same sifting and the surviving two tenths will pass on to their children a still greater vitality. So that these divergent child mortalities drive, as it were, a wedge between the physiques of the two races. If, now, for generations we whites, owing to room and plenty and scientific medicine and knowledge of hygiene have been subject to a less searching and relentless elimination of the weaker than the Chinese, it would be reasonable to expect the Chinese to exhibit a greater vitality than the whites.

With a view to ascertaining whether the marked slackening in our struggle for life during the last century or two and our greater skill in keeping people alive has produced noticeable effects on our physique, I closely questioned thirty-three physicians practising in various parts of China, usually at mission hospitals.

Of these physicians, only one, a very intelligent German doctor at Tsing tao, had noticed no point of superiority in his Chinese patients. He declared them less enduring of injury, less responsive to treatment and no more enduring of pain than the simple and hardy peasants of Thuringia amongst whom he had formerly practised. Three other physicians, each of whom had practised a quarter century or more in China, had observed no difference in the physical reactions of the two races. I fancy their recollections of their brief student practise at home had so faded with time that they lacked one of the terms of the comparison. Moreover, two of these admitted under questioning that the Chinese do stand high fevers remarkably well and that they do recover from blood poisoning when a white man would die.

The remaining twenty-nine physicians were positive that the