FARMERS OF FORTY CENTURIES
PERMANENT AGRICULTURE IN CHINA, KOREA AND JAPAN
F. H. KING, D. Sc.
By DR. L. H. BAILEY.
We have not yet gathered up the experience of mankind in the tilling of the earth; yet the tilling of the earth is the bottom condition of civilization. If we are to assemble all the forces and agencies that make for the final conquest of the planet, we must assuredly know how it is that all the peoples in all the places have met the problem of producing their sustenance out of the soil.
We have had few great agricultural travelers and few books that describe the real and significant rural conditions. Of natural history travel we have had very much; and of accounts of sights and events perhaps we have had too many. There are, to be sure, famous books of study and travel in rural regions, and some of them, as Arthur Young's "Travels in France," have touched social and political history; but for the most part, authorship of agricultural travel is yet undeveloped. The spirit of scientific inquiry must now be taken into this field, and all earth-conquest must be compared and the results be given to the people that work.
This was the point of view in which I read Professor King's manuscript. It is the writing of a well-trained observer who went forth not to find diversion or to depict scenery and common wonders, but to study the actual conditions of life of agricultural peoples. We in North America are wont to think that we may instruct all the world in agriculture, because our agricultural wealth is great and our exports to less favored peoples have been heavy; but this wealth is great because our soil is fertile and new, and in large acreage for every person. We have really only begun to farm well. The first condition of farming is to maintain fertility. This condition the oriental peoples have met, and they have solved it in their way. We may never adopt particular methods, but we can profit vastly by their experience. With the increase of personal wants in recent time. the newer countries may never reach such density of population as have Japan and China; but we must nevertheless learn the first lesson in the conservation of natural resources, which are the resources of the land. This is the message that Professor King brought home from the East.
This book on agriculture should have good effect in establishing understanding between the West and the East. If there could be such an interchange of courtesies and inquiries on these themes as is suggested by Professor King, as well as the interchange of athletics and diplomacy and commerce, the common productive people on both sides should gain much that they could use; and the results in amity should be incalculable.
It is a misfortune that Professor King could not have lived to write the concluding "Message of China and Japan to the World." It would have been a careful and forceful summary of his study of eastern conditions. At the moment when the work was going to the printer, he was called suddenly to the endless journey and his travel here was left incomplete. But he bequeathed us a new piece of literature, to add to his standard writings on soils and on the applications of physics and devices to agriculture. Whatever he touched he illuminated.
FIRST GLIMPSES OF JAPAN
GRAVE LANDS OF CHINA
TO HONGKONG AND CANTON
UP THE SI-KIANG, WEST RIVER
EXTENT OF CANALIZATION AND SURFACE FITTING OF FIELDS
SOME CUSTOMS OF THE COMMON PEOPLE
THE FUEL PROBLEM, BUILDING AND TEXTILE MATERIALS
THE UTILIZATION OF WASTE
IN THE SHANTUNG PROVINCE
ORIENTALS CROWD BOTH TIME AND SPACE
RICE CULTURE IN THE ORIENT
THE TEA INDUSTRY
MANCHURIA AND KOREA
RETURN TO JAPAN
A word of introduction is needed to place the reader at the best view point from which to consider what is said in the following pages regarding the agricultural practices and customs of China, Korea and Japan. It should be borne in mind that the great factors which today characterize, dominate and determine the agricultural and other industrial operations of western nations were physical impossibilities to them one hundred years ago, and until then had been so to all people.
It should be observed, too, that the United States as yet is a nation of but few people widely scattered over a broad virgin land with more than twenty acres to the support of every man, woman and child, while the people whose practices are to be considered are toiling in fields tilled more than three thousand years and who have scarcely more than two acres per capita,* more than one-half of which is uncultivable mountain land.
*[Footnote: This figure was wrongly stated in the first edition as one acre, owing to a mistake in confusing the area of cultivated land with total area.]
Again, the great movement of cargoes of feeding stuffs and mineral fertilizers to western Europe and to the eastern United States began less than a century ago and has never been possible as a means of maintaining soil fertility in China, Korea or Japan, nor can it be continued indefinitely in either Europe or America. These importations are for the time making tolerable the waste of plant food materials through our modern systems of sewage disposal and other faulty practices; but the Mongolian races have held all such wastes, both urban and rural, and many others which we ignore, sacred to agriculture, applying them to their fields.
We are to consider some of the practices of a virile race of some five hundred millions of people who have an unimpaired inheritance moving with the momentum acquired through four thousand years; a people morally and intellectually strong, mechanically capable, who are awakening to a utilization of all the possibilities which science and invention during recent years have brought to western nations; and a people who have long dearly loved peace but who can and will fight in self defense if compelled to do so.
We had long desired to stand face to face with Chinese and Japanese farmers; to walk through their fields and to learn by seeing some of their methods, appliances and practices which centuries of stress and experience have led these oldest farmers in the world to adopt. We desired to learn how it is possible, after twenty and perhaps thirty or even forty centuries, for their soils to be made to produce sufficiently for the maintenance of such dense populations as are living now in these three countries. We have now had this opportunity and almost every day we were instructed, surprised and amazed at the conditions and practices which confronted us whichever way we turned; instructed in the ways and extent to which these nations for centuries have been and are conserving and utilizing their natural resources, surprised at the magnitude of the returns they are getting from their fields, and amazed at the amount of efficient human labor cheerfully given for a daily wage of five cents and their food, or for fifteen cents, United States currency, without food.
The three main islands of Japan in 1907 had a population of 46,977,003 maintained on 20,000 square miles of cultivated field. This is at the rate of more than three people to each acre, and of 2,349 to each square mile; and yet the total agricultural imports into Japan in 1907 exceeded the agricultural exports by less than one dollar per capita. If the cultivated land of Holland is estimated at but one-third of her total area, the density of her population in 1905 was, on this basis, less than one-third that of Japan in her three main islands. At the same time Japan is feeding 69 horses and 56 cattle, nearly all laboring animals, to each square mile of cultivated field, while we were feeding in 1900 but 30 horses and mules per same area, these being our laboring animals.
As coarse food transformers Japan was maintaining 16,500,000 domestic fowl, 825 per square mile, but only one for almost three of her people. We were maintaining, in 1900, 250,600,000 poultry, but only 387 per square mile of cultivated field and yet more than three for each person. Japan's coarse food transformers in the form of swine, goats and sheep aggregated but 13 to the square mile and provided but one of these units for each 180 of her people while in the United States in 1900 there were being maintained, as transformers of grass and coarse grain into meat and milk, 95 cattle, 99 sheep and 72 swine per each square mile of improved farms. In this reckoning each of the cattle should be counted as the equivalent of perhaps five of the sheep and swine, for the transforming power of the dairy cow is high. On this basis we are maintaining at the rate of more than 646 of the Japanese units per square mile, and more than five of these to every man, woman and child, instead of one to every 180 of the population, as is the case in Japan.
Correspondingly accurate statistics are not accessible for China but in the Shantung province we talked with a farmer having 12 in his family and who kept one donkey, one cow, both exclusively laboring animals, and two pigs on 2.5 acres of cultivated land where he grew wheat, millet, sweet potatoes and beans. Here is a density of population equal to 3,072 people, 256 donkeys, 256 cattle and 512 swine per square mile. In another instance where the holding was one and two-thirds acres the farmer had 10 in his family and was maintaining one donkey and one pig, giving to this farm land a maintenance capacity of 3,840 people, 384 donkeys and 384 pigs to the square mile, or 240 people, 24 donkeys and 24 pigs to one of our forty-acre farms which our farmers regard too small for a single family. The average of seven Chinese holdings which we visited and where we obtained similar data indicates a maintenance capacity for those lands of 1,783 people, 212 cattle or donkeys and 399 swine,—1,995 consumers and 399 rough food transformers per square mile of farm land. These statements for China represent strictly rural populations. The rural population of the United States in 1900 was placed at the rate of 61 per square mile of improved farm land and there were 30 horses and mules. In Japan the rural population had a density in 1907 of 1,922 per square mile, and of horses and cattle together 125.
The population of the large island of Chungming in the mouth of the Yangtse river, having an area of 270 square miles, possessed, according to the official census of 1902, a density of 3,700 per square mile and yet there was but one large city on the island, hence the population is largely rural.
It could not be other than a matter of the highest industrial, educational and social importance to all nations if there might be brought to them a full and accurate account of all those conditions which have made it possible for such dense populations to be maintained so largely upon the products of Chinese, Korean and Japanese soils. Many of the steps, phases and practices through which this evolution has passed are irrevocably buried in the past but such remarkable maintenance efficiency attained centuries ago and projected into the present with little apparent decadence merits the most profound study and the time is fully ripe when it should be made. Living as we are in the morning of a century of transition from isolated to cosmopolitan national life when profound readjustments, industrial, educational and social, must result, such an investigation cannot be made too soon. It is high time for each nation to study the others and by mutual agreement and co-operative effort, the results of such studies should become available to all concerned, made so in the spirit that each should become coordinate and mutually helpful component factors in the world's progress.
One very appropriate and immensely helpful means for attacking this problem, and which should prove mutually helpful to citizen and state, would be for the higher educational institutions of all nations, instead of exchanging courtesies through their baseball teams, to send select bodies of their best students under competent leadership and by international agreement, both east and west, organizing therefrom investigating bodies each containing components of the eastern and western civilization and whose purpose it should be to study specifically set problems. Such a movement well conceived and directed, manned by the most capable young men, should create an international acquaintance and spread broadcast a body of important knowledge which would develop as the young men mature and contribute immensely toward world peace and world progress. If some broad plan of international effort such as is here suggested were organized the expense of maintenance might well be met by diverting so much as is needful from the large sums set aside for the expansion of navies for such steps as these, taken in the interests of world uplift and world peace, could not fail to be more efficacious and less expensive than increase in fighting equipment. It would cultivate the spirit of pulling together and of a square deal rather than one of holding aloof and of striving to gain unneighborly advantage.
Many factors and conditions conspire to give to the farms and farmers of the Far East their high maintenance efficiency and some of these may be succinctly stated. The portions of China, Korea and Japan where dense populations have developed and are being maintained occupy exceptionally favorable geographic positions so far as these influence agricultural production. Canton in the south of China has the latitude of Havana, Cuba, while Mukden in Manchuria, and northern Honshu in Japan are only as far north as New York city, Chicago and northern California. The United States lies mainly between 50 degrees and 30 degrees of latitude while these three countries lie between 40 degrees and 20 degrees, some seven hundred miles further south. This difference of position, giving them longer seasons, has made it possible for them to devise systems of agriculture whereby they grow two, three and even four crops on the same piece of ground each year. In southern China, in Formosa and in parts of Japan two crops of rice are grown; in the Chekiang province there may be a crop of rape, of wheat or barley or of windsor beans or clover which is followed in midsummer by another of cotton or of rice. In the Shantung province wheat or barley in the winter and spring may be followed in summer by large or small millet, sweet potatoes, soy beans or peanuts. At Tientsin, 39 deg north, in the latitude of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Springfield, Illinois, we talked with a farmer who followed his crop of wheat on his small holding with one of onions and the onions with cabbage, realizing from the three crops at the rate of $163, gold, per acre; and with another who planted Irish potatoes at the earliest opportunity in the spring, marketing them when small, and following these with radishes, the radishes with cabbage, realizing from the three crops at the rate of $203 per acre.
Nearly 500,000,000 people are being maintained, chiefly upon the products of an area smaller than the improved farm lands of the United States. Complete a square on the lines drawn from Chicago southward to the Gulf and westward across Kansas, and there will be enclosed an area greater than the cultivated fields of China, Korea and Japan and from which five times our present population are fed.
The rainfall in these countries is not only larger than that even in our Atlantic and Gulf states, but it falls more exclusively during the summer season when its efficiency in crop production may be highest. South China has a rainfall of some 80 inches with little of it during the winter, while in our southern states the rainfall is nearer 60 inches with less than one-half of it between June and September. Along a line drawn from Lake Superior through central Texas the yearly precipitation is about 30 inches but only 16 inches of this falls during the months May to September; while in the Shantung province, China, with an annual rainfall of little more than 24 inches, 17 of these fall during the months designated and most of this in July and August. When it is stated that under the best tillage and with no loss of water through percolation, most of our agricultural crops require 300 to 600 tons of water for each ton of dry substance brought to maturity, it can be readily understood that the right amount of available moisture, coming at the proper time, must be one of the prime factors of a high maintenance capacity for any soil, and hence that in the Far East, with their intensive methods, it is possible to make their soils yield large returns.
The selection of rice and of the millets as the great staple food crops of these three nations, and the systems of agriculture they have evolved to realize the most from them, are to us remarkable and indicate a grasp of essentials and principles which may well cause western nations to pause and reflect.
Notwithstanding the large and favorable rainfall of these countries, each of the nations have selected the one crop which permits them to utilize not only practically the entire amount of rain which falls upon their fields, but in addition enormous volumes of the run-off from adjacent uncultivable mountain country. Wherever paddy fields are practicable there rice is grown. In the three main islands of Japan 56 per cent of the cultivated fields, 11,000 square miles, is laid out for rice growing and is maintained under water from transplanting to near harvest time, after which the land is allowed to dry, to be devoted to dry land crops during the balance of the year, where the season permits.
To anyone who studies the agricultural methods of the Far East in the field it is evident that these people, centuries ago, came to appreciate the value of water in crop production as no other nations have. They have adapted conditions to crops and crops to conditions until with rice they have a cereal which permits the most intense fertilization and at the same time the ensuring of maximum yields against both drought and flood. With the practice of western nations in all humid climates, no matter how completely and highly we fertilize, in more years than not yields are reduced by a deficiency or an excess of water.
It is difficult to convey, by word or map, an adequate conception of the magnitude of the systems of canalization which contribute primarily to rice culture. A conservative estimate would place the miles of canals in China at fully 200,000 and there are probably more miles of canal in China, Korea and Japan than there are miles of railroad in the United States. China alone has as many acres in rice each year as the United States has in wheat and her annual product is more than double and probably threefold our annual wheat crop, and yet the whole of the rice area produces at least one and sometimes two other crops each year.
The selection of the quick-maturing, drought-resisting millets as the great staple food crops to be grown wherever water is not available for irrigation, and the almost universal planting in hills or drills, permitting intertillage, thus adopting centuries ago the utilization of earth mulches in conserving soil moisture, has enabled these people to secure maximum returns in seasons of drought and where the rainfall is small. The millets thrive in the hot summer climates; they survive when the available soil moisture is reduced to a low limit, and they grow vigorously when the heavy rains come. Thus we find in the Far East, with more rainfall and a better distribution of it than occurs in the United States, and with warmer, longer seasons, that these people have with rare wisdom combined both irrigation and dry farming methods to an extent and with an intensity far beyond anything our people have ever dreamed, in order that they might maintain their dense populations.
Notwithstanding the fact that in each of these countries the soils are naturally more than ordinarily deep, inherently fertile and enduring, judicious and rational methods of fertilization are everywhere practiced; but not until recent years, and only in Japan, have mineral commercial fertilizers been used. For centuries, however, all cultivated lands, including adjacent hill and mountain sides, the canals, streams and the sea have been made to contribute what they could toward the fertilization of cultivated fields and these contributions in the aggregate have been large. In China, in Korea and in Japan all but the inaccessible portions of their vast extent of mountain and hill lands have long been taxed to their full capacity for fuel, lumber and herbage for green manure and compost material; and the ash of practically all of the fuel and of all of the lumber used at home finds its way ultimately to the fields as fertilizer.
In China enormous quantities of canal mud are applied to the fields, sometimes at the rate of even 70 and more tons per acre. So, too, where there are no canals, both soil and subsoil are carried into the villages and there between the intervals when needed they are, at the expense of great labor, composted with organic refuse and often afterwards dried and pulverized before being carried back and used on the fields as home-made fertilizers. Manure of all kinds, human and animal, is religiously saved and applied to the fields in a manner which secures an efficiency far above our own practices. Statistics obtained through the Bureau of Agriculture, Japan, place the amount of human waste in that country in 1908 at 23,950,295 tons, or 1.75 tons per acre of her cultivated land. The International Concession of the city of Shanghai, in 1908, sold to a Chinese contractor the privilege of entering residences and public places early in the morning of each day in the year and removing the night soil, receiving therefor more than $31,000, gold, for 78,000 tons of waste. All of this we not only throw away but expend much larger sums in doing so.
Japan's production of fertilizing material, regularly prepared and applied to the land annually, amounts to more than 4.5 tons per acre of cultivated field exclusive of the commercial fertilizers purchased. Between Shanhaikwan and Mukden in Manchuria we passed, on June 18th, thousands of tons of the dry highly nitrified compost soil recently carried into the fields and laid down in piles where it was waiting to be "fed to the crops."
It was not until 1888, and then after a prolonged war of more than thirty years, generaled by the best scientists of all Europe, that it was finally conceded as demonstrated that leguminous plants acting as hosts for lower organisms living on their roots are largely responsible for the maintenance of soil nitrogen, drawing it directly from the air to which it is returned through the processes of decay. But centuries of practice had taught the Far East farmers that the culture and use of these crops are essential to enduring fertility, and so in each of the three countries the growing of legumes in rotation with other crops very extensively for the express purpose of fertilizing the soil is one of their old, fixed practices.
Just before, or immediately after the rice crop is harvested, fields are often sowed to "clover" (Astragalus sinicus) which is allowed to grow until near the next transplanting time when it is either turned under directly, or more often stacked along the canals and saturated while doing so with soft mud dipped from the bottom of the canal. After fermenting twenty or thirty days it is applied to the field. And so it is literally true that these old world farmers whom we regard as ignorant, perhaps because they do not ride sulky plows as we do, have long included legumes in their crop rotation, regarding them as indispensable.
Time is a function of every life process as it is of every physical, chemical and mental reaction. The husbandman is an industrial biologist and as such is compelled to shape his operations so as to conform with the time requirements of his crops. The oriental farmer is a time economizer beyond all others. He utilizes the first and last minute and all that are between. The foreigner accuses the Chinaman of being always long on time, never in a fret, never in a hurry. This is quite true and made possible for the reason that they are a people who definitely set their faces toward the future and lead time by the forelock. They have long realized that much time is required to transform organic matter into forms available for plant food and although they are the heaviest users in the world, the largest portion of this organic matter is predigested with soil or subsoil before it is applied to their fields, and at an enormous cost of human time and labor, but it practically lengthens their growing season and enables them to adopt a system of multiple cropping which would not otherwise be possible. By planting in hills and rows with intertillage it is very common to see three crops growing upon the same field at one time, but in different stages of maturity, one nearly ready to harvest one just coming up, and the other at the stage when it is drawing most heavily upon the soil. By such practice, with heavy fertilization, and by supplemental irrigation when needful, the soil is made to do full duty throughout the growing season.
Then, notwithstanding the enormous acreage of rice planted each year in these countries, it is all set in hills and every spear is transplanted. Doing this, they save in many ways except in the matter of human labor, which is the one thing they have in excess. By thoroughly preparing the seed bed, fertilizing highly and giving the most careful attention, they are able to grow on one acre, during 30 to 50 days, enough plants to occupy ten acres and in the mean time on the other nine acres crops are maturing, being harvested and the fields being fitted to receive the rice when it is ready for transplanting, and in effect this interval of time is added to their growing season.
Silk culture is a great and, in some ways, one of the most remarkable industries of the Orient. Remarkable for its magnitude; for having had its birthplace apparently in oldest China at least 2700 years B. C.; for having been laid on the domestication of a wild insect of the woods; and for having lived through more than 4000 years, expanding until a million-dollar cargo of the product has been laid down on our western coast and rushed by special fast express to the cast for the Christmas trade.
A low estimate of China's production of raw silk would be 120,000,000 pounds annually, and this with the output of Japan, Korea and a small area of southern Manchuria, would probably exceed 150,000,000 pounds annually, representing a total value of perhaps $700,000,000, quite equaling in value the wheat crop of the United States, but produced on less than one-eighth the area of our wheat fields.
The cultivation of tea in China and Japan is another of the great industries of these nations, taking rank with that of sericulture if not above it in the important part it plays in the welfare of the people. There is little reason to doubt that this industry has its foundation in the need of something to render boiled water palatable for drinking purposes. The drinking of boiled water is universally adopted in these countries as an individually available and thoroughly efficient safeguard against that class of deadly disease germs which thus far it has been impossible to exclude from the drinking water of any densely peopled country.
Judged by the success of the most thorough sanitary measures thus far instituted, and taking into consideration the inherent difficulties which must increase enormously with increasing populations, it appears inevitable that modern methods must ultimately fail in sanitary efficiency and that absolute safety can be secured only in some manner having the equivalent effect of boiling drinking water, long ago adopted by the Mongolian races.
In the year 1907 Japan had 124,482 acres of land in tea plantations, producing 60,877,975 pounds of cured tea. In China the volume annually produced is much larger than that of Japan, 40,000,000 pounds going annually to Tibet alone from the Szechwan province and the direct export to foreign countries was, in 1905, 176,027,255 pounds, and in 1906 it was 180,271,000, so that their annual export must exceed 200,000,000 pounds with a total annual output more than double this amount of cured tea.
But above any other factor, and perhaps greater than all of them combined in contributing to the high maintenance efficiency attained in these countries must be placed the standard of living to which the industrial classes have been compelled to adjust themselves, combined with their remarkable industry and with the most intense economy they practice along every line of effort and of living.
Almost every foot of land is made to contribute material for food, fuel or fabric. Everything which can be made edible serves as food for man or domestic animals. Whatever cannot be eaten or worn is used for fuel. The wastes of the body, of fuel and of fabric worn beyond other use are taken back to the field; before doing so they are housed against waste from weather, compounded with intelligence and forethought and patiently labored with through one, three or even six months, to bring them into the most efficient form to serve as manure for the soil or as feed for the crop. It seems to be a golden rule with these industrial classes, or if not golden, then an inviolable one, that whenever an extra hour or day of labor can promise even a little larger return then that shall be given, and neither a rainy day nor the hottest sunshine shall be permitted to cancel the obligation or defer its execution.
FIRST GLIMPSES OF JAPAN
We left the United States from Seattle for Shanghai, China, sailing by the northern route, at one P. M. February second, reaching Yokohama February 19th and Shanghai, March 1st. It was our aim throughout the journey to keep in close contact with the field and crop problems and to converse personally, through interpreters or otherwise, with the farmers, gardeners and fruit growers themselves; and we have taken pains in many cases to visit the same fields or the same region two, three or more times at different intervals during the season in order to observe different phases of the same cultural or fertilization methods as these changed or varied with the season.
Our first near view of Japan came in the early morning of February 19th when passing some three miles off the point where the Pacific passenger steamer Dakota was beached and wrecked in broad daylight without loss of life two years ago. The high rounded hills were clothed neither in the dense dark forest green of Washington and Vancouver, left sixteen days before, nor yet in the brilliant emerald such as Ireland's hills in June fling in unparalleled greeting to passengers surfeited with the dull grey of the rolling ocean. This lack of strong forest growth and even of shrubs and heavy herbage on hills covered with deep soil, neither cultivated nor suffering from serious erosion, yet surrounded by favorable climatic conditions, was our first great surprise.
To the southward around the point, after turning northward into the deep bay, similar conditions prevailed, and at ten o'clock we stood off Uraga where Commodore Perry anchored on July 8th, 1853, bearing to the Shogun President Fillmore's letter which opened the doors of Japan to the commerce of the world and, it is to be hoped brought to her people, with their habits of frugality and industry so indelibly fixed by centuries of inheritance, better opportunities for development along those higher lines destined to make life still more worth living.
As the Tosa Maru drew alongside the pier at Yokohama it was raining hard and this had attired an army after the manner of Robinson Crusoe, dressed as seen in Fig. 1, ready to carry you and yours to the Customs house and beyond for one, two, three or five cents. Strong was the contrast when the journey was reversed and we descended the gang plank at Seattle, where no one sought the opportunity of moving baggage.
Through the kindness of Captain Harrison of the Tosa Maru in calling an interpreter by wireless to meet the steamer, it was possible to utilize the entire interval of stop in Yokohama to the best advantage in the fields and gardens spread over the eighteen miles of plain extending to Tokyo, traversed by both electric tram and railway lines, each running many trains making frequent stops; so that this wonderfully fertile and highly tilled district could be readily and easily reached at almost any point.
We had left home in a memorable storm of snow, sleet and rain which cut out of service telegraph and telephone lines over a large part of the United States; we had sighted the Aleutian Islands, seeing and feeling nothing on the way which could suggest a warm soil and green fields, hence our surprise was great to find the jinricksha men with bare feet and legs naked to the thighs, and greater still when we found, before we were outside the city limits, that the electric tram was running between fields and gardens green with wheat, barley, onions, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables. We were rushing through the Orient with everything outside the car so strange and different from home that the shock came like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky.
In the car every man except myself and one other was smoking tobacco and that other was inhaling camphor through an ivory mouthpiece resembling a cigar holder closed at the end. Several women, tiring of sitting foreign style, slipped off—I cannot say out of—their shoes and sat facing the windows, with toes crossed behind them on the seat. The streets were muddy from the rain and everybody Japanese was on rainy-day wooden shoes, the soles carried three to four inches above the ground by two cross blocks, in the manner seen in Fig. 2. A mother, with baby on her back and a daughter of sixteen years came into the car. Notwithstanding her high shoes the mother had dipped one toe into the mud. Seated, she slipped her foot off. Without evident instructions the pretty black-eyed, glossy-haired, red-lipped lass, with cheeks made rosy, picked up the shoe, withdrew a piece of white tissue paper from the great pocket in her sleeve, deftly cleaned the otherwise spotless white cloth sock and then the shoe, threw the paper on the floor, looked to see that her fingers were not soiled, then set the shoe at her mother's foot, which found its place without effort or glance.
Everything here was strange and the scenes shifted with the speed of the wildest dream. Now it was driving piles for the foundation of a bridge. A tripod of poles was erected above the pile and from it hung a pulley. Over the pulley passed a rope from the driving weight and from its end at the pulley ten cords extended to the ground. In a circle at the foot of the tripod stood ten agile Japanese women. They were the hoisting engine. They chanted in perfect rhythm, hauled and stepped, dropped the weight and hoisted again, making up for heavier hammer and higher drop by more blows per minute. When we reached Shanghai we saw the pile driver being worked from above. Fourteen Chinese men stood upon a raised staging, each with a separate cord passing direct from the hand to the weight below. A concerted, half-musical chant, modulated to relieve monotony, kept all hands together. What did the operation of this machine cost? Thirteen cents, gold, per man per day, which covered fuel and lubricant, both automatically served. Two additional men managed the piles, two directed the hammer, eighteen manned the outfit. Two dollars and thirty-four cents per day covered fuel, superintendence and repairs. There was almost no capital invested in machinery. Men were plenty and to spare. Rice was the fuel, cooked without salt, boiled stiff, reinforced with a hit of pork or fish, appetized with salted cabbage or turnip and perhaps two or three of forty and more other vegetable relishes. And are these men strong and happy? They certainly were strong. They are steadily increasing their millions, and as one stood and watched them at their work their faces were often wreathed in smiles and wore what seemed a look of satisfaction and contentment.
Among the most common sights on our rides from Yokohama to Tokyo, both within the city and along the roads leading to the fields, starting early in the morning, were the loads of night soil carried on the shoulders of men and on the backs of animals, but most commonly on strong carts drawn by men, bearing six to ten tightly covered wooden containers holding forty, sixty or more pounds each. Strange as it may seem, there are not today and apparently never have been, even in the largest and oldest cities of Japan, China or Korea, anything corresponding to the hydraulic systems of sewage disposal used now by western nations. Provision is made for the removal of storm waters but when I asked my interpreter if it was not the custom of the city during the winter months to discharge its night soil into the sea, as a quicker and cheaper mode of disposal, his reply came quick and sharp, "No, that would be waste. We throw nothing away. It is worth too much money." In such public places as rail way stations provision is made for saving, not for wasting, and even along the country roads screens invite the traveler to stop, primarily for profit to the owner more than for personal convenience.
Between Yokohama and Tokyo along the electric car line and not far distant from the seashore, there were to be seen in February very many long, fence-high screens extending east and west, strongly inclined to the north, and built out of rice straw, closely tied together and supported on bamboo poles carried upon posts of wood set in the ground. These screens, set in parallel series of five to ten or more in number and several hundred feet long, were used for the purpose of drying varieties of delicate seaweed, these being spread out in the manner shown in Fig. 3.
The seaweed is first spread upon separate ten by twelve inch straw mats, forming a thin layer seven by eight inches. These mats are held by means of wooden skewers forced through the body of the screen, exposing the seaweed to the direct sunshine. After becoming dry the rectangles of seaweed are piled in bundles an inch thick, cut once in two, forming packages four by seven inches, which are neatly tied and thus exposed for sale as soup stock and for other purposes. To obtain this seaweed from the ocean small shrubs and the limbs of trees are set up in the bottom of shallow water, as seen in Fig. 4. To these limbs the seaweeds become attached, grow to maturity and are then gathered by hand. By this method of culture large amounts of important food stuff are grown for the support of the people on areas otherwise wholly unproductive.
Another rural feature, best shown by photograph taken in February, is the method of training pear orchards in Japan, with their limbs tied down upon horizontal over-bead trellises at a height under which a man can readily walk erect and easily reach the fruit with the hand while standing upon the ground. Pear orchards thus form arbors of greater or less size, the trees being set in quincunx order about twelve feet apart in and between the rows. Bamboo poles are used overhead and these carried on posts of the same material 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter, to which they are tied. Such a pear orchard is shown in Fig. 5.
The limbs of the pear trees are trained strictly in one plane, tying them down and pruning out those not desired. As a result the ground beneath is completely shaded and every pear is within reach, which is a great convenience when it becomes desirable to protect the fruit from insects, by tying paper bags over every pear as seen in Figs. 6 and 7. The orchard ground is kept free from weeds and not infrequently is covered with a layer of rice or other straw, extensively used in Japan as a ground cover with various crops and when so used is carefully laid in handfuls from bundles, the straws being kept parallel as when harvested.
To one from a country of 160-acre farms, with roads four rods wide; of cities with broad streets and residences with green lawns and ample back yards; and where the cemeteries are large and beautiful parks, the first days of travel in these old countries force the over-crowding upon the attention as nothing else can. One feels that the cities are greatly over-crowded with houses and shops, and these with people and wares; that the country is over-crowded with fields and the fields with crops; and that in Japan the over-crowding is greatest of all in the cemeteries, gravestones almost touching and markers for families literally in bundles at a grave, while round about there may be no free country whatever, dwellings, gardens or rice paddies contesting the tiny allotted areas too closely to leave even foot-paths between.
Unless recently modified through foreign influence the streets of villages and cities are narrow, as seen in Fig. 8, where however the street is unusually broad. This is a village in the Hakone district on a beautiful lake of the same name, where stands an Imperial summer palace, seen near the center of the view on a hill across the lake. The roofs of the houses here are typical of the neat, careful thatching with rice straw, very generally adopted in place of tile for the country villages throughout much of Japan. The shops and stores, open full width directly upon the street, are filled to overflowing, as seen in Fig. 9 and in Fig. 22.
In the canalized regions of China the country villages crowd both banks of a canal, as is the case in Fig. 10. Here, too, often is a single street and it very narrow, very crowded and very busy. Stone steps lead from the houses down into the water where clothing, vegetables, rice and what not are conveniently washed. In this particular village two rows of houses stand on one side of the canal separated by a very narrow street, and a single row on the other. Between the bridge where the camera was exposed and one barely discernible in the background, crossing the canal a third of a mile distant, we counted upon one side, walking along the narrow street, eighty houses each with its family, usually of three generations and often of four. Thus in the narrow strip, 154 feet broad, including 16 feet of street and 30 feet of canal, with its three lines of houses. lived no less than 240 families and more than 1200 and probably nearer 2000 people.
When we turn to the crowding of fields in the country nothing except seeing can tell so forcibly the fact as such landscapes as those of Figs. 11, 12 and 13, one in Japan, one in Korea and one in China, not far from Nanking, looking from the hills across the fields to the broad Yangtse kiang, barely discernible as a band of light along the horizon.
The average area of the rice field in Japan is less than five square rods and that of her upland fields only about twenty. In the case of the rice fields the small size is necessitated partly by the requirement of holding water on the sloping sides of the valley, as seen in Fig. 11. These small areas do not represent the amount of land worked by one family, the average for Japan being more nearly 2.5 acres. But the lands worked by one family are seldom contiguous, they may even be widely scattered and very often rented.
The people generally live in villages, going often considerable distances to their work. Recognizing the great disadvantage of scattered holdings broken into such small areas, the Japanese Government has passed laws for the adjustment of farm lands which have been in force since 1900. It provides for the exchange of lands; for changing boundaries; for changing or abolishing roads, embankments, ridges or canals and for alterations in irrigation and drainage which would ensure larger areas with channels and roads straightened, made less numerous and less wasteful of time, labor and land. Up to 1907 Japan had issued permits for the readjustment of over 240,000 acres, and Fig. 14 is a landscape in one of these readjusted districts. To provide capable experts for planning and supervising these changes the Government in 1905 intrusted the training of men to the higher agricultural school belonging to the Dai Nippon Agricultural Association and since 1906 the Agricultural College and the Kogyokusha have undertaken the same task and now there are men sufficient to push the work as rapidly as desired.
It may be remembered, too, as showing how, along other fundamental lines, Japan is taking effective steps to improve the condition of her people, that she already has her Imperial highways extending from one province to another; her prefectural roads which connect the cities and villages within the prefecture; and those more local which serve the farms and villages. Each of the three systems of roads is maintained by a specific tax levied for the purpose which is expended under proper supervision, a designated section of road being kept in repair through the year by a specially appointed crew, as is the practice in railroad maintenance. The result is, Japan has roads maintained in excellent condition, always narrow, sacrificing the minimum of land, and everywhere without fences.
How the fields are crowded with crops and all available land is made to do full duty in these old, long-tilled countries is evident in Fig. 15 where even the narrow dividing ridges but a foot wide, which retain the water on the rice paddies, are bearing a heavy crop of soy beans; and where may be seen the narrow pear orchard standing on the very slightest rise of ground, not a foot above the water all around, which could better be left in grading the paddies to proper level.
How closely the ground itself may be crowded with plants is seen in Fig. 16, where a young peach orchard, whose tree tops were six feet through, planted in rows twenty-two feet apart, had also ten rows of cabbage, two rows of large windsor beans and a row of garden peas. Thirteen rows of vegetables in 22 feet, all luxuriant and strong, and note the judgment shown in placing the tallest plants, needing the most sun, in the center between the trees.
But these old people, used to crowding and to being crowded, and long ago capable of making four blades of grass grow where Nature grew but one, have also learned how to double the acreage where a crop needs more elbow than it does standing room, as seen in Fig. 17. This man's garden had an area of but 63 by 68 feet and two square rods of this was held sacred to the family grave mound, and yet his statement of yields, number of crops and prices made his earning $100 a year on less than one-tenth of an acre.
His crop of cucumbers on less than .06 of an acre would bring him $20. He had already sold $5 worth of greens and a second crop would follow the cucumbers. He had just irrigated his garden from an adjoining canal, using a foot-power pump, and stated that until it rained he would repeat the watering once per week. It was his wife who stood in the garden and, although wearing trousers, her dress showed full regard for modesty.
But crowding crops more closely in the field not only requires higher feeding to bring greater returns, but also relatively greater care, closer watchfulness in a hundred ways and a patience far beyond American measure; and so, before the crowding of the crops in the field and along with it, there came to these very old farmers a crowding of the grey matter in the brain with the evolution of effective texture. This is shown in his fields which crowd the landscape. It is seen in the crops which crowd his fields. You see it in the old man's face, Fig. 18, standing opposite his compeer, Prince Ching, Fig. 19, each clad in winter dress which is the embodiment of conversation, retaining the fires of the body for its own needs, to release the growth on mountain sides for other uses. And when one realizes how, nearly to the extreme limits, conservation along all important lines is being practiced as an inherited instinct, there need be no surprise when one reflects that the two men, one as feeder and the other as leader, are standing in the fore of a body of four hundred millions of people who have marched as a nation through perhaps forty centuries, and who now, in the light and great promise of unfolding science have their faces set toward a still more hopeful and longer future.
On February 21st the Tosa Maru left Yokohama for Kobe at schedule time on the tick of the watch, as she had done from Seattle. All Japanese steamers appear to be moved with the promptness of a railway train. On reaching Kobe we transferred to the Yamaguchi Maru which sailed the following morning, to shorten the time of reaching Shanghai. This left but an afternoon for a trip into the country between Kobe and Osaka, where we found, if possible, even higher and more intensive culture practices than on the Tokyo plain, there being less land not carrying a winter crop. And Fig. 20 shows how closely the crops crowd the houses and shops. Here were very many cement lined cisterns or sheltered reservoirs for collecting manures and preparing fertilizers and the appearance of both soil and crops showed in a marked manner to what advantage. We passed a garden of nearly an acre entirely devoted to English violets just coming into full bloom. They were grown in long parallel east and west beds about three feet wide. On the north edge of each bed was erected a rice-straw screen four feet high which inclined to the south, overhanging the bed at an angle of some thirty-five degrees, thus forming a sort of bake-oven tent which reflected the sun, broke the force of the wind and checked the loss of heat absorbed by the soil.
The voyage from Kobe to Moji was made between 10 in the morning, February 24th, and 5 .30 P. M. of February 25th over a quiet sea with an enjoyable ride. Being fogbound during the night gave us the whole of Japan's beautiful Inland Sea, enchanting beyond measure, in all its near and distant beauty but which no pen, no brush, no camera may attempt. Only the eye can convey. Before reaching harbor the tide had been rising and the strait separating Honshu from Kyushu island was running like a mighty swirling river between Moji and Shimonoseki, dangerous to attempt in the dark, so we waited until morning.
There was cargo to take on board and the steamer must coal. No sooner had the anchor dropped and the steamer swung into the current than lighters came alongside with out-going freight. The small, strong, agile Japanese stevedores had this task completed by 8:30 P. M. and when we returned to the deck after supper another scene was on. The cargo lighters had gone and four large barges bearing 250 tons of coal had taken their places on opposite sides of the steamer, each illuminated with buckets of blazing coal or by burning conical heaps on the surface. From the bottom of these pits in the darkness the illumination suggested huge decapitated ant heaps in the wildest frenzy, for the coal seemed covered and there was hurry in every direction. Men and women, boys and girls, bending to their tasks, were filling shallow saucer-shaped baskets with coal and stacking them eight to ten high in a semi-circle, like coin for delivery. Rising out of these pits sixteen feet up the side of the steamer and along her deck to the chutes leading to her bunkers were what seemed four endless human chains, in service the prototype of our modern conveyors, but here each link animated by its own power. Up these conveyors the loaded buckets passed, one following another at the rate of 40 to 60 per minute, to return empty by the descending line, and over the four chains one hundred tons per hour, for 250 tons of coal passed to the bunkers in two and a half hours. Both men and women stood in the line and at the upper turn of one of these, emptying the buckets down the chute, was a mother with her two-year-old child in the sling on back, where it rocked and swayed to and fro, happy the entire time. It was often necessary for the mother to adjust her baby in the sling whenever it was leaning uncomfortably too far to one side or the other, but she did it skillfully, always with a shrug of the shoulders, for both hands were full. The mother looked strong, was apparently accepting her lot as a matter of course and often, with a smile, turned her face to the child, who patted it and played with her ears and hair. Probably her husband was doing his part in a more strenuous place in the chain and neither had time to be troubled with affinities for it was 10:30 P. M. when the baskets stopped, and somewhere no doubt there was a home to be reached and perhaps supper to get. Shall we be able, when our numbers have vastly increased, to permit all needful earnings to be acquired in a better way?
We left Moji in the early morning and late in the evening of the same day entered the beautiful harbor of Nagasaki, all on board waiting until morning for a launch to go ashore. We were to sail again at noon so available time for observation was short and we set out in a ricksha at once for our first near view of terraced gardening on the steep hillsides in Japan. In reaching them and in returning our course led through streets paved with long, thick and narrow stone blocks, having deep open gutters on one or both sides close along the houses, into which waste water was emptied and through which the storm waters found their way to the sea. Few of these streets were more than twelve feet wide and close watching, with much dodging, was required to make way through them. Here, too, the night soil of the city was being removed in closed receptacles on the shoulders of men, on the backs of horses and cattle and on carts drawn by either. Other men and women were hurrying along with baskets of vegetables well illustrated in Fig. 21, some with fresh cabbage, others with high stacks of crisp lettuce, some with monstrous white radishes or turnips, others with bundles of onions, all coming down from the terraced gardens to the markets. We passed loads of green bamboo poles just cut, three inches in diameter at the butt and twenty feet long, drawn on carts. Both men and women were carrying young children and older ones were playing and singing in the street. Very many old women, some feeble looking, moved, loaded, through the throng. Homely little dogs, an occasional lean cat, and hens and roosters scurried across the street from one low market or store to another. Back of the rows of small stores and shops fronting on the clean narrow streets were the dwellings whose exits seemed to open through the stores, few or no open courts of any size separating them from the market or shop. The opportunity which the oriental housewife may have in the choice of vegetables on going to the market, and the attractive manner of displaying such products in Japan, are seen in Fig. 22.
We finally reached one of the terraced hillsides which rise five hundred to a thousand feet above the harbor with sides so steep that garden areas have a width of seldom more than twenty to thirty feet and often less, while the front of each terrace may be a stone wall, sometimes twelve feet high, often more than six, four and five feet being the most common height. One of these hillside slopes is seen in Fig. 23. These terraced gardens are both short and narrow and most of them bounded by stone walls on three sides, suggesting house foundations, the two end walls sloping down the hill from the height of the back terrace, dropping to the ground level in front, these forming foot-paths leading up the slope occasionally with one, two or three steps in places.
Each terrace sloped slightly down the hill at a small angle and had a low ridge along the front. Around its entire border a narrow drain or furrow was arranged to collect surface water and direct it to drainage channels or into a catch basin where it might be put back on the garden or be used in preparing liquid fertilizer. At one corner of many of these small terraced gardens were cement lined pits, used both as catch basins for water and as receptacles for liquid manure or as places in which to prepare compost. Far up the steep paths, too, along either side, we saw many piles of stable manure awaiting application, all of which had been brought up the slopes in backets on bamboo poles, carried on the shoulders of men and women.
GRAVE LANDS OF CHINA
The launch had returned the passengers to the steamer at 11:30; the captain was on the bridge; prompt to the minute at the call "Hoist away" the signal went below and the Yamaguchi's whistle filled the harbor and over-flowed the hills. The cable wound in, and at twelve, noon, we were leaving Nagasaki, now a city of 153,000 and the western doorway of a nation of fifty-one millions of people but of little importance before the sixteenth century when it became the chief mart of Portuguese trade. We were to pass the Koreans on our right and enter the portals of a third nation of four hundred millions. We had left a country which had added eighty-five millions to its population in one hundred years and which still has twenty acres for each man, woman and child, to pass through one which has but one and a half acres per capita, and were going to another whose allotment of acres, good and bad, is less than 2.4. We had gone from practices by which three generations had exhausted strong virgin fields, and were coming to others still fertile after thirty centuries of cropping. On January 30th we crossed the head waters of the Mississippi-Missouri, four thousand miles from its mouth, and on March 1st were in the mouth of the Yangtse river whose waters are gathered from a basin in which dwell two hundred millions of people.
The Yamaguchi reached Woosung in the night and anchored to await morning and tide before ascending the Hwangpoo, believed by some geographers to be the middle of three earlier delta arms of the Yangtse kiang, the southern entering the sea at Hangchow 120 miles further south, the third being the present stream. As we wound through this great delta plain toward Shanghai, the city of foreign concessions to all nationalities, the first striking feature was the "graves of the fathers", of "the ancestors". At first the numerous grass-covered hillocks dotting the plain seemed to be stacks of grain or straw; then came the query whether they might not be huge compost heaps awaiting distribution in the fields, but as the river brought us nearer to them we seemed to be moving through a land of ancient mound builders and Fig. 24 shows, in its upper section, their appearance as seen in the distance.
As the journey led on among the fields, so large were the mounds, often ten to twelve feet high and twenty or more feet at the base; so grass-covered and apparently neglected; so numerous and so irregularly scattered, without apparent regard for fields, that when we were told these were graves we could not give credence to the statement, but before the city was reached we saw places where, by the shifting of the channel, the river had cut into some of these mounds, exposing brick vaults, some so low as to be under water part of the time, and we wonder if the fact does not also record a slow subsidence of the delta plain under the ever increasing load of river silt.
A closer view of these graves in the same delta plain is given in the lower section of Fig. 24, where they are seen in the midst of fields and to occupy not only large areas of valuable land but to be much in the way of agricultural operations. A still closer view of other groups, with a farm village in the background, is shown in the middle section of the same illustration, and here it is better seen how large is the space occupied by them. On the right in the same view may be seen a line of six graves surmounting a common lower base which is a type of the larger and higher ones so suggestive of buildings seen in the horizon of the upper section.
Everywhere we went in China, about all of the very old and large cities, the proportion of grave land to cultivated fields is very large. In the vicinity of Canton Christian college, on Honam island, more than fifty per cent of the land was given over to graves and in many places they were so close that one could step from one to another. They are on the higher and dryer lands, the cultivated areas occupying ravines and the lower levels to which water may be more easily applied and which are the most productive. Hilly lands not so readily cultivated, and especially if within reach of cities, are largely so used, as seen in Fig. 25, where the graves are marked by excavated shelves rather than by mounds, as on the plains. These grave lands are not altogether unproductive for they are generally overgrown with herbage of one or another kind and used as pastures for geese, sheep, goats and cattle, and it is not at all uncommon, when riding along a canal, to see a huge water buffalo projected against the sky from the summit of one of the largest and highest grave mounds within reach. If the herbage is not fed off by animals it is usually cut for feed, for fuel, for green manure or for use in the production of compost to enrich the soil.
Caskets may be placed directly upon the surface of a field, encased in brick vaults with tile roofs, forming such clusters as was seen on the bank of the Grand Canal in Chekiang province, represented in the lower section of Fig. 26, or they may stand singly in the midst of a garden, as in the upper section of the same figure; in a rice paddy entirely surrounded by water parts of the year, and indeed in almost any unexpected place. In Shanghai in 1898, 2,763 exposed coffined corpses were removed outside the International Settlement or buried by the authorities.
Further north, in the Shantung province, where the dry season is more prolonged and where a severe drought had made grass short, the grave lands had become nearly naked soil, as seen in Fig. 27 where a Shantung farmer had just dug a temporary well to irrigate his little field of barley. Within the range of the camera, as held to take this view, more than forty grave mounds besides the seven near by, are near enough to be fixed on the negative and be discernible under a glass, indicating what extensive areas of land, in the aggregate, are given over to graves.
Still further north, in Chihli, a like story is told in, if possible, more emphatic manner and fully vouched for in the next illustration, Fig. 28, which shows a typical family group, to be observed in so many places between Taku and Tientsin and beyond toward Peking. As we entered the mouth of the Pei-ho for Tientsin, far away to the vanishing horizon there stretched an almost naked plain except for the vast numbers of these "graves of the fathers", so strange, so naked, so regular in form and so numerous that more than an hour of our journey had passed before we realized that they were graves and that the country here was perhaps more densely peopled with the dead than with the living. In so many places there was the huge father grave, often capped with what in the distance suggested a chimney, and the many associated smaller ones, that it was difficult to realize in passing what they were.
It is a common custom, even if the residence has been permanently changed to some distant province, to take the bodies back for interment in the family group; and it is this custom which leads to the practice of choosing a temporary location for the body, waiting for a favorable opportunity to remove it to the family group. This is often the occasion for the isolated coffin so frequently seen under a simple thatch of rice straw, as in Fig. 29; and the many small stone jars containing skeletons of the dead, or portions of them, standing singly or in rows in the most unexpected places least in the way in the crowded fields and gardens, awaiting removal to the final resting place. It is this custom, too, I am told, which has led to placing a large quantity of caustic lime in the bottom of the casket, on which the body rests, this acting as an effective absorbent.
It is the custom in some parts of China, if not in all, to periodically restore the mounds, maintaining their height and size, as is seen in the next two illustrations, and to decorate these once in the year with flying streamers of colored paper, the remnants of which may be seen in both Figs. 30 and 31, set there as tokens that the paper money has been burned upon them and its essence sent up in the smoke for the maintenance of the spirits of their departed friends. We have our memorial day; they have for centuries observed theirs with religious fidelity.
The usual expense of a burial among the working people is said to be $100, Mexican, an enormous burden when the day's wage or the yearly earning of the family is considered and when there is added to this the yearly expense of ancestor worship. How such voluntary burdens are assumed by people under such circumstances is hard to understand. Missionaries assert it is fear of evil consequences in this life and of punishment and neglect in the hereafter that leads to assuming them. Is it not far more likely that such is the price these people are willing to pay for a good name among the living and because of their deep and lasting friendship for the departed? Nor does it seem at all strange that a kindly, warm-hearted people with strong filial affection should have reached, carry in their long history, a belief in one spirit of the departed which hovers about the home, one which hovers about the grave and another which wanders abroad, for surely there are associations with each of these conditions which must long and forcefully awaken memories of friends gone. If this view is possible may not such ancestral worship be an index of qualities of character strongly fixed and of the highest worth which, when improvements come that may relieve the heavy burdens now carried, will only shine more brightly and count more for right living as well as comfort?
Even in our own case it will hardly be maintained that our burial customs have reached their best and final solution, for in all civilized nations they are unnecessarily expensive and far too cumbersome. It is only necessary to mentally add the accumulation of a few centuries to our cemeteries to realize how impossible our practice must become. Clearly there is here a very important line for betterment which all nationalities should undertake.
When the steamer anchored at Shanghai the day was pleasant and the rain coats which greeted us in Yokohama were not in evidence but the numbers who had met the steamer in the hope of an opportunity for earning a trifle was far greater and in many ways in strong contrast with the Japanese. We were much surprised to find the men of so large stature, much above the Chinese usually seen in the United States. They were fully the equal of large Americans in frame but quite without surplus flesh yet few appeared underfed. To realize that these are strong, hardy men it was only necessary to watch them carrying on their shoulders bales of cotton between them, supported by a strong bamboo; while the heavy loads they transport on wheel-barrows through the country over long distances, as seen in Fig. 32, prove their great endurance. This same type of vehicle, too, is one of the common means of transporting people, especially Chinese women, and four six and even eight may be seen riding together, propelled by a single wheelbarrow man.
TO HONGKONG AND CANTON
We had come to learn how the old-world farmers bad been able to provide materials for food and clothing on such small areas for so many millions, at so low a price, during so many centuries, and were anxious to see them at the soil and among the crops. The sun was still south of the equator, coming north only about twelve miles per day, so, to save time, we booked on the next steamer for Hongkong to meet spring at Canton, beyond the Tropic of Cancer, six hundred miles farther south, and return with her.
On the morning of March 4th the Tosa Maru steamed out into the Yangtse river, already flowing with the increased speed of ebb tide. The pilots were on the bridge to guide her course along the narrow south channel through waters seemingly as brown and turbid as the Potomac after a rain. It was some distance beyond Gutzlaff Island, seventy miles to sea, where there is a lighthouse and a telegraph station receiving six cables, that we crossed the front of the out-going tide, showing in a sharp line of contrast stretching in either direction farther than the eye could see, across the course of the ship and yet it was the season of low water in this river. During long ages this stream of mighty volume has been loading upon itself in far-away Tibet, without dredge, barge, fuel or human effort, unused and there unusable soils, bringing them down from inaccessible heights across two or three thousand miles, building up with them, from under the sea, at the gateways of commerce, miles upon miles of the world's most fertile fields and gardens. Today on this river, winding through six hundred miles of the most highly cultivated fields, laid out on river-built plains, go large ocean steamers to the city of Hankow-Wuchang-Hanyang where 1,770,000 people live and trade within a radius less than four miles; while smaller steamers push on a thousand miles and are then but 130 feet above sea level.
Even now, with the aid of current, tide and man, these brown turbid waters are rapidly adding fertile delta plains for new homes. During the last twenty-five years Chungming island has grown in length some 1800 feet per year and today a million people are living and growing rice, wheat, cotton and sweet potatoes on 270 square miles of fertile plain where five hundred years ago were only submerged river sands and silt. Here 3700 people per square mile have acquired homes.
The southward voyage was over a quiet sea and as we passed among and near the off-shore islands these, as seen in Japan, appeared destitute of vegetation other than the low herbaceous types with few shrubs and almost no forest growth and little else that gave the appearance of green. Captain Harrison informed me that at no time in the year are these islands possessed of the grass-green verdure so often seen in northern climates, and yet the islands lie in a region of abundant summer rain, making it hard to understand why there is not a more luxuriant growth.
Sunday morning, March 7th, passing first extensive sugar refineries, found us entering the long, narrow and beautiful harbor of Hongkong. Here, lying at anchor in the ten square miles of water, were five battleships, several large ocean steamers, many coastwise vessels and a multitude of smaller craft whose yearly tonnage is twenty to thirty millions. But the harbor lies in the track of the terrible East Indian typhoon and, although sheltered on the north shore of a high island, one of these storms recently sunk nine vessels, sent twenty-three ashore, seriously damaged twenty-one others, wrought great destruction among the smaller craft and over a thousand dead were recovered. Such was the destruction wrought by the September storm of 1906.
Our steamer did not go to dock but the Nippon Yusen Kaisha's launch transferred us to a city much resembling Seattle in possessing a scant footing between a long sea front and high steep mountain slopes behind. Here cliffs too steep to climb rise from the very sidewalk and are covered with a great profusion and variety of ferns, small bamboo, palms, vines, many flowering shrubs, all interspersed with pine and great banyan trees that do so much toward adding the beauty of northern landscapes to the tropical features which reach upward until hidden in a veil of fog that hung, all of the time we were there, over the city, over the harbor and stretched beyond Old and New Kowloon.
Hongkong island is some eleven miles long and but two to five miles wide, while the peak carrying the signal staff rises 1,825 feet above the streets from which ascends the Peak tramway, where, hanging from opposite ends of a strong cable, one car rises up the slope and another descends every fifteen to twenty minutes, affording communication with business houses below and homes in beautiful surroundings and a tempered climate above. Extending along the slopes of the mountains, too, above the city, are very excellent roads, carefully graded, provided with concrete gutters and bridges, along which one may travel on foot, on horseback, by ricksha or sedan chair, but too narrow for carriages. Over one of these we ascended along one side of Happy Valley, around its head and down the other side. Only occasionally could we catch glimpses of the summit through the lifting fog but the views, looking down and across the city and beyond the harbor with its shipping, and up and down the many ravines from via-ducts, are among the choicest and rarest ever made accessible to the residents of any city. It was the beginning of the migratory season for birds, and trees and shrubbery thronged with many species.
Many of the women in Hongkong were seen engaged in such heavy manual labor with the men as carrying crushed rock and sand, for concrete and macadam work, up the steep street slopes long distances from the dock, but they were neither tortured nor incapacitated by bound feet. Like the men, they were of smaller stature than most seen at Shanghai and closely resemble the Chinese in the United States. Both sexes are agile, wiry and strong. Here we first saw lumber sawing in the open streets after the manner shown in Fig. 33, where wide boards were being cut from camphor logs. In the damp, already warm weather the men were stripped to the waist, their limbs bare to above the knee, and each carried a large towel for wiping away the profuse perspiration.
It was here, too, that we first met the remarkable staging for the erection of buildings of four and six stories, set up without saw, hammer or nail; without injury to or waste of lumber and with the minimum of labor in construction and removal. Poles and bamboo stems were lashed together with overlapping ends, permitting any interval or height to be secured without cutting or nailing, and admitting of ready removal with absolutely no waste, all parts being capable of repeated use unless it be some of the materials employed in tying members. Up inclined stairways, from staging to staging, in the erection of six-story granite buildings, mortar was being carried in baskets swinging from bamboo poles on the shoulders of men and women, as the cheapest hoists available in English Hongkong where there is willing human labor and to spare.
The Singer sewing machine, manufactured in New Jersey, was seen in many Chinese shops in Hongkong and other cities, operated by Chinese men and women, purchased, freight prepaid, at two-thirds the retail price in the United States. Such are the indications of profit to manufacturers on the home sale of home-made goods while at the same time reaping good returns from a large trade in heathen lands, after paying the freight.
Industrial China, Korea and Japan do not observe our weekly day of rest and during our walk around Happy Valley on Sunday afternoon, looking down upon its terraced gardens and tiny fields, we saw men and women busy fitting the soil for new crops, gathering vegetables for market, feeding plants with liquid manure and even irrigating certain crops, notwithstanding the damp, foggy, showery weather. Turning the head of the valley, attention was drawn to a walled enclosure and a detour down the slope brought us to a florist's garden within which were rows of large potted foliage plants of semi-shrubbery habit, seen in Fig. 35, trained in the form of life-size human figures with limbs, arms and trunk provided with highly glazed and colored porcelain feet, hands and head. These, with many other potted plants and trees, including dwarf varieties, are grown under out-door lattice shelters in different parts of China, for sale to the wealthy Chinese families.
How thorough is the tillage, how efficient and painstaking the garden fitting, and how closely the ground is crowded to its upper limit of producing power are indicated in Fig. 36; and when one stops and studies the detail in such gardens he expects in its executor an orderly, careful, frugal and industrious man, getting not a little satisfaction out of his creations however arduous his task or prolonged his day. If he is in the garden or one meets him at the house, clad as the nature of his duties and compensation have determined, you may be disappointed or feel arising an unkind judgment. But who would risk a reputation so clad and so environed? Many were the times, during our walks in the fields and gardens among these old, much misunderstood, misrepresented and undervalued people, when the bond of common interest was recognized between us, that there showed through the face the spirit which put aside both dress and surroundings and the man stood forth who, with fortitude and rare wisdom, is feeding the millions and who has carried through centuries the terrible burden of taxes levied by dishonor and needless wars. Nay, more than this, the man stood forth who has kept alive the seeds of manhood and has nourished them into such sturdy stock as has held the stream of progress along the best interests of civilization in spite of the driftwood heaped upon it.
Not only are these people extremely careful and painstaking in fitting their fields and gardens to receive the crop, but they are even more scrupulous in their care to make everything that can possibly serve as fertilizer for the soil, or food for the crop being grown, do so unless there is some more remunerative service it may render. Expense is incurred to provide such receptacles as are seen in Fig. 37 for receiving not only the night soil of the home and that which may be bought or otherwise procured, but in which may be stored any other fluid which can serve as plant food. On the right of these earthenware jars too is a pile of ashes and one of manure. All such materials are saved and used in the most advantageous ways to enrich the soil or to nourish the plants being grown.
Generally the liquid manures must be diluted with water to a greater or less extent before they are "fed", as the Chinese say, to their plants, hence there is need of an abundant and convenient water supply. One of these is seen in Fig. 38, where the Chinaman has adopted the modern galvanized iron pipe to bring water from the mountain slope of Happy Valley to his garden. By the side of this tank are the covered pails in which the night soil was brought, perhaps more than a mile, to be first diluted and then applied. But the more general method for supplying water is that of leading it along the ground in channels or ditches to a small reservoir in one corner of a terraced field or garden, as seen in Fig. 39, where it is held and the surplus led down from terrace to terrace, giving each its permanent supply. At the upper right corner of the engraving may be seen two manure receptacles and a third stands near the reservoir. The plants on the lower terrace are water cress and those above the same. At this time of the year, on the terraced gardens of Happy Valley, this is one of the crops most extensively grown.
Walking among these gardens and isolated homes, we passed a pig pen provided with a smooth, well-laid stone floor that had just been washed scrupulously clean, like the floor of a house. While I was not able to learn other facts regarding this case, I have little doubt that the washings from this floor had been carefully collected and taken to some receptacle to serve as a plant food.
Looking backward as we left Hongkong for Canton on the cloudy evening of March 8th, the view was wonderfully beautiful. We were drawing away from three cities, one, electric-lighted Hongkong rising up the steep slopes, suggesting a section of sky set with a vast array of stars of all magnitudes up to triple Jupiters; another, old and new Kowloon on the opposite side of the harbor; and between these two, separated from either shore by wide reaches of wholly unoccupied water, lay the third, a mid-strait city of sampans, junks and coastwise craft of many kinds segregated, in obedience to police regulation, into blocks and streets with each setting sun, but only to scatter again with the coming morn. At night, after a fixed hour, no one is permitted to leave shore and cross the vacant water strip except from certain piers and with the permission of the police, who take the number of the sampan and the names of its occupants. Over the harbor three large search lights were sweeping and it was curious to see the junks and other craft suddenly burst into full blazes of light, like so many monstrous fire-flies, to disappear and reappear as the lights came and went. Thus is the mid-strait city lighted and policed and thus have steps been taken to lessen the number of cases of foul play where people have left the wharves at night for some vessel in the strait, never to be heard from again.
Some ninety miles is the distance by water to Canton, and early the next morning our steamer dropped anchor off the foreign settlement of Shameen. Through the kindness of Consul-General Amos P. Wilder in sending a telegram to the Canton Christian College, their little steam launch met the boat and took us directly to the home of the college on Honam Island, lying in the great delta south of the city where sediments brought by the Si-kiang—west, Pei-kiang—north, and Tung-kiang—east—rivers through long centuries have been building the richest of land which, because of the density of population, are squared up everywhere to the water's edge and appropriated as fast as formed, and made to bring forth materials for food fuel and raiment in vast quantities.
It was on Honam Island that we walked first among the grave lands and came to know them as such, for Canton Christian College stands in the midst of graves which, although very old, are not permitted to be disturbed and the development of the campus must wait to secure permission to remove graves, or erect its buildings in places not the most desirable. Cattle were grazing among the graves and with them a flock of some 250 of the brown Chinese geese, two-thirds grown, was watched by boys, gleaning their entire living from the grave lands and adjacent water. A mature goose sells in Canton for $1.20, Mexican, or less than 52 cents, gold, but even then how can the laborer whose day's wage is but ten or fifteen cents afford one for his family? Here, too, we saw the Chinese persistent, never-ending industry in keeping their land, their sunshine and their rain, with themselves, busy in producing something needful. Fields which had matured two crops of rice during the long summer, had been laboriously, and largely by hand labor, thrown into strong ridges as seen in Fig. 40, to permit still a third winter crop of some vegetable to be taken from the land.
But this intensive, continuous cropping of the land spells soil exhaustion and creates demands for maintenance and restoration of available plant food or the adding of large quantities of something quickly convertible into it, and so here in the fields on Honam Island, as we had found in Happy Valley, there was abundant evidence of the most careful attention and laborious effort devoted to plant feeding. The boat standing in the canal in Fig. 41 had come from Canton in the early morning with two tons of human manure and men were busy applying it, in diluted form, to beds of leeks at the rate of 16,000 gallons per acre, all carried on the shoulders in such pails as stand in the foreground. The material is applied with long-handled dippers holding a gallon, dipping it from the pails, the men wading, with bare feet and trousers rolled above the knees, in the water of the furrows between the beds. This is one of their ways of "feeding the crop," and they have other methods of "manuring the soil."
One of these we first met on Honam Island. Large amounts of canal mud are here collected in boats and brought to the fields to be treated and there left to drain and dry before distributing. Both the material used to feed the crop and that used for manuring the land are waste products, hindrances to the industry of the region, but the Chinese make them do essential duty in maintaining its life. The human waste must be disposed of. They return it to the soil. We turn it into the sea. Doing so, they save for plant feeding more than a ton of phosphorus (2712 pounds) and more than two tons of potassium (4488 pounds) per day for each million of adult population. The mud collects in their canals and obstructs movement. They must be kept open. The mud is highly charged with organic matter and would add humus to the soil if applied to the fields, at the same time raising their level above the river and canal, giving them better drainage; thus are they turning to use what is otherwise waste, causing the labor which must be expended in disposal to count in a remunerative way.