ePub 版

lb. oz.

Ib. oz.




boiling camps. In these camps to keep him in health and strength, they can earn fair wages, and is estimated as follows :meanwhile their families subsist

Man. Woman. upon loans, and dig in the jungle for roots and other edibles to eke


1 out their scanty supply of grain.



0 Some small villages are almost Ghee

0 abandoned of able-bodied males. Condiments 0 The usual watch kept at night on Vegetables 0

03 the village gates has had to be abandoned. One gate is closed up And the wage is the sum which at completely, and at sunset the other market rates will buy this ration, is firmly barricaded with logs and with an addition for each man thorn-bushes. As yet there has of one halfpenny per day, and for been but little sale of cattle, not each woman of one farthing and because the owners are too well off two-thirds. The total money wage to care to sell, but because there is at the rates at present ruling is, no one to buy. Agricultural work for a man 24d., and for a woman is at a standstill, and the Burmans a trifle over 2 d., taking the rupee do not kill cattle for food.

as worth ls. 3 d. To children The policy of Government in able to work about half these rates famine times is laid down in the are given, and for infants in arms Famine Code. When it has be- the mothers receive two-thirds of come clear that a failure of crops a farthing per day. has become severe and that relief It will be seen that these are is required, the distressed area is not exorbitant rates; what is declared as one within which the enough to keep a man in good Famine Code applies. Works are health is much less than we should arranged for, and gratuitous relief call a comfortable quantity of food. is organised.

And for all that a man requires The work that has been opened beyond bare food, for clothing and here as a famine work is an extencooking-pots, and the thousand and sion to Myingyan of the branch of one wants of daily life, there is the Burma State Railway which one halfpenny a-day. now ends at Meiktila. This sec- The usual labour rates in the tion is fifty-six miles in length, neighbourhood are 3d. a-day with and was surveyed some years ago, food and cheroots, but it is not so that all was ready for work to intended that the rates in a famine commence. Moreover, as it runs camp should approximate to northrough the very centre of the dis- mal rates. It is not the desire of tressed area, it was peculiarly Government to attract to its work suitable as a famine work. In those who could be more profitably the second and third weeks of employed in the usual industries November four camps under the of the district. Whoever cannot charge of engineers were opened on secure private employment of any this line. Labourers from distant kind to give him a subsistence places were collected and drafted will find in the famine works a into the work; those near by were certain employment, where, for a left to find their own way to it, not too heavy day's labour, enough notices baving been freely dis- to buy food can be earned ; and tributed. The full ration for an he can thus tide through till better able-bodied relief-worker, sufficient times.




Directly the works were opened from crime, to which misery so thousands of people flocked to them. soon leads, there is the distribuNotwithstanding the notices which tion of gratuitous relief provided were freely issued stating the rates for those who have no relatives of pay, the people hoped and ex- to work for them. This relief is pected that they would be paid at paid weekly to the headmen of the ordinary tariff which coolies their villages, and is calculated at have received for working on the a lower scale than that for workers roads and elsewhere. When they at the camps. At present it is for found how small was the actual a'man 1 d., and for a woman 1 d. wage that would be earned, there Children receive 1d. if big, and įd. was bitter disappointment. In if small. It is enough to buy a one camp they even tried to bare subsistence, and that is all. organise a strike, thinking, poor There are now on gratuitous relief souls, that by so doing they could about 5000 people, but this inforce the hand of Government. cludes a great number of small And even now, after much explan- children, who with their ation and much trouble, the impres- mothers on the works, but unable sion generally is that Government is to work. taking advantage of their distress In a famine such as this it is to get its work done cheap. They always the women who suffer first, do not understand that even at —widows with large families and these low rates it costs Govern- divorced women, and all the crew ment more to work by the unskilled of superfluous femininity which labour of women, of children, and exists even here in Burma. A of men, some of whom do not know strong man can always keep himhow to dig, than to pay high rates self going. It is the women and for skilled labour. They will not the children who come to grief. believe that Government is not And yet no one can say that the doing a good stroke of business men are unkind. Consider how out of the famine.

a woman with three or four small The numbers on the famine children joining a gang on the camps rose very rapidly to about work handicaps that gang. She 25,000, and have remained fairly draws herself 2 d. a-day, and for stationary at that number. But the three children, say, d.—a total before long, when the little jowar of 24d. She and the children canthat was reaped is eaten up, and not live on that, and the rest of the jungle fruits and roots are the gang must contribute to their exhausted, there will be a large support. And they must also do increase to the number, no doubt. extra work because of it. She How large it will be no one can cannot do her full task. There tell—it depends upon the earliness are the little ones to be looked of the showers, and other matters after. The baby must be suckled, that no one can foresee. The earth- the eye of the mother must be work of this section is estimated occasionally on the other two lest to be completed in May. What they fall into a cutting and get will be done afterwards is not yet killed. She is herself weak, and decided.

cannot work hard. She is Besides the opening of these burden to the gang that allows famine works, which have thus her to enter their numbers. And rescued 25,000 people from starva- yet there is never any trouble tion, and many of them, it may be, about it. There are very many

[ocr errors]

such women on the work; they And yet they are never sulky, are never outcasts from any gang. never cast down, never despondThe burden of their assistance is ing. They are, as always, very borne freely and generously by all. cheerful, very independent, very And indeed the generosity of these long-suffering. Crime amongst people out of their poverty is some- them is almost unknown. On thing to marvel at.

the large camp of 7000 people, We came one day upon an old which I know best, there has not woman sitting by one of the huts. been a quarrel or a fight since the The people were all at work, and camp commenced. she was alone, a pathetic sight, They are a wonderful nation. stretching her thin chilled hands in the villages the private charity to the morning sun.

And we

is very great. It must be reasked her who she was, and membered that in small communiwhether she had been entered in ties half the village are usually the lists for relief. The old kin to each other. A man will creature shook her head. She had marry a girl of his own village, been here three days, she told us who brings him a further circle of in her quavering tones. She had relations in addition to his own. no relations, no children, no one, And relationship is a very sacred

a all were dead long ago. She tie to the Burmese—far closer than received no pay from Government, we have any idea of amongst ournot she. But people were very selves. Any man who is slightly kind. They gave her a little food better off than others has always here and there out of their pots. a large circle of relations to whom She had enough to live on, and all his charity can flow without gowas well.

ing afield for it. So it is that It is a lesson in courage, in although the amount of private charity, in nobility of soul, that charity that is given is very comes to one's very heart, to watch great — compared to the means these people. We know what of the people, enormous -get straits they are in. Their crops there is no show for it. There gone, broken up, starvation kept are no subscription-lists, no coloff from day to day by hard work lection-boxes, no public distribualone. They are deprived of even tion of alms. If a man of means their little luxury of a smoke. can in these hard times manage to All Burmans smoke their great keep his relations from ruin and white cheroots, which are so very starvation, that is as much as he cheap and so very harmless. It is

can do.

And on the better off the only stimulant they have, for among the community, those who they neither drink nor do they have managed even in the hard take opium. Men smoke, and year to reap enough or earn enough women; boys smoke, and girls, to have a superfluity, the monks and babies.

and the monasteries are dependent. And in all these big camps, In every small village there will after they come back from work, be a monastery, however

and and the evening meal is eaten, and one monk at least. In large vilthe people are sitting round chat lages there are many. Besides ting, singing, and laughing, you ministering to the religious needs will never see the gleam of the of the people, these monks are the cheroot. They are living on the schoolmasters. Every monastery margin of existence.


is a school where all the little

boys are taught gratuitously. And Even in the famine no such report these monasteries have no endow. has ever been sent in - no such ments. The monks and novices report will ever be sent in, I are all of them dependent on the think, as long as there is any one daily charity of the villagers. So who has a meal to spare. Even far only in one or two cases of in the famine of 1856-57, when villages reduced to veriest desti- there was no Government relief, I tution have I heard of a monk believe very few people died actuhaving been obliged to go else- ally of famine. where because the people could As to the future, who can say ? not support him. Even in these Neither am I brother to the rain cases it has been but a superfluous that I should be able to say what monk, not the principal one of the will happen. If the early rains monastery. As long as there is a are timely and plentiful, the stress man left in the village with means will be over in September beyond his daily wants, the monks October; if the late rains will be fed and the schools kept good and average crops are reaped, up. Even

upon the famine camps the country will begin to settle a little food will be spared to give down again to its normal conthe monks as they come round in dition early in 1898. If there their morning procession.

should be another failure, then it Charity, unostentatious, heart- must be faced when it comes.

We felt charity, is one of the greatest know so little about the causes of virtues in Buddhism-is one of of the seasons that there is no use the many beautiful sides of the speculating upon a remote future. Burmese character.

H. FIELDING. I have never heard of any one dying of starvation in Burma. TOUNGTHA, 18. 1. '97.





Whether many

This chief of indoor games,

on the unwary. which requires forethought scarce- such sharpers are still to be found ly less than chess, with dexterity is doubtful; not because human of manipulation and control of nature is better, for there are nerve infinitely greater, has lately plenty of people as ready as ever attracted much attention; indeed to gain what others may lose and it bas been said that interest in not too particular as to the means the recent match between Roberts employed, but because the pigeon and Peall is second only to that has evolved much sagacity in felt in the reopening of the Eastern the matter of self-preservation. Question and the attitude of Greece. Instead of being gently taken in Realising this, we propose to gos- by the traditional rook who lets sip in an irresponsible way about him win two half-crown games and the game and its votaries, whose proposes to play for a pound, our ways shall be considered as they developed dove, after touching the strike the student of human nature silver, is apt to remember a pressin the billiard-room.

ing engagement elsewhere. NeverThe origin of the game is de- theless the sharper's business is cently shrouded in the mists of not wholly gone, nor will it cease antiquity, and so far all attempts so long as the supply of fools lasts, at revelation based on labour in and that is likely to be for some libraries bave proved to be vain time to come. It is carried on and profitless. The simple and chiefly in public rooms and in perhaps not less satisfactory solu- those of hotels whenever a viction is to assume that research will tim sufficiently conceited can be fail for the sufficient reason that found, but the process of pluckrecord is wanting, and that modern ing is usually on a small scale, billiards has developed and is de- accompanied by smoking and veloping from some game with drinking. When opportunities balls played first on the ground, arise for a greater coup, the scene in the open or in yards, and after is transferred to a private room, wards promoted to a table indoors. as better befitting the graver occaIts history is checkered, and cannot sion. be said to have a clean defaulter In clubs, too, the billiard-rooms sheet : in early life the game seems in which occupy a position, so to to have flourished in the highest speak, between those in a private society, for kings and courtiers house and public rooms, certain played, but later on it penetrated people no doubt add to their small to a lower stratum, got into bad incomes by their skill. They gen. company, and acquired an evil re- erally prefer pool or pyramids to putation. In fact, as recently as billiards, play decidedly better than the first half of this century it was the average of their company, and respectable in private rooms only, are ludicrously quick to discern the public room being often “the the advent of a player better than last refuge of a scoundrel” too idle themselves, when they either stop for honest work, but ready to prey altogether, preferring the cheaper

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »