"Col. Charles R. Greenleaf regards it as inevitable that the strength of the most robust American soldier should be undermined by tropical service. He says that after a year of service in the Philippines the most energetic and stalwart American loses energy, strength, and ambition. It is more or less halfheartedly, and with a draft on his vitality that he actually feels at the time, that he performs what work his duty demands, and slight ailments, to which at home he would not give a second thought, he feels out of all proportion to their severity, so that the number of entries for trivial complaints on the sick report increases. We may gather from what Colonel Greenleaf says of the direct effect of the solar heat that something more than that is at the bottom of the enervation, that he depicts; 'men are often overcome on the march by heat,' he says, 'but real heatstroke and lasting heat exhaustion are remarkably rare.' There seems to be, we should say, a general devitalizing influence exerted, much resembling in its effects that which so frequently accompanies influenza, but probably of greater duration."*
* Popular Science Monthly, April, 1901.
* See Lombroso's table.
*¡ New York Medical Journal, December 22, 1900.
"Now India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too seriously - the midday sun always excepted. Too much work and too much energy kill a man just as effectively as too much assorted vice or too much drink. Flirtation does not matter, because everyone is being transferred and either you or she leave the Station, and never return. Good work does not matter, because a man is judged by his worst output and another man takes all the credit of his best as a rule. Bad work does not matter, because other men do worse and incompetents hang on longer in India than anywhere else. Amusements do not matter because you must repeat them as soon as you have accomplished them once, and most amusements only mean trying to win another person's money. Sickness does not matter, because it's all in the day's work, and if you die another man takes your place and your office in the eight hours between death and burial. Nothing matters except home-furlough and acting allowances, and these only because they are scarce. This is a slack, kutcha country where all men work with imperfect instruments and the wisest thing is to take no one and nothing in earnest, but to escape as soon as ever you can to some place where amusement is amusement and a reputation worth the having."*
Sawyer mentions the mental, moral, and physical decay of whites who work in the tropics at manual labor, and also says:
* New York Medical Journal, February 1, 1902. * "Thrown Away," Kipling.
"A gradual but complete break-up of the nervous system," comes to whites who live long amongst natives. "A peculiarity manifests itself amongst natives of the Far East in the curious nervous disorder which is called mali-mali in the Philippines and sakit-latah amongst the Malays of the Peninsular and Java. It seems to be a weakening of the will, and on being startled, the sufferer entirely loses self-control and imitates the movements of any person who attracts his attention. It is more prevalent amongst women than men. I remember being at a performance of Chiarini's Circus in Manila, when General Weyler and his wife were present. The clown walked into the ring on his hands, and a skinny old woman amongst the spectators, who suffered from the mali-mali, at once began to imitate him with unpleasing results, and had to be forcibly restrained by the scandalized bystanders. Running amok marks a climax of nerve disturbance, when the sufferer, instead of committing suicide, prefers to die killing others. Both natives and white residents are at times in rather a low condition of health, and if after exercise or labor they fail to get their meal at the proper time, when it comes they cannot eat. In its lighter form this is called desgana or loss of appetite, but I have seen natives collapse under such circumstances with severe headache and chills. This more serious form is known as trespaso de hambre, and is sometimes the precursor of fever and nervous prostration. Amongst the Europeans who have been long in the islands, many are said to be 'chiflado,' a term I can only render into English by the slang word, cracked. This occurs more particularly amongst those who have been isolated amongst the natives.
"Long sojourn in some other lands appear to act in a different manner. In tropical Africa it seems to be the moral balance that is lost. The conscience is blunted if not destroyed, the veneer of civilization is stripped off, the white man reverts to savagery. The senseless cruelties of Peters Lothaire, Voulet, Chanoine and of some of the outlying officials of the Congo Free States are not mere coincidences. They must be ascribed to one common cause, and that is debasement by environment. The moral nature of a white man seems to become contaminated by long isolation amongst savages as surely as the physical health by living amongst lepers. If the poor white man takes out a white wife, he will probably have the pain and distress of seeing her fade away under the severity of the climate, which his means do not permit him to alleviate. White women suffer from the heat far more than the men. Children cannot be properly brought up there after the age of twelve. They must either be sent home to be educated, or allowed to deteriorate and grow up inferior to their parents in health, strength and moral fiber. When I think of these things, I feel amazed at Oscar F. Williams' presumption in writing that letter."*