Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to C.L. Chow, February 7, 1918


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Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to C.L. Chow, February 7, 1918


Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to C.L. Chow, February 7, 1918


Typed letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to C.L. Chow expressing condolences over the death of a mutual friend, his sympathies on the youthful brashness of his son, his desire to revisit China at some point in the future, etc.


7 February, 1918

Mr. C.L.Chow
45 C Robinson Road
Hong Kong

My dear Mr. Chow:

Your most interesting letter of December 15th has been duly received and read with the deepest interest. Needless to say we all share your sorrow in the loss of our good old friend Liang Chen Tung. I had heard that he had been ill; but I had not heard, nor had any of his American friends apparently until your letter brought the news, that death had finally claimed him. His many and good friends in Andover share the common sorrow and feel the void that his loss occasions. Personally I valued his friendship highly; and I shall never forget those delightful days I spent as his guest with him in the Chinese Legation at Washington a number of years ago. His visits to Andover too were always most welcome and we were invariably cheered and encountered by his generous expressions of loyalty and good will. What his loss must mean to you, his most close and intimate friend, I well know; and my sympathy thereafter goes out to you in fullest measure. I wish that you would express to his wife, if the opportunity offers, my deep sympathy with here in her bereavement.

It is disappointing indeed to learn that Chang has not yet awakened to the seriousness of life and its responsibilities, or has heard and answered the clear call of duty and privilege. He is still young, as you say, and fortunately many a man has awakened before it is too late to the error and absolute foolishness of his ways, when only selfish interests and passing pleasures have been consulted, and by a frank admission of his faults and a definite determination to make good has won for himself before life closed an enviable place in the world’s affection and esteem. I hope and believe that this will yet be true of Chang; though it will always be a source of the deepest regret to me that during the time I had a chance to to exert an influence upon him I appear to have failed so completely to instil within him ideals of life and conduct. Please tell him, if you feel it wise to do so, that I still have confidence in him, chiefly because of his inheritance, and that I shall never be satisfied until I learn that he is making good in the finest sense of word.

The days that I passed in China are still a most delightful memory to me; and I love to let my mind dwell upon it whenever the opportunity offers. I try to make myself believe, and often say, that if I live long enough I mean to repeat the experiment and enjoy once more the fascination of your ancient and Oriental land. I must’t wait too long I realize, for after all the greatest attraction lies in the warm welcome of old friends out there whose cordiality and kindness I can never forget, surpassing as it did my highest expectation. Especially am I indebted to you, and I shall never forget how you looked me up in Shanghai that time and took pains to make me realize that I was by no means, as I then believed myself to me, a stranger in a strange land. That act of kindness on your part did more than anything else to enhance the value and pleasure of my visit to China.

What you say of your Chinese civilization echoes the feeling that I have long held. I have often said that I believed we gained more here by the presence of Chinese boys and what they did for our American students than they gained from us. The qualities of your civilization which have enabled it to endure through all these passing centuries are qualities which are sadly lacking in the average American youth. Reverence, respect, obedience to the law and the strength and importance of family and how ties in my judgement are the essentials which must lie at the basis, as they do in the case of China, of any civilization which is permanently to endure. Scientific inventions and material achievements have undoubtedly turned the heads of the West, and I sometimes think that the good Lord has sent the present calamity on the world to teach us a lasting lesson and bring us back to humility and reasonable sense. How I would welcome the chance to sit down with you and talk over to our hearts content some of the great questions and problems which these unusual days are forcing upon us. We must study and think and plan as we have never done before, and in a far humbler spirit too, if we are eventually to bring order out of the present chaos; and it is a problem that will concern every race as well as every nation, for that time has passed when individuals, or nations, or races can set themselves up in self-satisfied isolation. We must learn from one another; we must profit by one another’s mistakes; we must help one another when the opportunity offers; and we must work for one common goal, the real brotherhood of man and the uplifting of humanity everywhere.

Again let me thank you for your fine letter. May I express the hope that I won’t have to wait quite so long this time before I hear from you again. I can’t tell how welcome your letters are and how much satisfaction, and pleasure they bring me.

With my very kindest regards to your good self, to Chang. and to any other inquiring friends in your part of the world, believe me always

Very sincerely yours,


Dr. Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


February 7, 1918


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