Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, January 3, 1929


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, January 3, 1929


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, January 3, 1929


My dear Mr. Tsai:

Your very interesting letter of November 28 reached me just at the Christmas season and was followed a day or two later by the tea which you so thoughtful as to send me as a Christmas gift. Please accept my very hearty thanks for the gift, which will be thoroughly enjoyed, I assure you, by members of my family as well as myself, for we are all tea drinkers, though I hope not to excessively so.

Yes, I am sure that Helen is enjoying her present school, and I am also sure that the school itself and the influences there are of the very best. I can't think of any place where I would prefer to have had my own daughter during her school years, and my keen and lasting regret is that I did not know more about this particular school at the time my daughter would naturally have been a candidate for admission. While I am not an Epsicopalean [sic], I am pretty broad in my view, and if the fundamentals that count in character building receive the chiefest emphasis, I don't very much care from what source or from what denomination they come.

Helen's vacations have been my greatest problem, as I think I have already intimated to you, and I have taken a step recently of which I hope you will approve and which I cannot help feeling is really wise and distinctly better for Helen than the old arrangement. Helen needs a woman's advice and counsel, something which I cannot, of course, supply. Mrs. Nye has been wonderfully friendly to both of the children, and I have consequently asked her if she would accept the position of sub-guardian, as it were, for Helen, so that Helen could receive from her that intimate relationship which would enable her to ask questions and secure advice from one understanding her needs and as a high-minded woman, capable of meeting them. I am sending Mrs. Nye, therefore, a lump sum of money on Helen's account, for which she will render me a definite accounting, and which will be used, of course, only in Helen's behalf. Mrs. Nye is also ready and glad to provide a home for the children during their vacation periods and under conditions far better than I could possibly arrange for them even at our quiet little Inn here in Andover. I shall keep in touch with Mrs. Nye, of course, and she will consult me freely, so that whatever is done will, I feel sure, meet with my approval and no doubt with yours as well.

Alfred is finding his work at Phillips pretty difficult, but he has one on the whole a bit better than I feared at the outset would be the case. By another year, I think he ought to be able to develop suffcient momentum to carry him along with increasing achievement until he finds himself well prepared for the higher work of the college or scientific school.

Your reference to Helen’s money-earning ability amuses me. Helen has been keen to earn something to help meet the expenses of her own education and I have been immensely pleased with her attitude and inclined to encourage so high a purpose. I imagine she found the work last summer a bit strenuous, however, but I have no doubt that it was a valuable experience and one which will tend to make her realize the value of money and something of the satisfaction of earning it for oneself. Whether she will ever become a “Hetty Green", remains to be seen, though I am not generally enthusiastic about ladies so renouned [sic] for their material successes alone. I will see that the fifty dollars is turned over from your account to Helen’s personal account if she is willing to allow me to do this, and in the meantime will increase Alfred’s allowance to ten dollars per month as you have suggested.

I was very much interested to hear of Mr. Kwan’s visit. He was a wonderfully fine and promising fellow when here and I have heard only good things of him since his return to China. He got as far as California last year, but unfortunately was not able to come east, so I missed a chance to see him again. When I was in China in the winter of 1913, his father, Dr. Kwan, came all the way from Tientsin to Peking to call on me, and I recall with the deepest pleasure that friendly visit.

I am sending the children small checks as you have requested, representing Christmas gifts from Mrs. Tsai and yourself, and I shall be glad to see that each has some good book as sell, coming as a gift from the same source. Unfortunately, your letter did not reach me until after Christmas, and as both Alfred and Helen are with Mrs. Nye over the holiday season, I have not been able to attend to the matter so promptly as would otherwise have been possible.

Wishing you a truly happy and prosperous New Year, and with kind personal regards, believe me

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


January 3, 1929


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