Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, October 4, 1926


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, October 4, 1926


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, October 4, 1926


My dear Mr. Sun:

I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of August 23 with instructions as to the readjustments of the credits of the accounts of your children. Following your request, I have transferred form Quincey Sheh's account the sum of $1,000.00 and have added this as credits of $500.00, each, to the accounts of Mary and Tom.

The new school year starts off with the last of your children leaving Andover for a higher institution. The last one is Tom, who has just entered Middlebury College, having succeeded, somewhat to my surprise but greatly to my satisfaction, in passing off the final entrance requirements this fall. Tom did some good hard work this summer which has borne fruit. Middlebury is a college of excellent standing, though one of the smaller ones, and Mr. Moody, the president, has expressed great personal interest in Tom's case and has promised to follow him closely. Moody is a very close personal friend of mine and the son of Dwight Moody, the famous American Evangelist and the founder of the Northfield Schools of international reputation.

Arthur is just about to take his make-up examinations at the Institute of Technology in Cambridge in the hope of securing his too long deferred degree. He is anxious to get a position for the coming year where he can secure practice experience, but, as he seems unwilling to start as a draftsman, such a position is exceedingly difficult to find. I have suggested to him that it would be well to being even in this humble capacity and then bend every effort to prove himself worthy of broader work. Of course if he should by chance fail his make-up examinations, though I hope this may not happen, he will find it almost impossible to secure a position of the kind he seeks. He is to confer with me the moment the results of his examinations are known.

Charlie returns to Amherst and goes on his steady and dependable course. He is in every way a most satisfactory fellow to work with and his record has been an increasing source of satisfaction to me, as I am sure it must be to you.

Mary's problem has been a bit trying of late. With Minister Sze's help, arrangements were made for her admission to Elmira College, as you know. To complete the necessary preparation to visit approved friends during that period. With my endorsement she went to Springfield, Mass., for the last week of the vacation to stay with a friend there, planning to go direct from there to her college for its opening early the following week. At the end of the week in question Mr. Robinson arrived and we discussed together, of course, the situation of all the children. Mr. Robinson seemed to think it very desirable that someone should accompany Mary to Elmira. Since for the past two years she has had a large experience in handling her own affairs, I felt that she was perfectly capable of taking this next step alone, as nearly all of our American girls are accustomed to do and as I know many Chinese girls have done also. Yielding to Mr. Robinson’s feelings, however, I got in touch with Arthur and Charlie by telegraph, only to find that it would be impossible for them to adjust their plans to make the trip. Mr. Robinson then suggested that he would try to meet Mary himself en route to Elmira and accompany her there and that, if this proved impossible, he would get his sister to go. Consequently I endeavored to advise Mary of the situation and plans but discovered that she had already left Springfield Saturday and was passing the week-end with a school friend in Trenton, K. J., and thus avoiding the necessity of investing: a night in New York City or elsewhere on the way to Elmira. The plan she was carrying out was in every way a proper one though her failure to notify me in advance caused both Mr. Robinson and myself for the moment a great deal of confusion and some anxiety. I am sure, however, that Mary felt that she was doing the right thing and did not realize that any confusion might result.

Mr. Robinson from the outset was very insistent that Mary should room her first year at Elmira in a private home, and, as he told me that this was your earnest wish, I naturally accepted the plan and advised Mary accordingly. Mary’s reply indicated great distress, which, for the moment, I could not understand, later, however, I received a letter from the Registrar at Elmira, in which she expressed most emphatically disapproval of the arrangement which she said was wholly contrary to their practices and which the college authorities felt strongly would be unwise for and unfair to Mary herself. She added that the college freshman dormitory provided surroundings in every way wholesome and best conducive to the welfare of students entering. Naturally under these conditions I felt it would be unwise to carry out Mr. Robinson’s plan and that you, yourself, would feel so too, if you were in possession of the information from thee college authorities which had just been placed in my hands. Further, Mary had already signed a contract for the dormitory room with my full approval; so that there was in a sense another obligation involved. Mr. Robinson in the meantime had arranged with some missionary family in Elmira to take Mary in: so, of course, it was necessary to explain matters to them which I attempted, to the best of my ability, to do.

I hope that my final decision will meet with your fullest approval. My one desire was to do what was proper and best for Mary and at the same time follow a course that would be approved by you. Mr. Robinson’s arrival just as the college was about to open and the injunction of the new plan naturally upset things a good bit, and the complications were a little more pronounced because of the intimation, riven by Mary in one of her letters, that Mr. Robinson might not fully represent your real views in the matter, especially if the actual facts and conditions had been fully known to you in advance. Of course this intimation, and I am passing it on to you in confidence, did not affect the situation or influence me in my final decision. I simply felt that the college authorities knew best what Mary ought to do and that their own statement to me that for me to place Mary outside would be unwise and contrary to college practice must be relied on.

Please pardon these somewhat lengthy details, but I am anxious that you should have all the facts before you so as to understand just what has been done and why. There are times when I would give almost anything to be able to talk matters over with you, for even just a few minutes but face to face, for I feel a pretty heavy sense of responsibility in attempting to work out by myself and at this distance all the problems which confront me in connection with the care and education of your four children.

With warm personal regards, believe me always

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


October 4, 1926


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