Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, September 14, 1921


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Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, September 14, 1921


Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, September 14, 1921


My dear Mr. Sun:

Your welcome letters of July 11 and August 10 were duly received and should have been answered before this. The past few weeks, however, have been unusually busy ones, and at this moment the rush attending the opening of a new school year is at its height. I shall write you more fully later but send this word to thank you most warmly for the kind sentiments you have so generously expressed and to tell you briefly the plans that have been made for the children for this new school year. Let me first, however, acknowledge the receipt of your check for $3000 which, as requested, I have credited as follows:

$1000 to Arthur
$1000 to Quincy Sheh
$400 to Mary
$300 to Charles
$300 to Thomas

During the summer Arthur has been at the Camp Aloha Summer School where he has seemingly done excellent work in his studies and where he has made many and good friends. Quincy Sheh was at the same camp, and I have had from those in charge very warm words of commendation of both the work and spirit of these two boys. Arthur will enter the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston the last of this month. As he will be only about twenty miles from us I hope we shall see a good bit of him during the year. Quincy returns to Andover to complete its college preparation and will room in my house, though boarding in one of the regular school houses.

Thomas and Charles are entering the Academy this week. They are a bit nervous, I can easily see, over the new responsibilities, but I feel sure that they will soon gain the confidence they need and will find it possible to meet the new school requirements in a satisfactory way. Owing to their ages which slightly below most of the boys who enter the school, I have not deemed it wise to give them full schedules this year. It is the usual practice here to allow town boys who live at home to enter the school somewhat younger than do the boys who come from a distance. To lighten up their work for the first two years and to permit them to take five instead of four years to complete their course this is the plan I have outlined for these boys and on this basis their schedules will include this year; regular Algebra; French; and a double course in English. In order that they may handle the other work to the best advantage it is very essential that the English foundation be made as strong as possible. If I find that the situation requires it, I shall arrange to give them some special work outside or the regular classrooms. I hope that this will not prove necessary. During the summer Tom and Charles have been at a summer camp up at my own summer place where they won the hearts of all and were among the most popular boys in the camp. I had them do a little work in English up there under a tutor in order to strengthen their knowledge of that subject. It seems best for me to keep these boys for another year in my own house where Miss Clemons, who has mothered them so satisfactorily this past year, will still be able to help and advise them. I had planned to have them board at the School Dining Hall and supposed that they would welcome this change. Just now they seem to prefer to remain with me, and I find that this is a deep-rooted preference, I shall hope to be able to allow them to stay.

Mary was at my own summer home throughout the summer months. Unfortunately she does not like the woods and mountains and I am sure had a pretty unhappy time of it, especially as we were without maids during the last month and had to do a good bit of our own work. She did not, however, allow her feelings to mar the fine spirit and instincts that have always been hers and which stamp her as a rare and unusual girl. For this school year she has gone with my own daughter to Northfield Seminary. This is the school established by the late Dwight Moody, the well known Evangelist, and is now in charge of his son who has been a close and intimate friend of mine since boyhood. The Christian influences at this school are pronounced, though the restraints, in some ways, are more exacting than I would naturally prefer. I confess, however, that in America today practically all of the well known boarding schools for girls are so honeycombed with fads and fancies and modern superficialities that I dread the thought of subjecting a high-minded cultured girl to their influence. Northfield is as free form these things as any modern school could well be, and the courses of study there are of the very best. Most of the girls, it is true, come from families of limited means, but I do not feel that this fact can prove anything but helpful to both of the girls concerned. My home, of course, will still be Mary's, and I cannot tell you how much we miss her wonderfully sunshiny spirit from the household. I can see from your letter a trace of anxiety as to Mary's development, your feelings evidently being based upon the report I made to Mr. Liang of her excitement at the time of the Andover victory over her rival school. Please do not think that she has lost any of that inherent modesty and refinement that are so pronounced in her, and which it is my aim to preserve in every possible way. The Chapel is just across the street from my own home, and when she, Marjory, and Miss Clemons, in the enthusiasm of the moment, decided to pull the bell rope there, following an old custom, they were in as much seclusion as if they had been in their own back yard.

I think I forgot to refer to the Latin situation in connection with Thomas and Charles. My feeling is that it will be better to limit the language work this year to French and English and to hold the Latin in reserve for next year, in case it seems wise to give them that subject. The larger majority of our Chinese students have not taken Latin, but I realize none the less its value and would be disposed to encourage the boys to include it in their schedule if they can do so without too great a strain. Of course a foreigner who works at a language is really working at two languages at one and the same time, since the medium through which he works, in this case English, is also a foreign language to him. The matter of the German also can be decided later. The main thing now is to give the boys a good and fair start.

Let me state to you again in closing what a rare privilege I consider it to be allowed to have these most friendly and responsive children in my home circle.


Alfred Stearns


Phillips Academy


September 14, 1921


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