Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, April 14, 1923


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Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, April 14, 1923


Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, April 14, 1923


My dear Mr. Sun:

I have been a long time acknowledging receipt of your exceptionally interesting and friendly letter of February 20th. The delay has been due to the fact that I have been daily expecting the arrival of the box of Christmas presents referred to in this and earlier letters. Fate seems to have pursued your gifts, for, although due at the Christmas season, they finally put in an appearance at my home about three or four days ago. At the moment I happened to be absent in Chicago, but on my return I joined with the rest of the family in the expressions of the greatest pleasure over the beautiful articles which you have contributed to the furnishings of my study. They are altogether too good for me and, greatly as I shall always value then, and deeply as I shall appreciate the generous and friendly spirit that started them on their long journey, I can only hope that in the future you will not feel under any obligations whatever to send me anything more than the merest trifles, which I am sure will equally well convey your friendly good wishes and good will. I feel so completely unable to make suitable return for a gift of this kind that I can only hope that you will appreciate my feelings and understand my point of view.

Mary and Miss Clemons have surely enjoyed the mandarin coats, though I am wondering if there could possibly not have been some mistake in the actual assignment. Mary's coat appears to be much the largest of the three, and the two smaller ones, I am afraid, are a little too small to be used comfortably by Miss Clemons. It occurred to me that perhaps the actual labels might have been changed inadvertently during the inspection at the Custom House. I was not at home when they were unpacked so I cannot be sure that the mistake was not made there. This is a matter of small consequence, however, and will doubtless be straightened out in due season, and to the satisfaction of all.

Marjorie is still at school, but will be wildly delighted, I am sure, with your gift to her. If only you could visit us one of these days we should have the longed for opportunity to express, not only to you in person our appreciation and thanks, but to do something, perhaps, to make your visit to us and to America a never to be forgotten one, and in this way to repay you in some small measure for your many generous deeds and thoughts in our behalf. This seems to be about the best that I can hope for, but at least I can dream that the hope may some day be realized.

I cannot understand the complications involved in the arrangements for Arthur's Tsing Hua Scholarship. I have kept after Arthur, and so far as I know he has done what the Legation representatives in Washington have asked. I have written to the Educational Mission there and have expressed my regret that no scholarship was awarded last year, and my inability to understand just why this was so. Only this morning I received a letter from Dr. Y.M. Kwai saying that Arthur had not returned the blank which had been sent him for information. I gave this blank to Arthur weeks ago and told him the importance of filling it out and returning it to Washington at once. He assured me that he would do this, and I am inclined to think that he has done so, though perhaps the document was delayed in the mails. This morning I wrote a pretty strong letter to Dr. Kwai; I hope, a perfectly fair one, expressing my inability to comprehend the difficulties which had arisen and which had now, for two years, debarred Arthur from receiving the scholarship, which had apparently been definitely been promised him long ago. Of course, I have written Arthur again today, sent him Dr. Kwai’s letter, and told him that if he has mislaid or for any reason not sent the information asked for to Washington, to do so without another moment's delay.

You will be exceedingly pleased, I am sure, to learn that Charles has recently expressed his desire to be baptized and to join the Church. This is no sudden thought on his part, I am sure. Charles is serious minded, and thinks things out for himself. Evidently he has had this on his mind for some time, and has reached his decision only after most careful thought. I can’t begin to tell you, how pleased I am at this decision of his, and in fact, over all of his development since he has been with me. The boy ought to be an increasing source of comfort and delight for you as he is for me.

Tom too appears to be developing well. His studies are better this last term. His spirit at the house is fine and I have had little occasion to complain. I do not think, however, that he will ever have quite Charlie’s ability, or that he will match him in many ways. With the boys he is perhaps the more popular of the two, but that is because he has a little keener taste for the fun and student activities of life than for the more serious and lasting things. From this I don’t mean to imply that Charles is not a normal boy when it comes to wholesome activities, or that Tom is over indulgent in these. I am sure you will appreciate what I have in mind.

Mary, I must confess, is still something of a problem; doubly so because it becomes increasingly clear that she is not always frank and honest with us. Deeply as I regret to say it, there is a tendency to conceal, and at times actually to deceive, which leaves one with a very uncomfortable feeling, and the belief that efforts invested in her behalf are of questionable value. I shall watch the situation pretty carefully from now on for I do not believe that, in justice to her or to you, it would be wise to consider keeping up indefinitely the American connection for Mary unless there is to be, in the very near future, evidences of a determination and the ability on her part to overcome these weaknesses referred to.

You refer in your letter to a remission of $5,000.00 of December last, to be credited to your four children and Quincy Sheh. The money was duly received, credited as requested, and formal acknowledgement of its receipt sent to you at the time. As your last letter bears the date of February 20th, the acknowledgement of the receipt should probably have reached you before the letter was sent. I trust, however, that it has been duly received ere this.

Again assuring you of my deep appreciation of your many generous, friendly acts, and, with my kindest personal regards, believe me,

Sincerely and gratefully yours,


Alfred Stearns


Phillips Academy


April 14, 1923


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