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The Henry Swan Papers

Letter from Henry Swan to his father pdf (4,318,748 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Henry Swan to his father
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
8 (4,318,748 Bytes)
1931-04-30 (April 30, 1931)
Swan, Henry
[Swan, Henry Sr.]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Biographical Information
Box Number: 15
Folder Number: 3
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1936-1995
Folder: [Scrapbook, 1930-1933]
Quandry re choice of college
April 30, 1931
Dear Dad,
Today I was challenged for position but, despite the wind, maintained an advantage and came through, 8-6, 6-4.
Last Saturday we played M.L.L. freshmen. I was unable to play from the weakness of my poor-muscle state. I am not yet in the fine condition I was before the attack of measles, brief tho' it was. Wednesday we played New Hampton, I won both singles and doubles with Ed, the first 6-3, 6-1, the second 6-4, 6-0.
I have abandoned study in favor of reading and drinking milk each night with graham crackers. The combination, according to sane precepts,
ought to put weight on my ribs, but every day in every way I'm getting gaunter and gaunter.
I am in a quandry about college. I only wish you were here to talk to; I know you could really help me. Indeed, I have half a mind to phone, but I will try to write instead.
When I think of going to Williams, I sometimes wonder. The fellows there are all fine chaps, as I saw when I was there, and the college life much be great, but what else is there. In one visit of 3 days I saw almost all the college has to offer. Way off from any center of civilization, the school doesn't seem to offer enough recompense in the way
of cultural curriculum to warrant a 4 year sequestered life. The rules are little more free than Exeter, with chapel, no care til you're a junior, required courses, etc.
Princeton on the otherhand offers the advantages of college life and approach to civilization, and yet Princeton strikes no string within me nor does it seem to offer the chance for individuality. In other words, Princeton, or Yale, produces a type.
Yet this is not true at Harvard. There, undoubtedly, is the most admirably professored University, offering the
broadest scope of curriculum. There is freedom of individual activities as well as mental developments, there the most perfect opportunity to develope [sic] what fun talents I flatter myself that I possess. Here too is cultured Boston, and yet at Harvard I lose the college tradition, campus life, and probably a great deal of the close intercourse of a small college.
You have been to college and are, of all people, the best able to advise me, knowing me as you do and being to able to judge things in their real value. What price intellectual freedom or what price college life? I wish I knew.
I have asked some of my closer friends of the faculty. One, lately out of Harvard, a man whose outlook on life, whose mental attainments, and whose judgements I respect and admire, has strongly urged Harvard on me, flattering me by saying that I with what accomplishments are mine, and with my abilities, would feel confined and bound in at a place like Williams, he tempts me with versions of the tutorial system. I have therefore made out an application just in case--but I need the two sheets detaching board results which you have, or which you sent
to Princeton. Please, let me know immediately if you have them, and if so please forward.
There is, moreover, two other considerations, one pro, one con, re Harvard. If I attend Harvard Business School as a post graduate course, I will probably be very fed up on Boston and Cambridge if I spend my under-graduate course there too. On the other hand, if I try for a Rhodes scholarship, and it looks now as if I might, and should I be fortunate enough to get one, Harvard would offer me the best background from which to approach [England?].
In short, I am in a quandry. If I
knew more people I liked, Princeton would appeal, but no soap, so I guess that's out. Harvard or Williams, big college or small, education and development or college life, broad horizon or happy cloister, culture or contact, which shall it be? As I said, if I could only talk to you I fell sure I could settle it.
My serve has returned somewhat. I lack confidence on my strokes. My footwork is weak, as is my net play. In general, however, my play is improving.
I think I sent a whole boxful of socks 3 weeks ago containing many pairs of tennis socks, Did they come?
Awaiting to hear from, with lots and lots of love,
P.S. Williams has a good library.
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