June 22, 1889

178 Bluff
June 22, 1889
Dear Sol,
It is getting so late
that I was going to cut you
off with a postal about the
weather and similar p.c. subjects
but I just thought it might
be interesting for you to hear
what it is that has kept me
away from my letter writing.
Shimada San has been in
for counsel and advice, on
the subject which, of all others,
it is most difficult to ask
advice and most useless
to give it - to marry or
not to marry. I don’t know
whether I can keep awake
long enough to tell you her
story or not. She is daughter
of a “Samurai” who of course
lost all rank and wealth
by the revolution. She was
adopted into another family
when a child, adopted parents
being very common in Japan,
had an unhappy childhood until
she came to Ferris Seminary
fourteen years ago. Since then
her life has been that of a student
and teacher. She is nice looking,
clever and attractive, very fascinating-
ting to me...did you send her
address at the Opening? If not
read it. She is twenty five years old.
Well when she was a just a girl
I think she fancied herself
very much in love with a
brilliant young Japanese who
was teaching here then and who
has since become famous for
his smartness and his infidelity.
At that time he was a Christian
preacher. Now he is an agnostic.
I don’t think he made love to
her but she was quite enough
in love with him to make her
strongly disinclined to marry.
The idea of being married
off Japanese fashion by “go between” to a man whom
perhaps she had ever seen.
She was a desirable girl to
marry and so had many
offers Japanese fashion, through
her parents. Parents think it
their duty to marry their girls
off early and as she had two
sets of parents - making matches
for her she had rather a hard
time but she managed to evade
them all until about five
years ago. There came a very desirable
man, one of position, education,
and wealth, and who knew her
personally and was evidentially
in love with her. At least he
was extremely persistent.
From what I hear of him he
must be a very nice man
and I think she made a mistake
in not marrying him. Mrs
Booth says he was too pious
for her.
Well she was finally persuaded
into engaging herself to him
on the understanding that
they were not to marry for
some time. She fretted very
much under the engagement
and acted very hateful about.
Something happened to make the
man want to marry sooner
than he had expected and
he brought all her relations
down to persuade her.
Then there was a big row.
She refused. The parents insisted
and had the right to compel.
Mr. Booth, I believe, interfered
and then there was a horrid
slander started by the parents and finally the
young man agreed to accept
her refusal. The parents
washed their hands of her.
It is a very shocking thing for
a girl to break an engagement
in Japan and she was let
alone for a while. But two
or three years ago she met a
Mr. Iwamoto who though
only 26 is principal of a girls
school in Tokio[sic] and Editor of
a woman’s magazine, that is a
magazine advocating the cause
of women. He became
attracted to her proposed and
she accepted him with Mr. Booth
and her parents consent.
I don’t know the man. He doesn’t
talk English, though he reads it
readily. The Booths accuse
him of selfish motives when
in making the engagement.
he wanted an assistant in his
work both of teaching and
editing and he could not get
so competete t or one so cheaply
as to marry her. But I think
they are rather hard on
him. Shimada San is fond
of him not desperately, but I
think quite seriously.
Well the wedding was put off
from time to time for various
reasons chiefly because she
could not be spared from
here. But it was finally decided
that they would be married this
spring. Last winter you know
she had those hemorrhages. She
is better now but I think she
has consumption. Then of course
she may live several years
equally. Of course, she is very
After the second hemorrhage
she offered to release him
but he wouldn’t be released but
wanted to postpone their marriage
indefinitely. She was very
undecided as to whether she might
marry at all as consumption
was hereditary in her family.
Then in her restless eagerness
to try something that might be
a benefit of change she wanted
to marry at once. The doctor has
forbidden her teaching and of
course she is quite dependent.
tho Mr. Booth has assured her
that she will always have a
home here. But Mr. Iwamoto
said he could not offer
to marry an invalid wife
just yet, they must wait
a year. She has seemed to be
better the last month and
has been planning to get a
situation somewhere where she
would have an easier time
than if she tried to teach here.
She has been here so long
and everybody has depended on
her so much that it would
be improbable for her not to have
a good deal of care if she stays
Mr. Iwamoto was down last
this week. He does not approve
of her going away. He says if
she leaves Ferris Seminary
she must come to him. He says
he will make arrangements
and they can be married next
month. She demurred and
said he had so many
duties at present he had no
time to look after her.
He said he considered looking
after her as one of his duties.
It was a case of “Shikataganai"
(It can’t be helped)
She objected to the sound of the
word “duty” and he said it
was the way he was made.
So that’s the way the case stands.
I hope you are interested.
I’m too sleepy to write any
more. The mail is not in
and I have not heard from
home since I wrote.
Very sincerely yours,
Mary Deyo
I am reading Robert Elsmere.
Have you read it? I forget.

Transcribed by Susan Stewart

Mary's Letters
June 22, 1889