Br Jacques Peloux to Fr Victor Poupinel(?), Port of Apia, Samoa, 1 Jan 1853
Clisby Letter 101. Girard doc. 1211
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Although the copy of this letter in the APM gives no sign as to whom it was addressed, the context clearly indicates Poupinel at Puylata. He it was who acted as contact between the missionaries and their relatives at home. Three of Jacques’ family are mentioned here, his brother-in-law, presumably the Dulac mentioned in an earlier letter to Poupinel (13 February 1852 APM), his sister (Mme Dulac?) and his niece, a nun. His former mentor, Maitrepierre, suffered from consumption. He was now back in Lyon, in his post of master of novices at La Favorite, after two years convalescence at La Seyne. He did not die until 1872, at Montbel.
Jacques provides a few details about the man who had sold the bishop the property at Mulivai. William Pritchard had come to Samoa from Tahiti in 1845 and opened the first permanent trading store in Apia in 1849. He was also the British consul. Pritchard returned to England, where he published his memoirs in 1866. His son does not appear to have been much disadvantaged from his financial ruin since he was able to take a longterm lease on the mission schooner . When Calinon arrived from Tonga in July 1852 looking for passage to Tahiti, it was the younger Pritchard who provided it, but they returned to Tonga first (rf L 98).
Text of the Letter
- Reverend Father,
- A few words since opportunity presents and it is necessary for me to make some response to the lovely letter I received from you several months ago following that from my brother-in-law. It was a long time since I had heard from you, and the time weighed heavily for me. But I quickly recovered on reading your agreeable circular. I read and reread it a number of times, and each time with fresh satisfaction. I can tell you further that it caused me many tears, especially reading the page which mentioned the very reverend (Fr) Maitrepierre’s illness. From one of your letters I received, nearly two years ago to the day, I believed him dead and I prayed for the repose of his soul.
- You doubtless know, my Reverend Father, that Monsignor of Enos has brought the property belonging to Mr Pritchard, the English consul. The poor devil is ruined in Samoa, he has (lost) all credit. It is a shame, for he is a good man. We have never had cause to complain about him. He has always been well disposed to render us service since we have been in the Navigators. I have often been to his place and he always gave me a warm welcome. I have even worked in his yard sawing the timber Fr Dubreuil had purchased from him to build a house. We were good friends. Once he came to help me with the sawing - he took the lower end and I had the upper. That worked quite satisfactorily. I don’t understand English but we talked in Samoan and we understood each other all the same. He has left the consulate to his son and tells us he will soon be leaving for Europe. His son, the actual consul, has hired His Lordship’s schooner for some time. It was he himself who took Fr Calinon to Tahiti to find a warship to avenge the wrongs the natives in Tonga have committed. You know the story doubtless. It is not necessary for me to recount it to you.
- About a month ago I sent a letter to the Rev Fr Superior. I informed him of Fr Dubreuil’s illness. I told him he was getting better, and I told the truth, but some days later things changed radically, and for several days we really believed we would lose him. But thanks to God, at present we have nothing to fear. He came again today for the second time from Mulinu to Apia. Whatever the case, his tongue has not suffered a bit. Fr Mugnery should be in France now. He must have told you of Salelavalu where both of us lived together. I would very much like to write to him. I have some quite interesting stories to tell him about Salelavalu. The first opportunity I will not fail to write to him. I would also like to be able to write to my niece, Sister St Eleanore, at the earliest opportunity, but it is not possible today.
- Please give her all the news on my behalf with your usual kindness and ask her to pray for me and for our poor Samoans, but it is not necessary for you to go out of your way to do that. I am writing a little letter to my sister Chienette. It has been sealed for my sake but you can unseal it and then have it forwarded to her.
- I ask you, my Reverend Father, to pardon my scrawl. I have had to take away from my sleep to write my letter and I haven’t the time to make a good copy. I commend myself to your prayers at the Holy Sacrifice.
- I am my Reverend Father with profound respect your very humble and very obedient servant,
- Br Jacques Peloux.
- Fr Padel, who has nothing to do except come and go and therefore has no time to write to you, asks me to send you a thousand compliments for him.
- This is how the name is written in the copy. Perhaps Jacques is using a family nickname (‘Puppy’) based on his sister’s Christian name - Jeannette?
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