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25 January 1841 — Father Claude-André Baty to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Bay of Islands

Translated by Mary Williamson, June 2019

Based on the document sent, APM Z 208.

Sheet of “Bath” paper forming four pages, three of which are written on, with the address on the fourth.

[on the back, p.4][Address]
Mr Colin Superior General / of the Society of Mary / no. 4 Saint Barthelemy Rise / Lyon.

[in Poupinel’s handwriting]
New Zealand / Bay of Islands 25th January 1841 / Father Baty.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

My very Reverend and very dear Father,
May the all powerful be blessed in all his works! May Jesus our divine master be known, adored and loved, along with his and our blessed mother Mary! How many trials of all sorts has this unfortunate mission had to endure! For quite a long time we have been eagerly awaiting, from day to day, some new colleagues, then your letter of 22nd April arrived here today! [1] You have received no news despite so many letters written! I wrote one during the month of June 1839 and several in August of the same year, [2] and I have not been the only one, but it seems that they have not been sent by a straightforward route, though I am not sure of this. As I think that they will all arrive nevertheless, I do not want to repeat what I have said to you; Also, as I am not in charge of anything in the mission, I do not think that I should say anything except what concerns me personally. I am not very popular with the Bishop at the moment, but I hope that when he returns from his voyage all will be settled, for, to speak to you as a son to his father, I must confess that I could have been the cause; but I did not anticipate the effect of my actions. This disagreement, that I do not yet understand very well, has partly come about, I believe, from my opposition from the beginning, to the regulations of the Bishop concerning communicating with you by letter, rules that I have perhaps not fully understood or that have been changed; and then from my relationship with him, because I spoke too much about the difficulties of the mission and of his failure to succeed in the Hokianga, something that I did deliberately, without anticipating the bad effect, because I knew that the Bishop exaggerated somewhat when speaking of the success of the mission. Finally, I was recalled from Hokianga and for more than three months now I have been in the Bay of Islands waiting for the return of his Lordship with his instructions. I must confess my faults and certainly my lack of aptitude, but he has reproached me for something which is not true and about which I beg you the favour, my Father, of believing me, despite what you may have heard to the contrary, it is that I am in no way disgusted by the works of the mission and especially the work amongst the natives, because in coming here I did not expect to be engaged in working for Europeans. I am very happy with my lot and with God’s grace and the intercession of our honoured Mother I expect to be here till my final days. This is what I wished to communicate to you most, amongst the thousands of things that I could wish to inform you of. Since I am certain that this letter will be sent, I want to also say to you that I fear that all my letters might not have been sent. I only know positively about one which was stopped and it was addressed to Father Girard. [3] It contained quite a large number of small details, but I was told that there were some that could have been discouraging; as I counted on his discretion I had thought otherwise; in that matter, I blame my lack of discernment and despite what has been considered annoying, my heart does not feel any regrets.
My letter is perhaps rather short, but I am leaving on a fairly long trip and as the ship, which is going to Sydney will probably leave before I get back, I prefer to be short rather than not write at all. Oh! dear Father, can I trouble your heart even more in telling you that we are troubled with demands and sometimes anger, because we are not able to respond to the impatient demands of the New Zealanders! How many people are dying without baptism in areas far away from priests! Unfortunate country, where there are so few workers and where a worker can do so little because of the unfavourable contours of the land, the lifestyle of natives and often the intemperate weather with contrary winds!
I would ask you to kindly present my humble respects and my brotherly friendship to all your children and to your brother in particular, may they pray for me and for all of us!
I earnestly commend myself to all your holy masses and to all your prayers; please also do not forget our novices and all those who are still in the shadows. May Jesus, Mary and Joseph be with you and with all of us.
Please accept the very humble sentiments of respect and devotion from one who has the honour of being, my very Reverend and dear Father,
Your very unworthy servant and child,
Baty, missionary apostolic.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 25th January 1841.


  1. Cf. CS, doc. 154, letter of 22nd April 1840 from Colin to Pompallier.
  2. See his letter of the month of June 1839 to the abbot Nyd (doc.32), that of 4th August 1840 to Father Claude Girard (doc. 66) and that of 10th November 1840 to Father Chanut (doc. 77). Other than his letter to Father Colin of 26th August 1838 written several days before his departure from France, no letter from Baty to Father Colin earlier than this one is kept in APM, but note his comment towards the end of this paragraph: “I fear that all my letters have not been sent”.
  3. The Marist Father, Claude Girard, master of the novices from 1838 to 1842 and to whom Baty addressed another letter on 25th October 1841 (cf. doc. 114).