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10 January 1846 - Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Fr Jean-Claude Colin

Translated by Natalie Keen, June 2010

From source APM ONC 418.1

One sheet, “Fine Bath” paper, comprising four handwritten pages, the fourth also bearing the address, the Poupinel annotation appearing at the top of the first page.

France * To the Reverend * Father Colin, Superior of the *Society of Mary* Mount S(ain)t Barthélemy 4 * Lyon * Rhône

[p.1, at the top of the page]
[in Poupinel’s writing]
N(ew) Caledonia * 10 January 1846 * M(onsei)g(neu)r Douarre


My Reverend Father,
I couldn’t bear to let a single occasion go by without having a few moments talk with you and I have one of the most propitious and surest means of doing so in Father Dubreul who will give you my letter himself. Your choice for a Bursar couldn’t be a happier one; his industriousness and his knowledge of business mean he will be most useful to us; and since he was deserving of your trust, I believed I did not need to limit mine as I gave him my authority to administer the mission’s funds and, if you should deem it necessary, my Reverend Father, you could further extend his authorities and I hereby record my agreement to this. I know that you want only the greatest good for our missions, and I am very happy for you to know that, even in the event there should be losses, I would in no way hold you responsible for them, fully convinced that all security precautions will be taken by yourself or by your deputies.
You will see, my Reverend Father, from the letters I send you that I have no difficulty in clearing myself with Monseigneur at Clermont and that it is a nasty squabble they’ve created for His Lordship. Everything that has been told you about her Royal Highness Madame Adélaïde has no longer any validity, and you would be the first to say that, in the position in which I found myself, I did everything I should have done. Moreover I am holding evidence which will justify me if need be and, if the words of her Royal Highness have been accurately conveyed to you, they are probably not the same as those which were reported to you and spoken at a time when the Tahiti affair was causing problems. I have written to the Minister for the Navy a letter of which you would approve and which should rescue me from my present situation; I’ll quote you just one extract from it after mentioning to him the property and duplicate ownership document entrusted to me. My letter continues as follows:
I therefore take the liberty, Minister, of asking you to outline for me the steps to be followed and, even better, to send protection for the property, for however great my love and devotion to my country, since politics are not- nor should they be- any part of my calling, I would be distressed were my name to appear in public papers.
Your Excellency is aware of my situation; I am counting on you to help me out of it as quickly as possible.
As Society business is calling Father Dubreul back to France, he will be able to sort out many matters while there and bring you up to date with a wealth of things which it is important for you to know.
All this business will be a worry for you, my Reverend Father, but as you are doing God’s work, you will rise above all these woes, for we shall be quick to grasp our real interests and how important it is for us never to separate ourselves from you if we sincerely seek the good of our missions. As for me, my Reverend Father, whatever you could have been told already or might be told in the future, be wholly persuaded that you will never have a more obedient child. Bishop Viard and all your family in New Caledonia would tell you how strong I have been and in what terms I have spoken of the Society. If I write to you in this way, my Reverend Father, it is because I am accustomed to having ideas ascribed to me which have never even entered my head.
I am sending you a small parcel which I’m asking you to divide into three if you consider it appropriate; one for you, the second for the Propagation of the Faith and the third for Monseigneur at Clermont. If you think it right to send him one of the two masks I will quickly replace it because that will be easy for me if I travel into the interior, which I shall certainly do to acquire one just as soon as we get out of our difficulties. The masks are used in certain dances and are in no way idols. Here is the list of objects.
Spears 19
Clubs 16
Axes 14
Women’s belts 19
Lengths of fabric which they put on at the back 9
Straw cloaks 5
Pouches 17
Knives 9
Bracelets 3
Hooks 15
Necklets 3
Head covers 2
Cribs 3
Overcoats 2
Packets of rope 4

There, my Reverend Father, you have all the curios of the country, except for a sort of monstrance that they use in their dances and which I hope to acquire. I am also sending you a copy of the sales of the last acquisition. As for the sale made for the Society, I have actually received the money which you will of course use for me to educate a priest in theology.
Although I am not averse to compliments, my Reverend Father, I am even more grateful to you for the kind advice you give me, for that is proof of the interest you take in me. I haven’t written to Monseigneur at Clermont nor to the Propagation of the Faith to tell them of the little parcel I am sending, leaving to you the job of dividing it out as you wish.
Our two priests, Fathers Calinon and Dubreul, show that they have the deepest feelings for the Society and I believe that through them you will come to know the truth about everything. I cannot mention all our priests individually. My regards to everyone and especially to Reverend Father Cholleton. For you, my Reverend Father, all the affection and respect there is in the heart of a son for a well-loved father.
+G(uillaume) Bishop of Amata
Pouhivoué 10 January 1846