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15 February 1846 - Father Jean-Louis Rocher to Father Victor Poupinel, Sydney

Source APM OP 458 Rocher

Translated by Natalie Keen, July 2014

One sheet forming four pages with three handwritten, the fourth bearing only the address and Poupinel annotation.

Monsieur Poupinel administrator - Mont St. Barthélemy no. 4, Lyon.

[In the handwriting of Poupinel]
Sydney 15 February 1846 – Reverend Father Rocher

To the greater glory of God and the Virgin Mary Mother of God

Sydney 15 February 1846

My reverend Father,
Since I believe you know of our successful arrival in Sydney, I shall take care not to begin boring you with all the travel tales that you have read hundreds of times over. All you need to know is that we arrived at our destination with our legs, arms and luggage – i.e everything - with no damage in transit. Shall I tell you about Sydney? But Bishop Polding who is with you will give you better than I can all the information you might want on this subject. We’ve got to acknowledge that I’m the one to pass on things of interest to you, to give you the feel of it all; that doesn’t affect you one way or the other; for at the present time, it’s something that’s commonly done but isn’t always good news. So what then should I tell you? How about a bit of business chatter – would you like that? All I can say is, are you going to reply to me for I haven’t yet finished reading the volume edited by Father Calinon on this subject! But, my reverend Father, be patient for a moment. It won’t take long.
I noticed that, after the sorting out is done, the making of the missionaries’ garments is being held up too much. As a result, since the tailors are so busy, they don’t make them up the proper way. This might arise from another cause too; that is, that it is imagined I believe, that for missionaries going among native peoples, their clothing doesn’t have to be all that well made. If these ideas existed, folk would be very much mistaken, because in all these islands one finds Europeans. Besides, with the Protestant missionaries there, that gives people the chance to make immediate comparisons. Never have I seen people place so much importance on external things as the English. When you go to see someone, the first thing they do is look you over from head to foot. Here now are the main shortcomings I have noticed in our clothing. Firstly, the short cassock. They are a little too long and at the same time have so little fullness. The sleeves are made too wide and the distance between the two buttons at the waist is far too wide. Some don’t meet between the shoulders, namely the case of Father Calinon, making a pocket above the kidneys which could take a five-pound loaf. The short cassocks which you’ll send to the missionaries who are among the English, make sure they have silk buttons, not horn.
For trousers, the legs should be narrower and higher in the waist. Never just tapering, but with a definite taper; the English make fun of the former.
As for the material, we find it just great and I think if you could find some as good for general use but which didn’t look quite as good, that could serve just as well.
For those of us who are in Sydney, there’s no need to send us ready-made clothes. If it weren’t for the Customs in London, you could send us cloth and wool but I’m afraid these would attract considerable duty. If you had a good opportunity, that would be just fine!
What we’d like are some shoes and hats as in Sydney these two items are excessively dear and are no good. An inferior silk hat is 16#. Shoes in kangaroo skin which are useless in the rain 12#50.
Don’t send us any more ankle-boots like the ones we brought with us as once tied up, you shouldn’t be able to see the laces. For this to happen, the upper has to be fairly long to cover the laces.
A round hat for everyone, but please put them in a small box so that they won’t be spoiled. The shape of those we brought with us is just right.
That’s enough of that for I can see that you are getting a headache, which would make me very upset, as you’ve been kind enough to listen so patiently to my little comments.
I am most grateful for the medal you sent me for Brother Auguste.
You know that I am now on my own at the Bursar’s office in Sydney and probably will be for a long time ahead as I don’t expect Father Dubreul for some two or three months.
If you should have a few suggestions to make to me to improve the Bursar’s Office, please tell me; I’ll be glad to have them and they will be carried out efficiently.
Farewell, my reverend Father. Do not forget me in your prayers.
Your most humble and very obedient servant
My best wishes to your dear colleague Father Germain and to all our Fathers and brothers in Puylata.
Give us some news of the Society for we’ve been here in Sydney for ten months without any word of it.
Now here’s a list of different things you might please be good enough to send us at the first opportunity.
1* A Bailly Theology revised by Father Receveur.,[1]
2* Two or three Holy Weeks in French.
3* The annals of the Propagation of the Faith, for 1845. Bishop Pompallier has lost our record for the month of January.
4* The 10th volume of Cornelius A Lapide.[2]
5* Manual of taxidermy for birds and for preserving insects. Two copies.
6* Handbook of botany.
7* Paper for drying plants; several reams.
8* Long thin pins to mount insects, 3 or 4 thousand.
9* Communion wafer irons. Father Chaurin has lost the box containing the ones sent to us.
10* The continuation of Perrone’s Theology (large) in 8 volumes[3] We have four volumes.
11* Shoes and head-covers. The same for Brother Auguste but make sure that the brother’s shoes are light because here, you can’t wear heavy shoes because of the heat.
12* A few pastoral letters from previous Lenten observances.[4]
Please tell very reverend Father Superior not to attach a lot of importance to the way the expenses of the administration office look. It’s not quite right. Father Dubreul did it when he was in a great hurry.
Please send us money because we won’t be able to count on receiving the 67pounds sterling the archdiocese of Sydney owes us for quite a while.


  1. Father Louis Bailly, theologian, 1730-1808, author of Theologia dogmatica et moralis, which appeared in 1789 in 8 volumes. Reprinted after the Concordat until in 1824 when, revised by Messrs Receveur and Gerbert, Bailly’s course of theology saw 18 editions up to 1852 (cf. Dictionnaire de biographie française, t. 4, col. 1355-1356).
  2. Cornelius a Lapide (Cornelissen van den Steen), Jesuit Biblical interpreter, 1567-1637, author of Commentarii in Sacram Scripturum, editio recens, a quamplurimis mendis, quibus caeterae scatebant, diligentissime expurgata et castigata, et Illustrissimo DD. A.R Devie episcopo Bellicensi dedicata (Lyon: Pelagaud et Lesne, 1839-1842, 4*, 11 vol.) (Cf. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, t. 4, col, 1511-1523).
  3. Jean Perrone, Jesuit theologian,1794-1876, author of Praelectiones theologicae, first edition in Rome, 1835-1842, 8*, in 9 volumes, and several succeeding editions (cf. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, t.6, col. 558-560).
  4. See, for example: Alexandre-Raymond Devie, Mandements et lettres pastorales (APM, formerly in the library of the Marist House in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, M V11, A2).