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12 October 1846 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, September 2010

Jesus Mary Joseph
Very Reverend Father,
my journey to France being of a kind to surprise you, I think I should not let any opportunity slip by without even telling you of the reasons which persuaded me to make this journey. This letter is the third that I have the honour of speaking to you concerning my decision. There have been reasons as strong as those which pushed me to take such a step as to have me leave the mission station for which I would sacrifice a thousand lives if that were in my power, and missionaries who are so dear to me.
Very Reverend father, you need to take urgent action in the interests of the missionaries, your children, and for that you have to know the condition of the mission stations, as much as anybody, I think I am able to explain clearly to you, having seen in the cold light of day some of the matters of the mission station which has been entrusted to us.
There is one island and one which has the least appearance of offering many advantages, but it has been neglected; I am referring to New Caledonia. Had impetus been given in New Caledonia, because we have some Catholic chiefs and a good number of trained natives and whom we are preparing for baptism, I would have been able to create some resources. Not yet having had any missionaries, because Fathers Grange and Montrouzier, and the same goes for Brother Bertrand, they are with us only by accident, I could almost say only by injury and a single allocation of money which has been insufficient to do anything reasonable with and spend in a way bringing any advantage to the mission station, all those things grouped together made me take the easy decision to come in person and plead my case or rather that of our region.
You should already know, Reverend Father, that Bishop Bataillon did not want to hear anything more about that separation in fact which you had the goodness to give to Bishop Epalle, saying that he would let me do as I heard him saying in New Caledonia, something that annoyed me greatly because I would have preferred the bishop taking a little more interest in New Caledonia and even helping me to make more of a success there. That does not mean to say that he has done nothing for New Caledonia; I will speak to you more at length when I see you personally.
Reverend Father, I had not mentioned that Brother Jean Taragnat was with me. That good brother has never asked to leave the mission station and hopes to return there but as he made an effort I did not want to wait for him to break down entirely before taking him back to France. He can still do some jobs provided that the tasks are not too burdensome; in our mission stations it is impossible to do enough to keep it a going concern. I beg you to tell me whether I should have him come with me to Lyons. I wanted him to go and spend some time with his relations and then go to the house where you will send him. He has his faults, Reverend Father; his nature is not perfect; but he is irreproachable in regard to the customs and if he were abandoned, I would bring him back to New Caledonia, because it is right that having lost one’s health in the service of the mission station, it should care for him. That is not to say that he is incapable of doing some jobs; since he has worn a bandage, he has done some other bothersome jobs, always contrary to my wishes because he needs to look after himself. We are counting on leaving for France on 1 November 1846. This letter will reach you a few days before our arrival; I am trusting it to a person who is leaving about 15 October. Should you be good enough to write to me at the poste restante at Brest, I would be obliged to you.
I am planning to go from Brest to Le Havre and then to Paris and from there to Lyons. I will ask you for the address of our priests in Paris.
Our priests at the bursar’s office are very well. They offer you their regards as does he who has the honour, very Reverend Father, of being your son in Mary,
+Guillaume, Bishop of New Caledonia.
My very humble regards to our priests.
I take the liberty of begging you not to make any rushed decisions relative to the business of our missions and to wait for my arrival before purchasing a vessel.