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28 November 1846 — Father Joseph Mugniéry to Father Victor Poupinel and Father Gabriel Germain, Wallis

Translated by Peter McConnell, October 2010

Reverend Fathers Poupinel and Germain,
Now that I have a moment to breathe, I am in a hurry, kind Fathers, to give you a small token of friendship and gratitude, thanking you as best I can for all the kindness and all the trouble you have taken for me and the mission station. Thanks to that trouble, mine, yours and its, we have without too much difficulty been able to have ourselves recognized and respected without war and without conflicts. Those three priests came to an agreement in spite of themselves undoubtedly or at least despite their practice because, you know, all three are children of their mother discord and father of all their daughters, chicanery of all kinds; now for the first time perhaps, they have, thanks to your efforts, been forced to come to an agreement. So allow me, Fathers, you who are so kind and so farseeing, to offer you heartily my sincere and affectionate thanks for what you have done.
Another thing; despite our such a long sea voyage, despite all the lack of care on the part of the sailors, who threw our gear at least a hundred times from one place to another, despite the rain that fell on our gear more than once, be it on board, be it on land (They were put ashore at Nukuhiva), despite all that and a lot of other things, everything that was landed in the Wallis Islands was retrieved, not absolutely without damage but still in a rather good state of repair and I hope I will find in Samoa all my gear in a good state as well. Yet I am sorry that everything was not put under oilskin canvas, and for that reason I am not without some apprehension; may God spare me from apprehension! In a few days we will see how it turns out. It is certain indeed, very kind Fathers, too that you were gravely deceived on the sturdiness and worth of our trunks, baggage by the person who sold them to you; they are all in tatters; and it could not be otherwise because they consist of three layers of pine and poplar veneer, covered with mere paper glued inside and out, and joined at the edges with nails. It is true that the corners were covered in brass which appeared to give some sturdiness, but the brass was so thin that I could tear it with the tip of my fingers, just as I would tear a piece of paper. One could really say about it: nimium ne credite colori [= Don’t trust appearances!] In addition all the hinges were broken, and they could not have been worse. However, in brief, I understand, kind Fathers, that it is impossible to be surprised at times in the huge amount of business that you have on your hands; so that does not in any way lessen the feelings of admiration and gratitude which I owe you and which I will always find it so delightful to have for you.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally we reached Wallis on 25 October 1846. I have to leave tomorrow 29 November for Samoa where Bishop Bataillon is sending me. He is not allowing me to go to New Caledonia where the Reverend Father Superior had intended me to go.
Despite the length of our journey which was not without its difficulties, we are all well. The worthy Father Marceau is the only one whose health is weak at the moment. The kind priest is completely devoted to us and would not fail, if he knew that I was writing to you, to ask me to send a thousand affectionate greetings to all the kind priests of Pilata. Be so good also, I beg you, to offer them mine: to the Reverend Fathers Aymard and Cholleton in particular.
Your quite devoted and respectful
servant and colleague
Marist priest.

Everything to Jesus through Mary. Pray all of you for me, always, always!
Since we arrived in Wallis, it has never stopped raining.