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4 October 1847 − Father Etienne Chaurain to Father Victor Poupinel, Sydney

Based on the document sent, APM OP 458 Pro-procuratores

Sheet of paper forming four pages, three of which are written on, the fourth having only the address and the annotation of Poupinel.

Translated by Mary Williamson, April 2012

France • via London • by the Harponer • Sir • the Abbot Poupinel • Marist priest • Saint Barthélemy Rise • Lyon.

[Post marks]
COLONIES &c ART.13 − 6V 5 FE 1848 − ANGL. 6 FEB 48 2 BOULOGNE 2 − LYON 8 FEB 48 (68)

[in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Sydney 4th October 1847 • Father Chaurain

Sydney 4th October 1847.

Reverend Father Poupinel

My Reverend Father,

You will find enclosed an invoice for the provisions and merchandise advanced by the captain of the corvette Brilliante [1] to Bishop Collomb, following the disastrous happenings in Caledonia.
I have kept a copy of it, following the Bishop’s instructions and hasten to pass it on to you, so that you, yourself, might be able to at least either pay this sum to the French government in the name of bishop Collomb or thank the government on his behalf if you are fortunate enough to attain a remission of this debt.
All is well at the procurator’s office in Sydney, except for our coffers, which will soon be empty. We are nevertheless obliged to provide food for seventeen mouths, thirteen of whom have arrived from Caledonia. It is with great pleasure that we have received these worthy missionaries who, as if by a miracle, escaped death. We are still lavishing upon them, at the moment, all the care that we can; but as you know, although we own a country house, we cannot hope, as yet, to do without the help of the Propagation of the Faith. “The cage does not feed the bird”. And as you know even better than me, what can one do without money?
Please be kind enough to send directly, via London, and not by the ships of the French Society, either promissory notes or letters of means either to us, to the Procurator in Sydney, or even to the missions. The Bishops always presume that we have their money; they send us orders and requests that we are unable to fulfill because we lack the money for them. − Besides all this, the ships of the French Society take so long to arrive, that everything here is languishing, as they carry all our dispatches. Send with them, if you wish, all the letters from friends and acquaintances, which are not of great importance, but, I beg of you, send anything of importance and which would suffer from being delayed, by way of London.
Mr Marceau has not yet paid the mission in Caledonia the sum that you sent to him for that mission. Special circumstances have obliged Mr Marceau to take on other debts which have absorbed these funds. Nevertheless the men here, who have arrived from Caledonia, find themselves in need of money for themselves, following their misfortune and they also need funds to make preparations for setting out again for their mission; we have, I believe, formulated a good plan, in making the decision to send back to Mr Marziou [2] the note sent by him to the mission in Caledonia and that Mr Marceau was not able settle. To do that we will, I hope, present a draft on the account of Bishop Douarre which he will be able to have settled by Mr Marziou, on presenting him with his note. − You would be as well, I think, to let Mr Marziou know of our intention as soon as possible, even though we intend to write to him about this ourselves.
Those of us here have been trying to explain to ourselves for a long time, how it comes about that you have not had the idea, after more than two years, of sending us, by way of London, the annual report of the Propagation of the Faith; everyone around here asks us for news of the successes and losses of the Propagation of the Faith. Nearly every day we are obliged to reply these few words which, not being French, are hardly good English either: “I don’t know Sir”.

[7] [in the margin, on an angle]
I thank you, however, for the charming little letter that you wrote me on 4th December 1847. − It was short but pleasant. Father Rocher had left Sydney on board the Arche when your letters reached me. − I acknowledge their receipt of his behalf. He will be pleased with them, but he will find them short.
[8] [p.2, in the margin, on an angle]
Please let me know as soon as possible where Fr Dibrell is. He wrote me a letter (do not say anything to him about it) which had neither rhyme nor reason. It is a dissertation and a dissertation whose meaning I could not discern.
Your servant, Etienne Chaurain.
[9] [p.1, in the margin, on an angle]

Post Script. I do not know yet when Fr Rocher will be back in Sydney. In The meanwhile, I am not lacking in work, I can assure you!!


  1. Du Bouzet (cf. Doc. 651, § 14; 652, § 33; 661, §31,669, § 3).
  2. Michel-Victor Marziou, director, at Le Havre, of the French Society of Oceania (cf.Wiltgen, p. 300, 455).

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