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29 May 1848 − Father Etienne Chaurain to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

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

Translated by Mary Williamson, 2016

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


France - via London / The Abbot Colin - junior / Saint Barthélemy Rise − No.4/ Lyon.

[Post Marks]
PAID SHIP LETTER MY 30 1848 SYDNEY - COLONIES &c.ART.13 UX 8 OC 8 1848 - 10th OCT [48] BOULOGNE - LYON 12th OCT [48] (68)

Sydney, 29th May 1848.

The Reverend Superior General
My Very Reverend Father,
I received your letter of 12th September 1847 at Reverend Father Rocher’s address and that of 9th December of the same year that you were kind enough to address to myself. I thank you with all my heart and am resolved to put to good use all the wise advice that you have given to the procurators.
Mr Marceau left from Sydney on Holy Friday, 21st April, [1] taking with him on board the Arche the Reverend Fathers Rougeyron and Roudaire, with Brothers Jean, Bertrand, Auguste and Prosper, all bound for New Caledonia; [2] The Reverend Father Grange decided to return to Tonga via Tahiti; and finally Brother Charles Vincent who is returning to France because of ill health.
The Reverend Father Rocher, who is at the moment preparing to send you an account of his travels around the islands, will also explain to you the circumstances that have led to the departure of Brother Jean, which has left us having to be satisfied with only Brother Charles Aubert at the procurator’s office.
A fortnight before the departure of the Arche, the brig Anonyme left for Woodlark, with Father Vilien aboard, taking to Bishop Collomb all the provisions that we felt would be necessary for him in his circumstances.
We have not received any news of these two vessels since they left; and we are not without grave fears for the wellbeing of Bishop Collomb and his missionaries; and also for the reception that the Arche d’Alliance will have received in New Caledonia. We are beginning to know the Melanesians rather too well to not recognise the dangers that the Europeans face each time that they come into contact with them.
The brief respite that we are enjoying at present, since these gentlemen left, has enabled us to send to the missionaries in New Zealand the many small articles and goods that they have been asking for, for a long time. For during the 7 months or more that the procurator has had to feed a personnel of 18 to 20 individuals, my overload of duties has led me to neglect their affairs somewhat.
But, thanks be to God, everything is beginning to sort out. The financial problems of the procurator’s office have improved a little, since they received the money that Father Poupinel has had sent to us in two different instalments.
For about the last 7 months we have been living off loans taken out from the mission’s account. Although not wanting to, we have taken this step for a short while, to avoid, for as long as possible, the dangerous alternative of drafts.
At the time of receiving your letters and instructions on the dangers of these sorts of expedients, we were in debt for about 7000 francs; so you can imagine the pleasure engendered by the 13000 francs, that Father Poupinel had the bright idea of sending us; that is not to say that this money has made us rich; but we no longer owe anything, which is something. We even have enough to live on for quite a while, unless the return of the brig Anonyme to Sydney brings us some new residents; then, in spite of our economising, we will soon find ourselves once more in poverty. But may God’s will be done; I hope you will see how great our need is and that you will not forget us.
It only remains now for me to thank you for having kindly honoured the many drafts that I have found it necessary to take out. The last one that I have taken out and of which I have not yet had any news, but which I hope will not be paid by you, is just the repayment of a bill of 20,000 francs that Mr Marceau was charged by Mr Marziou to pay Bishop Douarre or his representatives. For personal reasons, as Mr Marceau was not in a position to honour this bill, we thought the best thing we could do would be to take out a draft for the total amount of this sum; which, I am hoping, will not have surprised him, following the information that we had given him about it.
After this draft, you can rest assured that you will not receive another for a long time. What I mean to say is that you have already received all the drafts that you will be getting from me. It seems, according to the letter from the Reverend Father Poupinel, that I might have informed you of a draft of 5000 francs. I believe, as far as I can recall, that I said to you that perhaps I would be obliged to take this step if we had to wait too long for our allocation. Nevertheless, I was not in this way meaning to inform you officially. So that I was very surprised to learn that Father Poupinel was expecting from me a draft for 5000 francs. And now, more than ever, we are resolved to wait till the last minute before causing you any new surprises with the arrival of our drafts.
We will let you know, as I have just done, what our resources are and we hope that you will not wait till we are down to our last sou before sending us something. Well, that’s business dealt with; Father Rocher will write to you soon.
Bishop Polding is enjoying good health. Immediately after his arrival in Sydney, His Lordship was the instrument used by the Good Lord in the conversion of two distinguished ministers of the Anglican church. Their wholehearted return to the Catholic faith produced a great sensation in Sydney. In a few days the consecration of Bishop Gold will take place here, he being named as bishop of Port Philip in South Australia. [3] We are also awaiting day by day, the arrival from England of the assistant to his Lordship the Bishop. [4]
In a word, everything is perfectly calm in Sydney and I am determined to make use of this calm period to continue my studies of English, hoping that sooner or later I will be able to make these studies useful.
I am going to write to Reverend Fathers Poupinel, Dubreul and Buyat, as well as to my parents.
Kindly, my Very Reverend Father,
think of me and of the Society in your prayers,
and accept the feelings of respect with which
I am happy to call myself in Jesus and Mary
one of your humble and obedient children,
Etienne Chaurain
missionary priest.
Post Script. On rereading, in a calmer state, the letters that I have written to you lately, I think I notice (especially in that of 22nd of last January) some expressions and even some reflexions which are neither very respectful nor appropriate. I hope, my Very Reverend Father, you will look on them only as a result of the great preoccupation in which I found myself at that time.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam
[on an angle in the margin]
Father Rocher and I have pondered on the advantages and disadvantages of living in the country rather than in the town, and we are still convinced that we have many more advantages in being only on the outskirts of Sydney.


  1. Rougeyron says that the Arche d’Alliance left Sydney on Holy Thursday, on the evening of 20th April 1848 (cf. doc. 712, § 1; Rougeyron, Journal, p.37-38); no doubt the ship left the quay on 20th April ready to leave the harbour the following day.
  2. Cf. doc. 854, § 6, n. 7.
  3. James Alipius Gold (1812-1886), Augustin priest of Irish origin, who arrived in Sydney on 24th February 1838. When Polding was in Rome, he suggested him for the episcopacy and, on 9th July 1847, Pius IX named him as bishop of the new seat of Port Philip (Melbourne) in the colony of Victoria; his episcopal consecration took place on 6th August 1848 (cf. Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, p. 265).
  4. Charles Henry Davis (1815-1854) a Benedictine priest of English origin, who was named bishop of the titular seat of Maitland, created on 27th May 1847, and appointed assistant to Bishop Polding in Sydney. Consecrated in the episcopacy in England on 15th February 1848, he arrived in Sydney on 8th December of the same year (cf. Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, p. 292).

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