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1 July 1848 — Father Jean-Louis Rocher to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney (2)

Translated by Mary Williamson, July 2017

Based on the document sent, APM OP 458 Rocher.

Sheet of paper folded, forming four written pages.

Sydney 1st July 1848.

To the Reverend Father Colin
Superior General

My Very Reverend Father,
It was on 18th June that we learned, by way of India, that Louis Philippe had fled and that France had become a republic. We were very surprised, I can assure you, and were deeply disturbed. Fortunately the first actions of this new government were not hostile towards religion or towards its ministers. God willing that it is always thus! Nevertheless we have some fears for the future.
The newspapers in Sydney have brought us up to date with all that has happened in Paris, from 22th February till 12th March. But we know nothing yet about Lyon and its different departments.
At the moment, we are waiting with the greatest of impatience for your news and that of the Society, as well as for any instructions from you to help guide us wisely and prudently if, by misfortune, our communications have been intercepted.
Since my arrival in Sydney on 5th March, I have addressed two letters to you. The first, dated 1st April, informed you of my return to the procurator’s office and the second, on 1st June, was a report on my tour around Oceania.
Our Very Reverend Father is very angry that the instructions enclosed in your letter of 12th September 1847 were not given to us sooner, as by today the procurator’s office would not have a property and, given the current state of affairs in France, will not perhaps be able to sustain itself.
What decided us to buy then, were the instructions that you gave Father Dubreul in your letter of 26th March 1846. “We are going to have sent to you, you said to him, 25 to 30 thousand francs, but make use of this sum to purchase and house yourselves comfortably”. Having not received any contrary orders since then, we thought we were following your instructions to proceed, after the departure of Father Dubreul, with looking for lodgings.
You no doubt know, from the letters from Fathers Rougeyron and Roudaire, that Brother Jean returned to New Caledonia with Brother Auguste. The behaviour of these missions in this affair did not seen very loyal to us; however, seeing that we were not able to find out anything, we took the attitude of letting them go ahead. We would have been able, it is true, to prevent Jean from embarking, with an official letter to Mr Marceau, since he had consented to stay at the procurator’s office until the return of Bishop Douarre; but as his personality could in no way get along with that of Brother Charles Aubert, we thought we should give in, mainly for the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of each of them. Certainly, the departure of this Brother has caused us great inconvenience, as we have been obliged to take on a worker, to whom we pay 12 francs 50 cents per week, with his food included.
Despite your goodness in sending us 13,769 francs 15 cents (with deductions for the expenses of the last draft in our favour, 30th November 1847), the procurator’s office is hardly ahead. It has only about 6500 francs in its account. What is missing from this sum, to equal the draft mentioned above, has been used to cover the expenses incurred for furniture and food which we had to spend on the arrival and during the stay of numerous personnel from the mission in New Caledonia; also to pay the expenses for moving house, repairs and property maintenance. It is true that the Fathers from New Caledonia, without our having asked them, gave us 1700 francs, but this sum was far from covering the expenses of 14 people for 7 months. The mission from Melanesia gave us 4000 francs for a stay of 4 months at the procurator’s property.
What we are saying to you here, my Reverend Father, is not a criticism on our colleagues; they could certainly not, in the position they found themselves in, have done any more; it is just to give you an explanation of the use of the funds that we have received.
Apart from the expenses mentioned, the procurator’s office paid 350 francs for the passage of Brother Charles Aubert, whom we had to dress as well. Also, with the personnel from New Caledonia, we still had Brother Charles from Bishop Collomb’s mission, [1] and Father Villien, so that during the month of March we were 21 people at table.
Following this summary, our Very Reverend Father, you will see how much we need you to be thinking of us. If you have not judged it suitable to find another use for whatever remains of our allocation for 1846 and if, from another point of view the procurator’s office had not been obliged to support the vast expenses of Father Dubreul’s travels, we believe that at the present time we would be able, by proceeding carefully, to expect better days. But all according to God’s will. We abandon ourselves completely to the goodness of your heart.
To please the Reverend Fathers in New Caledonia and to avoid another draft that they were going to sign for themselves on Bishop Douarre or on Father Poupinel, we felt we could lend them 5,113 francs that we took from Mr Mallet’s 8000 francs. [2] Father Rougeyron gave us a receipt for it in the name of the mission and took the responsibility of paying the interest on this sum if later we were obliged to borrow money in Sydney. We insisted on this guarantee, because we had left them ignorant of the fact that this money belonged to a member of their mission. If after the departure of Bishop Douarre some money comes to you for His Lordship, please be kind enough to send it to us, so that we can reimburse the sum for Mr Mallet.
At the moment we are very anxious to know it Mr Marziou has honoured the draft for 20,000 francs addressed to Father Poupinel by Father Chaurain in the name of the mission in New Caledonia. As it seems, according to the newspapers, that the troubles in the Capital have gone no further, we have some faint hope that this draft will have been paid. Nevertheless, we are still a bit fearful.
We are also anxious about another draft for 9000 francs on the government treasury. This was signed by Mr Laveau, governor of Tahiti and was sent by Mr Marceau to Father Chaurain to negotiate with it on the account of Bishop Collomb.
We have not yet received any news from the mission in New Caledonia.
As for Bishop Collomb’s mission, we can only hope to hear in three of four months.
We are always in frequent contact with our colleagues in New Zealand. It seems that all is going reasonably well. Their letters do not say anything special; they mostly talk of the business affairs of the procurator.
Business in Sydney is not going so well. During the last two months five or six bankruptcies have been declared.
Also, we have not received any news of the Stella della Mare.
I will finish, our Very Reverend Father, in sending you our deepest feelings of respect,
Your very humble and
very obedient child in Jesus and Mary,
missionary priest.


  1. Brother Charles Vincent (cf. doc. 479, § 13, n. 6).
  2. Brother Aimé Mallet (cf. doc. 692, § 1, n. 1).

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