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3 August 1848 — Father Charles-Eugène Mathieu to Father Victor Poupinel, Wallis

Translated by Mary Williamson, April 2018

Based on the document sent, APM OW 208 Mathieu.

Sheet of paper, measuring 212 x 173 mm, forming four written pages, Poupinel’s annotation being at the top of the first page.

[p.1, at the top of the page] [in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Wallis 3rd August 1848 / Father Mathieu to Father Poupinel.

My Reverend Father,
I thank you very much for the care that you have been so kind as to take in corresponding with my brother. Try to calm him as much as you can. He is very sensitive and worries about me as a mother would, which sometimes becomes rather extreme. I do not let any ship leave without writing him a few words, but there could sometimes be letters that go astray. I have let him know that I have received the three messages he has sent me, which all arrived in very good condition.
Brother Joseph Luzy is no longer on Wallis. He is now on Futuna in a very beautiful area that the Bishop has just acquired for the founding of a college or some other building of this type. I think that someone will have brought the costs to his attention.
You should not believe, my Reverend Father, that Bishop Bataillon ever holds back any money meant for a Father or Brother. Even less that he has meddled in the affairs of Bishop Douarre. [1] These are nothing but suspicions and misunderstandings. Father Roudaire, while he was here, was appointed by Bishop Douarre as guardian of these matters. If he has made use of a few little things for his mission in Samoa, that is his business. That is nothing to do with us.
A box arrived ahead of Father Grange. As it had been found to be too big, it had been filled up with goods for the mission. It therefore had to be opened here. Father Junillon, who opened it, found that there had been damage caused by the sugar that had melted and took the trouble of cleaning everything and putting it back in place. So the good Father Grange imagined that it had been pillaged.
This is another accusation that has landed on us. Bishop Douarre wrote to Bishop Bataillon with brutal accusations of our having opened a box addressed to him, taken the best things and sent on the worst, without even taking the trouble to properly shut up the box, so that everything was ruined. We do not know anyone here that that could refer to, as we have not seen anything like this. Not one of the boxes for Bishop Douarre was unloaded here. It is some misunderstanding probably, like that of the letters forgotten by the “Rhine” which so enraged Bishop Douarre. [2]
We are so scrupulous on this point that the magnificent clock which was addressed to me was sent to the Picpucians in the Hawaiian Islands without them having asked for it and on the simple suspicion that it could perhaps belong to them. As my parents had not mentioned it in their letters, we were afraid of having something as heavy as that on our conscience. Truly we should be admired for that and have another sent to us, even bigger, as recompense. I will build a clocktower for it myself. No, my Reverend Father, Wallis has not had any more than the other missions. I even believe, to the contrary, that we are the poorest. Only for the requirements of the novices, we have been given a little more, because we have the largest numbers, but less perhaps than to the others in proportion. We are very far from each other. That cannot be explained and a host of things that do not exist are imagined.
Please try, my Reverend Father, to reassure the Father Superior on our behalf. We are afraid of being disgraced where he is concerned. He no longer sends us more people. [3] So what have we done? Yet this is the moment for us to strengthen and organise ourselves. — If we cannot obtain funds from the Propagation of the Faith, we would much rather be even poorer and plant taro, rather than see such good work remain stationary. Please then, beg the Reverend Father Superior to send us some workers. Then he will not be so anxious about our poverty. With strong arms and willing workers we will always find a way of managing. Are we not already busy establishing ourselves with the two buildings that are being built. Why deny us, when we are getting along so well. You, my Reverend Father, who have such a long reach, get our mission moving in France, so that we will not always be waiting here and seeing nothing arriving. Pray for us too, so that the Holy Virgin will help us and lead us.
I am, with deepest respect and most sincere friendship, my Reverend Father,
Your very humble
and obedient servant
Mathieu missionary.


  1. See Rougeyron’s letters: doc.589, § 14, 17; 591, § 3; 593, § 1; also those of Calinon: doc. 369, § 20; and that of Douarre: doc. 410, § 5, 7-8.
  2. Cf. doc. 459, § 5; 513, § 8.
  3. Note however, that François Palazy and Brother Sauveur (Conil), arrived in Samoa on 22nd April 1848, and stayed in the service of Bataillon (cf. doc. 716, § 9; 761, § 5-6).

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