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25 September 1848 — Father Joseph Mugniéry to Father Victor Poupinel, Samoa

Translated by Mary Williamson, August 2018

Based on the document sent, APM ON (Samoa) Mugniéry.

Two folded sheets of paper, forming eight pages, seven of which are written on, the seventh having a long note in Poupinel’s handwriting, the eighth having only the address and annotation of Poupinel.

[p.8] [Address]
The Abbot Poupinel / Saint Barthélemy Rise 4 / Lyon.

[In Poupinel’s handwriting]
Samoan archipelago / Island of Savai’i 25th September 1848 / Father Mugniéry.

Everything for Jesus and Mary.
Salelavalu, Island of Savai’i.
Samoa or the Navigators.

My very dear and Reverend Father,
You others who are in France, surrounded by your acquaintances and your friends, will have great difficulty in understanding the great pleasure felt by a poor soul lost in the middle of a vast ocean: a prisoner on his islet, more so than Tantalus in his lake, when, despite the vastness of the globe and the threat of the waves, he is at last able to hear one of the voices of his friends, to read some of the words written to give pleasure, because they come from a friendly and brotherly heart. You, you have the pleasure of all that the Holy Spirit wished to say to us: Quam bonun et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum: [1] and we, alone, alone in our deserts, we dream, we ponder and what can we do in a hut if we do not ponder; we think and about whom? About whom if not those who are absent? If not about what one has left behind? Here one builds very few Castles in Spain, but one happily dreams of the past and of those whose absence leaves us in such deep solitude, where one no longer finds anything around oneself, absolutely nothing. The few colleagues, in whom one can still find some consolation, are as if they are not here, because of the distance that separates us and the impossibility of communication. Then around one: what? Some men? That is to say, creatures who resemble men. That is all; and can you believe that with such beings one can console oneself for the absence of those that one misses? Oh! No, a thousand times no, it would need you to be like them, to have neither heart, nor feelings and almost no will to do anything; you would have to not be a man.
I write these lines, though far, nevertheless, from pitying myself; for fortunately I still have a friend who never deserts me and who, far from being jealous, willingly supports me concerning my absent friends.
How grateful I am to you then, my dear Father, for the happy memories of me that you are kind enough to keep.
I want to thank you too for the trouble that you and the good Father Dupont have been kind enough to take on my behalf. I greet the good Father with feelings of the most affectionate warmth. Mr Migne or his agent at first agreed with me to pay himself for the binding of my books with the revenue from my money, at the time of my departure from Paris; he has written to me that he cannot accept such an arrangement because he would, he said, in this way make me an advance of two years, consequently he sent me a receipt to pay being the entire sum of all the binding that he had done for me up until today. I paid and I believed that he would pay himself from my revenues for any binding to come. Now he does not wish to. I do not know why; but what does it matter. He owes me the interest on all the money, representing the volumes not received and owes it dated from 1st January 1846. Thus on 1st January 1846, how many volumes were left to be delivered? The total of all these volumes not delivered, at 5 francs per volume, carry interest from this moment; that is 200 volumes promised. This sum, carrying interest of 5% diminished as the volumes were delivered. In this way, Mr Migne owes me some interest that I ask you to withdraw regularly and I am convinced that in the end, Mr Migne will have payed me more than the binding of these volumes. On the interest anticipated, you can pay yourself and pay for the bindings still to come and, I repeat, I am persuaded that the amount of interest will be almost sufficient to pay for all the bindings. Mr Migne will not deny, I think, that it is agreed between himself and me that my money will bring in interest dated from the 1st January 1846. As I have said to him, he will see himself debtor to the sum of ….. But perhaps he will claim that he should not pay except in kind, that is to say, at five francs per volume. I reply to that, that it has not been a question of that in our letters. (Father Dupont wishes nevertheless to verify it, though he has the letters, for fear of a mistake). But, so as not to take part unnecessarily in disputes for nothing, you would be able to pay him from my interest for some of the volumes which are bought from him for the Society or elsewhere and keep in compensation the Society’s payment. Alas, this would only be an exchange: and there would nothing more to be said.
Copy of the letter that he sent me when I left Paris.
Petit Montrouge, 6th September 1845.
I accept everything that was settled yesterday between you and my employees.
I agree to keep Saint Cyprien and the volumes that have been sent to you in Lyon and that you have not received. All these volumes and those of your bonus will be delivered to you with complete binding, but I cannot accept the future interest on your funds as payment for this binding. This would be an advance of nearly two years that I would give you for this binding. Consequently, I present you with a bill of 49,95 centimes for the binding of the 26 volumes that I will send to you.
I have the honour of addressing you. For Mr Migne. Pagnier.
You see, my dear Father, that if in September 45 the interest on my funds was still future, for which I was consequently paying all the past debts, it was not future in 1847 when you were obliged to pay. I think I have brought you sufficiently up to date with this affair now, so that you can arrange everything for the better and lose nothing in repayments; as for the trouble, it is God who wishes to hold you to account. In the series of the 64 first volumes of the Patrology, I am missing volumes 18, 21, 47, 62, in all 4 of the series. Pleas be kind enough to reclaim them.
From another angle, I had already received volumes 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 that you have had bound yourself and that are perhaps the cause of all the difficulties. I will not give myself the task of sending them back to Mr Migne. Tell me what I should do with them; also that of the 28th for the Complete courses of the Holy Scriptures that I already have. For all these particular volumes, that I already had, it is certain that Mr Migne is not owed for the binding; but he should not either send a double lot!
I acknowledge receipt of all the other things noted in your letter.
My dear Father, knowing that it gives you pleasure to talk of business, I will express a desire: it is that these parcels that you dispatch should all be in heavy canvas. You would not believe how useful this prudent action is, not only on the ship, but when they are unloaded in these islands, where a parcel on a ship is quickly unloaded onto an open boat and where there is often not an hour that passes without a shower of rain. I have left the remainder of an account in the hands of the priest in Collonges, whose death you have informed me of. As he was an organised man, I think that he will have arranged everything before his death.
My dear Father, excuse me for my long ramble and please accept, with all the sentiments of my great gratitude for all the embarrassment that I cause you, the assurance of my profound respect.
Marist priest.
Post Script. I only received your letter today, 25th September 1848, with those of the Very Reverend Father Superior etc. [p.7]

[The § 16-18 are in Poupinel’s handwriting.]

Parcels sent to Father Mugniéry from 1845 to October 1847 - 30 volumes of the Patrology.
The 28th volume of the complete course of the Holy Scripture.
September 1848 7 volumes of the Patrology
October 1849 6 volumes of the Patrology
I have had bound at my expense the 5 volumes that Father Mugniéry received double of. Only Mr Migne could know that he had already delivered them. We have accepted all the costs of transport.
Father Dupont paid Mr Migne for the binding of 26 volumes of the Patrology at 2 francs per volume, that is 52 francs.


  1. Ps.132(133).1: (Oh! what pleasure, what happiness to find oneself among brothers!)

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