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24 May 1850 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Isle of Pines

Translated by Peter McConnell, January 2011

+ J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
Isle of Pines 24 May 1850

Very Reverend Father,
An English corvette is coming into port and I hope it won’t mind looking after my letter.
Father Rougeyron and Father Gagnères having left for Futuna on Easter Sunday with 22 New Caledonian Christians, I entrusted them with a very long confidential letter in which I opened up all my feelings to you and gave you the reasons which made me want to be discharged from the vicariate and from any position of authority. That wish far from reducing becomes greater every day. I again informed you in that letter of the arrival in the Isle of Pines missionaries from Anatom; despite the good food and work which was necessary only to avoid boredom, they are physically weak and Fathers Chapuy and Vigouroux suffer frequently from relapses of fever and Brothers Taragnat, Reboue and Mallet as well, so that now more than ever, I am proud of having withdrawn those clergymen from a post where they would have achieved little, where sooner or later they would have had to be withdrawn. Father Goujon is looking after the mission station on the Isle of Pines. There is a possibility that he will convert his islanders; he would like Father Chatelut and a brother to be with him if you think it appropriate to leave him there and he would like to depend for his food and supplies from our quartermasters in Sydney.
If the Isle of Pines were converted, the southern part of New Caledonia would soon be Christian, the rest would also change if we were able to bring to Futuna three or four hundred New Caledonians from the tribes at Balade and Puebo.
When I saw the English corvette coming into port, I thought it was Father Rougeyron coming to us on a ship belonging to the French Society to go to Balade and collect a good number of natives. He was authorized to spend on this good work the amount of money which the French Society owes us. Should this plan be realized, the mission in New Caledonia could be taken up again being sure of success.
Divine providence will see to that. This great land has been visited since my arrival by an English corvette and the schooner belonging to the Anglican bishop of New Zealand who was himself on board the corvette. An English captain told us of another war corvette and another Anglican bishop who also had to visit New Caledonia and in fact, we saw the corvette coming in and which must have only this moment dropped anchor.
I will have some news his evening and I shall send them on to you. The visits of the corvettes, which never took place during our stay in New Caledonia, point to some plan on this island on the part of the English government. I would be all the more content when the door is open to us and when the missionaries who could be sent there, would have less danger to face.
The commander of the English corvette has just left me this very moment; he visited Balade and Hienghène on the pretext of going and asking why the massacre of an English crew had taken place. He was accompanied by the English bishop of New Zealand, who stopped with his schooner at Lifou in the Loyalty Islands. That is the second trip taken by the bishop in five or six months. On one of those days he stopped at the Isle of Pines. I have no other news to give you; I know nothing of he plans of England for New Caledonia, We can guess the reasons for the Anglican bishop.
I received from that corvette a letter from Father Petit-Jean, dated 4 April. That worthy priest tells me that their passage for Port Nicholson is also arranged and that he intends saying that Bishop Viard is leaving with Bishop Pompallier five priests for some time.
The missionaries who are in Sydney were well at the time of the arrival of he ship which took Father Rougeyron to Futuna. There were in their number a few who were suffering from malaria. Our procurators through their care restored their health. I would dearly like to hear how they got on. I would very much liked to see them determined to go and work in other vicariates, something which would have pleased you and freed you from embarrassment; they did not want to leave me although I was able to say so. They knew that nobody loved them more than I did and they were right in that matter; but should I boast on this occasion? No, surely not, besides I have, although I may not have succeeded in doing so.
I haven’t mentioned my health, which without being very poorly, is far from being as it was. I had a minor sickness which made Brother Mallet frightened that I had a lung infection. I am much better now and every morning I take a glass of ass’s milk after Mass. Brother Jean does that too and sometimes Brother Reboule helps us.
Inactivity to which I am condemned is far from pleasing me and yet the slightest task tires me very quickly. I am a useless individual and every day I deplore the misfortune that I have had in being ordained. I have informed you of my wish to be released from all missionary work, no longer being able to learn a foreign language and even less able to lead missionaries properly.
Humility counts for nothing in what I say; also I beg you to weigh up carefully and act consequently in my regard because you will respond from the bad job I am doing. Use my missionaries and put me on the scrap heap; that is my only prayer and another reason for being grateful to you.
I think the missionaries will write to you; in no way am I speaking on their accounts. I recommend myself to your holy Masses and beg you to remember your unworthy but most devoted child,
+G(uillaume), Bishop of Amata
Vicar Apostolic of New Caledonia