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2 July 1850 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Isle of Pines

Translated by Peter McConnell, January 2011

To Very Reverend Father Colin, Superior General of the Society of Mary

J(esus) M(ary) J(ospeh)
Isle of Pines
2 July 1850

Very Reverend Father,
Considering all the letters that I must have received since our leaving New Caledonia and the arrival of Father Bernin in France, you will be quite surprised to learn that I hope to return to New Caledonia in the near future. The English government has raised its flag there and will continue to do so. I even believe that the Anglican bishop stayed there with his schooner and has not left for the island of Lifou, as the commander of the war corvette the Fly had said.
I will soon know the details, in the hope of finding a favourable opportunity of going and visiting that wretched country. I will try to write to you on the first opportunity to inform you of the stance that we will take. So you will not have to press Rome unless you intend withdrawing us from a mission station where we had only less than average success and sluggish at that, because apart from the indifference of the natives, we will still have to combat Protestantism, which is not formidable in itself if it were not for the fact that it uses calumny.
Will the taking of possession by England be a blessing for New Caledonia? I don’t think so. I regard that occupation as a punishment inflicted by Divine Providence on those wretched natives who are dying out everywhere when coming in contact with civilisation. Without opposing the English government, something which would suit neither our custom nor our interests, we will be the protectors and defenders of those poor natives as we have been as well in the case where the French government had maintained its taking possession of New Caledonia. Of course it is not a matter of our material interests because we expect nothing in this world. If my plans are realized, as I hope they will be, I will go and put my aunt back at Balade. I will get the twenty-two New Caledonians back from Futuna where they were placed. That will again cause some expense. Past experience reassures me, and I am convinced that the work of the Propagation of the Faith will come to my aid. As we can presume that the English will prefer to occupy the southern part of New Caledonia where there is a lot of sandalwood I will have or I’ll try to have settlements where they will have them. No other news to report; our missionaries still have difficulty in crossing the sea, after contracting fever at Anatom. I received some letters from Sydney. All the missionaries were well; Father Forestier and Brother Alphonse less so ; they are a little ill disposed. They were unaware of the measures taken by the English government concerning New Caledonia. I will soon receive their news and they will in all probability tell me something about that matter.
I haven’t told you that my new parishioners will be deported Englishmen. For the Catholics among them, I will need to have somebody who speaks English; our priests staying in Sydney will in that sense be of some use.
The priests and brothers join me in offering you our very humble respects. Please do not forget me to our priests and brothers in France and please continue to be good to me as you have been in the past. I have needed it as much as I have greatly suffered and still suffer so much, despite the pleasure that I experience in thinking that I will be able to return to the bosom of the people who are dear to me, but most of them will be destroyed or torn away from their true master. Your prayers will obtain for us from God the strength which we lack and it’s in that hope that I will constantly and proudly tell myself,
very Reverend Father,
the least of your children,
+G(uillaume), bishop of Amata,
Vicar Apostolic of New Caledonia.