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22 & 24 October 1850 — Father Claude-André Baty to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, February 2011

J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph) Procure of Sydney 22 October /50

Very Reverend and well-loved Father,
I hope you have received my previous letters which give you the details that I am able to and hope to have given you in accordance with your requests. Today I continue to talk about unpleasant things, but human misery is so great!
So Father Chaurain has refused to give up to the bank the money which was in his name; he has refused too to separate his personal expenses from those which he made for the Procurator base in general; it was only at the moment of his departure that he put money in the bank to the credit of Father Rocher, but he did not foresee everything, it would appear, since he withdrew, while on board the vessel in the harbour, the sum of six pounds fourteen shillings, from the money in Father Rocher’s account. Because he was known in the bank, he was not refused and we thought it wise not to say anything to the bank clerk. I don’t know what that priest did in Sydney; he left a poor man. The impression he gave to lay people who have spoken about it was the opposite. His cabin was very nice and that cabin cost eighty pounds for the trip. He needed over 26 pounds for clothing, over 28 pounds for spending money. All that was done against advice and without permission. The 28 pounds, I presume, will not come back here, nor will it go to the London House but be spent on private needs. As this priest did not want to behave in an open manner nor put his accounts on the table, it is possible that several pounds have been put down as purchases made for the Procurator base, but after careful examination together with Father Rocher, there would have been at the very most only two or three pounds. In addition, it is possible that his expenses are more than 134 pounds because he has not mentioned the money that he had himself for the current affairs at the time he received your letter. Joining the expenses of my journey to New Zealand and the costs that were necessary here in Sydney, the journey of Father Chaurain, the house that we have to build for colleagues, the legal expenses of changing ownership for the Procurator base into my name instead of Father Chaurain’s, etc, the kitty is low and after calculating the allocation of money for the current year, even with Father Forest taking nothing, a short fall will occur. We will have to take a loan but keeping our heads down to avoid making a song and dance about matters that are really wrong. We live as frugally as possible, especially in view of the state of our health. The only thing that we could cut back on is wine but I see that as indispensable especially for the missionaries. The heavy rain and the hail have if not destroyed our little crop at least considerably reduced our expectations. The land here does not produce without fertilizer and fertilizer often costs more than the value of the crop.
Bishop Douarre has just arrived with a brother, as well as Father Ducrettet and a brother. The bishop has come for six to eight months. That is like a state within a state not that the matter is openly stated in theory but it will exist in practice on innumerable occasions. His lordship had not been here an hour before I noticed what I knew moreover from reports elsewhere. I do not know in what state the two Procurators offices with the bishop will be when you receive this letter. He is going to bring here two brothers from the Isle of Pines; the troubles he caused Father Rocher made him suffer from jaundice. In any case I will try to be patient and willingly share everything I have with the colleagues who are coming to join us.
I think that Father Ducrettet will stay here; he has not yet told me of his instructions; I don’t dare send him anywhere without alerting the apostolic vicar although you seem to authorize us at least in the case of the colleagues in New Zealand. I don’t know the conventions or the agreements between you and the apostolic vicar.
In speaking adversely of Bishop Douarre, I should mention that I have nothing but fears for the future and that besides that I respect His Lordship for having suffered and who continues to suffer more still in establishing the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
26 October. After again reading your letters and after a conversation with Father Ducrettet, I am sending him to Samoa or at least I hope to. We do not yet know if there is a ship going there which can take him. I will give him some provisions so that Bishop Bataillon won’t have to complain in case he is not happy with this priest who is said to have a mind of his own but who seems to be however a good cleric. I will also mention your authorizing us to send clerics coming from Melanesia. That mission station has more than 3,900 pounds in the banks and they have just written that they don’t need anything for a long time, and that there are only five of them. Bishop Douarre has also a considerable amount of money and his mission station relies for the most part on subsidies from the Procurators base. This bishop told me today, perhaps without thinking, that he would refuse to pay for his men to stay here unless the base was impecunious and that in that case he would contribute a sum of money. He spoke to me himself on that matter. I did not ask him for anything and will not do so; the mission station of Melanesia will be able to support us at the present time from the exhaustion of our funds until the new allocation of money unless this station is not entrusted to the Bishop of Amata.
I am thinking of sending Brother Optat to France where he will be able to live; it is saddening to let go people who came to the mission field without knowing what they were like and who became unsettled by the frequency of temptations. I am saying nothing more about Melanesia; the packet of letters addressed to you will reveal everything. Perhaps there is no point but yet I think I should tell you that confidence unlimited and beyond limits if the truth were said about the Bishop of Amata in regards to Father Benin. He has created some division between the missionaries in New Caledonia so that, if it occurs, you will be able to be on guard concerning what he says.
I recommend myself immediately to your prayers, very Reverend and beloved Father and beg you to accept my very humble duties in union with the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Your very humble and quite devoted servant,
Baty SM.