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24 February 1853, Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, New Caledonia

Translated by Peter McConnell, April 2011

Balade, 24 February
Very Reverend Father,
It would be very difficult to tell you what joy it was to receive your letters and your encouragement, because I can’t find the words. It is this enormous pleasure for me, Reverend Father, that on more than one occasion I was prevented from writing to you fearing that my letters might upset you; but my conscience has forced me to do so.
I will have to go into more than one detail concerning me and that of my mission station as well in a second letter which I will be honoured to send you: this letter deals with Brother Taragnat who left the mission station as you already know from my previous letter.
Very Reverend Father I begged you to agree to dispensing him from his vows. You don’t mention it in your letter because you have evidently not considered the reasons which I gave you sufficient.
You are not unaware of all the interest I take in this unhappy young man. Despite that, Reverend Father, I have also my conscience which would not have allowed me to take such a course if the brother’s reasons had not been considerable.
Nobody has had to reproach him for faults; but his nature was so difficult that nobody could tolerate him. Since my trip to Europe, he was so bad with the priests and Brother Blaise Marmoiton, that the priests unanimously begged me to send him back to France so that his departure would not be in any way humiliating for him. As I was not prepared to carry out such an extreme measure, I left him in Sydney requesting that he would not return to the mission station until my return. Reverend Father, you know what happened in my absence.
Since their return to New Caledonia, the priests knowing that Brother Jean was a resourceful man despite his faults, got him to return with them. At Anatom matters soured a little; Father Rougeyron sent him to the Isle of Pines, using an honest excuse. There too matters reached such a point that the priests wanted to get rid of him before my return; but as the young man had asked the missionaries for some wares to build up resources for trading in sandalwood, the missionaries bided their time until my return. The brothers were in full revolt against the priests; and here I will not try to excuse Brother Jean, a very intelligent man, for having known how to turn the brothers against the priests. I reasoned with each one of them and took Brother Jean to the mainland of New Caledonia. I won’t go into details of our departure nor of our short stay at Hienghène where the brother served us again. Since our third return to New Caledonia, the brother could not bear taking orders from anybody but from me. In a dream he heard one of the priests saying that this time we had the brothers etc and that unhappy young man could take it no longer. Seeing in that dream only a continuation of our behaviour towards him, (behaviour which would not have seemed out of the ordinary to a person less prejudiced), he lost it and it became impossible for me to keep him. Very Reverend Father, such is the exact truth about everything that has happened; it is also my advice.
If those reasons seem enough to dispense him of his vows, he will go his own way, pay his duties as a Christian and will be able to save his soul. In the opposite case I am really afraid that he will become stubborn because that is an unfortunate family trait; and so very Reverend Father I will have the sorrow of not being able to spare from sure damnation a young man for whom I will always have affection for his devotion and for the services that he has given the mission station. I will not receive with less submission your decision concerning him whatever it may be. Please send me two copies of your decision so that I can send one to Father Rocher. In the interim, accept the renewed assurance of filial and respectful devotion with which I have the honour of being,
very Reverend Father
the least of your children,
+G[uillaume], Bishop of New Caledonia.