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10 March 1853 — Brother Aimé Mallet to Father Victor Poupinel, New Caledonia

Translated by Peter McConnell, December 2010

New Caledonia, 10 March 1853
To reverend Father Poupinel

My dear and Reverend Father,
Nine months ago I received your letters of 8 and 25 October. I was honoured to receive them. You did not receive an answer because the vessel taking it was shipwrecked.
I give you complete authority for the 26,000 francs which you received from Father Déprelle and for my account, and I will send you a letter in return which you can give to the Bank of Australia to cover me for that amount.
If you receive any other money for my account, please send it only in the case of the very Reverend Father Colin refusing the suggestion which I beg you to support on my behalf. It is as follows:
I will lend the Society the sum of 44,000 francs until exhaustion averaging a life annuity of 3000 francs which is to be paid to me every year. This deed is a simple contract and for the signature of this deed, the Society will be represented by the person whom the superior will nominate. Taking into consideration the difficulties of distance, it is recorded that the borrower will not have to present a receipt and that the terms will not accumulate, that is I will never be able to make a claim except for once annually and that the revenue due in the year of my death will be demanded from the borrower. Please represent me in this matter and as soon as the deed is ratified, please be good enough to send it to me.
I have another suggestion to make to the Reverend Father Superior General, I would like him to accept a loan of the sum of 15,000 or 20,000 payable in 4 or five years time at 4% interest. Moreover there is uncertainty in regards to this loan because I am proposing it to Father Déprelle, my brother-in-law, who will probably accept it on his behalf, but if he does not, I beg the very Reverend Father Colin to do me that service. I think the Society will very well be able to use that sum and that it would not be an onerous matter for it. Here is why I will need that money later on: you know that I wish to disperse my estate and that I am having payments in addition to what I would have been able to leave them only by my will. But my two nephews Joseph and Benoît Mallet are too young to inherit so I want to keep that sum to be able to give them what I think is appropriate when they come of age.
I am sending you two original copies of the New Testament. I beg you to keep one of them which you will exchange for the one I left you on my departure and to give the other one to Father Déprelle in exchange for the former one which he has. I beg you that my brother-in-law may give you as well the reason for my gift which has not been carried out. Be good enough to destroy all unnecessary documents (in his presence) as well as the four promissory notes issued by Guillard, if you have not already done so.
I am very grateful for so much trouble dealing with my affairs and I offer you my thanks for that.
I am not talking to you about our mission stations, because when you have read the letters which have been written to you you will know much more than I. By the grace of God I am still happy in the mission field but I am still quite untested because I have not yet experienced desperate times and I have not had to suffer anything. Do pray to God for me so that I will not forget that I am a religious and that I may perform my duties well.
Please present my respects to the Reverend Fathers who are with you and whom I have had the honour of knowing, as well as my love to our dear brothers.
I am ever
your very humble and obedient servant
and brother in Jesus and Mary,
Aimé Mallet, Marist Brother.
PS A long time ago I received the clothes which you were thoughtful in sending me, but I beg you in future not to send clothes which distinguish by colour one brother from another. I must warn you that fortunately the frockcoat was black. Father Gagnaire was able to use it. He could not find clothing big enough and the coat was too large for me.
I enclose the size of a frockcoat which fits me well. (I hear that it is proposed to buy the brothers’ clothes in Sydney. I will not give you any measurements; don’t send me any.)
If you could get me a book of meditation with a little commentary, I would be delighted to receive it, as well as an examination of conscience destined for use by the religious. I remember having seen a similar one (at the home of the porter at Puylata), which was, if I remember correctly, in one or two volumes.
The bishop has authorized my ordering some medications. I am writing to Father Dériard about it. Do have my letter sent on to him and arrange with him for paying the purchase and the freighting.
To Reverend Father Poupinel
Reverend Father
I think that Father Rochet has received the letter of credit which you sent formally and that you have given him your instructions on this matter. So I won’t concern myself any more about it.
No doubt you understand that the proposal which I make for you to arrange a life annuity has no other motive that to protect the Society against all claims and research of greedy inheritors or troublemakers; I can’t see on what basis they could make their claims, because it will always be possible to say that I am owed nothing. However, as you seem to fear, despite the absolute gift I am making of the estate I am offering you this new way which seems to me surer and even satisfying for my parents to whom I won’t say I have given but invested for life, so they will find it very reasonable that I am assured of a means of existence and that in the case of death they will not be able even to think of the slightest claim or fuss.
Do consult the worth of this new arrangement and if it is correct, put it into action as soon as possible. Furthermore a title is not necessary to be able to say truthfully that this sum is for life being the average cost of my food and upkeep because the Society gives that to all its members, but if another system is found to be better, do as you want. For me I am determined on one matter, that is no longer having any right than if I had given nothing to the Society.
I am asking Father Déprelle to pay you as soon as possible the sum of 18,000 francs; the balance will be 44,000 francs which I have promised to the Society but there is nothing to fear, the account is in credit.
As far as the money which I want to keep for my young nephews, if Father Déprelle keeps it, I want him to give me a receipt with interest which he will be totally responsible for when I finalize things with him, and I will send back to you yourself that receipt which will be in my name. But if he does not want to take responsibility for that money, I would be happy for the Society to accept it on the same conditions, for if my nephews were to die, there would probably be still some funds for the Society.
I am your very humble servant, Aimé Mallet.
Because all my letters are not sealed so that people can become acquainted with them, please seal them.