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Colin to ??, Lyons, 9 November 1839

Translated by Miss M Lindsay 1986


Lyons, 9 November 1839

To the garde de Marie eprême sans pêché


The four missionaries who departed by way of London last May are carrying letters and funds for your Grace. They have perhaps already joined you: the son of Lord Petre, who left at the end of August for New Zealand must also convey to you a letter from the Cardinal Prefect. Captain Lavaud, commander of the corvette L’Aube, has undertaken with much goodness to deliver you a bundle of letters. In the one which I had the honour of writing to you, I informed you, among other things, that the Cardinal Prefect would deem that land could be purchased for the needs of the mission. Two of our confrères, MM Dubreul and Poupinel, whom I sent to Paris and Normandy in the interests of the mission, have just arrived in Lyons and I hasten to send this new letter to Captain Lavaud, hoping that it will still arrive before his departure.

The French government is very well disposed towards all the Catholic missions, particularly of Oceania; Marshal Soult, Minister of Foreign Affairs and President, distinguishes himself amongst the ministers. All wish to form French settlements in the main islands of Oceania, send consular agents there and they await their success from the influence of the missions. They themselves say that if these islands are made Catholic, they will be rendered French. The French agents and captains also have a formal order to protect the missionaries in a special way and the government is prepared to assist them with financial aid. Marshal Soult told our two confrères that he did not wish to send a single vessel to the Islands without having missionaries aboard and informed me to have the missionaries ready, thinking that he will be able to ask me shortly.

We are therefore going to make arrangements. The commander of L’Aube must be provided with important instructions for these areas. I do not think that the French government is, in these new plans, led by the thought of trade and politics alone; it wants also to protect the Faith and the people; people are indignant at the conduct of the English who destroy native populations in such a barbaric manner. If a consul is appointed for New Zealand, which is likely, you will find every form of assistance from that individual who will likely be appointed. He is an excellent Christian, converted as many others by a famous Arch-confrère which is in Paris; he is full of enthusiasm without lacking prudence, having very great talents, seeing only the good of the Faith and its peoples; he would consider this consulship as a vocation and as a means to save souls, after having worked to lose them.

The government’s aim is thus to endeavour to paralyse the invasion by the English, and the French merchants have just reproached the government sharply.

Our two confrères arrived from Paris have been very well received by several ministers with whom they had audience; the Minister of Religion is going to deliver us a mandate to draw the 1,000 francs granted to our confrères who left some months ago. Only I urge you, Monsignor, to send us still the receipts of the three missionaries, certified by your signature.

We have managed to have all our letters delivered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, either by addressing them to R D Heptenstall, 63 Paternoster Row, London, to have them sent by the French Embassy, or by the ships of the French State. We are going to make out a report to Marshal Soult on the mission, which he requesteed. If your Lordship wished to purchase land, I would advise him to have the faire passer before the Captains of the (French) state ships, or other agents; then the government would certainly not let this property be invaded.

Monsignor Administrator, who always takes the greatest interest in your mission, has been of much service to us by the various letters which he wrote to the ministers.

You already know perhaps of Cardinal Fesch’s death. On this occasion, Monsignor d’Amasie had many troubles to swallow. The government has seen itself compelled by intrigues to appoint to Lyons the Cardinal d’Isogard, Archbishop d’Auch. He was overcome by illness and old age, he died in Paris one month ago. No one knows how things are going to sort themselves out.

We have not received any of your news, Monsignor, since your letter of 16 September, 1838. This delay causes us much difficulty. Now we have more safe opportunities of writing to you, either by London, or by the French warships, or whaling ships, the departures of which Mr Franque, Havre, will make known to us.