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6 September 1841 Father Antoine Séon to Fr Jean-Baptiste Épalle, Matamata

Translated by ChatGPT, 2023; reviewed by Elizabeth Charlton August 2023

Biography and letters of Antoine Séon

Matamata, 6th of September 1841

My Reverend Father,
It is not from Akaroa that I am writing to you; I am much closer. Circumstances have compelled His Lordship to assign a priest for Matamata and Waikato. This fate has fallen to me. Here I am, installed as rector with a makeshift sacristy and household. Since you have the list of items you provided me, I will indicate what Father Viard himself gave me; you will see what I am lacking:
  • Sugar 22 pounds
  • Rice 22
  • Tea 1 ½ [presumably 1 ½ pounds]
  • Oil 8 bottles
  • Tobacco 35 pounds
  • 2 pots
  • 6 plates, out of which three are in pieces— the two used are made of pewter
  • 3 saucers
  • 4 cups, one is broken
  • 2 spoons
  • 2 forks
  • 4 small spoons
  • 1 lamp
  • 8 bottles of wine for Mass
  • 1 teapot
  • In silver, 3 pounds
  • I now have an axe
  • I have about 40 or 45 pounds of salt
  • I have a frying pan
  • Approximately 20 pounds of flour
For my sacristy, I have only what you gave me, though the holy oil container disappeared on the ship among the Bishop's belongings...
Do not hesitate to provide ornaments for the altar; I will make good use of them. I celebrate Mass here, but soon I must return to Father Pesant the items I borrowed from him. Thus, I won't provide you with a specific list; supply me as you see fit. However, I have two missals and I would like 2 bookmarks and ribbons for the pages.
Some cardboard to bind my Life of Jesus Christ in images; I think it will be very useful to me.
For the household, I have provided you with a list of the items I have. Please send us suspenders. For Brother Euloge, who doesn't know how to properly care for his clothes, send whatever you think is appropriate.
Tools for carpentry, joinery, turning, farming, etc., include whatever you see fit. In this area where there is beautiful wood, there is not a saw, hardly a hammer... or nails. Don't forget a spade, augers, tools for woodwork. Please send me one of the 4 knives with multiple parts; it will be very useful to me for many things. I will be forced to go far to get hosts. Please include, if you please, some books on trade; I will take great care of them.
I have been settled since August 29th; since then, journeys and transports have been at the expense of the little missionary purse. Fortunately, I am in an area where provisions are not very expensive.
Since our arrival in Matamata, where Father Baty came to settle me, we have baptized a young man of about 25 years old who is very sick; I hope he becomes a saint and a protector of this mission. Here, the [Protestant] missionaries have a splendid temple; if the Holy Virgin were to take it away from them to give it to her true children, she would certainly perform a noble deed.
They came several times to talk with Father Baty; this will help me until I can do it myself; perhaps they will remember the good reasons he gave them, and maybe they will be more reserved about it.
I send respect and friendship to all the Fathers at the house in Kororareka, to Mr. Yvert, and to Mr. Perret. I believe the latter has arrived at the Bay of Islands; if he could write to me about his journey at the end of a letter I would be very grateful.
Farewell, my Reverend Father, Father Baty will take this letter with him when he leaves Matamata tomorrow. I will be left to myself and to the Holy Spirit, whose assistance will now be very necessary.
His Lordship couldn't come here during this stop in Tauranga; we will likely have the pleasure of seeing him there on his return; but if you can, don't wait too long to send me what I am asking for.
Farewell, my Reverend Father, here I am speaking Maori when understandingly I was expecting to speak French.
Your very humble and obedient colleague,
? Seon
P.S. The 5 volumes of theology that I took with me have been left wrapped with Father Viard to be given to you. I told His Lordship the church history intended for Akaroa is in Tauranga with some of my belongings; he could have taken it with him but he didn't. It will be used by Tauranga, Maketu, and Matamata.
P.S. I am leaving today, 7th of September, for a circuit of the Waikato. I feel the need for a pocket notebook.