From Marist Studies
Yvert to Poupinel and Colin, London, 24 November 1840
APM Z 208 Translation, Jessie Munro, checked Madeleine le Jeune, December 2006
- My very dear Father,
- As we have something really unfortunate to impart to the Mother House, we prefer to let you know before informing our good Father Superior, relying on your wisdom to know how to soften the blow this news will bring him. On our arrival in London, we followed to the letter the instructions or information you gave us in writing. We began by visiting Mr Heptonstall, the agent for the Marists’ house, and a few days later, at his request, Father Séon handed him in the presence of all three of us Marists, and at our full accord, the signed bank drafts to deliver to Mr Wright. This banker is the same one who has handled all the affairs of the Mission, and moreover we had been instructed to entrust to him the responsibility of obtaining us credit on Sydney for the money sent out for the missionaries to have at their disposal after paying all the expenses of the voyage. Feeling perfectly comfortable about this, we sought out a ship, and it’s certainly through the grace of the Blessed Virgin that I was able to book our passage on the ‘Mary Gray’.
- The difficulties we were encountering, and which seemed to keep on multiplying as quickly as they were solved, did not discourage us in the least. I surmounted all the barriers, one after another, that even our friends, Mr Dillon and others, persisted in putting in our path to delay our departure in order to have us take passage on a vessel belonging to Mr Cooper. The intentions might be good, but I was resolute on the point, and firm bookings were made for 12 berths with two more kept in reserve, as I indicated to you. The very next morning I got Father Séon to sign a cheque drawing on Mr Wright’s bank to the amount of 660 pounds sterling. This sum was paid on the 18th, the day when the first deposit from Lyon would lapse – falling due as it did on the 15th, with the three days’ grace making it the 18th. On the morning of Monday the 21st, we were greeted with the arrival of Mr Heptonstall looking more dead than alive, to inform us that Wright’s Bank which had been in existence for 130 years, the second oldest bank in London, had suspended trading on Saturday the 19th at 5p.m. All due process ensued. Mr Heptonstall had no further definite news for us, but Mr Dillon, who has treated us with such generosity, heard the sad news from one of Mr Wright’s clerks that Mr Séon’s name as representing our Society was listed among the creditors to the sum of 1332 pounds sterling, 8 pence. Up to that point our friends had retained some hope as to the seizure of our deposit, but now everything has been irrevocably decided and the House’s chances will be on the same footing as all the others, and that means almost all influential English Catholics, and the bishop and clergy of London.
- What must be done now? We are asking you in complete frankness, having nothing to reproach ourselves over. I’ll even add, as everyone is beginning to comprehend, that had I not taken it upon myself to go ahead and finalise the purchase of our passage on the ‘Mary Gray’, you would be enmeshed in this affair for the entire sum. The 660 pounds sterling are for the passage for twelve people from London to S[y]dney. To that needs to be added 55 pounds for the thirteenth, plus about 50 pounds for the freight of the trade goods. We won’t begrudge this quite large sum especially considering our narrow escape from this collapse. That’s not all, as we have yet to add a hundred or so pounds for the crossing from S[y]dney to the Bay of Islands.
- What are our confreres bringing? We do not know and leave that entirely up to your wishes. As for us, in no way are we defeated by all this; our courage has been strengthened by this harsh trial. And if Providence has us reach our destination, with our pack on our back and our staff in our hand, we will still feel overjoyed to be living the life of the Apostles, that is the life of the poor.
- Please reply by return mail and don’t forget that we have made a definite commitment for the passage. We will only be able to receive one last letter from you.
- We send you, all three of us, an embrace from our innermost hearts.
- Your obedient son
- Your obedient son
- We have just received assurance this very moment that influential Catholics are going to combine forces and work on following up the payments of the Wright Bank – which all leads us to think there will be very probably a positive resolution.
- The letter is addressed on the back ‘Au Très Révérend Père Colin, Supérieur Général des Maristes’, but the content indicates that it is first going through presumably Poupinel.
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