I send you a copy of the late marine regulations of this country. There are things in it, which may become interesting to us. Particularly, what relates to the establishment of a marine militia, and their classification.
You will have seen in the public papers, that the King has called an Assembly of the Notables of this country. This has not been done for one hundred and sixty years past. Of course, it calls up all the attention of the people. The objects of this Assembly are not named: several are conjectured. The tolerating the Protestant religion; removing all the internal Custom-houses to the frontier; equalizing the gabelles on salt through the kingdom; the sale of the King’s domains, to raise money; or, finally, the effecting this necessary end by some other means, are talked of. But, in truth, nothing is known about it. This government practises secrecy so systematically, that it never publishes its purposes or its proceedings, sooner or more extensively than necessary. I send you a pamphlet, which, giving an account of the last Assemblee des Notable, may give an idea of what the present will be.
A great desire prevails here of encouraging manufactures. The famous Boulton and Watt, who are at the head of the plated manufactures of Birmingham, the steam mills of London, copying presses and other mechanical works, have been here. It is said, also, that Wedgewood has been here, who is famous for his steel manufactories, and an earthen ware in the antique style; but as to this last person, I am not certain. It cannot, I believe be doubted, but that they came at the request of government, and that they will be induced to establish similar manufactures here.
The transferring hither those manufactures, which contribute so much to draw our commerce to England, will have a great tendency to strengthen our connections with this country, and loosen them with that.
The enfranchising the port of Honfleur at the mouth of the Seine, for multiplying the connections with us, is at present an object. It meets with opposition in the ministry; but I am in hopes it will prevail. If natural causes operate, uninfluenced by accidental circumstances, Bordeaux and Honfleur, or Havre, must ultimately take the greatest part of our commerce. The former, by the Garonne and canal of Languedoc, opens the southern provinces to us; the latter, the northern ones and Paris. Honfleur will be peculiarly advantageous for our rice and whale oil, of which the principal consumption is at Paris. Being free, they can be re-exported when the market here shall happen to be overstocked.
The labors of the ensuing summer will close the eastern half of the harbor of Cherbourg, which will contain and protect forty sail of the line. It has from fifty to thirty-five feet of water next to the cones, shallowing gradually to the shore. Between this and Dunkirk, the navigation of the channel will be rendered much safer in the event of a war with England, and invasions on that country become more practicable.