In the conversation with which you were pleased to honor me a few days ago, on the enfranchisement of the port of Honfleur, I took the liberty of observing, that I was not instructed by my constituents to make any proposition on that subject. That it would be agreeable to them, however, I must suppose, because it will offer the following advantages.
1. It is a convenient entrepot for furnishing us with the manufactures of the northern parts of France, and particularly of Paris, and for receiving and distributing the productions of our country in exchange.
2. Cowes, on the opposite side of the channel, has heretofore been the deposite for a considerable part of our productions, landed in Great Britain in the first instance, but intended for re-exportation. From thence our rice, particularly, has been distributed to France and other parts of Europe. I am not certain, whether our tobaccos were deposited there, or carried to London to be sorted for the different markets. To draw this business from Cowes, no place is so favorably situated as Honfleur.
3. It would be a convenient deposite for our whale-oil, of which, after the supply of Paris, there will be a surplus for re-exportation.
4. Should our fur-trade be recovered out of the hands of the English, it will naturally come to Honfleur, as the out-port of Paris.
5. Salt is an important article in all our return cargoes; because, being carried as ballast, its freight costs nothing. But on account of some regulations, with which I am not well acquainted, it cannot at present be shipped to advantage from any port on the Seine.
6. Our vessels being built sharp, for swift sailing, suffer extremely in most of the western ports of France, in which they are left on dry ground at every ebb of the tide. But at Honfleur, I am told, they can ride in bold water, on a good bottom, and near the shore, at all times.
These facts may, perhaps, throw some light on the question in which, for the good of both countries, you are pleased to interest yourself. I take the liberty, therefore, of barely mentioning them, and with the more pleasure, as it furnishes me an occasion of assuring you of those sentiments of respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be your most obedient, humble servant,
TO MONSIEUR DE CREVE-COEUR.
Paris, January 15,1787.