Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/33

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16
Ch. 1.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

with policy. A second failure at St. Domingo would destroy his own credit, and disgust both the army and the public. Abandonment of the island was equally hazardous; for it required the abandonment of French traditions and a confession of failure. Retirement from St. Domingo was impossible, except under cover of some new enterprise; and as Europe stood, no other enterprise remained for France to undertake which would not lead her armies across the Rhine or the Pyrenees. For this undertaking Bonaparte was not yet ready; but even had he been so, it would have offered no excuse for abandoning the colonies. The ocean would still have been open, and St. Domingo within easy reach.

Only one resource remained. Bonaparte told no one his plans; but he was not a man to hesitate when decision was needed. From the day when news of Leclerc's death arrived, during the first week of January, 1803, the First Consul brooded over the means of abandoning St. Domingo without appearing to desert intentionally a policy dear to France. Talleyrand and Decrès were allowed to go on as before; they gave instructions to Bernadotte, and hurried the preparations of Victor, whom the ice and snow of Holland and the slowness of the workmen held motionless; they prepared a reinforcement of fifteen thousand men for Rochambeau, and Bonaparte gave all the necessary orders for hastening the departure of both expeditions. As late as February 5, he wrote to Decrès that fifteen thousand men had been, or were