Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/50

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1803.
33
THE LOUISIANA TREATY.

losing everything; for when Bonaparte offered a favor suitors did well to waste no time in acceptance. A slight weight might have turned the scale; a divulgence of the secret, a protest from Spain, a moment of irritation at Jefferson's coquetry with England or at the vaporings of the American press, a sudden perception of the disgust which every true Frenchman was sure sooner or later to feel at this squandering of French territory and enterprise,—any remonstrance that should stir the First Consul's pride or startle his fear of posterity, might have cut short the thread of negotiation. Livingston did not know the secrets of the Tuileries, or he would not have passed time in cheapening the price of his purchase. The voice of opposition was silenced in the French people, but was still so high in Bonaparte’s family as to make the Louisiana scheme an occasion for scenes so violent as to sound like the prelude to a tragedy.

One evening when Talma was to appear in a new rôle, Lucien Bonaparte, coming home to dress for the theatre, found his brother Joseph waiting for him.[1] "Here you are at last!" cried Joseph; "I was afraid you might not come. This is no time for theatre-going; I have news for you that will give you no fancy for amusement. The General wants to sell Louisiana."

Lucien, proud of having made the treaty which secured the retrocession, was for a moment thunderstruck; then recovering confidence, he said, "Come,

  1. Lucien Bonaparte et ses Mémoires, Th. Jung, ii. 121-192.