Chapter 16: The Berlin Decree
While the summer of 1806 was passing in America, carrying Burr and his insane projects to failure, General Armstrong in Paris was watching the progress of another adventurer, whose plans were as dark as those of Burr, but whose genius was of a very different order. Talleyrand's mysterious instructions regarding Florida were given to Armstrong early in September, 1805. Ulm capitulated October 17; the battle of Trafalgar was fought October 21. Napoleon was thenceforward master of the Continent, and England of the ocean. December 2 Napoleon won the decisive battle of Austerlitz, and December 26 he signed the treaty of Pressburg which humbled Austria.
The wit of man often lagged behind the active movement of the world; but never had diplomatists a harder task than to keep abreast of Napoleon. Other men had moments of repose; but Napoleon's mind seemed never to rest. His schemes were developed, and swept over Europe like so many storm-centres. His plans sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed, but the success or the failure equally implied a greater effort behind; and while Armstrong and