Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/46

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36
Ch. 2.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

showing deep excitement under an affectation of coolness, and at every word and look betraying himself to the prying eyes of Talleyrand's suspicious agent. What Jefferson said, and how he said it, can be told only in Turreau's version; but perhaps the few words used by the prejudiced Frenchman gave a clearer idea of American politics than could be got from all other sources together:—

"This conversation with the British minister having been brought to an end, Mr. Jefferson came and sat down by my side; and after all the American guests had successively retired, Mr. Erskine, who had held out longest,—in the hope, perhaps, that I should quit the ground,—went away also. The President spoke to me about the 'Chesapeake' affair, and said: 'If the English do not give us the satisfaction we demand, we will take Canada, which wants to enter the Union; and when, together with Canada, we shall have the Floridas, we shall no longer have any difficulties with our neighbors; and it is the only way of preventing them. I expected that the Emperor would return sooner to Paris,—and then this affair of the Floridas would be ended.' Then, changing the subject, he asked me what were the means to employ in order to be able to defend the American harbors and coasts. I answered that the choice of means depended on local conditions, and that his officers, after an exact reconnoissance, ought to pronounce on the application of suitable means of defence.—'We have no officers!'—He treated twenty-seven different subjects in a conversation of half an hour; and as he showed, as usual, no sort of distrust, this conversation of fits and starts (à bâtons rompus) makes me infer that