Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/36

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finally, March 12, Livingston saw a melodramatic spectacle which transfixed him with surprise and excitement.[1] The scene was at Madame Bonaparte's drawing-room; the actors Bonaparte and Lord Whitworth, the British ambassador. "I find, my Lord, your nation want war again!" said the First Consul. "No, sir," replied Whitworth; "we are very desirous of peace." "I must either have Malta or war!" rejoined Bonaparte. Livingston received these words from Lord Whitworth himself on the spot; and returning at once to his cabinet, wrote to warn Madison. Within a few days the alarm spread through Europe, and the affairs of St. Domingo were forgotten.

Bonaparte loved long-prepared transformation-scenes. Such a scene he was preparing, and the early days of April, 1803, found the actors eagerly waiting it. All the struggles and passions of the last two years were crowded into the explosion of April. At St. Domingo, horror followed fast on horror. Rochambeau, shut in Port au Prince,—drunken, reckless, surrounded by worthless men and by women more abandoned still, wallowing in the dregs of the former English occupation and of a half-civilized negro empire,—waged as he best could a guerilla war, hanging, shooting, drowning, burning all the negroes he could catch; hunting them with fifteen hundred bloodhounds bought in Jamaica for something more than one hundred dollars each;

  1. Livingston to Madison, March 12, 1803; State Papers, ii. 547.