Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/54

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

which Virgil put into the mouth of Neptune reproving the waves,—

"Quos ego . . ."

Between the water and the wit the three Bonapartes recovered their tempers, while the valet who was present, overcome by fear, fainted and fell on the floor. Joseph went home to change his clothes, while Lucien remained to pass through another scene almost equally amusing. A long conversation followed after the First Consul's toilet was finished. Napoleon spoke of St. Domingo. "Do you want me to tell you the truth?" said he. "I am to-day more sorry than I like to confess for the expedition to St. Domingo. Our national glory will never come from our marine." He justified what he called, in jest at Lucien, his "Louisianicide," by the same reasons he gave to Marbois and Talleyrand, but especially by the necessity of providing funds for the war not yet declared. Lucien combated his arguments as Joseph had done, until at last he reached the same point. "If, like Joseph, I thought that this alienation of Louisiana without the assent of the Chambers might be fatal to me,—to me alone,—I would consent to run all risks in order to prove the devotion you doubt; but it is really too unconstitutional and—"

"Ah, indeed!" burst out Napoleon with another prolonged, forced laugh of derisive anger. "You lay it on handsomely! Unconstitutional is droll from you. Come now, let me alone! How have I hurt your Constitution? Answer!"