Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/357

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


his skill, energy and presence of mind his country owed some glorious days. But, though eminently successful in battles, he was not eminently successful in campaigns. He gained immense renown at William's expense; and yet there was, as respected the objects of the war, little to choose between the two commanders. Luxemburg was repeatedly victorious; but he had not the art of improving a victory. William was repeatedly defeated; but of all generals he was the best qualified to repair a defeat.

In the month of July William's headquarters were at Lambeque. About six miles off, at Steinkirk, Luxemburg had encamped with the main body of his army; and about six miles further off lay a considerable force commanded by the Marquess of Boufflers, one of the best officers in the service of Lewis.

The country between Lambeque and Steinkirk was intersected by innumerable hedges and ditches; and neither army could approach the other without passing through several long and narrow defiles. Luxemburg had therefore little reason to apprehend that he should be attacked in his entrenchments; and he felt assured that he should have ample notice before any attack was made; for he had succeeded in corrupting an adventurer named Millevoix, who was chief musician and private secretary of the Elector of Bavaria. This man regularly sent to the French headquarters authentic information touching the designs of the allies.

The Marshal, confident in the strength of his position and in the accuracy of his intelligence, lived in his tent as he was accustomed to live in his hotel at Paris. He was at once a valetudinarian and a voluptuary; and, in both characters, he loved his ease. He scarcely ever mounted his horse. Light conversation and cards occupied most of his hours. His table was luxurious; and, when he had sate down to supper, it was a service of danger to disturb him. Some scoffers remarked that in his military dispositions he was not guided exclusively by military reasons, that he generally contrived to entrench himself in some place where the veal and the poultry were remarkably good, and that he was always solicitous to keep open such communications