Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/360

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French gentlemen. Highest in rank among these highborn warriors was a lad of sixteen, Philip Duke of Chartres, son of the Duke of Orleans, and nephew of the King of France. It was with difficulty and by importunate solicitation that the gallant boy had extorted Luxemburg's permission to be where the fire was hottest. Two other youths of royal blood, Lewis Duke of Bourbon, and Armand Prince of Conti, showed a spirit worthy of their descent. With them was a descendant of one of the bastards of Henry the Fourth, Lewis Duke of Vendome, a man sunk in indolence and in the foulest vice, yet capable of exhibiting on a great occasion the qualities of a great soldier. Berwick, who was beginning to earn for himself an honourable name in arms, was there; and at his side rode Sarsfield, whose courage and ability earned, on that day, the esteem of the whole French army. Meanwhile Luxemburg had sent off a pressing message to summon Boufflers. But the message was needless. Boufflers had heard the firing, and, like a brave and intelligent captain, was already hastening towards the point from which the sound came.

Though the assailants had lost all the advantage which belongs to a surprise, they came on manfully. In the front of the battle were the British commanded by Count Solmes. The division which was to lead the way was Mackay's. He was to have been supported, according to William's plan, by a strong body of foot and horse. Though most of Mackay's men had never before been under fire, their behaviour gave promise of Blenheim and Ramilies. They first encountered the Swiss, who held a distinguished place in the French army. The fight was so close and desperate that the muzzles of the muskets crossed. The Swiss were driven back with fearful slaughter. More than eighteen hundred of them appear from the French returns to have been killed or wounded. Luxemburg afterwards said that he had never in his life seen so furious a struggle. He collected in haste the opinion of the generals who surrounded him. All thought that the emergency was one which could be met by no common means. The King's household must charge