3 DECEMBER 1904, Page 13

A Leader of Society at Napoleon's Court. By Catherine M.

Bearne. (T. Fisher Unwin. 10s. 6d.)—Mrs. Bearne has con- structed her new book chiefly out of the well-known Memoirs of Laura Permon, Duchesse d'Abrantes, truly a rich mine of know- ledge connected in several ways with the early nineteenth century. The wife of Junot, a good, clever, and original woman, was nothing if not candid in the detailed pictures she drew of the rise of that extraordinary parvenue Court which seemed to have conquered Europe. Any students of that interesting time cannot do better than study a book which paints Napoleon as he gradually advanced from a sulky boy to a demigod, and does not attempt to hide his many faults of character and manners. His triumph, and that of the society he dragged up with him, was certainly that of a vulgarity which has never reigned before or since ; and yet the Duchesse d'Abrantes gave him full credit for the touches of natural kindness which, in spite of his utter selfish- ness and want of principle, kept his old friends attached to him. But the whole Bonaparte family, as they appear in Mrs. Bearne's book, are a set of amazing upstarts. The adventures of the Duchesse herself, especially during the Revolution which shadowed her childhood, the Consulate, and the Peninsular War, give great variety to a book which is full of entertainment, if it cannot rank very high as literature.