11 SEPTEMBER 1920, Page 24

The National History of France : The Seventeenth Century. By

Jacques Boulenger. (W. Heinemann. 12s. 6d. net.)— This new volume of the excellent series, which contains M. Louis Madelin's. French, Revolution, is a brilliant study of the reigns of Louis KIT'. and Louis XIV. M. Boulenger is as success- ful as M. Madelin in sketching the course of events in bold outline while emphasizing the dominant personalities of the period. He has a happy knack of introducing apt quotations from contem- porary memoirs, to illustrate a scene or a character. His portraits of Richelieu, Mazarin, Colbert and the great King himself are vivid and unforgettable. M. Boulenger is a learned historian but, like so many French scholars, he wears his learning lightly. His witty description of the Fronde, his account of the Precieuses, and his chapter, entitled " Sunset," on the last years of Louis XIV. are among the best things in an extremely able book. His judicious pages on the ruinous taxation and the abuses of privilege which sapped the strength of France are graver but not less authoritative.