16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 12


The Story of a Beautiful Duchess: being an Account of the Life and Times of Elizabeth Gunning, Duchess of Hamilton and Argyll, By Horace Bleackley, M.A. Illustrated. (A. Constable and Co. 21s. net.)—No student of the eighteenth century in England is ignorant of the fame of the beautiful Irish sisters, the daughters of John Gunning, Esq., and Bridget Bourke, his wife, daughter of Viscount Mayo. Their story is to a great extent the story of English society during the latter half of the century ; and an unedifying story this is, though it shines, perhaps, in contrast with that of French society about the same date. But in both countries there were distinguished exceptions to the rule of less morals than manners ; and there never was a shadow on the fair fame of the lovely Elizabeth Gunning during her long life as the consort of two Dukes, the first of whom was distinctly unworthy of her. The present book, though written in a too ornate and often awkward style, gives a spirited picture of a time abounding

in curious interest. Readers will be attracted by a full account of the extraordinary "Douglas Cause." Lady Jane Douglas- Steuart, the only sister of the eccentric Duke of Douglas, was bent on preventing his estates from passing into the hands of the Hamilton family. She returned from abroad with twin-boys, supposed to have been born in Paris, where she and her husband had been staying. The Scottish Courts decided that these boys were not Lady Jane's children; but the English House of Lords reversed the decision. Mr. Bleackley evidently thinks they were wrong. The book is very handsomely got up, and the portraits of the Duchess and members of her family are charmingly re- produced and most attractive.