28 OCTOBER 1876, Page 22

Madeleine; or, a Noble Lift in a Humble Sphere. By

the Vicom- tease Solange de Berkadee. (Sampson Low and Co.)—If this book did not betray a strange ignorance of French life and French history, we should be disposed to regard it as a singularly ill-executed translation of a worthless work, but the Vicomtesse de Kerkadee establishes the originality of her story by numerous mistakes in the historical portion of her narrative, and in the doctrines and formulie of the Catholic Church which she combats. Tho dull and melancholy story of Madeleine Breant and her friends is simply a controversial tract extended to two volumes, with the scene laid in France, and the con- verting party called " Huguenot." As usual, the opponents are straw figures, with nothing to say for themselves, as the erring souls of con- troversial stories always are,—boneless creatures, like Lady G. Fuller- ton's Anglican curates ; but Madame de Kerkadec has not even taken the trouble to learn what the simplest of the Catholic doctrines are, and makes the bigoted Madame Marc—who makes a pilgrimage to a famous shrine to obtain forgiveness for admitting a Protestant girl to her house, though she has done so by the express advice of her confessor,—talk arrant nonsense to her son, converted by the Protestant girl, and he in his turn talks arrant nonsense to her. The author's history is as cloudy as her theology ; she has apparently never heard of a restitution of property being made to any proscribed families after the Bourbon restoration in France, and she calls the wife of the great Minister of Henri Quatre " Duchesse de Sully," which, for a titled lady who dedicates her book, "by kind permission," to a Countess, is rather a bad blunder. Here is the author's notion of picturesque composition :—

" Another fork-lightning, seemingly coming from the far horizon, out open once more the black drapery clouding the blue eth. r, winding up like a serpent until it reached the house, passing over it, and losing itself in the space ; another detonation followed, and Lcarcely had the last echoes repeated it, than a fresh zigzag of fire, more brilliant than the last, lightened up the whole panorama ; but this time it went no further than the Isone, and the bright serpent entwined in its coils one of the tallest poplars, charring it, and destroying its beauty in its mortal embrace."

A fork-lightning which cuts drapery open and winds-up like a serpent is a bold image, but perhaps a little too bewildering. The love-story of Madeleine is very decorous and intolerably dull, and the whole book is one of those which the reviewer so often contemplates with what would be, if he were not a reviewer, surprise that their authors should go through the labour of writing them.