14 NOVEMBER 1868, Page 21

Charles Stennis, Writer to the Signet. A. Novel. By John

Lane Ford. 3 vols. (Saunders and Otloy.)—We found the first volume of this novel a piece of as intolerably hard reading as we have often come across. Wo make this criticism with the less hesitation because we can say that wo found a decided improvement in volumes two and three. Ont of the crowd of men and women to whom the author introduces us, and who weary and perplex us beyond expression, a few emerge whose figures wo can realize, and whom wo even b2gin to care about. It is only fair to say that Mr. Ford's characters when they are at their dullest talk like human beings ; but then human beings can bo great bores, far worse bores than puppets. After a while, whether wo get used to them, or whether they really improve, we pat up with and even like them. The "sensations" to which we are treated we do not care about. That in the second volume, Charles's great victory over himself, is meant to be edifying, but might very possibly fail of its object. That in the third is a most marvellous improbability. A madman might entrap a young lady, and lock her up in his house ; bat would an appaiently sane old woman keep her locked up long after ho had gone abroad, even after he was dead ? Perhaps the best thing in the volume is the "Taming of the Shrew" which concludes it.