20 SEPTEMBER 1873, Page 20

Dower and Curse. By John Lane Ford. 3 vols. (Tinsley.)—The

title leads one to expect a tale of many sensations, but we are agreeably disappointed. The heroine is a girl of very humble origin, whom a certain Mr. Victor Horbston adopts, by way of proving a favourite theory, which he thus states :—" Take a girl or a boy of low, even of vicious parentage, change his surroundings, subject him or her to culture, physical, intellectual, moral, or, as Matthew Arnold would say, to 'sweetness and light,' and you will crush the vice of blood." She it is who has the "dower and curse," and this is nothing more mysterious or romantic than her beauty. It is her curse, because it makes the ladies of Mr. Victor Herbston's family iuto spiteful enemies ; it is her dower, because it lifts her into an assured social position. As to the theory, as far as one instance can prove it, it is maintained with conspicuous suc- cess. In fact, we are never permitted to doubt it. The only doubt which harasses the reader is whether social prejudices will permit the heroine's elevation to a higher rank. They do fight fiercely against her, and we might imagine at one time that they are about to succeed, did we not know that a heroine cannot possibly die early in the second volume, even though she does swoon from starvation. It is a real fault in the tale that the theorist himself drops almost completely out of the story of his own experiment. In fact, the author does not really work his subject out. A fine study might be made out of culture overcoming the tendencies of birth. But Annie Scott, the heroine, has nothing about her to recall her origin, and the difficulty which delays for a while tho happy termination of her story would have occurred with equal certainty had she been therdanghter of the most virtuous of peasants or tradesmen.