26 JANUARY 1878, Page 20

What He Cost Her. By James Payn. 3 vols. (Ohatto

and Windus.) —A girl of fierce, independent character makes the acquaintance of a young man under circumstances which make her regard him as some- thing of a hero. The acquaintance ripens into love, but a love which proceeds from her rather than from the man to whom she has given her heart. It would be spoiling Mr. Payn's novel to give an epitome of his story. The general character is sufficiently indicated by the title which he has given to it. Briefly, she finds out her mistake, learns that the man to whom she has given her lore is not worthy of it, and acts under the painful circumstances which arise with rare nobility. It is difficult to criticise the plot without revealing it. Yet we may say so much as this, that the mystery which envelopes the heroine's ante- cedents scarcely seems, when it is brought to light, to be adequate to the anticipations that have been formed about it. And we may also express a doubt whether the pains which the writer has evidently taken to make himself acquainted with the subject have been altogether successful. The courts of law are very unwilling indeed to dissolve a marriage, and when there were no particular objects to be gained by concealment of a material fact, it may be doubted whether even col- lusion between the two parties would have been held a valid reason. This does not affect, however, the value of Mr. Payn's book, which deals with a painful subject in a way which other novelists might emulate with advantage.