forks were used on highwheelers as well as boneshakers. A curved
fork does somewhat smooth the ride, because it is springier than
a straight fork -- however, its effect in smoothing the ride is
much less than the effect of the pneumatic tires or the highwheeler's
large front wheel.
factor in the comfort of the fork, its springiness or compliance,
the degree to which it will bend in response to a bump in the road,
is the horizontal displacement of the fork tips from the straight
line passing through the head tube. A curved fork and a straight
fork with the same position of fork tips will have about the same
compliance. By "straight", I think John means in line
with the head tube. There are road forks which have straight
blades which are angled forward so that they have trail.