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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

VIII. Ford and Shirley

§ 3. Romantic character of his non-dramatic work

His romantic tendencies were further displayed in the same year in his Honor Triumphant; or the Peeres Challenge. In the prose part of this pamphlet Ford supplies a highflown defence of four “positions” which four young nobles had undertaken to support in a tournament in honour of the visit to England of king Christian IV of Denmark. The positions were that knights in ladies’ service have no free will; that beauty is the maintainer of valour; that fair lady was never false; that perfect lovers are only wise. The triteness of the matter, the prevailing hyperbole and the lingering traces of Euphuism that mark the style, would hardly call for mention here, were it not that, in the very theses which Ford is half seriously upholding we find a significant connection with the motives underlying some of his most important mature work. What we must note is that Ford, at the age of twenty, is writing prose and verse highly romantic in spirit, and involving a tolerant, if not an admiring, attitude towards conduct entirely at variance with conventional standards. The Monarches Meeting, appended to this pamphlet, is an early instance of the stanza of Gray’s Elegy.

Ford’s non-dramatic work closes with A Line of Life (1620), a didactic tract on conduct, apparently influenced by Bacon’s Essays, but lacking their pithiness and epigrammatic vigour. It may be significant of Ford’s personal attitude towards religion that this serious lay sermon is purely pagan in inspiration and in spirit.