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war prose

From ‘Appry la Gair’, Piccadilly Review (23 October 1919), 5. [This anonymous letter from a ‘distinguished man of letters’ to a review which Ford was writing for at the time, sounds very Fordian: not just for its ironic Tory feudalism, but its allusions to the Welch Regiment.]

There are two classes in the State that should be respected – those who produce and those who administer. All others are parasitic.

Begin with the Working Man. I do not say with the Labour Party. Let us stop cheap gibes at men wanting high wages. I want all I can get. So do you. Our side has far too long occupied itself with the woes of the suburban shopkeeper. Whistle him down the wind.

Let us then stop cheap gibes at Working Men who desire a good time – for it is our sacred duty to give them a good time. We have no other duty. Let me tell you.

My regiment was called the Suicide Club during the late war. It issued in August, 1914, posters saying that the — Bn. — Regiment was the shortest road to France. We recruited, in a mining district, sixty per cent of the mining population by December, 1914. Then the Government forbade us to recruit any more. My regiment raised twenty-eight battalions of miners, and there were other regiments recruiting in the same area.

And you will not tell me that I – as a Conservative, or Unionist, or Coalitionist – am to subscribe to cheap gibes at these men because they want a good time. I would rather cut off my right hand. I promised them a good time ‘appry la gair finny’. I trained them in this country to confront death. I used, in France, all my personal prestige as an officer to induce them to confront death and bear anguish with composure. I would rather starve than take a profit on their labour.

From Provence, pp. 304-06.

You cannot, however, have vast organizations without faith – and Christianity as a faith died a few days after the 4th of August 1914 ... the only sign of protest against that reign of crime and assassination having been the death, as soon as the effects of war manifested themselves, of Benedict X... Of a broken heart on August 19, 1914

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