D.H. Lawrence: The price to pay at home for terrible, terrible war
From Kangaroo (1923)
But in England, during the later years of the war, a true and deadly fear of the criminal living spirit which arose in all the stay-at-home bullies who governed the country during those years. From 1916 to 1919 a wave of criminal lust rose and possessed England, there was a reign of terror, under a set of indecent bullies like Bottomley of John Bull and other bottom-dog members of the House of Commons…
The terrible, terrible war, made so fearful because in every country practically every man lost his head, and lost his own centrality, his own manly isolation in his own integrity, which alone keeps life real. Practically every man being caught away from himself, as in some horrible flood, and swept away with the ghastly masses of other men, utterly unable to speak, or feel for himself, or to stand on his own feet, delivered over and swirling in the current, suffocated for the time being. Some of them to die forever. Most to come back home victorious in circumstance, but with their inner pride gone: inwardly lost. To come home, many of them, to wives who had egged them on to the downfall in themselves: black bitterness. Others to return to a bewildered wife who had tried in vain to keep her man true to himself, tried and tried, only to see him at last swept away. And oh, when he was swept away, how she loved him. But when he came back, when he crawled out like a dog out of a dirty stream, a stream that had suddenly gone slack and turbid: when he came back covered with outward glory and inward shame, then there was the price.