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Ford Maddox Ford: Millions massacred for picturesque phrases in politicians’ speeches

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Ford Maddox Ford: Preparing men likes bullocks for the slaughterhouse

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Ford Maddox Ford
From No More Parades

Intense dejection, endless muddles, endless follies, endless villainies. All these men given into the hands of the most cynically care-free intriguers in long corridors who made plots that harrowed the hearts of the world. All these men toys, all these agonies mere occasions for picturesque phrases to be put into politicians’ speeches without heart or even intelligence. Hundreds of thousands of men tossed here and there in that sordid and gigantic mud-brownness of midwinter…by God, exactly as if they were nuts wilfully picked up and thrown over the shoulder by magpies…But men. Men you worried over there. Each man a man with a backbone, knees, breeches, braces, a rifle, a home, passions, fornications, drunks, pals, some scheme of the universe. corns, inherited diseases, a green-grocer’s business, a milk walk, a paper stall, brats, a slut of a wife…

Heavy depression settled down more heavily upon him. The distrust of the home Cabinet, felt by then the greater part of the army, became like physical pain. These immense sacrifices, this ocean of mental sufferings, were all undergone to further the private vanities of men who amidst these hugenesses of landscapes and forces appeared pygmies! It was the worries of all these wet millions in mud-brown that worried him. They could die, they could be massacred, by the quarter million, in shambles. But that they should be massacred without jauntiness, without confidence, with depressed brows, without parade…

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