In an essay on Wyndham Lewis published on June 15, 1914, Ezra Pound named his fellow Vorticist "a man at war." 1 The remark was prescient, for exactly one week after Lewis's public declaration of war on Edwardian taste appeared in the June 20 issue of Blast, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot at Sarajevo. Soon Lewis donned a helmet, and along with Ford Madox Ford, he became one of the few self-proclaimed "men of 1914" who participated in both the battle of modernism and the battle of the Somme.
There were other wars taking place in Edwardian society before the Great War began on August 4, 1914, when the time limit on Britain's ultimatum to Germany ran out. During the first half of 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst (organizer of the Women's Social and Political Union) was imprisoned four times, responding each time with a hunger strike and raising her total number of strikes to twelve. At the same time, her army of suffragettes had set an arsonist's record, burning 107 buildings, including two ancient churches at Wargrave and Breadsall. The windows at 10 Downing Street had already been broken. Velázquez's Venus was slashed and a mummy case in the British Museum was damaged. 2 In the first issue of Blast Lewis offered these words of advice addressed "TO SUFFRAGETTES":
IN DESTRUCTION, AS IN OTHER THINGS,
stick to what you understand.
WE MAKE YOU A PRESENT OF OUR VOTES.
ONLY LEAVE WORKS OF ART ALONE.
YOU MIGHT SOME DAY DESTROY A
GOOD PICTURE BY ACCIDENT.
MAIS SOYEZ BONNES FILLES!
NOUS VOUS AIMONS!
WE ADMIRE YOUR ENERGY. YOU AND ARTISTS
ARE THE ONLY THINGS (YOU DON'T MIND
BEING CALLED THINGS?) LEFT IN ENGLAND
WITH A LITTLE LIFE IN THEM.