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When Insults had Class

These very expressive insults are from an era, before the English language boiled down to four-letter and crude words.

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:

She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy."

- Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." 

- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." 

- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." 

- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." 

- Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." 

- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.." 

- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." 

- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." 

- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." 

- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

- Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" 

- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.." 

- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." 

- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." 

- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." 

- Groucho Marx

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