When insults had class

These glorious insults are from an era “before” the English language got boiled down to four-letter words.

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

"That depends, Sir, " said Disraeli, "on 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 I'm afraid this wasn't it."

- Groucho Marx

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