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, “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