Being at the source of our beloved language, I particularly enjoy this e-mail that Samuel Tenenbaum passed on. I’d read some of these offerings from some of the cleverer practitioners on both sides of the pond, but not all:
When Insults Had Class
These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter 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
I haven’t heard anyone say anything that clever since I’ve been here, but I am enjoying the accents.