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Monday, January 10, 2011

How it should be done

At a time when the nation could use some cheering up -- and the need for civility in discourse is on everyone's minds -- here is a collection, sent to us by a friend last week, of high-class insults:

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

Comments (9)

I needed a great laugh today!

Excellent list, but you forgot Hemingway's response:

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

Another Twain: "Wagner's music is better than it sounds."

One more Twain: "Those who don't read newspapers are uninformed. Those who do are misinformed."

The author to the critic:

"I am in the smallest room in the house. I have your review before me. Soon I shall have it behind me."

The former employer to the pRospective new one: "you will be very lucky indeed If he comes and works for you."

It was the composer, Max Reger who sent that response to a criticism.

"Now there sits a man with an open mind. You can feel the draft from here."
- - - Groucho Marx (about Chico Marx)

Patriotism: combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

Poetry: a form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond Magazines.

Politician: an eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.

Ambrose Bierce, from the The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

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