These glorious insults are from an era before the richness of the English vocabulary was obscured by foul language.
The Earl of Sandwich to John Wilkes M.P.: “Sir, you are a scoundrel; you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease”.
John Wilkes in reply: “That depends, my noble lord, 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 (US lawyer)
“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 (and also Rob Muldoon – who was first?).
“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 Wild
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening.But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx