Sunday, February 10, 2008

Glorious Insults

I enjoy the English language. A well written piece of prose can delight the heart. A wonderful turn of phrase can put a smile on my face all day as I attempt to find some excuse to incorporate it into a conversation. The great writers and conversationalist of our time (and in history) are able to remember these unique turns of phrases and use them in daily communication. I tend to forget them once the day is done - until I hear someone else use them. Or until someone sends me an email like the one below.

There was a time when words were used beautifully. These glorious insults are from an era when cleverness with words was still valued, before a great portion of the English repartee was boiled down to four-letter words! Enjoy.

'He had delusions of adequacy.' - Walter Kerr

'He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.' - Winston Churchill

'He is a modest little person, with much to be modest about.' - 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)

'Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?' -Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

'Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.' - Moses Hadas

'He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.' - Abraham Lincoln

'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 but I will be able to attend the second night -- if there is one.' - Winston Churchill, in response

The exchange between Churchill and Lady Astor: She said, 'If you were my husband, I'd put poison in your tea.' And he said, 'If you were my wife, I'd drink it!''

Gladstone, a member of Parliament, to Benjamin 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'.

'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

'There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure.' - Jack E.Leonard

'In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.' - Charles, Count Talleyrand

'Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.' - Oscar Wilde

'I've had a perfectly wonderful evening.....but this wasn't it.' - Groucho Marx

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