when insults had class

The Duke of Dunstable had one-way pockets. He would walk ten miles in the snow to chisel an orphan out of tuppence. ―P. G. Wodehouse

The Musgroves had had the ill fortune of a very troublesome, hopeless son, and the good fortune to lose him before he reached his twentieth year. He had been very little cared for at any time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved. —Jane Austen

I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception. ―Groucho Marx

Fitzpatrick was one of those compositions which nature makes up in too great a hurry, and forgets to put any brains into their heads. ―Henry Fielding

If he were really not in the habit of drinking rather more than was exactly good for him, he might have brought action against his countenance for libel, and have recovered heavy damages. —Charles Dickens

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. —Clarence Darrow

The firm of Brotherhood’s believed in ideal conditions for their staff. It was their pet form of practical Christianity; in addition to which, it looked very well in their advertising literature and was a formidable weapon against the trade unions. Not, of course, that Brotherhoods’ had the slightest objection to trade unions as such. They had merely discovered that comfortable and well-fed people are constitutionally disinclined for united action of any sort—a fact which explains the asinine meekness of the income-tax payer. ―Dorothy L. Sayers

As for Gussie Fink-Nottle, many an experienced undertaker would have been deceived by his appearance and started embalming on sight. ―P. G. Wodehouse

From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. —Groucho Marx

Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be too clever by half. The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters. ―John Major

If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off. ―Kurt Vonnegut

He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody. —Joseph Heller

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement. —Mark Twain

Normally Mr. Bunting’s face resembled that of an amiable vulture. He now looked like a vulture dissatisfied with its breakfast corpse. — P. G. Wodehouse

I thought the play was frightful, but I saw it under particularly unfortunate circumstances. The curtain was up. ―George S. Kaufman

If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country, he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers’ expense. —H. L. Mencken, about Harry Truman

She was not a woman of many words; for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas. —Jane Austen

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

Henry Blake-Somerset had all the charm and warmth of a body that has been in the water several days with the thermometer in the low twenties. ―P. G. Wodehouse

Miss Sarah Pocket was a little dry, brown, corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made of walnut-shells, and a large mouth like a cat’s without the whiskers. ―Charles Dickens

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

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

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it. —Groucho Marx

Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. —Jane Austen

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. —Oscar Wilde

With his shoulders hunched like the neck feathers of a chilly bird, with his long nose and half-shut eyes, he resembled a dilapidated heron, brooding over the stagnation of a wintry pool. —Dorothy Sayers

Purkiss looked at him fishily, nature having made it impossible for him to look at anyone otherwise, he being a man with a face like a halibut. —P. G. Wodehouse

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 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

It had been said of Crispin Scrope with considerable justice that if men were dominoes, he would be the double blank. — P. G. Wodehouse

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

They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. —Thomas Brackett Reed

He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them. —James Reston, about Richard Nixon

He looked like something cast up by the tide, the sort of flotsam and jetsam that is passed over with a disdainful jerk of the beak by the discriminating seagull. ―P. G. Wodehouse

He is a self-made man and worships his creator. —John Bright

A modest little person, with much to be modest about. —Winston Churchill, about Clement Atlee

You’ve got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it. ―Groucho Marx

He loves nature in spite of what it did to him. —Forrest Tucker

Mac was the sort of man who would have tried to cheer Napoleon up by talking about the Winter Sports at Moscow. — P. G. Wodehouse

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it? —Mark Twain

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

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than illumination. —Andrew Lang

He had delusions of adequacy. —Walter Kerr

Nature, doubtless with the best motives, had given him, together with a heart of gold, a face like that of an amiable hippopotamus. ―P. G. Wodehouse

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

When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the I.Q. of both states. —Will Rogers

He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. —H. L. Mencken, about Warren Harding

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. —Groucho Marx

He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more. ―P. G. Wodehouse

In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse. —William Shakespeare, in Much Ado About Nothing

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. —Mark Twain

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