With thanks to Terence Winch, here are some well-turned insults from back in the day before the era of the ubiquitous four-letter word.
Lady Astor: "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it"
[Note: it has to be said that Churchill is the Yogi Berra of witty British repartee; when you're not sure who came up with the bon mot, Winston's your man.]
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 has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -- Winston Churchill
"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.
[This exchange has been attributed to Shaw and James Whistler.]
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." -- John Bright
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" -- Mark Twain
[A retort a philatelist has to love.]
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -- Mae West
[In a fit of remorse, a convicted murderer said, "my father should have used a condom!"]
"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