The long feud between John Wilkes, one-time M.P. and author of the 'obscene libel' the Essay on Woman, and the Earl of Sandwich, who brought about his political downfall, became notorious in the eighteenth century. The two men had refused to speak to each other, and when they met accidentally Wilkes more than got his own back in this famous exchange.
'Sir,' said Sandwich, 'you will die either of the pox or on the gallows.'
'That, my lord,' replied Wilkes, 'depends on whether I embrace your lordship's mistress or your principles.'
Don't tell me ... I know who you are already. You must be the reason for contraception.
Noel Coward once spent the best part of a morning rehearsing a scene with an actress playing opposite him. In spite of repeated comments she persisted in dragging out her lines, so ruining the pace of the dialogue. In the end she lost her temper and screamed at him:
'If you tell me that once more I'll throw something at you.'
'You might start with my cues,' said Coward.
If I've said anything to insult you, I've tried my utmost, believe me.
When they finished shooting her first film, A Bill of Divorcement, Katherine Hepburn, then only twenty-five, said to her leading man, John Barrymore, exactly twice her age:
Thank God I don't have to act with you anymore!'
'Oh,' replied Barrymore, 'I didn't know you ever had.'
I hear you've been down with a bug. I'm surprised it had a chance.
'You're very offensive, young man,' an irate judge told F. E. Smith during one of his first appearances in front of the bench.
'As a matter of fact, we both are,' answered the young barrister. 'The only difference between us is that I am trying to be and you can't help it.
'I do think you're awfully clever,' an unctious admirer told Sir Donald Wolfit. 'I don't know how you begin to play eight different parts in the same week. One wonders why you don't get the lines confused and speak bits of Lear when you're playing Othello.'
'Madam.' replied Wolfit. 'If you're asked to play golf you don't arrive with your tennis racket.'
Would you mind telling me what's on your mind- if you'll excuse the exaggeration.
The infamous seventeenth-century judge. George Jeffreys, pointed his stick at one of the rebels hauled before him in the famous 'bloody assizes' saying:
'There is a rogue at the end of my cane.'
'At which end, my Lord?' retorted the man.
Talking to you makes me think that Man's descent from the apes hasn't even started yet.