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National Insults

In spite of efforts to persuade him to the contrary, Dr. Johnson maintained a strong dislike of Scotland throughout his life. When arguing with one Scot about his native land the man delivered what he thought was his punchline when he told Johnson:

'Remember, Doctor, that God made Scotland.' 'Yes, sir,' replied Johnson, 'He also made Hell.'

On the Common Market:

'I do not see the EEC as a great love affair. It is more like nine middle-aged couples with failing marriages meeting at a Brussels hotel for a group grope.'—Kenneth Tynan

'Life can never be entirely dull to an American,' the French novelist, Paul Bourget, said to his guest, Mark Twain. 'When he has nothing else to do he can always spend a few years trying to discover who his grandfather was.'

'Right, your Excellency,' answered Twain. 'But I reckon a Frenchman's got a little standby for a dull time too; he can turn in and see if he can find out who his father was.'

'American women mostly have their clothes arranged for them. And their faces too, I think.' — Noel Coward

After the defeat of Turkey in the Great War the former Turkish Empire was being carved up among the Allies. In the process a violent row broke out between Britain and France over how much of the territory each should receive. The French premier, Georges Clemenceau, complained bitterly over the way that the war against Turkey had been waged and the way that French interests were being ignored by Britain. The British Prime Minister,

David Lloyd George, refused to listen and lashed out at Clemenceau with the memorable rebuke:

'What have you French ever done in the war against the Turks, whom we have beaten single-handed, except to attach half a battalion of niggers to Allenby to see that he didn't make off with the Holy Sepulchre?'

While he was in Paris on a visit, the nineteenth century dramatist and wit, Douglas Jerrold found himself the unwilling audience of a voluble Frenchman who buttonholed him on the importance of establishing an entente cordiale between the two countries. Jerrold suffered him for a while, but eventually silenced him with the terse comment:

'The best thing I know between France and England is the sea.'

Before Calvin Coolidge became U.S. President, he was Governor of Massachussetts, and in that position acted as host to all the visiting dignitaries to the state. One stuffy English guest attempted to put the 'Yankee' in his place by showing Coolidge an English coin and saying:

'My great, great grandfather was made a Lord by the King whose picture you see on this coin.'

Coolidge took an American coin from his own pocket and showed it to his guest saying:

'My great, great grandfather was made an angel, by the Indian whose picture you see on this coin.'

On the New World:

'America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.'—Georges Clemenceau

On a Broadway star:

'She's a great lady of the American stage. Her voice is so beautiful that you won't understand a word she says.' — Mrs. Patrick Campbell

On British opera:

The British genius for opera, if there is one, should be devoted to comedy.' — Sir Thomas Beecham

 


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