Insults and Insulting
Quotes about England
II on England
German originates it, the French imitate it and the Englishman exploits it
know why the sun never sets on the British Empire, God would never trust an
Englishman in the dark
The way to endure summer in England is to have it framed and glazed in a comfortable room
Horace Walpole 1717-1797
pirate spreading misery and ruin over the face of the ocean
Englishman will burn his bed to catch a flea
English are, I think the most obtuse and barbarous people in the world
English have no exaulted sentiments. They can all be bought.
A conversation with an Englishman
Goldwin Smith on Ottawa
a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion
learn English you must begin by thrusting the jaw forward, almost clenching
the teeth, and practically immbilizing the lips. In this way the English produce
the series of unpleasant little mews of which their language consists.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
a fine day the climate of England is looking up a chimney, on a foul day it
is like looking down
Englishman absolutely believes he can warm a room by building a grate fire at
the end of it
dirty little pool of life
ordinary Britisher imagines that God is an Englishman
instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it.
Agate, British theatre critic, Ego, 1935-48
fight to the last American.
American saying, coined c.1917
shoes look as if they had been made by someone who had often heard shoes described,
but had never seen any.
In our English
popular religion the common conception of a future state of bliss is that of ...
a kind of perfected middle-class home, with labour ended, the table spread, goodness
all around, the lost ones restored, hymnody incessant.
British poet and critic, Literature and Dogma, 1873
democracy died by the headman's axe. In Britain it can be by pernicious anaemia.
is a nation of shopkeepers.
cooking in the average hotel for the average Englishman explains to a large extent
the English bleakness and taciturnity. Nobody can beam and warble while chewing
pressed beef smeared with diabolical mustard. Nobody can exult aloud while ungluing
from his teeth a quivering tapioca pudding.
Scottish historian and essayist (attrib.) when asked what was the population of
Which is what
they call a 'watering place'; that is to say, a place to which East India plunderers,
West Indian floggers, English tax-gorgers, together with gluttons, drunkards and
debauchees of all descriptions, female as well as male, resort, at the suggestion
of silently laughing quacks, in the hope of getting rid of the bodily consequences
of their manifold sins and iniquities ... To places like this come all that is
knavish and all that is foolish and all that is base; gamesters, pickpockets,
and harlots; young wife-hunters in search of rich and ugly old women, and young
husband-hunters in search of rich and wrinkled or half-rotten men, the former
resolutely bent, be the means what they may, to give the latter heirs to their
lands and tenements.
British polemicist, author and agriculturist, on Cheltenham
where there are two alternatives: one intelligent, one stupid; one attractive,
one vulgar; one noble, one ape-like; one serious and sincere, one undignified
and false; one far-sighted, one short; everybody will invaribly choose the latter.
British critic, Journal and Memoir, ed. D. Pryce-Jones, 1983
a nasty side.
quoted by Gavin Ewart in Quarto, 1980
think that incompetence is the same thing as sincerity.
Quentin Crisp, British writer, in the New York Times, 1977
heart of a rabbit in the body of a lion, the jaws of a serpent, in an abode of
French balladeer and satirist
cowards, skulkers and dastards.
discussion is in England little else than the right to write or say anything which
a jury of twelve shopkeepers think it expedient should be said or written.
A. V. Dicey,
British historian, introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 1885
It pays in
England to be a revolutionary and a bible-smacker most of one's life, and then
Douglas, British writer, 1938
This is an
effete betrayers of humanity, carrion-eating servile imitators, arch-cowards and
collaborators, gang of women-murderers, degenerate rabble, parasitic traditionalists,
playboy soldiers, conceited dandies.
Communist Party's approved terms of abuse in 1953 for East German speakers when
It is an Englishman's
privilege to grumble.
the sin of England.
loves a lord.
talk as if they've got a bushel of plums stuck in their throats, and then after
swallowing them get constipated from the pips.
W. C. Fields,
US film star, quoted in D. Waliechinsky, The 20th Century, 1995
neither fair wind, nor good war.
good land and a bad people.
have one hundred religions, but only one sauce.
thing about an Englishman's traditional love of animals is the dishonesty thereof
... Get a barbed hook into the upper lip of a salmon, drag him endlessly around
the water until he loses his strength, pull him to the bank, hit him on the head
with a stone, and you may well become fisherman of the year. Shoot.the salmon
and you'll never be asked again.
British writer, Freud on Food, 1978
About one thing
the Englishman has a particularly strict code. If a bird says Cluk bik bik bik
bik and caw you may kill it, eat it or ask Fortnums to pickle it in Napoleon brandy
with wild strawberries. If it says tweet it is a dear and precious friend and
you'd better lay off it if you want to remain a member of Boodles.
Freud on Food, 1978
A broad definition
of crime in England is that it is any lower-class activity that is displeasing
to the upper class.
and Anthony Jay, British television scriptwriters, To England with Love
play' is a fine expression. It justifies the bashing of the puny draper's assistant
by the big hairy blacksmith, and this to the perfect satisfaction of both parties,
if they are worthy the name of Englishman.
Australian novelist, Such Is Life, 1903
Italians will be found two clergymen; three Spaniards two braggarts; among three
Germans two soldiers; among three Frenchmen, two chefs, and among three Englishmen
originates it, the Frenchman imitates it, the Englishman exploits it.
It is related
of an Englishman that he hanged himself to avoid the daily task of dressing and
von Goethe, German poet and playwright
never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner.
US writer, With Malice Toward Some, 1938
of the English towards English history reminds one a good deal of the attitude
of a Hollywood director towards love.
With Malice Toward Some, 1938
It is only
necessary to raise a bugbear before the English imagination in order to govern
it at will. Whatever they hate or fear, they implicitly believe in, merely from
the scope it gives to these passions.
British essayist, The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, 1830
Englishman emanates a kind of gas, the deadly choke-damp of boredom.
The devil take
these people and their language! They take a dozen monosyllabic words in their
jaws, chew them, crunch them and spit them out again, and call that speaking.
Fortunately they are by nature fairly silent, and although they gaze at us open-mouthed,
they spare us long conversations.
have no ear, either for rhythm or music, and their unnatural passion for pianoforte
playing and singing is thus all the more repulsive. There is nothing on earth
more terrible than English music, except English painting.
A demon took
a monkey to wife — the result by the Grace of God was the English.
The only time
England can use an Irishman is when he emigrates to America and votes for Free
the paradise of women, the purgatory of servants and the hell of horses.
and dogs walk in the sun.
Pass a law
to give every single whingeing bloody Pommie his fare home to England. Back to
the smoke and the sun shining ten days a year and shit in the streets. Yer can
Australian writer, The Chant of Jimtnie Blacksmith, 1972
become a squalid, uncomfortable, ugly place ... an intolerant, racist, homophobic,
narrow-minded, authoritarian, rat-hole run by vicious, suburban-minded, materialistic
British writer, 1988
like a prostitute who, having sold her body all her life, decides to quit and
close her business, and then tells everybody she wants to be chaste and protect
her flesh as if it were jade.
He Manzi, Chinese
politician, in the Shanghai Liberation Daily
Curse the blasted,
jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable
sodding rotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, palsied, pulseless
lot that make up England. They've got white of egg in their veins, and their spunk
is that watery it's a marvel they can breed. They can nothing but frogspawn the
gibberers. Why, why, why, was I born an Englishman!
D. H. Lawrence,
British novelist, after a publisher rejected his manuscript of Sons and Lovers,
people on the whole are surely the nicest people in the world, and everybody makes
everything so easy for everyone else, that there is almost nothing to resist at
D. H. Lawrence,
'Dull London', Evening News, 1928
I think that
those who accuse the English of being cruel, envious, distrustful, vindictive
and libertine, are wrong. It is true, they take pleasure in seeing gladiators
fight, in seeing bulls torn to pieces by dogs, seeing cocks fight, and that in
the carnivals they use batons against the cocks, but it is not out of cruelty
so much as coarseness.
A. R. Le Sage,
French writer, 1715
We know of
no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits
Macaulay, British historian, in the Edinburgh Review, June 1831
after all, the land where children were beaten, wives and babies bashed, football
hooligans crunch, and Miss Whip and Miss Lash ply their trade as nowhere else
in the western world. Despite our belief [that] we are a 'gentle' people we have,
in reality, a cruel and callous streak in our sweet natures, reinforced by a decadent
puritan strain which makes some of us believe that suffering, whether useful or
not, is a fit scourge to the wanton soul.
British writer, in New Society, 1976
who eat their meat red and bloody, show the savagery that goes with such food.
J. O. de la Mettrie,
people have a sex life; the English have hot-water bottles.
George Mikes, Hungarian writer, How To Be an Alien, 1946
A ready means
of being cherished by the English is to adopt the simple expedient of living a
long time. I have little doubt that if, say, Oscar Wilde had lived into his nineties,
instead of dying in his forties, he would have been considered a benign, distinguished
figure suitable to preside at a school prize-giving or to instruct and exhort
scout masters at their jamborees. He might even have been knighted.
British journalist, in Esquire magazine, 1961
of England are never so happy as when you tell them they are ruined.
British writer, The Upholsterer, 1758
are the people of consummate cant.
German political philosopher, Twilight of the Idols, 1889
A nation of
ants, morose, frigid, and still preserving the same dread of happiness and joy
as in the days of John Knox.
(Paul Blouet), French writer, 1883
To learn English
you must begin by thrusting the jaw forward, almost clenching the teeth, and practically
immobilizing the lips. In this way the English produce the series of unpleasant
little mews of which their language consists.
y Gasset, Spanish essayist and philosopher
FAY: The British
police force used to be run by men of integrity. TRUSCOTT: That is a mistake which
has been rectified.
British playwright, Loot, 1966
A family with
the wrong members in control - that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing
England in a phrase.
British novelist and essayist, The Lion and the Unicorn, 1941
... where the
Greeks had modesty, we have cant; where they had poetry, we have cant; where they
had patriotism, we have cant; where they had anything that exalts, delights, or
adorns humanity, we have nothing but cant, cant, cant.
Peacock, British writer, Crochet Castle, 1831
people fancy they are free; it is only during the election of Members of Parliament
that they are so. As soon as these are elected the people are slaves ... In the
brief moments of their liberation the abuse made of it fully deserves that it
should be lost.
French philosopher, The Social Contract, 1761
are ... perfidious and cunning, plotting the destruction of the lives of foreigners,
so that even if they humbly bend the knee, they cannot be trusted.
Leo de Rozmital,
Czech travel writer
Beware of a
white Spaniard and a black Englishman.
savage, disdainful, stupid, slothful, inhospitable, stupid English.
Julius Caesar Scaliger, French physician and scholar
is never content but when he is grumbling.
heartless, painted hoods witless, gay coats graceless, mak' England thriftless.
but a fling
Save for the crooked stick and the grey-goose wing.
does everything on principle: he fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you
on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles.
Shaw, Irish playwright and critic, The Man of Destiny, 1898
never will be slaves; they are free to do whatever the government and public opinion
Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903
... talk loud and seem to care little for other people. This is their characteristic,
and a very brutal and barbarous distinction it is.
British clergyman, essayist and wit
It must be
acknowledged that the English are the most disagreeable of all the nations of
Europe, more surly and morose, with less disposition to please, to exert themselves
for the good of society, to make small sacrifices, and to put themselves out of
What a pity
it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion.
the very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common
feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants,
and the fatuity of idiots.
I know why
the sun never sets on the British Empire - God wouldn't trust an Englishman in
US writer, quoted in The Book of Insults by N. McPhee, 1978
is a drunkard.
never know when they are beaten.
The High Dutch
pilgrims, when they beg, do sing; the Frenchmen whine and cry; the Spaniards curse,
swear and blaspheme; the Irish and English steal.
Do you speak
take their pleasures sadly, after the fashion of their country.
de Bethune, Due de Sully, French minister
In all the
four corners of the earth one of these three names is given to him who steals
from his neighbour: brigand, robber or Englishman.
de I'Anglais, 1572
think soap is civilization.
Treitschke, German philosopher
is probably the best in the world, if you can survive it. If you can't there is
nothing left for you but the diplomatic corps.
British playwright, actor and wit, in Time & Tide magazine
as crows and noisy as ducks, prudish with all the vices in evidence, everlastingly
drunk, in spite of ridiculous laws about drunkenness, immense, though it is really
basically only a collection of scandal-mongering boroughs, vying with each other,
ugly and dull, without any monuments except interminable docks.
The two sides
of industry have traditionally always regarded each other in Britain with the
greatest possible loathing, mistrust and contempt. They are both absolutely right.
British journalist, in Private Eye, 1983
we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of a century intervening between
the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it.
H. G. Wells, British writer, The Work, Wealth and Happiness of
with three-fourths of the British public on all points is one of the first elements
of sanity, one of the deepest consolations in all moments of spiritual doubt.
Oscar Wilde, Irish
author, playwright and wit, lecture, 1882
it is enough for a man to try and produce any serious, beautiful work to lose
all his rights as a citizen.
the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of
any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching.
Oscar Wilde, The
Decay of Lying, 1889
public takes no interest in a work of art until it is told that the work in question
have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm.
Alexander Woollcott, US writer and broadcaster