One doesn't normally consider insults as signs of civility, but this collection of famous insults reminds me why I love pre-post-modern literature and oration.
Lady Astor: "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."
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 had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it " - Moses Hadas
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.." - Oscar Wilde
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - Churchill, in response: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one.
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb
"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
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West
"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
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx