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Sunday, October 21, 2012


Some of history's greatest replies come from people we don't usually associate with great wit. In the decades prior to World War II, Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi led a massive campaign of civil disobedience designed to help colonial India win its independence from the British Empire. In 1931, shortly after being named Time magazine's "Man of the Year," Gandhi traveled to London to meet with British authorities. The entire nation was curious to learn more about this little brown man, as many called him. Constantly swarmed by press and photographers, Gandhi was peppered with questions wherever he went. One day a reporter yelled out, "What do you think of Western civilization?" It was a defining moment, and Gandhi's reply instantly transformed him from an object of curiosity into a celebrity. In his heavy Indian accent, he answered:
Gandhi: "I think it would be a good idea."
Perhaps the most celebrated retort in the history of wit occurred in a famous exchange between two 18th century political rivals, John Montagu, also known as the Earl of Sandwich, and the reformist politician, John Wilkes. During a heated argument, Montagu scowled at Wilkes and said derisively, "Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die upon the gallows, or of syphilis" (some versions of the story say "a vile disease" and others "the pox"). Unfazed, Wilkes came back with what many people regard as the greatest retort of all time:
JohnWilkes" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress. "

George Bernard Shaw (to Winston Churchill): Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend - if you have one.
Churchill: Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend second - if there is one.
And Troutbirder sez "I often come up with good retorts but they are  usually about three days too late.".....


Bekkieann said...

Excellent responses. Yes, I usually have great retorts--hours later when it's too late.

NCmountainwoman said...

My favorite Churchill quote was his response to Lady Astor who said that if he were her husband she would give him poison. To which he replied, "If I were your husband I would take it."

It amazes me that these people could maintain a sense of humor in spite of the horror surrounding them.

I'm with you, my retort response is too delayed.

Anvilcloud said...

If it only takes you 3 days, you are doing well compared to me.

Ms Sparrow said...

That reminds me of the Saturday Evening Post's "The Perfect Squelch".
I am not quick witted or clever enough to think of a good retort but I enjoy reading them. Thanks for the laughs!