Following in the footsteps of our post on tombstone epigrams, my eyes have recently happened upon the book Famous Last Words by Barnaby Conrad. Out of my own morbid curiosity I immediately began to thumb through the book interested in what was uttered in the last moments of breath by little-to-well-known historical figures. There were a lot of solemn quotes, as you would imagine, but here are some of the more amusing ones:
v Barnett Barnato (1852-1897): “The English financier and diamond king of great success and notable failures, he jumped from a ship into the sea after saying: ‘What is the time?’” (Conrad 37).
v Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922): “Cautioned not to hurry his dictation, he said: ‘But I have to. So little done. So much to do!’” (Conrad 42).
v Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): “The German composer died of cancer. He had just finished a glass of wine. ‘Ah, that tastes nice, thank you!’” (Conrad 49).
v Hart Crane (1899-1932): “His poetry was frequently obscure, but in the end his language was clear as he jumped overboard into the sea, ‘Good-bye, everybody!’” (Conrad 74).
v Anthony J. Drexel III (1826-1893): “He was exhibiting a pistol to a friend. The demonstration was complete. “Here’s one you’ve never seen before…’” (Conrad 87).
v William Palmer (1824-1856): “Hanged for poisoning a friend, he asked as he stepped on the gallows trap: ‘Are you sure it’s safe?’” (Conrad 159).
v James W. Rodgers (1911-1960): “A murderer, he was executed in Utah by a rifle squad. When asked if he had a last request, he smilingly said: ‘Why, yes—a bullet proof vest.’” (Conrad 172).
v Stanislas I, King of Poland (1677-1766): “The former king died as a result of burns received when his bathrobe caught fire. ‘You gave it to me to warm me, but it has kept me too hot.’” (Conrad 186)
Do you have a favorite “last words” quote? If you have a morbid curiosity, like me, of the last utterings of a different historical figure not listed then let us know!