August 18, 2002


The Last Words (Christopher Orlet, March 2002, Vocabula)
With few exceptions, the last words of history's great players have been about as interesting and uplifting as a phone book. We may expect pearls of profundity and motivational aphorism from our expiring artists, philosophers, and world leaders, but more often we are left with dry-as-dust clich├ęs. But is it fair to expect deep insights into life's mysteries when the dying clearly have other things on their mind - hell, for instance, or unspeakable pain? [...]

Ironically, it may have been a few forgotten scribblers who delivered history's best exit lines. Has anyone departed the scene better than minor English playwright Henry Arthur Jones, who, asked whom he would prefer to sit with him during the evening, his nurse or his niece, replied, "The prettier. Now fight for it." Or actor Edmund Gwenn's terse "Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult." And you have to admire the single-mindedness of purpose in the last words of French grammarian Dominique Bouhours: "I am about to - or I am going to - die; either expression is used."

Here's a site with a bunch more : Last Words Posted by Orrin Judd at August 18, 2002 10:55 AM
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