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Nice ones, Michael - especially Socrates.

Isaac Newton said:
'I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.'

W S Maugham said:
"Dying is a very dull and dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it"

Oscar Wilde should have said that instead of, "It would really be more than the English could stand if another century began and I were still alive."

Michael, I'm surprised you didn't include Edward de Vere's deathbed sonnet, recently discovered on the back of some papers at Cambridge University.

The 17th Earl of Oxford's Last Sonnet, written on his deathbed

Will Shakespeare is an actor, fine and true,
But poet and great playwright? No, not He.
Of his achievements there is Much Ado,
But no-one knows his secret quite like me.
When, in the future, his low birth is known,
The World will say another wrote his lines.
Of posthumous pretenders to his throne,
Which bard, of all the candidates, most shines?
Sir Henry Neville could have, had he chose;
And Good Queen Bess, had she allowed the time.
Sir Francis Bacon, though, prefers his prose
And Jonson is too fond of polished rhyme.
The Spear-shaker's one man they can't discard.
Let History record: I am that bard.

;-)

Great find, Ben! It will go down in the anals - I mean, annals - of history!

Nice collection!

Deathbed visions/observations are an important part of the "consilient" data.

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist—"
—John Sedgwick, Union army general, May 9, 1864

Here are quotes I found by googling "famous last words"

Marie Antoinette stepped on her executioner’s foot on her way to the guillotine. Her last words: “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.”

Richard B. Mellon was a multimillionaire. He was the President of Alcoa, and he and his brother Andrew had a little game of Tag going. The weird thing was, this game of Tag lasted for like seven decades. When Richard was on his deathbed, he called his brother over and whispered, “Last tag.” Poor Andrew remained “It” for four years, until he died.

Wilson Mizner is best known for his bon mots, though he was a successful playwright. He’s known for the line, "Be nice to people on the way up because you'll meet the same people on the way down." When Mizner was on his deathbed, a priest said, “I’m sure you want to talk to me.” Mizner told the priest, “Why should I talk to you? I’ve just been talking to your boss.”

Emily Dickinson’s last words were, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Surgeon Joseph Henry Green was checking his own pulse as he lay dying. His last word: “Stopped.”

I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct.
~~ Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702

Yes, it's tough, but not as tough as doing comedy.
When asked if he thought dying was tough.
~~ Edmund Gwenn, actor, d. September 6, 1959

Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms.
~~ Alexander Pope, writer, d. May 30, 1744

I owe much; I have nothing; the rest I leave to the poor.
~~ François Rabelais, writer, d. 1553

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
~~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900

Amusing the similarity between Jobbs' "last words" and Edison's. Considering Jobbs copied Edison by hiring a team of writers to invent his life's story...

"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. ~~ Oscar Wilde"

I wish he had said that, but I found that it is probably apocryphal.

"Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

Nurse Edith Cavell before her execution by the Germans in World War I

Bo Diddley's last word(s), "Wow"

Priest: The time has come to renounce Satan.

Voltaire: Now now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.

And here's on that's not famous, mentioned before:

"EVERYONE IS ALIVE!"
-My mother, trying to get me to understand, looking past me as she passed away.

My great grandfather is alleged to have asked for his coffin lid to be screwed down if his sisters visited after he died... '... otherwise I wouldn't feel safe'.

Off topic: Michael, how's the blizzard affecting you? I know your area on the Jersey coast was hard hit by Sandy, and this storm is considered dangerous for some of the same reasons.

When I was a kid growing up well north of you, in Teaneck, I was *addicted* to snowstorms. Seriously. I would follow the weather forecasts fanatically. (I still do that online during the winter for New Jersey, though I'm 3,000 miles away.) Nothing excited me more than talk of approaching blizzard-like conditions.

Not that I was all that adventurous. From the coziness of our home, I would spend hours just watching the stuff fall down, gazing at the huge drifts forming outside.

Sure, I would do all the usual things afterwards like sled, shovel, and just generally enjoy the day off from school. But it was the storm as it was occurring that I enjoyed the most—its power and beauty.

As I recall, I was moved by the *oneness* I saw being created outside my window. All the divisions between properties, and even street and lawn, disappeared. Just one vast, white, smooth, beautiful universe. No separation in sight.

It must have reminded me of where I came from before becoming Bruce Siegel.

Anyway, forgive me for getting all poetic about what could be a hazardous situation in your community. I’ve been watching the TV coverage in southern NJ (and elsewhere), and couldn’t resist talking about this with a fellow New Jerseyite. (Though I haven’t been in the state since 1975!)

Here's hoping you're doing OK and that we won't be hearing *your* last words today. :)


SPatel said:

“Voltaire: Now now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.”

This sounded too witty to be true, and the Quote Investigator agrees:
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/13/no-enemies/

But Wikipedia quotes him in a way that sounds less apocryphal, and comes to no conclusions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire#Death_and_burial

In any case, this one is perfect:

"EVERYONE IS ALIVE!"
-My mother, trying to get me to understand, looking past me as she passed away.

In terms of the thought, and the emotion with which she expressed it, exactly what you'd expect to hear.

That is amazing, SPatel, thanks for sharing it.

It reminds me of a series of dreams I had. A beloved relative had died, and about 10 YEARS later, out of the blue, I began having a series of dreams about her. In the dreams, I was told by some anonymous strangers that she was most certainly alive - that I just didn't understand what "death" was. The other thing was that I saw her and she was grown up - she had tragically died as a child. I didn't get to talk to her in the dreams though.

Anyway, here in the northeast U.S., I feel like my final words may be something like: "The snow...there is too much of it."

"Michael, how's the blizzard affecting you?"

I've been snowed in, but I expect to dig myself out later today, now that the snow has stopped. The power stayed on (never a certainty in NJ). I stayed in all day yesterday and read "Murder in Mesopotamia,," an Agatha Christie novel from the 1930s. All in all, it could have been worse!

Thanks for asking!

Here's one I assume isn't real..at least i've not found it googling it...but I recall from a 1970s episode of Fantasy Island, in which someone's wish somehow involved piercing the veil of death (perhaps he wanted to be reunited with his dead wife), Mr Rourke (Ricardo Montalban) quoted a brilliant scientist's gravestone inscription which he said was in Germany I seem to recall: "I now know more than the wisest man alive"

A purported post mortem observation which is true, whatever the outcome. The quote has stuck with me for 40 years.

Probably not his LAST-last words and the story that he never finished the sentence is definitely apocryphal, but General Sedgwick apparently did say "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." In the words of Terry Deary of Horrible Histories fame, it's a pity he wasn't an elephant.

John Palmer:

British actor, died on stage 1798.
Palmer had just delivered this line from his last play The Stranger ...

There is another and a better world.

Goethe has been quoted with approval as having said, last, "More light!" I.e., this has been interpreted as meaning, applied generally, let there be more enlightenment.

A good counterpoint last phrase would therefore be, "More shade!" I.e., less blatency from the rationalistically enlightened, more nuance.

Zerdini said:

"John Palmer:

British actor, died on stage 1798.
Palmer had just delivered this line from his last play The Stranger ...

There is another and a better world."

It's called method acting.

Here's some irresistible reading for the snowbound: "Life Hacks: Helpful Hints to Make Life Easier." It's the best collection I've seen. It's cleverness alone makes it irresistible. It's on sale for $2 as an e-book; the Amazon site is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WELOMBQ/ref=pe_385040_118058080_TE_M1T1DP

Thanks Kathleen & Bruce (and anyone I missed!)

I think of those last words as my mother's parting gift.

One of the funniest last words is from the British author Lytton Strachey. On his death bed he said:

"If this is dying then I don't give much for it."

Maybe not quite fair, because Thomas Aquinas said this a few months before his death after a mystical experience, but he was perhaps ill and waiting for death so I think it counts. And coming from such a prolific theologian and philosopher, it's very interesting....

“Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be mere chaff."
(omnia que scripsi videntur michi palee respectu eorumque vidi et revelata sunt michi)

And indeed, in the months following, he never wrote again.

The supposed last words of Plotinus:

"Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All."

Buddha's supposed last words:

"Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting.

Work hard to gain your own salvation."

The last words of Tarzan:

"Who greased the vine?"

Was it Oscar Levant, a neurotic hypochondrical pianist of the 1950s I think whose last words were, "See, I told you I was sick!" (Maybe not, I think he had that put on his tombstone.)

My uncle's last words were, "Is that you God? Well I'm ready to go." - AOL :^)

Slightly off topic, but I thought some would be interested in the documentary, "The After Life Experiments," which looks at the Scole Experiments in the U.K. held in the '90s. It's here on Youtube now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qSEi_sfaSU

This is the second time I've watched it. It's pretty convincing, basically because it was so thoroughly investigated. One has a hard time believing that the researchers had the wool so easily pulled over their eyes. I suppose you could argue the people conducting the experiments themselves might have faked them all just to get a kick out of "fooling people" (not unheard of), but they seem like a pretty sincere bunch to me at least. If they did deliberately fake everything they sure as heck went to a LOT of work to do so.

I'd be interested in anyone's comments on this, I'm kind of stumped myself.

A friend of mine was out walking one afternoon with his wife, plus sister and brother-in-law It was simply a gentle afternoon stroll. After about ten minutes, the sister-in-law stopped, suddenly in her tracks, and announced, "I'm dying!" At which point she collapsed and did just that. She was in apparently good health and just fifty-four-years old.

The question has always remained in my mind, how did she know she was dying?

Sister Gyanamata, a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," was reported to have said, "Too much joy! Too much joy!"

@Amos: It was Spike Milligan who requested the epigraph, "I told you I was ill". :)

@Kathleen: I've never doubted the veracity of the Scole experiments because I have personally experienced the spirit lights described. Were it not for that I would probably be sceptical.

Ps. Epitaph!

Julie said:

"A friend of mine was out walking one afternoon with his wife, plus sister and brother-in-law It was simply a gentle afternoon stroll. After about ten minutes, the sister-in-law stopped, suddenly in her tracks, and announced, "I'm dying!" At which point she collapsed and did just that. She was in apparently good health and just fifty-four-years old.

The question has always remained in my mind, how did she know she was dying?"

Good question. And interesting story.

My guess is there was a spiritual knowing involved, an instantaneous encounter with an otherworldly reality that made clear to her she was in transition.

Otherwise, it doesn't seem like the sort of thing someone in good health would suddenly blurt out.

Furthermore, it's the kind of experience that's often reported by people who *return* to us—someone will be doing the most ordinary thing, and suddenly find themselves out-of-body or in a different realm.

Sounds like her case was similar, but she knew she wasn't coming back.

All conjecture, though. Maybe she just felt really bad, really quick.

Who knows?

AOD.. I don't know if Oscar Levant beat him to it but in the UK the epitaph "I told you I was sick" is famously that of the comedian Spike Milligan, who notably expressed the desire to have it on his gravestone many years before he died and had his (joke) wish fufilled when he eventually did go.

The only quote I associate with Oscar Levant is the famous remark about knowing Doris Day before she was a virgin.

James Oeming said:

|Sister Gyanamata, a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," was reported to have said, "Too much joy! Too much joy!"|

I did some research and it turns out this is based on a misunderstanding. As the Sister lay dying, she happened to see someone doing the dishes, noticed they were wasting detergent, and got annoyed.

A sad way to pass.

I was driving home from work one time, sometime right before the year 2000 and I had this strange euphoric experience. It's difficult to put in words but it was just the knowledge that everything is okay and that I was going to be okay.

It lasted a few minutes and was gone but the aftereffects lasted for weeks afterwards. It's like the knowledge that everything is right with the Universe was just downloaded into my brain.

After that I got like bits and pieces of further knowledge that all fit together like a puzzle and everything suddenly made sense to me, everything including why we suffer, whey we are here, etc. The interesting thing is that before that I had kept asking for answers.

I listened to Alison Krauss's song "There is a Reason" over and over again and while listening to it I sort of prayed and asked "what is the reason?" I wanted answers and one day they were like all downloaded into my head at one time; like a bolus of knowledge.

@Bruce: "All conjecture, though. Maybe she just felt really bad, really quick.

Who knows?"

Possibly. But we've all felt suddenly really bad. Ever had food poisoning from shellfish? Or a seriously powerful migraine? But we don't suddenly blurt out that we're dying.

From what I recall, she said the words with a note of surprise in her voice. My feeling is that your first interpretation is more likely the correct one. Perhaps she immediately recognised where she was going?

Julie and Lawrence,
I don't know. I see that Milligan died in 2002 and Levant died in 1972. I remember that quote attributed to Oscar Levant for many years prior to 2002. I see that apparently the quote was thought to be apocryphal, perhaps made-up by comics following Levant's death in 1972.

A popular web reference reports that, "In citing an old joke, comics tell an apocryphal story about Levant: that his epitaph reads, "I told them I was ill."

Whatever! I think I will use it as my epitaph. - AOL :^)

My mother had a high school friend, raised by her grandparents, that loved high school and everything about it; the dances, the class work, sports games. The experience overall was the most important part of her life. She died several months before graduation while making dishes for a bake sale in her grandparent's kitchen. She slammed her class ring on the counter and screamsd, "dying!". The cause and manner of death is still unknown.

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