“The tricky thing in the ‘last word’ business, as in so much else, is timing. Do you think of something clever years before and try and remember it to trot out at the appropriate time? Do you rely on last-minute inspiration?” writes Sir Richard Stilgoe in the introduction to Eric Grounds’ entertaining The Bedside Book of Final Words, “How can you control your last seconds so that you say your pithy sentence, check that someone’s got it down accurately, then die? Fortunately for biographers and collectors of last final words, many famous people have said some very clever things that were actually recorded in one form or another for posterity. Here are some selections from Grounds’ collection of famous last words:
Louisa May Alcott: “Is it not meningitis?”
Jane Austen: “Nothing but death…”
James Barrie: “I can’t sleep.”
L. Frank Baum: “Now we can cross the shifting sands.”
Lord George Byron: “I leave something dear to the world.”
Kurt Cobain: “I love you. I love you.”
Salvador Dali: “¿Donde esta mi reloj?” (“Where is my clock?”)
Charles Dickens: “Yes, on the ground.” (In response to someone suggesting that he lie down.)
Benjamin Franklin: “A dying man can do nothing easy.”
Thomas Hobbes: “A great leap in the dark.”
James Joyce: “Does nobody understand?”
Timothy Leary: “Beautiful.”
John Lennon: “Life is why happens while you are busy making other plans.”
Karl Marx: ” Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!”
Michelangelo: “Ancora impart.” (“I am still learning.”)
“General John Sedgwick: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist……”
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For further reading: The Bedside Book of Final Words by Eric Grounds (2014)