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Dying Sayings

(real or traditional):

ADAMS (President): “Independence for ever.”

ADAMS (John Q. ): “It is the last of earth. I am content.”

ADDISON: “See how a Christian dies,” or “See in what peace a Christian can die.” (See Berry.)

ALBERT (Prince Consort): “I have such sweet thoughts.”

ALEXANDER I. (of Russia): “Que vous devez être fatiguée” (to his wife Elizabeth).

ALEXANDER II. (of Russia): “I am sweeping through the gates, washed in the blood of the Lamb.”

ALEXANDER III. (of Russia): “This box was presented to me by the Emperor [sic of Prussia”

ALFIERI: “Clasp my hand, dear friend, I am dying.”

ANAXAG'ORAS (the philosopher, who maintained himself by keeping a school, being asked if he wished for anything, replied): “Give the boys a holiday.”

ANGELO (Michael): “My soul I resign to God, my body to the earth, my worldly goods to my next akin.”

ANNE BOLEYN (on the scaffold): “It [my neck] is very small, very small.”

ANTOINETTE. (See below, MARIE.)

ANTONY (of Padua): “I see my God. He calls me to Him.”

ARCHIME'DES (being ordered by a Roman soldier to follow him, replied): “Wait till I have finished my problem.” (See Lavoisier.)

ARRIA: “My Pætus, it is not painful.”

AUGUSTUS (having asked how he had played his part, and being, of course, commended, said): “Vos plaudite.”

BACON (Francis): “My name and memory I leave to men's charitable speeches, to foreign nations and to the next age.”

BAILLEY: “Yes! it is very cold.” (This he said on his way to the guillotine, when one said to him, “Why, how you shake.”)

BEAUFORT (Cardinal Henry): “I pray you all pray for me.”

BEAUMONT (Cardinal): “What! is there no escaping death?”

BECKET (Thomas a): “I confide my soul and the cause of the Church to God, to the Virgin Mary, to the patron saints of the Church, and to St. Dennis.” (This was said as he went to the altar in Canterbury Cathedral, where he was assasinated.)

BEDR (The Venerable): “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”

BEETHOVEN (who was deaf): “I shall hear in heaven.”

BERRY (Madame de): “Is not this dying with courage and true greatness?” (See Addison.)

BOILEAU: “It is a great consolation to a poet on the point of death that he has never written a line injurious to good morals.”

BRONTË (father of the authoresses): “While there is life there is will.” (Like Louis XVIII., Vespasian, Siward, and others, he died standing.)

BROUGHTON (Bishop): “Let the earth he filled with His glory.” BURNS: “Don't let the awkward squad fire over my grave.”

BYRON: “I must sleep now.”

CAESAR (Julius): “Et tu, Brute?” (This he said to Brutus, his most intimate friend, when he stabbed him.)

CAMERON (Colonel James ): “Scots, follow me!” (He was killed at Bull-Run, 21st July, 1861.)

CASTLEREAGH: “Bankhead, let me fall into your arms. It is all over.” (Said to Dr. Bankhead.)

CATESBY (one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot): “Stand by me, Tom, and we will die together.”

CHARLEMAGNE: “Lord, into Thy hand I commend my spirit.” (See Columbus and Tasso.)

CHARLES I. (of England, just before he laid his head on the block, said to Juxon, Archbishop of Canterbury): “Remember.”

CHARLES II. (of England): “Don't forget poor Nell,” or “Don't let poor Nell starve” (meaning Nell Gwynne)

CHARLES V.: “Ah! Jesus.”

CHARLES VIII. (of France): “I hope never again to commit a mortal sin, nor even a venial one, if I can help it.” (With these words in his mouth, says Cominges, he gave up the ghost.)

CHARLES IX. (of France, in whose reign occurred the Bartholomew slaughter): “Nurse, nurse, what murder! what blood! Oh! I have done wrong: God pardon me.”

CHARLOTTE (The Princess): “You make me drunk. Pray leave me quiet. I feel it affects my head.”

CHESTERFIELD (Lord): “Give Dayrolles a chair.”

CHRIST (Jesus): “It is finished!” (John xix. 30.)

CHRYSOSTOM: “Glory to God for all things. Amen.”

CICERO (to his assassins): “Strike!”

COLIGNY': “Honour these grey hairs, young man.” (Said to the German who assassinated him.)

COLUMBUS: “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” (See Charlemagne and Tasso.)

CONDE (Duc d'Enghien): “I die for my king and for France.” (Shot by order of Napoleon I. in 1804.)

COPERNICUS: “Now, O Lord, set thy servant free.” (See Luke ii. 29.)

CORDAY (Charlotte): “One man have I slain to save a hundred thousand.”

CRANMER (Archbishop of Canterbury): “That unworthy hand! That unworthy hand!” (This he said, according to a popular tradition as he held in the flames his right hand which had signed his apostasy.)

CROMBE (John): “O Hobbema, Hobbema, how I do love thee!”

CROMWELL: “My design is to make what haste I can to be gone.” CUVIER: (to the nurse who was applying leeches). “Nurse, it was I who discovered that leeches have red blood.”

DANTON (to the executioner): “Be sure you show the mob my head. It will be a long time ere they see its like.”

DEMONAX (the philosopher): “You may go home, the show is over” (Lucian). (See Rabelais.)

DERBY (Earl of): “Douglas, I would give all my lands to save thee.”

DICKENS (said in reply to his sister-in-law, who urged him to lie down): “Yes, on the ground.”

DIDEROT: “The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.”

DIOGENES (requested that his body should be buried, and when his friends said that his body would be torn to pieces be replied): “Quid mihi nocebunt ferarum dentes nihil sentienti.”

DOUGLAS (Earl): “Fight on, my merry men.”

EDWARDS (Jonathan): “Trust in God, and you need not fear.”

ELDON (Lord): “It matters not where I am going whether the weather be cold or hot.”

ELIZABETH (Queen): “All my possessions for a moment of time.”

ELIZABETH (sister of Louis XVI., on her way to the guillotine, when her kerchief fell from her neck): “I pray you, gentlemen, in the name of modesty, suffer me to cover my bosom.”

ELPHEGE (Archbishop of Canterbury): “You urge me in vain. I am not the man to provide Christian flesh for Pagan teeth, by robbing my flock to enrich their enemy.”

EPAMINONDAS (wounded; on being told that the Thebans were victorious): “Then I die happy.” (See Wolfe.)

ETTY: “Wonderful! Wonderful this death!”

EULER: “I am dying.”

FARR (M.D.): “Lord, receive my spirit.”

FELTON (John): “I am the man” (i.e. who shot the Duke of Buckingham).

FONTENELLE: “I suffer nothing, but I feel a sort of difficulty of living longer.” FRANKLIN: “A dying man can do nothing easily.”

FREDERICK V. (of Denmark): “There is not a drop of blood on my hands.” (See Pericles.)

GAINSBOROUGH: “We are all going to heaven, and Vandyke is of the company.” (See Crome.)

GARRICK: “Oh, dear!”

GASTON DE FOIX (called “Phoebus” for his beauty): “I am a dead man! Lord, have mercy upon me!”

GEORGE IV.: “Watty, what is this? It is death, my boy. They have deceived me.” (Said to his page, Sir Wathen Waller.)

GIBBON: “Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!”

GOETHE: “More light.”

GOLDSMITH: “No, it is not.” (Said in reply to Dr. Turton, who asked him if his mind was at ease.)

GRANT (General): “I want nobody distressed on my account.”

GREGORY VII.: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.” (He had embroiled himself with Heinrich IV., the Kaiser, and had retired to Salerno.)

GREY (Lady Jane): “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” (See Charlemagne.)

GROTIUS: “Be serious.”

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS: “My God!”

HALLER: “My friend, the pulse has ceased to beat.” (This was said to his medical attendant.)

HANNIBAL: “Let us now relieve the Romans of their fears by the death of a feeble old man.”

HARRISON (W.H.): “I wish you to understand the true principles of government. I wish them carried out, and ask nothing more.”

HAYDN died singing “God preserve the emperor!”

HAZLITT: “I have led a happy life.”

HENRY II. (of England). “Now let the world go as it will; I care for nothing more.” (This he said when he was told that his favourite son John was one of those who were conspiring against him. (Shakespeare makes Macbeth say.

I 'gin to be a weary of the sun
And wish th' estate o' the world were now undone.)

HENRY III. “I am Harry of Winchester.” (These can hardly be called his dying words, but only the last recorded. They were spoken on the field of battle when a man was about to slay him. The battle of Evesham was fought August 4th, 1265, but Henry III, died November 16th, 1272.)

HENRY VII.: “We heartily desire our executors to consider how behoofful it is to be prayed for.”

HENRY VIII.: “All is lost! Monks, monks, monks!”

HENRY (Prince): “Tie a rope round my body, pull me out of bed, and lay me in ashes, that I may die with repentant prayers to an offended God.”

HERBERT (George): “Now, Lord, receive my soul.”

HOBBES: “Now I am about to take my last voyage—a great leap in the dark.”

HOFER (Andreas): “I will not kneel. Fire!” (Spoken to the soldiers commissioned to shoot him.)

HOOD: “Dying, dying.”

HOOPER: “Lord, receive my spirit.”

HUMBOLDT: “How grand these rays! They seem to beckon earth to heaven.”

HUNTER (Dr. William): “If I had strength to hold a pen, I would write down how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die.”

IRVING (Edward): “If I die, I die unto the Lord. Amen.”

JACKSON (surnamed “Stonewall”): “Send Hill to the front.”

JAMES V. (of Scotland): “It [the crown of Scotland] came with a lass and will go with a lass.” (This he said when told that the queen had given birth to a daughter—the future Mary Queen of Scots.)

JEFFERSON (of America): “I resign my spirit to God, my daughter to my country.”

JEROME (of Prague): “Thou knowest, Lord, that I have loved the truth.”

JESUS (See Christ).

JOAN OF ARC: “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Blessed be God.”

JOHNSON (Dr. ): “God bless you, my dear” (to Miss Morris).

JOSEPHINE (the divorced wife of Napoleon I.) “L'ile d'Elbe! Napoleon!”

JULIAN (called the “Apostate”): “Vicisti, O Galileë.”

KEATS: “I feel the flowers growing over me.”

KEN (Bishop): “God's will be done.”

KNOX: “Now it is come.”

LAMB (Charles): “My bed-fellows are cramp and cough—we three all in one bed.”

LAMBERT (the Martyr): “None but Christ! None but Christ!” (This he said as he was pitched into the flames.)

LAVOISIER, being condemned to die, asked for a respite of two weeks that he might complete some experiments in which he was engaged. He was told that the Republic was in no need of experiments. (See above, ARCHIMEDES.)

LAWRENCE (St.) Said to have been broiled alive on a gridiron, A.D. 258.

This side enough is toasted, so turn me, tyrant, eat,
And see whether raw or roasted I make the better meat.

Foxe: Book of Martyrs.

LAWRENCE (Com. James): “Don't give up the ship.” (Mortally wounded on the Chesapeake.)

LEICESTER (Earl of): “By the arm of St. James, it is time to die.”

LEOPOLD I. (the Kaiser): “Let me die to the sound of sweet music.” (See Mirabeau.) LISLE (Sir George): “Ay! but I have been nearer to you, my friends, many a time, and you have missed me.”

LOCKE (John): “Oh! the depth of the riches of the goodness and knowledge of God. Cease now.” (This was said to Lady Masham, who was reading to him some of the Psalms.)

LOUIS I.: “Huz! huz!” (Bouquet says, “He turned his face to the wall, twice cried huz! huz! [out; out!] and then died.)”

LOUIS IX.: “I will enter now into the house of the Lord.”

LOUIS XI.: “Notre dame d'Embrun, ma bonne maltresse, aidez moi.”

LOUIS XIV.: “Why weep you? Did you think I should live for ever? I thought dying had been harder.”

LOUIS XVI. (on the scaffold): “Frenchmen, I die guiltless of the crimes imputed to me. Pray God my blood fall not on France!”

LOUIS XVIII.: “A king should die standing.” (See Vespasian and Siward.) MADISON (James): “I always talk better lying down.”

MAHOMET or MOHAMMED: “O Allah! be it so! Henceforth among the glorious host of Paradise.”

MALESHERBES (to the priest): “Hold your tongue! your wretched chatter disgusts me.”

MARAT (stabbed in his bath by Charlotte Corday): “Help! help me, my dear!” (To his housekeeper.)

MARGARET (of Scotland, wife of Louis XI. of France): “Fi de la vie! qu'on ne m'en parle plus.”

MARIE ANTOINETTE: “Farewell, my children, for ever. I am going to your father.”

MARTIN (St.): “What dost thou here, thou cruel beast?” (Said to the devil). (St. Sulpicius: Epistle to Bassula. )

MARTINUZZI (Cardinal), the Wolsey of Hungary. He was assassinated uttering the words, “Jesu, Maria!”

MARY (Queen of England): “You will find the word Calais written on my heart.”

MASANIELLO: “Ungrateful traitors!” (To his assassins.)

MATHEWS (Charles): “I am ready.”

MAXIMILLIAN (Emperor of Mexico): “Poor Carlotta!” (Referring to his wife.)

MELANCTHON (in reply to the question, “Do you want anything?”): “Nothing but heaven.”

MIRABEAU: “Let me fall asleep to the sound of delicious music.” (See Leopold.)

MONICA (St.): “In peace I will sleep with Him and take my rest.” (St. Augustin: Confessions.)

MOODY (the actor):

Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee,
I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep.

(The same is said of Paterson, an actor in the Norwich Company.)

MOORE (Hannah): “Patty, Joy.”

MOORE (Sir John): “I hope my country will do me justice.”

MORE (Sir Thomas): “For my coming down, let me shift for myself.”

MOZART: “You spoke of a refreshment, Emilie; take my last notes, and let me hear once more my solace and delight.”

MURAT (King of Naples): “Soldiers, save my face; aim at my heart. Farewell.” (Said to the men appointed to shoot him.)

NAPOLEON I.: “Mon Dieu! La nation Francaise. Tête d'armée!”

NAPOLEON III.: “Were you at Sedan?” (To Dr Conneau.)

NELSON: “I thank God I have done my duty. Kiss me, Hardy.”

NERO: “Qualis artifex perio.”

PALMER (the actor): “There is another and a better world.” (This he said on the stage. It is a line in the part he was performing —The Stranger.)

PASCAL: “My God, forsake me not.”

PER'ICLES (of Athens): “I have never caused any citizen to put on mourning on my account.” (See FREDERICK V.)

PITT (William): “Alas, my country!”

PIZARRO: “Jesu!”

POMPADOUR (Mdme. de): “Stay a little longer, M. le Curé, and we will go together.”

PONLATOWSKI (after the bridge over the Pliesse was blown up): “Gentlemen, it behoves us now to die with honour.”

POPE: “Friendship itself is but a part of virtue.”

RABELAIS: “Let down the curtain, the farce is over.” (See Demonax.)

RALEIGH: “It matters little how the head lies.” (Said on the scaffold where he was beheaded.)

RENAN: “We perish, we disappear, but the march of time goes on for ever.”

RICHARD I. (of England): “Youth, I forgive thee!” (This was said to Bertrand de Gourdon, who shot him with

an arrow at Chalus.) Then to his attendants he added, “Take off his chains, give him 100 shillings, and let him go.”

RICHARD III. (of England): “Treason! treason!” (At Bosworth, where his best men deserted him and joined the army of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII.)

ROBESPIERRE (taunted with the death of Danton): “Cowards! Why did you not defend him?” (This must have been before his jaw was broken by the shot of the gendarme the day before he was guillotined.)

ROCHEJAQUELEIN (the Vendean hero): “We go to meet the foe. If I advance, follow me; if I retreat, slay me; if I fall, avenge me.”

ROLAND (Madame): “O liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

SALADIN: “When I am buried, carry my winding-sheet on the point of a spear, and say these words: Behold the spoils which Saladin carries with him! Of all his victories, realms, and riches, nothing remains to him but this.” (See Severus.)

SAND (George): “Laissez la verdure.” (That is, leave the plot green, and do not cover the grave with bricks or stone.)

SCARRON: “Ah, my children, you cannot cry for me so much as I have made you laugh.”

SCHILLER: “Many things are growing plain and clear to my understanding.”

SCOTT (Sir Walter): “God bless you all. I feel myself again.” (To his family.)

SERVE'TUS (at the stake): “Christ, Son of the eternal God, have mercy upon me.” (Calvin insisted on his saying, “the eternal Son of God,” but he would not, and was burnt to death.)

SEVE'RUS: “I have been everything, and everything is nothing. A little urn will contain all that remains of one for whom the whole world was too little.” (See Saladin.)

SEYMOUR (Jane): “No, my head never committed any treason; but, if you want it, you can take it.” (As Jane Seymour died within a fortnight of the birth of her son Edward—the cause of unbounded delight to the king—I cannot believe that this traditionary speech is correct.)

SHARPE (Archbishop): “I shall be happy.”

SHERIDAN: “I am absolutely undone.”

SIDNEY (Algernon): “I know that my Redeemer liveth. I die for the good old cause.” (He was condemned to death by Judge Jeffries as an accomplice in the Rye House plot.)

SIDNEY (Sir Philip): “I would not change my joy for the empire of the world.”

SIWARD (the Dane): “Lift me up that I may die standing, not lying down like a cow.” (See Louis XVIII, and Vespasian.)

SOCRATES: “Crito, we owe a cock to Æsculapios.”

STAEL (Madame de): “I have loved God, my father, and liberty.”

STEPHEN (the first Christian martyr): “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

SWEDENBORG: “What o'clock is it?” (After being told, he added). “Thank you, and God bless you.”

TALMA: “The worst is, I cannot see.” (But his last word was) “Voltaire.”

TASSO: “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” (See Charlemagne, and Columbus.) TAYLOR (General Zachary): “I have tried to do my duty, and am not afraid to die. I am ready.”

TENTERDEN (Lord Chief Justice): “Gentlemen of the jury, you may retire.”

THERAMENES (the Athenian, condemned by Critias to drink hemlock, said as he drank the poison): “This to the fair Critias.”

THIEF (The Penitent): “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.”

THURLOW (Lord): “I'll be shot if I don't believe I'm dying.”

TYLER (Wat): “Because they are all under my command, they are sworn to do what I bid them.”

VANE (Sir Harry): “It is a bad cause which cannot bear the words of a dying man.”

VESPASIAN: “A king should die standing” (See Louis XVIII. and Siward); but his last words were, “Ut puto, deus fio” (referring to the fact that he was the first of the Roman emperors who died a natural death, if, indeed, Augustus was poisoned, as many suppose).

VICARS (Hedley): “Cover my face.”

VOLTAIRE: “Do let me die in peace.”

WASHINGTON: “It is well. I die hard, but am not afraid to go.”

WESLEY: “The best of all is, God is with us.”

WILBERFORCE (His father said to him, “So He giveth His beloved sleep”; to which Wilberforce replied): “Yes, and sweet indeed is the rest which Christ giveth.” (Saying this, he never spoke again.)

WILLIAM I.: “To my Lady, the Holy Mary, I commend myself; that she, by her prayers, may reconcile her beloved Son to me.”

WILLIAM II.: “Shoot, Walter, in the devil's name!” (Walter Tyrrell did shoot, but killed the king.)

WILLIAM III.: “Can this last long?” (To his physician. He suffered from a broken collarbone.)

WILLIAM (of Nassau): “O God, have mercy upon me, and upon this poor nation.” (This was just before he was shot by Balthasar Gerard.)

WILSON (the ornithologist): “Bury me where the birds will sing over my grave.” WOLFE (General): “What! do they run already? Then I die happy.” (See Epaminondas.) WOLSEY (Cardinal): “Had I but served my God with half the zeal that I have served my king, He would not have left me in my grey hairs.”

WORDSWORTH: “God bless you! Is that you, Dora?”

WYATT (Thomas): “What I then said [about the treason of Princess Elizabeth] I unsay now; and what I now say is the truth.” (This was said to the priest who waited on him on the scaffold.)

ZISKA (John): “Make my skin into drum-heads for the Bohemian cause.” Many of these sayings, like all other history, belong to the region of Phrase and Fable, but the collection is interesting and fairly exhaustive.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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