“I can’t sleep.”
Scottish novelist and dramatist Sir James Matthew Barrie, also known as J.M Barrie, uttered these words while he lay down on his deathbed situated on the top floor of the Adephi Terrace House in London, England. There, the renowned author of Peter Pan stayed and was nursed until he died of pneumonia on June 19, 1937. His remains were buried next to his parents and siblings in Kirriemiur Cemetery in Scotland.
John Adams, the first vice president of the United States, used to utter Thomas Jefferson still survives when he was still alive. When he died on July 4, 1826, he was quoted as having said Thomas Jefferson by those who witnessed the very moment he breathed his last breath. Some believed that it was Thomas Jefferson still survives that he intended to say, but Thomas Jefferson was the only phrase he managed to intelligibly pronounce as he passed away.
“Pardon me, Sir, I did not do it on purpose.”
Right at the peak of the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason and was sentenced to die of guillotine with her husband, King Louis XVI of France. Riding a cart, she was taken through the streets of Paris and mocked until she and King Louis XVI were finally brought to the guillotine site. While she was already on the scaffold seconds before her death, she unintentionally stepped on the foot of her executioner and decorously uttered her words of pardon.
“Is it not meningitis?”
American novelist Louisa May Alcott had been suffering from an unknown illness when her condition turned shoddier soon after she visited her just as ailing father. On her deathbed, she uttered these words believing that it was meningitis she was ill with. But when she died, it was discovered that it was not meningitis that she died of, but mercury poisoning which she acquired when she was treated for typhoid fever years earlier.
“Please don’t let me fall.”
The first woman to have ever been executed by the military tribunal of the federal government of the United States, Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt uttered these last words as she was being executed in public on July 7, 1865. A boarding house owner, she was sentenced to be hanged after being found guilty of treason. She was also involved in an apparent conspiracy to assassinate the late US president Abraham Lincoln.
“Hey fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? French Fries!”
These were the last words of James Donald French, a murderer who was convicted in the United States on August 10, 1966. He was the last criminal to have ever been executed under the death penalty law of Oklahoma. He was sentenced to be electrocuted after killing one of his cellmates in jail. At the top of his voice, he pronounced these words in front of the members of the press who were there to witness his execution.
“This is the last of Earth! I am content!”
John Quincy Adams, a former president of the United States, gleefully pronounced these words on his deathbed on February 21, 1848, seconds before his death. His death was triggered by a severe internal cerebral hemorrhage brought by a fall he had on the floor of the US Capitol Building while he was still serving as the representative of the District of Massachusetts. Days after the fall, he deliriously expressed his contentment over the life he had lived and peacefully left.
“To the strongest!”
One of the greatest warriors of all time, Alexander the Great was asked a few minutes before his death who he thought was worthy enough to succeed him in taking commands in his empire. The generals of his dominion deemed it just right to ask, since Alexander the Great had no heir. With his barely audible voice, the great fighter answered “to the strongest,” referring to one of his generals, Krateros. Soon after responding to the question, Alexander died.
“No, you certainly can’t.”
These were the last words of the late president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, in response to the statement of his dear friend seconds before his death. Before being assassinated, the wife of then Governor John Connelly, remarked “you certainly cannot say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome, Mr. President.” John F. Kennedy came back with his answer and then moments later the fatal shots were fired.
“Home to the palace to die.”
A great leader, Alexander II of Russia uttered these words after obtaining fatal wounds during an attempt on his life. When his guards found his mutilated body lying under the seat of his carriage following a bombing and assassination plotted against him by a group of anarchists, they heard him feebly utter “home to the palace to die,” to which they quickly responded by bringing him home. Alexander II of Russia died hours later.
“Put out the bloody cigarette!”
An intrepid officer who fought during the First World War, Saki, aka Hector Hugh Munro, said these words to his co officer for fear that their opponents might locate them through the smoke emitted by the cigarette he was smoking. This shrewd remark is said to have paved the way for his death, as upon hearing the strident remark, the opponents were able to track them down in their hole. One of their opponents fired a German sniper and immediately killed the officer.
“These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice and treason.”
Celebrated military man Salvador Allende gave his last words in the presence of the military forces who broke into the La Moneda Palace on September 3, 1973 as an attempt to declare coup d’etat. Right after he delivered his legendary speech before his fellow military men, Allende took everyone by surprise when he got a gun out of his garb and shot himself in the head.
“I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man.”
The death of Major John Andre was among the most significant moments of the American Revolution. He was sentenced to die of execution before the judicial court of America after he was proven guilty of being a British spy. In an account of the revolution written by James Thatcher, he recounted that the moment before he was hanged, Andre was given the chance to pronounce his last words before his fellowmen. As a response, he uttered “I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man” as he raised the white handkerchief tied around his head to cover his eyes.
“I’m going away tonight.”
These were the last five words uttered by James Brown, “The Godfather of the Soul,” shortly before he died of pneumonia resulting in congestive heart failure on the morning of Christmas 2006. He first became ill when he visited Atlanta for an appointment with his dentist. On his deathbed, his family witnessed how the 73-year old James Brown uttered his last words, took a couple of long breaths, then died.
“I shall be with Christ, and that is enough.”
While on the brink of death, the wife of renowned chemical scientist Michael Faraday asked him if he had ever pondered what his occupation would probably be in the next life. Before he fell totally unconscious to the world, Faraday calmly uttered his last words in response to the question of his wife. The chemical scientist said these words on his deathbed in Surrey on August 25, 1867, shortly before he died at age 75.
“Don’t you dare ask God to help me”
Joan Crawford, highly regarded as one of the most spectacular movie actresses of her time, got cancer in her 70’s. She had been bedridden for years and had refused to seek medical care for herself. On May 1977, the two nurses who took care of her on her last day, upon realizing that Crawford was already dying, offered a soft prayer beside her bed. The movie star saw them praying, uttered “Don’t you dare ask God to help me,” then breathed her last.
“Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here.”
Saying these last words before he departed this life, Nostradamus seemed to have predicted even his own death. It was believed that before dying, he was lying on his deathbed and listening to the songs of Cohen. He had a brief conversation with his wife Henrietta, who cut with a knife the foot of her husband to take away the pain caused by his gout. On the day of his death, Nostradamus was working on a quatrain about the end of the world.
“I’d rather be fishing.”
Murderer Jimmy L. Glass was quoted as having said these last words before he died of electrocution on June 12, 1987 in Louisiana. He was sentenced to die of electrocution after he killed and robbed the couple Newton and Erline Brown in 1982. While incarcerated, Glass tried to flee from the Webster Parish Jail with an inmate but was caught again. Seated on the electric chair, he uttered his last words and implied his trepidation over his nearing death.
“I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
These witty last words came from the mouth of distinguished Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart while lying on his deathbed in his home in Mapleton Drive, United States. When he was diagnosed with a malignancy in his esophagus sometime in 1956, the health of Bogart started to fall off. On January 22, 1957, he called his wife and all his children to come near his deathbed, bid them goodbye and drolly uttered his last words before he died a few seconds after.
“Hit the water, hit the water, hit the water!”
While riding a helicopter, American rock musician and actress Jane Dornacker was giving a live traffic report for a national radio station when the aircraft, upon approaching the Hudson River, plunged into the waters. While on air, her listeners heard her say “hit the water, hit the water, hit the water!” before they heard a loud crash that signalled the instantaneous death of the celebrity. Her maimed body was recovered in New York City hours after the crash.
“You have won, O Galilean.”
These were the final words of Roman emperor and Constantine descendant Julian, when he tried to quash the original endorsement to Christianity of the Roman Empire. He died during the Battle of Samarra in Maranga.
“Do you hear the rain? Do you hear the rain?”
Over the phone, 7-year-old pilot Jessica Dubroff uttered these final words to her mother as she was running her own single engine propeller aircraft somewhere in Cheyenne, Wyoming, United States. Seconds after she took off, the plane suffered from an engine breakdown and crashed. On that fateful morning of April 11, 1996, the young pilot, her father Dubroff and her instructor died on board.
“I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.”
Even at the time of his death, legendary French grammarian Dominique Bouhours never failed to prove his proclivity for seamless grammar. On May 27, 1902, the grammarian and neo-classic essayist and critic uttered on his deathbed in Paris his final words in front of his loved ones, demonstrating his proficiency in grammatical construction, syntax and clarity even in the face of near-death frailty. Even in his death, Bouhours never failed to make his wit show.
“Are you all right?”
Soon after Australian actress and singer Belinda Emmett had pronounced her last words in front of her sister on November 11, 2006, she finally succumbed to her lingering illness—breast cancer. On her deathbed in St. Vincent General Hospital in Sydney, Australia, she had her last conversation with her sister whilst severely suffering from symptoms resembling those suffered by stroke patients. Emmett softly uttered these words after catching her sister weeping beside her deathbed.
“I am perplexed. Satan, get out!”
These were the final words of heroin addict Aleister Crowley minutes after he had a calm and lengthy banter with MacApline. He had been bedridden and in a state of poverty when he died, though his family testified that the good spirits remained with him until he breathed his last. Years of taking heroin, the drug took its toll on the health and psyche of Crowley until he was pushed to the threshold of death. It is believed that he uttered his last words while caught in the midst of a pool of baffling thoughts brought on by his addiction to drugs.