As Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI of France, approached the guillotine, she accidentally stepped on the foot of her executioner. Consequently her last words recorded for posterity were: “Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur”
Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman MP, spoke her last words when, on her death bed, she momentarily awoke to find herself surrounded by her family, and asked: “Am I dying or is this my birthday?”
James French, a convicted murderer, on being sentenced to the electric chair, shouted to members of the press who were to witness his execution: “Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’!
“Bugger Bognor”, said George V, to his physician, on his suggestion that he relax at his seaside home in Bognor Regis.
Just before he died Conrad Hilton, the founder of the international chain of luxury hotels, was asked if he had any last words of wisdom for the world. He replied: “Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub”
In 363 AD, having failed to reverse the official endorsement of Christianity, Emperor Julian ‘the Apostate’ declared, ‘You have won, O Galilean’.
“So little done, so much to do” said Cecil Rhodes, the great African explorer and entrepreneur.
“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do”, said Oscar Wilde as he died on 30 November 1900.
When asked by a priest to renounce Satan, Voltaire the 18th century French historian and philosopher, said: “Now, now , my good man, this is no time for making enemies”
LAST WORDS OF MEN AND WOMEN OF FAITH
“See in what peace a Christian can die”, said Joseph Addison, the co-founder of ‘The Spectator, in 1719.
“I have pain (there is no arguing against sense); but I have peace, I have peace”, declared Richard Baxter, the Puritan author of ‘The Reformed Pastor’.
“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; where there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, where there remains one dark soul without the light of God – I’ll fight! I’ll fight to the very end” – with these words William Booth, ‘God’s soldier’, ended his last speech.
As John Bradford was tied to the stake at Smithfield in 1555 he said to John Leaf, a fellow martyr: “Be of good comfort, brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night”
As William Carey, the pioneer of the modern missionary movement, died, he said: “When I am gone, speak less of Dr Carey and more of Dr Carey’s Saviour”
“I know now that patriotism is not enough; I must have no hatred and no bitterness toward anyone”, said Edith Cavell, the British nurse, who was executed in 1915 by the Germans on a charge of assisting Allied soldiers to escape.
“Weep not, I shall not die; and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living” – Edward the Confessor, the last king of Wessex, who died in 1066.
“Do not pray for healing. Do not hold me back from the glory”, wrote the preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones a few days before he died, having lost the power of speech.
Charles Simeon, the influential evangelical vicar of Holy Trinity Cambridge, who died in 1836: “I wish to be alone, with my God, and to lie before him as a poor, wretched, hell-deserving sinner… But I would also look to him as my all-forgiving God – and as my all-sufficient God and as my all-atoning God – and as my covenant-keeping God… I would lie here to the last, at the foot of the cross, looking unto Jesus; and go as such into the presence of my God… Jesus Christ is all in all for my soul, and now you must be all for my body. I cannot tell you any longer what I want. My principles were not founded on fancies or enthusiasm; there is a reality in them, and I find them sufficient to support me in death”
“I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust”, said the great missionary Hudson Taylor
THE LAST WORDS OF JESUS
On the cross – “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23.34); “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23.43); “Woman, here is your said” – then to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19.26,27); “I am thirsty” (John 19.28)
“It is finished” (John 19.30); “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23.46)
As he ascended to his Father: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28.19); “You will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).