Saturday, March 24, 2007

Death becomes them

Macau's Santa Casa da Misericordia
(AKA Holy House of Mercy)

The neo-classical building on Senado Square houses
a charitable establishment founded by Macau's first bishop,

and that clergyman's skull as well as cross too!

Something that I didn't mention yesterday but will today is that while sorting through my photographic collection, I came across but didn't pick the above two photographs to include in my latest Macau photo-essay.

To elaborate a little further on their subject matter: Founded in 1569, the Holy House of Mercy is the oldest Western charity in all of China. It also has the distinction of having set up China's first ever Western-styled hospital. Still active to this day, the organization additionally currently operates a cancer clinic along with homes for the aged, invalids and the blind.

More to the point with regards to their choice as pictorial anchors for today's entry: The mid-18th century building which is home to this charitable religious establishment also houses the skull of its founder, a Portuguese prelate named Dom Melchior Nunes Carneiro Leitão, S.J. And at the risk of sounding rather facetious, that skull was what got me thinking of one of the more...interesting -- and, if truth be told, surprisingly amusing! ;b -- books in my library, and that the tome might make for a novel subject for a blog entry!

Compiled by British lexicographer Jonathon Green, Famous Last Words: The Ultimate Dictionary of Quotations is a fascinating collection of the last words of some 2,200 dead people; many -- if not most -- of them famous personages. Deathbed complaints, philosophical parting words, gallows humor, fond farewells, sad goodbyes and more get representation in what may well be the ultimate book of lists.

For those who don't feel that all this is too macabre and bizarre, do read on for a taste of the book's contents by way of the following diverse selection of a baker's dozen worth of memorable parting utterances which caught my eye and imagination:-

I can't sleep. (Sir James M. Barrie)

Take away those pillows -- I shall need them no more. (Lewis Carroll -- real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

I believe we must adjourn the meeting to some other place. (Adam Smith)

A little while and I will be gone from among you. Whither I cannot tell. From nowhere we come, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the light. It is the breath of the buffalo in the wintertime. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. (Isapwo Muksika Crowfoot)

Mozart! (Gustav Mahler)

This side is roasted enough, turn up, oh tyrant great, assay whether roasted or raw thou thinkest the better meat (Saint Lawrence -- a 3rd century Christian martyr who was roasted -- yes, roasted! -- to death)

Let my epitaph be: Here lies Joseph, who was unsuccessful in all his undertakings. (Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor)

I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. (Edith Cavell)

Peace, struggle, save China. (Sun Yat-Sen)

I am not in the least afraid to die. (Charles Darwin)

I desire to go to hell and not to heaven. In the former place I shall enjoy the company of Popes, Kings and the Princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles. (Niccolo Macchiavelli)

So little done, so much to do. (Alexander Graham Bell)

Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough. (Karl Marx)

And on that final note...! ;)


alejna said...

"...the ultimate book of lists."
Ultimate indeed! (Hee hee.)

That was a fun list, and sounds like a fun book. Though I can't help wondering how many of those last words were really the ones spoken. Many of them sound too good. How many of them really said "my foot itches," (or some other body part). Or "will you please get out of here and let me get some rest?" Or even, so cruelly, "there's something I've been meaning to say..." (...and then no more.)

YTSL said...

Hi alejna --

"Many of them sound too good."

Many others in the book are all the more so. Usually, it's the ones that sound the wisest and most profound... ;S

"How many of them really said "my foot itches," (or some other body part). Or "will you please get out of here and let me get some rest?" Or even, so cruelly, "there's something I've been meaning to say..." (...and then no more.)"

Actually, bar for "my foot itches", there are examples of those others in the book! As is the following by General Sedgwick, the American Civil War commander killed when "[l}ooking foolishly over the parapet at the enemy lines...":-

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..."!!!

Brian said...

Here are what I hope my last words to be "Shu Qi, move over"

YTSL said...

Brian --

Bwahahahahahaha are your dream final words! But why so formal by using her whole name? Anyways, such a fan of hers as you should know that Shu Qi/Hsu Chi/etc. is *not* her real name. Rather, it's Lin Li Hui... ;b

munin said...

Some really powerful (and funny also) quotations you posted there. Suffice to say you got me interested in the book...

YTSL said...

Hi munin --

Glad I got you interested in the book. Hmmm, I wonder whether I should become an Amazon associate? ;b