Sunday, February 24, 2013

He never said "Take my life...please."

Comedian Henny Youngman ("Take my wife...please") died on this day in 1998.

"Death is God's way of telling a man to slow down," he often joked.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Followed by caviar and cymbals

English clergyman Sydney Smith died on this day in 1845. He once said:

"My idea of heaven is eating pate de foie gras to the sound of trumpets."

And also:

"A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort."

My favorite Sydney Smith quotation, having nothing to do with death or dying:

"I never read a book before previewing it; it prejudices a man so."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Miracles happen every day

Heinrich Heine, German poet and writer, died on this day in 1856. He wrote:

"Sleep is lovely, death is better still, not to have been born is of course the miracle."

Heine's works were among thousands of books burned on Berlin's Opernplatz in 1933, following the Nazi raid on the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. To commemorate that event, one of the most famous lines of Heine's (from his 1821 play Almansor) was engraved in the ground at the site:

"Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people."