Bringing the Text to Life
"How were the receipts today in Madison Square Garden?”
This sounds like a simple question, deserving of a simple answer. Yet it turned out to be the final words of the world-famous circus promoter, P.T. Barnum. The man spoke and croaked. Famous last words.
Actually, these words are not so famous, although they were uttered by Barnum, the American showman, on his deathbed. His question about the receipts at the Garden, however, showed that his business instincts had not deserted him. He died as he lived — constantly concerned about making a buck.
Truth be told, the last words of history’s great players are rarely inspiring, and they are usually about as interesting and uplifting as a phone book. We want pearls of profundity from our expiring artists, philosophers and world leaders, but what we get are dry-as-dust clichés.
Mexican revolutionary hero Francisco “Pancho” Villa uttered to a comrade: “Don’t let it end this way. Tell them I said something.”
Legendary wordsmith Lord Byron came up...