Last Words of Dying Persons by Albany Poyntz

Are the last words of the dying to be considered prophetic? Is a supernatural intelligence vouchsafed to the last efforts of expiring nature? Examples are cited in substantiation of this belief; but the subject is one demanding the most serious consideration. Napoleon was of opinion that Hannibal was the greatest warrior of antiquity; founding his opinion upon the fact that the Roman historians, in describing his character, must have rather disparaged than aggrandised the great enemy of Rome. This luminous appreciation acquires to be constantly kept in view. Every historian is more or less biassed with regard to the personages he describes. He relates events after their accomplishment, and occasionally miraculous incidents to enhance the value of his recital.

The words spoken on death-beds may have been accidentally realized; as often occurs to the prophesies of the living. But this does not confer the gift of prophecy upon every death-bed.

Ferdinand IV., King of Castille, having been cited by one of his victims to appear in the presence of God; died on the thirtieth day. But the most remarkable summons of this nature was that made by Jacques Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, to Philip le Bel and Clement V., to appear in the presence of God forty days before the end of the year. At the time specified, Clement was carried to the tomb; but Philip did not follow him until a year later, 1314, the martyrdom of the Templars having taken place in 1312. It is true that Ferdinand IV. condemned to death the Brothers Carvajal, unjustly accused of the murder of a Spanish gentleman; and that their citation to the King in their dying moments was accomplished to a day. But the health of the monarch was, at the time of their condemnation, much impaired by the excesses of the table; so that his approaching end seemed certain. As we observed respecting talismans, some imaginations are worked upon by encouragement, while others are affected in the contrary sense; and it needed no miracle for the menace of the Carvajals to hasten the end of the King of Castille.

Sometimes a careless word or sentence acquires, by accident, a semblance of importance. At the death of Louis XV., all France recalled to mind the words the Bishop of Senez had pronounced before him: “In forty days, Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Louis XV. died on the fortieth day, and the Bishop was thought a prophet; a mere figure of eloquence having become metamorphosed into a prediction.

Much such a prophecy was uttered in the Church of Notre Dame, by a priest named Beauregard, some years previous to the Revolution. “Thy temples Lord,” said he, “shall be thrown down and pillaged, thy name blasphemed, thy rites proscribed. Great God! what do I hear! The holy canticles with which these vaults once echoed, are drowned by profane and lascivious songs; and the infamous divinities of paganism usurp the place of God, the Creator, sitting on the throne of the Holy of Holies, and receiving the sacred incense of our altars.”

These words became remarkable when realized at the Revolution. But when they were uttered, the Revolution was already impending. Beauregard, endowed with a zealous and vehement nature, touched upon the probable consequence of a philosophy which he contemplated with horror; thus becoming an unconscious refutation of the proverb, that “No man is a prophet in his own country.”