Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

When pedants err

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 06 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:b5478
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    There are several questions that come to mind about famous last words. Did the people who uttered them know that they were their last words? Had they prepared them in advance, in the hope of making the dictionary of quotations? Were they reported truly, or were they apocryphal? Did Lord Palmerston really say, “Die, my dear doctor? That’s the last thing I shall do.” Anyway, why should it always be the famous who have the famous last words? Do they want to hog the limelight for ever?

    The last words of the writer and editor Hugh Kingsmill, to the effect that he had used too many commas but had nothing to reproach himself for in the matter of …

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