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Roll call

Wyndham Lewis

Last week’s notable death anniversaries:

Comedian John Belushi died on March 5, 1982.

In one classic Saturday Night Live sketch, Belushi played the last surviving member of the original SNL cast, visiting his friends in a cemetery. He muses to himself:

"They all thought I'd be the first to go. I was one of those 'Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse' types... I guess they were wrong."

Belushi was the first to die. His epitaph:

He could have given us a few more laughs, but noooo…”

Besides the laughs, we might have missed out on seeing Belushi take on some dramatic roles—Shakespearean, even. I always thought he would have made a great Babe Ruth.

American humorist Artemus Ward (the pen name of Charles Farrar Browne) died on March 6, 1867, at the age of 33. Ward was Abraham Lincoln's favorite author, and he is said to have inspired Mark Twain, who saw him perform. As a traveling lecturer, Ward was almost as popular as Twain.

Concerning his readiness to sacrifice for a noble cause, Ward said:

"I have already given two cousins to the war, and I stand ready to sacrifice my wife's brother."

English artist and writer (and Johnny Depp dead-ringer) Wyndham Lewis died on March 7, 1957. He said:

"'Dying for an idea,' again, sounds well enough, but why not let the idea die instead of you?"

Also on March 7, in 1274, theologian St. Thomas Aquinas died.

"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly," he wrote, "they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell."

Abolitionist and preacher Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), died on March 8, 1887. His last words:

"Now comes the mystery."

Today’s Deathless Verse:

Is life an enigma,

Which death will unravel,

Or merely a stigma

At which we all cavil?

A puzzle, but trifling—

Not nearly as stifling

As the quandary ahead;

That is, being dead?

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