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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

William III.

  • [William, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland; born at the Hague, Nov. 14, 1650; repelled an invasion of the French by opening the dikes; married a daughter of James II. of England; invited to head the resistance of the people of that country to their king, landed at Torbay, November, 1688; proclaimed king with his wife as queen, February, 1689; gained the battle of the Boyne in May following; engaged in war with Louis XIV.; died March, 1702.]
  • I will die in the last ditch.

  • When the Duke of Buckingham asked him, after the execution of the De Witts, if he did not see that the commonwealth was ruined, William replied, “There is one certain means by which I can be sure never to see my country’s ruin: I will die in the last ditch.”—HUME: History of England, chap. lxv.
  • I will maintain the liberties of England and the Protestant religion.

  • The motto of the House of Nassau was, “Je maintiendrai” (I will maintain); the rest was added to indicate the purpose with which William entered England, in 1688, and was displayed upon his banner.
  • In giving a patent-right for the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, William remarked, “If you can change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, how much easier base metal into the nobler gold!”
  • The king said of Professor Dodwell of Oxford, a bitter Jacobite: “He has set his heart on being a martyr, and I have set mine on disappointing him.”
  • He exclaimed to some timid sailors on a rough passage to Holland, in 1691, “For shame! are you afraid to die in my company?”
  • When the early successes of Charles XII. of Sweden were described to him, he said, “Ah, youth is a fine thing.”
  • The ambassador of Denmark complained of certain free remarks which Lord Molesworth had published concerning the arbitrary government of that country, and said that in Denmark the author’s head would fall. William III. dryly added, “If you wish it, the author shall put what you say in his second edition.”
  • Having received fatal injuries by a fall from his horse, Feb. 21, 1702, he said to the Duke of Portland, “There was a time when I should have been glad to be delivered out of my troubles; but I own I see another scene, and could wish to live a little longer.” His last words were, “Can this last long?”