Humanities Information

Nelsons Last Words: Kiss Me, Hardy or Kismet, Hardy?

"Kiss me, Hardy" or "Kismet, Hardy"? Both versions are commonly used, the former being clearly more universal . The easy answer is that, whatever variation, these were not his final words (that is a trick question!).

It is a common misconception that Nelson's last words were "Kiss me, Hardy", spoken to the captain of HMS Victory, Thomas Hardy. Nelson did say this to Hardy, but Hardy was not present for Nelson’s last words, having been called back on deck at that time. Contemporaneous sources report his last words to Hardy as being “God bless you, Hardy”, spoken after Hardy had kissed him (which he did, so there is no doubt what Hardy thought he heard).

Nelson's final words (as related by 3 written accounts of those who were with Nelson when he died) were "Thank God I have done my duty", which he is said to have repeated until he became unable to speak. Although this is recorded by Surgeon Beatty, he was not actually present when Nelson became unable to speak, having been called away, and returning just before Nelson died. The Chaplain, Scott and the Purser, Burke, appear to have been with Nelson throughout, and Scott supports the “Thank God I have done my duty” as the last words.

At a more human level, throughout the three hours of pain Nelson suffered, it is reported that his continuing refrain was “Rub, rub... fan, fan.... drink, drink” as the instructions to those around him for the three things which gave him some comfort. There is a chance that those were his last words in fact, but there was no possibility they would ever have been recorded as such, certainly not by the Chaplain.

The misconception that Nelson actually said "Kismet Hardy", (kismet comes from the Arabic word 'qismah', meaning fate or lot) seems a Victorian invention, since the earliest recorded use in the English language of "kismet" was 1849.

It is probably not coincidental that the mid Victorian era saw the emergence of the large ‘Public Schools’ which educated the boys who were to fight for and rule the Empire. This was the same era that embraced the works of Thomas Bowdler (whose family friendly versions of Shakespeare were first published in 1818), and there is no doubt Victorian teachers would have thought “Kiss me, Hardy” was an unmanly and dangerous thing to teach impressionable boys in boarding schools.

The teachers of the day would have attempted to explain this by saying that Nelson may have known the word from his Mediterranean tours of duty and this was just misheard by the others because no other words apart from “kiss me” made sense to them.

However for such an explanation to work, we must ignore all the sources which record Nelson’s religious observance, because introducing the alien word ‘Kismet’ at such a time, alongside the statements “God bless you Hardy” and “Thank God I have done my duty” is not really credible inasmuch as if he meant to imply he was destined to die, then he would have said something like it being just another part of gods grand design.

So, the answers are:

Last words to Hardy: “God bless you Hardy”

Last words recorded: “Thank God I have done my duty”

I am the website administrator of the Wandle industrial museum ( Established in 1983 by local people determined to ensure that the history of the valley was no longer neglected but enhanced awareness its heritage for the use and benefits of the community.

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at

National Catholic Reporter

Decline of humanities education reflects ancient debate
National Catholic Reporter
I have lately been drawn into the big conversation around the so-called humanities — those fields of scholarship that explore humans and culture in disciplines like language, literature, the arts, religion, history and philosophy. Many argue that the ...


The dying humanities degree
Amid uncertainty for how to best navigate the profoundly changing job future, students in U.S. colleges are turning away from the humanities and toward STEM subjects, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Fast Company

The case for humanities in the era of AI, automation, and technology
Fast Company
More and more we're finding ourselves standing at the intersection of humanity and technology. Whether we're working side-by-side with autonomous robots on the factory floor, spreading the happy news about a new addition to the family on Facebook, ...

University of Wisconsin-Madison

New associate vice chancellors oversee research in biological sciences, arts and humanities
University of Wisconsin-Madison
A new face and a familiar one have joined the leadership team in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. Cynthia Czajkowski, professor of neuroscience in the School of Medicine and Public Health, has moved from interim to ...

Bard College offers Humanities course to low-income adults in Kingston
The Daily Freeman
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> The Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities this fall is offering a free college-level introduction to the humanities — philosophy, literature, U.S. history, art history, critical thinking, and writing — to low-income adults ...

Yakima Herald-Republic

Editorial: Don't forget the Humanities in this STEM age
Yakima Herald-Republic
Oh, the humanities! Have you seen the statistics released last month from the Washington Education Research & Data Center? In the past decade, students majoring in STEM fields in the state have soared, while those choosing liberal arts majors have ...

Washington Post

Please, students, take that 'impractical' humanities course. We will all benefit.
Washington Post
The students' conversation has stayed with me, in part because it fits into a larger, disconcerting narrative about the role of the humanities in higher education. In a time of dizzying technological achievement and of rapid scientific innovation ...

The Decline of Humanities Enrollments and the Decline of Pre-Law
Inside Higher Ed (blog)
I've been hearing variations on “crisis in the humanities!” ever since college. Back then it was largely about content; it was the early stages of the “canon” wars. But even then we used to hear, on a regular basis, that fewer students majored in the ...

Masterstudies News (blog)

Why Have Humanities Courses Become Less Popular Since the Financial Crisis?
Masterstudies News (blog)
In a recent article in The Atlantic, Schmidt wrote, "Declines have hit almost every field in the humanities… and related social sciences. [They] have not stabilized with the economic recovery, and they appear to reflect a new set of student priorities ...

The Atlantic

The Humanities Are in Crisis
The Atlantic
Right now, the biggest impediment to thinking about the future of the humanities is that, thanks to this entrenched narrative of decline—because we've been crying wolf for so long—we already think we know what's going on. The usual suspects—student ...

Google News

home | site map
© 2007