Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), German poet, journalist. quoted in Journal, Feb. 23, 1863, eds. Edmond and Charles Goncourt (1956).
Said on his deathbed, in reply to a priest who had told him God would forgive his sins. The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud commented on this: "The force of the joke lies in its purpose. What it means to say is nothing else than: 'Of course he'll forgive me. That's what he's there for, and that's the only reason I've taken him on (as one engages one's doctor or one's lawyer).' So in the dying man, as he lay there powerless, a consciousness stirred that he had created God and equipped him with power so as to make use of him when the occasion arose. What was supposed to be the created being revealed itself just before its annihilation as the creator." (From Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, "The Purposes of Jokes," 1905).