HARRISBURG - Every man needs a little madness in life, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.

With those words, culled from the exuberant character in the book-turned-movie

Zorba the Greek,

an emotional State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo bid farewell to his colleagues in the Senate yesterday, in what was likely his last speech from the floor he has commanded for almost three decades.

The Democratic senator from Philadelphia said he was not resigning early - he will stick by his plan to serve out his term, which ends this year.

But he said he wanted to give his goodbyes because he did not believe he would be back in Harrisburg in the fall, when lawmakers return from summer break.

At that point, he will be fighting a raft of corruption charges awaiting him in federal court in Philadelphia. He is accused of using his position and staff to live lavishly at the expense of taxpayers - and of trying to block an FBI investigation into his conduct. His trial is scheduled to begin in early September.

"I will miss it terribly," Fumo said of being in the Capitol. "I've spent half my life here, and I've spent it here with every fiber in my body. I've loved it, I've hated it, I've had great experiences and very sad ones."

In many ways, it was an unlikely end to a 30-year career in Harrisburg, where Fumo left his mark with an unapologetically aggressive and swashbuckling style that people only half-joked was vintage Philadelphia.

His farewell speech came on a holiday in a near-empty Capitol, where the focus of anyone left working was almost exclusively on completing the state budget in time to catch the July Fourth fireworks.

Two of Fumo's friends and colleagues - Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow (D., Lackawanna) and Gib Armstrong (R., Lancaster) - talked about his career and told a few stories about him. And there was a resolution honoring his Senate service.

But his exit was low-key and in many ways did not seem to fit the fiery brand of politics and the love of winning at all costs that he came to be known for.

"It's sad," Gov. Rendell said. "This is not the way he would have wanted to go, or the way people who admired him would have liked him to go. He's done a lot of good here."

Fumo was one of the most powerful Democrats in the Capitol and in Philadelphia. Over time, he expanded his political sphere to exert control over the election of city judges, City Council members, Democratic City Committee members, and ward leaders.

Fumo would use that power relentlessly for things he wanted, large or small. And he never forgot where he came from - he always helped bring the money home to Philadelphia.

It didn't always make him friends.

"You know, Vince, when I first met you, I couldn't stand you," Armstrong told Fumo yesterday in remarks from the floor.

But Armstrong said he quickly came to realize that "there are two Vinces. There's the profane, the boisterous, the gregarious, the larger-than-life Vince Fumo. . . . And there's the Vince that is sensitive and reflective and caring, the guy who will do anything for you, and who will never, ever break his word."

Fumo said that the last few days in the Capitol had been very difficult for him.

There was even a health scare last week, when Fumo, who has had two heart attacks, collapsed on the Senate floor. Doctors determined that Fumo was dehydrated and stressed, and they ordered him to rest.

Asked if he was scared, Fumo said: "I'd be a fool to say I'm not afraid. I'd be a fool to say I'm not concerned. But I also am very optimistic.

"If I had taken a bribe, sold my office, I would have resigned in disgrace and never come back here," he said.

If he had one piece of parting advice for his colleagues, Fumo said, it is: Stop the partisanship.

"There's a lot of bright ideas on this side and that side. There's a lot of courage on this side and that side. There's a lot of dedication on this side and that side.

"Find a way to breach the partisanship," he urged.

Fumo said he has tried to live his life by certain values. Two movies in particular, he said, capture them:

It's a Wonderful Life

- and its message that no man is a failure as long as he has friends - and


"In there," Fumo said yesterday, "Zorba says . . . 'Life is trouble, only death is not.' "