Viral Quotes: Remark about a funeral: I approve of it (attrib Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar 1887; attrib Mark Twain 1938)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 9 15:47:15 UTC 2011

Thanks for responding with valuable material from your searches Victor.

Wendell Phillips died on Feb. 7, 1884 according to Britannica. Here is
a cite with a version of the joke on February 29th. So the quip was in
circulation within weeks of the death of Phillips.

Cite: 1884 February 29, Cincinnati Commercial Gazette (Cincinnati
Commercial Tribune), Approving of the Funeral, Page 2, Column 5,
Cincinnati, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

Approving of the Funeral.

Boston Post.-The Hon. E. R. Hoar did not love Phillips over much in
his later years. It is now reported of him that while the remains of
the great agitator were awaiting the final ceremonies a distinguished
Cambridge gentleman asked him if he was going to attend Wendell
Phillips's funeral. "No," was the reply, "but I approve it!"


On Sun, May 8, 2011 at 12:36 AM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Viral Quotes: Remark about a funeral: I approve of it (attrib
>              Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar 1887; attrib Mark Twain 1938)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A quick check of GNA finds further attributions to "Judge Hoar" in NYT in
> Feb. 1893 and Feb. 1895. Then another NYT appearance with a near-anonymous
> attribution a year later.
> New York Times - Nov 3, 1896
>> President Cleveland's Failure to register in New-York this year, taken in
>> connection with his well-known views as to Bryan's candidacy, reminds The
>> Springfield Republican of the story told about a well-known resident of
>> Concord, who, when asked if her were going to attend the funeral of a
>> certain man, said, "No, but I approve of it."
> Incidentally, this is followed by a comment on Helen Kellar [sic] learning
> to ride a bicycle (a tandem).
> Again, the same comment in 1901, but with entirely different attribution.
> New York Times - May 19, 1901
> Some of Mr. Evarts's Jokes.
>> On being asked whether he would go to the funeral of a man whom he very
>> much disliked, Evarts replied: "No, I shall not attend; but I quite appro=
> ve
>> of it."
>  ...

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