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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–94)
QUOTATION: Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris.
ATTRIBUTION: OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, chapter 6, p. 143 (1868), originally published 1858, attributing this remark to “one of the wittiest of men.”

Later writers have attributed the saying to Thomas Gold Appleton, a friend of Holmes’s and a fellow member of the Saturday Club. In 1859, Ralph Waldo Emerson, also a member of that club, recorded in one of his journals, “T. Appleton says, that he thinks all Bostonians, when they die, if they are good, go to Paris.”—Emerson in His Journals, ed. Joel Porte, p. 486 (1982). Although neither sentence has been found in the published writings of Appleton, the remark was probably made in the presence of Holmes and Emerson.

Oscar Wilde used Holmes’s version of the statement in two of his works, The Picture of Dorian Gray, p. 75 (Complete Works, vol. 4, 1923), originally published 1890, and A Woman of No Importance, p. 180 (Complete Works, vol. 7, 1923), originally published 1893.
SUBJECTS: American people