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2000-12, 328, Jack Bradstreet, Neil A Radford, Notes and Queries

Notes & Queries

Neil Radford writes: “The Epitaph for collectors from an unknown writer … ‟ on p.119 of the September 2000 issue of Biblionews is in fact a slight adaptation of Benjamin Franklin’s epitaph. He wrote it for his tombstone, but it was not used (I do not know why). The original text is as follows:

The Body of

B. Franklin, Printer,

Like the cover of an old Book,

Its Contents torn out,

And stript of its Lettering & Gilding

Lies here, Food for Worms.

But the Work shall not be lost;

For it will, as he believ’d,

Appear once more

In a new and more elegant Edition

Corrected and improved

By the Author.

This information is from Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading (London: HarperCollins, 1996), p.170. By the way, many readers of Biblionews would enjoy Manguel’s book, I think, if they have not come across it already.

Jack Bradstreet further advises that he has a facsimile of the above in Benjamin Franklin’s handwriting to which has been added much later the following verse.

If life is compared to a Feast,

Near Fourscore years I’ve been a guest;

I’ve been regaled with the best,

And feel quite satisfyd.

Tis time that I retire to Rest;

Landlord, I thank ye! – Friends, Good Night.

April 22. 1784

(Franklin died in 1790, in his 84th year)

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