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)