The following is the epitaph of Benjamin Franklin. It was written by himself several years before his death on April 17, 1790:
(LIKE THE COVER OF AN OLD BOOK,
ITS CONTENTS TORN OUT,
AND STRIPT OF ITS LETTERING AND GILDING,)
LIES HERE, FOOD FOR WORMS;
YET THE WORK ITSELF SHALL NOT BE LOST,
FOR IT WILL (AS HE BELIEVED) APPEAR ONCE MORE
IN A NEW
AND MORE BEAUTIFUL EDITION,
CORRECTED AND AMENDED
BY THE AUTHOR.
John Cotton, who was a former minister in New England died on December 23, 1652. His epitaph was written by his friend, Benjamin Woodbridge. Some surmised that Franklin drew inspiration from Cotton’s epitaph when he was making his own, as both epitaphs compared human lives to books:
A living breathing bible; tables where
Both covenants at large engraven were;
Gospel and law in’s heart had each its column,
His head an index to the sacred volume;
His very name a title-page; and next
His life a commentary on the text.
Oh, what a monument of glorious worth,
When in a new edition he comes forth!
Without errata, we may think he’ll be
In leaves and covers of eternity!