Benjamin Franklin’s Epitaph and Its Potential Inspiration

220px-Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Duplessis_1778

Benjamin Franklin

The following is the epitaph of Benjamin Franklin. It was written by himself several years before his death on April 17, 1790:

THE BODY
OF
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,
PRINTER,
(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-4.jpg

JOhn Cotton

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!

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Posted by

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

6 thoughts on “Benjamin Franklin’s Epitaph and Its Potential Inspiration

  1. I had my first kiss with my now wife of 53 years in a cemetary in Penshauken, NJ. On a trip to Canada, several years ago, we stopped at numerous cemetaries along the way, reading epitaphs along the way. Many pics, should have catalouged the writings. Nice Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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