Above: English Army the morning of the battle of Agincourt
A day or two ago, a commentator wrote, “When did three score and ten become four score and ten?” Well, I must confess, I have mixed up my memories, one of the Bible passage, the other in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address which I memorized ages ago, like fourth grade maybe. So much for childhood memory bubbles.
I think the Bible passage reads ‘Three score and ten’ and Lincoln wrote “Four score and seven.” I didn’t look up the Bible passage. While I am familiar with many Old Testament passages, I must confess my battered Bible does not automatically open to this passage. I looked up the Lincoln passage, however, and I think he wrote “Four score and seven,” which from 1863 when he gave the address at Gettysburg refers back to 1775 and the creation of the Republic.
Except for a couple of courses in my recently completed history graduate program (I concentrated on Europe), I took all my American history college courses as an undergraduate, now 40 plus years ago. So perhaps I can be forgiven for the odd lapse in my memories of American history.
Lincoln gave what many consider the greatest speech ever given. However, Henry V’s speech at Agincourt is another example of a great speech meant to rally the troops. Although Lincoln was a Southern boy (Kentucky) and a Republican who learned to read by firelight, he was familiar with both the Bible and some works of Shakespeare like the history plays. Was Lincoln’s speech informed by both? I think the answer is yes.
Heck, at one time in the South both books were taught in the public schools. I had Miss Cherry teaching me about Samson and Delilah in fourth grade, and Miss Calhoun teaching me about Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar in seventh grade. “Big Julie we called him, says David who took Latin in high school just as I did and read the Shakespeare play. “
More to the point, I will be three score and twelve in two weeks time.