Threescore Years and Ten


1805737_origIn the “Custom-House” introduction to the novel, Hawthorne describes a “gallant old General” who “had already numbered, nearly or quite, his threescore years and ten, and was pursuing the remainder of his earthly march…” A score is an antiquated term for 20 years. Threescore would signify 20 x 3, or 60 years. The most famous use, perhaps, was Lincoln’s in the opening of his Gettysburg Address, “Fourscore and seven years ago…” which would denote 87 years ago. In PSALM 90:10, Moses speaks of the brevity and limits of life: “The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away” (KJV).

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