"One Crowded Hour Of Glorious Life Is Worth An Age Without A Name"

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Last Updated on July 14, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 239

Context: Henry Morton is a stanch Covenanter, one of the group of Scotch Presbyterians who banded together to oppose the English Crown's encroachment on their religious liberties. Though he fights well against the English forces under Claverhouse, he is at last accused as a traitor by a fanatic group within the Covenanters themselves and sentenced to death. In the scene following his rescue by his foeman, Claverhouse, Morton watches with interest as the paradoxical characteristics of great cruelty and great courage are illustrated in his enemy, characteristics Scott drew directly from the historical Claverhouse. Claverhouse tells Morton that he hopes to die on some ". . . well-fought and hard-won field of battle . . . with the shout of victory in my ear; that would be worth . . . having lived for!" To emphasize these words, Scott prefaced his chapter with lines he marked anonymous, though it is probable he wrote them. He uses almost the same words in another novel, Count Robert of Paris (Chapter 25) when the Countess of Paris, Amazonian victress of many jousts and warrior in the First Crusade, refutes a suggestion that true virtue lies in delighting men and bringing up children. Though a loyal wife, she asserts that "One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action . . . is worth whole years . . . of paltry decorum."

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Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
To all the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.

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