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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:24:55 -0600
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Alan Eliasen <[log in to unmask]>
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On 2017-08-14 07:37, William Robison wrote:
> There is a fairly well known story that the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh
> predicted both the solar eclipse of June 16, 1806 and the New Madrid
> Earthquake of December 16, 1811, and used this to convince the Shawnee the
> gods supported war against the white man. One version of the story says
> Tecumseh knew about the eclipse in advance because he had seen it forecast
> in an almanac.
> I have read speculation that Twain drew upon this story for the scene in *A
> Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court *in which Hank Morgan out-wizards
> Merlin by predicting a solar eclipse.
> Does anyone on the list know if there is evidence to support that?

   When this topic came up before on this list (2013-04-26, thread
entitled "Hank Morgan's Solar Eclipse,")  I replied that if you read
Connecticut Yankee itself, Twain makes a joke about it directly in the text:

   "You see, it was the eclipse. It came into my mind in the nick of
time, how Columbus, or Cortez, or one of those people, played an eclipse
as a saving trump once, on some savages, and I saw my chance. I could
play it myself, now, and it wouldn’t be any plagiarism, either, because
I should get it in nearly a thousand years ahead of those parties."

   (Connecticut Yankee, Chapter 5)

   Barbara Schmidt also noted:
> The use of the solar eclipse to prove a claim to supernatural power
> was not a new concept when Twain wrote CY.  In the Iowa/California
> edition of the WORKS OF MARK TWAIN, edited by Bernard Stein, (p. 553)
> Stein points the reader to THE LIFE AND VOYAGES OF CHRISTOPHER
> COLUMBUS, Book 16, chapter 3 by Washington Irving.  (Columbus
> exploited an eclipse to get natives to procure supplies for him.)
> Clemens owned a set of these books in the 1880s.

  Alan Eliasen
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