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New Year Prophecies
by [?]

Some people are surprised at the daring with which compilers of prophetic almanacs forecast the details of the future. The most astonishing thing of all is that nearly everybody still regards the future as a mystery. As a matter of fact, we know a great deal about the future. We know that next year will contain 365 days. We know–and this is rather a tribute to our cleverness–that the year 1924 will contain 366 days, and even the exact point at which the extra day will slip in. Ask a savage to point you out the extra day in Leap Year, and he will be more hopelessly at a loss than a man looking for a needle in a haystack, but even the most ignorant Christian will pick it out at the right end of February as neatly and inevitably as a love-bird on a barrel-organ picking out a fortune. The art of prophecy has grown with civilisation. Prophets were regarded as almost divine persons in the old days, but now every man is his own Isaiah. I am the most modest of the prophets, but even I venture to foretell that there will be an annular eclipse of the sun in the coming year on the 8th of April, that it will begin at twenty-two minutes to 8 A.M. at Liverpool, and that it will be visible at Greenwich. What clairvoyant could go further? Test my mantic gifts at any other point and I doubt not I can satisfy you. Do you want to know at what time there will be high water at Aberdeen on the afternoon of the 21th January? The answer is: “Thirteen minutes past one.” Do you want to know when partridge shooting will begin? I do not even need to reflect before giving the answer: “The 1st of September.” And so I could go on, almost ad infinitum, filling in the details of the year in advance. On the 1st of March, for instance, being St David’s Day, there will be a banquet at which Mr Lloyd George will make a reference to hills, mists, God, and a country called Wales. On the 28th of March, being Easter Monday, there will be a Bank Holiday. On the 24th of May, being Empire Day, the majority of shops in Regent Street will hang out Union Jacks, and school children will salute the flag at Abinger Hammer, Communists in various parts of London gnashing their teeth the while. On the 15th of June the anniversary of Magna Charta will fall and will pass without any disturbance. On the 12th of July Orangemen will dress im in sashes and listen to orators whose speeches will prove the hollowness of the old adage that you cannot serve both God and Mammon. On the same day, Lord Birkenhead will celebrate his forty-ninth birthday, showing that Gallopers are born not made. Need I continue, however? The year is obviously going to be a crowded one. It will, as I have said, contain 365 days and will come to an end at 12 P.M. on St Silvester’s Day at the time of the new moon.

I have said enough, I think, to prove that one knows a great deal more about the future than is generally realised. There may be sceptics who doubt the virtue of my prophecies. If there be such, all I ask is that they should mark them well and verify each of them as its fulfilment falls due. The expense will be small. The most serious item will be the journey to Aberdeen to see the tide coming in on the 24th of January; but, by taking up a collection in Aberdeen, it should be possible to reduce one’s net outlay by the better part of a shilling. On the whole, there never were prophecies easier to verify. I confidently challenge comparison between them and any prophecy made by any Cabinet Minister during the last five years. I even challenge comparison with the much more respectable prophecies contained in Raphael’s Prophetic Messenger. Raphael at times strains our credulity. When he tells us, for instance, that on the 27th of April it is going to be “cold and frosty” and that on the 29th of April we shall see “high winds, storms and thunder,” we feel that he is giving a free rein to his imagination and treating prophecy not as a science but as an art. That the 30th of April will be “showery” I agree, but how does he know that there will be “high wind and lightning” on the 21st of December? I am also somewhat puzzled as to the means by which he arrives at the conclusions set forth in his “every-day” guide for each day in the year. I can myself prophesy what you will do on each day, but I cannot, as he does, prophesy what you ought to do. This introduces an ethical element which is beyond my scope or horoscope. We need not quarrel with him when he dismisses the 1st of January as “an unimportant day,” but when he bids us on the 2nd of January “court, marry, and deal with females,” we may reasonably ask: “Why?” His advice for the 3rd is more acceptable. “Be careful,” he says, “until 1 P.M. then seek work and push thy business.” That is about the time of day one prefers to begin to “seek work”; would there were more days in the calendar like the 3rd of January. Some saint must have it in his keeping. On the 7th, however, it will be safer to abstain from work altogether. Raphael says: “A very unfortunate P.M. and evening for most purposes. Court and deal with females.” Sunday, the 9th, is better. “Ask favours,” he says, “in the P.M., and court.” Though January is less than half gone, I confess I am getting a little breathless with so much courting. Raphael probably recognises this, and a note of caution creeps into his advice on the 13th, on which he bids us “court and marry in the morning, then be careful.” By the 18th, however, he is his old self again. “Court,” he says cheerfully, “marry and ask favours and push ahead.” Then come one rather careful day and two unfortunate ones, till on the 22nd, in a burst of exuberance, he offers us the day of our lives. “Deal with others,” he exhorts us, “and push thy business, seek work, travel, court, marry, buy and speculate.” I doubt if all this can be crowded into twenty-four hours outside The Arabian Nights. Besides, as a result of following Raphael’s advice, we are already bigamists several times over, and have become sick of the sight of a Registry Office. By the end of the month even Raphael shows signs of being a little weary of his scarcely veiled incitements to Bluebeardism. For the 29th he advises: “Avoid females and be very careful,” and for the 30th, which is a Sunday: “Avoid females and superiors.” I should just about think so.