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The War And The Prophets
by [?]

At the end of an essay occurring in The Unknown Guest and entitled, The Knowledge of the Future, in which I examined a certain number of phenomena relating to the anticipatory perception of events, such as presentiments, premonitions, precognitions, predictions, etc., I concluded in nearly the following terms:

“To sum up, if it is difficult for us to conceive that the future preexists, perhaps it is just as difficult for us to understand that it does not exist; moreover, many facts tend to prove that it is as real and definite and has, both in time and eternity, the same permanence and the same vividness as the past. Now, from the moment that it preexists, it is not surprising that we should be able to know it; it is even astonishing, granted that it overhangs us from every side, that we should not discover it oftener and more easily.”

Above all is it astonishing and almost inconceivable that this universal war, the most stupendous catastrophe that has overwhelmed humanity since the origin of things, should not, while it was approaching, bearing in its womb innumerable woes which were about to affect almost every one of us, have thrown upon us more plainly, from the recesses of those days in which it was making ready, its menacing shadow. One would think that it ought to have overcast the whole horizon of the future, even as it will overcast the whole horizon of the past. A secret of such weight, suspended in time, ought surely to have weighed upon all our lives; and presentiments or revelations should have arisen on every hand. There was none of these. We lived and moved without uneasiness beneath the disaster which, from year to year, from day to day, from hour to hour, was descending upon the world; and we perceived it only when it touched our heads. True, it was more or less foreseen by our reason; but our reason hardly believed in it; and besides I am not for the moment speaking of the inductions of the understanding, which are always uncertain and which are resigned beforehand to the capricious contradictions which they are accustomed daily to receive from facts.

But I repeat, beside or above these inductions of our everyday logic, in the less familiar domain of supernatural intuitions, of divination, prediction or prophecy properly so-called, we find that there was practically nothing to warn us of the vast peril. This does not mean that there was any lack of predictions or prophecies collected after the event; these number, it appears, no fewer than eighty-three; but none of them, excepting those of Leon Sonrel and the Rector of Ars, which we will examine in a moment, is worthy of serious discussion. I shall therefore mention, by way of a reminder, only the most widely known; and, first of all, the famous prophecy of Mayence or Strasburg, which is supposed to have been discovered by a certain Jecker in an ancient convent founded near Mayence by St. Hildegard, of which the original text could not be found and of which no one until lately had ever heard. Then there is another prophecy of Mayence or Fiensberg, published in the Neue Metaphysische Rundschau of Berlin in February, 1912, in which the end of the German Empire is announced for the year 1913. Next, we have various predictions uttered by Mme. de Thebes, by Dom Bosco, by the Blessed Andrew Bobola, by Korzenicki, the Polish monk, by Tolstoy, by Brother Hermann and so on, which are even less interesting; and lastly the prophecy of “Brother Johannes,” published by M. Josephin Peladan in the Figaro of 16 September, 1914, which contains no evidence of genuineness and must therefore meanwhile be regarded merely as an ingenious literary conceit.

All these, on examination, leave but a worthless residuum; but the prophecies of the Rector of Ars and of Leon Sonrel are more curious and worthy of a moment’s attention.