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The Unknown Future

( Originally Published 1916 )

A GIRL went to a physician, who felt of her pulse, peeked into her eye, listened to her heart action, and announced that she had no more than six years to live.

At least, so it is presented in a recent Parisian play, and one critic proposed the query : "If you suddenly learned that you would die in six years, what would you do, and how would you pass the remainder of your allotted time?"

We cannot think of this without depression. And this leads us to realize that one of the chief ingredients in the sum of our contentment is our ignorance of the future.

The only reason why fortune tellers may be tolerated, together with gypsy seers, dealers in premonitions, and forewarners, is that they lie. If they tell the truth occasionally it is by accident.

The one thing we can never know, the eternally inscrutable region, is the future.

A European astronomer, Jean Mascart, feels confident he can tell what the weather is going to be a month in advance. The old-fashioned almanac claimed even more, for it foretold droughts and cold spells for the whole year. John Stuart Mill expressed the opinion that a science of the future might be created, indicating coming events by well known laws.

But so far all efforts to peer ahead are not in anywise to be depended on. For which let us be thankful!

What a calamity it would be if science should not only register the weather of next July, but the various happenings which are to come to us in the course of our existence, the disease which finally is to take us off, and even the date of our death !

Imagine a poor wretch who from childhood should know exactly the experiences he is to go through, and should thus play his part in the drama of life carefully following an unescapable programme !

No more surprises, and they are the chief pleasures of life.

No more mystery, and that is life's beauty. No more fancy and wonder about tomorrow, and thus today would be asphyxiated.

No more liberty, no more spirit of adventure, no gay meeting of the dawn with expectant heart.

You couldn't even commit suicide, unless it were in the programme.

No more courting and the delicious uncertainty as to her answer; you would know that you would get her anyhow, or not; why flutter?

The great tragedy, or comedy, of life is often disappointing in the end, but at least it is mighty interesting as we go along, thanks to the blessed curtain that

hides from us all the book of fate,
All but the page prescribed, the present date.

If the scientist should offer us a knowledge of the future we should tell him to go hang. Life is poky enough as it is; at least leave us those graces of surprise, of mystery, and of adventure without which existence would be a bore twice cursed.



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