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"If the old gentleman had kept quiet,
boys, I wouldn't have told, for I was in the
same boat with him; but he couldn't. So
the next time he met some of his cronies
over in the Eldorado, he began to tell the
story, entirely omitting himself, and putting
it all on me, with numerous exaggerations.
I didn't know much about it until in the
afternoon I was loafing down the street,
when I was astonished to hear out of every
other store-door a peculiar whine, and
noticed that old Doc, Judge Hemmings,
Jim Greenacre, the sheriff, and a few more
worthies like that, were all grinning out
between Doc's bottles. Then, when I
went down to the Eldorado, I was shouted
at by a lot of fellows to tell all about 'that
grizzly.' Then I saw what was up, and
after standing drinks round, as I saw I
was bound to do, I told the story, with a
few particulars not in the original, and
not, you may be certain, to Doc's credit.
On that particular afternoon I let my
imagination get clear swing, and Doc warn't
glorified! You bet he warn't, and that he
hasn't heard the last of that grizzly story
for a few years!"


I MAY not kiss away the tears that still
Hang on the lids which those loved eyes enshrine:
I may not weep away the tears that fill
These aching eyes of mine.

Sleep on, sad soul, shelter'd from love and pain!
Or haply shelter love from pain, with thee,
In thy sweet dreams. When we two meet again,
'Tis but in dreams 'twill be.


ONE of the many curious topics of everyday
talk is the real or alleged fulfilment of
real or alleged predictions. We say "everyday
talk;" because, for obvious reasons, the
prophecies treated by theologians cannot
be noticed here. Of such predictions as
seem to have been really fulfilled, let us
speak with becoming fairness, keeping
clear from all discussion as to the possession,
by exceptional persons, of exceptional
powers of foresight. There are many reasons
why every prediction ought to be judged
closely and searchingly to see whether it
will stand its ground or notwhether it
can render a good account of its birth,
parentage, and general history.

If we are puzzled at times about the
apparent fulfilment of predictions in popular
almanacks, it is worth while bearing in view
the fact, that when very numerous
predictions are made, some of them are likely
to be followed by what looks like fulfilment,
according to the law of probability
a law well-known to actuaries and others
engaged in computing tables for life assurance,
annuities, survivorships, &c. Every
such actuary predicts, in a scientific sense;
but it is always by inferring the probabilities
of the future from the teachings of the
past. If life present the same phenomena
in the next half century as it did in the
last, then out of a certain number of
persons of a certain age a certain proportion
will die in the next twelve months. A
curious bit of computation has been made
concerning the stupid superstition about
thirteen at table. M. Quetelet, a
distinguished Belgian savant, has computed that
of any thirteen persons, containing a fair
proportion of both sexes and different ages
living at any one time, it is just about an
even chance that some one of them will die
within twelve months. If, therefore, one
in a company of thirteen should die within
this period, there is nothing wonderful in
it; but if a predictor states that it is
because they all sat down to dinner at one
table, or if he asserts that the charm is
broken by making the number twelve or
fourteen instead of thirteen, then he is
bound to prove his case. Besides, no
account is ever taken of such of these social
gatherings of thirteen as are not followed
by fatal results. The believers in ill omens
are silent in such cases.

This opens the path to another aspect
of so-called fulfilled predictions. As the
law of probability can account for a small
number of remarkable instances, so does it
take account of the enormous preponderance
of cases in which there is no observable
coincidence at all. A very pungent truth
is contained in the couplet,

What is hit is history;
But what is miss'd is mystery;

applicable to the fact that every-day
believers in the marvellous do not imitate
the actuaries or the probability-computers
in their mode of reasoning; they are greatly
interested in every "hit," every fulfilled
prediction; but they do not tabulate those
instances in which a "miss" or failure
occurs. Lord Bacon so exactly expressed
this, that he may have been, for aught we
know, the originator of the saying; he says
that one reason why popular predictions
are believed is, "That men mark when
they hit, and never mark when they miss,
as they do generally." And he applies this