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Sir Francis Bacon: Essays of Francis Bacon
35. Of Prophecies
I MEAN not to speak of divine prophecies; nor of heathen oracles; nor of natural predictions; but only of prophecies that have been of certain memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the Pythonissa to Saul, To-morrow thou and thy son shall be with me. Homer hath these verses:
At domus AEneae cunctis dominabitur oris,
A prophecy, as it seems, of the Roman empire. Seneca the tragedian hath these verses:
a prophecy of the discovery of America. The daughter of Polycrates, dreamed that Jupiter bathed her father, and Apollo anointed him; and it came to pass, that he was crucified in an open place, where the sun made his body run with sweat, and the rain washed it. Philip of Macedon dreamed, he sealed up bis wife's belly; whereby he did expound it, that his wife should be barren; but Aristander the soothsayer, told him his wife was with child, because men do not use to seal vessels, that are empty. A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus, in his tent, said to him, Philippis iterum me videbis. Tiberius said to Galba, Tu quoque, Galba, degustabis imperium. In Vespasian's time, there went a prophecy in the East, that those that should come forth of Judea, should reign over the world: which though it may be was meant of our Savior; yet Tacitus expounds it of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the night before he was slain, that a golden head was growing, out of the nape of his neck: and indeed, the succession that followed him for many years, made golden times. Henry the Sixth of England, said of Henry the Seventh, when he was a lad, and gave him water, This is the lad that shall enjoy the crown, for which we strive. When I was in France, I heard from one Dr. Pena, that the Queen Mother, who was given to curious arts, caused the King her husband's nativity to be calculated, under a false name; and the astrologer gave a judgment, that he should be killed in a duel; at which the Queen laughed, thinking her husband to be above challenges and duels: but he was slain upon a course at tilt, the splinters of the staff of Montgomery going in at his beaver. The trivial prophecy, which I heard when I was a child, and Queen Elizabeth was in the flower of her years, was,
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