The following curious prophesy appeared among miscellaneous tracts published by Sir Thomas Browne in 1683 (Some of you know Browne as author of Religio Medici)
When New England shall trouble New Spain.
When Jamaica shall be Lady of the Isles and the Main.
In the first line Brown prophesies that New England will in time “set forth great armies” and “seek for new possessions . . . either in the dominions or frontiers of the Spaniards.” Check!
In the second he prophesies that the mainland will one day be a “receptacle for colonies,” not only from Jamaica, but also from “Barbados and the neighboring isles” Check!
When Spain shall be in America hid,
And Mexico shall prove a Madrid.
Spain has been in America hid, although Mexico City is not yet the seat of a great empire.
When Mahomet’s Ships on the Baltic shall ride,
And Turks shall labor to have Ports on that side.
Wouldn’t Brown be surprised to learn that Mahomet’s ships are, indeed, airships, and that they are piloted and paid for by the people of the Baltics. Talk about dhimmitude.
When Africa shall no more sell out their Blacks
To make Slaves and Drudges to the American Tracts.
It took two hundred years for this astonishing prophesy to come true
When Batavia the Old shall be contemn’d by the New.
When a new Drove of Tartars shall China subdue.
Batavia the old is Holland; Batavia the new is Jakarta, or the capital of the Dutch colonies in the East Indies. If we take this as a prophesy of post-colonial international relations, I’d say we have another check
When America shall cease to send out its Treasure,
But employ it at home in American Pleasure.
We’ve gone beyond this prophesy, and are now borrowing treasure to pay for American pleasure.
When the new World shall the old invade,
Nor count them their Lords but their fellows in Trade.
New World invade the old! I wonder what he was thinking.
When Men shall almost pass to Venice by Land,
Not in deep Water but from Sand to Sand.
As they can indeed do nowadays
When Nova Zembla shall be no stay
Unto those who pass to or from Cathay.
Yes, the Soviets did this with icebreakers
Then think strange things are come to light,
Whereof but few have had a foresight.
Strange things indeed are come to light! I wonder how he knew.