Prophesy upon Velvet

(To). To prophesy what is already a known fact. Thus, the issue of a battle flashed to an individual may, by some chance, get to the knowledge of a “sibyl,” who may securely prophesy the issue to others; but such a prediction would be a “prophecy on velvet;” it goes on velvet slippers without fear of stumbling.

“If one of those three had spoken the news over again ... the old lady [or sibyl] prophesies upon velvet.” —Sir W. Scott: The Pirate, ch. xxi.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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