"Madam Bubble" Not to Be Discouraged

December 21, 2014

John Bunyan

John Bunyan (1628–1688). The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Vol. 15, pp. 306-318 of The Harvard Classics

"Madam Bubble," or this vain world, presented both herself and her purse to the wayfarer. Repulsed and scorned, yet she serenely flaunts her bribes enticingly before his bewildered eyes.
(John Bunyan made leader of Non-Conformist congregation, Dec. 21, 1671.)

The Second Part


  So they came upon to another; and presently Stand-fast said to old Honest,Ho Father Honest, are you there? Ay, said he, that I am, as sure as you are there. Right glad am I, said Mr Stand-fast, that I have found you on this Road. And as glad am I, said the other, that I espied you upon your Knees. Then Mr Stand-fast blushed, and said, But why, did you see me? Yes, that I did, quoth the other, and with my heart was glad at the sight. Why, what did you think? said Stand-fast. Think, said Old Honest, what should I think? I thought we had an honest man upon the Road, and therefore should have his Company by and by. If you thought not amiss [said Stand-fast] how happy am I, but if I be not as I should, I alone must bear it. That is true, said the other, but your fear doth further confirm me that things are right betwixt the Prince of Pilgrims and your Soul, for he saith, Blessed is the man that feareth always.

  Valiant.  Well but Brother, I pray thee tell us what was it that was the cause of thy being upon thy Knees even now? Was it for that some special mercy laid obligations upon thee, or how?
  Stand-fast.  Why we are, as you see, upon the Inchanted Ground, and as I was coming along, I was musing with myself of what a dangerous Road the Road in this place was, and how many that had come even thus far on Pilgrimage had here been stopt and been destroyeth. I thought also of the manner of the Death with which this place destroyed men. Those that die here, die of no violent Distemper. The Death which such die is not grievous to them, for he that goeth away in a sleep begins that Journey with Desire and Pleasure; yea, such acquiesce in the will of that Disease.
  Hon.  Then Mr Honest interrupting of him said, Did you see the two men asleep in the Arbor?
  Stand-fast.  Ay, ay, I saw Heedless and Too-bold there, and for ought I know, there they will lie till they rot. But let me go on in my Tale. As I was thus musing, as I said, there was one in very pleasant attire, but old, who presented herself unto me, and offered me three things, to wit, her Body, her Purse and her Bed. Now the truth is, I was both a-weary and sleepy, I am also as poor as a Howlet, and that perhaps the Witch knew. Well I repulsed her once and twice, but she put by my repulses, and smiled. Then I began to be angry, but she mattered that nothing at all. Then she made offers again, and said, If I would be ruled by her, she would make me great and happy, for said she, I am the Mistress of the World, and men are made happy by me. Then I asked her name, and she told me it was Madam Bubble. This set me further from her, but she still followed me with Inticements. Then I betook me, as you see, to my Knees, and with hands lift up and cries, I pray’d to him that had said he would help. So just as you came up, the Gentlewoman went her way. Then I continued to give thanks for this my great Deliverance, for I verily believe she intended no good, but rather sought to make stop of me in my Journey.
  Hon.  Without doubt her Designs were bad. But stay, now you talk of her, methinks I either have seen her, or have read some story of her.
  Stand-fast.  Perhaps you have done both.
  Hon.  Madam Bubble, is she not a tall comely Dame, something of a swarthy Complexion?
  Stand-fast.  Right, you hit it, she is just such an one.
  Hon.  Doth she not speak very smoothly, and give you a Smile at the end of a Sentence?
  Stand-fast.  You fall right upon it again, for these are her very Actions.
  Hon.  Doth she not wear a great Purse by her side, and is not her Hand often in it fingering her Mony, as if that was her heart’s delight?
  Stand-fast.  ’Tis just so; had she stood by all this while, you could not more amply have set her forth before me, nor have better described her Features.
  Hon. Then he that drew her picture was a good Limner, and he that wrote of her said true.
  Great-heart.  This woman is a Witch, and it is by vertue of her Sorceries that this ground is inchanted. Whoever doth lay their Head down in her Lap, had as good lay it down upon that Block over which the Ax doth hang; and whoever lay their Eyes upon her Beauty, are counted the Enemies of God. This is she that maintaineth in their splendor all those that are the Enemies of Pilgrims. Yea, this is she that hath bought off many a man from a Pilgrim’s Life. She is a great Gossiper, she is always, both she and her Daughters, at one Pilgrim’s heels or another, now commending and then preferring the excellencies of this Life. She is a bold and impudent Slut, she will talk with any man. She always laugheth poor Pilgrims to scorn, but highly commends the rich. If there be one cunning to get Mony in a place, she will speak well of him from house to house. She loveth Banqueting and Feasting mainly well, she is always at one full Table or another. She has given it out in some places that she is a Goddess, and therefore some do worship her. She has her times and open places of Cheating, and she will say and avow it that none can shew a good comparable to hers. She promiseth to dwell with Children’s Children, if they will but love and make much of her. She will cast out of her Purse Gold like Dust, in some places, and to some persons. She loves to be sought after, spoken well of, and to lie in the Bosoms of Men. She is never weary of commending her Commodities, and she loves them most that think best of her. She will promise to some Crowns and Kingdoms if they will but take her advice, yet many has she brought to the Halter, and ten thousand times more to Hell.
  Stand-fast.  Oh, said Stand-fast, what a mercy is it that I did resist her, for whither might she a drawn me?
  Great-heart.  Whither, nay, none but God knows whither. But in general to be sure, she would a drawn thee into many foolish and hurtful Lusts, which drown men in Destruction and Perdition.
  ’Twas she that set Absalom against his Father, and Jeroboam against his Master. ’Twas she that persuaded Judas to sell his Lord, and that prevailed with Demas to forsake the godly Pilgrim’s Life. None can tell of the Mischief that she doth. She makes variance betwixt Rulers and Subjects, betwixt Parents and Children, ’twixt Neighbor and Neighbor, ’twixt a Man and his Wife, ’twixt a Man and Himself, ’twixt the Flesh and the Heart.
  Wherefore good Master Stand-fast, be as your name is, and when you have done all, stand.
  At this Discourse there was among the Pilgrims a mixture of Joy and Trembling, but at length they brake out, and sang,   Some of the Ditch shy are, yet can

  What danger is the Pilgrim in,
How many are his Foes,
How many ways there are to sin,
No living mortal knows.

Lie tumbling on the Mire;
Some tho’ they shun the Frying-pan,
Do leap into the Fire.

  After this I beheld until they were come unto the Land of Beulah, where the Sun shineth Night and Day. Here, because they was weary, they betook themselves a while to rest. And because this Country was common for Pilgrims, and because the Orchards and Vineyards that were here belonged to the King of the Cœlestial Country, therefore they were licensed to make bold with any of his things. But a little while soon refreshed them here; for the Bells did so ring, and the Trumpets continually sound so melodiously, that they could not sleep; and yet they received as much refreshing as if they had slept their sleep never so soundly. Here also all the noise of them that walked the Streets, was, More Pilgrims are come to Town. And another would answer, saying, And so many went over the Water, and were let in at the Golden Gates to-day. They would cry again, There is now a Legion of Shining Ones just come to Town, by which we know that there are more Pilgrims upon the road, for here they come to wait for them, and to comfort them after all their Sorrow. Then the Pilgrims got up and walked to and fro; but how were their Ears now filled with Heavenly Noises, and their eyes delighted with Cœlestial Visions! In this Land they heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing, smelt nothing, tasted nothing, that was offensive to their Stomach or Mind; only when they tasted of the Water of the River over which they were to go, they thought that tasted a little bitterish to the Palate, but it proved sweeter when ’twas down.

  In this place there was a Record kept of the names of them that had been Pilgrims of old, and a History of all the famous Acts that they had done. It was here also much discoursed how the River to some had had its flowings,and what ebbings it has had while others have gone over. It has been in a manner dry for some, while it has overflowed its banks for others.

  In this place the Children of the Town would go into the King’s Gardens and gather Nosegays for the Pilgrims, and bring them to them with much affection. Here also grew Camphire with Spikenard and Saffron Calamus and Cinnamon, with all its Trees of Frankincense Myrrh and Aloes, with all chief Spices. With these the Pilgrim’s Chambers were perfumed while they stayed here, and with these were their Bodies anointed, to prepare them to go over the River when the time appointed was come.

  Now while they lay here and waited for the good hour, there was a noise in the Town that there was a Post come from the Cœlestial City, with matter of great importance to one Christiana the Wife of Christian the Pilgrim. So enquiry was made for her, and the house was found out where she was. So the Post presented her with a Letter, the contents whereof was, Hail, good Woman, I bring thee Tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth that thou shouldest stand in his presence in Cloaths of Immortality, within this ten days.

  When he had read this Letter to her, he gave her therewith a sure token that he was a true Messenger, and was come to bid her make haste to be gone. The token was an Arrow with a point sharpened with Love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone.

  When Christiana saw that her time was come, and that she was the first of this Company that was to go over, she called for Mr Great-heart her Guide, and told him how matters were. So he told her he was heartily glad of the News, and could have been glad had the Post come for him. Then she bid that he should give advice how all things should be prepared for her Journey. So he told her, saying, Thus and thus it must be, and we that survive will accompany you to the River-side.

  Then she called for her Children, and gave them her Blessing, and told them that she yet read with comfort the Mark that was set in their Foreheads, and was glad to see them with her there, and that they had kept their Garments so white. Lastly, she bequeathed to the Poor that little she had, and commanded her Sons and her Daughters to be ready against the Messenger should come for them.

  When she had spoken these words to her Guide and to her Children, she called for Mr Valiant-for-truth, and said unto him, Sir, you have in all places shewed yourself true-hearted, be faithful unto Death, and my King will give you a Crown of Life. I would also entreat you to have an eye to my Children, and if at any time you see them faint, speak comfortably to them. For my Daughters, my Sons’ Wives, they have been faithful, and a fulfilling of the Promise upon them will be their end. But she gave Mr Stand-fast a Ring.

  Then she called for old Mr Honest, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no Guile. Then said he, I wish you a fair day when you set out for Mount Zion, and shall be glad to see that you go over the River dry-shod. But she answered, Come wet, come dry, I long to be gone, for however the Weather is in my Journey, I shall have time enough when I come there to sit down and rest me and dry me.

  Then came in that good man Mr Ready-to-halt to see her. So she said to him, Thy Travel hither has been with difficulty, but that will make thy Rest the sweeter. But watch and be ready, for at an hour when you think not, the Messenger may come.

  After him came in Mr Dispondency and his Daughter Much-afraid, to whom she said, You ought with thankfulness for ever to remember your Deliverance from the hands of Giant Despair and out of Doubting Castle.The effect of that Mercy is, that you are brought with safety hither. Be ye watchful and cast away Fear, be sober and hope to the end.

  Then she said to Mr Feeble-mind, Thou wast delivered from the mouth of Giant Slay-good, that thou mightest live in the Light of the Living for ever, and see thy King with comfort. Only I advise thee to repent thee of thine aptness to fear and doubt of his goodness before he sends for thee, lest thou shouldest when he comes, be forced to stand before him for that fault with blushing.

  Now the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the Road was full of People to see her take her Journey. But behold all toe Banks beyond the River were full of Horses and Chariots, which were come down from above to accompany her to the City Gate. So she came forth and entered the River, with a beckon of Farewell to those that followed her to the River-side. The last word she was heard to say here was, I come Lord, to be with thee and bless thee.

  So her Children and Friends returned to their place, for that those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the Gate with all the Ceremonies of Joy that her Husband Christian had done before her.

    At her departure her Children wept, but Mr Great-heart and Mr Valiant played upon the well-tuned Cymbal and Harp for Joy. So all departed to their respective places.

  In process of time there came a Post to the Town again, and his business was with Mr Ready-to-halt. So he enquired him out, and said to him, I am come to thee in the name of him whom thou hast loved and followed, tho’ upon Crutches; and my Message is to tell thee that he expects thee at his Table to sup with him in his Kingdom the next day after Easter, wherefore prepare thyself for this Journey.

  Then he also gave him a Token that he was a true Messenger, saying, I have broken thy golden bowl, and loosed thy silver cord.

  After this Mr Ready-to-halt called for his fellow Pilgrims, and told them, saying, I am sent for, and God shall surely visit you also. So he desired Mr Valiant to make his Will. And because he had nothing to bequeath to them that should survive him but his Crutches and his good Wishes, therefore thus he said, These Crutches I bequeath to my Son that shall tread in my steps, with a hundred warm wishes that he may prove better than I have done.

  Then he thanked Mr Great-heart for his Conduct and Kindness, and so addressed himself to his Journey. When he came at the Brink of the River he said, Now I shall have no more need of these Crutches, since yonder are Chariots and Horses for me to ride on. The last words he was heard to say was, Welcome Life. So he went his way.

  After this Mr Feeble-mind had Tidings brought him that the Post sounded his Horn at his Chamber-door. Then he came in and told him, saying, I am come to tell thee that thy Master has need of thee, and that in very little time thou must behold his Face in Brightness. And take this as a Token of the Truth of my Message, Those that look out at the Windows shall be darkened.

  Then Mr Feeble-mind called for his Friends, and told them what Errand had been brought unto him, and what Token he had received of the Truth of the Message. Then he said, Since I have nothing to bequeath to any, to what purpose should I make a Will? As for my feeble mind, that I will leave behind me, for that I have no need of that in the place whither I go. Nor is it worth bestowing upon the poorest Pilgrim; wherefore when I am gone, I desire that you, Mr Valiant, would bury it in a Dunghill. This done, and the day being come in which he was to depart, he entered the River as the rest. His last words were, Hold out Faith and Patience. So he went over to the other side.

  When days had many of them passed away, Mr. Dispondency was sent for. For a Post was come, and brought this Message to him, Trembling man, these are to summon thee to be ready with thy King by the next Lord’s day, to shout for Joy for thy Deliverance from all thy Doubtings.

  And said the Messenger, That my Message is true take this for a Proof; so he gave him The Grasshopper to be a Burden unto him. Now Mr Dispondency’s Daughter whose name was Much-afraid said when she heard what was done, that she would go with her Father. Then Mr Dispondency said to his Friends, Myself and my Daughter, you know what we have been, and how troublesomely we have behaved ourselves in every Company. My Will and my Daughter’s is, that our Disponds and slavish Fears be by no man ever received from the day of our Departure for ever, for I know that after my Death they will offer themselves to others. For to be plain with you, they are Ghosts, the which we entertained when we first began to be Pilgrims, and could never shake them off after; and they will walk about and seek entertainment of the Pilgrims, but for our sakes shut ye the doors upon them.

  When the time was come for them to depart, they went to the Brink of the River. The last words of Mr Dispondency were, Farewell Night, welcome Day. His Daughter went through the River singing, but none could understand what she said.

  Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a Post in the town that enquired for Mr Honest. So he came to his house where he was, and delivered to his hand these lines, Thou art commanded to be ready against this day seven-night to present thyself before thy Lord at his Father’s house. And for a Token that my Message is true, All thy Daughters of Musick shall be brought low. Then Mr Honest called for his Friends, and said unto them, I die, but shall make no Will. As for my Honesty, it shall go with me; let him that comes after be told of this. When the day that he was to be gone was come, he addressed himself to go over the River. Now the River at that time overflowed the Banks in some places, but Mr Honest in his lifetime had spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. The last words of Mr Honest were, Grace reigns. So he left the World.

  After this it was noised abroad that Mr Valiant-for-truth was taken with a Summons by the same Post as the other, and had this for a Token that the Summons was true, That his Pitcher was broken at the Fountain. When he understood it, he called for his Friends, and told them of it. Then said he, I am going to my Fathers, and tho’ with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the Trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My Sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my Pilgrimage, and my Courage and Skill to him that can get it. My Marks and Scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his Battles who now will be my Rewarder. When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the Riverside, into which as he went he said, Death, where is thy Sting? And as he went down deeper he said, Grave, where is thy Victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

  Then there came forth a Summons for Mr Stand-fast, (This Mr Stand-fast was he that the rest of the Pilgrims found upon his Knees in the Inchanted Ground) for the Post brought it him open in his hands. The contents whereof, were, that he must prepare for a Change of Life, for his Master was not willing that he should be so far from him any longer. At this Mr. Stand-fast was put into a muse. Nay, said the Messenger, you need not doubt of the truth of my Message, for here is a Token of the Truth thereof, Thy Wheel is broken at the Cistern. Then he called to him Mr Great-heart who was their Guide, and said, unto him, Sir, altho’ it was not my hap to be much in your good Company in the days of my Pilgrimage, yet since the time I knew you, you have been profitable to me. When I came from home, I left behind me a Wife and five small Children, let me entreat you at your return, (for I know that you will go and return to your Master’s house, in hopes that you may yet be a Conductor to more of the holy Pilgrims) that you send to my Family, and let them be acquainted with all that hath and shall happen unto me. Tell them moreover of my happy Arrival to this place, and of the present late blessed condition that I am in. Tell them also of Christian and Christiana his Wife, and how she and her Children came after her Husband. Tell them also of what a happy end she made, and whither she is gone. I have little or nothing to send to my Family, except it be Prayers and Tears for them; of which it will suffice if thou acquaint them, if peradventure they may prevail.

  When Mr. Stand-fast had thus set things in order, and the time being come for him to haste him away, he also went down to the River. Now there was a great Calm at that time in the River; wherefore Mr Stand-fast, when he was about half-way in, he stood awhile, and talked to his Companions that had waited upon him thither. And he said,

  This River has been a Terror to many, yea, the thoughts of it also have often frighted me. But now methinks I stand easy, my Foot is fixed upon that upon which the Feet of the Priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant stood, while Israel went over this Jordan. The Waters indeed are to the Palate bitter and to the Stomach cold, yet the thoughts of what I am going to and of the Conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing Coal at my Heart.

  I see myself now at the end of my Journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that Head that was crowned with Thorns, and that Face that was spit upon for me.

  I have formerly lived by Hear-say and Faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose Company I delight myself.

  I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of his Shoe in the Earth, there I have coveted to set my Foot too.

  His Name has been to me as a Civit-box, yea, sweeter than all Perfumes. His Voice to me has been most sweet, and his Countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the Light of the Sun. His Word I did use to gather for my Food, and for Antidotes against my Faintings. He has held me, and I have kept me from mine iniquities, yea, my Steps hath he strengthened in his Way.

  Now while he was thus in Discourse, his Countenance changed, his strong man bowed under him, and after he had said, Take me, for I come unto thee,he ceased to be seen of them.

  But glorious it was to see how the open Region was filled with Horses and Chariots, with Trumpeters and Pipers, with Singers and Players on stringed Instruments, to welcome the Pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the beautiful Gate of the City.

  As for Christian’s Children, the four Boys that Christiana brought with her, with their Wives and Children, I did not stay where I was till they were gone over. Also since I came away, I heard one say that they were yet alive, and so would be for the Increase of the Church in that place where they were for a time.

  Shall it be my Lot to go that way again, I may give those that desire it an account of what I here am silent about; mean-time I bid my Reader Adieu.

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