A Look at Madam Bubble
(Taken from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan)
STANDFAST: Aye, aye, I saw Heedless and Too-bold there; and for ought I know, there they will lie till they rot. Prov. 10:7. But let me go on with my tale. As I was thus musing, as I said, there was one in very pleasant attire, but old, who presented herself to me, and offered me three things, to wit, her body, her purse, and her bed. Now the truth is, I was both weary and sleepy. I am also as poor as an owlet, and that perhaps the witch knew. Well, I repulsed her once and again, 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 enticements. Then I betook me, as you saw, to my knees, and with hands lifted up, and cries, I prayed 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.
MR. HONEST: 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.
STANDFAST: Perhaps you have done both.
MR. HONEST: Madam Bubble! Is she not a tall, comely dame, something of a swarthy complexion?
STANDFAST: Right, you hit it: she is just such a one.
MR. HONEST: Doth she not speak very smoothly, and give you a smile at the end of a sentence?
STANDFAST: You fall right upon it again, for these are her very actions.
MR. HONEST: Doth she not wear a great purse by her side, and is not her hand often in it, fingering her money, as if that was her heart’s delight.
STANDFAST: ‘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.
MR. HONEST: Then he that drew her picture was a good limner, and he that wrote of her said true.
MR. GREAT-HEART: This woman is a witch, and it is by virtue of her sorceries that this ground is enchanted. Whoever doth lay his head down in her lap, had as good lay it down on that block over which the axe 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. James 4:4. Yea, this is she that has 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 excellences 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 money 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 time, and open places of cheating; and she will say and avow it, that none can show a good comparable to hers. She promiseth to dwell with children’s children, if they will but love her 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.
STANDFAST: Oh, said Standfast, what a mercy is it that I did resist her; for whither might she have drawn me!
MR. GREAT-HEART: Whither? nay, none but God knows whither. But in general, to be sure, she would have drawn thee into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 1 Tim. 6:9. ‘T was she that set Absalom against his father, and Jeroboam against his master. ‘T was 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, betwixt neighbor and neighbor, betwixt a man and his wife, betwixt a man and himself, betwixt the flesh and the spirit. Wherefore, good Mr. Standfast, be as your name is, and when you have done all, stand.
(Painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec)