The Pilgrim's Progress

by John Bunyan

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Part II - Chapter IX - The Enchanted Ground


By this time they were got to the Enchanted Ground, where the air naturally tended to make one drowsy. And that place was all grown over with briers and thorns, excepting here and there, where was an enchanted arbor, upon which if a man sits, or in which if a man sleeps, it is a question, say some, whether ever he shall rise or wake again in this world. Over this forest, therefore, they went, both one and another; and Mr. Great-heart went before, for that he was the guide, and Mr. Valiant-for-truth came behind, being rear-guard, for fear lest peradventure some fiend, or dragon, or giant, or thief, should fall upon their rear, and so do mischief. They went on here, each man with his sword drawn in his hand, for they knew it was a dangerous place. Also they cheered up one another as well as they could. Feeble-mind, Mr. Great-heart commanded, should come up after him; and Mr. Despondency was under the eye of Mr. Valiant.

Now, they had not gone far, but a great mist and darkness fell upon them all, so that they could scarce, for a great while, see the one the other; wherefore they were forced, for some time, to feel for one another by words; for they walked[368] not by sight. But any one must think that here was but sorry going for the best of them all; but how much worse for the women and children, who both of feet and heart were but tender! Yet so it was, that through the encouraging words of him that led in the front, they made a pretty good shift to wag along.

The way also was here very wearisome through dirt and slabbiness. Nor was there on all this ground so much as one inn or victualling-house, therein to refresh the feebler sort. Here, therefore, was grunting, and puffing and sighing. While one tumbleth over a brush, another sticks fast in the dirt; and the children, some of them, lost their shoes in the mire. While one cries out, "I am down!" and another, "Ho! where are you?" and a third, "The bushes have got such fast hold on me, I think I cannot get away from them."

Then they came at an arbor, warm, and promising much refreshing to the pilgrims; for it was finely wrought above head, beautified with greens, furnished with benches and settles. It also had in it a soft couch, whereon the weary might lean. This, you must think, all things considered, was tempting; for the pilgrims already began to be foiled with the badness of the way; but there was not one of them that made so much as a motion to stop there. Yea, for aught I could perceive, they continually gave so good heed to the advice of their guide, and he did so faithfully tell them of dangers, and of the nature of dangers when they[369] were at them, that usually, when they were nearest to them, they did most pluck up their spirits, and hearten one another to deny the flesh. This arbor was called "The Slothful's Friend," on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims there to take up their rest when weary.

I saw then in my dream, that they went on in this their solitary ground, till they came to a place at which a man is apt to lose his way. Now, though when it was light their guide could well enough tell how to miss those ways that led wrong, yet, in the dark, he was put to a stand. But he had in his pocket a map of all ways leading to or from the Celestial City; wherefore he struck a light (for he also never goes without his tinder-box), and takes a view of his book or map, which bids him be careful in that place to turn to the right-hand way. And had he not here been careful to look in his map, they had, in all probability been smothered in the mud; for, just a little before them, and that at the end of the cleanest way too, was a pit, none knows how deep, full of nothing but mud, there made on purpose to destroy the pilgrims in.

Then thought I with myself, "Who that goeth on pilgrimage but would have one of those maps about him, that he may look, when he is at a stand, which is the way he must take?"

They went on then in this Enchanted Ground till they came to where was another arbor, and it was built by the highway-side. And in that[370] arbor there lay two men, whose names were Heedless and Too-bold. These two went thus far on pilgrimage; but here, being wearied with their journey, they sat down to rest themselves, and so fell fast asleep. When the pilgrims saw them, they stood still, and shook their heads; for they knew that the sleepers were in a pitiful case. Then they consulted what to do,—whether to go on, and leave them in their sleep, or to step to them, and try to awake them. So they concluded to go to them and wake them; that is, if they could; but with this caution, namely, to take heed that themselves did not sit down nor embrace the offered benefit of that arbor.

So they went in and spake to the men, and called each one by his name (for the guide, it seems, did know them); but there was no voice or answer. Then the guide did shake them, and do what he could to disturb them. Then said one of them, "I will pay you when I take my money." At which the guide shook his head. "I will fight so long as I can hold my sword in my hand," said the other. At that, one of the children laughed.

THE LAND OF BEULAH Then said Christiana, "What is the meaning of this?" The guide said, "They talk in their sleep. If you strike them, beat them, or whatever else you do to them, they will answer you after this fashion; or, as one of them said in old time, when the waves of the sea did beat upon him, and he slept as one upon the mast of a ship, 'When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.' You know,[371] when men talk in their sleep, they say anything, but their words are not governed either by faith or reason. There is an unsuitableness in their words now, as there was before betwixt their going on pilgrimage and sitting down there. This, then, is the mischief of it: when heedless ones go on pilgrimage, 'tis twenty to one but they are served thus. For this Enchanted Ground is one of the last refuges that the enemy to pilgrims has; wherefore, it is, as you see, placed almost at the end of the way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage. For when, thinks the enemy, will these fools be so desirous to sit down as when they are weary? and when so like to be weary as when almost at their journey's end? Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted Ground is placed so near to the Land of Beulah, and so near the end of their race. Wherefore, let pilgrims look to themselves, lest it happen to them as it has done to these, that, as you see, are fallen asleep, and none can wake them."

Then the pilgrims desired, with trembling, to go forward; only they prayed their guide to strike a light, that they might go the rest of their way by the help of the light of a lantern. So he struck a light, and they went by the help of that through the rest of this way, though the darkness was very great. But the children began to be sorely weary; and they cried out to Him that loveth pilgrims to make their way more comfortable. So, by that they had gone a little farther, a wind arose that[372] drove away the fog; so the air became more clear. Yet they were not off, by much, of the Enchanted Ground; only now they could see one another better, and the way wherein they should walk.

Now, when they were almost at the end of this ground, they perceived that a little before them was a solemn noise, as of one that was much concerned. So they went on, and looked before them; and behold, they saw, as they thought, a man upon his knees, with hands and eyes lift up, and speaking, as they thought, earnestly to One that was above. They drew nigh, but could not tell what he said; so they went softly till he had done. When he had done, he got up, and began to run towards the Celestial City.

Then Mr. Great-heart called after him, saying, "So-ho, friend! let us have your company, if you go, as I suppose you do, to the Celestial City."

So the man stopped, and they came up to him. But, as soon as Mr. Honest saw him, he said, "I know this man."

Then said Mr. Valiant-for-truth, "Prithee, who is it?"

"It is one," said he, "that comes from whereabout I dwelt. His name is Stand-fast; he is certainly a right good pilgrim."

So they came up one 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."

HEEDLESS AND TOO-BOLD [373]"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 show 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 upon thee, the need of prayer, or how?

Stand. Why, we are, as you see, upon the Enchanted 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 stopped and been destroyed. I thought also[374] of the manner of the death with which this place destroyeth men. Those that die here die of no violent, painful disease: the death which such die is not grievous to them. For he that goeth away in such a sleep, begins that journey with desire and pleasure. Yea, such sink into 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 REPULSES MADAM Stand. Ay, ay, I saw Heedless and Too-bold there; and, for aught 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 to me, and offered me three things; to wit, her body, her purse, and her bed. Now, the truth is, I was both aweary and sleepy; I am also as poor as an owlet, and that, perhaps, the witch knew. Well, I repulsed her once or 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 farther from her; but she still followed me with enticements. Then I betook me, as you saw, to my knees; and, with hands lift up, and cries, I prayed to Him that had said He would[375] 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. Perhaps you have done both.

Hon. Madam Bubble? Is she not a tall, comely dame, somewhat of a swarthy complexion?

Stand. Right, you hit it: she is just such a one.

Hon. Does she not speak very smoothly, and give you a smile at the end of a sentence?

Stand. 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 money, as if that was her heart's delight?

Stand. '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 artist, and he that wrote of her said true.

MADAM BUBBLE'S INFLUENCE Great. This woman is a witch, and it is by virtue of her witchcraft that this ground is enchanted. Whoever doth lay his head down in her lap, had as good lay it down upon that block over which the axe doth hang; and whoever lay their[376] eyes upon her beauty, are accounted 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 other; now commanding, and then preferring the excellences of this life. She is a bold and impudent creature; 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 times 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 praising her gifts 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 hath she brought to the halter, and ten thousand times more to hell.

Stand. "Oh," said Mr. Stand-fast, "what a[377] mercy it is that I did resist her! for whither might she have drawn me?"

Great. 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 ruin. '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, betwixt neighbor and neighbor, betwixt a man and his wife, betwixt a man and himself, betwixt the flesh and the heart. Wherefore, good Master Stand-fast, be as your name is, and when you have done all, stand.

At this course there was among the pilgrims a mixture of joy and trembling; but at length they brake out, and sang:

"What danger is the pilgrim in!
How many are his foes!
How many ways there are to sin
No living mortal knows.
"Some of the ditch shy are, yet can
Lie tumbling in the mire;
Some, though they shun the frying-pan,
Do leap into the fire."

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