“The whole scheme [the Fenian raid on British America] was a collapsed bubble.”- The Times.
The Bubble Act, 6 George I., cap. 18; published 1719, and repealed July 5th, 1825. Its object was to punish the promoters of bubble schemes.
A bubble company. A company whose object is to enrich themselves at the expense of subscribers to their scheme.
A bubble scheme. A project for getting money from subscribers to a scheme of no value.
Something pretentious, but of no real value, such as “rank and title,” or a bit of ribbon in one's button hole.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894