We enter an edifice, upon the interior of which the upholsterer and the cabinet-maker have exhausted the resources of their trades. The word “subdued” describes the effect at which those artists have aimed. The woods employed are costly and rich, but usually of a sombre hue, and, though elaborately carved, are frequently unpolished. The light which comes through the stained windows, or through the small diamond panes, is of that description which is eminently the “dim, religious.” Every part of the floor is thickly carpeted. The pews differ little from sofas, except in being more comfortable, and the cushions for the feet or the knees are as soft as hair and cloth can make them. It is a fashion, at present, to put the organ out of sight, and to have a clock so unobtrusive as not to be observed. Galleries are now viewed with an unfriendly eye by the projectors of churches, and they are going out of use. Everything in the way of conspicuous lighting apparatus, such as the gorgeous and dazzling chandeliers of fifteen years ago, and the translucent globes of later date, is discarded, and an attempt is sometimes made to hide the vulgar fact that the church is ever open in the evening. In a word the design of the fashionable church-builder of the present moment is to produce a richly furnished, quietly adorned, dimly illuminated, ecclesiastical parlor, in which a few hundred ladies and gentlemen, attired in kindred taste, may sit perfectly at their ease, and see no object not in harmony with the scene around them.
To say that the object of these costly and elegant arrangements is to repel poor people would be a calumny. On the contrary, persons who show by their dress and air that they exercise the less remunerative vocations are as politely shown to seats as those who roll up to the door in carriages, and the presence of such persons is desired, and, in many instances, systematically sought. Nevertheless, the poor are repelled. They know they cannot pay their proportion of the expense of maintaining such establishments, and they do not wish to enjoy what others pay for. Everything in and around the church seems to proclaim it a kind of exclusive ecclesiastical club, designed for the accommodation of persons of ten thousand dollars a year, and upward. Or it is as though the carriages on the Road to Heaven were divided into first-class, second-class, and third-class, and a man either takes the one that accords with his means, or denies himself the advantage of travelling that road, or prefers to trudge along on foot, an independent wayfarer.
It is Sunday morning, and the doors of this beautiful drawing-room are thrown open. Ladies dressed with subdued magnificence glide in, along with some who have not been able to leave at home the showier articles of their wardrobe. Black silk, black velvet, black lace, relieved by intimations of brighter colors, and by gleams from half-hidden jewelry, are the materials most employed. Gentlemen in uniform