Mansfield Park (Chapter 9, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 9

Having visited many more rooms than could be supposed to be of any
other use than to contribute to the window-tax, and find employment for
housemaids, "Now," said Mrs. Rushworth, "we are coming to the chapel,
which properly we ought to enter from above, and look down upon; but as
we are quite among friends, I will take you in this way, if you will
excuse me."

They entered. Fanny's imagination had prepared her for something
grander than a mere spacious, oblong room, fitted up for the purpose of
devotion: with nothing more striking or more solemn than the profusion
of mahogany, and the crimson velvet cushions appearing over the ledge
of the family gallery above. "I am disappointed," said she, in a low
voice, to Edmund. "This is not my idea of a chapel. There is nothing
awful here, nothing melancholy, nothing grand. Here are no aisles, no
arches, no inscriptions, no banners. No banners, cousin, to be 'blown
by the night wind of heaven.' No signs that a 'Scottish monarch sleeps
below.'"

"You forget, Fanny, how lately all this has been built, and for how
confined a purpose, compared with the old chapels of castles and
monasteries. It was only for the private use of the family. They have
been buried, I suppose, in the parish church. There you must look
for the banners and the achievements."

"It was foolish of me not to think of all that; but I am disappointed."

Mrs. Rushworth began her relation. "This chapel was fitted up as you
see it, in James the Second's time. Before that period, as I
understand, the pews were only wainscot; and there is some reason to
think that the linings and cushions of the pulpit and family seat were
only purple cloth; but this is not quite certain. It is a handsome
chapel, and was formerly in constant use both morning and evening.
Prayers were always read in it by the domestic chaplain, within the
memory of many; but the late Mr. Rushworth left it off."

"Every generation has its improvements," said Miss Crawford, with a
smile, to Edmund.

Mrs. Rushworth was gone to repeat her lesson to Mr. Crawford; and
Edmund, Fanny, and Miss Crawford remained in a cluster together.

"It is a pity," cried Fanny, "that the custom should have been
discontinued. It was a valuable part of former times. There is
something in a chapel and chaplain so much in character with a great
house, with one's ideas of what such a household should be! A whole
family assembling regularly for the purpose of prayer is fine!"

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