Do You Like Your Seat?
by the American Sunday-School Union
On the day after one Fourth of July, I was
obliged to go into the city. The cars were crowded
with those who were returning, after spending our
national anniversary in the country. How much
they must have enjoyed that day of release from
city labour, and dust, and close streets bounded by
high brick houses! How beautiful to them the
green fields, the shady trees, and the soft-flowing
river! How they gazed on the hills luxuriating in
verdure, and the valleys rich with their treasures of
wealth and beauty!
"God made the country," and all his works
are perfect. I pity those who are pent up in a
large prison-city with nothing but a dwarf-maple
before their windows which at all resembles the
country, and who have to look up, up, up, before
they can get a glimpse of the blue sky, and the
fleecy clouds which sail majestically along, ever
varying from one form of beauty to another. Thank
God, my young friends, that he has given you a
country home, and never leave it, unless stern necessity
compels you to make your abode in the hot,
crowded, feverish city.
The cars, on the morning of the fifth, were, as I
have told you, crowded, and it was difficult to find
unoccupied seats. A gentleman and his wife
entered a car, near the door of which were two
seats with only one person in each. The first was
occupied by a boy about fifteen. The gentleman
politely asked him if he would sit with another
gentleman, that he and the lady who was with him
might not be separated. The first impulse of the
boy was a civil one, and he started to rise; but the
second thought was ungentlemanly, ungenerous,
and extremely selfish. "I like my seat very well,"
he muttered, and drew back to the window and
looked out. Perhaps even then he began to feel
ashamed of such rudeness.
The gentleman behind him immediately arose,
and offered his seat. It was accepted with a bow,
and a "thank you, sir." The lady was immediately
behind the boy, and, as she seated herself, she
said to him, in a low, kind voice, "I fear you will
never be a gentleman." He made no reply, nor
did he move his face from the window, but his
very ears blushed. He was evidently ashamed.
During the whole ride he kept nearly the same
position, not being willing to meet the eyes of his
fellow-passengers, for he must have observed their
disapprobation of his ill-manners; and before the
cars were entirely within the depôt, he went out
upon the platform to escape from observation.
I hope the boy will never be rude in this way
again, for he evidently was made unhappy by it.
There is only one reason why I fear he will not profit
by the well-merited rebuke he received, and that
is, because I saw one of his cheeks puffed out with
a quid of tobacco! I confess I do not expect so
much improvement from a boy who indulges in such
a filthy habit, as from one who does not.
A gentlemanly boy must always be happier than
one who is rough and selfish. The boy in the car
did not enjoy his ride, although, as he said, he liked
his seat very well. His impoliteness made it unpleasant
and the remembrance of it will never afford
him gratification. I hope none of you, who read
about him, will be guilty of a similar error.
Always try to be accommodating to those about you.
If you are asked to do a favour, do it as if it gave
you pleasure. You will never have occasion to regret
it. Be civil to those in your father's employment.
Their love and respect is of value to you.
There are very few sunk so low as not to appreciate
true politeness. Above all others, be polite to your
parents, and your brothers and sisters. Do not
indulge in harsh words.
Perhaps the boy of whose history I have given
you a single incident never read Peter's instruction
to the early Christians, in his epistle to them,
and did not know that the apostle considered
politeness of sufficient importance to be worthy
of the attention of those to whom he wrote.
"Be courteous," is his direction to them, and
I cannot give you better advice on the same subject.