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.