Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/469

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
453
RANK AND TITLE.

who now profess to take things as they come, and make light of all attempts to construct a philosophy applicable to human affairs, might be compelled to humble themselves to believe that Science may have a word to say in regard to the highest order of phenomena just as she has had in regard to all orders up to the highest. If the pride of individualism should ever have such a fall as this, there is no doubt, in the mind of the present writer, that Science will respond nobly to the new call upon her, and will show how order and progress can be reconciled, and a moving equilibrium be established which shall be the proper manifestation and expression of a normal and healthy social life.

 

RANK AND TITLE.
By F. D. Y. CARPENTER.

THERE is a lamentable want of method in the titular nomenclature of our public service. A first-class clerk on the civil list is a novice, receiving twelve hundred dollars a year; he becomes a fourth-class clerk, at eighteen hundred a year, only after three promotions. A lieutenant in the army is far beneath the major, but a lieutenant-general is above the major-general. Nor do the grades of lieutenant and captain in the army by any means correspond in importance with similar titles in the navy. Who can tell which is the higher officer of the navy, the chief-engineer or the engineer-in-chief? Or to whom shall we give precedence, the "chief clerk" of the Senate or the "principal clerk" of that body? The titles of the "door-keepers" of Congress convey but a faint idea of the importance and multiplicity of their duties.

During the last session of Congress an unsuccessful attempt was made to do away with the inferior titles of assistant surgeon and passed-assistant surgeon in the navy, and, in plain English, to call a surgeon a surgeon, as we call a spade a spade. The medical service of the army descends not only to the assistant surgeon, but also to the lower estate of acting assistant surgeon. But the latter official is a surgeon in every sense of the word. He has won the title by years of study and practice. His diploma gives him the right to it, and his professional experience has confirmed him in the possession of it. As such he is qualified to saw a leg off, or treat a fever; and when the Government degrades him with the title of acting assistant surgeon, which might be more properly applied to the boy who temporarily whets the knives and mixes the powders, it robs him of his reputation.

"But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."