rough cast-iron of those which often prevail in civil administration, and the former get badly scratched.
Military rules are invariable, with rare exceptions understood and observed by all, while civil practice varies according to the character and habits of the chief in authority, from those of the illustrious Stanton
, now well known in history,1
to the opposite extreme of refined courtesy.
Long observation and experience have led to the belief that such rasping of feelings, too sensitive perhaps, even more than substantial difference, has often been the cause of discord.
A single example may suffice to illustrate what is meant.
In the arrangements of the room especially designed for the office of the Secretary of War
in the splendid new State, War, and Navy Departments building, was a great table-desk on which was a complete system of electric buttons connected with wires leading to bells in all the principal offices in the department, the buttons bearing the titles of the officers at the head of the several bureaus, etc., so that the Secretary
could ‘ring up’ any colonel, brigadier-general
, or majorgen-eral whom he wanted to see, just as a gentleman in private life does his coachman, butler, or valet.
To an army officer who had for many years, in lower grades, been accustomed to the invariable formula, delivered by a well-dressed soldier standing at ‘attention’ and respectfully saluting, ‘The commanding officer sends his compliments to Captain
B—, and wishes to see the captain at headquarters,’ the tinkling of that soft little bell must have sounded harsh indeed after he had attained the rank of brigadier-general.
Twice only, I believe, my own old soldier messenger who attended in the room where the telephone and bells were located, came to my room, with an indescribable expression on his face, and said, ‘The bell from the Secretary
's office is ringing!’
I replied, ‘Indeed?
Go up and inquire what it means.’
Presently the Secretary