OBSERVATIONS ON PREJUDICES 215
combinations of forms. There is enormous difficulty in embracing
with the eye the complicated shape of a cupboard; the child ought
to recognize in it an analogy of form, not an identity.
On the other hand he will recognize the geometrical forms
perfectly represented in all the windows, doors, surfaces of the
solid domestic objects, the pictures which adorn the walls, the
walls themselves, the floors, the tiles of the floor.
In this way the knowledge presented to him in the flat insets
will be for him a kind of magic key for the interpretation of ail
the surroundings, and he will be able to give himself the consoling
illusion that he knows the secrets of the world.
I once took with me for a walk on the Pincian Hill a boy
from an elementary school who was studying geometrical drawing
and was familiar with the analysis of flat geometrical figures. When
we reached the lofty terrace from which one looks down on the
Piazza del Popolo and the wide expanse of the city, I said to him:
" See how all man's work forms a great collection of geometrical
figures." Very plain to be seen were the rectangles, ellipses,
triangles, semicircles, which perforated and adorned in a hundred
different ways the gray rectangular facades of the buildings. Such
widespread uniformity seemed to prove the limitation of human
intelligence. In contrast, in a neighbouring plot, grass and flowers
displayed in supreme degree the infinite variety of Nature's forms.
The child had never made these observations; he had studied
the angles, the sides and the construction of the geometrical figures
drawn, without thinking of anything else, and feeling only bored
by the dull work which he had to do. At first he laughed at the
idea of man piling up geometrical figures, then he grew interested
and gazed for a long time; I saw in his face a keen expression of
To the right of the Ponte Margherita a building was in the
process of construction, and the body of it consisted of rectangles*
" How hard they are working," I said, alluding to the workmen.
Then we went to the grass-plot, and remained silent for a time
looking at the grass which grew spontaneously. " It is beautiful,"