Page:Science and Citizenship.djvu/28

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Science and Citizenship

city is a feat which few of us ever achieve. Few of us ever succeed in seeing even our own city, let alone others. Hence the widespread illusion that cities consist of shops, factories and dwellings, with public-houses at the corners—these being the objects presented to the eye, as one passes along the open tunnels called streets. But there are certain animals, like birds, butterflies, and some human beings, that have the habit of viewing terrestrial objects from a height. And it is obvious that it is in vertical perspective only that a city can be visualised. The habit of viewing objects, both terrestrial and celestial, from a height was apparently a much commoner habit among the human species in former than in present times. Otherwise, how explain the wide occurrence of special facilities for the purpose? The mounds, the pyramids, the towers of many kinds which past civilisations have erected in such abundance, have doubtless various origins. But when facilities occur, as they generally do, for reaching the summits and thence making observations, we are bound to infer that we are dealing with real observatories deliberately planned for that purpose, whatever other purposes, religious, ceremonial, commemorative, aesthetic, these constructions may also have served. Our recent and contemporary civilisations continue to adorn or supplement our buildings with towers as inevitable, and, one is inclined to say, as automatically as the beavers build their dams and the bees their hives. But more often than not, we do not provide a stairway to the summit; or if we add that, how seldom