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<h1>Flatland <br> A Romance of Many Dimensions</h1>

<h2>Concerning the Inhabitants of Flatland

<p><font size=+2>T</font>HE GREATEST length or breadth of a full grown inhabitant of
Flatland may be estimated at about eleven of your inches.  Twelve
inches may be regarded as a maximum.

<p>Our Women are Straight Lines.

<p>Our Soldiers and Lowest Class of Workmen are Triangles with two
equal sides, each about eleven inches long, and a base or third side
so short (often not exceeding half an inch) that they form at their
vertices a very sharp and formidable angle.  Indeed when their bases
are of the most degraded type (not more than the eighth part of an
inch in size), they can hardly be distinguished from Straight lines or
Women; so extremely pointed are their vertices.  With us, as with you,
these Triangles are distinguished from others by being called
Isosceles; and by this name I shall refer to them in the following

<p>Our Middle Class consists of Equilateral or Equal-Sided Triangles.

<p>Our Professional Men and Gentlemen are Squares (to which class I
myself belong) and Five-Sided Figures or Pentagons.

<p>Next above these come the Nobility, of whom there are several
degrees, beginning at Six-Sided Figures, or Hexagons, and from thence
rising in the number of their sides till they receive the honourable
title of Polygonal, or many-Sided.  Finally when the number of the
sides becomes so numerous, and the sides themselve so small, that the
figure cannot be distinguished from a circle, he is included in the
Circular or Priestly order; and this is the highest class of all.

<p>It is a Law of Nature with us that a male child shall have one
more side than his father, so that each generation shall rise (as a
rule) one step in the scale of development and nobility.  <blockquote>Thus the son
of a Square is a Pentagon; the son of a Pentagon, a Hexagon; and so

<p>But this rule applies not always to the Tradesman, and still less
often to the Soldiers, and to the Workmen; who indeed can hardly be
said to deserve the name of human Figures, since they have not all
their sides equal.  With them therefore the Law of Nature does not
hold; and the son of an Isosceles (i.e. a Triangle with two sides
equal) remains Isosceles still.  Nevertheless, all hope is not such
out, even from the Isosceles, that his posterity may ultimately rise
above his degraded condition.  For, after a long series of military
successes, or diligent and skillful labours, it is generally found
that the more intelligent among the Artisan and Soldier classes
manifest a slight increase of their third side or base, and a
shrinkage of the two other sides.  Intermarriages (arranged by the
Priests) between the sons and daughters of these more intellectual
members of the lower classes generally result in an offspring
approximating still more to the type of the Equal-Sided Triangle.

<p>Rarely--in proportion to the vast numbers of Isosceles
births--is a genuine and certifiable
Equal-Sided Triangle produced from
Isosceles parents. Such a birth requires, as its
antecedents, not only a series of carefully arranged intermarriages,
but also a long-continued exercise of frugality and self-control on
the part of the would-be ancestors of the coming Equilateral, and a
patient, systematic, and continuous development of the Isosceles
intellect through many generations.

<p>The birth
 of a True Equilateral Triangle from Isosceles parents is
the subject of rejoicing in our country for many furlongs round.
After a strict examination conducted by the Sanitary and Social Board,
the infant, if certified as Regular, is with solemn ceremonial
admitted into the class of Equilaterals.  He is then immediately taken
from his proud yet sorrowing parents and adopted by some childless
Equilateral, who is bound by oath never to permit the child henceforth
to enter his former home or so much as to look upon his relations
again, for fear lest the freshly developed organism may, by force of
unconscious imitation, fall back again into his hereditary level.

<p>The occasional emergence of an Equilateral from the ranks of his
serf-born ancestors is welcomed, not only by the poor serfs
themselves, as a gleam of light and hope shed upon the monotonous
squalor of their existence, but also by the Aristocracy at large; for
all the higher classes are well aware that these rare phenomena, while
they do little or nothing to vulgarize their own privileges, serve as
almost useful barrier against revolution from below.

<p>Had the acute-angled rabble been all, without exception,
absolutely destitute of hope and of ambition, they might have found
leaders in some of their many seditious outbreaks, so able as to
render their superior numbers and strength too much even for the
wisdom of the Circles.  But a wise ordinance of Nature has decreed
that, in proportion as the working-classes increase in intelligence,
knowledge, and all virtue, in that same proportion their acute angle
(which makes them physically terrible) shall increase also and
approximate to their comparatively harmless angle of the Equilateral
Triangle.  Thus, in the most brutal and formidable off the soldier
class--creatures almost on a level with women in their lack of
intelligence--it is found that, as they wax in the mental ability
necessary to employ their tremendous penetrating power to advantage,
so do they wane in the power of penetration itself.

<p>How admirable is the Law of Compensation!  And how perfect a proof
of the natural fitness and, I may almost say, the divine origin of the
aristocratic constitution of the States of Flatland!  By a juidicious
use of this Law of Nature, the Polygons and Circles are almost always
able to stifle sedition in its very cradle, taking advantage of the
irrepressible and boundless hopefulness of the human mind.  Art also
comes to the aid of Law and Order.  It is generally found
possible--by a little artificial compression or
expansion on the part of the
State physicians--to make some of the more intelligent leaders of a
rebellion perfectly Regular, and to admit them at once into the
privileged classes; a much larger number, who are still below the
standard, allured by the prospect of being ultimately ennobled, are
induced to enter the State Hospitals, where they are kept in
honourable confinement for life; one or two alone of the most
obstinate, foolish, and hopelessly irregular are led to execution.

<p>Then the wretched rabble of the Isosceles, planless and
leaderless, are ether transfixed without resistance by the small body
of their brethren whom the Chief Circle keeps in pay for emergencies
of this kind; or else more often, by means of jealousies and
suspicious skillfully fomented among them by the Circular party, they
are stirred to mutual warfare, and perish by one another's angles.  No
less than one hundred and twenty rebellions are recorded in our
annals, besides minor outbreaks numbered at two hundred and
thirty-five; and they have all ended thus.

<p>&quot;What need of a certificate?&quot; a Spaceland critic may ask:
&quot;Is not the procreation of a Square Son a certificate from Nature
herself, proving the Equal-sidedness of the Father?&quot;  I reply that no
Lady of any position will marry an uncertified Triangle.  Square
offspring has sometimes resulted from a slightly Irregular Triangle;
but in almost every such case the Irregularity of the first generation
is visited on the third; which either fails to attain the Pentagonal
rank, or relapses to the Triangular.