|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Turn of the Screw by Henry James:
I call it a revolution because I now see how, with the word he spoke,
the curtain rose on the last act of my dreadful drama, and the catastrophe
was precipitated. "Look here, my dear, you know," he charmingly said,
"when in the world, please, am I going back to school?"
Transcribed here the speech sounds harmless enough,
particularly as uttered in the sweet, high, casual pipe with which,
at all interlocutors, but above all at his eternal governess,
he threw off intonations as if he were tossing roses.
There was something in them that always made one "catch," and
I caught, at any rate, now so effectually that I stopped as short
as if one of the trees of the park had fallen across the road.
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Modeste Mignon by Honore de Balzac:
Born of a good family in Toulouse, and allied by marriage to the
minister who first took him under his protection, Ernest had that air
of good-breeding which comes of an education begun in the cradle; and
the habit of managing business affairs gave him a certain sedateness
which was not pedantic,--though pedantry is the natural outgrowth of
premature gravity. He was of ordinary height; his face, which won upon
all who saw him by its delicacy and sweetness, was warm in the flesh-
tints, though without color, and relieved by a small moustache and
imperial a la Mazarin. Without this evidence of virility he might have
resembled a young woman in disguise, so refined was the shape of his
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift:
town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the
roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex,
followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and
importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of
being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to
employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their
helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for
want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for
the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number
of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of
A Modest Proposal
|The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from The Economist by Xenophon:
step on shore. The first ship's company are drenched in sweat; but
listen, they are loud in praise of one another, the captain and his
merry men alike. And the others? They are come at last; they have not
turned a hair, the lazy fellows, but for all that they hate their
officer and by him are hated.
 See "Mem." I. i. 7.
 Or, "the crew must row the livelong day . . ."
 For an instance see "Hell." VI. ii. 27, Iphicrates' periplus.
 Or, "one set of boatswains." See Thuc. ii. 84. For the duties of
the Keleustes see "Dict. Gk. Rom. Ant." s.v. portisculus; and for
the type of captain see "Hell." V. i. 3, Teleutias.