|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Enemies of Books by William Blades:
counted the price of them, and found it 50,000 pieces of silver"
(Acts xix, 19). Doubtless these books of idolatrous divination
and alchemy, of enchantments and witchcraft, were righteously
destroyed by those to whom they had been and might again be
spiritually injurious; and doubtless had they escaped the fire then,
not one of them would have survived to the present time, no MS.
of that age being now extant. Nevertheless, I must confess
to a certain amount of mental disquietude and uneasiness when I
think of books worth 50,000 denarii--or, speaking roughly,
say L18,750, of our modern money being made into bonfires.
What curious illustrations of early heathenism, of Devil worship,
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Ebb-Tide by Stevenson & Osbourne:
Arose a blossom--'
Herrick and the captain finished their letters about the same
time; each was breathing deep, and their eyes met and were
averted as they closed the envelopes.
'Sorry I write so big,' said the captain gruffly. 'Came all of a
rush, when it did come.'
'Same here,' said Herrick. 'I could have done with a ream when I
got started; but it's long enough for all the good I had to say.'
They were still at the addresses when the clerk strolled up,
smirking and twirling his envelope, like a man well pleased. He
looked over Herrick's shoulder.
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The New Machiavelli by H. G. Wells:
them in the state. They did their work, he thought, as the ploughed
earth bears its crops. Apart from their function of fertility they
gave a humorous twist to life, stimulated worthy men to toil, and
wasted the hours of Princes. He left the thought of women outside
with his other dusty things when he went into his study to write,
dismissed them from his mind. But our modern world is burthened
with its sense of the immense, now half articulate, significance of
women. They stand now, as it were, close beside the silver
candlesticks, speaking as Machiavelli writes, until he stays his pen
and turns to discuss his writing with them.
It is this gradual discovery of sex as a thing collectively
|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 Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson:
one of her hands and patted mine. The thing was done, and she was
back in her accustomed attitude, before my mind had received
intelligence of the caress; and when I turned to look her in the
face I could perceive no answerable sentiment. It was plain she
attached no moment to the act, and I blamed myself for my own more
The sight and (if I may so call it) the acquaintance of the mother
confirmed the view I had already taken of the son. The family
blood had been impoverished, perhaps by long inbreeding, which I
knew to be a common error among the proud and the exclusive. No
decline, indeed, was to be traced in the body, which had been