|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Little Rivers by Henry van Dyke:
comrade of merrier days sentenced to death, and caught but a brief
glimpse of his pale, brave face as he went away into exile. At
such a time the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are
darkened, and the clouds return after rain. But through those
clouds the Mistress of the Glen came to meet me--a stranger till
then, but an appointed friend, a minister of needed grace, an angel
of quiet comfort. The thick mists of rebellion, mistrust, and
despair have long since rolled away, and against the background of
the hills her figure stands out clearly, dressed in the fashion of
fifty years ago, with the snowy hair gathered close beneath her
widow's cap, and a spray of white heather in her outstretched hand.
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Elixir of Life by Honore de Balzac:
apoplexy caught him by the throat in its icy clutch. After that
fatal day he grew morose and stern.
He would reproach his wife and son with their devotion, casting
it in their teeth that the affecting and thoughtful care that
they lavished so tenderly upon him was bestowed because they knew
that his money was invested in a life annuity. Then Elvira and
Felipe would shed bitter tears and redouble their caresses, and
the wicked old man's insinuating voice would take an affectionate
tone--"Ah, you will forgive me, will you not, dear friends, dear
wife? I am rather a nuisance. Alas, Lord in heaven, how canst
Thou use me as the instrument by which Thou provest these two
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Euthydemus by Plato:
family to be the mother of them, and then about heaping up money for them--
and yet taking no care about their education. But then again, when I
contemplate any of those who pretend to educate others, I am amazed. To
me, if I am to confess the truth, they all seem to be such outrageous
beings: so that I do not know how I can advise the youth to study
SOCRATES: Dear Crito, do you not know that in every profession the
inferior sort are numerous and good for nothing, and the good are few and
beyond all price: for example, are not gymnastic and rhetoric and money-
making and the art of the general, noble arts?
CRITO: Certainly they are, in my judgment.
|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 Hidden Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac:
living foot. They stood lost in admiration before this glorious
fragment breaking forth from the incredible, slow, progressive
destruction around it. The foot seemed to them like the torso of some
Grecian Venus, brought to light amid the ruins of a burned city.
"There is a woman beneath it all!" cried Porbus, calling Poussin's
attention to the layers of color which the old painter had
successively laid on, believing that he thus brought his work to
perfection. The two men turned towards him with one accord, beginning
to comprehend, though vaguely, the ecstasy in which he lived.
"He means it in good faith," said Porbus.
"Yes, my friend," answered the old man, rousing from his abstraction,