|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift:
will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish
infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore
it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the
number of Papists among us.
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child
(in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths
of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags
included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten
shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have
said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he
hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with
A Modest Proposal
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Plutarch's Lives by A. H. Clough:
Victory, with trophies in their hands, to be carried privately
in the night and placed in the capitol. Next morning, when some
saw them bright with gold and beautifully made, with
inscriptions upon them, referring them to Marius's exploits over
the Cimbrians, they were surprised at the boldness of him who
had set them up, nor was it difficult to guess who it was. The
fame of this soon spread and brought together a great concourse
of people. Some cried out that it was an open attempt against
the established government thus to revive those honors which had
been buried by the laws and decrees of the senate; that Caesar
had done it to sound the temper of the people whom he had
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Aeneid by Virgil:
To win by famine, or by fraud surprise.
Their king, half-threat'ning, half-disdaining stood,
While Cocles broke the bridge, and stemm'd the flood.
The captive maids there tempt the raging tide,
Scap'd from their chains, with Cloelia for their guide.
High on a rock heroic Manlius stood,
To guard the temple, and the temple's god.
Then Rome was poor; and there you might behold
The palace thatch'd with straw, now roof'd with gold.
The silver goose before the shining gate
There flew, and, by her cackle, sav'd the state.
|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 Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw:
and fancies itself a god, that one wonders what was the real nature of
the mysterious restraint that kept "Eliza and our James" from teaching
Shakespear to be civil to crowned heads, just as one wonders why
Tolstoy was allowed to go free when so many less terrible levellers
went to the galleys or Siberia. From the mature Shakespear we get no
such scenes of village snobbery as that between the stage country
gentleman Alexander Iden and the stage Radical Jack Cade. We get the
shepherd in As You Like It, and many honest, brave, human, and loyal
servants, beside the inevitable comic ones. Even in the Jingo play,
Henry V, we get Bates and Williams drawn with all respect and honor as
normal rank and file men. In Julius Caesar, Shakespear went to work