|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Philebus by Plato:
common honesty. Whenever we are not blinded by self-deceit, as for example
in judging the actions of others, we have no hesitation in determining what
is right and wrong. The principles of morality, when not at variance with
some desire or worldly interest of our own, or with the opinion of the
public, are hardly perceived by us; but in the conflict of reason and
passion they assert their authority and are not overcome without remorse.
Such is a brief outline of the history of our moral ideas. We have to
distinguish, first of all, the manner in which they have grown up in the
world from the manner in which they have been communicated to each of us.
We may represent them to ourselves as flowing out of the boundless ocean of
language and thought in little rills, which convey them to the heart and
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Alcibiades II by Platonic Imitator:
enveloped, just as Athene in Homer removes the mist from the eyes of
'He may distinguish between God and mortal man.'
Afterwards the means may be given to you whereby you may distinguish
between good and evil. At present, I fear, this is beyond your power.
ALCIBIADES: Only let my instructor take away the impediment, whether it
pleases him to call it mist or anything else! I care not who he is; but I
am resolved to disobey none of his commands, if I am likely to be the
better for them.
SOCRATES: And surely he has a wondrous care for you.
ALCIBIADES: It seems to be altogether advisable to put off the sacrifice
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Camille by Alexandre Dumas:
everything, and to tear in pieces, without pity or discernment,
those who set her in motion.
Your father had written me a very polite letter, in order that I
might consent to see him; he did not present himself quite as he
had written. His manner at first was so stiff, insolent, and even
threatening, that I had to make him understand that I was in my
own house, and that I had no need to render him an account of my
life, except because of the sincere affection which I had for his
M. Duval calmed down a little, but still went on to say that he
could not any longer allow his son to ruin himself over me; that
|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 Albert Savarus by Honore de Balzac:
such an act has stained his honor beyond retrieving.
"Do you not feel all that is touching, that is heavenly in the story
of the youthful page, falsely accused, and carrying the letter
containing the order for his execution, who sets out without a thought
of ill, and whom Providence protects and saves--miraculously, we say!
But do you know wherein the miracle lies? Virtue has a glory as potent
as that of innocent childhood.
"I say these things not meaning to admonish you," said the old priest,
with deep grief. "I, alas! am not your spiritual director; you are not
kneeling at the feet of God; I am your friend, appalled by dread of
what your punishment may be. What has become of that unhappy Albert?