|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Maitre Cornelius by Honore de Balzac:
manners and habits of Maitre Cornelius. But the young man who, in the
first flush of his enterprise, had feared nothing was beginning to
perceive the difficulties it presented. The solemn gravity of the
terrible Fleming reacted upon him. He felt himself under lock and key,
and remembered how the grand provost Tristan and his rope were at the
orders of Maitre Cornelius.
"Have you supped?" asked the silversmith, in a tone which signified,
"You are not to sup."
The old maid trembled in spite of her brother's tone; she looked at
the new inmate as if to gauge the capacity of the stomach she might
have to fill, and said with a specious smile:--
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Pierre Grassou by Honore de Balzac:
little attraction a plain bourgeois family could offer to an artist.
"You artists," he continued, "want emotions, great scenes, and witty
talk; but you'll find good wines, and I rely on my collection of
pictures to compensate an artist like you for the bore of dining with
This form of idolatry, which stroked his innocent self-love, was
charming to our poor Pierre Grassou, so little accustomed to such
compliments. The honest artist, that atrocious mediocrity, that heart
of gold, that loyal soul, that stupid draughtsman, that worthy fellow,
decorated by royalty itself with the Legion of honor, put himself
under arms to go out to Ville d'Avray and enjoy the last fine days of
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Atheist's Mass by Honore de Balzac:
any right to dispute it? He had spoken to me timidly of masses
said for the repose of the dead; he would not impress it on me as
a duty, thinking that it would be a form of repayment for his
services. As soon as I had money enough I paid to Saint-Sulpice
the requisite sum for four masses every year. As the only thing I
can do for Bourgeat is thus to satisfy his pious wishes, on the
days when that mass is said, at the beginning of each season of
the year, I go for his sake and say the required prayers; and I
say with the good faith of a sceptic--'Great God, if there is a
sphere which Thou hast appointed after death for those who have
been perfect, remember good Bourgeat; and if he should have
|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 Eryxias by Platonic Imitator:
CRITIAS: I should like to follow up the argument, and will ask Eryxias
whether he thinks that there are just and unjust men?
ERYXIAS: Most decidedly.
CRITIAS: And does injustice seem to you an evil or a good?
ERYXIAS: An evil.
CRITIAS: Do you consider that he who bribes his neighbour's wife and
commits adultery with her, acts justly or unjustly, and this although both
the state and the laws forbid?
CRITIAS: And if the wicked man has wealth and is willing to spend it, he
will carry out his evil purposes? whereas he who is short of means cannot