|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Fisherman's Luck by Henry van Dyke:
Vermonter's sharp-edged speech; the round, full-waisted r's of
Pennsylvania and Ohio; the soft, indolent vowels of the South. One
of the best talkers now living is a schoolmaster from Virginia,
Colonel Gordon McCabe. I once crossed the ocean with him on a
stream of stories that reached from Liverpool to New York. He did
not talk in the least like a book. He talked like a Virginian.
When Montaigne mentions GAYETY as the third clement of satisfying
discourse, I fancy he does not mean mere fun, though that has its
value at the right time and place. But there is another quality
which is far more valuable and always fit. Indeed it underlies the
best fun and makes it wholesome. It is cheerfulness, the temper
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Just Folks by Edgar A. Guest:
"The world is against me," he said with a sigh.
"Somebody stops every scheme that I try.
The world has me down and it's keeping me there;
I don't get a chance. Oh, the world is unfair!
When a fellow is poor then he can't get a show;
The world is determined to keep him down low."
"What of Abe Lincoln?" I asked. "Would you say
That he was much richer than you are to-day?
He hadn't your chance of making his mark,
And his outlook was often exceedingly dark;
Yet he clung to his purpose with courage most grim
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Schoolmistress and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov:
trees no rest. The banker strained his eyes, but could see
neither the earth nor the white statues, nor the lodge, nor the
trees. Going to the spot where the lodge stood, he twice called
the watchman. No answer followed. Evidently the watchman had
sought shelter from the weather, and was now asleep somewhere
either in the kitchen or in the greenhouse.
"If I had the pluck to carry out my intention," thought the old
man, "Suspicion would fall first upon the watchman."
He felt in the darkness for the steps and the door, and went into
the entry of the lodge. Then he groped his way into a little
passage and lighted a match. There was not a soul there. There
The Schoolmistress and Other Stories
|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 Timaeus by Plato:
existent, and also, like the IDEA of good, may be viewed apart from the
There are several other questions which we might ask and which can receive
no answer, or at least only an answer of the same kind as the preceding.
How can matter be conceived to exist without form? Or, how can the
essences or forms of things be distinguished from the eternal ideas, or
essence itself from the soul? Or, how could there have been motion in the
chaos when as yet time was not? Or, how did chaos come into existence, if
not by the will of the Creator? Or, how could there have been a time when
the world was not, if time was not? Or, how could the Creator have taken
portions of an indivisible same? Or, how could space or anything else have