|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Crowd by Gustave le Bon:
for life. The test is severe and dangerous. In the course of it
the mental and moral equilibrium is affected, and runs the risk
of not being re-established. Too sudden and complete disillusion
has supervened. The deceptions have been too great, the
disappointments too keen."
 Taine, "Le Regime moderne," vol. ii., 1894. These pages are
almost the last that Taine wrote. They resume admirably the
results of the great philosopher's long experience.
Unfortunately they are in my opinion totally incomprehensible for
such of our university professors who have not lived abroad.
Education is the only means at our disposal of influencing to
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Beast in the Jungle by Henry James:
something that profaned the air; and in the second that, roused,
startled, shocked, he was yet the next moment looking after it, as
it went, with envy. The most extraordinary thing that had happened
to him--though he had given that name to other matters as well--
took place, after his immediate vague stare, as a consequence of
this impression. The stranger passed, but the raw glare of his
grief remained, making our friend wonder in pity what wrong, what
wound it expressed, what injury not to be healed. What had the man
HAD, to make him by the loss of it so bleed and yet live?
Something--and this reached him with a pang--that HE, John Marcher,
hadn't; the proof of which was precisely John Marcher's arid end.
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Koran:
An asker asked for torment that must befall, for the unbelievers;
there is no repelling it; from God the Lord of the ascents, whereby
ascend the angels and the Spirit unto Him in a day whose length is
fifty thousand years.
Wherefore be patient with fair patience; verily, they see it as afar
off, but we see it nigh!
The day when the heaven shall be as molten brass, and the
mountains shall be like flocks of wool; when no warm friend shall
question friend; they shall gaze on each other, and the sinner would
fain give as a ransom from the torment of that day his sons and his
mate, and his brother and his kin who stand by him, and all who are in
|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 Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost:
as for myself, my life shall be devoted to the purpose.'
"Lescaut, who was not deficient in tact, and still less in that
better part of valour called discretion, dwelt upon the necessity
of acting with extreme caution: he said that my escape from St.
Lazare, and the accident that happened on my leaving it, would
assuredly create a sensation; that the lieutenant-general of
police would cause a strict search to be made for me, and it
would be difficult to evade him; in fine, that, unless disposed
to encounter something worse, perhaps, than St. Lazare, it would
be requisite for me to remain concealed for a few days, in order
to give the enemy's zeal time to cool. No doubt this was wise