|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Tapestried Chamber by Walter Scott:
aught could rival them, it was the flaming, bickering fagots in
the chimney, that sent at once their gleam and their warmth
through the snug apartment, which, notwithstanding the general
antiquity of its appearance, was not wanting in the least
convenience that modern habits rendered either necessary or
"This is an old-fashioned sleeping apartment, General," said the
young lord; "but I hope you find nothing that makes you envy your
"I am not particular respecting my lodgings," replied the
General; "yet were I to make any choice, I would prefer this
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton:
into fixed foreboding. Worst of all were the solitary meals, when
she absently continued to set aside the largest slice of pie for
Evelina, and to let the tea grow cold while she waited for her
sister to help herself to the first cup. Miss Mellins, coming in
on one of these sad repasts, suggested the acquisition of a cat;
but Ann Eliza shook her head. She had never been used to animals,
and she felt the vague shrinking of the pious from creatures
divided from her by the abyss of soullessness.
At length, after ten empty days, Evelina's first letter came.
"My dear Sister," she wrote, in her pinched Spencerian hand,
"it seems strange to be in this great City so far from home alone
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from An Old Maid by Honore de Balzac:
right. Do you really mean to go?"
"You will not go without telling me; without warning me? You must have
an outfit and money. I have some louis sewn into my petticoat; I shall
give them to you."
"That's all I wanted to tell you," he said. "Now I'll take you to the
du Roncerets'. Come."
The mother and the son went out. Athanase left his mother at the door
of the house where she intended to pass the evening. He looked long at
the light which came through the shutters; he clung closely to the
|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 Symposium by Plato:
Socrates to make a lengthened harangue, the speech takes the form of a
dialogue between Socrates and a mysterious woman of foreign extraction.
She elicits the final truth from one who knows nothing, and who, speaking
by the lips of another, and himself a despiser of rhetoric, is proved also
to be the most consummate of rhetoricians (compare Menexenus).
The last of the six discourses begins with a short argument which
overthrows not only Agathon but all the preceding speakers by the help of a
distinction which has escaped them. Extravagant praises have been ascribed
to Love as the author of every good; no sort of encomium was too high for
him, whether deserved and true or not. But Socrates has no talent for
speaking anything but the truth, and if he is to speak the truth of Love he