|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Laches by Plato:
the spear slip through his hand until he retained only the end of the
handle. The people in the transport clapped their hands, and laughed at
his ridiculous figure; and when some one threw a stone, which fell on the
deck at his feet, and he quitted his hold of the scythe-spear, the crew of
his own trireme also burst out laughing; they could not refrain when they
beheld the weapon waving in the air, suspended from the transport. Now I
do not deny that there may be something in such an art, as Nicias asserts,
but I tell you my experience; and, as I said at first, whether this be an
art of which the advantage is so slight, or not an art at all, but only an
imposition, in either case such an acquirement is not worth having. For my
opinion is, that if the professor of this art be a coward, he will be
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Apology by Plato:
indictment (compare Xen. Mem.); and the previous formula, which is a
summary of public opinion, assumes the same legal style.
The answer begins by clearing up a confusion. In the representations of
the Comic poets, and in the opinion of the multitude, he had been
identified with the teachers of physical science and with the Sophists.
But this was an error. For both of them he professes a respect in the open
court, which contrasts with his manner of speaking about them in other
places. (Compare for Anaxagoras, Phaedo, Laws; for the Sophists, Meno,
Republic, Tim., Theaet., Soph., etc.) But at the same time he shows that
he is not one of them. Of natural philosophy he knows nothing; not that he
despises such pursuits, but the fact is that he is ignorant of them, and
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini:
representative of the bereaved mother of M. de Vilmorin to demand
of you the inquiry that is due."
The door behind Andre-Louis opened softly. M. de Lesdiguieres,
pale with anger, contained himself with difficulty.
"You seek to compel us, do you, you impudent rascal?" he growled.
"You think the King's justice is to be driven headlong by the voice
of any impudent roturier? I marvel at my own patience with you.
But I give you a last warning, master lawyer; keep a closer guard
over that insolent tongue of yours, or you will have cause very
bitterly to regret its glibness." He waved a jewelled, contemptuous
hand, and spoke to the usher standing behind Andre. "To the door!"
|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 What is Man? by Mark Twain:
Y.M. After so--
O.M. Having found the Truth; perceiving that beyond question
man has but one moving impulse--the contenting of his own spirit--
and is merely a machine and entitled to no personal merit for
anything he does, it is not humanly possible for me to seek further.
The rest of my days will be spent in patching and painting and
puttying and caulking my priceless possession and in looking the
other way when an imploring argument or a damaging fact approaches.
1. The Marquess of Worcester had done all of this more than a
What is Man?