|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Walden by Henry David Thoreau:
on as well as they can. How many a poor immortal soul have I met
well-nigh crushed and smothered under its load, creeping down the
road of life, pushing before it a barn seventy-five feet by forty,
its Augean stables never cleansed, and one hundred acres of land,
tillage, mowing, pasture, and woodlot! The portionless, who
struggle with no such unnecessary inherited encumbrances, find it
labor enough to subdue and cultivate a few cubic feet of flesh.
But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is
soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly
called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book,
laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain:
and Pinkerton was the other. Harkness was proprietor of a mint;
that is to say, a popular patent medicine. He was running for the
Legislature on one ticket, and Pinkerton on the other. It was a
close race and a hot one, and getting hotter every day. Both had
strong appetites for money; each had bought a great tract of land,
with a purpose; there was going to be a new railway, and each wanted
to be in the Legislature and help locate the route to his own
advantage; a single vote might make the decision, and with it two or
three fortunes. The stake was large, and Harkness was a daring
speculator. He was sitting close to the stranger. He leaned over
while one or another of the other Symbols was entertaining the house
The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from A Drama on the Seashore by Honore de Balzac:
meeting maintained us in our previous mental condition; but it
lessened our gay lightheartedness.
"Poor man!" said Pauline, with that accent which removes from the
compassion of a woman all that is mortifying in human pity, "ought we
not to feel ashamed of our happiness in presence of such misery?"
"Nothing is so cruelly painful as to have powerless desires," I
answered. "Those two poor creatures, the father and son, will never
know how keen our sympathy for them is, any more than the world will
know how beautiful are their lives; they are laying up their treasures
"Oh, how poor this country is!" she said, pointing to a field enclosed
|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 The Hidden Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac:
Alas! the heights of knowledge, like the depths of ignorance, lead to
unbelief. I doubt my work."
The old man paused, then resumed. "For ten years I have worked, young
man; but what are ten short years in the long struggle with Nature? We
do not know the type it cost Pygmalion to make the only statue that
He fell into a reverie and remained, with fixed eyes, oblivious of all
about him, playing mechanically with his knife.
"See, he is talking to his own soul," said Porbus in a low voice.
The words acted like a spell on Nicolas Poussin, filling him with the
inexplicable curiosity of a true artist. The strange old man, with his