In considering Mercury in Sagittarius it should be remembered how brilliant and sudden is the effect of Sagittarius, but how lightning like and transitory. The older astrologers, indeed, attributed even lightning rather to Aries, leaving only the rainbow for Sagittarius, as if the effect were not merely swift, but, to a certain degree, illusory. This, however, is only the case with a badly aspected Mercury. Too much importance should not be given to the fact that Mercury in this sign has always been considered in his detriment. For we have seen that this planet very easily becomes unbalanced and the Jupiterian influence of Sagittarius seems to act rather as the restraining hand of a father upon an impetuous and wayward child. Much, however, will always depend upon aspects. The general qualities of this position are directness of thought and expression. People with Mercury thus placed usually speak without reflection they tend to say whatever comes into their heads. They do not wound deliberately, like people with Mercury in Scorpio. It simply never occurs to them to think how their remarks may strike the hearer. The quality of their thoughts is similarly unripe. Their thoughts are like mushrooms or shooting stars. They are impatient; speak in haste and repent at leisure. They do not trouble to formulate a judgment, and what they say consequently partakes too often of the nature of the shallower form of epigram. This same absence of the reflective quality makes them extremely simple, honest and sincere (duplicity by its very nature involves the balancing of truth and falsehood) , and if these people lie, they only do so on the spur of the moment. A long continued course of deception is entirely out of their power. It would, too, be repugnant to their nature. Another difficulty caused by this position is that the thoughts are disconnected, and, though the native may promise with sincerity, or conceive undertakings with earnestness, he often has not the patience enabling him to make good. What he thinks and says, however, is sometimes remarkably, one might almost say irrationally, right. He may speak like an oracle, and his intuition is often so extraordinarily acute that it more than replaces the general weaknesses of the faculties of memory and of ratiocination. Another characteristic trait conferred by this position is a habit of interruption. No sooner do these people hear anything than a thought strikes them and they have to say it without a moment’s delay. The discontinuous and flitterbat quality of this type of mind is very well shown by the anarchist Vaillant, every one of whose thoughts was probably right in its way, but who was totally incapable of weighing one thought against another and of striking a balance. An almost equally bad example is Marie Bashkirtseff, who totally failed to understand the universe into which she was born, owing to a similar defect. Her diary is full of brilliant, bitter, satirical things, all of which are perfectly true in themselves and yet totally false because they are not balanced against the weight of general experience. Another bright, brilliant, but brief and unbalanced mind was that of Thomas Chatterton, whose genius, had it been accompanied by a mind capable of patient labor, might have placed him in the small first circle of English poets. The case of Dr. Zamenhof is a good illustration. In Esperanto, he invented a language which is eminently convenient and easy to learn and has all the other advantages that a language should have. It has only one defect, which is that it really is not a language at all and nobody seems to wish to speak it. To show this quality of incapacity for reflection in its most complete absurdity, we need only recall the remark of Marie Antoinette, who had Mercury in this position, and who, being offered some exquisite pastry by the leading confectioner of Paris, exclaimed, “The stupid people are always complaining that they can get no bread, but why do they not eat these delicious little cakes?” Another monarch almost equally silly and unfortunate with this position is Charles I, the inconstancy of whose domestic policy cost him his throne and his life. Fortunately, however, this position does not always result in such sparkling imbecility. We have three quite great people in the world of art and literature with this position, Sir David Wilkie, Alfred de Musset, and Rudyard Kipling. The limitation is nevertheless still visible. Both the French and the English writers excel in short stories and poems, but neither has written great novels. Similarly, Sir David Wilkie, admirable painter as he was, never attained to the sustained execution of a great canvas. Another example is in the Mercury of Joan of Arc, though the planet’s being in the 29th degree may have done something to steady matters. There is, however, little need for making this reservation, as her career was singularly fitful and she depended entirely upon inspiration. The greatest exception to all that has been said is Sir Isaac Newton, but here Mercury is in the third house, with a sextile of Venus and a square of Saturn. Jupiter, lord of the third, is within six degrees of the conjunction of Saturn, and is exactly trined by Uranus, while the Sun, also in the third house, stands sextile to all three. The whole configuration is of the most extraordinary power, with every planet in heaven which tends to stability included in it, even Mars in Taurus assisting by making a near sextile with the Moon. With such great dignities the influence of the sign itself is reduced to a minimum. The fact that the Lord of the sign is in conjunction with Saturn tends to alter its very nature, and there is therefore no comparison with ordinary cases, where the action of Mercury is more or less isolated. In the horoscope of Marie Antoinette, Mercury is trine to Neptune, but square to Uranus which takes away all its more serious qualities. There is slight help from a semi-sextile of Venus and a sextile of Jupiter, but as has been well said, Mercury without Saturn is like an egg without salt.
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