"There's the wind on the heath, brother"
Lavengro is set in the early years of the nineteenth century. The book's narrator – whose name we never learn – describes his life as the son of a soldier. His family moves all over the country and, being a natural linguist, the boy is soon fluent in the Scots, Irish, Welsh and Romany languages. From time to time, he meets up with Jasper Petulengro, a Romany king whom he first met when he was very young.
In the scene which Lady Bracknell has reproduced below, the narrator has just turned eighteen and his spirits are very low as he has realised that he has no trade and possibly, therefore, no future. He meets his friend Jasper:
Jasper: Life is sweet, brother
Narrator: Do you think so?
Jasper: Think so! – There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon and stars brother, all sweet things. There’s likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet brother; who would wish to die?
Narrator: I would wish to die.
Jasper: You talk like a giorgio – which is the same as talking like a fool – were you a Romany chal you would talk wiser. Wish to die indeed! – A Romany chal would wish to live for ever!
Narrator: In sickness, Jasper?
Jasper: There’s the sun and the stars, brother.
Narrator: In blindness, Jasper?
Jasper: There’s the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that, I would gladly live for ever.
As a result of her long-standing familiarity with this passage from what she does not consider to be otherwise, in all honesty, an especially riveting volume, Lady Bracknell, almost from the earliest stages of her impairment, was willing to try to identify her own personal "wind on the heath", so that she could hold on to the conviction that experiencing a staggeringly large diminution in one's physical capabilities is not without its compensations.
Should any of Lady Bracknell's readers have a favoured quotation of their own to which they turn when things appear bleak, they are warmly encouraged to recount it via the comments facility.