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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Those of Lochgellie trained all their children to theft


[114] What is said here is, of course, applicable to a class, only, of the Gipsies. Our author need not have gone so very far away from home, for instances of theft and robbery being, under certain circumstances, deemed honourable. Both were, at one time, followed in Scotland, when all practised

"The good old rule, the simple plan, That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can."

See Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

We find the following curious particulars mentioned of a tribe among the mountains in India, who are supposed to be the aborigines of Hindostan. They are called Kookies or Lunctas. "Next to personal valour, the accomplishment most esteemed in a warrior is superior address in stealing; and if a thief can convey, undiscovered, to his own house, his neighbour's property, it cannot afterwards be reclaimed; nor, if detected in the act, is he otherwise punished than by exposure to the ridicule of the Porah, and being obliged to restore what he may have laid hold of." "It is a great recommendation in obtaining a wife, when a Kookie can say that his house is full of stolen articles."[115] There are several other tribes in the world among whom theft and robbery are considered meritorious actions. It appears that among the Coords "no one is allowed to marry a wife till he has committed some great act of robbery or murder." In

an account of Kamtschatka, it is mentioned that "among all these barbarous nations, excepting the Kamtschadales, theft is reputable, provided they do not steal in their own tribe, or if done with such art as to prevent discovery: on the other hand, it is punished very severely if discovered; not for the theft, but for the want of address in the art of stealing. A Tschukotskoe girl cannot be married before she has shown her dexterity in this way."[116]

[115] Asiatic Researches, vol. vii., pages 189 and 193.

[116] Dr. James Grieve's translation of a Russian account of Kamtschatka, page 323.

Halhed, in apologizing for the Hindoo magistrate participating in the plunder of banditti, which applies equally well to the Gipsies, remarks that, "unjust as this behaviour may appear in the eye of equity, it bears the most genuine stamp of antiquity, and corresponds entirely with the manners of the early Grecians, at or before the period of the Trojan war, and of the western nations before their emersion from barbarism; a practice still kept up among the piratic States of Barbary, to its fullest extent by sea, and probably among many hordes of Tartars and Arabian banditti by land." It is proper to mention that the Gipsies seldom or never steal from one another; at least, I never could find out an instance of a theft having been committed by a Gipsy on one of his own tribe.

It will be seen, from the following details, that the sanguinary laws which have been, from time to time, promulgated all over Europe against the Gipsies, were not enacted to put down fanciful crimes, as an author of the present day seems, in his travels, to insinuate. To plunder the community with more safety to their persons, the Gipsies appear to have had a system of theft peculiar to themselves. Those of Lochgellie trained all their children to theft. Indeed, this has been the general practice with the tribe all over Scotland. Several individuals have mentioned to me that the Lochgellie band were exercised in the art of thieving under the most rigid discipline. They had various ways


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