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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

For the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son


After

leaving Egypt, the Hebrews and the "mixed multitude," in their exuberance of feeling at having gained their freedom, and witnessed the overthrow of their common oppressor in the Red Sea, would naturally have everything in common, till they regained their powers of reflection, and began to think of their destiny, and the means of supporting so many individuals, in a country in which provisions could hardly be collected for the company of an ordinary caravan. Then their difficulties would begin. It was enough for Moses to have to guide the Hebrews, whose were the promises, without being burdened and harassed by those who followed them. Then we may reasonably assume that the mixed multitude began to clamour for flesh, and lead the Hebrews to join with them; in return for which a plague was sent upon the people. They were unlikely to submit to be led by the hand of God, and be fed on angels' food, and, like the Hebrews, leave their carcasses in the wilderness; for their religious sentiments, if, as slaves of Egypt, they had religious sentiments, would be very low indeed, and would lead them to depend upon themselves, and leave the deserts of Arabia, for some other country more likely to support them and their children. Undoubtedly the two people then separated, as Abraham and Lot parted when they came out of Egypt.

How to shake off this mixed multitude must have caused Moses many an anxious thought. Possibly his father-in-law, Jethro, from the knowledge

and sagacity which he displayed in forming the government of Moses himself, may have assisted him in arriving at the conclusion which he must have so devoutly wished. To take them into the promised land with him was impossible; for the command of God, given in regard to Ishmael, the son of Abraham, by Hagar the Egyptian, and which was far more applicable to the mixed multitude, must have rung in his ears: "Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac;" "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." As slaves of Egypt they would not return to that country; they would not go north, for that was the heritage of the people of Israel, which had to be wrested from the fierce tribes of Palestine; they would not go north-east, for there lay the powerful empire of Assyria, or the germs out of which it sprung; they could not go south, for the ocean hemmed them in, in that direction; and their only alternative was to proceed east, through Arabia Petrea, along the gulf of Persia, through the Persian desert, into northern Hindostan, where they formed the Gipsy caste, and whence they issued, after the lapse of so many centuries, in possession of the language of Hindostan, and spread themselves over the earth. What a strange sensation passes through the mind, when such a subject is contemplated! Jews and Gipsies having, in a sense, the same origin, and, after such vicissitudes, meeting each other, face to face, under circumstances so greatly alike, in almost every part of the world, upward of 3000 years after they parted company. What destiny awaited the Jews themselves on escaping from Egypt? They had either to subdue and take the place of some other tribe, or be reduced to a state of slavery by it and perhaps others combined; or they might possibly have been befriended by some great empire as tributaries; or failing these three, what remained for them was the destiny that befell the Gipsies.

On leaving Egypt, the Gipsies would possess a common language, which would hold them together as a body; as slaves under the society of an Egyptian monarchy, they would have few, if any, opinions of a religious nature; and they would have but little idea of the laws of _meum_ and _tuum_. The position in which they would find themselves placed, and the circumstances surrounding them, would necessitate them to rob, steal, or appropriate whatever they found to be necessary to their existence; for whether they turned to the right hand or to the left, they would always find territory previously occupied, and property claimed by some one; so that their presence would always be unwelcome, their persons an intrusion everywhere; and having once started on their weary pilgrimage, as long as they maintained their personal independence, they would never attain, as a body, to any other position than they have done, in popular estimation, for the last four hundred and fifty years in Europe.


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