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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The Gipsies would naturally cling to their common origin


In

entering Hindostan they would meet with a civilized people, governed by rigid caste, where they would have no alternative but to remain aloof from the other inhabitants. Then, as now, that country had many wandering tribes within its borders, and for which it is peculiarly favourable. Whatever might have been the amount of civilization which some of the Gipsies brought with them from Egypt, it could not be otherwise than of that _quasi_ nature which generally characterizes that of slaves, and which would rapidly degenerate into a kind of barbarism, under the change of circumstances in which they found themselves placed. As runaway slaves, they would naturally be shy and suspicious, and be very apt to betake themselves to mountains, forests and swamps, and hold as little intercourse with the people of the country in which they were, as possible. Still, having been reared within a settled and civilized state, they would naturally hang around some other one, and nestle within it, if the face of the country, and the character and ways of the people, admitted of it. Having been bondsmen, they would naturally become lazy after gaining their freedom, and revel in the wild liberty of nature. They would do almost anything for a living rather than work; and whatever they could lay their hands on would be fairly come by, in their imagination. But to carry out this mode of life, they would naturally have recourse to some ostensible employment, to enable them to travel through the country,
and secure the toleration of its inhabitants. Here their Egyptian origin would come to their assistance; for as slaves of that country, they must have had many among them who would be familiar with horses, and working in metals, for which ancient Egypt was famous; not to speak of some of the occult sciences which they would carry with them from that country. In the first generation their new habits and modes of life would become chronic; in the second generation they would become hereditary; and from this strange phenomenon would spring a race that is unique in the history of the human family. What origin could be more worthy of the Gipsies? What origin more philosophical?

Arriving in India a foreign caste, the Gipsies would naturally cling to their common origin, and speak their common language, which, in course of ages, would be forgotten, except occasional words, which would be used by them as catch-words. At the present day my Gipsy acquaintances inform me that, in Great Britain, five out of every ten of their words are nothing but common Hindostanee. How strange would it be if some of the other words of their language were those used by the people of Egypt under the Pharaohs. Mr. Borrow says: "Is it not surprising that the language of _Petulengro_, (an English Gipsy,) is continually coming to my assistance whenever I appear to be at a loss with respect to the derivation of crabbed words. I have made out crabbed words in AEschylus by means of his speech; and even in my Biblical researches I have derived no slight assistance from it." "Broken, corrupted and half in ruins as it is, it was not long before I found that it was an original speech, far more so, indeed, than one or two others of high name and celebrity, which, up to that time, I had been in the habit of regarding with respect and veneration. Indeed, many obscure points connected with the vocabulary of these languages, and to which neither classic nor modern lore afforded any clue, I thought I could now clear up by means of this strange, broken tongue, spoken by people who dwell among thickets and furze bushes, in tents as tawny as their faces, and whom the generality of mankind designate, and with much semblance of justice, as thieves and vagabonds."

A difficulty somewhat similar to the origin of


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