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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

When a Gipsy was beating one of his children


Gipsies may be compared to the raven of the rock, as a complete emblem of their disposition. Allow the _corbie_ shelter, and to build her nest in your cliffs and wastes, and she will not touch your property; but harass her, and destroy her brood, and she will immediately avenge herself upon your young lambs, with terrible fury.[147] Washings of clothes, of great value, were often left out in the fields, under night, and were as safe as if they had been within the dwelling-house, under lock and key, when the Gipsies happened to be quartered on the premises. If any of their children had dared to lay its hands upon the most trifling article, its parents would have given it a severe beating. On one occasion, when a Gipsy was beating one of his children, for some trifling offence it had committed, my relative observed to him that the boy had done no harm. "If he has not been in fault just now, sir, it will not be long till he be in one; so the beating he has got will not be thrown away on him," was the Tinkler's reply.

[147] It is known that the rock-raven, or _corbie_, seldom preys upon the flocks around her nest; but the moment she is deprived of her young, she will, to the utmost of her power, wreak her vengeance on the young lambs in her immediate neighborhood. I have known the corbie, when bereaved of her brood, tear, with her beak, the very foggage from the earth, and toss it about; and before twenty-four hours elapsed, several

lambs would fall a sacrifice to her fury. I have also observed that grouse, where the ground suits their breeding, are generally very plentiful close around the eyrie of the relentless falcon.

When the Gipsies took up their residence on the cold earthen floor of an old out-house, the males and females of the different families had always beds by themselves, made of straw and blankets, and called shake-downs. The younger branches also slept by themselves, in separate beds, the males apart from the females. When the band consisted of more families than one, each family occupied a separate part of the floor of the house, distinct from their neighbours; kindled a separate fire, at which they cooked their victuals; and made horn spoons and other articles for themselves, for sale in the way of their calling. They formed, as it were, a camp on the ground-floor of the ruinous house, in which would sometimes be observed five mothers of families, some of whom would be such before they were seventeen years of age. The principal Gipsies who, about this period, travelled Tweed-dale, were never known to have had more than one wife at a time, or to have put away their wives for trifling causes.

On such occasions, the chief and the grown-up males of the band seldom or never set foot within the door of the farm-house, but generally kept themselves quite aloof and retired; exposing themselves to observation as little as possible. They employed themselves in repairing broken china, utensils made of copper, brass and pewter, pots, pans and kettles, and white-iron articles generally; and in making horn spoons, smoothing-irons, and sole-clouts for ploughs. But working in horn is considered by them as their favourite and most ancient occupation. It would certainly be one of the first employments of man, at a very early stage of human society--that of converting the horns of animals for the use of the human race: and such has been the regard which the Gipsies have had for it, that every clan knows the spoons which are made by another. The females also assisted in polishing, and otherwise finishing, the spoons. However early the farm-servants rose to their ordinary employments, they always found the Tinklers at work.

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