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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

In the introduction to his travels in Hungary


as the work is, it is offered as a contribution toward the filling up of that void in literature to which Dr. Bright alludes, in the introduction to his travels in Hungary, when, in reference to Hoyland's Survey, and some scattered notices of the Gipsies in periodicals, he says: "We may hope at some time to collect, satisfactorily, the history of this extraordinary race." It is likewise intended as a response to the call of a writer in Blackwood, in which he says: "_Our_ duty is rather to collect and store up the _raw materials_ of literature--to gather into our repository scattered facts, hints and observations--which more elaborate and learned authors may afterwards work up into the dignified tissue of history or science."

I deem it proper to remark that, in editing the work, I have taken some liberties with the manuscript. I have, for example, recast the Introduction, re-arranged some of the materials, and drawn more fully, in some instances, upon the author's authorities; but I have carefully preserved the facts and sentiments of the original. I may have used some expressions a little familiar and perhaps not over-refined in their nature; but my excuse for that is, that they are illustrative of a subject that allows the use of them.


The discovery and history of barbarous races of men, besides affording exquisite

gratification to the general mind of civilized society, have always been looked upon as important means toward a right understanding of the history of our species, and the relation in which it stands to natural and revealed theology; and in their prosecution have produced, in latter times, many instances of the most indefatigable disinterestedness and greatest efforts of true courage of which our nature is capable; many, in the person of the traveller, philanthropist and missionary, cheerfully renouncing in their pursuit every comfort of civilized life, braving death itself in every variety of form, and leaving their bones on the distant shore, or far away in the unknown interior of the dreary continent, without a trace of their fate to console those most dearly attached to them. The result of the discoveries hitherto made has invariably confirmed the conclusions of a few superior minds, formed without the assistance drawn from such a source, that under whatever circumstances man is placed, and whatever advantages he may enjoy, there is very little real difference between the characters, intrinsically considered, of the savage and man in what is considered a civilized community. There is this difference between what may be called barbarism, not unfrequently to be met with in a civilized community, springing from the depravity natural to man, and what obtains in a barbarous tribe or nation as such, that, in the former, it forms the exception; the brother, the father, or the son of the person of it often exhibiting the most opposite nature and conduct; while, in the latter, it forms the rule, and what the individual cannot, in a sense, avoid. But, in making this distinction, is there nothing to be found within the former sphere somewhat anomalous to the position thus presented?

The subject of the following enquiry forms the exception, and from its being the only instance to be met with in the history of Europe, it may be said to merit the greatest consideration of the statesman, the historian, the philosopher, and the Christian.

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