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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Which the Gipsies perform with the cudgel

[176] Two ram's horns and two spoons, crossed, are sculptured on the tombstone of William Marshall, a Gipsy chief, who, according to a writer in Blackwood's Magazine, died at the age of 120 years, and whose remains are deposited in the church-yard of Kirkcudbright.

A horn is the hieroglyphic of authority, power, and dignity, and is a metaphor often made use of in the Scriptures. The Jews held ram's horns in great veneration, on account, it is thought, of that animal having been caught in a bush by the horns, and used as a substitute, when Isaac was about to be sacrificed by his father; or, perhaps, on account of this animal being first used in sacrifice. So much were ram's horns esteemed by the Israelites, that their Priests and Levites used them as trumpets, particularly at the taking of Jericho. The modern Jews, when they confess their sins, in our month of September, announce the ceremony by blowing a ram's horn, the sound of which, they say, drives away the Devil. In ancient Egypt, and other parts of Africa, Jupiter Ammon was worshipped under the figure of a ram, and to this deity one of these animals was sacrificed annually. A ram seems to have been an emblem of power in the East, from the remotest ages. It would, therefore, appear that the practice of the Gipsy priest "wearing a ram's horn, suspended from a string, around his neck," must be derived from the highest antiquity.

justify;">This Gipsy priest was uncommonly fond of a bottle of good ale. Like many other celebrators of marriages, he derived considerable emoluments from his office. A Gipsy informed me that Robertson, on these occasions, always received presents, such as a pair of candlesticks, or basins and platters, made of pewter, and such like articles. The disobedient and refractory members of his clan were chastised by him at all times, on the spot, by the blows of his cudgel, without regard to age or sex, or manner of striking. When any serious scuffle arose among his people, in which he was like to meet with resistance, he would, with vehemence, call to his particular friends, "Set my back to the wa';" and, being thus defended in the rear, he, with his cudgel, made his assailants in front smart for their rebellion. Although he could not see, his daughter would give him the word of command. She would call to him, "Strike down"--"Strike laigh" (low)--"Strike amawn" (athwart,)--"Strike haunch-ways,"--"Strike shoulder-ways," &c. In these, we see nearly all the cuts or strokes of the Hungarian sword-exercise. As I have frequently mentioned, all the Gipsies were regularly trained to a peculiar method of their own in handling the cudgel, in their battles. I am inclined to think that part of the Hungarian sword-exercise, at present practised in our cavalry, is founded upon the Gipsy manner of attack and defence, including even the direct thrust to the front, which the Gipsies perform with the cudgel.

Notwithstanding all that has been said of the licentious manners of the Scottish Gipsies, I am convinced that the slightest infidelity, on the part of their wives, would be punished with the utmost severity. I am assured that nothing can put a Gipsy into so complete a rage as to impute incontinence to his wife. In India, the Gipsy men "are extremely jealous of their wives, who are kept in strict subservance, and are in danger of corporeal punishment, or absolute dismissal, if they happen to displease them."[177] The Gipsies are complete Tartars in matters of this kind.[178]

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