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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Do not greatly despise the Tinklers


[190] This opinion is confirmed by the fact that the Gipsies whom the Rev. Mr. Crabbe has civilized will not now be seen among the others of the tribe, at his annual festival, at Southampton. We have already seen, under the head of Continental Gipsies, that "those who are gold-washers in Transylvania and the Banat have no intercourse with others of their nation; nor do they like to be called Gipsies."

[191] On the whole, however, our Scottish peasantry, in some districts, do not greatly despise the Tinklers; at least not to the same extent as the inhabitants of some other countries seem to do. When not involved in quarrels with the Gipsies, our country people, with the exception of a considerable portion of the land-owners, were, and are even yet, rather fond of the _superior_ families of the _nomadic_ class of these people, than otherwise.

They are also anxious to retain their language, as a secret among themselves, for the use which it is to them in conducting business in markets or other places of public resort. But they are very chary of the manner in which they employ it on such occasions. Besides this, they display all the pride and vanity in possessing the language which is common with linguists generally. The determined and uniform principle laid down by them, to avoid all communications with "strangers" on the subject, and their resolution to keep it a secret within their own

tribe, will be strikingly illustrated by the following facts.

For seven years, a woman, of the name of Baillie, about fifty years of age, and the mother of a family, called regularly at my house, twice a year, while on her peregrinations through the country, selling spoons and other articles made from horn. Every time I saw her, I endeavoured to prevail upon her to give me some of her secret speech, as I was certain she was acquainted with the Gipsy tongue. But, not to alarm her by calling it by that name, I always said to her, in a jocular manner, that it was the _mason_ word I wished her to teach me. She, however, as regularly and firmly declared that she knew of no such language among the Tinklers. I always treated her kindly, and desired her to continue her visits. I gave her, each time she called, a glass of spirits, a piece of flesh, and such articles; and generally purchased some trifle from her, for which I intentionally paid her more than its value. She so far yielded to my importunities, that, for the last three years she called, she went the length of saying that she would tell me "something" the next time she came back. But when she returned, she guardedly evaded all my questions, by constantly repeating nearly the same answer, such as, "I will speak to you the next time I come back, sir." After having been put off for _seven_ years in this manner, I was determined to put her to the usual test, should she never enter my door again, and, as she was walking out of the gate of my garden, I called to her, in the Gipsy language, "_Jaw vree, managie!_"--(go away, woman.) She immediately turned round, and, laughing, replied, "I will _jaw_ with you when I come back, _gaugie_"--(I will go or speak with you, when I come back, man.) She returned, as usual, in December following. I again requested her to give me some of her words, assuring her that she would be in no danger from me on that account. I further told her it was of no use to conceal her speech from me, having, the last time she was in my house, shown her that I was acquainted with it. After considerable hesitation and reluctance, she consented; but then, she said, she would not allow any one in the house to hear her speak to me but my wife. I took her at once into my parlour, and, on being desired, she, without the least hesitation or embarrassment, took the seat next the fire. Observing the door of the room a little open, she desired it to be shut, in case of her being overheard, again mentioning that she had no objections to my wife being present, and gravely observing that "husbands and wives were one, and should know all one another's secrets." She stated that the public would look upon her with horror and contempt, were it known she could speak the Gipsy language. She was extremely civil and intelligent, yet placed me upon a familiar equality with herself, when she found I knew of the existence of her speech, and could repeat some of the words of it. Her nature, to appearance, seemed changed. Her bold and fiery disposition was softened and subdued. She was very frank and polite; retained her self-possession, and spoke with great propriety.[192] The words which I got on this occasion will be found in another part of the chapter.


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