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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

When first publicly taken notice of in Europe


the family, and much sleeping on straw-heaps in the _cock-loft_, marked the style of living of a class now deemed very respectable. The huts of the poorest class were as often composed of "sticks and dirt" as any other material, with _plenishing_ to correspond. There was a marked exception to this state of comparative barbarism to be found, however, in some of the cities of Italy, and other parts of the Mediterranean, the seats of the flourishing republics of the middle ages; arising not only from the affluence which follows in the wake of extended commerce and manufactures, but also from the feelings with which the wreck of a highly polished antiquity inspired a people in whom the seeds of the former civilization had not died out; heightened, as it must have been, by the influence of the once celebrated, but then decaying, splendour which the court of the long line of eastern emperors shed over the countries lying contiguous to it. The inhabitants of the cities of the north, on the other hand, were marked by a degree of substantial wealth and comfort, sense and ease, civility and liberality, which were apt to distinguish a people situated as they were, without the traditions and objects, meeting the eye at every step in the south, of the greatest degree of culture in the polite arts of life unto which a people can attain. But, with the exception of the inhabitants of these cities, and some of those in a few of the cities of western Europe, the clergy and some of the laity, the people, as such, were sunk in deep ignorance and superstition, living in a state of which, in our favoured times, we can form no adequate conception. Then, life and property were held in little respect, and law trampled upon, even if it existed under more than the shadow of its present form; and no roads existed but such as were for the greater part of the year impassable, and lay through forests, swamps and other uncultivated wastes, the resorts of numerous banditti. Then, almost no intercourse existed between the people of one part of a country and another, when all were exceedingly sanguinary and rude.

What wonder, then, that, under such circumstances, the race in question should have stolen into Europe unobserved, without leaving a trace of the circumstances connected with the movement? The way by which they are supposed to have entered Western Europe was by Transylvania, a supposition which, if not true, is at least most likely. Although, when first publicly taken notice of in Europe, they were found to move about in large bands, it is unlikely that they would do that while entering, but only after having experienced the degree of toleration and hospitality which the representation of their condition called forth; at least if we judge from the cunning which they have displayed in moving about after their true character became known. Asia having been so long their home, where from time immemorial they are supposed to have wandered, they would have no misgiving, from their knowledge of its inhabitants, in passing through any part of it. But in contemplating an entry into Europe they must have paused, as one, without any experience of his own or of others, would in entering on the discovery of an unknown continent, and anxiously examined the merchants and travellers visiting Europe, on the various particulars of the country most essential to their prospects, and especially as to the characteristics of the people. There seems no reason for thinking that they were expelled from


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