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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Of the names of O'Reilly and McEwan


happened, at another time,

to be in the court-house of one of the burghs north of the Forth, when two Irishmen, of the names of O'Reilly and McEwan, were at the bar for having been found drunk, and fighting within the town. They were sentenced by the magistrates to three days' imprisonment, and to be "banished the town," for their riotous conduct. The men had the Irish accent, and had certainly been born and brought up in Ireland; but their habiliments and general appearance did not correspond exactly with the ordinary dress and manners of common Irish peasants, although their features were in all respects Hibernian. When the magistrates questioned them in respect to their conduct, the prisoners looked very grave, and said, "Sure, and it plase your honours, our quarrel was nothing but whiskey, and sure we are the best friends in the world;" and seemed very penitent. But when the magistrates were not looking at them, they were smiling to each other, and keeping up a communication in pantomime. Suspecting them to be Irish Gipsies, I addressed the wife of McEwan as follows: "For what is the _riah_ (magistrate) going to put your _gaugie_ (man) in _staurdie_, (prison)?" "Only for a little whiskey, sir," was her immediate reply. She gave me, on the spot, the English of the following words; adding, at the same time, that I had got the _Gipsy_ language, but that hers was only the _English cant_. She was afraid to acknowledge that she was a Gipsy, as such a confession might, in her opinion, have proved prejudicial
to her husband, in the situation in which he was placed.

_Gaugie_, man. _Managie_, woman. _Chauvies_, children. _Riah_, magistrate. _Chor_, thief. _Yaka_, eyes. _Grye_, horse. _Roys_, spoons. _Skews_, platters. _Mashlam_, metal.

I observed the woman instantly communicate to her husband the conversation she had with me. She immediately returned to me, and, after questioning me as to my name, occupation, and place of residence, very earnestly entreated me to save her _gaugie_ from the _staurdie_. I asked her, how many _chauvies_ she had? "Twelve, sir." Were any of them _chors_? "None, sir." Two of her _chauvies_ were in her hand, weeping bitterly. The woman was in great distress, and when she heard the sound of her own language, she thought she saw a friend. I informed one of the magistrates, whom I knew, that the prisoners were Gipsies; and proposed to him to mitigate the punishment of the woman's husband, on condition of his giving me a specimen of his secret speech. But the reply of the man of authority was, "The scoundrel shall lie in prison till the last hour of his sentence." The "scoundrel" however, did not remain in durance so long. While the jailer was securing him in prison, the determined Tinkler, with the utmost coolness and indifference, asked him, which part of the jail would be the easiest for him to break through. The jailer told him that, if he attempted to escape, the watchman, stationed in the church-yard, close to the prison, would shoot him. On visiting the prison next morning, the turnkey found that the Gipsy had undone the locks of the doors, and fled during the night. O'Reilly, the other Gipsy, remained, in a separate cell, the whole period of his sentence. When the officers were completing the other part of his punishment--"banishing him from the town"--the regardless, light-hearted Irish Tinkler went capering along the streets, with his coat off, brandishing, and sweeping, and twirling his shillalah, in the Gipsy fashion. Meeting, in this excited state, his late judge, the Tinkler, with the utmost contempt and derision, called out to him, "Plase your honour! won't you now take a fight with me, for the sake of friendship?" This worthy Irish Gipsy represented himself as the head Tinkler in Perth, and the first of the second class of boxers.


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