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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Hindostan are the Gipsies descended


[222] It is remarkable, considering how much the habits and occupations of the Gipsies bring them in contact with beggars, thieves, and other bad and disorderly characters, how few of the slang words used by such persons have been adopted by them.--_Rev. Mr. Baird's Missionary Report to the Scottish Church, 1840._--ED.

[223] Of the Highland Gipsies, I had the following account from a person of observation, and highly worthy of credit: There are many settled in Kintyre, who travel through the Highlands and Lowlands annually. They certainly speak, among themselves, a language totally distinct from either Gaelic or Lowland Scotch.--_Blackwood's Magazine._--ED.

[224] "There is reason for supposing that the Gipsies had been wandering in the remote regions of Sclavonia, for a considerable time previous to entering Bohemia--the first civilized country of Europe in which they made their appearance; as their language abounds with words of Sclavonic origin, which could not have been adopted in a hasty passage through a wild and half populated country."--_Borrow._

That the Gipsies were, in some way, drawn together, at a very remote age, and became amalgamated, so as to form a race, can hardly admit of a doubt. But it is an opinion that has no reasonable foundation which supposes that they suddenly took their departure from India, and travelled

together, till they entered and spread over Europe. They may, as I have conjectured in the Introduction, have separated into bands, and passed into countries in Asia, as they have done in Europe; and existed in Asia, and Africa, long before they appeared in Europe. For this reason, their language ought to vary in different countries; and it would be enough to identify them as the same race, were the substance of their language and their customs, or even their cast of mind, the same. In speaking of the Hungarian Gipsies, Grellmann says, that their speech contains words from the Turkish, Sclavonian, Greek, Latin, Wallachian, Hungarian, and German; but that it would not be absurd to pronounce that there remain more, or at least different, Gipsy words among those residing in one country than another.--ED.

In concluding my account of the Scottish Gipsy language, I may observe, that I think few who have perused my details will hesitate for a moment in pronouncing that the people have migrated from Hindostan. Many convincing proofs of the origin of the race have been adduced by Grellmann, Hoyland, and Bright; and I think that my researches, made in Scotland alone, have confirmed the statements of these respectable authors.

The question which now remains to be solved is this: From what tribe or nation at present in, or originally from, Hindostan are the Gipsies descended? That they have been a robber or predatory nation, from principle as well as practice, I am convinced little doubt can be entertained. Even yet, the greater the art and address displayed in committing a dexterous theft or robbery, the higher is the merit of such an action esteemed among their fraternity. I am also convinced that this general, or national, propensity to plunder has been the chief cause of the Gipsies concealing their origin, language, customs, and religious observances, at the time they entered the territories of civilized nations, and up to this time. The intelligent old Gipsy, whose acquaintance I made at St. Boswell's, distinctly told me, that his tribe were originally a nation of thieves and robbers; and it is quite natural to suppose that, when they found theft and robbery punished with such severity, in civilized society, everything relating to them would be kept a profound secret.


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