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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

May be termed a Gipsy of the Gipsies


In

other countries, besides Scotland, the Gipsies are not all of one uniform swarthy hue. A Russian gentleman stated to me that many of the Gipsies in Finland have light hair, and fair complexions. I am also informed there are Gipsies in Arabia with fair hair.

Among many other mal-practices, the Gipsies have, in all countries, been accused of stealing children; but what became of these kidnapped infants, no one appears to have given any account, that I am aware of. To satisfy myself on this trait of their character, I enquired of a Gipsy the reasons which induced his tribe to steal children. He candidly acknowledged the practice, and said that the stolen children were adopted as members of the tribe, and instructed in the language, and all the mysteries of the body. They became, he said, equally hardy, clever, and expert in all the practices of the fraternity. The male Gipsies were very fond of marrying the stolen females. Some of the kidnapped children were made servants, or, rather, a sort of slaves, to the tribe. They considered that the occasional introduction of another race into their own, and mixing the Gipsy blood, in that manner, invigorated and strengthened their race. In this manner would the Gipsies alter the complexion of their race, by the introduction of foreign blood among them.[225]

[225] An objection is perhaps started, that these incorporated individuals are not Gipsies. They have been brought

into the body at such an age as to leave no trace of past recollections, leaving alone past associations. There was no occasion for such children being either "squalling infants," or of such an age as was likely to lead them to "betray the Gipsies," as Mr. Borrow supposes would be the case, when he says that Gipsies have never stolen children, to bring them up as Gipsies. How are they to discover their origin, when so many of the body around them have the same colour of hair and complexion? If the idea has ever entered into their imaginations, it has led to a greater antipathy towards their own race, and attachment to the tribe, from the special education which they have received to those ends. So far as the matter of blood is concerned, they are not what may be physiologically called Gipsies; and, by being married to Gipsies, they become doubly attached to the body. What has been said of children introduced among the Gipsies, in the way described, applies with infinitely greater force to those born of one of such parents.

Suppose, for instance, that the Spanish race was originally of an exclusively _dark_ hair and complexion: should we therefore say that a _fair_ Spaniard, at the present day, was no Spaniard? Or that the Turks of Constantinople, on account of the mixture of their blood, were not Turks? In the same manner are Gipsies with white blood in their veins Gipsies. They may be half-breed, but it would be improper to call them half-caste, Gipsies. But what are full-blood Gipsies, to commence with? The idea itself is intangible; for, by adopting, more or less, wherever they have been, others into their body, during their singular history, a pure Gipsy, like the pure Gipsy language, is doubtless nowhere to be found.

An English Gipsy acquaintance, of perfect European appearance, who, for love of race and language, may be termed "a Gipsy of the Gipsies," admitted that he was only one-eighth Gipsy; his father, a full-blood white, having married a quadroon Gipsy. He spoke Gipsy with great fluency. He married a seven-eighths Gipsy. Were his descendants to marry what are supposed to be pure Gipsies, the result would be as follows: the first generation, (his children,) would be one-half Gipsy; the second, three-fourths; the third, seven-eighths; the fourth, fifteen-sixteenths; the fifth, thirty-one thirty-seconds; and the sixth, sixty-three sixty-fourths. If this were to go on _ad infinitum_, the issue would always lack the one part to make the full blood. But the Gipsies do not calculate their vulgar fractions so closely as that; the division of the blood doubtless bothers them, so that they "lump" the question. What has been said, is breeding _up_. Sometimes they breed _down_, and sometimes _across_. Mixing the blood, in this way, is quite a peculiarity among the English Gipsies. I asked my friend, if he was sure his wife was a pure Gipsy. He said she was considered such, (I have put her down at seven-eighths,) but that one of her forefathers was a fair-haired French Gipsy. According to a well-admitted principle in physiology, a fair-haired Gipsy, of almost full blood, is by no means so _rara avis in terris_ as a white crow. Some of the children of my acquaintance took after himself, and had blue eyes; and others after the mother, and had black ones. But the English Gipsies, (the tented ones at least,) are much purer, in point of blood, than their brethren in Scotland. Many of the Irish Gipsies have very red hair--fiery and shaggy in the extreme. Indeed, they seem to be pretty much all of a fairish kind.--ED.


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