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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

In the Disquisition on the Gipsies


[230] Mr. Borrow mentions having observed, at a fair in Spain, a family of Gipsies, richly dressed, after the fashion of their nation. They had come a distance of upwards of a hundred leagues. Some merchants, to whom he was recommended, informed him, that they had a credit on their house, to the amount of twenty thousand dollars.--ED.

[231] In his enquiry into the present condition of the Gipsies, our author has apparently confined his remarks exclusively to the body in its present wandering state, and such part of it as left the tent subsequently to the commencement of the French war. In the Disquisition on the Gipsies, the subject will be fully reviewed, from the date of arrival of the race in the country.--ED.

Many of them have betaken themselves to some of the regular occupations of the country, such as coopers, shoemakers, and plumbers; some are masons--an occupation to which they seem to have a partiality. Some of them are members of masons' lodges. There are many of them itinerant bell-hangers, and umbrella-menders. Among them there are tin-smiths, braziers, and cutlers, in great numbers; and the tribe also furnish a proportion of chimney-sweeps. I recollect of a Gipsy, who travelled the country, selling earthen-ware, becoming, in the end, a master-sweep. Several were, and I believe are, constables; and I am inclined to think that the police establishments, in large as well as small

towns, contain some of the fraternity.[232] Individuals of the female Gipsies are employed as servants, in the families of respectable persons, in town and country. Some of them have been ladies' maids, and even house-keepers to clergymen and farmers.[233] I heard of one, in a very respectable family, who was constantly boasting of her ancient and high descent; her father being a Baillie, and her mother a Faa--the two principal families in Scotland. Some of those persons who sell gingerbread at fairs, or what the country-people call _rowly-powly-men_, are also of the Gipsy race. Almost all these individuals hawking earthen-ware through the country, with carts, and a large proportion of those hawking japan and white-iron goods, are Gipsies.

[232] This is quite common. An English mixed Gipsy spontaneously informed me that he had been a constable In L----, and that he had a cousin who was lately a _runner_ in the police establishment of M----. Among other motives for the Gipsies joining the police is the following: that such is their dislike for the people among whom they live, owing to the prejudice which is entertained against them, that nothing gives them greater satisfaction than being the instruments of affronting and punishing their hereditary enemies. Besides this, the lounging and idle kind of life, coupled with the activity, of a constable, is pretty much to their natural disposition. An intelligent mixed Gipsy is calculated to make a first-rate constable and thief-catcher. Of course, he will not be very hard on those of his own race who come in his way.--ED.

[233] Our author frequently spoke of a dissenting Scottish clergyman having been married to a Gipsy, but was not aware, as far as I know, of the circumstances under which the marriage took place. The clergyman was not, in all probability, aware that he was taking a Gipsy to his bosom; and as little did the public generally; but it was well known to the initiated that both her father and mother had cut and divided many a purse. The unquestionable character and standing of the father, and the prudent conduct of the mother, protected the children. One of the daughters married another dissenting clergyman, which fairly disarmed those not of the Gipsy race of any prejudice towards the grand-children. The issue of these marriages would pass into Gipsydom, as explained in the Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.


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