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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Hoyland on the English Gipsies


[255] Speaking of the attempted civilization of the Gipsies, by the Empress Maria Theresa, Grellmann says, "A boy, (for you must leave the old stock alone,) would frequently seem in the most promising train to civilization; on a sudden, his wild nature would appear, a relapse follow, and he become a perfect Gipsy again."

"_Curate._--Could you not, by degrees, bring yourself to a more settled mode of life?

"_Gipsy._--I would not tell you a lie, sir; I really think I could not, having been brought up to it from a child."--_Hoyland on the English Gipsies._

The restless desire which the more original kind of Gipsies, and those more recently from the tent, have for moving about, is generally gratified in some way or other. The poorer class will send their wives and young ones to the "grass," in company with the nomadic portion, or to the streets in towns. In either case, they have no great occasion to feel uneasy about their support; for she would be a poor wife indeed, if she could not forage for herself and "weary bairns." Among other things, she can hire herself to assist in disposing of the wares made by another Gipsy. Her husband will then work at his calling, or go on the _tramp_, like some of our ordinary mechanics.

The feeling which mankind in general have for the sweets of the country, and the

longing which so many of us have to end our days in the midst of them, amount almost to a mania with these Gipsies. Frequently will Gipsies, in England, after spending the best part of their lives in a settled occupation, again take to the tent; while others of them, on arrival in America, will buy themselves places, and live on them till seized with the travelling epidemic, communicated by a roving company of their tribe accidentally arriving in their neighbourhood. Some of the more recently settled class of Gipsies, whose occupations do not easily admit of their enjoying the pleasure of a country or travelling life, show a great partiality to their wandering brethren, however poor, with whom they are on terms of intimacy, and especially if they happen to be related. Their children, from hearing their parents speak of the "good old times"--the "golden age" of the Gipsies--when they could wander hither and thither, with little molestation, and live, in a measure, at free-quarters, wherever they went, grow impatient under the restraint which society has thrown around them; and vent their feelings in abusing that same society, and all the members thereof. They envy the lot of these "country cousins." Meetings of that kind render these Gipsies, (old as well as young,) irritable, discontented, and gloomy: they feel like "birds in a cage," as a Gipsy expressed it. Not unfrequently will a young town Gipsy travel in the company of these country relatives, dressed _a la Tinklaire_, as a relief to the discontentment which a restrained and pent-up life creates within him. At other times, his parents will know nothing of his movements, beyond his coming home to "roost" at night.


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