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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

While the Gipsy lady's maid will take a Gipsy shoemaker


The nomadic class take to winter-quarters in some village, towards the close of the year, and fret themselves all day long, till, on the return of spring, they can say, "To your tents, O Gipsies!" There is as little direct relation existing between the tent and the long-settled Gipsies, as there is between it and ordinary Scotch people. But there is that tribal or national association connected with it, that is inseparable from the feelings of a Gipsy, however high may be the position in life to which he may have risen.--ED.

[256] The Fourteenth Annual Festival of the Rev. James Crabb's Association, for civilizing and teaching the principles of Christianity to the Gipsies in England, was held on the 25th December, 1841. At that time, twenty Gipsy youths were attending his school. He was very sanguine of ultimately ameliorating the condition of the British Gipsies.

At Yetholm, in the same year, after the Rev. John Baird's school had been in existence about two years, there were about forty Gipsy children receiving instruction. When they were educated, they were hired as servants to families, or bound apprentices to different trades.

[I will offer some remarks on the improvement of the Gipsies, in the Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.]

Many of the Gipsies, following the various occupations enumerated,

are not now to be distinguished from others of the community, except by the most minute observation; yet they appear a distinct and separate people; seldom contracting marriage out of their own tribe.[257] A tradesman of Gipsy blood will sooner give his hand to a lady's maid of his own race, than marry the highest female in the land; while the Gipsy lady's maid will take a Gipsy shoemaker, in preference to any one out of her tribe. A Gipsy woman will far rather prefer, in marriage, a man of her own blood who has escaped the gallows, to the most industrious and best-behaved tradesman in the kingdom. Like the Jews, almost all those in good circumstances marry among themselves, and, I believe, employ their poorer brethren as servants. I have known Gipsies most solemnly declare, that no consideration would induce them to marry out of their own tribe; and I am informed, and convinced, that almost every one of them marries in that way. One of them stated to me that, let them be in whatever situation of life they may, they all "stick to each other."

[257] It is a difficult matter to tell some of the settled Scottish Gipsies. In searching for them, some regard must be had to the employment of the individual, his associations, and his isolation from the community generally, beyond what is necessary in following his calling and out-door relations, as contrasted with his hospitality to strangers from a distance; a close scrutiny of the habits of himself and his numerous motley visitors; the rough-and-tumble way in which he sometimes lives; his attachment to animals, such as horses, asses, dogs, cats, birds, or pets of any kind; these, and other relative circumstances, go a great way to enable one to pounce upon some of them. But the use of their language, and the effect it has upon them, (barring their responding to it,) is, at the present stage of their history, the only satisfactory test. Scottish Gipsy families will generally be found to be all dark in their appearance, or all very fair or reddish, or partly very fair, and partly very dark, and sometimes dark or fair nondescript. Many of the residentary class of mechanic Gipsies are difficult of detection; so are the better classes, generally, if it is long since their ancestors left the tent--ED.


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