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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

We are not over fond of gorgios


[259] It is claimed, by some Scottish Gipsies, that there are full-blood Gipsies at Yetholm, but I do not believe it. This, I may venture to say, that there can be no certainty, but, on the contrary, great doubt, on the subject. But, after all, what is a pure Gipsy? Was the race pure when it entered Scotland, or even Europe? The idea is perfectly arbitrary.

[260] It would be interesting to know where these writers got such ideas about the purity of the Gipsy blood. It certainly was not from Mr. Borrow's account of the Gipsies in Spain, whatever they may have inferred from that work.

This mixture of "the blood" is notorious. Many a full or nearly full-blood Gipsy will say that Gipsies do not mix their blood with that of the stranger. In such a case he only shuffles; for he whispers to himself two words, in his own language, which contradict what he says; which words I forget, but they mean "I belie it;" that is, he belies what he has just said. Besides, it lets the Gipsies down in their imagination, and, they think, in the imagination of others, to allow that the blood of their race is mixed. It is also a secret which they would rather hide from the world.[261] I am intimate with English Gipsy families, in none of whom is full blood; the most that can be said of them is, that they range from nearly full, say from seven-eighths, down to one-eighth, and perhaps less. Suppose that a fair-haired

common native marries a full-blood Gipsy: the issue of such an union will show some of the children, in point of external appearance, perfectly European, like the father, and others, Gipsies, like the mother. If two such European-like Gipsies marry, some of their children will take after the Gipsy, and be pretty, even very, dark, and others after the white race. In crossing a second time with full white blood, the issue will take still more after the white race. Still, the Gipsy cannot be crossed altogether out; he will come up, but of course in a modified form. Should the white blood be of a dark complexion and hair, and have no tendency, from its ancestry, to turn to fair, in its descent, then the issue between it and the Gipsy will always be dusky. I have seen all this, and had it fully explained by the Gipsies themselves.

[261] An instance of this kind of shuffling is given by Mr. Borrow, in the tenth chapter of the "Romany Rye," in the person of Ursula, a full or nearly full-blood Gipsy. She confines the crossing of the blood to such instances as when a Gipsy dies and leaves his children to be provided for by "_gorgios_, trampers, and basket-makers, who live in caravans;" but she says, "I hate to talk of the matter." When Mr. Borrow asked her, if a Gipsy woman, unless compelled by hard necessity, would have anything to do with a _gorgio_, she replied, "We are not over-fond of _gorgios_, and we hate basket-makers and folks that live in caravans." Here she makes a very important distinction between _gorgios_, (native English,) and _basket-makers and folks that live in caravans_, (mixed Gipsies.) She does not deny that a Gipsy woman will intermarry with a native under certain circumstances. A pretty-pure Gipsy, when angry, will very readily call a mixed Gipsy a _gorgio_, or, indeed, by any other name.


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