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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Always casting his lot with the Gipsies


The

result of this mixture of the Gipsy and European blood is founded, not only on the ordinary principles of physiology, but on common sense itself; for why should not such issue take after the European, in preference to the Gipsy? If a residence in Europe of 450 years has had no effect upon the appearance of what may be termed pure Gipsies, (a point which, at least, is questionable,) the length of time, the effects of climate, and the influence of mind, should, at least, predispose it to merge, by mixture, into something bearing a resemblance to the ordinary European; which, by a continued crossing, it does. Indeed, it soon disappears to the common eye: to a stranger it is not observable, unless the mixture happens to be met with in a tent, or under such circumstances as one expects to meet with Gipsies. In paying a visit to an English Gipsy family, I was invited to call again, on such a day, when I would meet with some Welsh Gipsies. The principal Welsh Gipsy I found to be a very quiet man, with fair hair, and quite like an ordinary Englishman; who was admitted by his English brethren to "speak deep Gipsy." He had just arrived from Wales, where he had been employed in an iron work. Unless I am misinformed, the issue of a fair-haired European and an ordinary Hindoo woman, in India, sometimes shows the same result as I have stated of the Gipsies; but it ought to be much more so in the case of the Gipsy in Europe, on account of the race having been so long acclimated there. Indeed,
it is generally believed, that the population of Europe contains a large part of Asiatic blood, from that continent having at one time been overrun by Asiatics, who mixed their blood with an indigenous race which they met with there.

Of the mixed Spanish Gipsy, to whom I have alluded, Mr. Borrow says, that "he had _flaxen hair_; his eyes small, and, like ferrets, red and fiery; and his complexion like a brick, or dull red, chequered with spots of purple." This description, with, perhaps, the exception of the red eyes, and spots of purple, is quite in keeping with that of many of the mixed Gipsies. The race seems even to have given a preference to fair or red hair, in the case of such children and grown-up natives as they have adopted into their body. I have met with a young Spaniard from Corunna, who is so much acquainted with the Gipsies in Spain, that I took him to be a mixed Gipsy himself; and he says that mixtures among the Spanish Gipsies are very common; the white man, in such cases, always casting his lot with the Gipsies. None of the French, German, or Hungarian Gipsies whom I have met with in America are full blood, or anything like it; but I am told there are such, and very black too, as the English Gipsies assert. Indeed, considering how "dreadfully mixed" the Gipsies are in Great Britain and Ireland, I cannot but conclude that they are more or less so all over the world.[262]

[262] Grellmann evidently alludes to Gipsies of mixed blood, when he writes in the following manner: "Experience shows that the dark colour of the Gipsies, which is continued from generation to generation, is more the effect of education and manner of life than descent. Among those who profess music in Hungary, or serve in the imperial army, where they have learned to pay more attention to order and cleanliness, there are many to be found whose extraction is not at all discernible in their colour." For my part, I cannot say that such language is applicable to full-blood Gipsies. Still, the change from tented to settled and tidy Gipsydom is apt to show its effects in modifying the complexion of such Gipsies, and to a much greater degree in their descendants.


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