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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

This idea of Gitanos not being Gitanos


[272] It would seem that the law in Spain, in regard to the Gipsies, stands pretty much where it did--that is, the people are, in a sense, tolerated, but that the use of their language is prohibited, as may be gathered from an incident mentioned in the ninth chapter of the "Bible in Spain," by Mr. Borrow.

Should the Spanish Gipsies not now assist each other, to the extent they did when banditti, under the special proscription of the Government, it would be absurd to say that they were therefore not as much Gipsies as ever they were. The change in this respect arose, to some extent, from the toleration extended to them, as a people and as individuals, whether by the law, or society in general. Such Gipsies as Mr. Borrow seems to have associated with, in Spain, were not likely to be very reliable authority on the questions at issue; for he has described them as "being endowed with a kind of instinct, (in lieu of reason,) which assists them to a very limited extent, and no further."

Might it not be in Spain as in Great Britain? Even in England, those that pass for Gipsies are few in number, compared to the mixed Gipsies, following various occupations; for a large part of the Gipsy blood in England has, as it were, been spread over a large surface of the white. In Scotland it is almost altogether so. There seems considerable reason for believing that Gipsydom is, perhaps, as much mixed in Spain as in Great

Britain, although Mr. Borrow has taken no notice of it. We have seen, (page 92.) how severe an enactment was passed by Queen Elizabeth, against "any person, whether natural born or _stranger_, to be seen in the fellowship of the Gipsies, or disguised like them." In the law of Ferdinand and Isabella, the first passed against the Gipsies, in Spain, a class of people is mentioned, in conjunction with them, but distinguished from them, by the name of "foreign tinkers." Philip III., at Belan, in Portugal, in 1619, commands all Gipsies to quit the kingdom within six months. "Those who should wish to remain are to establish themselves in cities, and are not to be allowed to use the dress, name, and language, in order, that forasmuch as they are not such by nation,(!) this name, and manner of life, may be for evermore confounded and forgotten(!)" Philip IV., on the 8th May, 1633, declares "that they are not Gipsies by origin or nature, but have adopted this form of life(!)" This idea of "Gitanos _not_ being Gitanos, and _not_ proceeding from any infected root," was not original with Charles III., in 1783; his proclamation having been in formal keeping with previous ones, whether of his own country, or, as in Scotland, in 1603, "recommended by the example of some other realm," (page 111.) There had evidently been a great curiosity to know who some of the "not Gipsies by origin and nature," (evidently judging from their appearance,) could be; for Philip IV. enacts, "that they shall, within two months, leave the quarters where now they _live with the denomination of Gitanos_, and that they shall _separate from each other_, and _mingle with the other inhabitants_: that the ministers of justice are to observe, _with particular diligence_, whether they _hold communication with each other_, or _marry among themselves_."

The "foreign tinkers" mentioned in the Act of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the individuals distinguished


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