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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

A great many scions of Gipsy Faas


The crest of the Falls, of Dunbar, was _three_ boars' heads, couped; that of Baillie, of Lamington, is _one_ boar's head, couped. In the Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835,) appears the following notice of this family: "A family, of the name of Fall, established themselves at Dunbar, and became, during the last century, the most extensive merchants in Scotland. They were long the chief magistrates of the burgh, and preferred the public good to their own profit. They have left no one to bear their name, _not even a stone to tell where they lie_; but they will long be remembered for their enterprise and public spirit." There is apparently a reason for "not even a stone being left to tell where they lie;" for in Hoyland's "Survey of the Gipsies" appeared the account of Baillie Smith, in which it is said: "The descendants of Faa now take the name of Fall, from the Messrs. Fall, of Dunbar, who, they pride themselves in saying, _are of the same stock and lineage_;" which seems to have frightened their connexions at being known to be Gipsies.

Let all that has been said of the Falls be considered as their monument and epitaph; so that their memories may be preserved as long as this work exists.

It would be interesting to know who the Captain Fall was, who visited Dunbar, with an American ship-of-war, during the time of Paul Jones. He might have been a descendant of a Gipsy,

sent to the plantations, in the olden times. There are, as I have said before, a great many scions of Gipsy Faas, under one name or other, scattered over the world.

[277] _Whipping the cat_: Tailoring from house to house. The _cat_ is _whipped_ by females, as well as males, in America, in some parts of which the expression is current.

The truth of the matter is, these Falls must have considered themselves a world better than other people, merely on account of their being Gipsies, as all Gipsies do, arising, in part, from that antagonistic spirit of opposition which the prejudice of their fellow-creatures is so much calculated to stir up in their minds. Saying, over their cups, that they were descended from the Faws, the historical Gipsy name in Scotland, did not divulge very much to the public. For what idea had the public of the _working of Gipsydom_--what idea of the Gipsy language? Did the public know of the existence of a Gipsy language in Scotland? In all probability, it generally did not. If the public heard a Tinkler use a strange word, all that it would think of it would be, that it was _cant_, confined to vagabonds strolling the country. Would it ever dream that what the vagabonds used was carefully preserved and spoken among the great Falls, of Dunbar, within the sanctity of their own dwellings, as it assuredly must have been? Would the public believe in such a thing, if even its own ears were made the witnesses to it? Was the love which the Falls had for their Yetholm connexion confined to a mere group of their ancestors worked in tapestry? Where was the Gipsy language, during all this time? Assuredly it was well preserved in their family. If it showed the least symptoms of falling off, how easily could the mothers bring into the family, as servants, other Gipsies, who would teach it to the children! For, besides the dazzling hold which the Gipsy language takes of the mind of a Gipsy, as the language of those black, mysterious heroes from whom he is descended, the keeping of it up forms the foundation of that self-respect which a Gipsy has for himself, amidst the prejudice of the world; from which, at the bottom of his heart, whatever his position in life, or character, or associations, may be, he considers himself separated. I am decidedly of opinion that all the domestics about this Fall family were Gipsies of one caste, colour, condition, or what not.


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