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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Or general itinerant occupations

is not likely that many of

the colonial Gipsies would take to the tent; for, arriving, for the most part, as individuals, separated from family relations, they were more apt to follow settled, semi-settled, or general itinerant occupations; and the more so, as the face of the country, and the thin and scattered settlements, would hardly admit of it. They were apt to squat on wild or unoccupied lands, in the neighbourhood of towns and settlements, like their brethren in Europe, when they took up their quarters on the borders of well-settled districts, with a wild country to fall back on, in times of danger or prosecution by the lawful authorities. Besides disposing of themselves, to some little extent, in this way, many of the Gipsies, banished, or going to the colonies of their own accord, would betake themselves to the various occupations common to the ordinary emigrants; the more especially as, when they arrived, they would find a field in which they were not known to be Gipsies; which would give them greater scope and confidence, and enable them to go anywhere, or enter upon any employment, where, not being known to be Gipsies, they would meet with no prejudice to contend with. Indeed, a new country, in which the people had, more or less, to be, in a sense, tinkers, that is, jacks-of-all-trades, and masters of none, was just the sphere of a handy Gipsy, who could "do a' most of things." They would turn to the tinkering, peddling, horse-dealing, tavern-keeping, and almost all the ordinary mechanical trades,
and, among others, broom-making. Perhaps the foundation of the American broom manufacture was laid by the British Gipsies, by whom it may be partly carried on at the present day; a business they pretty much monopolize, in a rough way, in Great Britain. We will doubtless find, among the fraternity, some of those whittling, meddling Sam Slick peddlers, so often described: I have seen some of those itinerant venders of knife-sharpeners, and such "Yankee notions," with dark, glistening eyes, that would "pass for the article." Some of them would live by less legitimate business. I entertain no doubt, what from the general fitness of things, and the appearance of some of the men, that we will find some of the descendants of the old British mixed Gipsies members of the various establishments of Messrs. Peter Funks and Company,[285] of the city of New York, as well as elsewhere. And I entertain as little doubt that many of those American women who tell fortunes, and engage in those many curious bits of business that so often come up at trials, are descendants of the British plantation stock of Gipsies. But there are doubtless many of these Gipsies in respectable spheres of life. It would be extremely unreasonable to say that the descendants of the colonial Gipsies do not still exist as Gipsies, like their brethren in Great Britain, and other parts of the Old World. The English Gipsies in America entertain no doubt of it; the more especially as they have encountered such Gipsies, of at least two descents. I have myself met with such a Gipsy, following a decidedly respectable calling, whom I found as much one of the tribe, barring the original habits, as perhaps any one in Europe.

[285] _Peter Funks & Co._: Mock auctioneers of mock jewelry, &c., &c.

There are many Hungarian and German Gipsies in America; some of them long

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