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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

You're a' Nawkens Gipsies I see


Virginia, the more original kind of Gipsies are very frequently to be met with. It is in the Slave States they are more apt to flourish in the olden form. The planters need not trouble themselves about their tampering with the Negroes, for they have no sympathy with them. Were it otherwise, they would soon be _mum_, on finding what the results would be to them. I have given some of them some useful hints on that score. The general disposition of the people, the want of _learning_ among so many of them, the distances between dwellings, the small villages, the handy mechanical services of the Gipsies, the uncultivated tracts of land, the game of various kinds, and the climate, seem to point out some of the Slave States as an elysium for the Gipsies; unless the wealthier part of the inhabitants should use the poorer class as tools to drive them out of the country.[287]

[287] When travelling on the stage, towards Lake Huron, in Canada, I was surprised at finding a Gipsy tent on the road-side, with a man sitting in front of it, engaged in the mysteries of the tinker. I met a camp of Gipsies on a vacant space, beside a clump of trees, in Hamilton, at the head of Lake Ontario, but I deferred visiting them till the following morning. When I returned to the spot, I found that the birds had flown. Feeling disappointed, I began to question a man who kept a toll-bar, immediately opposite to where their tents had been, as to their peculiarities

generally; when he said: "They seemed droll kind o' folk--quite like ourselves--no way foreign; yet I could not understand a word they were saying among themselves." Shortly after this, a company of them entered a shop, in the same town, to buy tin, when I happened to be in it. I accosted one of the mothers of the company, in an abrupt but bland tone. "You're a' Nawkens (Gipsies) I see."--"Ou ay, we're Nawkens," was her immediate reply, accompanied by a smile on her weather-beaten countenance. "You'll aye speak the language?" I continued. "We'll ne'er forget that," she again replied. This seemed to be a company of Gipsies from the Scottish Border; for the woman spoke about the broadest Scotch I ever heard. They dressed well, and bore a good reputation in the neighbourhood.

There are a good many very respectable Scottish Gipsies in the United States; but I do not wish to be too minute in describing them. In Canada, I know of a doctor, a lawyer, and an editor, Scottish Gipsies. The fact of the matter is, that, owing to the mixture of the blood, the improvement, and perpetuation, and secrecy, of the race, there may be many, very many, Gipsies, in almost every place in the world, and other people not know of it: and it is not likely that, at the present time, they will say that they are Gipsies. Indeed, the intelligent English travelling Gipsies say that there are an immense number of Gipsies, of all countries, colours, and occupations, in America.

There is even some resemblance between the formation of Gipsydom and that of the United States. The children of emigrants, it is well known, frequently prove the most ultra Americans. Instead of the original colonists, at the Declaration of Independence, imagine the commencement of Gipsydom as proceeding from the original stock of Gipsies. The addition to their number, from without, differs from that which takes place among Americans, in this way: that all such additions to Gipsydom are made in such a manner, that the new blood gets innoculated, as it were, with the old, or part of the old; so that it may be said of the whole body,

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