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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies


falling in with the dreaded

Gipsies. The report of Gipsies being about acts as a salutary check upon the depredatory habits of the youth of our country towns on neighbouring crops; for, as the farmers make up their minds to lose something by the Gipsies, at any rate, the wholesome dread they inspire, even in grown-up lads, is such as, by night especially, to scare away the thieves from those villages, whose plunderings are much greater, and more unwillingly submitted to, from the closeness of residence of the offenders; so that the arrival of the Gipsies, in some places, is welcomed, at certain times of the year, as the lesser of two evils; and, to that extent, they have been termed the "farmers' friends." And if a little encouragement is given them--such as the matter of "dogs' payment," that is, what they can eat and drink, and a mouthful of something for the _cuddy_, for the first day after their arrival--the farmer can always enlist an admirable police, who will guard his property against others, with a degree of faithfulness that can hardly be surpassed. I heard of a Scottish farmer, very lately, getting the Gipsies to take up their quarters every year on the corner of a potato or turnip field, with the express purpose of using them, as half constables half scare-crows, against the common rogues of the neighbourhood. "Now," said he to the principal Gipsy, "I put you in charge of this property. If you want anything for yourselves, come to the barn." Whatever might have been the experience of farmers
near by, this farmer never missed anything while the Gipsies were on his premises.

[11] As children, have we not, at some time, run affrighted from a Gipsy?--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._

But a greater degree of awe is inspired by the females than the males of the Gipsies. In their periodical wanderings, they will generally, with their fortune-telling, turn the heads of the country girls in matters of matrimony--setting them all agog on husbands; and render them, for the time, of but little use to their employers. In teaching them the "art of love," they will professedly so instruct them as to have as many lovers at once as their hearts can desire. But if a country girl, with her many admirers, has one to get quit of, who is "no' very weel faured, but a clever fellow," or another, who is "no' very bright in the upper story, but strapping enough to become the dish-clout," she will call in the assistance of the strolling Gipsy; who, after carefully weighing the circumstances of the case, will sometimes, after ordinary means have failed, collect, unknown to her, a bucket full of everything odious about a dwelling, wait at the back door the return of the rustic Adonis, and, ere he is aware, dash it full in his face; then fold her arms akimbo, and quietly remark, "That will cool your ears, and your courting too, my man!" Such Gipsy women are peculiarly dreaded by the males of our own people, who will much sooner encounter those of the other sex; for, however much some of them may be satisfied, in their cooler moments, that these Gipsy women will not attempt what they will sometimes threaten, they generally deem them "unco uncanny," at any time, and will flee when swearing that they will _gut_ or _skin alive_ all who may have anything to say to them.


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