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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

And at last came to the Zincali


What

are the respectable, well-disposed Scottish Gipsies but Scotch people, after all? They are to be met with in almost every, if not every, sphere in which the ordinary Scot is to be found. The only difference between the two is, that, however mixed the blood of these Gipsies may be, their associations of descent and tribe go back to those black, mysterious heroes who entered Scotland, upwards of three hundred and fifty years ago; and that, with this descent, they have the words and signs of Gipsies. The possession of all these, with the knowledge of the feelings which the ordinary natives have for the very name of Gipsy, makes the only distinction between them and other Scotchmen. I do not say that the world would have any prejudice against these Gipsies, as Gipsies, still, they are morbidly sensitive that it would have such a feeling. The light of reason, of civilization, of religion, and the genius of Britons, forbid such an idea. What object more worthy of civilization, and of the age in which we live, than that such Gipsies would come forward, and, by their positions in society, their talents and characters, dispel the mystery and gloom that hang over the history of the Gipsy race!

But will these Gipsies do that? I have my misgivings. They may not do it now, but I am sanguine enough to think that it is an event that may take place at some future time. The subject must, in the meantime, be thoroughly investigated, and the mind of the public

fully prepared for such a movement. The Gipsies themselves, to commence with, should furnish the public with information, anonymously, so far as they are personally concerned, or confidentially, through a person of standing, who can guarantee the trustworthiness of the Gipsy himself. I do not expect that they would give us any of the language; but they can furnish us with some idea of the position which the Gipsies occupy in the world, and throw a great deal of light upon the history of the race in Scotland, in, at least, comparatively recent times. In anticipation of such an occurrence, I would make this suggestion to them: that they must be very careful what they say, on account of the "court holding them interested witnesses;" and, whatever they may do, to deny nothing connected with the Gipsies. They certainly have kept their secret well; indeed, they have considered the subject, so far as the public is concerned, as dead and buried long ago. It is of no use, however, Gipsies; "murder will out;" the game is up; it is played out. I may say to you what the hunter said to the 'coon, or rather what the 'coon said to the hunter: "You may just as well come down the tree." Yes! come down the tree; you have been too long up; come down, and let us know all about you.[293]

[293] I accidentally got into conversation with an Irishman, in the city of New York, about secret societies, when he mentioned that he was a member of a great many such, indeed, "all of them," as he expressed it. I said there was one society of which he was not a member, when he began to enumerate them, and at last came to the Zincali. "What," said I, "are you a member of this society?" "Yes," said he; "the Zincali, or Gipsy." He then told me that there are many members of this society in the city of New York; not all members of it, under that name, but of its outposts, if I may so express it. The principal or arch-Gipsy for the city, he said, was a merchant, in ---- street, who had in his possession a printed vocabulary, or dictionary, of the language, which was open only to the most thoroughly initiated. In the course of our conversation, it fell out that the native American Gipsy referred to at page 420 was one of the thoroughly initiated; which circumstance explained a question he had put to me, and which I evaded, by saying that I was not in the habit of telling tales out of school.


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