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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Said an English Gipsy of intelligence


What

is to be the future of the Gipsy race? A reply to this question will be found in the history of it during the past, as described; for it resolves itself into two very simple matters of fact. In the first place, we have a foreign race, deemed, by itself, to be, as indeed it is, universal, introduced into Scotland, for example, taken root there, spread, and flourished; a race that rests upon a basis the strongest imaginable. On the other hand, there is the prejudice of caste towards the name, which those bearing it escape, only, by assuming an incognito among their fellow-creatures. These two principles, acting upon beings possessing the feelings of men, will, of themselves, produce that state of things which will constitute the history of the Gipsies during all time coming, whatever may be the changes that may come over their character and condition. They may, in course of time, lose their language, as some of them, to a great extent, have done already; but they will always retain a consciousness of being Gipsies. The language may be lost, but their signs will remain, as well as so much of their speech as will serve the purpose of pass-words. "There is something there," said an English Gipsy of intelligence, smiting his breast, "There is something there which a Gipsy cannot explain." And, said a Scottish Gipsy: "It will never be forgotten; as long as the world lasts, the Gipsies will be Gipsies." What idea can be more preposterous than that of saying, that a change of residence
or occupation, or a little more or less of education or wealth, or a change of character or creed, can eradicate such feeling from the heart of a Gipsy; or that these circumstances can, by any human possibility, change his descent, his tribe, or the blood that is in his body? How can we imagine this race, arriving in Europe so lately as the fifteenth century, and in Scotland the century following, with an origin so distinct from the rest of the world, and so treated by the world, can possibly have lost a consciousness of nationality in its descent, in so short a time after arrival; or, that that can happen in the future, when there are so many circumstances surrounding it to keep alive a sense of its origin, and so much within it to preserve its identity in the history of the human family? Let the future history of the world be what it may, Gipsydom is immortal.[295]

[295] This sensation, in the minds of the Gipsies, of the perpetuity of their race, creates, in a great measure, its immortality. Paradoxical as it may appear, the way to preserve the existence of a people is to scatter it, provided, however, that it is a race thoroughly distinct from others, to commence with. When, by the force of circumstances, it has fairly settled down into the idea that it is a people, those living in one country become conscious of its existence in others; and hence arises the principal cause of the perpetuity of its existence as a scattered people.

In considering the question of the Gipsies being openly admitted, as a race, into the society of mankind, I ask, what possible reason could a British subject advance against such taking place with, at least,


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