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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

It still retains its Gipsy identity


In

the descent of a native family, in the instance given, the issue follows the name of the family. But, with the Gipsy race, the thing to be transmitted is not merely a question of family, but a race distinct from any particular family. If a Gipsy woman marries into a native family, the issue retains the family name of the husband, but passes into the Gipsy tribe; if a Gipsy man marries into a native family, the issue retains his name, in the general order of society, and likewise passes into the Gipsy tribe; so that such intermarriages, which almost invariably take place unknown to the native race, always leave the issue Gipsy. For the Gipsy element of society is like a troubled spirit, which has been despised, persecuted, and damned; cross it out, to appearance, as much as you may, it still retains its Gipsy identity. It then assumes the form of a disembodied spirit, that will enter into any kind of tabernacle, in the manner described, dispel every other kind of spirit, clean or unclean, as the case may be, and come up, under any garb, colour, character, occupation, or creed--Gipsy. It is perfectly possible, but not very probable, to find a Gipsy a Jew, in creed, and, for the most part, in point of blood, in the event of a Jew marrying a mixed Gipsy. He might follow the creed of the Jewish parent, and be admitted into the synagogue; but, although outwardly recognised as a Jew, and having Jewish features, he would still be a _chabo_; for there are Gipsies of all creeds, and, like
other people in the world, of no creed at all. But it is extremely disagreeable to a Gipsy to have such a subject mentioned in his hearing; for he heartily dislikes a Jew, and says that no one has any "chance" in dealing with him. A Gipsy likewise says, that the two races ought not to be mentioned in the same breath, or put on the same footing, which is very true; for reason tells us, that, strip the Gipsy of every idea connected with "taking bits o' things," and leading a wild life, and there should be no points of enmity between him and the ordinary native; certainly not that of creed, which exists between the Jew and the rest of the world, to which question I will by and by refer.

The subject of the Gipsies has hitherto been treated as a question of natural history, only, in the same manner as we would treat ant-bears. Writers have sat down beside them, and looked at them--little more than looked at them--described some of their habits, and reported their _chaff_. To get to the bottom of the subject, it is necessary to sound the mind of the Gipsy, lay open and dissect his heart, identify one's self with his feelings, and the bearings of his ideas, and construct, out of these, a system of mental science, based upon the mind of the Gipsy, and human nature generally. For it is the mind of the Gipsy that constitutes the Gipsy; that which, in reference to its singular origin and history, is, in itself, indestructible, imperishable and immortal.

Consider, then, this race, which is of such recent introduction upon the stage of the European world, of such a singular origin and history, and of such universal existence,


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