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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The idea of being Gipsies never can leave the Gipsy race


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with such a prejudice existing

against it, and the merest impulse of reflection, apart from the facts of the case, will lead us to conclude, that, as it has settled, it has remained true to itself, in the various associations of life. In whatever position, or under whatever circumstances, it is to be found, it may be compared, in reference to its past history, to a chain, and the early Gipsies, to those who have charged it with electricity. However mixed, or however polished, the metal of the links may have since become, they have always served to convey the Gipsy fluid to every generation of the race. It is even unnecessary to enquire, particularly, how that has been accomplished, for it is self-evident that the process which has linked other races to their ancestry, has doubly linked the Gipsy race to theirs. Indeed, the idea of being Gipsies never can leave the Gipsy race. A Gipsy's life is like a continual conspiracy towards the rest of the world; he has always a secret upon his mind, and, from his childhood to his old age, he is so placed as if he were, in a negative sense, engaged in some gunpowder plot, or as if he had committed a crime, let his character be as good as it possibly may. Into whatever company he may enter, he naturally remarks to himself: "I wonder if there are any of us here." That is the position which the mixed and better kind of Gipsy occupies, generally and passively. Of course, there are some of the race who are always actually hatching some plot or other against the rest of the
world. Take a Gipsy of the popular kind, who appears as such to the world, and there are two ideas constantly before him--that of the _Gorgio_ and _Chabo_: they may slumber while he is in his house, or in his tent, or when he is asleep, or his mind is positively occupied with something; but let any one come near him, or him meet or accost any one, and he naturally remarks, to himself, that the person "is _not_ one of us," or that he "_is_ one of us." He knows well what the native may be thinking or saying of him, and he as naturally responds in his own mind. This circumstance of itself, this frightful prejudice against the individual, makes, or at least keeps, the Gipsy wild; it calls forth the passion of resentment, and produces a feeling of reckless abandon, that might otherwise leave him. To that is to be added the feeling, in the Gipsy's mind, of his race having been persecuted, for he knows little of the circumstances attending the origin of the laws passed against his tribe, and attributes them to persecution alone. He considers that he has a right to travel; that he has been deprived of rights to travel, which were granted to his tribe by the monarchs of past ages; and, moreover, that his ancestors--the "ancient wandering Egyptians"--always travelled. He feels perfectly independent of, and snaps his fingers at, everybody; and entertains a profound suspicion of any one who may approach him, inasmuch as he imagines that the stranger, however fair he may speak to him, has that feeling for him, as if he considered it pollution to touch him. But he is very civil and plausible when he is at home.


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