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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

For Gipsies stand to Gipsies as Freemasons to Freemasons


We

cannot institute any comparison between the introduction of the Gipsies and the Huguenots, the last body of foreigners that entered Great Britain, relative to the destiny of the respective foreign elements. For the Huguenots were not a race, as distinguished from every other creature in the world, but a religious party, taking refuge among a people of cognate blood and language, and congenial religious feelings and faith; and were, to say the least of it, on a par, in every respect, with the ordinary natives, with nothing connected with them to prevent an amalgamation with the other inhabitants; but, on the contrary, having this characteristic, in common with the nations of Europe, that the place of birth constitutes the fact, and, taken in connection with the residence, creates the feelings of nationality and race. Many of my readers are, doubtless, conversant with the history of the Huguenots. Even in some parts of America, nothing is more common than for people to say that they are Huguenots, that is, of Huguenot descent, which is very commonly made the foundation of the connections and intimate associations of life. The peculiarity is frequently shown in the appearance of the individuals, and in such mental traits as spring from the contemplation of the Huguenots as an historical and religious party, even when the individual now follows the Catholic faith. But these people differ in no essential respect from the other inhabitants.

But how

different is the position always occupied by the Gipsies! Well may they consider themselves "strangers in the land;" for by whom have they ever been acknowledged? They entered Scotland, for example, and have encreased, progressed, and developed, with so great a prejudice against them, and so separated in their feelings from others around them, as if none had almost existed in the country but themselves, while they were "dwelling in the midst of their brethren;" the native blood that has been incorporated with them having the appearance as if it had come from abroad. They, a people distinct from any other in the world, have sprung from the most primitive stage of human existence--the tent, and their knowledge of their race goes no further back than when it existed in other parts of the world, in the same condition, more or less, as themselves. They have been a migratory tribe, wherever they have appeared or settled, and have never ceased to be the same peculiar race, notwithstanding the changes which they have undergone; and have been at home wherever they have found themselves placed. The mere place of birth, or the circumstance under which the individual has been reared, has had no effect upon their special nationality, although, as citizens of particular countries, they have assimilated, in their general ideas, with others around them. And not only have they had a language peculiar to themselves, but signs as exclusively theirs as are those of Freemasons. For Gipsies stand to Gipsies as Freemasons to Freemasons; with this difference--that Masons are bound to respond to and help each other, while such associations, among the Gipsies, are optional with the individual, who, however, is persuaded that the same people, with these exclusive peculiarities, are to be met with in every part of the world. A Gipsy is, in his way, a Mason born, and, from his infancy, is taught to hide everything connected with his race, from those around him. He is his own _tyler_, and _tyles_ his lips continually. Imagine, then, a person taught, from his infancy, to understand that he is a Gipsy; that his blood, (at least part of it,) is Gipsy; that he has been instructed in the language, and initiated in all the mysteries, of the Gipsies; that his relations and acquaintances in the tribe have undergone the same experience; that the utmost reserve towards those who are not Gipsies has been continually inculcated upon him, and as often practised before his eyes; and what must be the leading idea, in that person's mind, but that he is a Gipsy? His pedigree is Gipsy, his mind has been cast in a Gipsy mould, and he can no more "cease to be a Gipsy" than perform any other impossibility in nature. Thus it is that Gipsydom is not a work of man's hand, nor a creed, that is "revealed from faith to faith;" but a work which has been written by the hand of God upon the heart of a family of mankind, and is reflected from the mind of one generation to that of another. It enters into the feelings of the very existence of the man, and such is the prejudice against his race, on the part of the ordinary natives, that the better kind of Scottish Gipsy feels that he, and more particularly she, would almost be "torn in pieces," if the public really knew all about them.


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