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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

That the Gipsy has been reared a Gipsy


Besides

the difference just drawn between the Gipsy and ordinary native--that of recognizing and being recognized by another Gipsy--I may mention the following general distinction between them. The ordinary Scot knows that he is a Scot, and nothing more, unless it be something about his ancestors of two or three generations. But the Gipsy's idea of Scotland goes back to a certain time, indefinite to him, as it may be, beyond which his race had no existence in the country. Where his ancestors sojourned, immediately, or at any time, before they entered Scotland, he cannot tell; but this much he knows of them, that they are neither Scottish nor European, but that they came from the East. The fact of his blood being mixed exercises little or no influence over his feelings relative to his tribe, for, mixed as it may be, he knows that he is one of the tribe, and that the origin of his tribe is his origin. In a word, he knows that he has sprung from the tent. Substitute the word Scotch for Moor, as related of the black African Gipsies, at page 429, and he may say of himself and tribe: "We are not Scotch, but can give no account of ourselves." It is a little different, if the mixture of his blood is of such recent date as to connect him with native families; in that case, he has "various bloods" to contend for, should they be assailed; but his Gipsy blood, as a matter of course, takes precedence. By marrying into the tribe, the connection with such native families gradually drops out of the memory
of his descendants, and leaves the sensation of tribe exclusively Gipsy. Imagine, then, that the Gipsy has been reared a Gipsy, in the way so frequently described, and that he "knows all about the Gipsies," while the ordinary native knows really nothing about them; and we have a general idea of what a Scottish Gipsy is, as distinguished from an ordinary Scotchman. If we admit that every native Scot knows who he is, we may readily assume that every Scottish Gipsy knows who _he_ is. But, to place the point of difference in a more striking light, it may be remarked, that the native Scot will instinctively exclaim, that "the present work has no earthly relation either to him or his folk;" while the Scottish Gipsy will as instinctively exclaim: "It's us, there's no mistake about it;" and will doubtless accept it, in the main, with a high degree of satisfaction, as the history of his race, and give it to his children as such.

A respectable, indeed, any kind of, Scottish Gipsy does not contemplate his ancestors--the "Pilgrim Fathers," and "Pilgrim Mothers," too--as robbers, although he could do that with as much grace as any Highland or Border Scot, but as a singular people, who doubtless came from the Pyramids; and their language, as something about which he really does not know what to think; whether it is Egyptian, Sanscrit, or what it is. Still, he has part of it; he loves it; and no human power can tear it out of his heart. He knows that every intelligent being sticks to his own, and clings to his descent; and he considers it his highest pride to be an Egyptian--a descendant of those swarthy kings and queens, princes and princesses, priests and priestesses, and, of course, thieves and thievesses, that, like an apparition, found their way into, and, after wandering about, settled down in, Scotland. Indeed, he never knew anything else than that he was an Egyptian; for it is in his blood; and, what is more, it is in his heart, so that he cannot forget it, unless he should lose his faculties and become an idiot; and then he would be an Egyptian idiot. How like a Gipsy it was for Mrs. Fall, of Dunbar, to "work in tapestry the principal events in the life of the founder of her family, from the day the Gipsy child came to Dunbar, in its mother's creel, until the same Gipsy child had become, by its own honourable exertions, the head of the first mercantile establishment then existing in Scotland."


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