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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

For encouraging and supporting the Gipsies


[302] Considering what is popularly understood to be the natural disposition and capacity of the Gipsies, we would readily conclude that to turn innkeepers would be the most unlikely of all their employments; yet that is very common. Mahommed said, "If the mountain will not come to us, we will go to the mountain." The Gipsies say, "If we do not go to the people, the people must come to us;" and so they open their houses of entertainment.

Speaking of the Gipsy chiefs mentioned in the act of James V., our author, as we have seen, very justly remarks: "It cannot be supposed that the ministers of three or four succeeding monarchs would have suffered their sovereigns to be so much imposed on, as to allow them to put their names to public documents styling poor and miserable wretches, as we at the present day imagine them to have been, 'Lords and Earls of Little Egypt.' . . . . . I am disposed to believe that Anthonius Gawino, in 1506, and John Faw, in 1540, would personally, as individuals, that is, as Gipsy rajahs, have a very respectable and imposing appearance, in the eyes of the officers of the crown." (Page 108.)[303] We have likewise seen how many laws were passed, by the Scots parliament, against "great numbers of his majesty's subjects, of whom some outwardly pretend to be famous and unspotted gentlemen," for encouraging and supporting the Gipsies; and, in the case of William Auchterlony, of Cayrine, for receiving into their houses,

and feasting them, their wives, children, _servants_, and companies. All this took place more than a hundred years after the arrival of the Gipsies in Scotland, and seventy-six years after the date of the treaty between James V. and John Faw. We can very readily believe that the sagacity displayed by this chief and his folk, to evade the demand made upon them to leave the country, was likewise employed to secure their perpetual existence in it; for, from the first, their intention was evidently to possess it. Hence their original story of being pilgrims, which would prevent the authorities from disturbing them, but which had no effect upon Henry VIII., whom, of all the monarchs of Europe, they did not hoax. Grellmann mentions their having obtained passports from the Emperor Sigismund, and other princes, as well as from the king of France, and the Pope.

[303] The following is a description of a superior Spanish Gipsy, in 1584, as quoted by Mr. Borrow, from the memoirs of a Spaniard, who had seen him: "At this time, they had a count, a fellow who spoke the Castilian idiom with as much purity as if he had been a native of Toledo. He was acquainted with all the ports of Spain, and all the difficult and broken ground of the provinces. He knew the exact strength of every city, and who were the principal people in each, and the exact amount of their property; there was nothing relative to the state, however secret, that he was not acquainted with; nor did he make a mystery of his knowledge, but publicly boasted of it."

Entering Scotland with the firm determination to "possess" the country, the Gipsies would, from the very first, direct their attention towards its occupation, and draw into their body much of the native blood, in the way which I have already described. And there was certainly a large floating population in the country, from which to draw it. It would little consist with the feelings of Highland or Lowland outlaws to exist without female society; nor was that female society easily to be found, apart from some kind of settled life; hence, in seeking for a home, which is inseparable from the society of a female, our native outlaw would very naturally and readily "haul up" with the Gipsy woman; for, being herself quite "at home," in her tent, she would


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