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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

But the conversions of Jews are


circumstances connected with the perpetuation of the Gipsy and Jewish races greatly resemble each other. Both races are scattered over the face of the earth. The Jew has had a home; he has a strong attachment to it, and looks forward to enter it at some future day. The Gipsy may be said never to have had a home, but is at home everywhere. "What part of England did you come from?" said I to an English semi-tented Gipsy, in America. "What _part_ of England did I come from, did you say? I come from _all over England!_" The Scottish race, as a race, is confined to people born in Scotland; for the children of expatriated Scots are not Scotchmen. And so it is with people of other countries. The mere birth upon the soil constitutes their race or nationality, although subsequent events, in early life, may modify the feelings, or draw them into a new channel, by a change of domicile, in infancy. But the Jew's nationality is everywhere; 'tis in his family, and his associations with others of his race. Make the acquaintance of the Jews, and you will find that each generation of them tell _their_ "wonderful story" to the following generation, and the story is repeated to the following, and the following. The children of Jews are taught to know they are Jews, before they can even lisp. Soon do they know that much of the phenomenon of their race, as regards its origin, its history, and its universality, to draw the distinction between them and those around them who are not Jews. Soon do they
learn how their race has been despised and persecuted, and imbibe the love which their parents have for it, and the resentment of the odium cast upon it by others. It has been so from the beginning of their history out of Palestine, and even while there. Were it only religion, considered in itself, that has kept the Jews together as a people, they might have got lost among the rest of mankind; for among the Jews there are to be found the rankest of infidels; even Jewish priests will say that, "it signifies not what a man's religion may be, if he is only sincere in it." Is it a feeling, or a knowledge, of religion that leads a Jewish child, almost the moment it can speak, to say that it is a Jew? It is simply the workings of the phenomena of race that account for this; the religion peculiar to Jews having been introduced among them centuries after their existence as a people. Being exclusively theirs in its very nature, they naturally follow it, as other people do theirs; but, although, from the nature of its origin, it presents infinitely greater claims upon their intelligent belief and obedience, they have yielded no greater submission to its spirit and morals, or even to its forms, than many other people have done to their religion, made up, as that has been, of the most fabulous superstition, on the principle, doubtless, that

"The zealous crowds in ignorance adore, And still, the less they know, they fear the more."

The Jews being a people before they received the religion by which they are distinguished, it follows that the religion, in itself, occupies a position of secondary importance, although the profession of it acts and reacts upon the people, in keeping them separate from others. The most, then, that can be said of the religion of the Jews is, that, following in the wake of their history as a people, it is only one of the pillars by which the building is supported.[305] If enquiry is made of Jewish converts to Christianity, we will find that, notwithstanding their having separated from their brethren, on points of creed, they hold themselves as much Jews as before. But the conversions of Jews are,

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