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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Notwithstanding the manner how the Gipsies progress


the position in which it found

itself placed. In the case of John Faw and his company, we find that, being on the face of the earth, they had to go somewhere, and invent some sort of excuse, to secure a toleration; and the world was bound to yield them a subsistence, of some kind, and in some way obtained. As a wandering, barbarous, tented tribe, with habits peculiar to itself, and inseparable from its very nature, great allowance ought to be made for the time necessary for its gradual absorption into settled society. That could only be the result of generations, even if the race had not been treated so harshly as it has been, or had such a prejudice displayed against it. The difficulties which a Gipsy has to encounter in leaving the tent are great, for he has been born in that state, and been reared in it. To leave his tent forever, and settle in a town, is a greater trial to the innate feelings of his nature, than would be the change from highly polished metropolitan life to a state of solitude, in a society away from everything that had hitherto made existence bearable. But the Gipsy will very readily leave his tent, temporarily, to visit a town, if it is to make money. It is astonishing how strong the circumstances are which bind him to his tent; even his pride and prejudices in being a "wandering Egyptian," will, if it is possible to live by the tent, bind him to it. Then, there is the prejudice of the world--the objection to receive him into any community, and his children into any school--that commonly
prevails, and which compels him to _steal_ into settled life. It has always been so with the Gipsy race. Gipsies brought up in the tent have the same difficulties to encounter in leaving it to-day, that others had centuries ago. But, notwithstanding all that, they are always keeping moving out of the tent, and becoming settled and civilized.

Tented Gipsies will naturally "take bits o' things;" many of them would think one simple if he thought they would not do it; some of them would even be insulted if he said they did not do it. After they leave the tent, and commence "tramping," they (I do not say all of them) will still "take bits o' things." From this stage of their history, they keep gradually dropping into unexceptionable habits; and particularly so if they receive education. But we can very readily believe that, independent of every circumstance, there will be Gipsies who, in a great measure, always will be rogues. The law of necessity exercises a great influence over the destiny of the Gipsy race; their natural encrease is such, that, as they progress and develop, they are always pushing others out of the sphere which those further advanced occupy; so that it would not pay for all Gipsies to be rogues. There is, therefore, no alternative left to the Gipsy but to earn his bread like other men. If every Gipsy actually "helped himself" to whatever he stood in need of, it could hardly be said that the ordinary inhabitants would have anything that they could really call their own. Notwithstanding the manner how the Gipsies progress, or the origin from which they spring, it is quite sufficient for me to hold the race in respect, when I find them personally worthy of it.


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