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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

It always preserves its Gipsy identity


inherent affection for the

associations connected with the race, and more especially if they also occupy distinguished positions in life. So intolerant, indeed, are Jews of each other, in the matter of each choosing his own religion, extending sometimes to assassination in some countries, and invariably to the crudest persecutions in families, that they are hardly justified in asking, and scarcely merit, toleration for themselves, as a people, from the nations among whom they live. The present Disraeli doubtless holds himself to be a Jew, let his creed or Christianity be what it may; if he looks at himself in his mirror, he cannot deny it. We have an instance in the Cappadoce family becoming, and remaining for several generations, Christians, then returning to the synagogue, and, in another generation, joining the Christian church. The same vicissitude may attend future generations of this family. There should be no great obstacle in the way of it being allowed to pass current in the world, like any other fact, that a person can be a Jew and, at the same time, a Christian; as we say that a man can be an Englishman and a Christian, a McGregor and a Christian, a Gipsy and a Christian, or a Jew and a Christian, even should he not know when his ancestors attended the synagogue. Christianity was not intended, nor is it capable, to destroy the nationality of Jews, as individuals, or as a nation, any more than that of other people. We may even assume that a person, having a Jew for one parent, and a Christian
for another, and professing the Christian faith, and having the influences of the Jew exercised over him from his infancy, cannot fail, with his blood and, it may be, physiognomy, to have feelings peculiar to the Jews; although he may believe them as blind, in the matter of religion, as do other Christians. But separate him, after the death of the Jewish parent, from all associations with Jews, and he may gradually lose those peculiarly Jewish feelings that are inseparable from a Jewish community, however small it may be. There are, then, no circumstances, out of and independent of himself and the other members of his family, to constitute him a Jew; and still less can it be so with his children, when they marry with ordinary Christians, and never come in intimate contact with Jews. The Jewish feeling may be ultimately crossed out in this way; I say ultimately, for it does not take place in the first descent, (and that is as far as my personal knowledge goes,) even although the mother is an ordinary Christian, and the children have been brought up exclusively to follow her religion.

Gipsydom, however, goes with the individual, and keeps itself alive in the family, and the private associations of life, let its creed be what it may; the original cast of mind, words, and signs, always remaining with itself. In this respect, the Gipsy differs from every other man. He cannot but know who he is to start life with, nor can he forget it; he has those words and signs within himself which, as he moves about in the world, he finds occasion to use. A Jew may boast of the peculiar cast of countenance by which his race is generally characterized, and how his nation is kept together by a common blood, history, and creed. But the phenomenon connected with the history of the Gipsy race is more wonderful than that which is connected with the Jewish; inasmuch as, let the blood of the Gipsy become as much mixed as it may, it always preserves its Gipsy identity; although it may not have the least outward resemblance to an original Gipsy. You cannot crush or cross out the Gipsy race; so thoroughly subtle, so thoroughly adaptable, so thoroughly capable, is it to evade every weapon that can be forged against it. The Gipsy soul, in whatever condition it may be found, or whatever may be the tabernacle which it may inhabit, is as independent, now, of those laws which regulate the disappearance of certain races among others, as when it existed in its wild state, roaming over the heath. The Gipsy race, in short, absorbs, but cannot be absorbed by, other races.


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