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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

While the Gipsies entered Europe


my associations with Gipsies and Jews, I find that both races rest upon the same basis, viz.: a question of people. The response of the one, as to who he is, is that he is a Gipsy; and of the other, that he is a Jew. Each of them has a peculiarly original soul, that is perfectly different from each other, and others around them; a soul that passes as naturally and unavoidably into each succeeding generation of the respective races, as does the soul of the English or any other race into each succeeding generation. For each considers his nation as abroad upon the face of the earth; which circumstance will preserve its existence amid all the revolutions to which ordinary nations are subject. As they now exist within, and independent of, the nations among whom they live, so will they endure, if these nations were to disappear under the subjection of other nations, or become incorporated with them under new names. Many of the Gipsies and Jews might perish amid such convulsions, but those that survived would constitute the stock of their respective nations; while others might migrate from other countries, and contribute to their numbers. In the case of the Gipsy nation, as it gets crossed with common blood, the issue shows the same result as does the shaking of the needle on the card--it always turns to the pole: that pole, among the Gipsies, being a sense of its blood, and a sympathy with the same people in every part of the world. For this reason, the Gipsy race, like the Jewish,
may, with regard to its future, be said to be even eternal.

The Gipsy soul is fresh and original, not only from its recent appearance in Europe, without any traditional knowledge of its existence anywhere else, but from having sprung from so singular an origin as a tent; so that the mystery that attaches to it, from those causes, and the contemplation of the Gipsy, in his original state, to-day, present to the Gipsy that fascination for his own history which the Jew finds in the antiquity of his race, and the exalted privileges with which it was at one time visited. The civilized Gipsy looks upon his ancestors, as they appeared in Europe generally, and Scotland especially, as great men, as heroes who scorned the company of anything below a gentleman. And he is not much out of the way; for John Faw, and Towla Bailyow, and the others mentioned in the act of 1540, were unquestionably heroes of the first water. He pictures to himself these men as so many swarthy, slashing heroes, dressed in scarlet and green, armed with pistols and broad-swords, mounted on blood-horses, with hawks and hounds in their train. True to nature, every Gipsy is delighted with his descent, no matter what other people, in their ignorance of the subject, may think of it, or what their prejudices may be in regard to it. One of the principal differences to be drawn between the history of the Gipsies and that of the Jews, is, as I have already stated, that the Jews left Palestine a civilized people, while the Gipsies entered Europe, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, in a barbarous state. But the difference is only of a relative nature; for when the Gipsies emerge from their original condition, they occupy as good positions in the world as the Jews; while they have about them none of those outward peculiarities of the Jews, that make them, in a manner, offensive to other people. In every sense but that of belonging to the Gipsy tribe, they are ordinary natives; for the circumstances that have formed the characters of the ordinary natives have formed theirs. Besides this, there is a degree of dignity about the general bearing of such people, rough as it sometimes is, that plainly

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