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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The same may be said of John Bunyan himself


answered thus: "We must have

been among the Jews, for some of our ceremonies are like theirs." The best commentary that can be passed on the above extracts from Bunyan's autobiography, will be found in our author's account of his visit to the old Gipsy chief, whose acquaintance he made at St. Boswell's fair, and to which the reader is referred, (pages 309-318.) When did we ever hear of an _ordinary Englishman_ taking so much trouble to ascertain whether he was a _Jew_, or not? No Englishman, it may be safely asserted, ever does that, or has ever done it; and no one in England could have done it, during Bunyan's time, but a Gipsy. Bunyan seems to have been more or less acquainted with the history of the Jews, and how they were scattered over the world, though not publicly known to be in England, from which country they had been for centuries banished. About the time in question, the re-admission of the Jews was much canvassed in ecclesiastical as well as political circles, and ultimately carried, by the exertions of Manasseh Ben Israel, of Amsterdam. Under these circumstances, it was very natural for Bunyan to ask himself whether he belonged to the Jewish race, since he had evidently never seen a Jew; and that the more especially, as the Scottish Gipsies have even believed themselves to be Ethiopians. Such a question is entertained, by the Gipsies, even at the present day; for they naturally think of the Jews, and wonder whether, after all, their race may not, at some time, have been connected with them. How
trifling it is for any one to assert, that Bunyan--a common native of England--while in a state of spiritual excitement, imagined that he was a Jew, and that he should, at a mature age, have put anything so absurd in his autobiography, and in so grave a manner as he did!

[317] Bunyan adds: "But, notwithstanding the meanness and inconsiderableness of my parents, it pleased God to put it into their hearts to put me to school, to learn me both to read and write; the which I also attained, according to the rate of other poor men's children."

He does not say, "According to the rate of poor men's children," but of "_other_ poor men's children:" a form of expression always used by the Gipsies when speaking of themselves, as distinguished from others. The language used by Bunyan, in speaking of his family, was in harmony with that of the population at large; but he, doubtless, had the feelings peculiar to all the tribe, with reference to their origin and race.

Southey, in his life of Bunyan, writes: "Wherefore this (tinkering) should have been so mean and despised a calling, is not, however, apparent, when it was not followed as a vagabond employment, but, as in this case, exercised by one who had a settled habitation, and who, mean as his condition was, was nevertheless able to put his son to school, in an age when very few of the poor were taught to read and write." The fact is, that Bunyan's father had, apparently, a town beat, which would give him a settled residence, prevent him using a tent, and lead him to conform with the ways of the ordinary inhabitants; but, doubtless, he had his pass from the chief of the Gipsies for the district. The same may be said of John Bunyan himself.

How little does a late writer in the Dublin University Magazine know


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