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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

If Bunyan had said that he was a Gipsy

of the feelings of a mixed

Gipsy, like Bunyan, when he says: "Did he belong to the Gipsies, we have little doubt that he would have dwelt on it, with a sort of spiritual exultation; and that of his having been called out of Egypt would have been to him one of the proofs of Divine favour. We cannot imagine him suppressing the fact, or disguising it." Where is the point in the reviewer's remarks? His remarks have no point. How could the fact of a man being a Gipsy be made the grounds of any kind of spiritual exultation? And how could the fact of the tribe originating in Egypt be a proof of Divine favour towards the individual? What occasion had Bunyan to mention he was a Gipsy? What purpose would it have served? How would it have advanced his mission as a minister? Considering the prejudice that has always existed against that unfortunate word Gipsy, it would have created a sensation among all parties, if Bunyan had said that he was a Gipsy. "What!" the people would have asked, "a _Gipsy_ turned priest? We'll have the devil turning priest next!" Considering the many enemies which the tinker-bishop had to contend with, some of whom even sought his life, he would have given them a pretty occasion of revenging themselves upon him, had he said he was a Gipsy. They would have put the law in force, and stretched his neck for him.[318] The same writer goes on to say: "In one passage at least--and we think there are more in Bunyan's works--the Gipsies are spoken of in such a way as would be most unlikely if Bunyan
thought he belonged to that class of vagabonds." I am not aware as to what the reviewer alludes; but, should Bunyan even have denounced the conduct of the Gipsies, in the strongest terms imaginable, would that have been otherwise than what he did with sinners generally? Should a clergyman denounce the ways and morals of every man of his parish, does that make him think less of being a native of the parish himself? Should a man even denounce his children as vagabonds, does that prevent him being their father? This writer illustrates what I have said of people generally--that they are almost incapable of forming an opinion on the Gipsy question, unaided by facts, and the bearings of facts, laid before them; so thoroughly is the philosophy of race, as it progresses and develops, unknown to the public mind, and so absolute is the prejudice of caste against the Gipsy race.[319]

[318] Justice Keeling threatened Bunyan with this fate, even for preaching; for said he: "If you do not submit to go to hear divine service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished the realm: And if, after such a day as shall be appointed you to be gone, you shall be found in this realm, or be found to come over again, without special license from the king, you must stretch by the neck for it. I tell you plainly."

Sir Matthew Hale tells us that, on one occasion, at the Suffolk assizes, no less than thirteen Gipsies were executed, under the old Gipsy statutes, a few years before the Restoration.

[319] Perhaps the following passage is the one alluded to by this writer: "I often, when these temptations had been with force upon me, did compare myself to the case of such a child, whom some Gipsy hath by force took up in her arms, and is carrying from friend and country." _Grace abounding._ The use of a simile like this confirms the fact that Bunyan belonged to the tribe, rather than that he did not; unless we can imagine that Gipsies, when candid, do not what every other race has done--admit the peculiarities of theirs, while in a previous and barbarous state of existence. His admission confirms a fact generally believed, but sometimes denied, as in the case of the writer in Blackwood's Magazine, mentioned at page 375.

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