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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

If Bunyan's father was a Gipsy


Sir

Walter Scott admits that Bunyan was most probably a "Gipsy reclaimed;" and Mr. Offor, that "his father must have been a Gipsy."[320] But, with these exceptions, I know not if any writer upon Bunyan has more than hinted at the possibility of even a connexion between him and the Gipsies. It is very easy to account for all this, by the ignorance of the world in regard to the Gipsy tribe, but, above all, by the extreme prejudice of caste which is entertained against it. Does caste exist nowhere but in India? Does an Englishman feel curious to know what caste can mean? In few parts of the world does caste reign so supreme, as it does in Great Britain, towards the Gipsy nation. What is it but the prejudice of caste that has prevented the world from acknowledging Bunyan to have been a Gipsy? The evidence of the fact of his having been a Gipsy is positive enough. Will any one say that he does not believe that Bunyan meant to convey to the world a knowledge of the fact of his being a Gipsy? Or that he does not believe that the tinkers are Gipsies? Has any writer on Bunyan ever taken the trouble to ascertain who the tinkers really are; and that, in consequence of his investigations, he has come to the conclusion that they are _not_ Gipsies? If no writer on the subject of the illustrious dreamer has ever taken that trouble, to what must we attribute the fact but the prejudice of caste? It is caste, and nothing but caste. What is it but the prejudice of caste that has led Lord Macaulay to
invent his story about the tinkers? For what he says of the tinkers is a pure invention, or, at best, a delusion, on his part. What is it but the prejudice of caste that has prevented others from saying, plainly, that Bunyan was a Gipsy? It would be more manly if they were to leave Bunyan alone, than receive his works, and damn the man, that is, his blood. It places them on the level of boors, when they allow themselves to be swayed by the prejudices that govern boors. When they speak of, or write about, Bunyan, let them exercise common honesty, and receive both the man and the man's works: let them not be guilty of petit larceny, or rather, great robbery, in the matter.

[320] It is interesting to notice what these two writers say. If Bunyan's father was a Gipsy, we may reasonably assume that his mother was one likewise; and, consequently, that Bunyan was one himself, or as Sir Walter Scott expresses it--a "Gipsy reclaimed." A Gipsy being a question of race, and not a matter of habits, it should be received as one of the simplest of elementary truths, that once a Gipsy, always a Gipsy. We naturally ask, Why has not the fact of Bunyan having been a Gipsy stood on record, for the last two centuries? and, echo answers, Why?

Southey, in his life of Bunyan, writes: "John Bunyan has faithfully recorded his own spiritual history. Had he dreamed of being 'forever known,' and taking his place among those who may be called the immortals of the earth, he would probably have introduced more details of his temporal circumstances, and the events of his life. But, glorious dreamer as he was, this never entered into his imagination.[321] Less concerning him than might have been expected has been preserved by those of his own sect; and it is not likely that anything


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