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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Scott's little article on Buckhaven


"I

now send a proof of No. 2 Gipsy article. I hope you are pleased, and will return it with your corrections on Monday or Tuesday. We shall be glad to hear you are going on with the continuation, for I assure you your former article has been as popular as anything almost we ever had in the magazine."

Again,

"Your magazine was sent this morning by the coach, but I had not time to write you last night. Mr. Walter Scott is quite delighted with the Gipsies."

Again,

"I am this moment favoured with your interesting packet. Your Gipsies, from the slight glance I have given them, seem to be as amusing as ever."

And again,

"It was not in my power to get your number sent off. It is a very interesting one. You will be much pleased with Mr. Scott's little article on Buckhaven, in which he pays you some very just compliments."[13]

[13] The following is the article alluded to: "The following enquiries are addressed to the author of the Gipsies in Fife, being suggested by the research and industry which he has displayed in collecting memorials of that vagrant race. They relate to a class of persons who, distinguished for honest industry in a laborious and dangerous calling, have only this in common with the Egyptian tribes, that they are not

originally native of the country which they inhabit, and are supposed still to exhibit traces of a foreign origin. . . . . I mean the colony of fishermen in the village of Buckhaven, in Fife. . . . . .

"I make no apology to your respectable correspondent for engaging him in so troublesome a research. The local antiquary, of all others, ought, in the zeal of his calling, to feel the force of what Spencer wrote and Burke quoted: 'Love esteems no office mean.'--'Entire affection scorneth nicer hands.' The curious collector who seeks for ancient reliques among the ruins of ancient Rome, often pays for permission to trench or dig over some particular piece of ground, in hopes to discover some remnant of antiquity. Sometimes he gets only his labour, and the ridicule of having wasted it, to pay for his pains; sometimes he finds but old bricks and shattered pot-sherds; but sometimes also his toil is rewarded by a valuable medal, cameo, bronze, or statue. And upon the same principle it is, by investigating and comparing popular customs, often trivial and foolish in themselves, that we often arrive at the means of establishing curious and material facts in history."

This extract is given for the benefit of the latter part of it, which applies admirably to the present subject; yet falls as much short of it as the interest in the history of an Egyptian mummy falls short of that of a living and universally scattered race, that appears a riddle to our comprehension.


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