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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The world never can do justice to Bunyan


[322] Bunsen writes: "Sound judgment is displayed rather in an aptness for believing what is historical, than in a readiness at denying it. . . . . . Shallow minds have a decided propensity to fall into the latter error. Incapability of believing on evidence is the last form of the intellectual imbecility of an enervated age."

A writer who contributes frequently to "Notes and Queries," after stating that he has read the works of Grellmann and Hoyland on the Gipsies, adds: "My conclusion is that the tribes have no more right to nationality, race, blood, or language, than the London thieves have--with their slang, some words of which may have their origin in the Hebrew, from their dealings with the lowest order of Jews."

To a candid and unprejudiced person, it should afford a relief, in thinking of the immortal dreamer, that he should have been a member of this singular race, emerging from a state of comparative barbarism, and struggling upwards, amid so many difficulties, rather than he should have been of the very lowest of our own race; for in that case, there is an originality and dignity connected with him personally, that could not well attach to him, in the event of his having belonged to the dregs of the common natives. Beyond being a Gipsy, it is impossible to say what his pedigree really was. His grandfather might have been an ordinary native, even of fair birth, who, in a thoughtless

moment, might have "gone off with the Gipsies;" or his ancestor, on the native side of the house, might have been one of the "many English loiterers" who joined the Gipsies on their arrival in England, when they were "esteemed and held in great admiration;" or he might have been a kidnapped infant; or such a "foreign tinker" as is alluded to in the Spanish Gipsy edicts, and in the Act of Queen Elizabeth, in which mention is made of "strangers," as distinguished from natural born subjects, being with the Gipsies. The last is most probable, as the name, _Bunyan_, would seem to be of foreign origin. It is, therefore, very likely, that there was not a drop of common English blood in Bunyan's veins. John Bunyan belongs to the world at large, and England is only entitled to the credit of the formation of his character. Be all that as it may, Bunyan's father seems to have been a superior, and therefore important, man in the tribe, from the feet, as Southey says, of his having "put his son to school in an age when very few of the poor were taught to read and write."

The world never can do justice to Bunyan, unless it takes him up as a Gipsy; nor can the Christian, unless he considers him as being a Gipsy, in Abraham's bosom. His biographers have not, even in one instance, done justice to him; for, while it is altogether out of the question to call him the "wicked tinker," the "depraved Bunyan," it is unreasonable to style him a "blackguard," as Southey has done.


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