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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Merely because they are Gipsies and speak Gipsy


do not expect to meet among American people, generally, with the prejudice against the name of Gipsy that prevails in Europe; for, in Europe, the prejudice is traditional--a question of the nursery--while, in America, it is derived, for the most part, from novels. American people will, of course, form their own opinion upon the tented or any other kind of Gipsies, as their behaviour warrants; but what prejudice can they have for the Gipsy race as such? As a race, it is, physically, as fine a one as ever came out of Asia; although, at the present day, it is so much mixed with the white blood, as hardly to be observable in many, and absolutely not so in others, who follow the ordinary vocations of other men. What prejudice can Americans have against Gipsy blood as such? What prejudice can they have to the Maryland farmers who have been settled, for at least two generations, near Annapolis, merely because they are Gipsies and speak Gipsy? If there is any people in the world who might be expected to view the subject of the Gipsies dispassionately, it ought to be the people of America; for surely they have prejudices enough in regard to race; prejudices, the object of which is independent of character or condition--something that stares them in the face, and cannot be got rid of. If they have the practical sagacity to perceive the bearings of the Gipsy question, they should at once take it up, and treat it in the manner which the age demands. They have certainly an opportunity of stealing
a march upon English people in this matter.

Part of what I have said in reference to Bunyan, I was desirous of having inserted in a respectable American religious journal, but I did not succeed in it. "It would take up too much room in the paper, and give rise to more discussion than they could afford to print."--"Perhaps you would not wish it to be said that John Bunyan was a Gipsy?"--"Oh, not at all," replied the editor, colouring up a little. I found that several of these papers devoted a pretty fair portion of their space to such articles as funny monkey stories, and descriptions of rat-trap and cow-tail-holder patents; but for anything of so very little importance as that which referred to John Bunyan, they could afford no room whatever. Who cared to know who John Bunyan was? What purpose could it serve? Who would be benefited by it? But funny monkey stories are pleasant reading; every housewife should know how to keep down her rats; and every farmer should be taught how to keep his cows' tails from whisking their milk in his face, while it is being drawn into the pail. Not succeeding with the religious papers, I found expression to my sentiments in one of the "ungodly weeklies," which devote their columns to rats, monkeys, and cows, and a little to mankind; and there I found a feeling of sympathy for Bunyan. Let it not be said, in after times, that the descendants of the Puritans allowed themselves to be frightened by a scare-crow, or put to flight by the shake of a rag.

I am afraid that the native-born quarrelsomeness of disposition about "folk," and things in general, which characterizes Scottish people, will prove a bar to the Gipsies owning themselves up in Scotland. Go into any Scottish village you like, and ascertain the feelings which the inhabitants entertain for each other, and you will find that such a one is a "poor grocer body;" that another belongs to a "shoemaker pack," another to a "tailor pack," another to a "cadger pack," another to a "collier pack," and another to a "low Tinkler pack;" another to a "bad nest," and another to a "very bad nest." And it is pretty much the same with the better classes. Now, how could the Gipsy tribe live amid such elements, if it did not keep everything connected with itself hidden from all the other "packs" surrounding it? And is it consonant

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