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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

And more especially the Scottish Gipsies


[327] It was the nature of man, in ancient times, as it is with the heathen to-day, to _worship_ what could not be understood; while modern civilization seems to attribute such phenomena to _miracles_. It is even presumptuous to have recourse to such an alternative, for the enquirer may be deficient in the intellect necessary to prosecute such investigations, or he may not be in possession of sufficient data. If the European will, for example, ask himself, 1stly: what is the idea which he has of a Gipsy? 2ndly: what are the feelings which he entertains for him personally? And 3dly: what must be the response of the Gipsy to the sentiments of the other? he cannot avoid coming to the conclusion, that the race should "marry among themselves," and that, "let them be in whatever situation of life they may, they all" should "stick to each other." (_Page 369._)

[328] Viewing the Gipsies as they are described in this work, and contrasting their history with that of the nations of the world in general, and the Jews in particular, and considering that they have no religion peculiar to themselves, yet are scattered among, and worked into, all nations, but not acknowledged by, or even known to, others, we may, with the utmost propriety, call them, in the language of the prophet, "no people," and a "foolish nation;" yet by no means a nation of fools, but rather more rogues than fools. Of all the ways in which the

Gipsies have hoaxed other people, the manner in which they have managed to throw around themselves a sense of their non-existence to the minds of others, is the most remarkable.

[329] The prejudice of their fellow-creatures is a sufficiently potent cause, in itself, to preserve the identity of the Gipsy tribe in the world. It has made it to resemble an essence, hermetically sealed. Keep it in that position, and it retains its inherent qualities undiminished; but uncork the vessel containing it, and it might (I do not say it _would_) evaporate among the surrounding elements.

I may be allowed to say a word or two to the Gipsies, and more especially the Scottish Gipsies. I wish them to believe, (what they, indeed, believe already,) that their blood and descent are good enough; and that Providence may reasonably be assumed to look upon both with as much complacency and satisfaction, as He does on any other blood and descent. All that they have to do is to "behave themselves;" for, after all, it is behaviour that makes the man. By all means "stick to the ship," but sail her as an honourable merchantman. They need not be afraid at being discovered to be Gipsies; they should feel as much assured on the subject now, as before the publication of this work, and never entertain the least misgiving on that score. They will have an occasion to cultivate a proper degree of confidence in respect to themselves, and be so prepared as never to commit themselves, if they wish not to be known as Gipsies. I know there are few people who have nerve enough so to deport themselves, as to prevent moral detection, who have committed murder, when they are confronted with the objects of it; but if the individuals are perfectly satisfied of there being no evidence against them, they may confidently assume an appearance of innocence. It is so with the Gipsies in settled life, as to their being Gipsies. Generally speaking, their blood is so much mixed as almost to defy detection; although, for the future, some of them will be very apt to look at themselves in their mirrors, to see whether there is much of the "black deil" in their faces. But it rests with themselves to escape detection, and particularly so as regards the fair, brown, and red Gipsies.


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