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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

4thly Was John Bunyan a Gipsy


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may also be allowed to say a word or two to the Church, and people generally. It says little for them, that, although two centuries have elapsed since Bunyan's time, no one has acknowledged him. It surely might have occurred to them to ask, _1stly_: What was that particular family, or tribe, of which Bunyan said he was a member? _2ndly_: Who are the tinkers? _3dly_: What was the meaning of Bunyan entertaining so much solicitude, and undergoing so much trouble, to ascertain whether he, (a _common Englishman_, forsooth!) was a Jew, or not? _4thly_: Was John Bunyan a Gipsy? Let my reader reply to these questions, like a man of honour. Aye or nay, was John Bunyan a Gipsy? "He _was_ a Gipsy."

In modern times people will preach the gospel "around about Illyricum," compass sea and land, and penetrate every continent, to bring home Christian trophies; while in Bunyan they have a trophy--a real case of "grace abounding;" and yet no one has acknowledged him, although his fame will be as lasting as the pyramids. John Bunyan was evidently a man who was raised up by God for some great purposes. One of these purposes he has served, and will yet serve; and it becomes us to enquire what further purpose he is destined to serve. It is showing a poor respect for Bunyan's memory, to deny him his nationality, to rob him of his birth-right, and attempt to make him out to have been that which he positively was not. To gratify their own prejudices, people would degrade

the illustrious dreamer, from being this great original, into being the off-scourings of all England. People imagine that they would degrade Bunyan by saying that he was a Gipsy. They degrade themselves who do not believe he was a Gipsy; they doubly degrade themselves who deny it. Jews may well taunt Christians in the matter of evidences, and that on a simple matter of fact, affecting no one's interests, temporal or eternal, and as clear as the sun at mid-day; for by Bunyan's own showing he was a Gipsy; but if any further evidence was wanted, how easily could it not have been collected, any time during the last two hundred years!

I have hitherto got the "cold shoulder" from the organs of most of the religious denominations on this subject: time will show whether it is always to be so. The Church should know what is its mission: it rests on evidence itself, and it should be the first to follow out its own principles. It should fight its own battles, and give the enemy no occasion to speak reproachfully of it. In approaching this subject, it would be well to do it cheerfully, and gracefully, and manfully, and not as if the person were dragged to it, with a rope around his neck. No one need imagine that by keeping quiet, this matter will blow over. For the Gipsy race cannot die out; nor is this work likely to die out soon; for unless it is superseded by some other, it will come up centuries hence, to judge the present generation on the Gipsy question. May such as have written on the great dreamer never lift up their heads, may his works turn to hot coals in their fingers, may their memories be outlawed, if they allow this unchristian, this unmanly, this silly, this childish, prejudice of caste to prevent them from doing justice to their hero. Nor need any one utter a murmur at the prospect of seeing the Pilgrim's Progress prefaced by a dissertation on the Gipsies, with a Gipsy's camp for a frontispiece. Such a feeling may be expressed by boors, snobs, and counterfeit religionists; but better things are to be expected from other people.


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