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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The Gipsy is humane to a stranger


These words are much more applicable to the Gipsy tribe, in consequence of their drawing into their body the blood of other people.--ED.

Gipsies and Jews have many things in common. They are both strangers and sojourners, in a sense, wherever they are to be found; "dwelling in tents," the one literally, the other figuratively. They have each undergone many bloody persecutions; the one for his stubborn blindness to the advent of the Messiah, the other for being a heathen, and worse than a heathen--for being nothing at all, but linked with the evil one, in all manner of witchcraft and sin. Each race has had many crimes brought against it; the Gipsy, those of a positive, and the Jew, those of a constructive and arbitrary nature. But in these respects they differ: the Jew has been known and famed for doing almost anything for money; and the Gipsy for the mere gratification of his most innate nature--that of appropriating to himself, when he needs it, that which is claimed by any out of the circle of his consanguinity. The one's soul is given to accumulating, and, if it is in his power, he becomes rich; the other more commonly aims at securing what meets his ordinary wants, and, perhaps, some little thing additional; or, if he prove otherwise, he liberally spends what he acquires. The Gipsy is humane to a stranger, when he has been rightly appealed to; but when that circumstance is wanting, he will never hesitate to rob him, unless when he stands

indebted to him, or, it may be, his immediate relations, for previous acts of kindness. To indulge his hatred towards an enemy, a Jew will oppress him, if he is his debtor, "exacting his bond;" or if he is not his debtor, he will often endeavour to get him to become such, with the same motive; or it may be, if his enemy stands in need of accommodation, he will not supply his wants; at other times, if he is poor, he will ostentatiously make a display of his wealth, to spite him; and, in carrying out his vengeance, will sometimes display the malignity, barring, perhaps, the shedding of blood, of almost every other race combined. In such a case, a Gipsy will rob, burn, maltreat, maim, carry off a child, and sometimes murder, but not often the two last at the present day.[21] The two races are to be found side by side, in countries characterized by almost every degree of climate and stage of civilization, each displaying its peculiar type of feature, but differing in this respect, that the Gipsies readily adopt others into their tribe, at such a tender age as to secure an infallible attachment to their race and habits. This circumstance has produced, in many instances, a change in the colour of the hair and eyes of the descendants of those adopted. In some such cases, it requires an intimate knowledge of the body, to detect the peculiarity common to all, and especially in those who have conformed to the ways of the other inhabitants. In this they agree--that they despise and hate, and are despised and hated by, those among whom they live. But in this they differ--that the Jew entered Europe, as it were, singly and by stealth, pursuing pretty much the avocations he yet follows; but the Gipsies, in bands, and openly, although they were forced to betake themselves to places of retreat, and break up into smaller bands. It is true that the Jew was driven from his home eighteen centuries ago, and that it is not yet five since the Gipsy appeared in Europe. We know who the Jew is, and something of the providence and circumstances under which he suffers, and what future awaits him; but who is this singular and unfortunate exile, whose origin and cause of banishment none can comprehend--who is this wandering Gipsy?

[21] This, I need hardly say, is a description of what may be called a _wild_ Gipsy.--ED.


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