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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Tented class prefer it to the term Gipsy


[3] "Men of letters, while eagerly investigating the customs of Otaheite or Kamschatka, and losing their tempers in endless disputes about Gothic and Celtic antiquities, have witnessed, with apathy and contempt, the striking spectacle of a Gipsy camp--pitched, perhaps, amidst the mouldering entrenchments of their favourite Picts and Romans. The rest of the community, familiar from infancy with the general character and appearance of these vagrant hordes, have probably never regarded them with any deeper interest than what springs from the recollected terrors of a nursery tale, or the finer associations of poetical and picturesque description."--_Blackwood's Magazine._

[4] _Tinkler_ is the name generally applied to the Scottish Gipsies. The wandering, tented class prefer it to the term Gipsy. The settled and better classes detest the word: they would much rather be called Gipsies; but the term Egyptian is the most agreeable to their feelings. Tinkler has a peculiar meaning that can be understood only by a Scotchman. In its radical sense it means Tinker. The verb tink, according to Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, means to "rivet, including the idea of the noise made in the operation of riveting; a Gipsy word."

It is a singular circumstance that, until comparatively lately, little was known of this body in Scotland, beyond their mere existence, and the depredations which they

committed on their neighbours; no further proof of which need be given than a reference to the letters of Sir Walter Scott and others, in the Introduction to the work, and the avidity with which the few articles of our author in Blackwood's Magazine were read.

The higher we may rise in the scale of general information and philosophic culture, the greater the attractions will this moral puzzle have for our contemplation--the phenomenon of a barbarous race of men, free as the air, with little but the cold earth for a bed, and the canopy of heaven for a covering, obtruding itself upon a civilized community, and living so long in the midst of it, without any material impression being made on the habits of the representative part of it; the only instance of the kind in the modern history of the world. In this solitary case, having nothing from which to reason analogously as to the result, observation alone must be had recourse to for the solution of the experiment. It is from this circumstance that the subject, in all its bearings, has been found to have such charms for the curious and learned; being, as it were, a study in history of the most interesting kind. It may be remarked that Professor Wilson, the Christopher North of Blackwood, is said to have accompanied some of the tribe in their peregrinations over parts of England and Wales. Without proceeding to the same length, our author, in his own peculiar way, prosecuted his researches with much indefatigability, assiduity, and patience. He kept an open house for them at all times, and presented such allurements as the skillful trapper of vermin will sometimes use in attracting the whole in a neighbourhood; when if one Gipsy entered, many would follow; although he would generally find them so shy in their communications as sometimes to require years of such baiting to ensure them for the elucidation of a single point of their history. In this way he made himself appear, in his associations with them, as very odd, and perhaps not of very sound mind, in the estimation of the wise ones around him.


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