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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Seen English female Gipsies with hair as long


[23] Allowance must be made for the enthusiasm of the novelist.

[24] Abbotsford, 1st Dec., 1831.

CHAPTER I.

CONTINENTAL GIPSIES.

Before giving an account of the Gipsies in Scotland, I shall, by way of introduction, briefly notice the periods of time at which they were observed in the different states on the continent of Europe, and point out the different periods at which their governments found it necessary to expel them from their respective territories. I shall also add a few facts illustrative of the manners of the continental tribes, for the purpose of showing that those in Scotland, England, and Ireland, are all branches of the same stock. I shall, likewise, add a few facts illustrative of the tribe who found their way into England. I am indebted for my information on the early history of the continental Gipsies, chiefly to the works of Grellmann, Hoyland and Bright.

It appears that none of these wanderers had been seen in Christendom before the year 1400.[25] But, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, this people first attracted notice, and, within a few years after their arrival, had spread themselves over the whole continent. The earliest mention which is made of them, was in the years 1414 and 1417, when they were observed in Germany. In 1418, they were

found in Switzerland; in 1422, in Italy; in 1427, they are mentioned as being in the neighbourhood of Paris; and about the same time, in Spain.[26]

[25] Sir Thomas Brown's vulgar errors.

[26] Bright's travels in Hungary.

They seem to have received various appellations. In France, they were called _Bohemians_; in Holland, _Heydens_--heathens; in some parts of Germany, and in Sweden and Denmark, they were thought to be _Tartars_; but over Germany, in general, they were called _Zigeuners_, a word which means wanderers up and down. In Portugal, they received the name of _Siganos_; in Spain, _Gitanos_; and in Italy, _Cingari_. They were also called in Italy, Hungary, and Germany, _Tziganys_; and in Transylvania, _Cyganis_. Among the Turks, and other eastern nations, they were denominated _Tschingenes_; but the Moors and Arabians applied to them, perhaps, the most just appellation of any--_Charami_, robbers.[27]

[27] Hoyland's historical survey of the Gipsies.

"When they arrived at Paris, 17th August, 1427, nearly all of them had their ears bored, with one or two silver rings in each, which, they said, were esteemed ornaments in their country. The men were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, and all their faces scarred."[28] Dr. Hurd, in his account of the different religions of the world, says, that the hair of these men was "frizzled," and that some of the women were witches, and "had hair like a horse's tail." It is, I think, to be inferred from this passage, that the men had designedly curled their hair, and that the hair of the females was long and coarse--not the short, woolly hair of the African. I have, myself, seen English female Gipsies with hair as long, coarse, and thick as a black horse's tail.

[28] Ibid.

"At the time of the first appearance of the Gipsies, no certain information seems to have been obtained as to the country from which they came. It is, however, supposed that they entered Europe in the south-east, probably through Transylvania. At first, they represented themselves as Egyptian pilgrims, and, under that character, obtained considerable respect during half a century; being favoured by different potentates with passports, and letters of security. Gradually, however, they really became, or were fancied, troublesome, and Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, successively attempted their expulsion, in the sixteenth century."[29]


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