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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

And Romania swarm with Gipsies


Since the conclusion of the Russian war, the manumission of the Gipsies of the Principalities was debated and carried by a majority of something like thirteen against eleven; but I am not aware of its having been put in force. They are said to have been greatly attached to the late Sultan--calling him the "good father," for the interest he took in them. As spies, they rendered his generals efficient services, while contending with the Russians on the Danube.--ED.

"Bessarabia, all Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania swarm with Gipsies; even in Constantinople they are innumerable. In Romania, a large tract of Mount Haemus, which they inhabit, has acquired from them the name of _Tschenghe Valken_--Gipsy Mountain. This district extends from the city of Aydos quite to Phillippopolis, and contains more Gipsies than any other province in the Turkish empire.

"They were universally to be found in Italy, insomuch that even Sicily and Sardinia were not free. But they were most numerous in the dominions of the Church; probably because there was the worst police, with much superstition. By the former, they were left undisturbed; and the latter enticed them to deceive the ignorant, as it afforded them an opportunity of obtaining a plentiful contribution by their fortune-telling and enchanted amulets. There was a general law throughout Italy, that no Gipsy should remain more than two nights in any one place.

By this regulation, it is true, no place retained its guests long; but no sooner was one gone than another came in his room: it was a continual circle, and quite as convenient to them as a perfect toleration would have been. Italy rather suffered than benefited by this law; as, by keeping these people in constant motion, they would do more mischief there, than in places where they were permitted to remain stationary.

"In Poland and Lithuania, as well as in Courland, there are an amazing number of Gipsies. A person may live many years in Upper Saxony, or in the districts of Hanover and Brunswick, without seeing a single Gipsy. When one happens to stray into a village or town, he occasions as much disturbance as if the black gentleman with his cloven foot appeared; he frightens children from their play, and draws the attention of the older people, till the police get hold of him, and make him again invisible. In some of the provinces of the Rhine, a Gipsy is a very common sight. Some years ago, there were such numbers of them in the Duchy of Wurtemberg, that they were seen lying about everywhere; but the government ordered departments of soldiers to drive them from their holes and lurking-places throughout the country, and then transported the congregated swarm, in the same manner as they were treated by the Duke of Deuxponts. In France, before the Revolution, there were but few Gipsies, for the obvious reason that every Gipsy who could be apprehended fell a sacrifice to the police."[35]

[35] Grellmann.--I would suppose that these severe edicts of the French would drive the Gipsies to adopt the costume and manners of the other inhabitants. In this way they would disappear from the public eye. The officers of justice would of course direct their attention to what would be understood to be Gipsies--that is tented Gipsies, or those who professed the ways of Gipsies, such as fortune telling. I have met with a French Gipsy in the streets of New York, engaged as a dealer in candy.--ED.


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