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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

And practising their cozening art


"As

the distrust they inspire causes them to be carefully watched, it is not always possible for them to live by stealing: they then have recourse to industry, and a trifling trade, which seems to have been abandoned to them; they show animals, and attend the fairs and markets, to sell or exchange mules and asses, which they know how to procure at a cheap rate. They are commonly cast-off animals, which they have the art to dress up, and they are satisfied, in appearance, with a moderate profit, which, however, is always more than is supposed, because they feed these animals at the expense of the farmers. They ramble all night, in order to steal fodder; and whatever precautions may have been taken against them, it is not possible to be always guarded against their address.

"Happily the Gitanos are not murderers. It would, without doubt, be important to examine if it is to the natural goodness of their disposition, to their frugality, and the few wants they feel in their state of half savage, that is to be attributed the sentiment that repels them from great crimes, or if this disposition arises from their habitual state of alarm, or from that want of courage which must be a necessary consequence of the infamy in which they are plunged."[40]

[40] _Annales de Statistique, No. III, page 31-37._--What the writer of this article says of the aversion which the Gipsies have to the shedding of human blood, _not of

their own fraternity_, appears to have been universal among the tribe; but, on the other hand, they seem to have had little or no hesitation in putting to death _those of their own tribe_. This writer also says, that the Gipsies of the Pyrenees have a religion of their own, which they practise _secretly_, without mentioning what this secret religion is. It is probable that his remark is applicable to the sacrifice of horses, as described in chapter viii.

CHAPTER II.

ENGLISH GIPSIES.

The first arrival of the Gipsies in England appears to have been about the year 1512,[41] but this does not seem to be quite certain. It is probable they may have arrived there at an earlier period. The author from which the fact is derived published his work in 1612, and states, generally, that "this kind of people, about a hundred years ago, began to gather an head, about the southern parts. And this, I am informed and can gather, was their beginning: Certain Egyptians, banished their country, (belike not for their good condition,) arrived here in England; who, for quaint tricks and devices, not known here at that time among us, were esteemed, and held in great admiration; insomuch that many of our English loiterers joined with them, and in time learned their crafty cozening.

[41] Hoyland.

"The speech which they used was the right Egyptian language, with whom our Englishmen conversing at least learned their language. These people, continuing about the country, and practising their cozening art, purchased themselves great credit among the country people, and got much by palmistry and telling of fortunes; insomuch that they pitifully cozened poor country girls both of money, silver spoons, and the best of their apparel, or any goods they could make."[42]

[42] A quarto work by S. R., published to detect and expose the art of juggling and legerdemain, in 1612.

From this author it is collected they had a leader of the name of Giles Hather, who was termed their king; and a woman of the name of Calot was called queen. These, riding through the country on horseback, and in strange attire, had a pretty train after them.[43]


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