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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

On the Jedburgh road as it enters St


The

English Gipsies also travel in Scotland, with earthenware in carts and waggons. A body of them, to the number of six tents, with sixteen horses, encamped, on one occasion, on the farm of Kingledoors, near the source of the Tweed. They remained on the ground from Saturday night till about ten o'clock on Monday morning, before they struck their tents and waggons.

At St Boswell's fair I once inspected a horde of English Gipsies, encamped at the side of a hedge, on the Jedburgh road as it enters St. Boswell's Green. Their name was Blewett, from the neighbourhood of Darlington. The chief possessed two tents, two large carts laden with earthenware, four horses and mules, and five large dogs. He was attended by two old females and ten young children. One of the women was the mother of fourteen, and the other the mother of fifteen, children. This chief and the two females were the most swarthy and barbarous looking people I ever saw. They had, however, two beautiful children with them, about five years of age, with light flaxen hair, and very fair complexions. The old Gipsy women said they were twins; but they might have been stolen from different parents, for all that, as there was nothing about them that had the slightest resemblance to any one of the horde that claimed them. Apparently much care was taken of them, as they were very cleanly and neatly kept.[49]

[49] It does not follow, from what our author says

about these two children, that they were stolen. I have seen some of the children of English Gipsies as fair as any Saxon. It sometimes happens that the flaxen hair of a Gipsy child will change into raven black before he reaches manhood.--ED.

This Gipsy potter was a thick-set, stout man, above the middle size. He was dressed in an old dark-blue frock coat, with a profusion of black, greasy hair, which covered the upper part of his broad shoulders. He wore a high-crowned, narrow-brimmed, old hat, with a lock of his black hair hanging down before each ear, in the same manner as the Spanish Gipsies are described by Swinburn. He also wore a pair of old full-topped boots, pressed half way down his legs, and wrinkled about his ankles, like buskins. His visage was remarkably dark and gloomy. He walked up and down the market alone, without speaking to any one, with a peculiar air of independence about him, as he twirled in his hand, in the Gipsy manner, by way of amusement, a strong bludgeon, about three feet long, which he held by the centre. I happened to be speaking to a surgeon in the fair, at the time the Gipsy passed me, when I observed to him that that strange-looking man was a Gipsy; at which the surgeon only laughed, and said he did not believe any such thing. To satisfy him, I followed the Gipsy, at a little distance, till he led me straight to his tents at the Jedburgh road already mentioned.

This Gipsy band had none of their wares unpacked, nor were they selling anything in the market. They were cooking a lamb's head and pluck, in a pan suspended from a triangle of rods of iron, while beside it lay an abundance of small potatoes, in a wooden dish. The females wore black Gipsy bonnets. The visage of the oldest one was remarkably long, her chin resting on her breast. These three old Gipsies were, altogether, so dark, grim, and outlandish-looking, that they had little or no appearance of being natives of Britain. On enquiring if they were Gipsies, and could speak the language, the oldest female gave me the following answer: "We are potters, and strangers in this land. The people are civil unto us. I say, God bless the people; God bless them all." She spoke these words in a decided, emphatic, and solemn tone, as if she believed herself possessed of the power to curse or bless at pleasure. On turning my back, to leave them, I observed them burst out a laughing; making merry, as I supposed, at the idea of having deceived me as to the tribe to which they belonged.


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