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A Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Pres

Without diminishing Gypsey population


Some places formerly frequented by Gypsey gangs, having been much deserted by them of late years, does not authorize any calculation upon a decrease of their numbers in the nation.

In the vicinity of the metropolis, Gypsies have been excluded by inclosures from various situations to which they had been accustomed to resort. But there is some reason to apprehend they have become more numerous, in several other parts of the Island. Baillie Smith of Kelso, is of opinion, they increase in Scotland, and it is by no means certain that they do not in England.

Any idea that routing them will lessen their numbers, may be as fallacious, and injudicious, as were banishments from the German States, which, without diminishing Gypsey population, had the injurious effect of alienating them still more from civil associations.

Junius, the other correspondent of the Northampton Mercury, in his Address of October 29, writes: "I trust the time is not distant, when much will be accomplished, as it respects the civilization of the people whose cause we plead. In the meantime, I would humbly hope all those harsh and degrading measures, of publicly in the papers, and upon placards by the sides of roads, ordering their apprehension and commitment to prison, will be suspended, until some asylum is offered; and should nothing be attempted by the Legislature, for reclaiming them from their present mode of life, surely much may be done by the exertions of individuals!"

Many of the observations in the Christian Observer, and in the Northampton Mercury, are striking and pertinent, as they relate to the present state of the Gypsies in England; and the philanthropy they inculcate is honourable to the national character. Had these benevolent individuals been acquainted with the history of the people, whose cause they plead, they would, doubtless, have suggested plans adapted to their peculiar case. For want of this knowledge, it is not surprising that occupations in husbandry should take the lead in propositions for employing them. The last mentioned writer, from a desire to render essential service to this people, suggests, that the Legislature should fix upon five or six stations in different parts of the kingdom, on which villages should be erected, in order that they might be employed in farming.

It will have been obvious in the survey which has been taken, and it has been already remarked, that of all occupations, agriculture is the least adapted to their genius and inclination.

It has appeared in Section IX, that Riley Smith, a chief of the Northamptonshire Gypsies, after marrying the cook out of a gentleman's family, and obtaining a farm, quitted it, to resume musical performances.

Conformity to agricultural employments, could not be effected in Gypsies, by the most rigorous measures to which the Empress Theresa, and the Emperor Joseph II. resorted.--Much less could it be expected that persons, who, all their lives, have accustomed themselves to be in the open air, or others who have lived three parts of the year in this manner, should be induced, in open weather, to brook the restraint of houses.


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