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History of the Gipsies
Chapter IX - Language


The Scottish Gipsies appear to be extremely tenacious of retaining their language, as their principal secret, among themselves, and seem, from what I have read on the subject, to be much less communicative, on this and other matters relative to their history, than those of England and other countries. On speaking to them of their speech, they exhibit an extraordinary degree of fear, caution, reluctance, distrust, and suspicion ; and, rather than give any information on the subject, will submit to any self-denial. It has been so well retained among themselves, that I believe it is scarcely credited, even by individuals of the greatest intelligence, that it exists at all, at the present day, but as slang, used by common thieves, house-breakers and beggars, and by those denominated flash and family men.

[Before considering this trait in the character of the Scottish Gipsies, it may interest the reader to know that the same peculiarity obtains among those on the continent.

Of the Hungarian Gipsies, Grellmann writes: "It will be recollected, from the first, how great a secret they make of their language, and how suspicious they appear when any person wishes to learn a few words of it. Even if the Gipsy is not perverse, he is very inattentive, and is consequently likely to answer some other rather than the true Gipsy word."

Of the Hungarian Gipsies, Bright says: "No one, who has not had experience, can conceive the difficulty of gaining intelligible information, from people so rude, upon the subject of their language. If yon ask for a word, they give you a whole sentence; and on asking a second time, they give the sentence a totally different torn, or introduce some figure altogether new. Thus it was with our Gipsy, who, at length, tired of our questions, prayed most piteously to be released; which we granted him, only on condition of his returning in the evening."

Of the Spanish Gipsies, Mr. Borrow writes: "It is only by listening attentively to the speech of the Gitanos, whilst discoursing among themselves, that an acquaintance with their dialect can be formed, and hy seizing upon all unknown words, as they fall in succession from their lips. Nothing can be more useless and hopeless than the attempt to obtain possession

of their vocabulary, by enquiring of them how particular objects and ideas are styled in the same; for, with the exception of the names of the most common things, they arc totally incapable, as a Spanish writer has observed, of yielding the required information; owing to their great ignorance, the shortness of their memories, or, rather, the state of bewilderment to which their minds are brought by any question which tends to bring their reasoning faculties into action; though, not unfrequently, the very words which have been in vain required of them will, a minute subsequently, proceed inadvertently from their mouths."

What has been said hy the two last-named writers is very wide of the mark; Grellmann, however, hits it exactly. The Gipsies have excellent memories. It is all they have to depend on. If they had not good memories, how could they, at the present day, speak a word of their language at all? The difficulty in question is down-right shuffling, and not a want of memory on the part of the Gipsy. The present chapter will throw some light on the subject. Even Mr. Borrow himself gives an ample refutation to his sweeping account of the Spanish Gipsies, in regard to their language; for, in another part of his work, he says: " I recited the Apostles' Creed to the Gipsies, sentence by sentence, which they translated as I proceeded. They exhibited the greatest eagerness and interest in their unwonted occupation, and frequently broke into loud disputes as to the best rendering, many being offered at the same time. I then read the translation aloud, whereupon they raised a shout of exultation, and appeared not a little proud of the composition." On this occasion, Mr. Borrow evidently had the Gipsies in the right humour—that is, off their guard, excited, and much interested in the subject. He says, in another place: "The language they speak among themselves, and they are particularly anxious to keep others in ignorance of it." As a general tiling, they seem to have been bored by people much above them in the scale of society; with whom, their natural politeness, and expectations of money or other benefits, would naturally lead them to do anything than give them that which it is inborn in their nature to keep to themselves.—Ed.

Among the causes contributing to this state of things among the Scottish Gipsies, and what are called Tinklers or Tinkers, for they are the same people, may be mentioned the following: The traditional accounts of the numerous imprisonments, banishments, and executions, which many of the race underwent, for merely being "by habit and repute Gipsies," under the severe laws passed against them, are still fresh in the memories of the present generation. They still entertain the idea that they are a persecuted race, and liable, if known to be Gipsies, to all the penalties of the statutes framed for the extirpation of the whole people. But, apart from this view of the question, it may be asked, how is it that the Gipsies in Scotland are more reserved, (they are generally altogether silent,) in respect to themselves, than their brethren in other countries seem to be? It may be answered, that our Scottish tribes are, in general, much more civilized, their bands more broken up, and the individuals more mixed with, and scattered through, the general population of the country, than the Gipsies of other nations; and it therefore appears to me that the more their blood gets mixed with that of the ordinary natives, and the more they approach to civilization, the more determinedly will they conceal every particular relative to their tribe, to prevent their neighbours ascertaining their origin and nationality. The slightest taunting allusion to the forefathers of half-civilized Scottish Tinklers kindles up in their breasts a storm of wrath and fury : for they are extremely sensitive to the feeling which is entertained toward their tribe by the other inhabitants of the country. [This opinion is confirmed by the fact that the Gipsies whom the Rev. Mr. Crabbe has civilized will not now be seen among the others of the tribe, at his annual festival, at Southampton. We have already seen, under the head of Continental Gipsies, that "those who are gold-washers in Transylvania and the Banat have do intercourse with others of their nation ; nor do they like to be called Gipsies."] "I have," said one of them to me, "wrought all my life in a shop with fellow-tradesmen, and not one of them ever discovered that I knew a single Gipsy word." A Gipsy woman also informed me that herself and sister had nearly lost their lives, on account of their language. The following are the particulars: The two sisters chanced to be in a public-bouse near Alloa, when a number of colliers, belonging to the coal-works at Sauchie, were present. The one sister, in a low tone of voice, and in the Gipsy language, desired the other, among other things, to make ready some broth for their repast. The colliers took hold of the two Gipsy words, shaucha and blawkie, which signify broth and pot; thinking the Tinkler women were calling them Sauchie BlacJcies, in derision and contempt of their dark, subterraneous calling. The consequence was, that the savage colliers attacked the innocent Tinklers, calling out that they would; "grind them to powder," for calling them Sarichie Blackies. But the determined Gipsies would rather perish than explain the meaning of the words in English, to appease the enraged colliers; "for," said they, "it would have exposed our tribe, and made ourselves odious to the world." The two defenceless females might have been murdered by their brutal assailants, had not the master of the house fortunately come to their assistance. The poor Gipsies felt the effects of the beating they had received, for many months thereafter; and my informant had not recovered from her bruises at the time she mentioned the circumstances to me. [On the whole, however, our Scottish peasantry, in some districts, do not greatly despise the Tinklers; at least not to the same extent as the inhabitants of some other countries seem to do. When not involved in quarrels with the Gipsies, our country people, with the exception of a considerable portion of the land-owners, were, and are even yet rather fond of the superior families of the nomadic class of these people, than otherwise.]

They are also anxious to retain their language, as a secret among themselves, for the use which it is to them in conducting business in markets or other places of public resort. But they are very chary of the manner in which they employ it on such occasions. Besides this, they display all the pride and vanity in possessing the language which is common with linguists generally. The determined and uniform principle laid down by them, to avoid all communications with " strangers" on the subject, and their resolution to keep it a secret within their own tribe, will be strikingly illustrated by the following facts.

For seven years, a woman, of the name of Baillie, about fifty years of age, and the mother of a family, called regularly at my house, twice a year, while on her peregrinations through the country, selling spoons and other articles made from horn. Every time I saw her, I endeavoured to prevail upon her to give me some of her secret speech, as I was certain she was acquainted with the Gipsy tongue. But, not to alarm her by calling it by that name, I always said to her, in a jocular manner, that it was the mason word I wished her to teach me. She, however, as regularly and firmly declared that she knew of no such language among the Tinklers. I always treated her kindly, and desired her to continue her visits. I gave her, each time she called, a glass of spirits, a piece of flesh, and such articles; and generally purchased some trifle from her, for which I intentionally paid her more than its value. She so far yielded to my importunities, that, for the last three years she called, she went the length of saying that she would tell me "something" the next time she came back. But when she returned, she guardedly evaded all my questions, by constantly repeating nearly the same answer, such as, "I will speak to you the next time I come back, sir." After having been put off for seven years in this manner, I was determined to put her to the usual test, should she never enter my door again, and, as she was walking out of the gate of my garden, I called to her, in the Gipsy language, "Jaw vree, managie!"—(go away, woman.) She immediately turned round, and, laughing, replied, "I will jaiv with you when I come back, gaugie"—(I will go or speak with you, when I come back, mau.) She returned, as usual, in December following. I again requested her to give me some of her words, assuring her that she would be in no danger from me on that account. I further told her it was of no use to conceal her speech from me, having, the last time she was in my house, shown her that I was acquainted with it. After considerable hesitation and reluctance, she consented ; but then, she said, she would not allow any one in the house to hear her speak to me but my wife. I took her at once into my parlour, and, on being desired, she, without the least hesitation or embarrassment, took the seat next the fire. Observing the door of the room a little open, she desired it to be shut, for fear of her being overheard, again mentioning that she had no objections to my wife being present, aud gravely observing that "husbands and wives were one, and should know all one another's secrets." She stated that the public would look upon her with horror and contempt, were it known she could speak the Gipsy language. She was extremely civil and intelligent, yet placed me upon a familiar equality with herself, when she "found I knew of the existence of her speech, and could repeat some of the words of it. Her nature, to appearance, seemed changed. Her bold and fiery disposition was softened and subdued. She was very frank and polite; retained her self-possession, and spoke with great propriety. [Their (the female's) speech is as fluent, and their eyes as unabashed, in the presence of royalty, as before those from whom they have nothing to hope or fear; the result of which is, that most minds quail before them.—Biyrrow on the Spanish Gipsies.—Ed.] The words which I got on this occasion will be found in another part of the chapter.

In corroboration of this principle of concealment observed by the Scottish Gipsies, relative to their language, I may give a fact which will show how artful they are in avoiding any allusion to it. One evening, as a band of potters, with a cart of earthenware, were travelling on the high-road, in a wild glen in the south of Scotland, a brother of mine overheard them, male and female, conversing in a language, a word of which he did not understand. As the road was very bad, and the night dark, one of the females of the band was a few yards in advance of the cart, acting as a guide to the horde. Every now and then, among other unintelligible expressions, she called out " Shan drown." My brother's curiosity was excited by hearing the potters conversing in this manner, and, next morning, he went to where they lodged, in an out-house on the farm, and enquired of the female what she was saying on the road, the night before, and what she meant by "Shan drom." The woman appeared confused at the unexpected question; but in a short time recovered her self-possession, and artfully replied that they were talking Latin (!) and that "Shan drom," in Latin, signified "bad road." But the truth is, "Shan drom" is the Gipsy expression for bad road, as will by and by be seen.

Besides the difficulties mentioned in the way of getting any of their language from them, there is a general one that arises from the suspicious, unsettled, restless, fickle and volatile nature by which they are characterized. It is a rare thing to get them to speak consecutively for more than a few minutes on any subject, thus precluding the possibility, in most instances, of taking advantage of any favourable humour in which they may be found, in the matter of their general history—leaving alone the formal and serious procedure necessary to be followed in regard to their language. If this favourable turn in their disposition is allowed to pass, it is rarely anything of that nature can be got from them at that meeting; and it is extremely likely that, at any after interviews, they will entirely evade the matter so much desired.

With these remarks, I will now proceed to state the method I adopted to get at the Gipsy language.

Short vocabularies of the language of the Tsohengenes of Turkey, the Gyganis of Hungary, the Zigeimers of Germany, the Gitanos of Spain, and the Gipsies of England, have, at different periods, since 1783, issued from the press, in this country and in Germany; but I am not aware of any specimens of our Scottish Tinkler or Gipsy language having as yet been submitted to the public. Some of the former I committed to memory, and used, intermixed with English words, in questions I would put to the Scottish Gipsies. In this way, one word would lead to another. I would address them in a confident and familiar manner, as if I were one of themselves, and knew exactly who they were, and all about them. I would, for instance, ask them  Have you a grye (horse)? How many chauvies (children) have you? Where is your gaugie (husband)? Do you sell roys (spoons)? Being taken completely by surprise, they would give me at once a true answer. For, being the first, as far as I know, to apply the language of the Gipsies of the continent to our own tribes, they could naturally have no hesitation in replying to my questions; although they would wonder what kind of a Gipsy I could possibly be—dressed, as I was, in black, with black neck-cloth, and no display of linen, save a ruffled breast, thick-soled shoes and gaiters. The consequence was, I became a character of interest to many of the Gipsies to be found in a circuit of many miles; and great wonder was excited in their untutored minds, leading to a desire to see, and know something of, the Riah Nawken, or the gentleman Gipsy. On such occasions, I would treat them as I would land a fish—give them hook and line enough. But the circumstance was to them something incomprehensible, for, although Gipsies are very ready-witted, and possess great natural resources, in thieving, and playing tricks of every kind, and great tact in getting out of difficulties of that nature—which, with them, are matters of instinct, training, and practice—their whole mind being bent, and exclusively employed, in that direction, it was almost impossible for them to form any intelligible opinion as to my true character, provided I was any way discreet in disguising my real position among them. As little chance was there of any of themselves informing the others of what assistance they had inadvertently been to me, in getting at their language. Some of them might have an idea that one of their race had, in their own way of thinking, peached, turned traitor to their blood, and let the cat out of the bag. At times, if they happened to see me approach them, so as to have an opportunity to scrutinize me—which they are much given to, with people generally—they would not be so easily disconcerted at any question put to them in their language; but the result would be either direct replies, or the most ludicrous scenes of surprise and terror imaginable, which, to be enjoyed, were only to be seen, but could not be described, although the sequel will in some measure illustrate them. At other times, if I addressed a Gipsy in his own language, and spoke to him in a kind and familiar manner, as if I had been soothing a wild and unmanageable horse, before mounting him, he would either very awkwardly pretend not to understand what I meant, or, with a downcast and guilty look, and subdued voice, immediately answer my Gipsy words in English. But if I put the words to him in an abrupt, hasty, or threatening manner, he would either use his heels, or turn upon me, like a tiger, and pour out upon me a torrent of abusive language. The following instances will show the manner in which my use of their language was sometimes appreciated by the female Gipsies.

When I spoke in a sharp manner to some of the old women, on the high-road, by way of testing them, they would quicken their paces, look over their shoulders, and call out, in much bitterness of spirit, "You are no gentleman, sir, otherwise you would not insult ns in that way." On one occasion. I observed a woman with her son, who appeared about twelve years of age, lingering near a house at which they had no business, and I desired her, rather sharply, to leave the place, telling her that I was afraid her chauvie was a chor—(that her son was a thief). I used these two words merely to see what effect they would have upon her, as I did not really think she was a Gipsy. She instantly flew into a dreadful passion, telling me that I had been among thieves and robbers myself, otherwise I could not speak to her in such words as these. She threatened to go to Edinburgh, to inform the police that I was the head and captain of a band of thieves, and that she would have me immediately apprehended as such. Four sailors who were present with me were astonished at the sudden wrath and insolence of the woman, as they could not perceive any provocation she had received from me—being ignorant of the meaning of the words chauvie and clwr, which I applied to her boy.

One day I fell in by chance, on a lonely part of the old public road, on the hills within half a mile of the village of North Queensferry, with a woman of about twenty-seven years of age, and the mother, as she said, of seven children.

She had light hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. The youngest of her children appeared to be about nine months old, and the eldest about ten years. The mother was dressed in a brown cloak, and the group had altogether a very squalid appearance. In the most lamentable tone of voice, she informed me that her husband had set off with another woman, and left her and her seven children to starve ; and that he had been lately employed at a paper-mill in Mid-Lothian. She sometimes appeared almost to choke with grief, but, nevertheless, I observed no tears in her eyes. She often repeated, in a sort of hypocritical and canting manner, "The Lord has been very kind to me, and will still protect me and my helpless babes. Last night we all slept in the open fields, and gathered peas and beans from the stubble for our suppers." . She certainly seemed to be in very indigent circumstances; but that her husband had abandoned her, I did not credit. However, I gave her a few half-penee, for which she thanked me very civilly. Prom her extravagant behaviour, and a peculiar wildness in her looks, it occurred to me that she belonged to the lowest caste of Gipsies, although her appearance did not indicate it; that her grief was, for the most part, feigned, and that the story of her husband having abandoned her was got up merely to excite pity, for the purpose of procuring a little money for the subsistence of her band. I now put a number of questions to her, relative to many individuals whom I knew were Gipsies of a superior class, taking care not to call them by that name, for fear of alarming her. I spoke to her as if I had been quite intimate with all the persons I was enquiring about. She gave me satisfactory answers to almost every question, and seemed well acquainted with every individual I named. She now appeared quite calm and collected, and answered me very gravely. But she said that some of the men I mentioned were rogues, and that their wives played many clever tricks. On mentioning the tricks of the wives, I noticed a smile come over her countenance. I observed to her that they were not faultless, but that they were often blamed for crimes of which they were not guilty. Upon perceiving that I took their part, which I did on purpose, to hear what she would say, she gradually changed her mind, and came over to my opinion. She said that they were exceedingly good-hearted people, and that some of them had frequently paid a night's lodging for herself and family. I now ventured to put a question to her, half in Gipsy and half in English. After a short pause and hesitation, she signified that she understood what I said. I then asked one or two questions in Gipsy words only. A Gipsy, with crockery-ware in a basket, happened to pass ns at the very moment I was speaking to her; and to show her the knowledge I had of her speech and people, I said, "There is a natvhen"—(there is a Gipsy.) She, in a very civil and polite manner, immediately replied, "Sir, I hope you will not take it ill, when I use the freedom of saying that you must have been among the people you are enquiring about, otherwise you could not speak to me in that way." To show her that I did not despise her for understanding my Gipsy words, I gave her a few pence more, and spoke kindly to her. She then became quite cheerful and frank, as if we had been old acquaintances. Instead of trying to impose upon me, by tales of grief and woe, and feigned piety, she appeared happy and contented, her whole conduct indicating that it was useless to play off her tricks upon me, as she was now sensible that I knew exactly what she was, and yet did not treat her contemptuously. She said her husband's name was Wilson, and her own Jackson, (the names of two Gipsy tribes ;) that she could tell fortunes, and was acquainted with the Irish words I spoke, being afraid to call them by their right name. She further stated that every one of the people I was enquiring about spoke in the same language.

About half an hour after I parted with her, on the road, I met her in the village of North Queensferry, while I was walking with a friend. I then put a question to her in Gipsy words, in the presence of this third party, who knew not what she was, to see how she would conduct herself in public. She seemed surprised at my question, as if she did not understand a word of it—to prevent it being discovered to others of the community that she was a Gipsy. But she publicly praised me highly, for having given her something to help her poor children ; and, with her trumped-up story at her tongue's end, proceeded on her travels.

These poor people were much alarmed when I let them see that I knew they were Gipsies. They thought I was despising them, and treating them with contempt; or they were afraid of being apprehended under the old sanguinary laws, condemning the whole unfortunate race to death; for the Gipsies, as I have already said, still believe that these bloody statutes are in full force against them at the present day.

I was advised by Sir "Walter Scott, as mentioned in the Introduction, to "get the same words from different individuals; and, to verify the collection, to set down the names of the persons by whom they were communicated;" which I have done. For this reason, the words now furnished will appear as the confessions of so many individuals, rather than a vocabulary drawn up in the manner in which such is usually done; and which will be more satisfactory to the general reader, as well as the philologist, than if I had presented the words by themselves, without any positive or circumstantial evidence of their genuineness. To the general reader, as distinguished from the philologist, the anecdotes connected with the collection may prove interesting, if the words themselves have no attraction for him; while they will satisfy the latter, as far as they go, as to the existence of a language which has almost always been denied, yet which is known, at the present day, to a greater number of the population of the country than could at first have been imagined; this part of it having been drawn from a variety of individuals, at different and widely-separated times and places. On this account, I hope that the minuteness of the details of the present enquiry may not appear tedious, but, on the contrary, interesting, to my readers generally ; inasmuch as the present collection is the first, as far as I know, of the Scottish Gipsy language that has ever been made ; although the people themselves have lived amongst us for three hundred and fifty years, and talked it every hour of the day, but hardly ever in the hearing of the other inhabitants, excepting, occasionally, a word of it now and then, to disguise their discourse from those around them ; which, on being questioned, they have always passed off for cant, to prevent the law taking hold of them, and punishing them for being Gipsies. These details will also show that our Scottish Tinklers, or Gipsies, are sprung from the common stock from which are descended those that are to be found in the other parts of Europe, as well as those that are scattered over the world generally; what secrecy they observe in all matters relative to their affairs; what an extraordinary degree of reluctance and fear they evince in answering questions tending to develop their history; and, consequently, how difficult it is to learn anything^ satisfactory about them. [It would be well for the reader to consider what a Qipsy is, irrespective of the language which he speaks ; for the race comes before the speech which it uses. That will be done fully in the Disquisition on the Gipsies. The language, considered in itself, however interesting it may he, is a secondary consideration; it may ultimately disappear, while the people who now speak it will remain.—Ed.]

I fell in one day, on the public road, with an old woman and her two daughters, of the name of Eoss, selling horn spoons, made by Andrew Stewart, a Tinkler at Bo'ness. I repeated to the woman, in the shape of questions, some of the Gipsy words presented in these pages. She at first affected, though very awkwardly, not to understand what I said, but in a few minutes, with some embarrassment in her manner, acknowledged that she knew the speech, and gave me the English of the following words:

Gaugie, man.  Grye, horse.
Managie, woman. Grye-fcmler, horse-dealer.
Chauvies, children. Roys, spoons.

I observed to this woman, that I saw no harm in speaking this language openly and publicly. "None in the least, sir", was her reply.

Two girls, of the name of Jamieson, came one day begging to my door. They appeared to be sisters, of abont eight and seventeen years of age, and were pretty decently clothed. Both had light-blue eyes, light-yellow, or rather flaxen, hair, and fair complexions. To ascertain whether they were Tinklers or not, I put some Gipsy words to the eldest girl. She immediately hung down her head, as if she had been detected in a crime, and, pretending not to understand what was said, left the house; but, after proceeding about twelve paces, she took courage, turned round, and, with a smile upon an agreeable countenance, called back, "There are eleven of us, sir." I had enquired of her how many children there were of her family. I called both the girls back to my house, and ordered them some victuals, for which they were extremely grateful, and seemed much pleased that they were kindly treated. After I had discovered they were Gipsies, I wormed out of them the following words:

Gaugie, man. Grye, horse.
Managie, woman. Jucal, dog.
Chauvies, children.

When I enquired of the eldest girl the English of Jucal, she did not, at first, catch the sound of the word; but her little sister looked up in her face, and said to her, "Don't you hear? That is dog. It is dog he means." The other then added, with a downcast look, and a melancholy tone of voice, "You gentlemen understand all languages now-a-days."

At another time, four or five children were loitering about, and diverting themselves, before the door of a house, near Inverkeithing. The youngest appeared about five, and the eldest about thirteen years of age. One of the boys, of the name of McDonald, stepped forward, and asked some money from me in charity. From his importunate manner of begging, I suspected the children were Gipsies, although their appearance did not indicate them to be of that race. After some questions put to them about their parents and their occupations, they gave me the English of the following words:

Gaugie, man. Aizel, ass.
Chauvies, children. Lowa, silver.
Riah, gentleman. Chor, thief.
Grye, horse. Slavrdie, prison.
Jucal, dog. Bing, the devil.

A gentleman, an acquaintance of mine, was in my presence while the children were answering my words; and as the subject of their language was new to him, I made some remarks to him in their hearing, relative to their tribe, which greatly displeased them. One of the boys called out to me, with much bitterness of expression, "You are a Gipsy yourself, sir, or you never could have got these words."

Some years since, a female, of the name of Ruthven, was in the habit of calling at a farm occupied by one of my brothers. My mother, being interested about the Gipsies, began, on one occasion, to question this female Tinkler, relative to her tribe, and, among other things, asked if she was a Gipsy. "Yes," replied Ruthven, "I am a Gipsy, and a desperate, murdering race we are. I will let you hear me speak our language, but what the better will you be of that?" She accordingly uttered a few sentences, and then said, "Now, are you any the wiser of what you have heard? But that infant," pointing to her child of about five years of age, "understands every word I speak." "I know," continued the Tinkler, "that the public are trying to find out the secrets of the Gipsies, but it is in vain." This woman further stated that her tribe would be exceedingly displeased, were it known that any of their fraternity taught their language to "strangers." [The Gipsies are always afraid to say what they would do in such cases. Perhaps they don't know, but have only a general impression that the individual would "catch it;" or there may be some old law on the subject. What Ruthven said of her being a desperate race is true enough, and murderous too, among themselves as distinguished from the inhabitants generally. Her remark was evidently part of that frightening policy which keeps the natives from molesting the tribe. See page 44.—En.] She also mentioned that the Gipsies believe that the laws which were enacted for their extirpation were yet in full force against them. I may mention, however, that she could put confidence in the family in whose house she made these confessions.

On another occasion, a female, with three or four children, the eldest of whom was not above ten years of age, came up to me while speaking to an innkeeper, on a public pier on the banks of the Forth. She stated to us that her property had been burned to the ground, and her family reduced to beggary, and solicited charity of us both. After receiving a few half-pence from the innkeeper, she continued her importunities with an unusual impertinence, and hung upon me for a contribution. Her barefaced conduct displeased me. I thought I would put her to the test, and try if she was not a Gipsy. Deepening the tone of my voice, I called out to her, in an angry manner, "Sarah, jaw dram"— (" Curse you, take the road.") The woman instantly wheeled about, uttered not another word, but set off, with precipitation; and so alarmed were her children, that they took hold of her clothes, to hasten and pull her out of my presence; calling to her, at the same time, "Mother, mother, come away. Mine host, the innkeeper, was amazed at the effectual manner in which I silenced and dismissed the importunate and troublesome beggars. He was anxious that I should teach him the unknown words that had so terrified the poor Gipsies; with the design, it appeared to me, of frightening others, should they molest him with their begging. Had I not proved this family by the language, it was impossible for any one to perceive that the group were Gipsies.

In prosecuting my enquiries into the existence of the Gipsy language, I paid a visit to Lochgellie, once the residence of four or five families of Gipsies, as already mentioned, and procured an interview with young Andrew Steedman, a member of the tribe. At first, he appeared much alarmed, and seemed to think I had a design to do him harm. His fears, however, were in a short while calmed ; and, after much reluctance, he gave me the following words and expressions, with the corresponding English significations. Like a true Gipsy, the first expression which he uttered, as if it came the readiest to him, was, "Ghoar a chauvie"—(" rob that person,") which he pronounced with a smile on his countenance.


The first expression which the Gipsies use in saluting one another, when they first meet, anywhere, is "Auteenie, auteenie." Steedman, however, did not give me the English of this salutation. He stated to me that, at the present day, the Gipsies in Scotland, when by themselves, transact their business in their own language, and hold all their ordinary conversations in the same speech. In the course of a few minutes, Steedman's fears returned upon him. He appeared to regret what he had done. He now said he had forgotten the language, and referred me to his father, old Andrew Steedman, who, he said, would give me every information I might require. I imprudently sent him out, to bring the old man to me ; for, when both returned, all further communication, with regard to their speech, was at an end. Both were now dead silent on the subject, denied all knowledge of the Gipsy language, and were evidently under great alarm. The old man would not face me at all; and when I went to him, he appeared to be shaking and trembling, while he stood at the head of his horses, in his own stable. Young Steedman entreated me to tell no one that he had given me any words, as the Tinklers, he said, would be exceedingly displeased with him for doing so. This man, however, by being kindly treated, and seeing no intention of doing him any harm, became, at an after period, communicative on various subjects relative to the Gipsies.

The following are the words which I obtained during an hour's interrogation of the woman that baffled me for seven years, and of whom I have said something already:


I observed to this woman that her language would, in course of time, be lost. She replied, with great seriousness, "It will never be forgotten, sir; it is in our hearts, and as long as a single Tinkler exists, it will be remembered." I further enquired of her, how many of her tribe were in Scotland. Her answer was, "There are several thousand; and there are many respectable shop-keepers and householders in Scotland that are Gipsies." I requested of this woman the Gipsy word for God. [Ponqueville, in his travels, says that the Gipsies in the Levant have no words in their language to express either God or the soul. Of ten words of the Greek Gipsy, given by him, five of them are in use in Scotland.— Paris, 1820.] She said they had no corresponding word for God in their speech; adding, that she thought " it as well, as it prevented them having their Maker's name often unnecessarily and sinfully in their mouths." She acknowledged the justice, and highly approved of the punishment of death for murder; but she condemned, most bitterly, the law that took away the lives of human beings for stealing. She dwelt on the advantages which her secret speech gave her tribe in transacting business in markets. She said that she was descended from the first Gipsy family in Scotland. I was satisfied that she was sprung from the second, if not the first, family. I could make out, with tolerable certainty, the links of her descent for four generations of Gipsies. I have already described the splendid style in which her ancestors travelled in Tweed-dale. Her mother, above eighty years of age, also called at my house. Both were fortune-tellers. It was evident, from this woman's manner, that she knew much she would not communicate. Like the Gipsy chief, in presence of Dr. Bright, at Csurgo, in Hungary, she, in a short time, became impatient; and, apparently, when a certain hour arrived, she insisted upon being allowed to depart. She would not submit to be questioned any longer.

Owing to the nature of my enquiries, and more particularly the fears of the tribe, I could seldom venture to question the Gipsies regarding their speech, or their ancient customs, with any hope of receiving satisfactory answers, when a third party was present. The following, however, is an instance to the contrary; and the facts witnessed by the gentleman who was with me at the time, are, besides the testimony of the Gipsies themselves, convincing proofs that these people, at the present day, in Scotland, can converse among themselves, on any ordinary subject, in their own language, without making use of a single word of the English tongue. [Had a German listened a whole day to a Gipsy conversation, he would not have understood a single expression.—Orellmann. The dialect of the English Gipsies, though mixed with English, is tolerably pure, from the fact of its being intelligible to the race in the centre of Russia.—Borrow.—Ed.]

In May, 1829, while near the Manse of Inverkeithing, my friend and I accidentally fell in, on the high road, with four children, the youngest of whom appeared to be about four, and the eldest about thirteen, years of age. They were accompanied by a woman, about twenty years old, who had the appearance of being married, but not the mother of any of the children with her. Not one of the whole party could have been taken for a Gipsy, but all had the exact appearance of being the family of some indigent tradesman or labourer. Excepting the woman, whose hair was dark, all of the company had hair of a light colour, some of them inclining to yellow, with fair complexions. In not one of their countenances could be seen those features by which many pretend the Gipsies can, at all times, be distinguished from the rest of the community. The manner, however, in which the woman, at first, addressed me, created in my mind a suspicion that she was one of the tribe. In order to ascertain the fact, I put a question to her in Gipsy, in such a manner that it might appear to her that I was quite certain she was one of the fraternity. She immediately smiled at my question, held down her head, cast her eyes to the ground, then appeared as if she had been detected in something wrong, and pretended not to understand what I said. One of the children, however, being thrown entirely off his guard, immediately said to her, "You know quite well what he says!" The woman, recovering from her surprise and confusion, and being assured she had nothing to fear from me, now answered my question. She also replied to every other interrogation I put to her, without showing the least fear or hesitation. After I had repeated a few words more, and a sentence in the Gipsy tongue, one of the boys exclaimed, "He has good cant!" and then addressed me entirely in the Gipsy language. (All the Gipsies, as I have already mentioned, call their language card, for the purpose of concealing their tribe.) The whole party seemed extremely happy that I was acquainted with their speech. The woman put several questions to me, in return, some of which were wholly in her own peculiar tongue. She asked my name, place of residence, and whether I was a hawken—that is a Gipsy. She further enquired whether my friend was also a hawker; adding, with a smile, that she was sure I was a tramper. The children sometimes conversed among themselves wholly in their own language; and, when I could not understand the woman, as she requested, in her own speech, to know my name, &c„ one of them instantly interpreted the sentence into English for me. One of the oldest boys, however, thinking I was only pretending to be ignorant of their speech, observed, in English, to his companions, "I am sure he is a tramper, and can speak as good cant as any of us." To keep up the character, my friend told them that I had been a tramper in my youth, but that I had now nearly lost the language. On hearing this, the woman, with great earnestness, exclaimed, " God bless the gentleman!" In order to confirm their belief that I was one of their tribe, I bade the woman good-day in her own tongue, and parted with them. She informed me, on leaving, that she resided at Banff, but that her husband was then at Perth.

During the short interview which I had with these Gipsies, I collected the following words:

The method I adopted with them, as I have already hinted, was to ask them the English of the words I gave them in Gipsy, so that the answers I got were confirmations of the same words collected from other individuals, and which I drew from memory for the occasion. Had I attempted to write down any of their sentences, it would have instantly shut the door to all further conversation on the subject, and, in all probability, the Gipsies would have taken to their heels, muttering imprecations against me for having insulted them. Of this I was satisfied, that had I really been acquainted with their speech, these Gipsy children could have kept up a regular and connected conversation with me, with the greatest fluency, and without their sentences being intermixed with any English or Scotch words whatever, a fact which has been repeatedly stated to me by the Gipsies.

In confirmation of these facts, I shall transcribe a letter addressed to me by the gentleman who was present on the occasion. [This letter is interesting to the extent that it illustrates the amount of knowledge possessed by the Scottish community, generally, regarding the subject of the Gipsies.—En.]

Inverkeithing, 25th May, 1829.

"My Dear Sir:

"Agreeably to your desire, I have looked over that part of your manuscript of the Scottish Gipsies which details the particulars of a short and accidental interview which we had with a woman and four children, whom we met near Inverkeithing Manse, on the 22d inst., and who turned out to be Gipsies. I have no hesitation in averring that your statements, to my knowledge, are substantially correct— being present during the whole conversation which took place with the individuals mentioned. It was the first time ever heard the Gipsy language spoken, and it appeared quite evident that those Gipsies could converse, in a regular and connected manner, on any subject, without making use of a single English word ; and which particularly appeared from the questions which they put to you, as well as from the conversation which they had among themselves, in their own peculiar speech : and that, otherwise, the woman and children had not, in the colour of their hair, complexion, and general appearance, any resemblance to those people whom I always considered to be Gipsies. I am, &c,

"JAMES H. COBBAN,
Deputy Compt. of Customs, Inverkeithing.

"Mr. Walter Simson,
Supt. of Quarantine, Inverkeithing."

I have already mentioned having succeeded in obtaining a few words of Gipsy, from two sisters, of the name of Jamie-son, who came begging to my door. I had reason to suppose they would acquaint their relatives of having been questioned in their own speech, and would greatly exaggerate my knowledge of it; for I always observed that the individuals with whom I conversed were at first impressed with a belief that I knew much more of it than I really did.

During the following summer, a brother and a cousin of these girls called at my house, selling baskets. The one was about twenty-one, the other fifteen, years of age. I happened to be from home, but one of my family, suspecting them to be Gipsies, invifed them into the house, and mentioned to them, (although very incorrectly,) that I understood every word of their speech. "So I saw," replied the eldest lad, "for when he passed us on the road, some time ago, I called, in our language, to my neighbour, to come out of the way, and he understood what I said, for he immediately turned round, and looked at us." I, however, knew nothing of the circumstance; I did not even recollect having seen them pass me. It is likely, however, I had been examining their appearance, and it is as likely they had been trying if I understood their speech. At all events, they appeared to have known me, while I was entirely ignorant of who they were, and to have had their curiosity excited, on account, as I imagined, of their relatives having told them I was acquainted with their language. This occurrence produced a wonderful effect upon the two lads, for they appeared pleased to think I could speak their language. At this moment, one of my daughters, about seven years of age, repeated, in their hearing, the Gipsy word for pot, having picked it up from hearing me mention it. The young Tinklers now thought they were in the midst of a Gipsy family, and seemed quite happy. "But are you really a hawker?" I asked the eldest of them. "Yes, sir," he replied; "and to show you I am no impostor, I will give you the names of everything in your house;" which, in the presence of my family, he did, to the extent I asked of him. "My speech," he continued, "is not the cant of packmen, nor the slang of common thieves."

But Gipsy-hunting is like deer-stalking. In prosecuting it, it is necessary to know the animal, its habits, and the locality in which it is to be found. I saw the unfavourable turn approaching: the Gipsies' time was up ; their patience was exhausted. I dropped the subject, and ordered them some refreshment. On their taking leave of me, I said to them, "Do you intend coming round this part of the country again?" (I need not have asked them such a question as that.) " That we do, sir ; and we will not fail to come and see you again." They thus left me, with the strong impression on their minds, that I was a nawken, like themselves, but a riah—a gentleman Gipsy. I waited patiently for their return, which would happen in due season, on their half-yearly tramp. Everything looked so favourably, circumstances had contributed so fortunately, to the end which I had so much at heart, that I looked upon the information to be drawn from these poor Tinkler lads, with as much solicitude and avarice as one would who had discovered a treasure hid in his field.

This species of Gipsy-hunting, I believe, I had exclusively to myself. I had none of the difficulties to contend with, which would be implied in the field of it having been gone over by others before me. That kind of Gipsy-hunting which implied imprisonment, banishment, and hanging, was a thing of which the Gipsies had had sad experience; if not in their own persons, at least in that which the traditions of their tribe had so carefully handed down to them. Besides this, the experience of the daily life of the members of their tribe afforded an excellent school of training, for acquiring a host of expedients for escaping every danger and difficulty to which their habits exposed them. But so thoroughly had they preserved their secrets, and especially the grand one—their language—that they came to their wits' end how to understand, and how to act in, the new sphere of danger into which they were now thrown, or even to comprehend its nature. Such was the advantage which education and enlightenment had given their civilized neighbour over them. How could they imagine that the commencement of my knowledge of their language had been drawn from boohs? What did some of them know of books, beyond, perhaps, a youth sent to school, where, owing to his restless and unsettled good-for-nothingness, he would advance little beyond his alphabet? For we know that some Gipsies are so intensely vain as to send a child to school, merely to brag before their civilized neighbours that their children have been educated. How could tliey comprehend that their language had found, or could find, its way into boohs? The thing to them was impossible; the idea of it could not, by any exertion of their own, even enter into their imagination. The danger to arise from such a quarter was altogether beyond their capacity of comprehension. Knowing, however, that there was danger of some singular nature surrounding them, yet being unable to comprehend it, they flickered about it, like moths about a candle; till at last they did come to comprehend, if not its origin, or extent, at least its tendency, and the consequences to which it would lead.

According to promise, the eldest of the Gipsy boys called at my house, in about six months, accompanied by his sister. He was selling white-iron ware, for he was a tin-smith by occupation. Without entering into any preliminary conversation, for the purpose of smoothing the way for more direct questions, I took him into my parlour, and at once enquired if he could speak the Tinkler language? He applied to my question the construction that I doubted if he could, and the consequences which that would imply, and answered firmly, "Yes, sir; I have been bred in that line all my life." "Will you allow me," said I, "to write down your words?" "O yes, sir; you are welcome to as many as you please." "Have you names for everything, and can you converse on any subject, in that language?" "Yes, sir; we can converse, and have a name for everything, in our own speech." I now commenced to "make hay while the sun shone," as the phrase runs; for I knew that I could have only about an hour with the Gipsy, at the most. The following, then, are the words and sentences which I took down, on this occasion:



This young man sang part of two Gipsy songs to me, in English; and then, at my request, he turned one of them into the Gipsy language, intermingled a little, however, with English words; occasioned, perhaps, by the difficulty in translating it. The subject of one of the songs was that of celebrating a robbery, committed upon a Lord Shandos; and the subject of the other was a description of a Gipsy battle. The courage with which the females stood the rattle of the cudgels upon their heads was much lauded in the song. Like the Gipsy woman with whom I had no less than seven years' trouble ere getting any of her speech, this Gipsy lad became, in about an hours time, very restless, and impatient to be gone. The true state of things, in this instance, dawned upon his mind. He now became much alarmed, and would neither allow me to write down his songs, nor stop to give me any more of his words and sentences. His terror was only exceeded by his mortification; and, on parting with me, he said that, had he, at first, been aware I was unacquainted with his speech, he would not have given me a word of it.

As far as I can judge, from the few and short specimens which I have myself heard, and had reported to me, the subjects of the songs of the Scottish Gipsies, (I mean those composed by themselves,) are chiefly their plunderings, their robberies, and their sufferings. The numerous and deadly conflicts which they had among themselves, also, afforded them themes for the exercise of their muse. My father, in his youth, often heard them singing songs, wholly in their own language. They appear to have been very fond of our ancient Border marauding songs, which celebrate the daring exploits of the lawless freebooters on the frontiers of Scotland and England. They were constantly singing these compositions among themselves. The song composed on Hughie Graeme, the horse-stealer, published in the second volume of Sir Walter Scott's Border Minstrelsy, was a great favourite with the Tinklers. As this song is completely to the taste of a Gipsy, I will insert it in this place, as affording a good specimen of that description of song in the singing of which they take great delight. It will also serve to show the peculiar cast of mind of the Gipsies.

HUGHIE THE GILEME.

Gude Lord Scroope's to the hunting gane,
He has ridden o'er moss and muir;
And he has grippit Hughie the Graeme,
For stealing o' the Bishop's mare.

"Now, good Lord Scroope, this may not he!
Here hangs a broadsword by my side;
And if that thou canst conquer me,
The matter it may Boon be tryed."

"I ne'er was afraid of a traitor-thief;
Although thy name be Hughie the Graeme,
I'll make thee repent thee of thy deeds,
If God but grant me life and time."

"Then do your worst now, good Lord Scroope,
And deal your blows as hard as you can I
It shall be tried, within an hour,
Which of us two is the better man."

But as they were dealing their blows so free,
And both so bloody at the time,
Over the moss came ten yeomen so tall,
All for to take brave Hughie the Graeme.

Then they hae grippit Hughie the Graeme,
And brought him up through Carlisle town;
The lasses and lads stood on the walls, Crying,
"Hughie the Grasme, thou'se ne'er gae down."

Then hae they chosen a jury of men,
The best that were in Carlisle town;
And twelve of them cried out at once,
"Hughie the Graeme, thou must gae down."

Then up bespak him gude Lord Hume,
As he sat by the judge's knee,—
"Twenty white owsen, my gude lord,
If you'll grant Hughie the Graeme to me."

" O no, O no, my gude Lord Hume!
For sooth and sae it manna be;
For, were there but three Graemes of the name,
They suld be hanged a' for me."

'Twas up and spake the gude Lady Hume,
As she sat by the judge's knee,—
"A peck of white pennies, my gude lord judge,
If you'll grant Hughie the Graeme to me."

"O no, O no, my gude Lady Hume!
For sooth and so it must na be;
Were he but the one Graeme of the name,
He suld be hanged high for me."

"If I be guilty," said Hughie the Graeme,
"Of me my friends shall have small talk;"
And he has louped fifteen feet and three,
Though his hands they were tied behind his back.

He looked over his left shoulder,
And for to see what he might see;
There was he aware of his auld father,
Came tearing his hair most piteouslie.

"O I hald your tongue, my father," he says,
"And see that ye dinna weep for me!
For they may ravish me o' my life,
But they canna banish me fro Heavin hie.

"Fare ye weel, fair Maggie, my wife!
The last time we came ower the muir,
'Twas thou bereft me of my life,
And wi' the Bishop thou play'd the whore.

"Here, Johnie Armstrang, take thou my sword,
That is made o' the metal sae fine;
And when thou comest to the English side,
Remember the death of Hughie the Gramme."*

[On mentioning to Sir "Walter Scott, when at Abbotsford, that the Gipsies were very partial to Hughie the Graeme, he caused his eldest daughter, afterwards Mrs. Lockhart, to sing this ancient Border song, which she readily did, accompanying her voice with the harp. We were, at the time, in the room which contained his old armour and other antiquities; to which place he had asked me, after tea, to hear his daughter play on the harp. She sang Hughie the Graeme, in a plain, simple, unaffected manner, exactly in the style in which I have heard the humble country-girls singing the Bame song, in the south of Scotland. Sir Walter was much interested about the Gipsies; and when I repeated to him a short sentence in their speech, he, with great feeling, exclaimed, "Poor things! do you hear that?" This was the first time, I believe, that he ever heard a Scottish Gipsy word pronounced. It appeared to me that the mind of the great magician was not wholly divested of the fear that the Gipsies might, in some way or other, injure his young plantations.]

I will now give the testimony of the Gipsy chief from whom I received the " blowing up" alluded to, by Mr. Laid-law, in the Introduction to the work.

One of the greatest fairs in Scotland is held, annually, on the 18th day of July, at St. Boswell's Green, in Roxburghshire. I paid a visit to this fair, for the purpose of taking a view of the Gipsies. An acquaintance, whom I met at the fair, observed to me, that he was sure if any one could give me information regarding the Tinklers, it would be old------, the homer, at------. To ensure a kind reception from the Gipsies, it was agreed upon, between us, that I should introduce myself by mentioning who my ancestors were, on whose numerous farms, (sixteen, rented by my grandfather, in 1781, [These sixteen farms embraced about 25,000 acres of mountainous land, and maintained 13,000 sheep, 100 goats, 260 cattle, 60 horses, 20 draught-oxen, and 60 dogs; 29 shepherds, 26 other servants, and 16 cotters, making, with their families, 228 souls, supported by my ancestor's property, as that of a Scotch gentleman-farmer. On the farms mentioned, which lay in Mid-Lothian, Tweed-dale, and Selkirkshire, the Gipsies were allowed to remain as long as they pleased; and no loss was ever sustained by the indulgence.]) their forefathers had received many a night's quarters, in their out-houses. We soon found out the old chieftain, sitting in a tent, in the midst of about a dozen of his tribe, all nearly related to, him. The moment I made myself known to them, the whole of the old persons immediately expressed their gratitude for the humane treatment they, and their forefathers, had received at the farms of my relatives. They were extremely glad to sec me; and "God bless you," was repeated by several of the old females. "Ay," said they, "those days are gone. Christian charity has now left the land. We know the people growing more hard and uncharitable every year." I found the old man shrewd, sensible, and intelligent; far beyond what could have been expected from a person of his caste and station in life. He, besides, possessed all that merrincss and jocularity which I have often observed among a number of the males of his race. After some conversation with this chief, who appeared about eighty years of age, I enquired if his people, who, in large bands, about sixty years ago, traversed the south of Scotland, had not an ancient language, peculiar to themselves. He hesitated a little, and then readily replied, that the Tinklers had no language of their own, except a few cant words. I observed to him that he knew better—that the Tinklers had, beyond dispute, a language of their own ; and that I had some knowledge of its existence at the present day. He, however, declared that they had no such language, and that I was wrongly informed. In the hearing of all the Gipsies in the tent, I repeated to him four or five Gipsy words and expressions. At this he appeared amazed ; and on my adding some particulars relative to some of the ancestors of the tribe then present, enumerating, I think, three generations of their clan, one of the old females exclaimed, "Preserve me, he kens a' about us!" The old chief immediately took hold of my right hand, below the table, with a grasp as if he were going to shake it; and, in a low and subdued tone of voice, so as none might hear but myself, requested me to say not another word in the place where we were sitting, but to call on him, at the town of------, and he would converse with me on that subject. I considered it imprudent to put any more questions to him relative to his speech, on this occasion, and agreed to meet him at the place he appointed.

Several persons in the tent, (it being one of the public booths in the market,) who were not Gipsies, were equally surprised, when they observed an understanding immediately take place between me and the Tinklers, by means of a few words, the meaning of which they could not comprehend. A farmer, from the south of Scotland, who was present in the tent, and had that morning given the Tinklers a lamb to eat, met me, some days after, on the banks of the Yarrow. He shook his head, and observed, with a smile, "Yon was queer-looking wark wi' the Tinklers."

As I was anxious to penetrate to his secret speech, I resolved to keep the appointment with the Gipsy, whatever might be the result of our meeting, and I therefore proceeded to the town which he mentioned, eleven days after I had seen him at the fair. On enquiring of the landlord of the principal inn, at which I put up my horse, where the house of------, the Tinkler, was situated in the town, he appeared surprised, and eyed me all over. He told me the street, but said he would not accompany me to the house, thinking that I wished him to go with me. It was evident that the landlord, whom I never saw before, considered himself in bad company, in spite of my black clothes, black neck-cloth, and ruffles aforesaid, and was determined not to be seen on the street, either with me or the Tinkler. I told him I by no means wished him to accompany me, but only to tell me in what part of the town the Tinkler's house was to be found.

On entering the house, I found the old chief sitting, without his coat, with an old night-cap on his head, a leathern apron around his waist, and all covered with dust or soot, employed in making spoons from horn. After conversing with him for a short time, I reminded him of the ancient language with which he was acquainted. He assumed a grave countenance, and said the Tinklers had no such language, adding, at the same time, that I should not trouble myself about such matters. He stoutly denied all knowledge of the Tinkler language, and said no such tongue existed in Scotland, except a few cant words. I persisted in asserting that they were actually in possession of a secret language, and again tried him with a few of my words ; but to no purpose. All my efforts produced no effect upon his obstinacy. At this stage of my interview, I durst not mention the word Gipsy, as they are exceedingly alarmed at being known as Gipsies. I now signified that he had forfeited his promise, given me at the fair, and rose to leave him. At this remark, I heard a man burst out a-laughing, behind a partition that ran across the apartment in which we were sitting. The old man likewise started to his feet, and, with both his sooty hands, took hold of the breast of my coat, on either side, and, in this attitude, examined me closely, scanning me all over from head to foot. After satisfying himself, he said, " Now, give me a hold of your hand—farewell—I will know you when I see you again." I bade him good-day, and left the house.

[I am convinced the Gipsies have a method of communicating with one another by their hands and fingers, and it is likely this man tried me, in that way, both at the fair and in his own house. I know a man who has seen the Gipsies communicating their thoughts to each other in this way. "Bargains among the Indians are conducted in the most profound silence, and by merely touching each other's hands. If the seller takes the whole band, it implies a thousand rupees or pagodas; five fingers import five hundred ; one finger, one hundred; half a finger, fifty; a single joint only ten. In this manner, they will often, in a crowded room, conclude the most important transactions, without the company suspecting that anything whatever was doing."—Historical Account of Travels in Asia, by Hugh Murray.

"Method of the English selling their cargoes, at Jedda, to the Turks : Two Indian brokers come into the room to settle the price, one on the part of the Indian captain, the other on that of the buyer or Turk. They are neither Mahommedans nor Christians, but have credit with both. They sit down on the carpet, and take an Indian shawl, which they carry on their shoulders like a napkin, aud spread it over their hands. They talk, in the meantime, indifferent conversation, of the arrival of ships from India, or ef the news of the day, as if they were employed in no serious business whatever. After about twenty minutes spent in handling each other's fingers, below the shawl, the bargain is concluded, say for nine ships, without one word ever having been spoken on the subject, or pen or ink used in any shape whatever."—Bruce'* Travels.]

I had now no hope of obtaining any information from this man, regarding his peculiar language. I had scarcely, however, proceeded a hundred yards down the street, from the house, when I was overtaken by a young female, who requested me to return, to speak with her father. I immediately complied. On reaching the door, with the girl, I met one of the old man's sons, who said that he had overheard what passed between his father and me, in the house. He assured me that his father was asliamed to give me his language; but that, if I would promise not to publish their names, or place of residence, he would himself give me some of their speech, if his father still persevered in his refusal. I accordingly agreed not to make public the names, and place of residence, of the family. I again entered the little factory of horn spoons. Matters were now, to all appearance, quite changed. The old man was very cheerful, and seemed full of mirth. "Come away," said he; "what is this you are asking after? I would advise you to go to Mr. Stewart, at Hawiek, and he will tell you everything about our language." "Father," said the son, who had resumed his place behind the partition before mentioned, "you know that Mr. Stewart will give our speech to nobody." The old chief again hesitated and considered, but, being urged by his son and myself, he, at last, said, "Come away, then; I will tell you whatever you think proper to ask me. I gave you my oath, at the fair, to do so. Get out your paper, pen and ink, and begin." He gave me no other oath, at the fair, than his word, and taking me by the hand, that he would converse with me regarding the speech of the Tinklers. But, I believe, joining hands is considered an oath in some countries of the Eastern world. I was fully convinced, however, that he was ashamed to give me his speech, and that it was with the greatest reluctance he spoke one word on the subject. The following are the words and sentences which I collected from him:

{It is interesting to notice the reason for this old Gipsy chief being eo backward in giving our author some of his language. "He was ashamed to do it." Pity it is that there should be a man in Scotland, who, independent of personal character, should be ashamed of euch a thing. Then, see how the Gipsy woman, in our author's house, said that " the public would look upon her with horror and contempt, were it known she could speak the Gipsy language." And again, the two female Gipsies, Who would rather allow themselves to be murdered, than give the meaning of two Gipsy words to Sauchie colliers, for the reason that "it would have exposed their tribe, and made themselves odious to the world." And all for knowing the Gipsy language!—which would be considered an accomplishment in another person ! What frightful tyranny! Mr. Borrow, as we will by and by see, saye a great deal about the law of Charles III, in regard to the prospects of the Spanish Gipsies; But there is a law above any legislative enactment—the law of society, of one's fellow-creatures—which bears so hard upon the Gipsies; the despotism of caste. If Gipsies, in such humble circumstances, are so afraid of being known to be Gipsies, we can form some idea of the morbid sensitiveness of those in a higher sphere of life.

The innkeeper evidently thought himself in bad company, when our author asked him for the Tinkler's ho'use, or that any intercourse with a Tinkler would contaminate and degrade him. In this light, read an anecdote in the history of John Bunyan, who was one of the same people, as I shall afterwards show. On applying for his release from Bedford jail, his wife said to Justice Hale, "Moreover, my lord, I have four small children that cannot help themselves, of .which one is blind, and we have nothing to live upon but the charity of good people." Thereat, Justice Hale, looking very aoberly on the matter, said, " Alas, poor woman!" "What is his calling?" continued the judge. And some of the company, that stood by, said, (evidently in interruption, and with a bitter sneer,) "A Tinker, my lord!" "Yes," replied Bunyan's wife, "and because he is a Tinker, and a poor man, therefore he is despised, and cannot have justice." Noble woman! wife of a noble Gipsy! If the world wishes to know who John Bunyan really was, it can find him depicted in our author's visit to this Scottish Gipsy family, where it can also learn the meaning of Bunyan, at a time when Jews were legally excluded from England, taking so much trouble to ascertain whether he was of that race, or not From the present work generally, the world can learn the reason why Bunyan said nothing of his ancestry and nationality, when giving an account of his own history.—Ed.]



* Nawken has a number of significations, such as Tinkler, Gipsy, a wanderer, a worker in iron, a man who can do anything for himself in the mechanical arts, &c, &c.

I was desirous to learn, from this Gipsy, if there were any traditions among the Scottish Gipsies, as to their origin, and the country from which they came. He stated that the language of which he had given me a specimen was an Ethiopian dialect, used by a tribe of thieves and robbers ; and that the Gipsies were originally from Ethiopia, although now called Gipsies. [The tradition among the Scottish Gipsies of being Ethiopians, whatever weight the reader may attach to it, dates as far hack, at least, as the year 1616; for it is mentioned in the remission under the privy seal, granted to William Auchterlony, of Cayrine, for resetting John Faa and his followers. Seepage 118.—Ed.] He now spoke of himself and his tribe by the name of Gipsies, without hesitation or alarm. "Our Gipsy language," added he,"is softer than your harsh Gaelic." He was at considerable pains to give me the proper sound of the words. The letter a is pronounced broad in their language, like aw in paw, or a in water ; and ie, or ee, in the last syllable of a great many words, are sounded short and quick; and ch soft, as in church. Their speech appears to be copious, for, said he, they have a great many words and expressions for one thing. He further stated that the Gipsy language has no alphabet, or character, by which it can be learned, or its grammatical construction ascertained. He never saw any of it written. I observed to him that it. would, in course of time, be lost. He replied, that "so long as #ier.e, existed two Gipsies in Scotland, it would never be lost." He informed me that every one of the Yetholm Tinklers spoke the language; and that, almost all those persons who .were selling earthen-ware at St. Bps-well's fair were Gipsies. I counted myself twenty-four families, with earthen-ware, and nine female heads of families, selling articles made of horn. These thirty:three families, together with a great many single Gipsies scattered through the fair, would amount to above three hundred Gipsies on the spot. He further mentioned that none of the Yetholm Gipsies were at the market. The old man also informed me that a great number of our horse-dealers are Gipsies. "Listen attentively," said he, "to our horse-coupers, in a market, and you will hear them speaking in the Gipsy tongue." I enquired how many there were in Scotland acquainted with the language. He answered, "There are several thousand." I further enquired, if he thought the Gipsy population would amount to five thousand souls. He replied he was sure there were, fully five, thousand of big tribe, in Scotland. It was further stated to me, by .this family, that the Gipsies are at great pains in. teaching; their children, from their very infancy, their own language; and that they embrace every opportunity, when by themselves, of conversing in it, about their ordinary affairs. They also pride themselves very much in being in possession of a speech peculiar to themselves—quite unknown to the public. I then sent for some spirits wherewith to treat the old chief; but I was cautioned, by one of the family, not to press him to drink much, as, from his advanced age and infirmities, little did him harm. The moment you speak to an intelligent Gipsy chief, in a familiar, and kindly manner, putting yourself, as it were, on a level with him, you find him entirely free from all embarrassment in his manners.

He speaks to you, at once, in a Free [The Scottish Gipaies have doubtless an oral literature, like their brethren in other countries. It would be strange indeed if they did not rank as high, in that respect, as many of the barbarous tribes in the world. People so situated, with no written language, are wonderfully apt at picking up, and retaining; any composition that contains poetry and music, to which oral literature is chiefly confined. In that respect, their faculties, like those of the blind, are sharpened by the wants which others do not- experience in indulging a feeling common to all mankind. A striking instance of a people, unacquainted with the art of writing, possessing a literature, is said to have been found in Hawaii; and to such an extent, as to "possess a force and compass that; at the beginning of the study of it, would not have been credited."—Ed.] independent, confident, emphatic tone, without any rudeness in his way of addressing you. He never loses his self-possession. The old chieftain sang part of a Gipsy song, in his own language, but he would not allow me to write it down. Indeed, by his manner, he seemed frequently to hesitate whether he Would proceed any further in giving me information, and appeared to regret that he had gone so far as he had done. I now and then stopped him in his song, and asked him the meaning of some of the expressions. It was, however, intermixed with a few English words; perhaps every fifth Word was English. The Gipsy words, grauniie (barn), caunies (chickens), molzie (wine), staurdie (prison), mort and chauvies (wife and children), were often repeated. In short, the subject of the song was that of a Gipsy, lying in chains in prison, lamenting that he could not support his wife and children by plunder and robbery. The Gipsy was represented as mourning tiver his hard fate, deprived of his liberty, confined in a dungeon, and expressing the happiness and delight which he had when free, and would have were he lying in a barn, or out-house, living upon poultry, and drinking wine with his tribe. [A song which a female Gipsy sang to Mr. Borrow, at Moscow, commenced in this way, "Her head is aching with grief, as if she had tasted wine and ended thus," That she may depart in quast of the lord of her bosom, and share his joys and pleasures."—En.]

This family, like all their race, now became much alarmed at their communications; and it required considerable trouble on my part to allay their fears. The old man was in the greatest anguish of mind, at having committed himself at all, relative to his speech. I was very sorry for his distress, and renewed my promise not to publish his name, or place of residence,' assuring him he. had nothing to fear. It is now many years since he died. He was considered a very decent, honest man, and was a great favourite with those who were acquainted with him. But his wife, and some other members of his family, followed the practices of their ancestors.

Publish their language I Give to the world that which they had kept to themselves, with so much solicitude, so much tenacity, so much fidelity, for three hundred and fifty years! A parallel to such a phenomenon cannot be found within the whole range of history. [Smith, in his "Hebrew people," writes: "The Jews had almost lost, in the seventy years' captivity, their original language; that was now become dead; and they spoke a jargon made up of their own language and that of the Chaldeans, and other nations with whom they had mingled. Formerly, preachers had only explained subjects; now, they were obliged to explain words; words which, in the sacred code, were become obsolete, equivocal, dead."—En.]  What will the Tinklers, the "poor things," as Sir Walter Scott so feelingly called them—what will they think of me, after the publication of the present work?

[The Gipsies have been much annoyed, in late times, by people anxious to find out their secrets. The circumstance caused them, at first, much alarm as to what it meant; but when they came to learn the object of this modern Gipsy-hunting, they became, in a measure, reconciled to their troubles; for they were perfectly satisfied that the labours of these inquisitive people would, in the language of Ruthven, "be in vain." But the attempt of our author, with his "open sesame," caused not a few of them to travel through life with the weight of a millstone hanging about their necks, which the publication, now, is perhaps calculated to lighten. The "giving to the world everything relative to their tribe," was something they were more apt to over than underestimate. To be "put in the papers," judging from the horror with which such ia regarded by our own humble people, was bad enough; still, the end of that would, in their peculiar way of thinking, be merely the " lighting of the candles, and curling the hair, of the gentle folk." But to have themselves put in a book—to see themselves, in their imaginations, "carried about in every bit herd-laddie's pouch," was something that aggravated them. The presumptuous pride, the overweening conceit of a high-mettled Scottish Gipsy; his boasted descent—a descent at once high, illustrious, and lost in antiquity; his unbounded contempt for the rabble of town and country—rendered him, under the circumstances, almost incapable of brooking the idea of seeing his race exposed to, what he would consider, the ridicule of the very herds. The very idea of it was to him mortifying and maddening. Well might our author, from having been so much mixed np with the Gipsies, show some hesitancy ere taking a step that would have brought such a nest of hornets about his ears. But, all things considered, my impression is, that the outdoor Gipsies, at the present day, will feel extremely proud of the present work; and that the same may be said of all classes of them, if one subject had been excluded from the volume, over which they will be very apt to growl a little in secret.—En.

While walking one day, with a friend, around the harbour of Grangemouth, I observed a man, who appeared above seventy years of age, carrying a small wooden box on his shoulder, a leathern apron tied around his waist, with a whitish coloured bull-dog following him. He was enquiring of the crews of the vessels in the port, whether they had any pots, kettles, or pans to repair. Just as my friend and I came up to him, on the quay, I said to him, in a familiar manner, as if I knew exactly what he was, "Baurie jucal" words which signify, in the Gipsy language, a "good dog." Being completely taken by surprise, the old man turned quickly round, and, looking down at his dog, said, without thinking what he was about, "Yes, the dog is not bad." But the words had scarcely escaped his lips ere he affected not to comprehend my question, after he had distinctly answered it. He looked exceedingly foolish, and afforded my friend a hearty laugh, at his attempt at recovering himself. He became agitated and angry, and called out, "What do yon mean? I don't understand you—yes, the dog is hairy." I said not another word, nor took any further notice of him, but passed on, for fear of provoking him to mischief. He stood stock-still upon the spot, and, keeping his eyes fixed upon me, as long as I was in sight, appeared to be considering with himself what I could be, or whether he might not have seen me before. He looked so surprised and alarmed, that he could scarcely trust himself in the place, since he found, to a certainty, that his grand secret was known. I saw him a short while afterwards, at a little distance, with his glasses on, sitting on the ground, in the manner of the East, with his hammers and files, tin and copper, about him, repairing cooking utensils belonging to a vessel in the basin ; with his trusty jucal, sitting close at his back, like a sentinel, to defend him. The truth is, I was not very fond of having anything further to do with this member of the tribe, in case he had resented my interference with him and his speech. This old man wore a long great-coat, and externally looked exactly like a blacksmith. No one of ordinary observation could have perceived him to be a Gipsy; as there were no striking peculiarities of expression about his countenance, which indicated him as being one of that race. I was surprised at my own discovery.

A Gipsy informed me that almost all our thimble-riggers, or "thimble-men," as they are sometimes called, are a superior class of Gipsies, and converse in the Gipsy language. In the summer of 1836, an opportunity presented itself to me to verify the truth of this information. On a by-road, between Edinburgh and Newhaven, I fell in with a band of these thimble-riggers, employed at their nefarious occupation. The band consisted of six individuals, all personating different characters of the community. Some had the appearance of mercantile clerks, and others represented young farmers, or dealers in cattle, of inferior appearance. The man in charge of the board and thimble looked like a journeyman blacksmith or plumber. They all pretended tc be strangers to each other. Some were betting and playing, and others looking on, and acting as decoys. None besides themselves were present, except myself, a young lad, and a respectable-looking elderly female. I stood and looked at the band for a little; but as nobody was playing but themselves, the man with the thimbles, to lead me on, urged me to bet with him, and try my fortune at his board. I said I did not intend to play, and was only looking at them. I took a steady look at the faces of each of the six villains; but, whenever their eyes caught mine, they looked away, or down to the ground, verifying the saying that a rogue cannot look you in the face. The man at the board again urged me to play, and, with much vapouring and insolence, took out a handful of notes, and said he had many hundreds a year; that I was a poor, shabby fellow, and had no money on me, and, therefore, could not bet with him. I desired him to let me alone, otherwise: I would let them see I was not to be insulted, and that I knew more about them than they were aware Of. "Who the devil are you, sir, to speak to us in that manner," was the answer I received. I again replied, that, if they continued their insolence, I would show them who I was. This only provoked them the more, and increased their violent behaviour. High words then arose, and the female alluded to, thinking I was in danger, kindly entreated me to leave them. I now thought it time to try what effect my Gipsy words would produce upon them. In an authoritative tone of voice, I called out to them, "Ghee, cheel" which, in the Scottish Gipsy language, signifies "Hold your tongue," "be silent," or "silence. The surprised thimble-men were instantly silent. They spoke not a word, but looked at one another. Only, one of them whispered to his companions, "He is not to be meddled with." They immediately took up their board, thimbles and all, and left the place, apparently in considerable alarm, some taking one direction and some another. The female in question was also surprised at seeing their insolent conduct repressed, in a moment, by a single expression. "But, sir," said she, "what was that you said to them, for they seem afraid?'' I was myself afraid to say another word to them, and took care they did not see me go to my dwelling-house.

[About four years after this occurrence, I was invited to dine at the house of a friend, with whose wife I was not acquainted. On being introduced to her, I was rather surprised at the repeated hard looks which she took at me. At last she said, "I think I have seen you before. Were you never engaged with a band of thimble-men, near Hewhaven?" I said I was, some years ago. "Do you recollect," continued she, "of a female taking yon by the arm, and urging you to leave them?" I said, "Perfectly." "Well, then, I am the female; and I yet recollect your words were Chee, elite" She mentioned the circumstance to her husband at the time ; but he always said to her that I must have been only one of the blackguards themselves, deceiving her. He would not listen to her when she described me as not at all like a thimble-rigger, but always answered her, "I tell ye, woman, the man you spoke to was nothing but one of these villains."

The thimble-riggers who molested Mr. Rose, ship-builder, so much, also answered my Gipsy words distinctly; and, ever afterwards, took off their hats to me, as I passed them playing at their game.

[The thimble-men here alluded to took up their quarters immediately to the west of Leith Fort, where the road takes a turn, at a right angle, a little in front of Mr. Rose's house, and there takes a similar turn towards the west: the best position for carrying on the thimble game. So exasperated was this gentleman, when, by every means in his power, he failed to dislodge them, that he sent some of the men from his yard, to erect, on the spot, a pole, which he covered with sheet-iron, to prevent it being sent down; and placed on the top of it a board, having this upon it, "Beware of thimble-riggers and chain-droppers," with a hand pointing directly below. This had no effect, however, for the "knights of the thimble" pursued their game right under it. A gentleman, in passing one day, directed their attention to the board, but the only reply he got was, "Bah! that's nothing. Where can you find a shop without a sign? and where 's the other person that gets a sign from the public for nothing?"

Thimble-rigging ia peculiarly a Gipsy game. In Great Britain, the Gipsiea nearly monopolize it; and it would be singular if some of the American thimblers were not Gipsies.—En.]

One of the favourite, and permanent, fields of operation of these thimblers is on the Queensferry road, from where it is intersected by the street leading from the back of Leith Fort, on the east, to the new road leading from Granton pier, on the west. This part of the Queensferry road is intersected by about half-a-dozen cross-roads, all leading from the landing and shipping places at the piers of Granton, Trinity, and Newhaven. These cross-roads are cut by three roads running nearly parallel to each other, viz., the road along the sea-beach, Trinity road, and the Queensferry road. A: great portion of the passengers, by the many steamboats, pass along all these different roads, to and from Edinburgh. On all of these roads, between the water of Leith and the Forth, the thimble-riggers station themselves, as single individuals, or in numbers, as it may answer their purpose. In fact, this part of the country between the sea and Edinburgh is so much chequered by roads crossing each other, that it may be compared to the meshes of a spider's web, and the thimblers as so many spiders, watching to, pounce upon their prey. The moment one of these sentinels observes a stranger appear, signals are made to his confederates, when their organized plan of operations for entrapping the unwary person is immediately put in execution. Strangers, unacquainted with the locality, are, greatly bewildered among all the cross-roads mentioned, and have considerable difficulty in threading their way to the city. One of the gang will then step forward, and, pretending to be a. stranger himself, will enquire of the others the road to such and such a place. Frequently the unsuspecting and bewildered individual will enquire of the thimbler for some street or place in Edinburgh. The decoy and the victim now walk in company, and converse familiarly together on various topics; the thimbler offers. snuff to his. friend, and makes himself as agreeable as he can,; while one of the gang, at a distance in front, drops a watch, chain, or other piece of mock jewelry, or commences playing at the thimble-board. The decoy is sure to lead his dupe exactly to the spot where the trap is. laid, and where he will probably be plundered. One of these entrapments terminated in the death of its subject. A working man, having, risked his half-year's wages at the thimble-board, of course lost every farthing of the mone; and took the loss so much to heart as, in a fit of despondency, to drown himself in the water of Leith.

In the beginning of 1842, I fell in with six of these thimble-riggers and chain-droppers, on Newhaven road, on their way to Edinburgh. I was anxious to discover the nature of their conversation, and kept as close to them as I could, without exciting their suspicion. Like that of most people brought up in one particular line of life, their conversation related wholly to their own trade—that of swindling, theft, and robbery. I overheard them speaking of "bloody swells," and of dividing their booty. One of them was desired by the others to look after a certain steamboat, expected to arrive, and to get a bill to ascertain its movements exactly. He said he would "require three men to take care of that boat"; meaning, as I understood him, that all these men were necessary for laying his snares, and executing his designs upon the unsuspecting passengers, as they landed from the vessel, and were on their way to their destinations. The manager of the steamboat company could not have consulted with his subordinates, about their lawful affairs, with more care and deliberation, or in a more cool, businesslike way, than were these villains in contriving plans for plundering the public. On their approach to Pilrig street, the band separated into pairs; some taking the north, and some the south, side of Leith walk, for Edinburgh, where they vanished in the crowd. Their language was fearful; every expression being accompanied by a terrible oath.

On another occasion, I fell in with another band of these vagabond thimble-men, on the Dalkeith road, near Craig-miller Castle. I asked the fellow with the thimbles, "Is that gaugie a nawken?" pointing to one of the gang who had just left him. The question, in plain English, was, "Is that man a Gipsy?" The thimbler flew at once into a great passion, and bawled out, "Ask himself, sir." He then fell upon me, and a gentleman who was with me, in most abusive language, applying to us the most insulting epithets he could think of. It was evident to my friend that the thimble-man perfectly understood my Gipsy question. So enraged was he, that we were afraid he would follow us, and do us some harm. My friend did not consider himself safe till he was in the middle of Edinburgh, for many a look did he cast behind him, to see whether the Gipsy was not in pursuit of us. [There is a Gipsy belonging to one of these bands, known by the soubriquet of the "winged duck," from having lost an arm, of whom I have

often heard our author speak. He is what may be called the captain of the company. A description of him, and his way of life, may be interesting, inasmuch as it illustrates a class of Scottish Gipsies at tbe present day.

About the year 1853, three young gentlemen, from the town of Leith, had occasion to take a stroll over Arthur's Seat, a hill that overhangs Edinburgh, on the east side of the city. On climbing the hill, they observed, a little way before them, a man toiling up the ascent, whom they did not notice till they came close upon him, and who had evidently been lying off ou the side of the path, and entered it as they approached it. He appears about sixty years of age, is well dressed, and carries a fine cane, which he keeps pressing into the ground, to help him up the hill. Just as they make up to him, he abruptly stops, and turns round, so as almost to touch them. "Hech, how I'm blown, I'm blown; I'm fairly done up. Young gentlemen, you have the advantage of me; I'm getting old. and it is hard for me to climb the hill." (Blown, done up, indeed! The fellow has stamina enough to outclimb any of them for years yet) An agreeable conversation ensues, such as at once gains for him the confidence of the youths. Ho appears to thorn so mild, so bland, so fatherly, so worthy of respect, in short, a "nice old cove," who is evidently enjoying his otium cum digiiitate in his old age, in some cottage near by, upon a pension, an annuity, or a moderate competency of some sort. During the conversation, he manages to ascertain that his young friends have not been on the hill for some time—that one of them, indeed, has never been there before. All at once he exclaims, " Ah I what cau this be ? Let us go and see." Upon which they step forward to look at a person like a mechanic playing at the thimbles. Placing Iris arm around the neck of one of the young men, he begins to moralize: "Pray, young gentlemen, don't bet, (they had not shown the least symptoms of doing that;) if s wrong to bet; if s a thing I never do; I would advise you not to do it. This is a rascally thimbler; he'll cheat, hell rob you." At this time there are three playing at the board, winning and losing money rapidly. The "old cove" becomes impatient to be gone, and motions so as to imply, "Boys, let ns go, let us go." Moving a few steps forward, he halts to admire the scenery, (but casts a leering eye in the direction of the board.) "Ah! there's another goose gone to be plucked; let us see what luck he meets with."

Now thimblerigging is the game, of all others, by which the uninitiated can be duped. They see the pea put under one of the thimbles, (nutshells they are, indeed;) there seems to be no doubt of that. The thimbles are then so gently moved, that any one can follow them. The pea is not afterwards tampered with—that is evident. All, then, that remains to be done, is-to lift the thimble under which the pes is, and secure your prize. But the thimble man. with his long nail, and nimble finger, has secured the pea under his nail, or, with the crook of his little finger, thrust it. into the palm of his hand, while he pretended to cover it with the thimble. An accomplice, to make doubly sure of the pea being under the thimble, lifts it, and shows a pea, which he, by sleight of hand, drops, and, while pretending to cover it, as nimbly takes it up again.

Betting and playing go on as before. The player makes some fine hauls, but loses a game. He swears that foul play has teen used. An altercation follows. The man at the board gets excited, and to show that he really is honourable in his playing, exclaims, "Well, sir, there's your money again ; try another game if you have a mind." "Now that is really honest, and no mistake about it," remarks the "old cove." Then the thimbler averts his head, to speak to a person behind him, and the "old cove" slyly lifts a thimble and shows the pea, and whispers very confidentially to his friends, "Now, young gentlemen, you can safely bet a few shillings on that." They shake their heads, however, for they know too much about thimbling. The "old cove" now gets fidgetty, and, managing to edge a little away from the board, commences, in a subdued tone, to speak, in a strange gibberish, to another bystander; but, forgetting himself, drops a word rather louder than the others, on which, as he turns round and catches the eyes of his young friends, he coughs and hems. On hearing the gibberish, a fear steals over the young men, on finding themselves surrounded by a band of desperadoes, in so solitary a place, and they make haste to be off. But the "old cove," to quiet their suspicious, accompanies them to a convenient spot, where he leaves them, to go to his home, by a side-path that soon leads him out of sight. On separating, he looks around him at the scenery, now lets fall his stick, now picks up something, that he may, with less suspicion, watch the movements of his escaped victims. They feel a singular relief in getting rid of his company, and, with tact, dog him over the hill, till they see him go back to the thimblers. They then think over their adventure, and the strange jargon they have heard, and unanimously exclaim, "Wasn't he a slippery old serpent, after all?"

On this occasion, there were no less than fourteen of these fellows present, some of them stationed here, some there, while they kept artfully moving around and about the hill, so as not to appear connected, but frequently approached the board, to contribute to and watch their luck. They personated various characters. One of them played the country lout, whose dress, gait, gape, and stare were inimitable. On the slightest symptom of danger manifesting itself, they would, by the movement of a hat, scatter, and vanish in an instant.

Among the people generally, a mystery attaches to these and other thimble-men. No one seems to know any thing about them—who they are or where they come from—and yet they are seen flitting everywhere through the country; but hardly ever two days together in one dress. But the mystery is solved by their being Gipsies. They are dangerous fellows to meddle with; yet they seem to prefer thimbling, chain-dropping, card-playing, pocket-picking, in fairs and thoroughfares, and pigeon-plucking in every form, to robbery on the high-way, after the manner of their ancestors.

Thimble-rigging, according to Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, was practised in ancient Egypt. He calls it "thimble-rig, or the game of cups, under which a ball was put, while the opposite party guessed under which of four it was concealed."—Ed.]

The Gipsies in Scotland consider themselves to be of the same stock as those in England and Ireland, for they are all acquainted with the same speech. They afford assistance to one another, whenever they happen to meet. The following facts will at least show that the Scottish and Irish Gipsies are one and the same people.

In the county of Fife, I once fell in with an Irish family, to appearance in great poverty and distress, resting themselves on the side of the public road. A shelty and an ass were grazing hard by. The ass they used in carrying a woman, who, they said, was a hundred and one years of age. She was shrunk and withered to a skeleton, or rather, I should say, to a bundle of bones ; and her chin almost rested on her knees, and her body was nearly doubled by age. On interrogating the head of the family, I found that his name was Hugh White, and that he was an Irishman, and a son of the old woman who was with him. I put some Gipsy words to him, to ascertain whether or not he was one of the tribe. He pretended not to understand what I said ; but. his daughter, of about six years of age, replied, "But I understand what he says." I then called out sharply to him, "Jawvree"—("Go away," or "get out of the way.") "As soon as I can," was his answer. On leaving him, I again called, "Beeiwhip-davies"—(" Good-day.") "Good-day, sir; God bless you," was his immediate reply.

I happened, at another time, to be in the court-house of one of the burghs north of the Forth, when two Irishmen, of the names of O'Reilly and McEwan, were at the bar for having been found drunk, and fighting within the town. They were sentenced by the magistrates to three days' imprisonment, and to be "banished the town," for their riotous conduct. The men had the Irish accent, and had certainly been born and brought up in Ireland; but their habiliments and general appearance did not correspond exactly with the ordinary dress and manners of common Irish peasants, although their features were in all respects Hibernian. When the magistrates questioned them in respect to their conduct, the prisoners looked very grave, and said, "Sure, and it plase your honours, our quarrel was nothing but whiskey, and sure we are the best friends in the world ;" and seemed very penitent. But when the magistrates were not looking at them, they were smiling to each other, and keeping up a communication in pantomime. Suspecting ,them to be Irish Gipsies, I addressed the wife of McEwan as follows : "For what is the riah (magistrate) going to put your gaugie (man) in staurdie, (prison) V " Only for a little whiskey, sir," was her immediate reply. She gave me, on the spot, the English of the following words; adding, at the same time, that I had got the Gipsy language, but that her's was only the English cant. She was afraid to acknowledge that she was a Gipsy, as such a confession might, in her opinion, have proved prejudicial to her husband, in the situation in which he was placed.

I observed the woman instantly communicate to her husband the conversation she had with me. She immediately returned to me, and, after questioning me as to my name, occupation, and place of residence, very earnestly entreated me to save her gaugie from the staurdie. I asked her, how many chauvies she had? "Twelve, sir." Were any of them chors? " None, sir." Two of her chauvies were in her hand, weeping bitterly. The woman was in great distress, and when she heard the sound of her own language, she thought she saw a friend. I informed one of the magis^ trates, whom I knew, that the prisoners were Gipsies ; and proposed to him to mitigate the punishment of the woman's husband, on condition of his giving me a specimen of his secret speech. But the reply of the man of authority was, "The scoundrel shall lie in prison till the last hour of his sentence." The "scoundrel," however, did not remain in durance so long. While the jailer was securing him in prison, the determined Tinkler, with the utmost coolness and indifference, asked him, which part of the jail would be the easiest for him to break through. The jailer told him that, if he attempted to escape, the watchman, stationed in the churchyard, close to the prison, would shoot him. On visiting the prison next morning, the turnkey found that the Gipsy had undone the locks of the doors, and fled during the night. O'Reilly, the other Gipsy, remained, in a separate. cell, the whole period of his sentence. When the officers were completing the other part of his punishment—"banishing him from the town"—the regardless, light-hearted Irish Tinkler went capering along the streets, with his coat off, brandishing, and sweeping, and twirling his shillelah, in the Gipsy fashion. Meeting, in this excited state, his late judge, the Tinkler, with the utmost contempt and derision, called out to him, "Plase your honour! won't you now take a fight with me, for the sake of friendship?" This worthy Irish Gipsy represented himself as the head Tinkler in Perth, and the first of the second class of boxers.

On another occasion, I observed a horde of Gipsies on the high street of Inverkeithing, employed in making spoons from horn. I spoke to one of the young married men, partly in Scottish Gipsy words, when he immediately answered me in English. He said they were all natives of Ireland. They had, male and female, the Irish accent completely. I invited this man to accompany me to a public-house, that I might obtain from him a specimen of his Irish Gipsy language. The town-clerk being in my company at the time, I asked him to go with me, to hear what passed ; but he refused, evidently because he considered that the company of a Gipsy would contaminate and degrade him. I treated the Tinkler with a glass of spirits, and obtained from him the following words:

This man conducted himself very politely, his behaviour being very correct and becoming ; and he seemed much pleased at being noticed, and kindly treated. At first, he spoke wholly in the Gipsy language, thinking that I was as well acquainted with it as himself. But when he found that I knew only a few words of it, he, like all his tribe, stopped in his communications, and, in this instance, began to quiz and laugh at my ignorance. On returning to the street, I repeated some of the words to one of the females. She laughed, and, with much good humour, said, " You will put me out, by speaking to me in that language."

These facts prove that the Irish Gipsies have the same language as those in Scotland. The English Gipsy is substantially the same. There are a great many Irish Gipsies travelling in Scotland; of whom I will again speak, in the following chapter. They are not easily distinguished from common Irish peasants, except that they are generally employed in some sort of traffic, such as hawking earthen-ware, trinkets, and various other trifles, through the country.

It may interest the reader to know how the idea originated that the Gipsies, at all events their speech, came, or was thought to have come, from Hindostan. According to Grellmarih, it was in this way :

"The following is an article to be found in the Vienna Gazette, from a Captain Szekely, who was thinking of searching for (the origin of) the Gipsies, and their language, in the East Indies: In the year 1763, on the 6th of November, a printer, whose name was Stephen Pap Szathmar Ne-methi, eame to see me. Talking upon various subjects,, we at last fell upon that of the Gipsies ; and my guest related to me the following anecdote, from the mouth of a preacher of the Reformed Church, Stephen Vali, at Almasch. When the said Vali studied at the University of Leyden, he was intimately acquainted with some young Malabars, of whom three are obliged constantly to study there.; nor can they return home till relieved by three others. Having observed that their native language bore a great affinity to that spoken by the Gipsies, he availed himself of the opportunity to note down from themselves upwards of one thousand words, together with their significations. After Vali was returned from the University, he informed himself of the' Raber Girrsies, concerning the meaning of his Malabar words, which they explained without trouble or hesitation." ["The opinion, that the Gipsies came originally from India, seems to have been very early entertained, although it was again soon forgotten, or silently relinquished. Hieronymus Foroliviensis, in the nineteenth volume of Muratori, says, that on the 7th day of August, A. D. 1422, 200 of the Cingari came to his native town, and remained there two days, on their way to Rome, and that some of them said that they came from India, 'et ut audivi aliqui dieebanl quod erant de India;' and the account which Mudster gives of what he gathered from one of the Cingari, in 1524, seems to prove that an impression existed amongst them of their having come from that country."—Bright.—Ed.]

None of the Scottish Gipsy words have as yet, I believe, been collated with the Hindostanee, the supposed mother tongue of the Gipsies, [Mr. Baird's Missionary Report contained a collation of the Scottish Gipsy with Hindostanee, but that appeared considerably after what our author has said was written.—Ed.] I showed my list to a gentleman lately from India, who, at first sight, pointed out, from among several hundred words and sentences scattered through these pages, about thirty-nine which very closely resembled Hindostanee. But in ascertaining the origin of the Gipsies, the traveller, Dr. Bright, thinks it would be desirable to procure some of the speech of the lowest classes in India, and compare it with the Gipsy, as spoken in Europe ; for the purpose of showing, more correctly, the affinity of the two languages. He supposes, as I understand him, that the terms used by the despised and unlettered Gipsies would probably resemble more closely the vulgar idiom of the lowest castes in India, than the Hindostanee spoken by the higher ranks, or that which is to be found in books. The following facts show that Dr. Bright's conjectures are not far from the truth.

I had occasion at one time to be on board of a vessel lying in the harbour of Limekilns, Fifeshire, where I observed a black man, acting as cook, of the name of John Lobbs, about twenty-five years of age, and a native of Bombay, who could neither read nor write any language whatever. He stated that he was now a Christian, and had been baptized by the name of John. He had been absent from India three years, as cabin boy, in several British vessels, and spoke English well. He appeared to be of a low caste in his native land, but sharpened by his contact with Europeans. Recollecting Dr. Bright's hint, it occurred to me that this Hindoo's vulgar dialect might resemble the language of our Scottish Gipsies. I repeated to him about one hundred and eighty Gipsy words and expressions. The greater part were familiar to his ear, but many of them that meant one thing in Gipsy, had quite a different signification in his speech. I shall, however, give the following Gipsy words, with the corresponding words of Lobb's language, and the English opposite. [Meeting a Bengalee at Peebles, begging money to pay bis passage back to India, I repeated to him, from memory, a few of the Gipsy words I had collected a week before. After listening attentively, he answered that it was the Moor's language I had got, and gave me the English of paunie, water, and davies, day. I took the first opportunity of mentioning this interview to the Gipsies, observing it was the general opinion that their forefathers came from India. They, however, persisted in their own tradition, that they were a tribe of Ethiopians, which is believed by all the Scottish Gipsies. [Seepages 113 and 315.—Ed.]]

 



India generally spoke, but understood little of the latter; and that he himself did not know a word of the language of the Brahmins. When he failed to produce, in the Moors' language, the word corresponding to the Gipsy one, he frequently found it in what he called the Hindoo speech. The greater part of the Gipsy words, as I have already mentioned, were familiar to his ear; but many of them that signified one thing in his speech, meant quite another in Gipsy. For example, the word Graunagie, in Gipsy, signifies a lam; with Lobbs, it meant an old rich man. Coories, bed clothes or blankets, signified, in Lobb's dialect, ornaments for the ears. Dill, a servant maid, according to Lobbs, was a church. Shan davies, a bad day, was the Hindos-tanee for holiday. Managie, a woman, signifies the name of a person, such as John or James. Chavo, a son, meant a female child; and Pooklie, hulled barley, anything fine. The two Gipsy words Callo and Bat are black and night; but, according to Lobbs, Callorat is simply anything dark.

[In the report of the Fourteenth Gipsies' Festival, held at Southampton, under the superintendence of the Rev. James Crabb, the Gipsies' friend, on the 25th December, 1841, is the following statement:

" he above gentleman, (the Rev. J. West, one of the speakers at the festival,) with the Rev. Mr. Crabb, and two elderly Gipsies, who speak the Gipsy language, called, the following morning, on a lady who had long resided in India, and speaks the Hindostanee language; and it was clear that many of the Eommany (Gipsy) words were pure Hindostanee, and other words strongly resembled that language."—Hampshire Advertiser, 1st January, 1842.

This statement, made some years subsequent to the period at whieh I took down the words from Lobbs and the Gipsies in Scotland, is nearly in my own words, and proves that my opinion, as to the close affinity between Hindostanee and the Scottish Gipsy language, is correct.]

To confirm my collection of Scottish Gipsy words, I will collate some of those which I sent to Sir Walter Scott, for examination but not for publication, with those to be found in Mr. Baird's report, a publication which I first saw in 1842.




That the Gipsy language, in Scotland, is intermixed with cant, or slang, and other words is certain as will appear by the specimens I have exhibited. [It is remarkable, considering how much the habits and occupations of the Gipsies bring them in contact with beggars, thieves, and other bad and disorderly characters, how few of the slang words used by such persons have been adopted by them.—Rev. Mr. J Bairts Missionary Report to. the Scottish Church, 1840.—Ed.] I am inclined to believe, however, that were the cant and slang used by our flash men and others carefully examined, much of it would turn out to be corrupted Hindostanee, picked up from the Gipsies. I have, after considerable trouble, produced, and, I may venture to say, faithfully recorded, the raw materials as I found them: to separate the other words from the original and genuine Gipsy, is a task I leave to the learned philologist. I shall only observe, that the way in which the Gipsy language has been corrupted is this: That whenever the Gipsies find words not understood by the people among whom they travel, they commit such to memory, and use them in their conversation, for the purpose of concealment. In the Lowlands of Scotland, for example, they make use of Gaelic, [Of the Highland Gipsies, I had the following account from a person of observation, and highly worthy of credit: There are many settled in Kin-tyre, who travel through the Highlands and Lowlands annually. They certainly speak, among themselves, a language totally distinct from either Gaelic or lowland Scotch.—Blackwood's Magazine.—Ed.] Welsh, Irish, and French words. These picked-up words and terms have, in the end, become part of their own peculiar tongue ; yet some of the Gipsies are able to point out a number of these foreign words, as distinguished from their own. In this manner do the Gipsies carry along with them part of the language of every country through which they pass.

["There is reason for supposing that the Gipsies had been wandering in the remote regions of Sclavonia, for a considerable time previous to entering Bohemia—the first civilized country of Europe in which they made their appearance; as their language abounds with words of Sclavonic origin, which could not have been adopted in a hasty passage through a wild and half populated country."—Borrow.

That the Gipsies were, in some way, drawn together, at a very remote age, and became amalgamated, so as to form a race, can hardly admit of a doubt. But it is an opinion that has no reasonable foundation which supposes that they suddenly took their departure from India, and travelled together, till they entered and spread over Europe. They may, as I have conjectured in the Introduction, have separated into bands, and passed into countries in Asia, as they have done in Europe; and existed in Asia, and Africa, long before they appeared in Europe. For this reason, their language ought to vary in different countries; and it would be enough to identify them as the same race, were the substance of their language, and their customs, or even their cast of mind, the same. In speaking of the Hungarian Gipsies, Grellmann says, that their speech contains words from the Turkish, Sclavonian, Greek, Latin, Wallachian, Hungarian, and German; but that it would not be absurd to pronounce that there remain more, or at least different, Gipsy words among those residing in one country than another.—Ed.]

In concluding my account of the Scottish Gipsy language, I may observe, that I think few who have perused my details will hesitate for a moment in pronouncing that the people have migrated from Hindostan. Many convincing proofs of the origin of the race have been adduced by Grellmann, Hoyland, and Bright; and I think that my researches, made in Scotland alone, have confirmed the statements of these respectable authors.

The question which now remains to be solved is this: From what tribe or nation at present in, or originally from, Hindostan are the Gipsies descended? That they have been a robber or predatory nation, from principle as well as practice, I am convinced little doubt can be entertained. Even yet, the greater the art and address displayed in committing a dexterous theft or robbery, the higher is the merit of such an action esteemed among their fraternity. I am also convinced that this general, or national, propensity to plunder has been the chief cause of the Gipsies concealing their origin, language, customs, and religious observances, at the time they entered the territories of civilized nations, and up to this time. The intelligent old Gipsy whose acquaintance I made at St. Boswell's distinctly told me, that his tribe were originally a nation of thieves and robbers; and it is quite natural to suppose that, when they found theft and robbery punished with such severity, in civilized society, everything relating to them would be kept a profound secret.

The tribe in India whose customs, manners, and habits have the greatest resemblance to those of the Gipsies, are the Nuts, or Bazegurs; an account of which is to be found in the 7th volume of the Asiatic Researches, page 451. In Blackwood's Magazine we find the following paragraph relative to these Nuts, or Bazegurs, which induces a belief that these people are a branch of the Gipsy nation, and a tribe of the highest antiquity. They are even supposed to be the wild, aboriginal inhabitants of India.

"A lady of rank, who has resided some time in India, lately informed me that the Gipsies are to be found there, in the same way as in England, and practise the same arts of posture-making and tumbling, fortune-telling, stealing, and so forth. The Indian Gipsies are called Nuts, or Bazegurs, and they are believed by many to be the remains of an aboriginal race, prior even to the Hindoos, and who have never adopted the worship of Braniah. They are entirely different from the Parias, who are Hindoos that have lost caste, and so become degraded."

The Nuts, or Bazegurs, under the name of Decoits or Dukyts, are, it seems, guilty of frequently sacrificing victims to the goddess Calie, under circumstances of horror and atrocity scarcely credible. Now the old Gipsy, who gave me the particulars relative to the Gipsy saerifiee of the horse, stated that sometimes both woman and horse were sacrificed, when the woman, by the action of the horse, was found to have greatly offended.

In the ordinances of Menu, the Nuts, or Bazegurs, are called Nata. Now, our Scottish Gipsies, at this moment, call themselves Nawkens, a word not very dissimilar in sound to Nata. When I have spoken to them, in their own words, I have been asked, "Are you a nawken?" a word to which they attach the meaning of a wanderer, or traveller—one who can do any sort of work for himself that may be required in the world.


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