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History of the Gipsies
Editors Preface


This work should have been introduced to the world long ere now. The proper time to have brought it forward would have been about twenty years ago, (It has been brought down, however, to the present time.) when the subject was nearly altogether new, and when popular feeling, in Scotland especially, ran strongly toward the body it treats of, owing to the celebrity of the writings of the great Scottish novelist, in which were depicted, with great truthfulness, some real characters of this wayward race. The inducements then to hazard a publication of it were great; for by bringing it out at that time, the author would have enjoyed, in some measure, the sunshine which the fame of that great luminary cast around all who, in any way, illustrated a subject on which he had written. But for Sir Walter Scott's advice—an advice that can only be appreciated by those who are acquainted with the vindictive disposition which the Gipsies entertain toward those whom they imagine to have injured them—our author would have published a few magazine articles on the subject, when the tribe would have taken alarm, and an end would have been made to the, investigation. The dread of personal danger, there is no doubt, formed a considerable reason for the work being so long withheld from the public: at the same time, our author, being a timid and nervous man, not a little dreaded the spleen of the party opposed to the literary society with which he identified himself, and the idea of being made the subject of one of the slashing criticisms so characteristic of the time. But now he has descended into the tomb, with most of his generation, where the abuse of a reviewer or the ire of a wandering Egyptian cannot reach him.

Since this work was written there has appeared one by Mr. Borrow, on the Gitanos or Spanish Gipsies. In the year 1838, a society was formed in Scotland, under the patronage of the Scottish Church, for the reformation of the wandering portion of the body in that country, with some eminent men as a committee of management, among whom was a reverend gentleman of learning, piety, and worth, who said that he himself was a Gipsy, and whose fine swarthy features strongly. marked the stock from which lie was descended. There are others in that country of a like origin, ornaments to the same profession, and many in other respectable walks of life, of whom I will speak in my Disquisition on the Gipsies, at the end of the work.

Although a few years have elapsed since the principal details of this work were collected, the subject cannot be considered as old. The body in Scotland has become more numerous since the downfall of Napoleon; but the improved system of internal order that has obtained since that period, has so very much suppressed their acts of depredation and violence toward the community, and their savage outbursts of passion toward those of their own race who had offended them, that much which would have met with only a slight punishment before, or in some instances been passed over, as a mere Gipsy scuffle, would now be visited with the utmost penalty the law could inflict. Hence the wild spirit, but not the number, of the body has been very much crushed. Many of them have betaken themselves to regular callings of industry, or otherwise withdrawn from public observation ; but, in respect to race, are as much, at heart, Gipsies as before. Many of the Scottish wandering class have given way before an invasion of swarms of Gipsies from Ireland.

It is almost unnecessary to give a reason why this work has been introduced here, instead of the country in which it was written, and of which, for the most part, it treats. Suffice it to say, that, having come to this country, I have been led to bring it out here, where it may receive, sooner or later, more attention from those at a distance from the place and people it treats of, than from those accustomed to see and hear of them daily, to many of whom they appear as mere vagabonds; it being a common feature in the human mind, that that which comes frequently under our observation is but little thought of, while that at a distance, and unknown to us, forms the subject of our investigations and desires.

["Men of letters, while eagerly investigating the customs of Otaheite or Kamschatka, and losing their tempers in endless disputes about Gothic and Celtic antiquities, have witnessed, with apathy and contempt, the striking spectacle of a Gipsy camp—pitched, 1perhalps, amidst the mouldering entrenchments of their favourite Picts and Romans. The rest of the community, familiar from infancy with the general character and appearance of these vagrant hordes, have probably never regarded them with any deeper interest than what springs from the recollected terrors of a nursery tale, or the finer a-sociations of poetical and picturesque description."—Blackwood's Magazine.

"Tinkler is the name generally applied to the Scottish Gipsies. The wandering, tented class prefer it to the term Gipsy. The settled and better classes detest the word: they would much rather be called Gipsies; but the term Egyptian is the most agreeable to their feelings. Tinkler has a peculiar meaning that can be understood only by a Scotchman. In its radical sense it means Tinker. The verb tink, according to Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, means to "rivet, including the idea of the noise made in the operation of riviting; a Gipsy word."]

In taking this view of the subject, the Ianguage of Dr. Bright may be used, when he says: "The condition and circumstances of the Gipsy nation throughout the whole of Europe, may truly be considered amongst the most curious phenomena in the history of man." And although this work, for the most part, treats of Scottish Gipsies, it illustrates the history of the people all over Europe, and, it may be said, pretty much over the world; and affords materials for reflection on so singular a subject connected with the history of our common family, and so little known to mankind in general. To the American reader generally, the work will illustrate a phase of life and history with which it may be reasonably assumed lie is not much conversant; for, although he must have some knowledge of the Gipsy race generally, there is no work, that I am aware of, that treats of the body like the present. To all kinds of readers the words of the celebrated Christopher North, as quoted in the author's Introduction, may be addressed:

Few things more sweetly vary civil life
Than a barbarian, savage Tinklert tale."

It is a singular circumstance that, until comparatively lately, little was known of this body in Scotland, beyond their mere existence, and the depredations which they committed on their neighbours; no further proof of which need be given than a reference to the letters of Sir Walter Scott and others, in the Introduction to the work, and the avidity with which the few articles of our author in Black-wood's Magazine were read.

The higher we may rise in the scale of general information and philosophic culture, the greater the attractions will this moral puzzle have for our contemplation—the phenomenon of a barbarous race of men, free as the air, with little but the cold earth for abed, and the canopy of heaven for a covering, obtruding itself upon a civilized community, and living so long in the midst of it, without any material impression being made on the habits of the representative part of it; the only instance of the kind in the modern history of the world. In this solitary case, Having nothing from which to reason analogously as to the result, observation alone must be had recourse to for the solution of the experiment. It is from this circumstance that the subject, in all its bearings, has been found to have such charms for the curious and learned; being, as it were, a study in history of the most interesting kind. It may be remarked that Professor Wilson, the Christopher North of Blackwood, is said to have accompanied some of the tribe in their peregrinations over parts of England and Wales. Without proceeding to the same length, our author, in his own peculiar way, prosecuted his researches with much indefatigability, assiduity, and patience. He kept an open house for them at all times, and presented such allurements as the skillful trapper of vermin will sometimes use in attracting the whole in a neighbourhood ; when if one Gipsy entered, many would follow; although he would generally find them so shy in their communications as sometimes to require years of such baiting to ensure them for the elucidation of a single point of their history. In this way he made himself appear, in his associations with them, as very odd, and perhaps not of very sound mind, in the estimation of the wise ones around him.

The popular idea of a Gipsy, at the present day, is very erroneous as to its extent and meaning. The nomadic Gipsies constitute but a portion of the race, and a very small portion of it. A gradual change has come over their outward condition, all over Europe, from about the commencement of the first American war, but from what time previous to that, we have no certain data from which to form an opinion. In the whole of Great Britain they have been very much mixed with the native blood of the country, but nowhere, I believe, so much so as in Scotland. There is every reason to suppose that the same mixture has taken place in Europe generally, although its effects are not so observable in the southern countries—from the circumstance of the. people there being, for the most part, of dark hair and complexion—as in those lying further toward the north. But this circumstance would, to a certain extent, prevent the mixture which has taken place in countries the inhabitants of which have fair hair and complexions. The causes leading to this mixture are various.

The persecutions to which. the Gipsies were exposed, merely for being Gipsies, which their appearance would readily indicate, seem to have induced the body to intermarry with our race, so as to disguise theirs. That would be done by receiving and adopting males of our race, whom they would marry to females of theirs, who would bring up the children of such unions as members of their fraternity. They also, adopted the practice to give their race stamina, as well as numbers, to contend with the people among whom they lived. The desire of having servants, (for Gipsies, generally, have been too proud to do menial work for each other,) led to many children being kidnapped, and reared among them; many of whom, as is customary with Oriental people, rose to as high a position in the tribe as any of themselves. [Mr. Borrow labours under a very serious mistake when he asserts that "The unfounded idea, that Gipsies steal children, to bring them up as Gipsies, has been the besetting sin of authors, who have attempted to found works of fiction on the way of life of this most singular people." The only argument which he advances to refute this belief in regard to Gipsies, which is universal, is the following: 'They have plenty of children of their own, whom they can scarcely support; and they would Emile at the idea of encumbering themselves with the children of others." This is rather inconsistent with his own words, when he says, "I have dealt more in facts than in theories, of which I am, in general, no friend." As a matte) of fact, children have been stolen and brought up as Gipsies, and incorporated with the tribe.]

Then again, it was very necessary to have people of fair complexion among them, to enable them the more easily to carry on their operations upon the community, as well as to contribute to their support during times of persecution. Owing to these causes, and the occasional occurrence of white people being, by more legitimate means, received into their body, which would be more often the case in their palmy days, the half, at least, of the Scottish Gipsies are of fair hair and blue eyes. Some would naturally think that these would not be Gipsies, but the fact is otherwise ; for, owing to the dreadful prejudice which has always attached to the name of Gipsy, these white and parti-coloured Gipsies, imagining themselves, as it were, banished from society, on account of their descent, cling to their Gipsy connection ; as the other part of their blood, they imagine, will not own them. They are Gipsies, and, with the public, they think that is quite enough. r1hey take a pride in being descended from a race so mysterious, so ancient, so universal, and cherish their language the more from its being the principal badge of membership that entitles them to belong to it. The nearer they approach the whites as regards blood, the more acutely do they feel the antipathy which is entertained for their race, and the more bitter does the propinquity become to them. The more enlightened they become, the stronger becomes their attachment to the sept in the abstract, although they will despise many of its members. The sense of such an ancient descent, and the possession of such an ancient and secret language, in the minds of men of comparatively limited education and indifferent rearing, brought up in humble life, and following various callings, from a tinker upward, and even of men of education and intelligence, occupying the position of lawyers, medical doctors, and clergymen, possess for them a charm that is at once fascinating and enchanting. If men of enlightened minds and high social standing will go to such lengths as they have done, in their endeavours to but look into their language, how much more will they not cling to it, such as it is, in whose hearts it is? Gipsies compounded for the most part of white blood, but with Gipsy feelings, are, as a general thing, much superior to those who more nearly approach what may be called the original stock ; and, singularly enough, speak the language better than the others, if their opportunities have been in any way favourable for its acquisition.

The primitive, original state of the Gipsies is the tent and tilted cart. But as any country can support only a limited number in that way, and as the increase of. the body is very large, it follows that they must cast about to make a living in some other way, however bitter the pill may be which they have to swalIow. The nomadic Gipsy portion resembles, in that respect, a water trough; for the water which runs into it, there must be a corresponding quantity running over it. The Gipsies who leave the tent resemble the youth of our small seaports and villages; for there, society is so limited as to compel such youth to take to the sea or cities, or go abroad, to gain that livelihood which the neighbourhood in which they have been reared denies to them. In the same manner do these Gipsies look back to the tent from which they, or their fathers, have sprung. They carry the language, the associations, and the sympatides of their race, and their peculiar feelings toward the community, with them; and, as residents of towns, have generally greater facilities, from others of their race residing near them, for perpetuating their language, than when strolling over the country.

The prejudice of their fellow creatures, which clings to the race to which they belong, almost overwhelms some of them at times; but it is only momentary; for such is the independence and elasticity of their nature, that they rise from under it, as self-complacent and proud as ever. They in such cases resort to the to quoque--the tit for tat argument as regards their enemies, and ask, "What is this white race, after all? What were their forefathers a few generations ago? the Highlands a nest of marauding thieves, and the Borders little better. Or society at the present day—what is it but a compound of deceit and hypocrisy? People say that the Gipsies steal. True; some of them steal chickens, vegetables, and such things; but what is that compared to the robbery of widows and orphans, the lying and cheating of traders, the swindling, the robberies, the murders, the ignorance, the squalor, and the debaucheries of so many of the white race? What are all these compared to the simple vices of the Gipsies ? What is the ancestry they boast of, compared, in point of antiquity, to ours? People may despise the Gipsies, but they certainly despise all others not of their own race: the veriest beggar Gipsy, without shoes to his feet, considers himself better than the queen that sits upon the throne. People say that Gipsies are blackguards. Well, if some of them are blackguards, they are at least illustrious blackguards as regards descent, and so in fact; for they never rob each ether, and far less do they rob or ruin those of their own family." And they conclude that the odium which clings to the race is but a prejudice. Still, they will deny that they are Gipsies, and will rather almost perish than let any one, not of their own race, know that they speak their language in their own households and among their own kindred. They will even deny or at least hide it from many of their own race.

For all these reasons, the most appropriate word to apply to modern Gipsyism, and especially British Gipsyism, and more especially Scottish Gipsyism, is to call it a caste, and a kind of masonic society, rather than any particular mode of life. And it is necessary that this distinction should be kept in mind, otherwise the subject will appear contradictory.

The most of these Gipsies are unknown to the public as Gipsies. The feeling in question is, for the most part, on the side of the Gipsies themselves; they think that more of them is known than actually is. In that respect a kind of nightmare continually clings to them; while their peculiarly distant, clannish, and odd habits create a kind of separation between them and the other inhabitants, which the Gipsy is naturally apt to construe as proceeding from a different cause. Frequently, all that is said about them amounts only to a whisper among some of the families in the community in which they live, and which is confidentially passed around among themselves, from a dread of personal consequences. Sometimes the native families say among themselves, "Why should we make allusion to their kith and kin? They seem decent people, and attend church like ourselves; and it would be cruel to cast up their descent to them, and damage them in the estimation of the world. Their cousins, (or second cousins, as it may be,) travel the country in the old Tinkler fashion, no doubt; but what has that to do with them?" The estimate of such people never, or hardly ever, goes beyond the simple idea of their being "descended from Tinklers;" few have the most distant idea that they are Gipsies, and speak the Gipsy Ianguage among themselves. It is certain that a Gipsy can be a good man, as the world goes, nay, a very good man, and glory in being a Gipsy, but not to the public. He will adhere to his ancient language, and talk it in his own family ; and he has as much right to do so, as, for example, a Highlander has to speak Gaelic in the Lowlands, or when he goes abroad, and teach it to his children. And he takes a greater pride in doing it, for thus he reasons: "What is English, French, Gaelic, or any other living language, compared to mine? Mine will carry me through every part of the known world: wherever a man is to be found, there is my language spoken. I will find a brother in every part of the world on which I may set my foot; I will be welcomed and passed along wherever I may go. Freemasonry indeed! what is masonry compared to the brotherhood of the Gipsies? A language—a whole Ianguage—is its pass-word. I almost worship the idea of being a member of a society into which I am initiated by my blood and language. I would not be a man if I (lid not love my kindred, and cherish in lay heart that peculiarity of my race (its language) which casts a halo of glory around it, and makes it the wonder of the world!"

The feeling alluded to induces some of these Gipsies to change their residences or go abroad. I heard of one family in Canada, of whom a Scotchman spoke somewhat in the following way  "I know them to be Gipsies. They remind me of a brood of wild turkeys, hatched under a tame bird; it will take the second or third descent to bring them to resemble, in some of their ways, the ordinary barn-door fowl. They are very restless and queer creatures, and move about as if they were afraid that every one was going to tramp on their corns." But it is in large towns they feel more at home. They then form little communities among themselves; and by closely associating, and sometimes huddling together, they can more easily perpetuate their language, as I have already said, than by straggling, twos or threes, through the country. But their quarrelsome disposition frequently throws an obstacle in the way of such associations. Secret as they have been in keeping their language from even being heard by the public while wanderers, they are much more so since they have settled in towns.

The origin of the Gipsies has given rise, in recent times, to many speculations. The most plausible one, however, seems to be that they are from Hindostan; an opinion our author supports so well, that we are almost bound to acquiesce in it. In these controversies regarding the origin of the Gipsies, very little regard seems to have been had to what they say of themselves. It is curious that in every part of Europe they have been called, and are now called, Egyptians. No trace can now be found of any enquiry made as to their origin, if such there was made, when they first appeared in Europe. They seem then to have been taken at their word, and to have passed current as Egyptians. But in modern times their country has been denied them, owing to a total dissimilarity between their language and any of the dialects of modern Egypt. A very intelligent Gipsy informed me that his race sprung from a body of men—a cross between the Arabs and Egyptians—that left Egypt in the train of the Jews. [The intelligent reader will not differ with me as to the weight to be attached to the Gipsy's remark on this point.] In consulting the record of Moses, I find it said, in Ex. xii. 38, "and a mixed multitude went up also with them" (the Jews, out of Egypt). Very little is said of this mixed multitude. In Lev. xxiv. 10, mention is made of the son of an Israelitish woman, by an Egyptian, being stoned to death for blasphemy, which would almost imply that a marriage had taken place previous to leaving Egypt. After this occurrence, it is said in  Num. xi. 4, " and the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting" for flesh. That would imply that they had not amalgamated with the Jews, but were only among them. The Scriptures say nothing of what became of this mixed multitude after the Jews separated from them (Neh. xiii. 3), and leave us only to form a conjecture relative to their destiny.

We naturally ask, what could have induced this mixed multitude to leave Egypt? and the natural reply is, that their motive was the same that led to the exodus of the Jews—a desire to escape from slavery. No commentator that I have read gives a plausible reason for the mixed multitude leaving Egypt with the Jews. Scott, besides venturing four suppositions, advances a fifth, that "some left because they were distressed or discontented." But that seems to fall infinitely short of the true reason. Adam Clark says, "Probably they were refugees who carne to sojourn in Egypt, because of the dearth which had obliged them to emigrate from their own countries." But that dearth occurred centuries before the time of the exodus ; so that those refugees, if such there were, who settled in Egypt; during the famine, could have returned to their own countries generations before the time of that event. Scott says, "It is probable some left Egypt because it was desolate ;" and Henry, " Because their country was laid waste by the plagues." But the desolation was only partial ; for we are told that "lie that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses ;" by which means they escaped destruction from the hail, which affected only those remaining in the field. We are likewise told that, although the barley and flax were smitten by the same hail-storm, the wheat and rye, not being grown up, were left untouched. 'These two latter (besides fish, roots and vegetables) would form the staples of the food of the Egyptians; to say nothing of the immense quantities in the granaries of the country. If the Egyptians could not find bread in their own country, how were they to obtain it by accompanying the Jews into a land of which they knew nothing, and which had to be conquered before it could be possessed? Where were they to procure bread to support them on the journey, if it was not to be had at home?

The other reasons given by these commentators for the departure of the mixed multitude from Egypt are hardly worth controverting, when we consider the social manners and religious belief of the Egyptians. We are told that, for being shepherds, the Israelites were an abomination unto the Egyptians (Gen. xlvi. 34); and that the Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat bread with a Hebrew, (Gen. xliii. 32,) so supreme was the reign of caste and of nationality at that period in Egypt. The sacrifices of the Jews were also an abomination to the Egyptians (Ex. viii. 26). The Hebrews were likewise influenced by feelings peculiar to themselves, which would render any alliances or even associations between them and their oppressors extremely improbable ; but if such there should have been, the issue would be incorporated with the Hebrews.

There could thus be no personal motive for any of the Egyptians to accompany the Hebrews; and as little could there be of that which pertains to the religious; for, as a people, they had become so "vain in their imaginations," and had "their foolish hearts so darkened," as to worship almost every created thing—bulls, birds, serpents, leeks, onions and garlic. Such a people were almost as well nigh devoid of a motive springing from a sense of elevated religion, as were the beasts, the reptiles and the vegetables which they worshipped. A miracle performed before the eyes of such a people would have no more salutary or lasting influence than would a flash of lightning before the eyes of many a man in every day life; it might prostrate them for a moment, but its effects would be as transitory. Like the Jews themselves, at a subsequent time, they might credit the miracle to Beelzebub, the prince of devils; and, like the Gergesenes, rise up in a body and beseech Moses and his people to "depart out of their coasts." Indeed, after the slaying of+the first-born of the Egyptians, we are told that "the Egyptians were urgent upon the people that they might send them out of the land in haste; for, they said, We be all dead men." Considering how hard a matter it was for Moses to urge the Jews to undertake the exodus; considering their stiff-necked and perverse grumbling at all that befell them; notwithstanding that to them "pertained the fathers, the adoption, the glory and the covenant;" the commands and the bones of Joseph; the grievous bondage they were enduring, and the almost daily recourse to which Moses had for a miracle to strengthen their faith and resolution to proceed; and we will perceive the impossibility of the "mixed multitude" leaving Egypt on any ground of religion.

This principle might even be urged further. If We consider the reception which was given to the miracles of Christ as " a son over his own house, and therefore worthy of more glory than Moses, who was but a servant," we will conclude that the miracles wrought by Moses, although personally felt by the Egyptians, would have as little lasting effect upon them as had those of the former upon the Jews themselves ; they would naturally lead to the Hebrews being allowed to depart, but would serve no purpose of inducing the Egyptians to go with them. For if a veil was mysteriously drawn over the eyes of the Jews at the advent of Christ, which, in a negative sense, hid the Messiah from them (Mark iv.,11, 2; Matt. xi. 25, 26; and John xii. 39, 40), how much more might it not be said, "He bath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts," and let the people of Israel go, "till they would thrust them out fence altogether;" and particularly so when the object of Moses' mission was to redeem the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, and spoil and smite the Egyptians.

The only reasonable conclusion to which we can conic, as regards a motive for the " mixed multitude" leaving Egypt along with the Jews, is, that being slaves like themselves, they took advantage of the opportunity, and slipped out with them. [Since the above was written, I have read Hengstenberg on the Pentateuch, who supposes that the `'mixed multitude" were an inferior order of workmen, employed, like the Jews, as slaves, in the building of the pyramids.]

'Ile Jews, on being reduced to a state of bondage, were employed by Pharaoh to " build treasure cities, and work in mortar and brick, and do all manner of service in the field," besides being " scattered abroad through all the laud of Egypt, to gather stubble in place of straw," wherewith to make their tale of bricks. In this way they would come nitich in contact with the other slaves of the country ; and, as " adversity makes strange bed-fellows," they would naturally prove communicative to their fellow-sufferers, and expatiate on the history of their people, from the days of Abraham downward, were it only from a feeling of vanity to make themselves appear superior to what they would coin sider the ordinary dross around them. They would also naturally allude to their future prospects, and the positive promise, or at least general idea, which they had of their God effecting their deliverance, and leading them into a country (Gen. 1. 24, 25) where all the miseries they were then enduring would be forgotten. They would do that more especially after Moses had returned from his father-in-law in Midian, to bring them out of Egypt; for we arc told, in Ex. iv. 29-31, that the elders of the children of Israel were called together and informed of the intended redemption, and that all the people believed. By such means as these would the minds of some of the other slaves of Egypt be inflamed at the very idea of freedom being perhaps in immediate prospect for so many of their fellow-bondsmen.

Thereafter happened the many plagues ; the causes of which must have been more or less known to the Egyptians generally, from the public manner in which Moses would make his demands (Ex. x. 7) ; and consequently to their slaves; for many of the slaves would be men of intelligence, as is common in oriental countries. Some of these slaves would, in all probability, watch, with fear and trembling, the dreadful drama played out (Ex. ix. 20). Others would ,perhaps, give little heed to the various sayings of the Hebrews at the time they were uttered ; the plagues would, perhaps, have little effect in reminding them of them. As they experienced their effects, they might even feel exasperated toward the Hebrews for being the cause of them ; still it is more probable that they sympathized with them, as fellow-bondsmen, and murmured against Pharaoh for their existence and greater manifestation. But the positive order, nay the, entreaty, for the departure of the Israelites, and the passage before their eyes of so large a body of slaves to obtain their freedom, would induce many of them to follow them; for they would, in all likelihood, form no higher estimate of the movement than that of merely gaining that liberty which sIaves, in all nations, and under all circumstances, do continually sigh after.

The character of Moses alone was a sufficient guarantee to the slaves of Egypt that they might trust themselves to his leadership and protection (!lot to speak of the miraculous powers which lie displayed in his mission) ; for we are told that, besides being the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in word and deed. Having been, according to Josephus, a great commander in the armies of Egypt, lie must have been the means of reducing to bondage many of the slaves, or the parents of the slaves, then living in Egypt. At the time of the exodus we are told that he was "very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (Ex. xi. 3). The burying of the "first-born" was not a circumstance likely to prevent a slave gaining his freedom amid the dismay, the moaning, and groaning, and howling throughout the land of Egypt. The circumstance was even the more favourable for his escape, owing to the Hebrews being allowed to go, till it pleased God again to hardeb and stir up Pharaoh to pursue them (Ex. xiv. 2–5 and 8), in order that his host might x e over thrown in the Red Sea.

The Jews, while in Egypt, seem to have been reduced to a state of serfdom only—crown slaves, not chattels personal; which would give them a certain degree of respect in the eyes of the ordinary slaves of the country, and lead them, owing to the dignity of their descent, to look down with disdain upon the "mixed multitude" which followed them. While it is said that they were "scattered over the land of Egypt," we are told, in Ex. ix. 4, that the murrain touched not the cattle of Israel; and in the 26th verse, that "in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, there was no hail." And Moses said to Pharaoh, "Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof we must take to serve the Lord our God" (Ex. x. 26). From this we would naturally conclude, that such of the Jews only as were capable of work, were scattered over the land of Egypt to do the work of Pharaoh, while the rest were, left in the land of Goshen. By both the Egyptians and their slaves, the Hebrews would be looked upon as a mysterious people, which the former would be glad to send out of the land, owing to the many plagues which they had been the cause of being sent upon them ; and while they got quit of them, as they did, there would be no earthly motive for the Egyptians to follow them, through a wilderness, into a country of which the Hebrews themselves knew nothing. But it would be different with their slaves; they had everything to hope from a chancre of condition, and would readily avail themselves of the chance to effect it.

The very term "mixed multitude" implies slaves; for the Hebrew word hasaphsuph, as translated by Bochartus, means populi colluvies undecunque collecta—"the dregs or scum of the people gathered together from all parts." But this interpretation is most likely the literal meaning of a figurative expression, which was intended to describe a body of men such as the slaves of Egypt must have been, that is, a mixture that was compounded of men from almost every part of the world known to the Egyptians; the two principal ingredients of which must have been what may be called the Egyptian and Semitic. Moses seems to have used the word in question in consequence of the vexation and snare which the mixed multitude proved to him by bringing upon the camp of his people the plague, inflicted, in consequence of their sins, in the midst of •them. At the same time the Hebrews were very apt to term "dregs and scum" all who did not proceed from the loins of their father, Abraham. But I am inclined to believe that the bulk or nucleus of the mixed multitude would consist of slaves who were located in Goshen, or its neighbourhood, when the Jews were settled there by Pharaoh. These would be a mixture of the shepherd kings and native Egyptians, held by the former as slaves, who would naturally fall into the hands of the Egyptian monarch during his gradual reconquest of the country ; and they would be held by the pure Egyptians in as little esteem as the Jews themselves, both being, in a measure, of the shepherd race. In this way it may be claimed that the Gipsies are even descendants of the shepherd kings.

After leaving Egypt, the Hebrews and the "mixed multitude," in their exuberance of feeling at having gained their freedom, and witnessed the overthrow of their common oppressor in the Red Sea, would naturally have everything in common, till they regained their powers of reflection, and began to think of their destiny, and the means of supporting so many individuals, in a country in which provisions could hardly be collected for the company of an ordinary caravan. Then their difficulties would begin. It was enough for Moses to have to guide the Hebrews, whose were the promises, without being; burdened and harassed by those who followed them. Then we may reasonably assume that the mixed multitude began to clamour for flesh, and lead the Hebrews to join with them; in return for which a plague was sent upon the people. They were unlikely to submit to be led by the hand of God, and be fed on angels' food, and, like the Hebrews, leave their carcasses in the wilderness for their religious sentiments, if, as slaves of Egypt, they had religious Sentiments, would be very low indeed, and would lead them to depend upon themselves, and leave the deserts of Arabia, for some other country more likely to support then) and their children. Undoubtedly the two people then separated, as Abraham and Lot parted when they came out of Egypt.

How to shake off this mixed multitude must have caused Moses many an anxious thought. Possibly his father-in-law, Jethro, from the knowledge and sagacity which he displayed in forming the government of Moses himself, may have assisted him in arriving at the conclusion which he must have so devoutly wished. To take them into the promised land with him was impossible ; for the command of God, given in regard to Ishmael, the son of Abraham, by Hagar the Egyptian, and which was far more applicable to the mixed multitude, must have rung in his ears: "Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac;" "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." As slaves of Egypt they would not return to that country; they would not go north, for that was the heritage of the people of Israel, which had to be wrested from the fierce tribes of Palestine; they would not go north-east, for there lay the powerful empire of Assyria, or the germs out of which it sprung; they could not go South, for the ocean hemmed them in, in that direction; and their only alternative was to proceed east, through Arabia Petrea, along the gulf of Persia, through the Persian desert, into northern Hindostan, where they formed the Gipsy caste, and whence they issued, after the lapse of so many centuries, in possession of the language of Hindostan, and spread themselves over the earth. What a strange sensation passes through the mind, when such a subject is contemplated! Jews and Gipsies having, in a sense, the same origin, and after such vicissitudes, meeting each other, face to face, under circumstances so greatly alike, in almost every part of time world, upward of 3000 years after they parted company. What destiny awaited the Jews themselves on escaping from Egypt? They had either to subdue and take the place of some other tribe, or be reduced to a state of slavery by it and perhaps others combined; or they might possibly have been befriended by some great empire as tributaries; or failing these three, what remained for their was the destiny that befell the Gipsies.

On Ieaving Egypt, the Gipsies would possess a common language, which would hold them together as a body; as slaves under the society of an Egyptian monarchy, they would have few, if any, opinions of a religious nature; and they would have but little idea of the laws of meum and tuum. The position in which they would find themselves placed, and the circumstances surrounding them, would necessitate them to rob, steal or appropriate whatever they found to be necessary to their existence ; for whether they turned to the right hand or to the left, they would always find territory previously occupied, and property claimed by some one; so that their presence would always be unwelcome, their persons an intrusion everywhere; and having once started on their weary pilgrimage, as long as they maintained their personal independence, they would never attain, as a body, to any other position than they have done, in popular estimation, for the last four hundred and fifty years in Europe.

In entering Hindostan they would meet with a civilized people, governed by rigid caste, where they would have no alternative but to remain aloof from the other inhabitants. Then, as now, that country had many wandering tribes -within its borders, and for which it is peculiarly favourable. Whatever might have been the amount of civilization which some of the Gipsies brought with them from Egypt, it could not be otherwise than of that quasi nature which generally characterizes that of slaves, and which would rapidly degenerate into a kind of barbarism, under the change of circumstances in which they found themselves placed. As runaway slaves, they would naturally be shy and suspicious, and be very apt to betake themselves to mountains, forests and swamps, and hold as little intercourse with the people of the country in which they were, as possible. Still, having been reared within a settled and civilized state, they would naturally hang around some other one, and nestle within it, if the face of the country, and the character and ways of the people, admitted of it. Having been bondsmen, they -would naturally become lazy after gaining their freedom, and revel in the wild liberty of nature. They would do almost anything for a living rather than work ; and whatever they could lay their hands on would be fairly come by, in their imagination. But to carry out this mode of life, they would naturally have recourse to some ostensible employment, to enable them to travel through the country, and secure the toleration of its inhabitants. Here their Egyptian origin would come to their assistance; for as slaves of that country, they must have had many among them who -would be familiar with horses, and working in metals, for which ancient Egypt was famous; not to speak of some of the occult sciences which they would carry with them from that country. In the first generation their new habits and modes of life would become chronic; in the second generation they would become hereditary; and from this strange phenomenon would spring a race that is unique in the history of the human family. What origin could be more worthy of the Gipsies? What origin more philosophical?

Arriving in India a foreign caste, the Gipsies would naturally cling to their common origin, and speak their common language, which, in course of ages, would be forgotten, except occasional words, which would be used by them as catch-words. At the present day my Gipsy acquaintances inform inc that, in Great Britain, five out of every ten of their words are nothing but common Hindostanee. How strange would it be if some of the other words of their language were those used by the people of Egypt under the Pharaohs. Mr. Borrow says: "Is it not surprising that the language of Petulengro, (an English Gipsy,) is continually coming to my assistance whenever I appear to be at a loss with respect to the derivation of crabbed words. I have made out crabbed words in schylus by means of his speech; and even in my Biblical researches I have derived no slight assistance from it." "Broken, corrupted and half in ruins as it is, it was not long before I found that it was an original speech, far more so, indeed, than one or two others of high name and celebrity, which, up to that time, I had been in the habit of regarding with respect and veneration. Indeed, many obscure points connected with the vocabulary of these languages, and to which neither classic nor modern lore afforded any clue, I thought I could now clear up by means of this strange, broken tongue, spoken by people who dwell among thickets and furze bushes, in tents as tawny as their faces, and whom the generality of mankind designate, and with much sernblance of justice, as thieves and vagabonds."

A difficulty somewhat similar to the origin of the Gipsies has been started in reference to their language; whether it is a speech distinct from any other surrounding it, or a few slang words or expressions connected together by the usual languages of the countries in which the race is to be found. The slightest consideration will remove the doubt, and lead us to the former conclusion. It is true there must needs be some native words mixed up, with it; for what language, in ancient or modern times, has come down free of a, mixture with others? If that be the case with languages classified, written, and spoken in a community, with no disturbing elernent near it to corrupt it, is it to be expected that the speech of a people like the Gipsies-can be free of similar additions or .substitutions, when it possesses none of these advantages for the preservation of its entirety and purity? From the length of time the people have been in Europe, and the frequency of intercourse which they have been forced by circumstances, in modern times especially, to have with its natives, it would appear beyond measure surprising that even a word of their language is spoken at all. And this fact adds great weight to Sir Walter Scott's remark, when he says that "their language is a great mystery;" and to that of Dr. Bright, when he speaks of its existence as being "little short of the miraculous." But when we consider, on strictly philosophical principles, the phenomenon of the perpetuation of the Gipsy language, we will find that there is nothing so very wonderful about it after all. The race have always associated closely and exclusively together; and their language has become to them like the worship of a household god—hereditary, and is spoken among themselves under the severest of discipline. It is certain that it is spoken at the present day, by some of the race, nearly as well as the Gaelic of many of the immediate descendants of the emigrants in some of the small Highland settlements in America, when it has not been Iearned by book, even to the extent of conversing on any subject of ordinary life, without apparently using English words. But, as is common with people possessing two languages, the Gipsies often use them interchangeably in expressing the smallest idea. Besides the way mentioned by which the Gipsy language has been corrupted, there is another one peculiar to all speeches, and which is, that few tongues are so copious as not to stand in need of foreign words, either to give names to things or wants unknown in the place where the language originated, or greater meaning or elucidation to a thing than it is capable of; and preeminently so in the case of a barbarous people, with few ideas beyond the commonest wants of daily life, entering states so far advanced toward that point of civilization which they have now reached. But the question as to the extent of the Gipsy language never can be conclusively settled, until some able philologist has the unrestricted opportunity of daily intercourse with the race; or, as a thin(, more to be wished than obtained, some Gipsy take to suitable learning, and confer a rarity of information upon the reader of history everywhere : for the attempt at getting a single word of the language from the Gipsies, is, in almost every case, impracticable. Sir Walter Scott seems to have had an intention of writing an account of the Gipsies himself; for, in a letter to Murray, as given by Lockhart, lie writes: "I have been over head and ears in work this summer, or I would have sent the Gipsies; indeed I was partly stopped by finding it impossible to procure a few words of their language." For this reason, the words furnished in this work, although few, are yet numerous, when the difficulties in the way of getting them are considered. Under the chapter of Language will be found some curious anecdotes of the manner in which these were collected.

Of the production itself little need be said. Whatever may be the opinion of the public in regard to it, this may be borne in mind, that the collecting of the materials out of which it is formed was attended with much trouble, and no little expense, but with a singular degree of pleasure, to the author; and that but for the urgent and latest request of him whom, when alive or dead, Scotchmen have always delighted to honour, it might never have assumed its present form. It is what it professes to be—a history, in which the subject has been stripped of everything pertaining to fiction or even colouring ; so that the reader will see depicted, in their true character, this singular people, in the description of whom, owing to the suspicion and secrecy of their nature, writers generally have indulged in so much that is trifling and even fabulous.

Such as the work is, it is offered as a contribution toward the filling up of that void in literature to which Dr. Bright alludes, in the introduction to his travels in Hungary, when, in reference to Hoyland's Survey, and some scattered notices of the Gipsies in periodicals, he says: "We may hope at some time to collect, satisfactorily, the history of this extraordinary race." It is likewise intended as a response to the call of a writer in Blackwood, in which he says: "Our duty is rather to collect and store up the raw materials of literatore---to gather into our repository scattered facts, hints and observations—which more elaborate and learned authors may afterwards work up into the dignified tissue of history or science."

I deem it proper to remark that, in editing the work, I have taken some liberties with the manuscript. I have, for example, recast the Introduction, re-arranged some of the materials, and drawn more fully, in some instances, upon the author's authorities; but I have carefully preserved the facts and sentiments of the original. I may have used some expressions a little familiar and perhaps not over-refined in their nature; but my excuse for that is, that they are illustrative of a subject that allows the use of them.


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