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´╗┐Title: The English Gipsies and Their Language
Author: Leland, Charles Godfrey, 1824-1903
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1874 Trubner & Co. edition by David Price, email

By Charles G. Leland

Author of "Hans Breitmann's Ballads," "The Music Lesson of Confucius,"
Etc. Etc.

Second Edition


[_All rights reserved_]


As Author of this book, I beg leave to observe that all which is stated
in it relative to the customs or peculiarities of Gipsies _was gathered
directly from Gipsies themselves_; and that every word of their language
here given, whether in conversations, stories, or sayings, was taken from
Gipsy mouths.  While entertaining the highest respect for the labours of
Mr George Borrow in this field, I have carefully avoided repeating him in
the least detail; neither have I taken anything from Simson, Hoyland, or
any other writer on the Rommany race in England.  Whatever the demerits
of the work may be, it can at least claim to be an original collection of
material fresh from nature, and not a reproduction from books.  There
are, it is true, two German Gipsy letters from other works, but these may
be excused as illustrative of an English one.

I may here in all sincerity speak kindly and gratefully of every true
Gipsy I have ever met, and of the cheerfulness with which they have
invariably assisted me in my labour to the extent of their humble
abilities.  Other writers have had much to say of their incredible
distrust of _Gorgios_ and unwillingness to impart their language, but I
have always found them obliging and communicative.  I have never had
occasion to complain of rapacity or greediness among them; on the
contrary, I have often wondered to see how the great want of such very
poor people was generally kept in check by their natural politeness,
which always manifests itself when they are treated properly.  In fact,
the first effort which I ever made to acquire a knowledge of English
Rommany originated in a voluntary offer from an intelligent old dame to
teach me "the old Egyptian language."  And as she also suggested that I
should set forth the knowledge which I might acquire from her and her
relatives in a book (referring to Mr Borrow's having done so), I may hold
myself fully acquitted from the charge of having acquired and published
anything which my Gipsy friends would not have had made known to the

Mr Borrow has very well and truly said that it is not by passing a few
hours among Gipsies that one can acquire a knowledge of their
characteristics; and I think that this book presents abundant evidence
that its contents were not gathered by slight and superficial intercourse
with the Rommany.  It is only by entering gradually and sympathetically,
without any parade of patronage, into a familiar knowledge of the
circumstances of the common life of humble people, be they Gipsies,
Indians, or whites, that one can surprise unawares those little inner
traits which constitute the _characteristic_.  However this may be, the
reader will readily enough understand, on perusing these pages--possibly
much better than I do myself--how it was I was able to collect whatever
they contain that is new.

The book contains some remarks on that great curious centre and secret of
all the nomadic and vagabond life in England, THE ROMMANY, with comments
on the fact, that of the many novel or story-writers who have described
the "Travellers" of the Roads, very few have penetrated the real nature
of their life.  It gives several incidents illustrating the character of
the Gipsy, and some information of a very curious nature in reference to
the respect of the English Gipsies for their dead, and the strange manner
in which they testify it.  I believe that this will be found to be fully
and distinctly illustrated by anecdotes and a narrative in the original
Gipsy language, with a translation.  There is also a chapter containing
in Rommany and English a very characteristic letter from a full-blood
Gipsy to a relative, which was dictated to me, and which gives a sketch
of the leading incidents of Gipsy life--trading in horses,
fortune-telling, and cock-shying.  I have also given accounts of
conversations with Gipsies, introducing in their language and in English
their own remarks (noted down by me) on certain curious customs; among
others, on one which indicates that many of them profess among themselves
a certain regard for our Saviour, because His birth and life appear to
them to be like that of the Rommany.  There is a collection of a number
of words now current in vulgar English which were probably derived from
Gipsy, such as row, shindy, pal, trash, bosh, and niggling, and finally a
number of _Gudli_ or short stories.  These _Gudli_ have been regarded by
my literary friends as interesting and curious, since they are nearly all
specimens of a form of original narrative occupying a middle ground
between the anecdote and fable, and abounding in Gipsy traits.  Some of
them are given word for word as they are current among Gipsies, and
others owe their existence almost entirely either to the vivid
imagination and childlike fancies of an old Gipsy assistant, or were
developed from some hint or imperfect saying or story.  But all are
thoroughly and truly Rommany; for every one, after being brought into
shape, passed through a purely "unsophisticated" Gipsy mind, and was
finally declared to be _tacho_, or sound, by real Rommanis.  The truth
is, that it is a difficult matter to hear a story among English Gipsies
which is not mangled or marred in the telling; so that to print it,
restitution and invention become inevitable.  But with a man who lived in
a tent among the gorse and fern, and who intermitted his earnest
conversation with a little wooden bear to point out to me the gentleman
on horseback riding over the two beautiful little girls in the flowers on
the carpet, such fables as I have given sprang up of themselves, owing
nothing to books, though they often required the influence of a better
disciplined mind to guide them to a consistent termination.

The Rommany English Vocabulary which I propose shall follow this work is
many times over more extensive than any ever before published, and it
will also be found interesting to all philologists by its establishing
the very curious fact that this last wave of the primitive Aryan-Indian
ocean which spread over Europe, though it has lost the original form in
its subsidence and degradation, consists of the same substance--or, in
other words, that although the grammar has wellnigh disappeared, the
words are almost without exception the same as those used in India,
Germany, Hungary, or Turkey.  It is generally believed that English Gipsy
is a mere jargon of the cant and slang of all nations, that of England
predominating; but a very slight examination of the Vocabulary will show
that during more than three hundred years in England the Rommany have not
admitted a single English word to what they correctly call their
language.  I mean, of course, so far as my own knowledge of Rommany
extends.  To this at least I can testify, that the Gipsy to whom I was
principally indebted for words, though he often used "slang," invariably
discriminated correctly between it and Rommany; and I have often admired
the extraordinary pride in their language which has induced the Gipsies
for so many generations to teach their children this difference. {0a}
Almost every word which my assistant declared to be Gipsy I have found
either in Hindustani or in the works of Pott, Liebich, or Paspati.  On
this subject I would remark by the way, that many words which appear to
have been taken by the Gipsies from modern languages are in reality

And as I have honestly done what I could to give the English reader fresh
material on the Gipsies, and not a rewarming of that which was gathered
by others, I sincerely trust that I may not be held to sharp account (as
the authors of such books very often are) for not having given more or
done more or done it better than was really in my power.  Gipsies in
England are passing away as rapidly as Indians in North America.  They
keep among themselves the most singular fragments of their Oriental
origin; they abound in quaint characteristics, and yet almost nothing is
done to preserve what another generation will deeply regret the loss of.
There are complete dictionaries of the Dacotah and many other American
Indian languages, and every detail of the rude life of those savages has
been carefully recorded; while the autobiographic romances of Mr Borrow
and Mr Simson's History contain nearly all the information of any value
extant relative to the English Gipsies.  Yet of these two writers, Mr
Borrow is the only one who had, so to speak, an inside view of his
subject, or was a philologist.

In conclusion I would remark, that if I have not, like many writers on
the poor Gipsies, abused them for certain proverbial faults, it has been
because they never troubled me with anything very serious of the kind, or
brought it to my notice; and I certainly never took the pains to hunt it
up to the discredit of people who always behaved decently to me.  I have
found them more cheerful, polite, and grateful than the lower orders of
other races in Europe or America; and I believe that where their respect
and sympathy are secured, they are quite as upright.  Like all people who
are regarded as outcasts, they are very proud of being trusted, and under
this influence will commit the most daring acts of honesty.  And with
this I commend my book to the public.  Should it be favourably received,
I will add fresh reading to it; in any case I shall at least have the
satisfaction of knowing that I did my best to collect material
illustrating a very curious and greatly-neglected subject.  It is merely
as a collection of material that I offer it; let those who can use it, do
what they will with it.

If I have not given in this book a sketch of the history of the Gipsies,
or statistics of their numbers, or accounts of their social condition in
different countries, it is because nearly everything of the kind may be
found in the works of George Borrow and Walter Simson, which are in all
respectable libraries, and may be obtained from any bookseller.

I would remark to any impatient reader for mere entertainment, who may
find fault with the abundance of Rommany or Gipsy language in the
following pages, that _the principal object of the Author was to collect
and preserve such specimens of a rapidly-vanishing language_, and that
the title-page itself indirectly indicates such an object.  I have,
however, invariably given with the Gipsy a translation immediately
following the text in plain English--at times very plain--in order that
the literal meaning of words may be readily apprehended.  I call especial
attention to this fact, so that no one may accuse me of encumbering my
pages with Rommany.

While writing this book, or in fact after the whole of the first part was
written, I passed a winter in Egypt; and as that country is still
supposed by many people to be the fatherland of the Gipsies, and as very
little is known relative to the Rommany there, I have taken the liberty
of communicating what I could learn on the subject, though it does not
refer directly to the Gipsies of England.  Those who are interested in
the latter will readily pardon the addition.

There are now in existence about three hundred works on the Gipsies, but
of the entire number comparatively few contain fresh material gathered
from the Rommany themselves.  Of late years the first philologists of
Europe have taken a great interest in their language, which is now
included in "Die Sprachen Europas" as the only Indian tongue spoken in
this quarter of the world; and I believe that English Gipsy is really the
only strongly-distinct Rommany dialect which has never as yet been
illustrated by copious specimens or a vocabulary of any extent.  I
therefore trust that the critical reader will make due allowances for the
very great difficulties under which I have laboured, and not blame me for
not having done better that which, so far as I can ascertain, would
possibly not have been done at all.  Within the memory of man the popular
Rommany of this country was really grammatical; that which is now spoken,
and from which I gathered the material for the following pages, is, as
the reader will observe, almost entirely English as to its structure,
although it still abounds in Hindu words to a far greater extent than has
been hitherto supposed.


The Rommany of the Roads.--The Secret of Vagabond Life in England.--Its
peculiar and thoroughly hidden Nature.--Gipsy Character and the Causes
which formed it.--Moral Results of hungry Marauding.--Gipsy ideas of
Religion.  The Scripture story of the Seven Whistlers.--The Baker's
Daughter.--Difficulties of acquiring Rommany.--The Fable of the Cat.--The
Chinese, the American Indian, and the Wandering Gipsy.

Although the valuable and curious works of Mr George Borrow have been in
part for more than twenty years before the British public, {1} it may
still be doubted whether many, even of our scholars, are aware of the
remarkable, social, and philological facts which are connected with an
immense proportion of our out-of-door population.  There are, indeed,
very few people who know, that every time we look from the window into a
crowded street, the chances are greatly in favour of the assertion, that
we shall see at least one man who bears in his memory some hundreds of
Sanscrit roots, and that man English born; though it was probably in the
open air, and English bred, albeit his breeding was of the roads.

For go where you will, though you may not know it, you encounter at every
step, in one form or the other, _the Rommany_.  True, the dwellers in
tents are becoming few and far between, because the "close cultivation"
of the present generation, which has enclosed nearly all the waste land
in England, has left no spot in many a day's journey, where "the
travellers," as they call themselves, can light the fire and boil the
kettle undisturbed.  There is almost "no tan to hatch," or place to stay
in.  So it has come to pass, that those among them who cannot settle down
like unto the Gentiles, have gone across the Great Water to America,
which is their true Canaan, where they flourish mightily, the more
enterprising making a good thing of it, by _prastering graias_ or
"running horses," or trading in them, while the idler or more moral ones,
pick up their living as easily as a mouse in a cheese, on the endless
roads and in the forests.  And so many of them have gone there, that I am
sure the child is now born, to whom the sight of a real old-fashioned
gipsy will be as rare in England as a Sioux or Pawnee warrior in the
streets of New York or Philadelphia.  But there is a modified and yet
real Rommany-dom, which lives and will live with great vigour, so long as
a regularly organised nomadic class exists on our roads--and it is the
true nature and inner life of this class which has remained for ages, an
impenetrable mystery to the world at large.  A member of it may be a
tramp and a beggar, the proprietor of some valuable travelling show, a
horse-dealer, or a tinker.  He may be eloquent, as a Cheap Jack, noisy as
a Punch, or musical with a fiddle at fairs.  He may "peddle" pottery,
make and sell skewers and clothes-pegs, or vend baskets in a caravan; he
may keep cock-shys and Aunt Sallys at races.  But whatever he may be,
depend upon it, reader, that among those who follow these and similar
callings which he represents, are literally many thousands who,
unsuspected by the _Gorgios_, are known to one another, and who still
speak among themselves, more or less, that curious old tongue which the
researches of the greatest living philologists have indicated, is in all
probability not merely allied to Sanscrit, but perhaps in point of age,
an elder though vagabond sister or cousin of that ancient language.

For THE ROMMANY is the characteristic leaven of all the real tramp life
and nomadic callings of Great Britain.  And by this word I mean not the
language alone, which is regarded, however, as a test of superior
knowledge of "the roads," but a curious _inner life_ and freemasonry of
secret intelligence, ties of blood and information, useful to a class who
have much in common with one another, and very little in common with the
settled tradesman or worthy citizen.  The hawker whom you meet, and whose
blue eyes and light hair indicate no trace of Oriental blood, may not be
a _churdo_, or _pash-ratt_, or half-blood, or _half-scrag_, as a full
Gipsy might contemptuously term him, but he may be, of his kind, a
quadroon or octoroon, or he may have "gipsified," by marrying a Gipsy
wife; and by the way be it said, such women make by far the best wives to
be found among English itinerants, and the best suited for "a traveller."
But in any case he has taken pains to pick up all the Gipsy he can.  If
he is a tinker, he knows _Kennick_, or cant, or thieves' slang by nature,
but the Rommany, which has very few words in common with the former, is
the true language of the mysteries; in fact, it has with him become,
strangely enough, what it was originally, a sort of sacred Sanscrit,
known only to the Brahmins of the roads, compared to which the other
language is only commonplace _Prakrit_, which anybody may acquire.

He is proud of his knowledge, he makes of it a deep mystery; and if you,
a gentleman, ask him about it, he will probably deny that he ever heard
of its existence.  Should he be very thirsty, and your manners frank and
assuring, it is, however, not impossible that after draining a pot of
beer at your expense, he may recall, with a grin, the fact that he _has_
heard that the Gipsies have a queer kind of language of their own; and
then, if you have any Rommany yourself at command, he will perhaps
_rakker Rommanis_ with greater or less fluency.  Mr Simeon, in his
"History of the Gipsies," asserts that there is not a tinker or scissors-
grinder in Great Britain who cannot talk this language, and my own
experience agrees with his declaration, to this extent--that they all
have some knowledge of it, or claim to have it, however slight it may be.

So rare is a knowledge of Rommany among those who are not connected in
some way with Gipsies, that the slightest indication of it is invariably
taken as an irrefutable proof of relationship with them.  It is but a few
weeks since, as I was walking along the Marine Parade in Brighton, I
overtook a tinker.  Wishing him to sharpen some tools for me, I directed
him to proceed to my home, and _en route_ spoke to him in Gipsy.  As he
was quite fair in complexion, I casually remarked, "I should have never
supposed you could speak Rommany--you don't look like it."  To which he
replied, very gravely, in a tone as of gentle reproach, "You don't look a
Gipsy yourself, sir; but you know you _are_ one--_you talk like one_."

Truly, the secret of the Rommany has been well kept in England.  It seems
so to me when I reflect that, with the exception of Lavengro and the
Rommany Rye, {5} I cannot recall a single novel, in our language, in
which the writer has shown familiarity with the _real_ life, habits, or
language of the vast majority of that very large class, the itinerants of
the roads.  Mr Dickens has set before us Cheap Jacks, and a number of men
who were, in their very face, of the class of which I speak; but I cannot
recall in his writings any indication that he knew that these men had a
singular secret life with their _confreres_, or that they could speak a
strange language; for we may well call that language strange which is, in
the main, Sanscrit, with many Persian words intermingled.  Mr Dickens,
however, did not pretend, as some have done, to specially treat of
Gipsies, and he made no affectation of a knowledge of any mysteries.  He
simply reflected popular life as he saw it.  But there are many novels
and tales, old and new, devoted to setting forth Rommany life and
conversation, which are as much like the originals as a Pastor Fido is
like a common shepherd.  One novel which I once read, is so full of "the
dark blood," that it might almost be called a gipsy novel.  The hero is a
gipsy; he lives among his kind--the book is full of them; and yet, with
all due respect to its author, who is one of the most gifted and best-
informed romance writers of the century, I must declare that, from
beginning to end, there is not in the novel the slightest indication of
any real and familiar knowledge of gipsies.  Again, to put thieves' slang
into the mouths of gipsies, as their natural and habitual language, has
been so much the custom, from Sir Walter Scott to the present day, that
readers are sometimes gravely assured in good faith that this jargon is
pure Rommany.  But this is an old error in England, since the vocabulary
of cant appended to the "English Rogue," published in 1680, was long
believed to be Gipsy; and Captain Grose, the antiquary, who should have
known better, speaks with the same ignorance.

It is, indeed, strange to see learned and shrewd writers, who pride
themselves on truthfully depicting every element of European life, and
every type of every society, so ignorant of the habits, manners, and
language of thousands of really strange people who swarm on the highways
and bye-ways!  We have had the squire and the governess, my lord and all
Bohemia--Bohemia, artistic and literary--but where are our _Vrais
Bohemiens_?--Out of Lavengro and Rommany Rye--nowhere.  Yet there is to
be found among the children of Rom, or the descendants of the worshippers
of Rama, or the Doms or Coptic Romi, whatever their ancestors may have
been, more that is quaint and adapted to the purposes of the novelist,
than is to be found in any other class of the inhabitants of England.  You
may not detect a trace of it on the roads; but once become truly
acquainted with a fair average specimen of a Gipsy, pass many days in
conversation with him, and above all acquire his confidence and respect,
and you will wonder that such a being, so entirely different from
yourself, could exist in Europe in the nineteenth century.  It is said
that those who can converse with Irish peasants in their own native
tongue, form far higher opinions of their appreciation of the beautiful,
and of the elements of humour and pathos in their hearts, than do those
who know their thoughts only through the medium of English.  I know from
my own observation that this is quite the case with the Indians of North
America, and it is unquestionably so with the Gipsy.  When you know a
true specimen to the depths of his soul, you will find a character so
entirely strange, so utterly at variance with your ordinary conceptions
of humanity, that it is no exaggeration whatever to declare that it would
be a very difficult task for the best writer to convey to the most
intelligent reader an idea of his subject's nature.  You have in him, to
begin with, a being whose every condition of life is in direct
contradiction to what you suppose every man's life in England must be.  "I
was born in the open air," said a Gipsy to me a few days since; "and put
me down anywhere, in the fields or woods, I can always support myself."
Understand me, he did not mean by pilfering, since it was of America that
we were speaking, and of living in the lonely forests.  We pity with
tears many of the poor among us, whose life is one of luxury compared to
that which the Gipsy, who despises them, enjoys with a zest worth more
than riches.

"What a country America must be," quoth Pirengro, the Walker, to me, on
the occasion just referred to.  "Why, my pal, who's just welled apopli
from dovo tem--(my brother, who has just returned from that country),
tells me that when a cow or anything dies there, they just chuck it away,
and nobody ask a word for any of it."  "What would _you_ do," he
continued, "if you were in the fields and had nothing to eat?"

I replied, "that if any could be found, I should hunt for fern-roots."

"I could do better than that," he said.  "I should hunt for a
_hotchewitchi_,--a hedge-hog,--and I should be sure to find one; there's
no better eating."

Whereupon assuming his left hand to be an imaginary hedge-hog, he
proceeded to score and turn and dress it for ideal cooking with a case-

"And what had you for dinner to-day?" I inquired.

"Some cocks' heads.  They're very fine--very fine indeed!"

Now it is curious but true that there is no person in the world more
particular as to what he eats than the half-starved English or Irish
peasant, whose sufferings have so often been set forth for our
condolence.  We may be equally foolish, you and I--in fact chemistry
proves it--when we are disgusted at the idea of feeding on many things
which mere association and superstition render revolting.  But the old
fashioned gipsy has none of these qualms--he is haunted by no ghost of
society--save the policeman, he knows none of its terrors.  Whatever is
edible he eats, except horse-meat; wherever there is an empty spot he
sleeps; and the man who can do this devoid of shame, without caring a pin
for what the world says--nay, without even knowing that he does not care,
or that he is peculiar--is independent to a degree which of itself
confers a character which is not easy to understand.

I grew up as a young man with great contempt for Helvetius, D'Holbach,
and all the French philosophers of the last century, whose ideal man was
a perfect savage; but I must confess that since I have studied gipsy
nature, my contempt has changed into wonder where they ever learned in
their _salons_ and libraries enough of humanity to theorise so boldly,
and with such likeness to truth, as they did.  It is not merely in the
absolute out-of-doors independence of the old-fashioned Gipsy, freer than
any wild beast from care for food, that his resemblance to a
"philosopher" consists, or rather to the ideal man, free from imaginary
cares.  For more than this, be it for good or for evil, the real Gipsy
has, unlike all other men, unlike the lowest savage, positively no
religion, no tie to a spiritual world, no fear of a future, nothing but a
few trifling superstitions and legends, which in themselves indicate no
faith whatever in anything deeply seated.  It would be difficult, I
think, for any highly civilised man, who had not studied Thought deeply,
and in a liberal spirit, to approach in the least to a rational
comprehension of a real Gipsy mind.  During my life it has been my
fortune to become intimate with men who were "absolutely" or "positively"
free-thinkers--men who had, by long study and mere logic, completely
freed themselves from any mental tie whatever.  Such men are rare; it
requires an enormous amount of intellectual culture, an unlimited
expenditure of pains in the metaphysical hot-bed, and tremendous self-
confidence to produce them--I mean "the real article."  Among the most
thorough of these, a man on whom utter and entire freedom of thought sat
easily and unconsciously, was a certain German doctor of philosophy named
P---.  To him God and all things were simply ideas of development.  The
last remark which I can recall from him was "_Ja, ja_.  We advanced
Hegelians agree exactly on the whole with the Materialists."  Now, to my
mind, nothing seems more natural than that, when sitting entire days
talking with an old Gipsy, no one rises so frequently from the past
before me as Mr P---.  To him all religion represented a portion of the
vast mass of frozen, petrified developments, which simply impede the
march of intelligent minds; to my Rommany friend, it is one of the
thousand inventions of _gorgio_ life, which, like policemen, are simply
obstacles to Gipsies in the search of a living, and could he have grasped
the circumstances of the case, he would doubtless have replied "_Avali_,
we Gipsies agree on the whole exactly with Mr P---."  Extremes meet.

One Sunday an old Gipsy was assuring me, with a great appearance of
piety, that on that day she neither told fortunes nor worked at any kind
of labour--in fact, she kept it altogether correctly.

"_Avali_, _dye_," I replied.  "Do you know what the Gipsies in Germany
say became of their church?"

"_Kek_," answered the old lady.  "No.  What is it?"

"They say that the Gipsies' church was made of pork, and the dogs ate

Long, loud, and joyously affirmative was the peal of laughter with which
the Gipsies welcomed this characteristic story.

So far as research and the analogy of living tribes of the same race can
establish a fact, it would seem that the Gipsies were, previous to their
quitting India, not people of high caste, but wandering Pariahs,
outcasts, foes to the Brahmins, and unbelievers.  All the Pariahs are not
free-thinkers, but in India, the Church, as in Italy, loses no time in
making of all detected free-thinkers Pariahs.  Thus we are told, in the
introduction to the English translation of that very curious book, "The
Tales of the Gooroo Simple," which should be read by every scholar, that
all the true literature of the country--that which has life, and freedom,
and humour--comes from the Pariahs.  And was it different in those days,
when Rabelais, and Von Hutten, and Giordano Bruno were, in their wise,
Pariahs and Gipsies, roving from city to city, often wanting bread and
dreading fire, but asking for nothing but freedom?

The more I have conversed intimately with Gipsies, the more have I been
struck by the fact, that my mingled experiences of European education and
of life in the Far West of America have given me a basis of mutual
intelligence which had otherwise been utterly wanting.  I, myself, have
known in a wild country what it is to be half-starved for many days--to
feel that all my thoughts and intellectual exertions, hour by hour, were
all becoming centered on one subject--how to get something to eat.  I
felt what it was to be wolfish and even ravening; and I noted, step by
step, in myself, how a strange sagacity grew within me--an art of
detecting food.  It was during the American war, and there were thousands
of us pitifully starved.  When we came near some log hut I began at once
to surmise, if I saw a flour sack lying about, that there was a mill not
far distant; perhaps flour or bread in the house; while the dwellers in
the hut were closely scanned to judge from their appearance if they were
well fed, and of a charitable disposition.  It is a melancholy thing to
recall; but it is absolutely necessary for a thinker to have once lived
such a life, that he may be able to understand what is the intellectual
status of those fellow beings whose whole life is simply a hunt for
enough food to sustain life, and enough beer to cheer it.

I have spoken of the Gipsy fondness for the hedgehog.  Richard Liebich,
in his book, _Die Zigeuner in ihrem Wesen und in ihrer Sprache_, tells
his readers that the only indication of a belief in a future state which
he ever detected in an old Gipsy woman, was that she once dreamed she was
in heaven.  It appeared to her as a large garden, full of fine fat
hedgehogs.  "This is," says Mr Liebich, "unquestionably very earthly, and
dreamed very sensuously; reminding us of Mahommed's paradise, which in
like manner was directed to the animal and not to the spiritual nature,
only that here were hedgehogs and there houris."

Six or seven thousand years of hungry-marauding, end by establishing
strange points of difference between the mind of a Gipsy and a well-to-do
citizen.  It has starved God out of the former; he inherited unbelief
from his half fed Pariah ancestors, and often retains it, even in
England, to this day, with many other unmistakable signs of his Eastern-
jackal origin.  And strange as it may seem to you, reader, his
intercourse with Christians has all over Europe been so limited, that he
seldom really knows what religion is.  The same Mr Liebich tells us that
one day he overheard a Gipsy disputing with his wife as to what was the
true character of the belief of the Gentiles.  Both admitted that there
was a great elder grown up God (the _baro puro dewel_), and a smaller
younger God (the _tikno tarno dewel_).  But the wife maintained,
appealing to Mr Liebich for confirmation, that the great God no longer
reigned, having abdicated in favour of the Son, while the husband
declared that the Great older God died long ago, and that the world was
now governed by the little God who was, however, not the son of his
predecessor, but of a poor carpenter.

I have never heard of any such nonsense among the English wandering
Gipsies with regard to Christianity, but at the same time I must admit
that their ideas of what the Bible contains are extremely vague.  One day
I was sitting with an old Gipsy, discussing Rommany matters, when he
suddenly asked me what the word was in the _waver temmeny jib_, or
foreign Gipsy, for The Seven Stars.

"That would be," I said, "the _Efta Sirnie_.  I suppose your name for it
is the Hefta Pens.  There is a story that once they were seven sisters,
but one of them was lost, and so they are called seven to this day--though
there are only six.  And their right name is the Pleiades."

"That _gudlo_--that story," replied the gipsy, "is like the one of the
Seven Whistlers, which you know is in the Scriptures."


"At least they told me so; that the Seven Whistlers are seven spirits of
ladies who fly by night, high in the air, like birds.  And it says in the
Bible that once on a time one got lost, and never came back again, and
now the six whistles to find her.  But people calls 'em the Seven
Whistlers--though there are only six--exactly the same as in your story
of the stars."

"It's queer," resumed my Gipsy, after a pause, "how they always tells
these here stories by Sevens.  Were you ever on Salisbury Plain?"


"There are great stones there--_bori bars_--and many a night I've slept
there in the moonlight, in the open air, when I was a boy, and listened
to my father tellin' me about the Baker.  For there's seven great
stories, and they say that hundreds of years ago a baker used to come
with loaves of bread, and waste it all a tryin' to make seven loaves
remain at the same place, one on each stone.  But one all'us fell off,
and to this here day he's never yet been able to get all seven on the
seven stones."

I think that my Gipsy told this story in connection with that of the
Whistlers, because he was under the impression that it also was of
Scriptural origin.  It is, however, really curious that the Gipsy term
for an owlet is the _Maromengro's Chavi_, or Baker's Daughter, and that
they are all familiar with the monkish legend which declares that Jesus,
in a baker's shop, once asked for bread.  The mistress was about to give
him a large cake, when her daughter declared it was too much, and
diminished the gift by one half.

         "He nothing said,
   But by the fire laid down the bread,
   When lo, as when a blossom blows--
   To a vast loaf the manchet rose;
   In angry wonder, standing by,
   The girl sent forth a wild, rude cry,
   And, feathering fast into a fowl,
   Flew to the woods a wailing owl."

According to Eilert Sundt, who devoted his life to studying the _Fanten
and Tataren_, or vagabonds and Gipsies of Sweden and Norway, there is a
horrible and ghastly semblance among them of something like a religion,
current in Scandinavia.  Once a year, by night, the Gipsies of that
country assemble for the purpose of un-baptizing all of their children
whom they have, during the year, suffered to be baptized for the sake of
gifts, by the Gorgios.  On this occasion, amid wild orgies, they worship
a small idol, which is preserved until the next meeting with the greatest
secresy and care by their captain.  I must declare that this story seems
very doubtful to me.

I have devoted this chapter to illustrating from different points the
fact that there lives in England a race which has given its impress to a
vast proportion of our vagabond population, and which is more curious and
more radically distinct in all its characteristics, than our writers,
with one or two exceptions, have ever understood.  One extraordinary
difference still remains to be pointed out--as it has, in fact, already
been, with great acumen, by Mr George Borrow, in his "Gipsies in Spain,"
and by Dr Alexander Paspati, in his "Etudes sur les Tchinghianes ou
Bohemiens de l'Empire Ottoman" (Constantinople, 1870); also by Mr Bright,
in his "Hungary," and by Mr Simson.  It is this, that in every part of
the world it is extremely difficult to get Rommany words, even from
intelligent gipsies, although they may be willing with all their heart to
communicate them.  It may seem simple enough to the reader to ask a man
"How do you call 'to carry' in your language?"  But can the reader
understand that a man, who is possibly very much shrewder than himself in
reading at a glance many phases of character, and in countless
trickeries, should be literally unable to answer such a question?  And
yet I have met with many such.  The truth is, that there are people in
this world who never had such a thing as an abstract idea, let us say
even of an apple, plumped suddenly at them--not once in all their
lives--and, when it came, the unphilosophical mind could no more grasp
it, than the gentleman mentioned by G. H. Lewes (History of Philosophy),
could grasp the idea of substance without attribute as presented by
Berkeley.  The real Gipsy could talk about apples all day, but the sudden
demand for the unconnected word, staggers him--at least, until he has had
some practice in this, to him, new process.  And it is so with other
races.  Professor Max Muller once told me in conversation, as nearly as I
can recollect, that the Mohawk Indian language is extremely rich in
declension, every noun having some sixteen or seventeen inflexions of
case, but no nominative.  One can express one's relations to a father to
a most extraordinary extent, among the dilapidated descendants of that
once powerful tribe.  But such a thing as the abstract idea of _a_
father, or of 'father' _pur et simple_, never entered the Mohawk mind,
and this is very like the Gipsies.

When a rather wild Gipsy once gives you a word, it must be promptly
recorded, for a demand for its repetition at once confuses him.  _On doit
saisir le mot echappe au Nomade, et ne pas l'obliger a le repeter, car il
le changera selon so, facon_, says Paspati.  Unused to abstract efforts
of memory, all that he can retain is the sense of his last remark, and
very often this is changed with the fleeting second by some associated
thought, which materially modifies it.  It is always difficult, in
consequence, to take down a story in the exact terms which a philologist
desires.  There are two words for "bad" in English Gipsy, _wafro_ and
_vessavo_; and I think it must have taken me ten minutes one day to
learn, from a by no means dull gipsy, whether the latter word was known
to him, or if it were used at all.  He got himself into a hopeless tangle
in trying to explain the difference between _wafro_ and _naflo_, or ill,
until his mind finally refused to act on _vessavo_ at all, and
spasmodically rejected it.  With all the patience of Job, and the
meekness of Moses, I awaited my time, and finally obtained my

The impatience of such minds in narrative is amusing.  Let us suppose
that I am asking some _kushto Rommany chal_ for a version of AEsop's
fable of the youth and the cat.  He is sitting comfortably by the fire,
and good ale has put him into a story-telling humour.  I begin--

"Now then, tell me this _adree Rommanis_, in Gipsy--Once upon a time
there was a young man who had a cat."

Gipsy.--"_Yeckorus--'pre yeck cheirus_--_a raklo lelled a matchka_"--

While I am writing this down, and long before it is half done, the
professor of Rommany, becoming interested in the subject, continues

--"_an' the matchka yeck sala dicked a chillico apre a rukk_--(and the
cat one morning saw a bird in a tree"--)

I.--"Stop, stop!  _Hatch a wongish_!  That is not it!  Now go on.  _The
young man loved this cat so much_"--

_Gipsy_ (fluently, in Rommany), "that he thought her skin would make a
nice pair of gloves"--

"Confound your gloves!  Now do begin again"--

_Gipsy_, with an air of grief and injury: "I'm sure I was telling the
story for you the best way I knew how!"

Yet this man was far from being a fool.  What was it, then?  Simply and
solely, a lack of education--of that mental training which even those who
never entered a schoolhouse, receive more or less of, when they so much
as wait patiently for a month behind a chair, or tug for six months at a
plough, or in short, acquire the civilised virtue of Christian patience.
That is it.  We often hear in this world that a little education goes a
great way; but to get some idea of the immense value of a very little
education indeed, and the incredible effect it may have upon character,
one should study with gentleness and patience a real Gipsy.

Probably the most universal error in the world is the belief that all
men, due allowance being made for greater or less knowledge, or
"talents," have minds like our own; are endowed with the same moral
perception, and see things on the whole very much as we do.  Now the
truth is that a Chinese, whose mind is formed, not by "religion" as we
understand it, but simply by the intense pressure of "Old Custom," which
we do not understand, thinks in a different manner from an European;
moralists accuse him of "moral obliquity," but in reality it is a moral
difference.  Docility of mind, the patriarchal principle, and the very
perfection of innumerable wise and moral precepts have, by the practice
of thousands of years, produced in him their natural result.  Whenever he
attempts to think, his mind runs at once into some broad and open path,
beautifully bordered with dry artificial flowers, {21} and the result has
been the inability to comprehend any new idea--a state to which the
Church of the Middle Ages, or any too rigidly established system, would
in a few thousand years have reduced humanity.  Under the action of
widely different causes, the gipsy has also a different cast of mind from
our own, and a radical moral difference.  A very few years ago, when I
was on the Plains of Western Kansas, old Black Kettle, a famous Indian
chief said in a speech, "I am not a white man, I am a _wolf_.  I was born
like a wolf on the prairies.  I have lived like a wolf, and I shall die
like one."  Such is the wild gipsy.  Ever poor and hungry, theft seems to
him, in the trifling easy manner in which he practises it, simply a
necessity.  The moral aspects of petty crime he never considers at all,
nor does he, in fact, reflect upon anything as it is reflected on by the
humblest peasant who goes to church, or who in any way feels himself
connected as an integral part of that great body-corporate--Society.


The Old Fortune-Teller and her Brother.--The Patteran, or Gipsies' Road-
Mark .--The Christian Cross, named by Continental Gipsies Trushul, after
the Trident of Siva.--Curious English-Gipsy term for the Cross.--Ashwood
Fires on Christmas Day.--Our Saviour regarded with affection by the
Rommany because he was like themselves and poor.--Strange ideas of the
Bible.--The Oak.--Lizards renew their lives.--Snails.--Slugs.--Tobacco
Pipes as old as the world.

"Duveleste; Avo.  Mandy's kaired my patteran adusta chairuses where a
drum jals atut the waver," which means in English--"God bless you, yes.
Many a time I have marked my sign where the roads cross."

I was seated in the cottage of an old Gipsy mother, one of the most noted
fortune-tellers in England, when I heard this from her brother, himself
an ancient wanderer, who loves far better to hear the lark sing than the
mouse cheep when he wakes of a morning.

It was a very small but clean cottage, of the kind quite peculiar to the
English labourer, and therefore attractive to every one who has felt the
true spirit of the most original poetry and art which this country has
produced.  For look high or low, dear reader, you will find that nothing
has ever been better done in England than the pictures of rural life, and
over nothing have its gifted minds cast a deeper charm.

There were the little rough porcelain figures of which the English
peasantry are so fond, and which, cheap as they are, indicate that the
taste of your friends Lady --- for Worcester "porcelain," or the Duchess
of --- for Majolica, has its roots among far humbler folk.  In fact there
were perhaps twenty things which no English reader would have supposed
were peculiar, yet which were something more than peculiar to me.  The
master of the house was an Anglo-Saxon--a Gorgio--and his wife, by some
magic or other, the oracle before-mentioned.

And I, answering said--

"So you all call it _patteran_?" {24}

"No; very few of us know that name.  We do it without calling it

Then I took my stick and marked on the floor the following sign--

[Sign: ill24.jpg]

"There," I said, "is the oldest patteran--first of all--which the Gipsies
use to-day in foreign lands.  In Germany, when one band of Gipsies goes
by a cross road, they draw that deep in the dust, with the end of the
longest line pointing in the direction in which they have gone.  Then,
the next who come by see the mark, and, if they choose, follow it."

"We make it differently," said the Gipsy.  "This is our sign--the _trin
bongo drums_, or cross."  And he drew his patteran thus--

[Cross: ill25.jpg]

"The long end points the way," he added; "just as in your sign."

"You call a cross," I remarked, "_trin bongo drums_, or the three crooked
roads.  Do you know any such word as _trushul_ for it?"

"No; _trushilo_ is thirsty, and _trushni_ means a faggot, and also a

"I shouldn't wonder if a faggot once got the old Rommany word for cross,"
I said, "because in it every stick is crossed by the wooden _withy_ which
binds it; and in a basket, every wooden strip crosses the other."

I did not, however, think it worth while to explain to the Gipsies that
when their ancestors, centuries ago, left India, it was with the memory
that Shiva, the Destroyer, bore a trident, the tri-cula in Sanscrit, the
_trisul_ of Mahadeva in Hindustani, and that in coming to Europe the
resemblance of its shape to that of the Cross impressed them, so that
they gave to the Christian symbol the name of the sacred triple spear.
{26}  For if you turn up a little the two arms of a cross, you change the
emblem of suffering and innocence at once into one of murder--just as
ever so little a deviation from goodness will lead you, my dear boy, into
any amount of devilry.

And that the unfailing lucid flash of humour may not be wanting, there
lightens on my mind the memory of _The Mysterious Pitchfork_--a German
satirical play which made a sensation in its time--and Herlossohn in his
romance of _Der Letzte Taborit_ (which helped George Sand amazingly in
Consuelo), makes a Gipsy chieftain appear in a wonderfully puzzling light
by brandishing, in fierce midnight dignity, this agricultural parody on
Neptune's weapon, which brings me nicely around to my Gipsies again.

If I said nothing to the inmates of the cottage of all that the _trushul_
or cross trident suggested, still less did I vex their souls with the
mystic possible meaning of the antique _patteran_ or sign which I had
drawn.  For it has, I opine, a deep meaning, which as one who knew
Creuzer of old, I have a right to set forth.  Briefly, then, and without
encumbering my book with masses of authority, let me state that in all
early lore, the _road_ is a symbol of life; Christ himself having used it
in this sense.  Cross roads were peculiarly meaning-full as indicating
the meet-of life with life, of good with evil, a faith of which abundant
traces are preserved in the fact that until the present generation
suicides were buried at them, and magical rites and diabolic incantations
are supposed to be most successful when practised in such places.  The
English _path_, the Gipsy patteran, the Rommany-Hindu _pat_, a foot, and
the Hindu _panth_, a road, all meet in the Sanscrit _path_, which was the
original parting of the ways.  Now the _patteran_ which I have drawn,
like the Koua of the Chinese or the mystical _Swastika_ of the Buddhists,
embraces the long line of life, or of the infinite and the short, or
broken lines of the finite, and, therefore, as an ancient magical Eastern
sign, would be most appropriately inscribed as a _sikker-paskero
dromescro_--or hand post--to show the wandering Rommany how to proceed on
their way of life.

[Svastika: ill27.jpg]

That the ordinary Christian Cross should be called by the English Gipsies
a _trin bongo drum_--or the three cross roads--is not remarkable when we
consider that their only association with it is that of a "wayshower," as
Germans would call it.  To you, reader, it may be that it points the way
of eternal life; to the benighted Rommany-English-Hindoo, it indicates
nothing more than the same old weary track of daily travel; of wayfare
and warfare with the world, seeking food and too often finding none;
living for petty joys and driven by dire need; lying down with poverty
and rising with hunger, ignorant in his very wretchedness of a thousand
things which he _ought_ to want, and not knowing enough to miss them.

Just as the reader a thousand, or perhaps only a hundred, years
hence--should a copy of this work be then extant--may pity the writer of
these lines for his ignorance of the charming comforts, as yet unborn,
which will render _his_ physical condition so delightful.  To thee, oh,
future reader, I am what the Gipsy is to me!  Wait, my dear boy of the
Future--wait--till _you_ get to heaven!

Which is a long way off from the Gipsies.  Let us return.  We had spoken
_of patteran_, or of crosses by the way-side, and this led naturally
enough to speaking of Him who died on the Cross, and of wandering.  And I
must confess that it was with great interest I learned that the Gipsies,
from a very singular and Rommany point of view, respect, and even pay
him, in common with the peasantry in some parts of England, a peculiar
honour.  For this reason I bade the Gipsy carefully repeat his words, and
wrote them down accurately.  I give them in the original, with a
translation.  Let me first state that my informant was not quite clear in
his mind as to whether the Boro Divvus, or Great Day, was Christmas or
New Year's, nor was he by any means certain on which Christ was born.  But
he knew very well that when it came, the Gipsies took great pains to burn
an ash-wood fire.

"Avali--adusta cheirus I've had to jal dui or trin mees of a Boro Divvus
sig' in the sala, to lel ash-wood for the yag.  That was when I was a
bitti chavo, for my dadas always would keravit.

"An' we kairs it because foki pens our Saviour, the tikno Duvel was born
apre the Boro Divvus, 'pre the puv, avree in the temm, like we Rommanis,
and he was brought 'pre pash an ash yag--(_Why you can dick dovo adree
the Scriptures_!).

"The ivy and holly an' pine rukks never pookered a lav when our Saviour
was gaverin' of his kokero, an' so they tools their jivaben saw (sar) the
wen, and dicks selno saw the besh; but the ash, like the surrelo rukk,
pukkered atut him, where he was gaverin, so they have to hatch mullo
adree the wen.  And so we Rommany chals always hatchers an ash yag saw
the Boro Divvuses.  For the tickno duvel was chivved a wadras 'pre the
puvius like a Rommany chal, and kistered apre a myla like a Rommany, an'
jalled pale the tem a mangin his moro like a Rom.  An' he was always a
pauveri choro mush, like we, till he was nashered by the Gorgios.

"An' he kistered apre a myla?  Avali.  Yeckorus he putchered the pash-
grai if he might kister her, but she pookered him _kek_.  So because the
pash-grai wouldn't rikker him, she was sovahalled againsus never to be a
dye or lel tiknos.  So she never lelled kek, nor any cross either.

"Then he putchered the myla to rikker him, and she penned: 'Avali!' so he
pet a cross apre laki's dumo.  And to the divvus the myla has a trin
bongo drum and latchers tiknos, but the pash-grai has kek.  So the mylas
'longs of the Rommanis."

(TRANSLATION.)--"Yes--many a time I've had to go two or three miles of a
Great Day (Christmas), early in the morning, to get ash-wood for the
fire.  That was when I was a small boy, for my father always would do it.

"And we do it because people say our Saviour, the small God, was born on
the Great Day, in the field, out in the country, like we Rommanis, and he
was brought up by an ash-fire."

Here a sudden sensation of doubt or astonishment at my ignorance seemed
to occur to my informant, for he said,--

"Why, you can see that in the Scriptures!"

To which I answered, "But the Gipsies have Scripture stories different
from those of the Gorgios, and different ideas about religion.  Go on
with your story.  Why do you burn ash-wood?"

"The ivy, and holly, and pine trees, never told a word where our Saviour
was hiding himself, and so they keep alive all the winter, and look green
all the year.  But the ash, like the oak (_lit_. strong tree), told of
him (_lit_. across, against him), where he was hiding, so they have to
remain dead through the winter.  And so we Gipsies always burn an ash-
fire every Great Day.  For the Saviour was born in the open field like a
Gipsy, and rode on an ass like one, and went round the land a begging his
bread like a Rom.  And he was always a poor wretched man like us, till he
was destroyed by the Gentiles.

"And He rode on an ass?  Yes.  Once he asked the mule if he might ride
her, but she told him no.  So because the mule would not carry him, she
was cursed never to be a mother or have children.  So she never had any,
nor any cross either.

"Then he asked the ass to carry him, and she said 'Yes;' so he put a
cross upon her back.  And to this day the ass has a cross and bears
young, but the mule has none.  So the asses belong to (are peculiar to)
the Gipsies."

There was a pause, when I remarked--

"That is a _fino gudlo_--a fine story; and all of it about an ash tree.
Can you tell me anything about the _surrelo rukk_--the strong tree--the

"Only what I've often heard our people say about its life."

"And what is that?"

"Dui hundred besh a hatchin, dui hundred besh nasherin his chuckko, dui
hundred besh 'pre he mullers, and then he nashers sar his ratt and he's
kekoomi kushto." {30}

"That is good, too.  There are a great many men who would like to live as

"_Tacho_, true.  But an old coat can hold out better than a man.  If a
man gets a hole in him he dies, but his _chukko_ (coat) can be _toofered_
and _sivved apre_ (mended and sewed up) for ever.  So, unless a man could
get a new life every year, as they say the _hepputs_, the little lizards
do, he needn't hope to live like an oak."

"Do the lizards get a new life every year?"

"_Avali_.  A _hepput_ only lives one year, and then he begins life over

"Do snails live as long as lizards?"

"Not when I find 'em rya--if I am hungry.  Snails are good eating. {32}
You can find plenty on the hedges.  When they're going about in the
fields or (are found) under wood, they are not good eating.  The best are
those which are kept, or live through (literally _sleep_) the winter.
Take 'em and wash 'em and throw 'em into the kettle, with water and a
little salt.  The broth's good for the yellow jaundice."

"So you call a snail"--

"A bawris," said the old fortune-teller.

"Bawris!  The Hungarian Gipsies call it a _bouro_.  But in Germany the
Rommanis say stargoli.  I wonder why a snail should be a stargoli."

"I know," cried the brother, eagerly.  "When you put a snail on the fire
it cries out and squeaks just like a little child.  Stargoli means 'four

I had my doubts as to the accuracy of this startling derivation, but said
nothing.  The same Gipsy on a subsequent occasion, being asked what he
would call a _roan_ horse in Rommany, replied promptly--

"A matchno grai"--a fish-horse.

"Why a matchno grai?"

"Because a fish has a roan (_i.e_., roe), hasn't it?  Leastways I can't
come no nearer to it, if it ain't that."

But he did better when I was puzzling my brain, as the learned Pott and
Zippel had done before me, over the possible origin of churro or tchurro,
"a ball, or anything round," when he suggested--

"Rya--I should say that as a _churro_ is round, and a _curro_ or cup is
round, and they both sound alike and look alike, it must be all werry
much the same thing." {33}

"Can you tell me anything more about snails?" I asked, reverting to a
topic which, by the way, I have observed is like that of the hedgehog, a
favourite one with Gipsies.

"Yes; you can cure warts with the big black kind that have no shells."

"You mean slugs.  I never knew they were fit to cure anything."

"Why, that's one of the things that everybody knows.  When you get a wart
on your hands, you go on to the road or into the field till you find a
slug, one of the large kind with no shell (literally, with no house upon
him), and stick it on the thorn of a blackthorn in a hedge, and as the
snail dies, one day after the other, for four or five days, the wart will
die away.  Many a time I've told that to Gorgios, and Gorgios have done
it, and the warts have gone away (literally, cleaned away) from their
hands." {34}

Here the Gipsy began to inquire very politely if smoking were offensive
to me; and as I assured him that it was not, he took out his pipe.  And
knowing by experience that nothing is more conducive to sociability, be
it among Chippeways or Gipsies, than that smoking which is among our
Indians, literally a burnt-offering, {35} I produced a small clay pipe of
the time of Charles the Second, given to me by a gentleman who has the
amiable taste to collect such curiosities, and give them to his friends
under the express condition that they shall be smoked, and not laid away
as relics of the past.  If you move in _etching_ circles, dear readers,
you will at once know to whom I refer.

The quick eye of the Gipsy at once observed my pipe.

"That is a _crow-swagler_--a crow-pipe," he remarked.

"Why a crow-pipe?"

"I don't know.  Some Gipsies call 'em _mullos' swaglers_, or dead men's
pipes, because those who made 'em were dead long ago.  There are places
in England where you can find 'em by dozens in the fields.  I never
dicked (saw) one with so long a stem to it as yours.  And they're old,
very old.  What is it you call it before everything" (here he seemed
puzzled for a word) "when the world was a-making?"

"The Creation."

"Avali--that's it, the Creation.  Well, them crow-swaglers was kaired at
the same time; they're hundreds--avali--thousands of beshes (years) old.
And sometimes we call the beng (devil) a swagler, or we calls a swagler
the beng."


"Because the devil lives in smoke."


Difficulty of coming to an Understanding with Gipsies.--The
Cabman.--Rommany for French.--"Wanderlust."--Gipsy Politeness.--The
Tinker and the Painting.--Secrets of Bat-catching.--The Piper of Hamelin,
and the Tinker's Opinion of the Story.--The Walloon Tinker of Spa.--Argot.

One summer day in London, in 1871, I was seated alone in an artist's
studio.  Suddenly I heard without, beneath the window, the murmur of two
voices, and the sleepy, hissing, grating sound of a scissors-grinder's

By me lay a few tools, one of which, a chisel, was broken.  I took it,
went softly to the window, and looked down.

There was the wheel, including all the apparatus of a travelling tinker.
I looked to see if I could discover in the two men who stood by it any
trace of the Rommany.  One, a fat, short, mind-his-own-business, ragged
son of the roads, who looked, however, as if a sturdy drinker might be
hidden in his shell, was evidently not my "affair."  He seemed to be the
"Co." of the firm.

But by him, and officiating at the wheeling smithy, stood a taller
figure--the face to me invisible--which I scrutinised more nearly.  And
the instant I observed his _hat_ I said to myself, "This looks like it."

For dilapidated, worn, wretched as that hat was, there was in it an
attempt, though indescribably humble, to be something melo-dramatic,
foreign, Bohemian, and poetic.  It was the mere blind, dull, dead germ of
an effort--not even _life_--only the ciliary movement of an antecedent
embryo--and yet it _had_ got beyond Anglo-Saxondom.  No costermonger, or
common cad, or true Englishman, ever yet had that indefinable touch of
the opera-supernumerary in the streets.  It _was_ a sombrero.

"That's the man for me," I said.  So I called him, and gave him the
chisel, and after a while went down.  He was grinding away, and touched
his hat respectfully as I approached.

Now the reader is possibly aware that of all difficult tasks one of the
most difficult is to induce a disguised Gipsy, or even a professed one,
to utter a word of Rommany to a man not of the blood.  Of this all
writers on the subject have much to say.  For it is so black-swanish, I
may say so centenarian in unfrequency, for a gentleman to speak Gipsy,
that the Zingaro thus addressed is at once subjected to morbid
astonishment and nervous fears, which under his calm countenance and
infinite "cheek" are indeed concealed, but which speedily reduce
themselves to two categories.

1.  That Rommany is the language of men at war with the law; therefore
you are either a detective who has acquired it for no healthy purpose, or
else you yourself are a scamp so high up in the profession that it
behooves all the little fish of outlawdom to beware of you.

2.  Or else--what is quite as much to be dreaded--you are indeed a
gentleman, but one seeking to make fun of him, and possibly able to do
so.  At any rate, your knowledge of Rommany is a most alarming coin of
vantage.  Certainly, reader, you know that a regular London streeter, say
a cabman, would rather go to jail than be beaten in a chaffing match.  I
nearly drove a hansom into sheer convulsions one night, about the time
this chapter happened, by a very light puzzler indeed.  I had hesitated
between him and another.

"You don't know _your own mind_," said the disappointed candidate to me.

"_Mind your own_ business," I replied.  It was a poor palindrome, {38}
reader--hardly worth telling--yet it settled him.  But he swore--oh, of
course he did--he swore beautifully.

Therefore, being moved to caution, I approached calmly and gazed
earnestly on the revolving wheel.

"Do you know," I said, "I think a great deal of your business, and take a
great interest in it."

"Yes, sir."

"I can tell you all the names of your tools in French.  You'd like to
hear them, wouldn't you?"

"Wery much indeed, sir."

So I took up the chisel.  "This," I said, "is a _churi_, sometimes called
a _chinomescro_."

"That's the French for it, is it, sir?" replied the tinker, gravely.  Not
a muscle of his face moved.

"The _coals_," I added, "are _hangars_ or _wongurs_, sometimes called

"Never heerd the words before in my life," quoth the sedate tinker.

"The bellows is a _pudemengro_.  Some call it a _pishota_."

"Wery fine language, sir, is French," rejoined the tinker.  In every
instance he repeated the words after me, and pronounced them correctly,
which I had not invariably done.  "Wery fine language.  But it's quite
new to me."

"You wouldn't think now," I said, affably, "that _I_ had ever been on the

The tinker looked at me from my hat to my boots, and solemnly replied--

"I should say it was wery likely.  From your language, sir, wery likely

I gazed as gravely back as if I had not been at that instant the worst
sold man in London, and asked--

"Can you _rakher Rommanis_?" (_i.e_., speak Gipsy.)

And _he_ said he _could_.

Then we conversed.  He spoke English intermingled with Gipsy, stopping
from time to time to explain to his assistant, or to teach him a word.
This portly person appeared to be about as well up in the English Gipsy
as myself--that is, he knew it quite as imperfectly.  I learned that the
master had been in America, and made New York and Brooklyn glad by his
presence, while Philadelphia, my native city had been benefited as to its
scissors and morals by him.

"And as I suppose you made money there, why didn't you remain?" I

The Gipsy--for he was really a Gipsy, and not a half-scrag--looked at me
wistfully, and apparently a little surprised that I should ask him such a

"Why, sir, _you_ know that _we_ can't keep still.  Somethin' kept telling
me to move on, and keep a movin'.  Some day I'll go back again."

Suddenly--I suppose because a doubt of my perfect Freemasonry had been
aroused by my absurd question--he said, holding up a kettle--

"What do you call this here in Rommanis?"

"I call it a _kekavi_ or a _kavi_," I said.  "But it isn't _right_
Rommany.  It's Greek, which the Rommanichals picked up on their way

And here I would remark, by the way, that I have seldom spoken to a Gipsy
in England who did not try me on the word for kettle.

"And what do you call a face?" he added.

"I call a face a _mui_," I said, "and a nose a _nak_; and as for _mui_, I
call _rikker tiro mui_, 'hold your jaw.'  That is German Rommany."

The tinker gazed at me admiringly, and then said, "You're 'deep' Gipsy, I
see, sir--that's what _you_ are."

"_Mo rov a jaw_; _mo rakker so drovan_?" I answered.  "Don't talk so
loud; do you think I want all the Gorgios around here to know I talk
Gipsy?  Come in; _jal adree the ker and pi a curro levinor_."

The tinker entered.  As with most Gipsies there was really, despite the
want of "education," a real politeness--a singular intuitive refinement
pervading all his actions, which indicated, through many centuries of
brutalisation, that fountain-source of all politeness--the Oriental.  Many
a time I have found among Gipsies whose life, and food, and dress, and
abject ignorance, and dreadful poverty were far below that of most
paupers and prisoners, a delicacy in speaking to and acting before
ladies, and a tact in little things, utterly foreign to the great
majority of poor Anglo-Saxons, and not by any means too common in even
higher classes.

For example, there was a basket of cakes on the table, which cakes were
made like soldiers in platoons.  Now Mr Katzimengro, or Scissorman, as I
call him, not being familiar with the anatomy of such delicate and
winsome maro, or bread, was startled to find, when he picked up one
biscuit de Rheims, that he had taken a row.  Instantly he darted at me an
astonished and piteous glance, which said--

"I cannot, with my black tinker fingers, break off and put the cakes back
again; I do not want to take all--it looks greedy."

So I said, "Put them in your pocket."  And he did so, quietly.  I have
never seen anything done with a better grace.

On the easel hung an unfinished picture, representing the Piper of
Hamelin surrounded by rats without number.  The Gipsy appeared to be much
interested in it.

"I used to be a rat-catcher myself," he said.  "I learned the business
under old Lee, who was the greatest rat-catcher in England.  I suppose
you know, of course, sir, how to _draw_ rats?"

"Certainly," I replied.  "Oil of rhodium.  I have known a house to be
entirely cleared by it.  There were just thirty-six rats in the house,
and they had a trap which held exactly twelve.  For three nights they
caught a dozen, and that finished the congregation."

"Aniseed is better," replied the Gipsy, solemnly.  (By the way, another
and an older Gipsy afterwards told me that he used caraway-oil and the
heads of dried herrings.)  "And if you've got a rat, sir, anywhere in
this here house, I'll bring it to you in five minutes."

He did, in fact, subsequently bring the artist as models for the picture
two very pretty rats, which he had quite tamed while catching them.

"But what does the picture mean, sir?" he inquired, with curiosity.

"Once upon a time," I replied, "there was a city in Germany which was
overrun with rats.  They teased the dogs and worried the cats, and bit
the babies in the cradle, and licked the soup from the cook's own ladle."

"There must have been an uncommon lot of them, sir," replied the tinker,

"There was.  Millions of them.  Now in those days there were no
Rommanichals, and consequently no rat-catchers."

"'Taint so now-a-days," replied the Gipsy, gloomily.  "The business is
quite spiled, and not to get a livin' by."

"Avo.  And by the time the people had almost gone crazy, one day there
came a man--a Gipsy--the first Gipsy who had ever been seen in _dovo tem_
(or that country).  And he agreed for a thousand crowns to clear all the
rats away.  So he blew on a pipe, and the rats all followed him out of

"What did he blow on a pipe for?"

"Just for _hokkerben_, to humbug them.  I suppose he had oils rubbed on
his heels.  But when he had drawn the rats away and asked for his money,
they would not give it to him.  So then, what do you think he did?"

"I suppose--ah, I see," said the Gipsy, with a shrewd look.  "He went and
drew 'em all back again."

"No; he went, and this time piped all the children away.  They all went
after him--all except one little lame boy--and that was the last of it."

The Gipsy looked earnestly at me, and then, as if I puzzled, but with an
expression of perfect faith, he asked--

"And is that all _tacho_--all a fact--or is it made up, you know?"

"Well, I think it is partly one and partly the other.  You see, that in
those days Gipsies were very scarce, and people were very much astonished
at rat-drawing, and so they made a queer story of it."

"But how about the children?"

"Well," I answered; "I suppose you have heard occasionally that Gipsies
used to chore Gorgios' chavis--steal people's children?"

Very grave indeed was the assent yielded to this explanation.  He _had_
heard it among other things.

My dear Mr Robert Browning, I little thought, when I suggested to the
artist your poem of the piper, that I should ever retail the story in
Rommany to a tinker.  But who knows with whom he may associate in this
life, or whither he may drift on the great white rolling sea of humanity?
Did not Lord Lytton, unless the preface to Pelham err, himself once tarry
in the tents of the Egyptians? and did not Christopher North also wander
with them, and sing--

   "Oh, little did my mother think,
      The day she cradled me,
   The lands that I should travel in,
      Or the death that I should dee;
   Or gae rovin' about wi' tinkler loons,
      And sic-like companie"?

"You know, sir," said the Gipsy, "that we have two languages.  For
besides the Rummany, there's the reg'lar cant, which all tinkers talk."

"_Kennick_ you mean?"

"Yes, sir; that's the Rummany for it.  A 'dolly mort' is Kennick, but
it's _juva_ or _rakli_ in Rummanis.  It's a girl, or a rom's _chi_."

"You say _rom_ sometimes, and then _rum_."

"There's _rums_ and _roms_, sir.  The _rum_ is a Gipsy, and a _rom_ is a

"That's your English way of calling it.  All the rest of the world over
there is only one word among Gipsies, and that is _rom_."

Now, the allusion to _Kennick_ or cant by a tinker, recalls an incident
which, though not strictly Gipsy in its nature, I will nevertheless

In the summer of 1870 I spent several weeks at Spa, in the Ardennes.  One
day while walking I saw by the roadside a picturesque old tinker, looking
neither better nor worse than the grinder made immortal by Teniers.

I was anxious to know if all of his craft in Belgium could speak Gipsy,
and addressed him in that language, giving him at the same time my knife
to grind.  He replied politely in French that he did not speak Rommany,
and only understood French and Walloon.  Yet he seemed to understand
perfectly the drift of my question, and to know what Gipsy was, and its
nature, since after a pause he added, with a significant smile--

"But to tell the truth, monsieur, though I cannot talk Rommany, I know
another secret language.  I can speak _Argot_ fluently."

Now, I retain in my memory, from reading the Memoirs of Vidocq thirty
years ago, one or two phrases of this French thieves' slang, and I at
once replied that I knew a few words of it myself, adding--

"_Tu sais jaspiner en bigorne_?"--you can talk argot?

"_Oui, monsieur_."

"_Et tu vas roulant de vergne en vergne_?"--and you go about from town to

Grave and keen, and with a queer smile, the tinker replied, very slowly--

"Monsieur knows the Gipsies" (here he shook his head), "and monsieur
speaks _argot_ very well."  (A shrug.)  "Perhaps he knows more than he
credits himself with.  Perhaps" (and here his wink was diabolical)--
"_perhaps monsieur knows the entire tongue_!"

Spa is full not only of gamblers, but of numbers of well-dressed Parisian
sharpers who certainly know "the entire tongue."  I hastened to pay my
tinker, and went my way homewards.  Ross Browne was accused in Syria of
having "burgled" onions, and the pursuit of philology has twice subjected
me to be suspected by tinkers as a flourishing member of the "dangerous

But to return to my rat-catcher.  As I quoted a verse of German Gipsy
song, he manifested an interest in it, and put me several questions with
regard to the race in other lands.

"I wish I was a rich gentleman.  I would like to travel like you, sir,
and have nothing to do but go about from land to land, looking after our
Rummany people as you do, and learnin' everything Rummany.  Is it true,
sir, we come from Egypt?"

"No.  I think not.  There are Gipsies in Egypt, but there is less Rommany
in their _jib_ (language) than in any other Gipsy tribe in the world.  The
Gipsies came from India."

"And don't you think, sir, that we're of the children of the lost Ten

"I am quite sure that you never had a drop of blood in common with them.
Tell me, do you know any Gipsy _gilis_--any songs?"

"Only a bit of a one, sir; most of it isn't fit to sing, but it begins--"

And here he sang:

   "Jal 'dree the ker my honey,
   And you shall be my rom."

And chanting this, after thanking me, he departed, gratified with his
gratuity, rejoiced at his reception, and most undoubtedly benefited by
the beer with which I had encouraged his palaver--a word, by the way,
which is not inappropriate, since it contains in itself the very word of
words, the _lav_, which means a word, and is most antiquely and
excellently Gipsy.  Pehlevi is old Persian, and to _pen lavi_ is Rommany
all the world over "to speak words."


Gipsies and Comteists identical as to "Religion"--Singular Manner of
Mourning for the Dead, as practised by Gipsies--Illustrations from
Life--Gipsy Job and the Cigars--Oaths by the Dead--Universal Gipsy Custom
of never Mentioning the Names of the Dead--Burying valuable Objects with
the Dead--Gipsies, Comteists, Hegelians, and Jews--The Rev. James Crabbe.

Comte, the author of the Positivist philosophy, never felt the need of a
religion until he had fallen in love; and at the present day his "faith"
appears to consist in a worship of the great and wise and good among the
dead.  I have already spoken of many Gipsies reminding me, by their
entirely unconscious ungodliness, of thorough Hegelians.  I may now add,
that, like the Positivists, they seem to correct their irreligion through
the influence of love; and by a strange custom, which is, in spirit and
fact, nothing less than adoring the departed and offering to the dead a
singular sacrifice.

He who has no house finds a home in family and friends, whence it results
that the Gipsy, despite his ferocious quarrels in the clan, and his sharp
practice even with near relations, is--all things considered--perhaps the
most devoted to kith and kin of any one in the world.  His very name--rom,
a husband--indicates it.  His children, as almost every writer on him,
from Grellmann down to the present day, has observed, are more thoroughly
indulged and spoiled than any non-gipsy can conceive; and despite all the
apparent contradictions caused by the selfishness born of poverty,
irritable Eastern blood, and the eccentricity of semi-civilisation, I
doubt if any man, on the whole, in the world, is more attached to his

It was only three or four hours ago, as I write, on the fifth day of
February 1872, that a Gipsy said to me, "It is nine years since my wife
died, and I would give all Anglaterra to have her again."

That the real religion of the Gipsies, as I have already observed,
consists like that of the Comteists, in devotion to the dead, is
indicated by a very extraordinary custom, which, notwithstanding the very
general decay, of late years, of all their old habits, still prevails
universally.  This is the refraining from some usage or indulgence in
honour of the departed--a sacrifice, as it were, to their _manes_--and I
believe that, by inquiring, it will be found to exist among all Gipsies
in all parts of the world.  In England it is shown by observances which
are maintained at great personal inconvenience, sometime for years, or
during life.  Thus, there are many Gipsies who, because a deceased
brother was fond of spirits, have refrained, after his departure, from
tasting them, or who have given up their favourite pursuits, for the
reason that they were last indulged in, in company with the lost and
loved one.

As a further illustration, I will give in the original Gipsy-language, as
I myself took it down rapidly, but literally, the comments of a
full-blooded Gipsy on this custom--the translation being annexed.  I
should state that the narrative which precedes his comments was a reply
to my question, Why he invariably declined my offer of cigars?

"No; I never toovs cigaras, kek.  I never toovs 'em kenna since my pal's
chavo Job mullered.  And I'll pooker tute how it welled."

"It was at the boro wellgooro where the graias prasters.  I was kairin
the paiass of the koshters, and mandy dicked a rye an' pookered him for a
droppi levinor.  '_Avali_,' he penned, 'I'll del you levinor and a kushto
tuvalo too.'  'Parraco,' says I, 'rya.'  So he del mandy the levinor and
a dozen cigaras.  I pet em adree my poachy an' jailed apre the purge and
latched odoi my pal's chavo, an' he pook'd mandy, 'Where you jallin to,
kako?'  And I penned: 'Job, I've lelled some covvas for tute.'  'Tacho,'
says he--so I del him the cigaras.  Penned he: 'Where did tute latcher
'em?'  'A rye del 'em a mandy.'  So he pet em adree his poachy, an'
pookered mandy, 'What'll tu lel to pi?'  'A droppi levinor.'  So he
penned, 'Pauli the grais prasters, I'll jal atut the puvius and dick

"Eight or nine divvuses pauli, at the K'allis's Gav, his pal welled to
mandy and pookered mi Job sus naflo.  And I penned, 'Any thing dush?'
'Worse nor dovo.'  'What _is_ the covvo?'  Says yuv, 'Mandy kaums tute to
jal to my pal--don't spare the gry--mukk her jal!'  So he del mi a fino
grai, and I kistered eight mee so sig that I thought I'd mored her.  An'
I pet her dree the stanya, an' I jalled a lay in the puv and' odoi I
dicked Job.  'Thank me Duvel!' penned he, 'Kako you's welled acai, and if
mandy gets opre this bugni (for 'twas the bugni he'd lelled), I'll del
tute the kushtiest gry that you'll beat sar the Romni chuls.'  But he

"And he pens as he was mullerin.  'Kako, tute jins the cigarras you del a
mandy?'  '_Avali_,' I says he, 'I've got 'em acai in my poachy.'  Mandy
and my pens was by him, but his romni was avree, adree the boro tan,
bikinin covvas, for she'd never lelled the bugni, nor his chavos, so they
couldn't well a dickin, for we wouldn't mukk em.  And so he mullered.

"And when yuv's mullo I pet my wast adree his poachy and there mandy
lastered the cigaras.  And from dovo chairus, rya, mandy never tooved a

"Avali--there's adusta Romni chuls that kairs dovo.  And when my juvo
mullered, mandy never lelled nokengro kekoomi.  Some chairuses in her
jivaben, she'd lel a bitti nokengro avree my mokto, and when I'd pen,
'Deari juvo, what do you kair dovo for?' she pooker mandy, 'It's kushti
for my sherro.'  And so when she mullered mandy never lelled chichi

"Some mushis wont haw mass because the pal or pen that mullered was
kammaben to it,--some wont pi levinor for panj or ten besh, some wont haw
the kammaben matcho that the chavo hawed.  Some wont haw puvengroes or pi
tood, or haw pabos, and saw (sar) for the mullos.

"Some won't kair wardos or kil the boshomengro--'that's mandy's pooro
chavo's gilli'--and some won't kel.  'No, I can't kel, the last time I
kelled was with mandy's poor juvo that's been mullo this shtor besh.'

"'Come pal, let's jal an' have a drappi levinor--the boshomengri's odoi.'
'Kek, pal, kekoomi--I never pi'd a drappi levinor since my bibi's
jalled.'  'Kushto--lel some tuvalo pal?'  'Kek--kek--mandy never tooved
since minno juvo pelled a lay in the panni, and never jalled avree
kekoomi a jivaben.'  'Well, let's jal and kair paiass with the
koshters--we dui'll play you dui for a pint o' levinor.'  'Kek--I never
kaired the paiass of the koshters since my dadas mullered--the last
chairus I ever played was with him.'

"And Lena, the juva of my pal's chavo, Job, never hawed plums a'ter her
rom mullered."

(TRANSLATION).--"No, I never smoke cigars.  No; I never smoke them now
since my brother's son Job died.  And I'll tell you how it came.

"It was at the great fair where the horses run (_i.e_., the races), I was
keeping a cock-shy, and I saw a gentleman, and asked him for a drop of
ale.  'Yes,' he said, 'I'll give you ale, and a good smoke too.'  'Thank
you,' says I, 'Sir.'  So he gave me the ale, and a dozen cigars.  I put
them in my pocket, and went on the road and found there my brother's son,
and he asked me, 'Where (are) you going, uncle?'  And I said: 'Job, I
have something for you.'  'Good,' says he--so I gave him the cigars.  He
said: 'Where did you find them?'  'A gentleman gave them to me.'  So he
put them in his pocket, and asked me, 'What'll you take to drink?'  'A
drop of ale.'  So he said, 'After the horses (have) run I'll go across
the field and see you.'

"Eight or nine days after, at Hampton Court, {53} his 'pal' came to me
and told me that Job was ill.  And I said, 'Anything wrong?' 'Worse nor
that.'  'What _is_ the affair?'  Said he, 'I want you to go to my
pal,--don't spare the horse--let her go!'  So he gave me a fine horse,
and I rode eight miles so fast that I thought I'd killed her.  And I put
her in the stable, and I went down into the field, and there I saw Job.
'Thank God!' said he; 'Uncle, you've come here; and if I get over this
small-pox (for 'twas the smallpox he'd caught), I'll give you the best
horse that you'll beat all the Gipsies.'  But he died.

"And he says as he was dying, 'Uncle, you know the cigars you gave me?'
'Yes.'  Says he, 'I've got 'em here in my pocket.'  I and my sisters were
by him, but his wife was outside in the great tent, selling things, for
she never had the smallpox, nor his children, so they couldn't come to
see, for we wouldn't let them.  And so he died.

"And when he was dead, I put my hand in his pocket, and there I found the
cigars.  And from that time, Sir, I never smoked a cigar.

"Yes! there are plenty of Gipsies who do that.  And when my wife died, I
never took snuff again.  Sometimes in her life she'd take a bit of snuff
out (from) my box; and when I'd say, 'Dear wife, what do you do that
for?' she'd tell me, 'It's good for my head.'  And so when she died I
never took any (none) since.

"Some men won't eat meat because the brother or sister that died was fond
of (to) it; some won't drink ale for five or ten years; some won't eat
the favourite fish that the child ate.  Some won't eat potatoes, or drink
milk, or eat apples; and all for the dead.

"Some won't play cards or the fiddle--'that's my poor boy's tune'--and
some won't dance--'No, I can't dance, the last time I danced was with my
poor wife (or girl) that's been dead this four years.'

"'Come, brother, let's go and have a drop of ale; the fiddler is there.'
'No, brother, I never drank a drop of ale since my aunt went (died).'
'Well, take some tobacco, brother?'  'No, no, I have not smoked since my
wife fell in the water and never came out again alive.'  'Well, let's go
and play at cock-shy, we two'll play you two for a pint o' ale.'  'No, I
never played at cock-shy since my father died; the last time I played was
with him.'

"And Lena, the wife of my nephew Job, never ate plums after her husband

This is a strange manner of mourning, but it is more effective than the
mere wearing of black, since it is often a long-sustained and trying
tribute to the dead.  Its Oriental-Indian origin is apparent enough.  But
among the German Gipsies, who, I am firmly convinced, represent in
language and customs their English brethren as the latter were three
centuries ago, this reverence for the departed assumes an even deeper and
more serious character.  Mr Richard Liebich (_Die Zigeuner_, _Leipzig_,
1863), tells us that in his country their most sacred oath is _Ap i
mulende_!--by the dead!--and with it may be classed the equally
patriarchal imprecation, "By my father's hand!"

Since writing the foregoing sentence a very remarkable confirmation of
the existence of this oath among English Gipsies, and the sacredness with
which it is observed, came under my own observation.  An elderly Gipsy,
during the course of a family difficulty, declared to his sister that he
would leave the house.  She did not believe he would until he swore by
his dead wife--by his "_mullo juvo_."  And when he had said this, his
sister promptly remarked: "Now you have sworn by her, I know you will do
it."  He narrated this to me the next day, adding that he was going to
put a tent up, about a mile away, and live there.  I asked him if he ever
swore by his dead father, to which he said: "Always, until my wife died."
This poor man was almost entirely ignorant of what was in the Bible, as I
found by questioning him; but I doubt whether I know any Christian on
whom a Bible oath would be more binding than was to him his own by the
dead.  To me there was something deeply moving in the simple earnestness
and strangeness of this adjuration.

The German, like the older English Gipsies, carefully burn the clothes
and bed of the deceased, and, indeed, most objects closely connected with
them, and what is more extraordinary, evince their respect by carefully
avoiding mentioning their names, even when they are borne by other
persons or are characteristic of certain things.  So that when a Gipsy
maiden named Forella once died, her entire nation, among whom the trout
had always been known only by its German designation, Forelle, at once
changed the name, and, to this day it is called by them _mulo
madscho_--the dead fish,--or at times _lolo madscho_--the red fish.

This is also the case among the English Gipsies.  Wishing to have the
exact words and views of a real Rommany on this subject, I made inquiry,
and noted down his reply, which was literally as follows:--

"Avali; when Rommany chals or juvos are mullos, their pals don't kaum to
shoon their navs pauli--it kairs 'em too bongo--so they're purabend to
waver navs.  Saw don't kair it--kek--but posh do, kenna.  My chavo's nav
was Horfer or Horferus, but the bitti chavis penned him Wacker.  Well,
yeck divvus pre the wellgooro o' the graias prasters, my juvo dicked a
boro _doll_ adree some hev of a buttika and penned, 'Dovo odoi dicks just
like moro Wacker!'  So we penned him _Wackerdoll_, but a'ter my juvo
mullered I rakkered him Wacker again, because Wackerdoll pet mandy in
cammoben o' my poor juvo."

In English: "Yes.  When Gipsy men or women die, their friends don't care
to hear their names again--it makes them too sad, so they are changed to
other names.  All don't do it--no--but half of them do so still.  My
boy's name was Horfer or Horferus (Orpheus), but the children called him
Wacker.  Well, one day at the great fair of the races, my wife saw a
large doll in some window of a shop, and said, 'That looks just like our
Wacker!'  So we called him Wackerdoll, but after my wife died I called
him Wacker again, because Wacker_doll_ put me in mind of my poor wife."

When further interrogated on the same subject, he said:

"A'ter my juva mullered, if I dicked a waver rakli with lakis'nav, an'
mandy was a rakkerin laki, mandy'd pen ajaw a waver geeri's nav, an
rakker her by a waver nav:--dovo's to pen I'd lel some bongonav sar's
Polly or Sukey.  An' it was the sar covva with my dades nav--if I dicked
a mush with a nav that simmed leskers, mandy'd rakker him by a waver nav.
For 'twould kair any mush wafro to shoon the navyas of the mullas a't
'were cammoben to him."

Or in English, "After my wife died, if I saw another girl with her name,
and I was talking to her, I'd _speak_ another woman's name, and call her
by another name; that's to say, I'd take some nick-name, such as Polly or
Sukey.  And it was the same thing with my father's name--if I saw a man
with a name that was the same as his (literally, 'that _samed_ his'), I'd
call him by another name.  For 'twould make any man grieve (lit. 'bad')
to hear the names of the dead that were dear to him."

I suppose that there are very few persons, not of Gipsy blood, in
England, to whom the information will not be new, that there are to be
found everywhere among us, people who mourn for their lost friends in
this strange and touching manner.

Another form of respect for the departed among Gipsies, is shown by their
frequently burying some object of value with the corpse, as is, however,
done by most wild races.  On questioning the same Gipsy last alluded to,
he spoke as follows on this subject, I taking down his words:--

"When Job mullered and was chivved adree the puv, there was a nevvi
kushto-dickin dui chakkas pakkered adree the mullo mokto.  Dighton penned
a mandy the waver divvus, that trin thousand bars was gavvered posh yeck
o' the Chilcotts.  An I've shooned o' some Stanleys were buried with
sonnakai wongashees apre langis wastos.  '_Do sar the Rommany chals kair
adovo_?'  Kek.  Some chivs covvas pash the mullos adree the puv, and boot
adusta don't."

In English: "When Job died and was buried, there was a new beautiful pair
of shoes put in the coffin (_lit_. corpse-box).  Dighton told me the
other day, that three thousand pounds were hidden with one of the
Chilcotts.  And I have heard of some Stanleys who were buried with gold
rings on their fingers.  '_Do all the Gipsies do that_?'  No! some put
things with the dead in the earth, and many do not."

Mr Liebich further declares, that while there is really nothing in it to
sustain the belief, this extraordinary reverence and regard for the dead
is the only fact at all indicating an idea of the immortality of the soul
which he has ever found among the Gipsies; but, as he admits, it proves
nothing.  To me, however, it is grimly grotesque, when I return to the
disciples of Comte--the Positivists--the most highly cultivated scholars
of the most refined form of philosophy in its latest stage, and find that
their ultimate and practical manifestation of _la religion_, is quite the
same as that of those unaffected and natural Positivists, the Gipsies.
With these, as with the others, our fathers find their immortality in our
short-lived memories, and if among either, some one moved by deep love--as
Auguste was by the eyes of Clotilda--has yearned for immortality with the
dear one, and cursed in agony Annihilation, he falls upon the faith
founded in ancient India, that only that soul lives for ever which has
done so much good on earth, as to leave behind it in humanity,
ineffaceable traces of its elevation.

Verily, the poor Gipsies would seem, to a humourist, to have been created
by the devil, whose name they almost use for God, a living parody and
satanic burlesque of all that human faith, doubt, or wisdom, have ever
accomplished in their highest forms.  Even to the weakest minded and most
uninformed manufacturers of "Grellmann-diluted" pamphlets, on the
Gipsies, their parallel to the Jews is most apparent.  All over the world
this black and God-wanting shadow dances behind the solid Theism of "The
People," affording proof that if the latter can be preserved, even in the
wildest wanderings, to illustrate Holy Writ--so can gipsydom--for no
apparent purpose whatever.  How often have we heard that the preservation
of the Jews is a phenomenon without equal?  And yet they both live--the
sad and sober Jew, the gay and tipsy Gipsy, Shemite and Aryan--the one so
ridiculously like and unlike the other, that we may almost wonder whether
Humour does not enter into the Divine purpose and have its place in the
Destiny of Man.  For my own part, I shall always believe that the Heathen
Mythology shows a superiority to any other, in _one_ conception--that of
Loki, who into the tremendous upturnings of the Universe always inspires
a grim grotesqueness; a laughter either diabolic or divine.

Judaism, which is pre-eminently the principle of religious belief:--the
metaphysical emancipation and enlightenment of Germany, and the
materialistic positivism of France, are then, as I have indicated,
nowhere so practically and yet laughably illustrated as by the Gipsy.
Free from all the trammels of faith, and, to the last degree, indifferent
and rationalistic, he satisfies the demands of Feuerbach; devoted to the
positive and to the memory of the dead, he is the ideal of the greatest
French philosophy, while as a wanderer on the face of the earth--not
neglectful of picking up things _en route_--he is the rather blurred
_facsimile_ of the Hebrew, the main difference in the latter parallel
being that while the Jews are God's chosen people, the poor Gipsies seem
to have been selected as favourites by that darker spirit, whose name
they have naively substituted for divinity:--_Nomen et omen_.

I may add, however, in due fairness, that there are in England some true
Gipsies of unmixed blood, who--it may be without much reflection--have
certainly adopted ideas consonant with a genial faith in immortality, and
certain phases of religion.  The reader will find in another chapter a
curious and beautiful Gipsy custom recorded, that of burning an ash fire
on Christmas-day, in honour of our Saviour, because He was born and lived
like a Gipsy; and one day I was startled by bearing a Rom say "Miduvel
hatch for mandy an' kair me kushto."--My God stand up for me and make me
well.  "That" he added, in an explanatory tone, "is what you say when
you're sick."  These instances, however, indicate no deep-seated
conviction, though they are certainly curious, and, in their extreme
simplicity, affecting.  That truly good man, the Rev. James Crabb, in his
touching little book, "The Gipsies' Advocate," gave numbers of instances
of Gipsy conversions to religion and of real piety among them, which
occurred after their minds and feelings had been changed by his labours;
indeed, it would seem as if their lively imaginations and warm hearts
render them extremely susceptible to the sufferings of Jesus.  But this
does not in the least affect the extraordinary truth that in their
nomadic and natural condition, the Gipsies, all the world over, present
the spectacle, almost without a parallel, of total indifference to, and
ignorance of, religion, and that I have found true old-fashioned
specimens of it in England.

I would say, in conclusion, that the Rev. James Crabb, whose unaffected
and earnest little book tells its own story, did much good in his own
time and way among the poor Gipsies; and the fact that he is mentioned to
the present day, by them, with respect and love, proves that missionaries
are not useless, nor Gipsies ungrateful--though it is almost the fashion
with too many people to assume both positions as rules without


A Gipsy's Letter to his Sister.--Drabbing Horses.--Fortune Telling.--Cock
Shys.--"Hatch 'em pauli, or he'll lel sar the Covvas!"--Two German Gipsy

I shall give in this chapter a few curious illustrations of Gipsy life
and character, as shown in a letter, which is illustrated by two
specimens in the German Rommany dialect.

With regard to the first letter, I might prefix to it, as a motto, old
John Willett's remark: "What's a man without an imagination?"  Certainly
it would not apply to the Gipsy, who has an imagination so lively as to
be at times almost ungovernable; considering which I was much surprised
that, so far as I know, the whole race has as yet produced only one
writer who has distinguished himself in the department of fiction--albeit
he who did so was a giant therein--I mean John Bunyan.

And here I may well be allowed an unintended digression, as to whether
Bunyan were really a Gipsy.  In a previous chapter of this work, I, with
little thought of Bunyan, narrated the fact that an intelligent tinker,
and a full Gipsy, asked me last summer in London, if I thought that the
Rommany were of the Ten Tribes of Israel?  When John Bunyan tells us
explicitly that he once asked his father whether he and his relatives
were of the race of the Israelites--he having then never seen a Jew--and
when he carefully informs his readers that his descent was of a low and
inconsiderable generation, "my father's house being of that rank that is
meanest and most despised of all the families of the land," there remains
no rational doubt whatever that Bunyan was indeed a Rom of the Rommany.
"_Applico_" of which, as my own special and particular Gipsy is wont to
say--it is worth noting that the magician Shakespeare, who knew
everything, showed himself superior to many modern dramatists in being
aware that the tinkers of England had, not a peculiar cant, but a special

And now for the letters.  One day Ward'engro of the K'allis's Gav, asked
me to write him a letter to his daughter, in Rommany.  So I began to
write from his dictation.  But being, like all his race, unused to
literary labour, his lively imagination continually led him astray, and
as I found amusement in his so doing, it proved to be an easy matter to
induce him to wander off into scenes of gipsy life, which, however
edifying they might be to my reader, would certainly not have the charm
of novelty to the black-eyed lady to whom they were supposed to be
addressed.  However, as I read over from time to time to my Rommany chal
what I had written, his delight in actually hearing his own words read
from writing, partook of all the pride of successful authorship--it was,
my dear sir, like your delight over your first proof sheet.

Well, this was the letter.  A translation will be found following it.

THE PANNI GAV, _Dec_. 16, 1871.

MY KAMLI CHAVI,--Kushti bak!  My cammoben to turo mush an' turo dadas an'
besto bak.  We've had wafri bak, my pen's been naflo this here cooricus,
we're doin' very wafro and couldn't lel no wongur.  Your dui pals are
kairin kushto, prasturin 'bout the tem, bickinin covvas. {65}  Your puro
kako welled acai to his pen, and hatched trin divvus, and jawed avree
like a puro jucko, and never del mandy a poshero.

Kek adusta nevvi.  A rakli acai lelled a hora waver divvus from a waver
rakli, and the one who nashered it pens: "Del it pauli a mandi and I wont
dukker tute!  Del it apre!"  But the waver rakli penned "kek," and so
they bitchered for the prastramengro.  He lelled the juva to the wardo,
and just before she welled odoi, she hatched her wast in her poachy, an'
chiv it avree, and the prastramengro hatched it apre.  So they bitchered
her for shurabun.

(Here my Gipsy suggested that _stardo_ or _staramangro_ might be used for
greater elegance, in place of shurabun.)

I've got kek gry and can't lel no wongur to kin kek.  My kamli chavi, if
you could bitch me a few bars it would be cammoben.  I rikkers my covvas
apre mi dumo kenna.  I dicked my kako, waver divvus adree a lot o Rommany
chals, saw a piin'.  There was the juvas a koorin adoi and the mushis a
koorin an' there was a boro chingaree, some with kali yakkas an' some
with sherros chinned so the ratt jalled alay 'pre the drum.  There was
dui or trin bar to pessur in the sala for the graias an' mylas that got
in pandamam (_pandapenn_).

Your pal's got a kushti gry that can jal alangus the drum kushto.  L---
too's got a baro kushto gry.  He jawed to the wellgooro, to the boro gav,
with a poggobavescro gry an' a nokengro.  You could a mored dovo gry an'
kek penn'd a lav tute.  I del it some ballovas to hatch his bavol and I
bikened it for 9 bar, to a rye that you jins kushto.  Lotti was at the
wellgooro dukkerin the ranis.  She lelled some kushti habben, an' her
jellico was saw porder, when she dicked her mush and shelled.  "Havacai!
I've got some fine habben!"  She penned to a rakli, "Pet your wonger
adree turo wast an I'll dukker tute."  An' she lelled a pash bar from the
rani.  She penned her: "You kaums a rye a longo duros.  He's a kaulo and
there's a waver rye, a pauno, that kaums you too, an' you'll soon lel a
chinamangree.  Tute'll rummorben before dui besh, an' be the dye of trin

There was a gry jallin with a wardo langus the drum, an' I dicked a
raklo, an' putsched (_pootched_) him.  "How much wongur?" an' he pookered
man'y "Desh bar;" I penned: "Is dovo, noko gry?"  "Avali."  Well, a
Rommany chul del him desh bar for the gry an' bikined it for twelve bar
to a boro rye.  It was a fino kaulo gry with a boro herree, but had a
naflo piro; it was the _nearo_ piro an' was a dellemescro.  He del it
some hopium drab to hatch adoi, and tooled his solivengro upo the purgis.

At the paiass with the koshters a rye welled and Wantelo shelled avree:
"Trin kosters for a horra, eighteen for a shekori!"  An' the rye lelled a
koshter an' we had pange collos for trin dozenos.  The rye kaired paiass
kushto and lelled pange cocoanuts, and lelled us to his wardo, and dell'd
mandy trin currus of tatty panni, so that I was most matto.  He was a
kushti rye and his rani was as good as the rye.

There was a waver mush a playin, an' mandy penned: "Pen the kosh paulier,
hatch 'em odoi, don't well adoorer or he'll lel saw the covvos!  Chiv 'em
pauli!"  A chi rakkered the ryes an' got fifteen cullos from yeck.  And
no moro the divvus from your kaum pal,



THE WATER VILLAGE, _Dec_. 16, 1871.

MY DEAR DAUGHTER,--Good luck! my love to your husband and your father,
and best luck!  We've had bad fortune, my sister has been sick this here
week, we're doing very badly and could not get any money.  Your two
brothers are doing well, running about the country selling things.  Your
old uncle came to his sister and stayed three days, and went away like an
old dog and never gave me a penny.

Nothing much new.  A girl here took a watch the other day from another
girl, and the one who lost it said: "Give it back to me and I won't hurt
you."  But the other girl said "No," and so they sent for the constable.
He took the girl to the station (or carriage), and just before she got
there she put her hand in her pocket and threw it away, and the policeman
picked it up.  So they sent her to prison.

I have no horse, and can't get any money to buy _none_.  My dear
daughter, if you could send me a few pounds it would be agreeable.  I
carry my _traps_ on my back now.  I saw my uncle the other day among a
lot of Gipsies, all drinking.  There were the women fighting there, and
the men fighting, and there was a great _shindy_, some with black eyes,
and some with heads cut so that the blood ran down on the road.  There
were two or three pounds to pay in the morning for the horses and asses
that were in the pound.

Your brother has got a capital horse that can go along the road nicely.
L---, too, has a large fine horse.  He went to the fair in --- with a
broken-winded horse and a glandered.  You could have killed that horse
and nobody said a word to you.  I gave it some lard to stop his
breathing, and I sold it for nine pound to a gentleman whom you know

Lotty was at the fair telling fortunes to the ladies.  She got some
excellent food, and her apron was quite full, when she saw her husband
and cried out: "Come here!  I've got some nice victuals!"  She said to a
girl: "Put you money in your hand and I'll tell you your fortune."  And
she took half a sovereign from the lady.  She told her: "You love a
gentleman who is far away.  He is dark, and there is another gentleman, a
fair-haired man that loves you, and you'll soon get a letter.  You'll
marry before two years, and be the mother of three children."

There was a horse going with a waggon along the road; and I saw a youth,
and asked him, "How much money?" (for the horse), and he replied to me,
"Ten pounds."  I said, "Is that your horse?"  "Yes."  Well, a Gipsy gave
him ten pounds for the horse, and sold it for twelve pounds to a great
gentleman.  It was a good black horse, with a (handsome) strong leg
(literally large), but it had a bad foot; it was the _near_ foot, and it
was a kicker.  He gave it some opium medicament to keep quiet (literally
to stop there), and held his rein (_i.e_., trotted him so as to show his
pace, and conceal his faults) on the road.

At the cock-shy a gentleman came, and Wantelo halloed out, "Three sticks
for a penny, eighteen for a sixpence!"  And the gentleman took a stick,
and we had five shillings for three dozen throws!  The gentleman played
well, and got five cocoanuts, and took us to his carriage and gave me
three glasses of brandy, so that I was almost drunk.  He was a good
gentleman, and his lady was as good as her husband.

There was another man playing; and I said, "Set the sticks more back, set
'em there; don't go further or he'll get all the things!  Set 'em back!"
A Gipsy girl talked to the gentlemen (_i.e_., persuaded them to play),
and got fifteen shillings from one.  And no more to-day from your dear


* * * * *

One thing in the foregoing letter is worth noting.  Every remark or
incident occurring in it is literally true--drawn from life--_pur et
simple_.  It is, indeed, almost the _resume_ of the entire life of many
poor Gipsies during the summer.  And I may add that the language in which
it is written, though not the "deep" or grammatical Gipsy, in which no
English words occur--as for instance in the Lord's Prayer, as given by Mr
Borrow in his appendix to the Gipsies in Spain {70}--is still really a
fair specimen of the Rommany of the present day, which is spoken at races
by cock-shysters and fortune-tellers.

The "Water Village," from which it is dated, is the generic term among
Gipsies for all towns by the sea-side.  The phrase _kushto_ (or
_kushti_), _bak_!--"good luck!" is after "_Sarishan_!" or "how are you?"
the common greeting among Gipsies.  The fight is from life and to the
life; and the "two or three pounds to pay in the morning for the horses
and asses that got impounded," indicates its magnitude.  To have a beast
in pound in consequence of a frolic, is a common disaster in Gipsy life.

During the dictation of the foregoing letter, my Gipsy paused at the word
"broken-winded horse," when I asked him how he could stop the heavy

"With ballovas (or lard and starch)--long enough to sell it."

"But how would you sell a glandered horse?"

Here he described, with great ingenuity, the manner in which he would
_tool_ or manage the horse--an art in which Gipsies excel all the world
over--and which, as Mr Borrow tells us, they call in Spain "_de
pacuaro_," which is pure Persian.

"But that would not stop the running.  How would you prevent that?"

"I don't know."

"Then I am a better graiengro than you, for I know a powder, and with a
penny's worth of it I could stop the glanders in the worst case, long
enough to sell the horse.  I once knew an old horse-dealer who paid sixty
pounds for a _nokengro_ (a glandered horse) which had been powdered in
this way."

The Gipsy listened to me in great admiration.  About a week afterwards I
heard he had spoken of me as follows:--

"Don't talk about knowing.  My rye knows more than anybody.  He can cheat
any man in England selling him a glandered horse."

Had this letter been strictly confined to the limits originally intended,
it would have spoken only of the sufferings of the family, the want of
money, and possibly, the acquisition of a new horse by the brother.  In
this case it bears a decided family-likeness to the following letter in
the German-Gipsy dialect, which originally appeared in a book entitled,
_Beytrag zur Rottwellischen Grammatik_, _oder Worterbuch von der Zigeuner
Spracke_, Leipzig 1755, and which was republished by Dr A. F. Pott in his
stupendous work, _Die Zigeuner in Europa und Asien_.  Halle, 1844.


MIRI KOMLI ROMNI,--Ertiewium Francfurtter wium te gajum apro Newoforo.
Apro drum ne his mange mishdo.  Mare manush tschingerwenes ketteni.
Tschiel his te midschach wettra.  Tschawe wele naswele.  Dowa ker, kai me
gaijam medre gazdias tele; mare ziga t'o terno kalbo nahsle penge.  O
flachso te hanfa te wulla te schwigarizakri te stifftshakri ho spinderde
gotshias nina.  Lopennawa, wium ke tshorero te wiam hallauter nange
Denkerdum tschingerwam mangi kasht te mre wastiengri butin, oder hunte di
kaw te kinnaw tschommoni pre te bikkewaw pale, te de denkerwaw te
ehrnahrwaw man kiacke.  Me bium kiacke kuremangrender pene aper mande,
buten tschingerde buten trinen marde te man, tshimaster apri butin
tshidde.  O bolloben te rackel tutt andre sawe kolester, kai me wium adre
te me tshawa tiro rum shin andro meraben.


MY DEAR WIFE,--Before I came to Frankfort I went to Neustadt.  On the way
it did not go well with me.  Our men quarrelled together.  It was cold
and wet weather.  The children were ill.  That house into which we had
gone burnt down; our kid and the young calf run away.  The flax and hemp
and wool [which] the sister-in-law and step-daughter spun are also
burned.  In short, I say I became so poor that we all went naked.  I
thought of cutting wood and working by hand, or I should go into business
and sell something.  I think I will make my living so.  I was so treated
by the soldiers.  They fell on us, wounded many, three they killed, and I
was taken to prison to work for life.  Heaven preserve you in all things
from that into which I have fallen, and I remain thy husband unto death.

* * * * *

It is the same sad story in all, wretchedness, poverty, losses, and
hunger.  In the English letter there was a _chingari_--a shindy; in the
German they have a _tshinger_, which is nearly the same word, and means
the same.  It may be remarked as curious that the word _meraben_ at the
end of the letter, meaning death, is used by English Gipsies to signify
life as well.

   "Dick at the gorgios,
      The gorgios round mandy;
   Trying to take my meripon,
      My meripon away."

The third letter is also in the German-Gipsy dialect, and requires a
little explanation.  Once a man named Charles Augustus was arrested as a
beggar and suspected Gipsy, and brought before Mr Richard Liebich, who
appears to have been nothing less in the total than the _Furstlich Reuss-
Plauenschem Criminalrathe und Vorstande des Furstlichen Criminalgerichts
zu Lobenstein_--in fact, a rather lofty local magistrate.  Before this
terrible title Charles appeared, and swore stoutly that he was no more a
Rommany chal than he was one of the Apostles--for be it remembered,
reader, that in Germany at the present day, the mere fact of being a
Gipsy is still treated as a crime.  Suddenly the judge attacked him with
the words--"_Tu hal rom, me hom, rakker tschatschopenn_!"--"Thou art a
Gipsy, I am a Gipsy, speak the truth."  And Charles, looking up in
amazement and seeing the black hair and brown face of the judge, verily
believed that he was of the blood of Dom.  So crossing his arms on his
breast in true Oriental style, he salaamed deeply, and in a submissive
voice said--"_Me hom rom_"--"_I am a_ Gipsy."

The judge did not abuse the confidence gained by his little trick, since
he appears to have taken Charles under his wing, employed him in small
jobs (in America we should say _chores_, but the word would be
frightfully significant, if applied to a Gipsy), {75} and finally
dismissed him.  And Charles replied Rommanesquely, by asking for
something.  His application was as follows:--



"LADSCHO BARO RAI,--Me hunde dschinawe duge gole dui trin Lawinser mire
zelle gowe, har geas mange an demaro foro de demare Birengerenser.  Har
weum me stildo gage lean demare Birengere mr lowe dele, de har weum biro
gage lean jon man dran o stilibin bri, de mangum me mr lowe lender, gai
deum dele.  Jon pendin len wellen geg mander.  Gai me deum miro lowe
lende, naste pennene jon gar wawer.  Brinscherdo lowe hi an i Gissig, o
baro godder lolo paro, trin Chairingere de jeg dschildo gotter sinagro
lowe.  Man weas mr lowe gar gobe dschanel o Baro Dewel ani Bolebin.  Miro
baaro bargerbin vaschge demare Ladschebin bennawe.  O baro Dewel de
pleisserwel de maro ladscho sii i pure sasde Tschiwaha demende demaro
zelo Beero.  De hadzin e Birengere miro lowe, dale mangawa me len de
bidschin jon mire lowe gadder o foro Naile abbi Bidschebasger wurtum
sikk.  Gai me dschingerdum ab demende, hi gar dschadscho, gai miri romni
hass mando, gowe hi dschadscho.  Obaaro Dewel de bleiserwel de mange de
menge demaro Ladscho Sii.  Miero Bargerbin.  De me dschawe demaro gandelo



"LICHTENBERG, _January_ 18, 1859.

"GOOD GREAT SIR,--I must write to you with these two or three words my
whole business (_gowe_, English Gipsy _covvo_, literally 'thing,') how it
happened to me in your town, by your servants (literally 'footmen').  When
I was arrested, your servants took my money away, and when I was freed
they took me out of prison.  I asked my money of them which I had given
up.  They said they had got none from me.  That I gave them my money they
cannot deny.  The said (literally, known) money is in a purse, a great
piece, red (and) old, three kreutzers, and a yellow piece of good-for-
nothing money.  I did not get my money, as the great God in heaven knows.
My great thanks for your goodness, I say.  The great God reward your good
heart with long healthy life, you and your whole family.  And if your
servants find my money, I beg they will send it to the town Naila, by the
post at once.  That I cursed you is not true; that my wife was drunk is
true.  The great God reward your good heart.  My thanks.  And I remain,
your obedient servant,


Those who attempt to read this letter in the original, should be informed
that German Gipsy is, as compared to the English or Spanish dialects,
almost a perfect language; in fact, Pott has by incredible industry,
actually restored it to its primitive complete form; and its orthography
is now settled.  Against this orthography poor Charles Augustin sins
sadly, and yet it may be doubted whether many English tramps and beggars
could write a better letter.

The especial Gipsy characteristic in this letter is the constant use of
the name of God, and the pious profusion of blessings.  "She's the
_blessing-est_ old woman I ever came across," was very well said of an
old Rommany dame in England.  And yet these well-wishings are not always
insincere, and they are earnest enough when uttered in Gipsy.


Jockey.--Tool.--Cove or Covey.--Hook, Hookey, and Walker, Hocus, Hanky-
Panky, and Hocus-Pocus.--Shindy.--Row.--Chivvy.--Bunged Eye.--Shavers.--
Clichy.--Caliban.--A Rum 'un.--Pal.--Trash.--Cadger.--Cad.--Bosh.--Bats.--
Chee-chee.--The Cheese.--Chiv Fencer.--Cooter.--Gorger.--Dick.--Dook.--
Parny.--Posh.--Queer.  Raclan.--Bivvy.--Rigs.--Moll.--Distarabin.--Tiny.--
Toffer.--Tool.--Punch.--Wardo.--Voker (one of Mr Hotten's Gipsy words).--
Welcher.--Yack.--Lushy.--A Mull.--Pross.--Toshers.--Up to Trap.--Barney.--
Beebee.--Cull, Culley.--Jomer.--Bloke.--Duffer.--Niggling.--Mug.--
Bamboozle, Slang, and Bite.--Rules to be observed in determining the
Etymology of Gipsy Words.

Though the language of the Gipsies has been kept a great secret for
centuries, still a few words have in England oozed out here and there
from some unguarded crevice, and become a portion of our tongue.  There
is, it must be admitted, a great difficulty in tracing, with anything
like accuracy, the real origin or identity of such expressions.  Some of
them came into English centuries ago, and during that time great changes
have taken place in Rommany.  At least one-third of the words now used by
Scottish Gipsies are unintelligible to their English brothers.  To
satisfy myself on this point, I have examined an intelligent English
Gipsy on the Scottish Gipsy vocabularies in Mr Simpson's work, and found
it was as I anticipated; a statement which will not appear incredible
when it is remembered, that even the Rommany of Yetholm have a dialect
marked and distinct from that of other Scotch Gipsies.  As for England,
numbers of the words collected by William Marsden, and Jacob Bryant, in
1784-5, Dr Bright in 1817, and by Harriott in 1830, are not known at the
present day to any Gipsies whom I have met.  Again, it should be
remembered that the pronunciation of Rommany differs widely with
individuals; thus the word which is given as _cumbo_, a hill, by Bryant,
I have heard very distinctly pronounced _choomure_.

I believe that to Mr Borrow is due the discovery that the word JOCKEY is
of Gipsy origin, and derived from _chuckni_, which means a whip.  For
nothing is more clearly established than that the jockey-whip was the
original term in which this word first made its appearance on the turf,
and that the _chuckni_ was a peculiar form of whip, very long and heavy,
first used by the Gipsies.  "Jockeyism," says Mr Borrow, "properly means
_the management of a whip_, and the word jockey is neither more nor less
than the term, slightly modified, by which they designate the formidable
whips which they usually carry, and which are at present in general use
among horse-traffickers, under the title of jockey-whips."  In Hungary
and Germany the word occurs as _tschuckini_ or _chookni_, and _tschupni_.

Many of my readers are doubtless familiar with the word to TOOL as
applied to dexterously managing the reins and driving horses.  'To tool
the horses down the road,' is indeed rather a fine word of its class,
being as much used in certain clubs as in stables, and often denotes
stylish and gentlemanly driving.  And the term is without the slightest
modification, either of pronunciation or meaning, directly and simply
Gipsy, and is used by Gipsies in the same way.  It has, however, in
Rommany, as a primitive meaning--to hold, or to take.  Thus I have heard
of a feeble old fellow that "he could not tool himself togetherus"--for
which last word, by the way, _kettenus_ might have been more correctly

COVE is not an elegant, though a very old, word, but it is well known,
and I have no doubt as to its having come from the Gipsy.  In Rommany,
all the world over, _cova_ means "a thing," but it is almost indefinite
in its applicability.  "It is," says Pott, "a general helper on all
occasions; is used as substantive and adjective, and has a far wider
scope than the Latin _res_."  Thus _covo_ may mean "that man;" _covi_,
"that woman;" and _covo_ or _cuvvo_, as it very often does in English,
"that, there."  It sometimes appears in the word _acovat_, or _this_.
There is no expression more frequent in a Gipsy's mouth, and it is
precisely the one which would be probably overheard by "Gorgios" and
applied to persons.  I believe that it first made its appearance in
English slang as _covey_, and was then pronounced _cuvvy_, being
subsequently abbreviated into cove.

Quite a little family of words has come into English from the Rommany,
_Hocben_, _huckaben_, _hokkeny_, or _hooker_, all meaning a lie, or to
lie, deception and _humbug_.  Mr Borrow shows us that _hocus_, to
"bewitch" liquor with an opiate, and _hoax_, are probably Rommany from
this root, and I have no doubt that the expression, "Yes, with a _hook_,"
meaning "it is false," comes from the same.  The well-known "Hookey" who
corresponds so closely with his untruthful and disreputable pal "Walker,"
is decidedly of the streets--gipsy.  In German Gipsy we find _chochavav_
and _hochewawa_, and in Roumanian Gipsy _kokao_--a lie.  Hanky-panky and
Hocus-pocus are each one half almost pure Hindustani. {81}

A SHINDY approaches so nearly in sound to the Gipsy word _chingaree_,
which means precisely the same thing, that the suggestion is at least
worth consideration.  And it also greatly resembles _chindi_, which may
be translated as "cutting up," and also quarrel.  "To cut up shindies"
was the first form in which this extraordinary word reached the public.
In the original Gipsy tongue the word to quarrel is _chinger-av_, meaning
also (Pott, _Zigeuner_, p. 209) to cut, hew, and fight, while to cut is
_chinav_.  "Cutting up" is, if the reader reflects, a very unmeaning word
as applied to outrageous or noisy pranks; but in Gipsy, whether English,
German, or Oriental, it is perfectly sensible and logical, involving the
idea of quarrelling, separating, dividing, cutting, and stabbing.  What,
indeed, could be more absurd than the expression "cutting up shines,"
unless we attribute to _shine_ its legitimate Gipsy meaning of _a piece
cut off_, and its cognate meaning, a noise?

I can see but little reason for saying that a man _cut away_ or that he
_shinned_ it, for run away, unless we have recourse to Gipsy, though I
only offer this as a mere suggestion.

"Applico" to shindy we have the word ROW, meaning nearly the same thing
and as nearly Gipsy in every respect as can be.  It is in Gipsy at the
present day in England, correctly, _rov_, or _roven_--to cry--but _v_ and
_w_ are so frequently transposed that we may consider them as the same
letter.  _Raw_ or _me rauaw_, "I howl" or "cry," is German Gipsy.  _Rowan_
is given by Pott as equivalent to the Latin _ululatus_, which constituted
a very respectable _row_ as regards mere noise.  "Rowdy" comes from "row"
and both are very good Gipsy in their origin.  In Hindustani _Rao mut_ is
"don't cry!"

CHIVVY is a common English vulgar word, meaning to goad, drive, vex,
hunt, or throw as it were here and there.  It is purely Gipsy, and seems
to have more than one root.  _Chiv_, _chib_, or _chipe_, in Rommany, mean
a tongue, inferring scolding, and _chiv_ anything sharp-pointed, as for
instance a dagger, or goad or knife.  But the old Gipsy word _chiv-av_
among its numerous meanings has exactly that of casting, throwing,
pitching, and driving.  To _chiv_ in English Gipsy means as much and more
than to _fix_ in America, in fact, it is applied to almost any kind of

It may be remarked in this connection, that in German or continental
Gipsy, which represents the English in a great measure as it once was,
and which is far more perfect as to grammar, we find different words,
which in English have become blended into one.  Thus, _chib_ or _chiv_, a
tongue, and _tschiwawa_ (or _chiv_-ava), to lay, place, lean, sow, sink,
set upright, move, harness, cover up, are united in England into _chiv_,
which embraces the whole.  "_Chiv it apre_" may be applied to throwing
anything, to covering it up, to lifting it, to setting it, to pushing it,
to circulating, and in fact to a very great number of similar verbs.

There is, I think, no rational connection between the BUNG of a barrel
and an eye which has been closed by a blow.  One might as well get the
simile from a knot in a tree or a cork in a flask.  But when we reflect
on the constant mingling of Gipsies with prizefighters, it is almost
evident that the word BONGO may have been the origin of it.  A _bongo
yakko_ or _yak_, means a distorted, crooked, or, in fact, a bunged eye.
It also means lame, crooked, or sinister, and by a very singular figure
of speech, _Bongo Tem_ or the Crooked Land is the name for hell. {83}

SHAVERS, as a quaint nick-name for children, is possibly inexplicable,
unless we resort to Gipsy, where we find it used as directly as possible.
_Chavo_ is the Rommany word for child all the world over, and the English
term _chavies_, in Scottish Gipsy _shavies_, or shavers, leaves us but
little room for doubt.  I am not aware to what extent the term "little
shavers" is applied to children in England, but in America it is as
common as any cant word can be.

I do not know the origin of the French word CLICHY, as applied to the
noted prison of that name, but it is perhaps not undeserving the comment
that in Continental Gipsy it means a key and a bolt.

I have been struck with the fact that CALIBAN, the monster in "The
Tempest," by Shakespeare, has an appellation which literally signifies
blackness in Gipsy.  In fact, this very word, or Cauliban, is given in
one of the Gipsy vocabularies for "black."  Kaulopen or Kauloben would,
however, be more correct.

"A regular RUM 'un" was the form in which the application of the word
"rum" to strange, difficult, or distinguished, was first introduced to
the British public.  This, I honestly believe (as Mr Borrow indicates),
came from _Rum_ or _Rom_, a Gipsy.  It is a peculiar word, and all of its
peculiarities might well be assumed by the sporting Gipsy, who is always,
in his way, a character, gifted with an indescribable self-confidence, as
are all "horsey" men characters, "sports" and boxers, which enables them
to keep to perfection the German eleventh commandment, "Thou shall not
let thyself be _bluffed_!"--_i.e_., abashed.

PAL is a common cant word for brother or friend, and it is purely Gipsy,
having come directly from that language, without the slightest change.  On
the Continent it is _prala_, or _pral_.  In England it sometimes takes
the form "_pel_."

TRASH is derived by Mr Wedgwood (Dictionary of English Etymology, 1872)
from the old word _trousse_, signifying the clipping of trees.  But in
old Gipsy or in the German Gipsy of the present day, as in the Turkish
Rommany, it means so directly "fear, mental weakness and worthlessness,"
that it may possibly have had a Rommany origin.  Terror in Gipsy is
_trash_, while thirst is _trush_, and both are to be found in the
Hindustani.  _Tras_, which means _thirst_ and _alarm_ or _terror_.

It should be observed that in no instance can these Gipsy words have been
borrowed from English slang.  They are all to be found in German Gipsy,
which is in its turn identical with the Rommany language of India--of the
Nats, Bhazeghurs, Doms, Multanee or Banjoree, as I find the primitive
wandering Gipsies termed by different writers.

I am aware that the word CAD was applied to the conductor of an omnibus,
or to a non-student at Universities, before it became a synonym for
vulgar fellow, yet I believe that it was abbreviated from cadger, and
that this is simply the Gipsy word Gorgio, which often means a man in the
abstract.  I have seen this word printed as gorger in English slang.
CODGER, which is common, is applied, as Gipsies use the term Gorgio,
contemptuously, and it sounds still more like it.

BOSH, signifying nothing, or in fact empty humbug, is generally credited
to the Turkish language, but I can see no reason for going to the Turks
for what the Gipsies at home already had, in all probability, from the
same Persian source, or else from the Sanskrit.  With the Gipsies, _bosh_
is a fiddle, music, noise, barking, and very often an idle sound or
nonsense.  "Stop your bosherin," or "your bosh," is what they would term
_flickin lav_, or current phrase.

"BATS," a low term for a pair of boots, especially bad ones, is, I think,
from the Gipsy and Hindustani _pat_, a foot, generally called, however,
by the Rommany in England, Tom Pats.  "To pad the hoof," and "to stand
pad "--the latter phrase meaning to stand upright, or to stand and beg,
are probably derived from _pat_.  It should be borne in mind that
Gipsies, in all countries, are in the habit of changing certain letters,
so that _p_ and _b_, like _l_ and _n_, or _k_ and _g_ hard, may often be
regarded as identical.

"CHEE-CHEE," "be silent!" or "fie," is termed "Anglo-Indian," by the
author of the Slang Dictionary, but we need not go to India of the
present day for a term which is familiar to every Gipsy and "traveller"
in England, and which, as Mr Simson discovered long ago, is an excellent
"spell" to discourage the advances of thimble-riggers and similar gentry,
at fairs, or in public places.

CHEESE, or "THE CHEESE," meaning that anything is pre-eminent or
superior; in fact, "the thing," is supposed by many to be of gipsy origin
because Gipsies use it, and it is to be found as "chiz" in Hindustani, in
which language it means a thing.  Gipsies do not, however, seem to regard
it themselves, as _tacho_ or true Rommanis, despite this testimony, and I
am inclined to think that it partly originated in some wag's perversion
of the French word _chose_.

In London, a man who sells cutlery in the streets is called a CHIVE
FENCER, a term evidently derived from the Gipsy _chiv_, a sharp-pointed
instrument or knife.  A knife is also called a _chiv_ by the lowest class
all over England.

COUTER or COOTER is a common English slang term for a guinea.  It was not
necessary for the author of the Slang Dictionary to go to the banks of
the Danube for the origin of a word which is in the mouths of all English
Gipsies, and which was brought to England by their ancestors.  A
sovereign, a pound, in Gipsy, is a _bar_.

A GORGER, meaning a gentleman, or well-dressed man, and in theatrical
parlance, a manager, is derived by the author of the Slang
Dictionary--absurdly enough, it must be confessed--from "gorgeous,"--a
word with which it has no more in common than with gouges or chisels.  A
gorger or gorgio--the two are often confounded--is the common Gipsy word
for one who is not Gipsy, and very often means with them a _rye_ or
gentleman, and indeed any man whatever.  Actors sometimes call a fellow-
performer a _cully-gorger_.

DICK, an English slang word for sight, or seeing, is purely Gipsy in its
origin, and in common use by Rommanis over all the world.

DOOK, to tell fortunes, and DOOKING, fortune-telling, are derived by the
writer last cited, correctly enough, from the Gipsy _dukkerin_,--a fact
which I specify, since it is one of the very rare instances in which he
has not blundered when commenting on Rommany words, or other persons'

Mr Borrow has told us that a TANNER or sixpence, sometimes called a
Downer, owes its pseudonym to the Gipsy word _tawno_ or _tano_, meaning
"little"--the sixpence being the little coin as compared with a shilling.

DRUM or DROM, is the common English Gipsy word for a road.  In English
slang it is applied, not only to highways, but also to houses.

If the word GIBBERISH was, as has been asserted, first applied to the
language of the Gipsies, it may have been derived either from "Gip," the
nickname for Gipsy, with _ish_ or _rish_ appended as in Engl-_ish_, I-
_rish_, or from the Rommany word _Jib_ signifying a language.

KEN, a low term for a house, is possibly of Gipsy origin.  The common
word in every Rommany dialect for a house is, however, neither ken nor
khan, but _Ker_.

LIL, a book, a letter, has passed from the Gipsies to the low "Gorgios,"
though it is not a very common word.  In Rommany it can be _correctly_
applied only to a letter or a piece of paper, which is written on, though
English Gipsies call all books by this name, and often speak of a letter
as a _Chinamangri_.

LOUR or LOWR, and LOAVER, are all vulgar terms for money, and combine two
Gipsy words, the one _lovo_ or _lovey_, and the other _loure_, to steal.
The reason for the combination or confusion is obvious.  The author of
the Slang Dictionary, in order to explain this word, goes as usual to the
Wallachian Gipsies, for what he might have learned from the first tinker
in the streets of London.  I should remark on the word loure, that Mr
Borrow has shown its original identity with _loot_, the Hindustani for
plunder or booty.

I believe that the American word loafer owes something to this Gipsy
root, as well as to the German _laufer_ (_landlaufer_), and Mexican
Spanish _galeofar_, and for this reason, that when the term first began
to be popular in 1834 or 1835, I can distinctly remember that it meant to
_pilfer_.  Such, at least, is my earliest recollection, and of hearing
school boys ask one another in jest, of their acquisitions or gifts,
"Where did you loaf that from?"  A petty pilferer was a loafer, but in a
very short time all of the tribe of loungers in the sun, and disreputable
pickers up of unconsidered trifles, now known as bummers, were called
loafers.  On this point my memory is positive, and I call attention to
it, since the word in question has been the subject of much conjecture in

It is a very curious fact, that while the word _loot_ is unquestionably
Anglo-Indian, and only a recent importation into our English "slanguage,"
it has always been at the same time English-Gipsy, although it never rose
to the surface.

MAUNDER, to stroll about and beg, has been derived from _Mand_, the Anglo-
Saxon for a basket, but is quite as likely to have come from Maunder, the
Gipsy for "to beg."  Mumper, a beggar, is also from the same source.

MOKE, a donkey, is _said_ to be Gipsy, by Mr Hotten, but Gipsies
themselves do not use the word, nor does it belong to their usual
language.  The proper Rommany word for an ass is _myla_.

PARNY, a vulgar word for rain, is supposed to have come into England from
the "Anglo-Indian" source, but it is more likely that it was derived from
the Gipsy _panni_ or water.  "Brandy pawnee" is undoubtedly an
Anglo-Indian word, but it is used by a very different class of people
from those who know the meaning of _Parny_.

POSH, which has found its way into vulgar popularity, as a term for small
coins, and sometimes for money in general, is the diminutive of the Gipsy
word _pashero_ or _poshero_, a half-penny, from _pash_ a half, and
_haura_ or _harra_, a penny.

QUEER, meaning across, cross, contradictory, or bad, is "supposed" to be
the German word _quer_, introduced by the Gipsies.  In their own language
_atut_ means across or against, though to _curry_ (German and Turkish
Gipsy _kurava_), has some of the slang meaning attributed to _queer_.  An
English rogue will say, "to shove the queer," meaning to pass counterfeit
money, while the Gipsy term would be to _chiv wafri lovvo_, or _lovey_.

"RAGLAN, a married woman, originally _Gipsy_, but now a term with English
tramps" (_The Slang Dictionary_, _London_ 1865).  In Gipsy, _raklo_ is a
youth or boy, and _rakli_, a girl; Arabic, _ragol_, a man.  I am
informed, on good authority, that these words are known in India, though
I cannot find them in dictionaries.  They are possibly transposed from
_Lurka_ a youth and _lurki_ a girl, such transpositions being common
among the lowest classes in India.

RUMMY or RUMY, as applied to women, is simply the Gipsy word _romi_, a
contraction of _romni_, a wife; the husband being her _rom_.

BIVVY for beer, has been derived from the Italian _bevere_, but it is
probably Gipsy, since in the old form of the latter language, Biava or
Piava, means to drink.  To _pivit_, is still known among English Gipsies.

RIGS--running one's rigs is said to be Gipsy, but the only meaning of
_rig_, so far as I am able to ascertain in Rommany, is _a side_ or _an
edge_.  It is, however, possible that one's _side_ may in earlier times
have been equivalent to "face, or encounter."  To _rikker_ or _rigger_ in
Gipsy, is to carry anything.

MOLL, a female companion, is probably merely the nickname for Mary, but
it is worth observing, that _Mal_ in old Gipsy, or in German Gipsy, means
an associate, and Mahar a wife, in Hindustani.

STASH, to be quiet, to stop, is, I think, a variation of the common Gipsy
word hatch, which means precisely the same thing, and is derived from the
older word _atchava_.

STURABAN, a prison, is purely Gipsy.  Mr Hotten says it is from the Gipsy
_distarabin_, but there is no such word beginning with _dis_, in the
English Rommany dialect.  In German Gipsy a prison is called

TINY or TEENY has been derived from the Gipsy _tano_, meaning "little."

TOFFER, a woman who is well dressed in new clean clothes, probably gets
the name from the Gipsy _tove_, to wash (German Gipsy _Tovava_).  She is,
so to speak, freshly washed.  To this class belong Toff, a dandy;
_Tofficky_, dressy or gay, and _Toft_, a dandy or swell.

TOOL as applied to stealing, picking pockets, and burglary, is, like
_tool_, to drive with the reins; derived beyond doubt from the Gipsy word
_tool_, to take or hold.  In all the Continental Rommany dialects it is

PUNCH, it is generally thought, is Anglo-Indian, derived directly from
the Hindustani _Pantch_ or five, from the five ingredients which enter
into its composition, but it may have partially got its name from some
sporting Gipsy in whose language the word for _five_ is the same as in
Sanskrit.  There have been thousands of "swell" Rommany chals who have
moved in sporting circles of a higher class than they are to be found in
at the present day.

"VARDO formerly was _Old Cant_ for a waggon" (_The Slang Dictionary_).  It
may be added that it is pure Gipsy, and is still known at the present day
to every Rom in England.  In Turkish Gipsy, _Vordon_ means a vehicle, in
German Gipsy, _Wortin_.

"Can you VOKER Rommany?" is given by Mr Hotten as meaning "Can you speak
Gipsy,"--but there is no such word in Rommany as _voker_.  He probably
meant "Can you _rakker_"--pronounced very often _Roker_.  Continental
Gipsy _Rakkervava_.  Mr Hotten derives it from the Latin _Vocare_!

I do not know the origin of WELCHER, a betting cheat, but it is worthy of
remark that in old Gipsy a _Walshdo_ or Welsher meant a Frenchman (from
the German Walsch) or any foreigner of the Latin races.

YACK, a watch, probably received its name from the Gipsy _Yak_ an eye, in
the old times when watches were called bull's eyes.

LUSHY, to be tipsy, and LUSH, are attributed for their origin to the name
of Lushington, a once well-known London brewer, but when we find _Losho_
and _Loshano_ in a Gipsy dialect, meaning jolly, from such a Sanskrit
root as _Lush_; as Paspati derives it, there seems to be some ground for
supposing the words to be purely Rommany.  Dr Johnson said of lush that
it was "opposite to pale," and this curiously enough shows its first
source, whether as a "slang" word or as indicative of colour, since one
of its early Sanskrit meanings is _light_ or _radiance_.  This identity
of the so regarded vulgar and the refined, continually confronts us in
studying Rommany.

"To make a MULL of anything," meaning thereby to spoil or confuse it, if
it be derived, as is said, from the Gipsy, must have come from _Mullo_
meaning _dead_, and the Sanskrit _Mara_.  There is, however, no such
Gipsy word as mull, in the sense of entangling or spoiling.

PROSS is a theatrical slang word, meaning to instruct and train a tyro.
As there are several stage words of manifest Gipsy origin, I am inclined
to derive this from the old Gipsy _Priss_, to read.  In English Gipsy
_Prasser_ or _Pross_ means to ridicule or scorn.  Something of this is
implied in the slang word _Pross_, since it also means "to sponge upon a
comrade," &c., "for drink."

TOSHERS are in English low language, "men who steal copper from ship's
bottoms."  I cannot form any direct connection between this word and any
in English Gipsy, but it is curious that in Turkish Gipsy _Tasi_ is a
cup, and in Turkish Persian it means, according to Paspati, a copper
basin used in the baths.  It is as characteristic of English Gipsy as of
any of its cognate dialects, that we often find lurking in it the most
remarkable Oriental fragments, which cannot be directly traced through
the regular line of transmission.

UP TO TRAP means, in common slang, intelligent.  It is worth observing,
that in Gipsy, _drab_ or _trap_ (which words were pronounced alike by the
first Gipsies who came from Germany to England), is used for medicine or
poison, and the employment of the latter is regarded, even at the
present, as the greatest Rommany secret.  Indeed, it is only a few days
since a Gipsy said to me, "If you know _drab_, you're up to everything;
for there's nothing goes above that."  With _drab_ the Gipsy secures
game, fish, pigs, and poultry; he quiets kicking horses until they can be
sold; and last, not least, kills or catches rats and mice.  As with the
Indians of North America, _medicine_--whether to kill or cure--is to the
Gipsy the art of arts, and those who affect a knowledge of it are always
regarded as the most intelligent.  It is, however, remarkable, that the
Gipsy, though he lives in fields and woods, is, all the world over, far
inferior to the American Indian as regards a knowledge of the properties
of herbs or minerals.  One may pick the first fifty plants which he sees
in the woods, and show them to the first Indian whom he meets, with the
absolute certainty that the latter will give him a name for every one,
and describe in detail their qualities and their use as remedies.  The
Gipsy seldom has a name for anything of the kind.  The country people in
America, and even the farmers' boys, have probably inherited by tradition
much of this knowledge from the aborigines.

BARNEY, a mob or crowd, may be derived from the Gipsy _baro_, great or
many, which sometimes takes the form of _barno_ or _barni_, and which
suggests the Hindustani Bahrna "to increase, proceed, to gain, to be
promoted;" and Bharna, "to fill, to satisfy, to be filled, &c."--(Brice's
"Hindustani and English Dictionary."  London, Trubner & Co., 1864).

BEEBEE, which the author of the Slang Dictionary declares means a lady,
and is "Anglo-Indian," is in general use among English Gipsies for aunt.
It is also a respectful form of address to any middle-aged woman, among

CULL or CULLY, meaning a man or boy, in Old English cant, is certainly of
Gipsy origin.  _Chulai_ signifies man in Spanish Gipsy (Borrow), and
_Khulai_ a gentleman, according to Paspati; in Turkish Rommany--a
distinction which the word _cully_ often preserves in England, even when
used in a derogatory sense, as of a dupe.

JOMER, a sweetheart or female favourite, has probably some connection in
derivation with choomer, a kiss, in Gipsy.

BLOKE, a common coarse word for a man, may be of Gipsy origin; since, as
the author of the Slang Dictionary declares, it may be found in
Hindustani, as Loke.  "_Lok_, people, a world, region."--("Brice's Hind.
Dictionary.")  _Bala' lok_, a gentleman.

A DUFFER, which is an old English cant term, expressive of contempt for a
man, may be derived from the Gipsy _Adovo_, "that," "that man," or "that
fellow there."  _Adovo_ is frequently pronounced almost like "a duffer,"
or "_a duvva_."

NIGGLING, which means idling, wasting time, doing anything slowly, may be
derived from some other Indo-European source, but in English Gipsy it
means to go slowly, "to potter along," and in fact it is the same as the
English word.  That it is pure old Rommany appears from the fact that it
is to be found as _Niglavava_ in Turkish Gipsy, meaning "I go," which is
also found in _Nikliovava_ and _Nikavava_, which are in turn probably
derived from the Hindustani _Nikalna_, "To issue, to go forth or out,"
&c. (Brice, Hind. Dic.)   _Niggle_ is one of the English Gipsy words
which are used in the East, but which I have not been able to find in the
German Rommany, proving that here, as in other countries, certain old
forms have been preserved, though they have been lost where the
vocabulary is far more copious, and the grammar much more perfect.

MUG, a face, is derived by Mr Wedgwood from the Italian MOCCA, a mocking
or apish mouth (Dictionary of English Etymology), but in English Gipsy we
have not only _mui_, meaning the face, but the _older_ forms from which
the English word was probably taken, such as Mak'h (Paspati), and finally
the Hindustani _Mook_ and the Sanskrit _Mukha_, mouth or face
(Shakespeare, Hind. Dic., p. 745).  In all cases where a word is so
"slangy" as mug, it seems more likely that it should have been derived
from Rommany than from Italian, since it is only within a few years that
any considerable number of the words of the latter language was imparted
to the lower classes of London.

BAMBOOZLE, BITE, and SLANG are all declared by the author of the Slang
Dictionary to be Gipsy, but, with the exception of the last word, I am
unable to verify their Rommany origin.  Bambhorna does indeed mean in
Hindustani (Brice), "to bite or to worry," and bamboo-bakshish to deceive
by paying with a whipping, while _swang_, as signifying mimicking,
acting, disguise and sham, whether of words or deeds, very curiously
conveys the spirit of the word slang.  As for _bite_ I almost hesitate to
suggest the possibility of a connection between it and _Bidorna_, to
laugh at.  I offer not only these three suggested derivations, but also
most of the others, with every reservation.  For many of these words, as
for instance _bite_, etymologists have already suggested far more
plausible and more probable derivations, and if I have found a place for
Rommany "roots," it is simply because what is the most plausible, and
apparently the most probable, is not always the true origin.  But as I
firmly believe that there is much more Gipsy in English, especially in
English slang and cant, than the world is aware of, I think it advisable
to suggest what I can, leaving to abler philologists the task of testing
its value.

Writers on such subjects err, almost without an exception, in insisting
on one accurately defined and singly derived source for every word, when
perhaps three or four have combined to form it.  The habits of thought
and methods of study followed by philologists render them especially open
to this charge.  They wish to establish every form as symmetrical and
mathematical, where nature has been freakish and bizarre.  Some years ago
when I published certain poems in the broken English spoken by Germans,
an American philologist, named Haldemann, demonstrated to his own
satisfaction that the language which I had put into Hans Breitmann's
mouth was inaccurate, because I had not reduced it to an uniform dialect,
making the same word the same in spelling and pronunciation on all
occasions, when the most accurate observation had convinced me, as it
must any one, that those who have only partially learned a language
continually vary their methods of uttering its words.

That some words have come from one source and been aided by another, is
continually apparent in English Gipsy, as for instance in the word for
reins, "guiders," which, until the Rommany reached England, was voidas.
In this instance the resemblance in sound between the words undoubtedly
conduced to an union.  Gibberish may have come from the Gipsy, and at the
same time owe something to _gabble_, _jabber_, and the old Norse or
Icelandic _gifra_.  _Lush_ may owe something to Mr Lushington, something
to the earlier English _lush_, or rosy, and something to the Gipsy and
Sanskrit.  It is not at all unlikely that the word _codger_ owes, through
_cadger_, a part of its being to _kid_, a basket, as Mr Halliwell
suggests (Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1852), and yet come
quite as directly from _gorger_ or _gorgio_.  "The cheese" probably has
the Gipsy-Hidustani _chiz_ for a father, and the French _chose_ for a
mother, while both originally sprung thousands of years ago in the great
parting of the Aryan nations, to be united after so long a separation in
a distant island in the far northern seas.

The etymologist who hesitates to adopt this principle of joint sources of
derivation, will find abundant instances of something very like it in
many English Gipsy words themselves, which, as belonging to a language in
extreme decay, have been formed directly from different, but somewhat
similarly sounding, words, in the parent German or Eastern Rommany.  Thus,
_schukker_, pretty; _bi-shukker_, slow; _tschukko_, dry, and
_tschororanes_, secretly, have in England all united in _shukar_, which
expresses all of their meanings.


An Old Gipsy Proverb--Common Proverbs in Gipsy Dress--Quaint
Sayings--Characteristic Rommany Picture-Phrases.

Every race has not only its peculiar proverbs, sayings, and catch-words,
but also idiomatic phrases which constitute a characteristic chiaroscuro,
if not colour.  The Gipsies in England have of course borrowed much from
the Gorgios, but now and then something of their own appears.  In
illustration of all this, I give the following expressions noted down
from Gipsy conversation:--

_Tacho like my dad_.  True like my father.

_Kushto like my dad_.  Good like my father.

This is a true Gipsy proverb, used as a strongly marked indication of
approbation or belief.

_Kushto bak_.  Good luck!

As the Genoese of old greeted their friends with the word _Guadagna_! or
"Gain!" indicating as Rabelais declares, their sordid character, so the
Gipsy, whose life is precarious, and who depends upon chance for his
daily bread, replies to "Sarishan!" (good day!) with "Kushto bak!" or
"Good luck to you!"  The Arabic "Baksheesh" is from the same root as bak,
_i.e_., bacht.

_When there's a boro bavol_, _huller the tan parl the waver rikk pauli
the bor_.  When the wind is high, move the tent to the other side of the
hedge behind it.

That is to say, change sides in an emergency.

"_Hatch apre!  Hushti!  The prastramengro's wellin!  Jal the graias
avree!  Prastee_!"

"Jump up!  Wide awake there!  The policeman's coming!  Run the horses
off!  Scamper!"

This is an alarm in camp, and constitutes a sufficiently graphic picture.
The hint to run the horses off indicates a very doubtful title to their

_The prastramengro pens me mustn't hatch acai_.

The policeman says we mustn't stop here.

No phrase is heard more frequently among Gipsies, who are continually in
trouble with the police as to their right to stop and pitch their tents
on commons.

_I can hatch apre for pange_ (_panj_) _divvuses_.

I can stop here for five days.

A common phrase indicating content, and equivalent to, "I would like to
sit here for a week."

_The graias have taddered at the kas-stoggus_--_we must jal an
durer_--_the gorgio's dicked us_!

The horses have been pulling at the hay-stack--we must hurry away--the
man has seen us!

When Gipsies have remained over night on a farm, it sometimes happens
that their horses and asses--inadvertently of course--find their way to
the haystacks or into a good field.  _Humanum est errare_!

_Yeck mush can lel a grai ta panni_, _but twenty cant kair him pi_.

One man can take a horse to water, but twenty can't make him drink.

A well-known proverb.

_A chirrico 'dree the mast is worth dui_ '_dree the bor_.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (hedge).

_Never kin a pong dishler nor lel a romni by momeli dood_.

Never buy a handkerchief nor choose a wife by candle-light.

_Always jal by the divvus_.

Always go by the day.

_Chin tutes chuckko by tute's kaum_.

Cut your coat according to your fancy.  This is a Gipsy variation of an
old proverb.

_Fino ranyas kair fino trushnees_.

Nice reeds make nice baskets.

_He can't tool his kokerus togetherus_ (_kettenus_).

He can't hold himself together.  Spoken of an infirm old man.

_Too boot of a mush for his kokero_.

Too much of a man for himself; _i.e_., he thinks too much of himself.

_He_'s _too boot of a mush to rakker a pauveri chavo_.

He's too proud too speak to a poor man.  This was used, not in
depreciation of a certain nobleman, whom the Gipsy who gave it to me had
often seen, but admiringly, as if such _hauteur_ were a commendable

_More_ (_koomi_) _covvas the well_.

There are more things to come.  Spoken of food on a table, and equivalent
to "Don't go yet."  _The_ appears to be used in this as in many other
instances, instead of _to_ for the sake of euphony.

_The jivaben has jawed avree out of his gad_.

The life has gone out of his shirt, _i.e_., body.  This intimates a long
and close connection between the body and the under garment.  "Avree out
of," a phrase in which the Gipsy word is immediately followed by its
English equivalent, is a common form of expression for the sake of

_I toves my own gad_.

I wash my own shirt.

A saying indicating celibacy or independence.

_Mo rakkerfor a pennis when tute can't lel it_.

Don't ask for a thing when you can't get it.

_The wongurs kairs the grasni jal_.

Money makes the mare go.

_It's allers the boro matcho that pet-a-lay 'dree the panni_.

It is always the largest fish that falls back into the water.

_Bengis your see_!  _Beng in tutes bukko_!

The devil in your heart.  The devil in your body, or bowels.

This is a common form of imprecation among Gipsies all over the world.

_Jawin sar a mush mullerin adree the boro naflo-ker_.

Going like a man dying in the hospital.

_Rikker it adree tute's kokero see an' kek'll jin_.

Keep it a secret in your own heart, and nobody will know it.

_Del sar mush a sigaben to hair his jivaben_.  Give every man a chance to
make his living.

_It's sim to a choomer, kushti for kek till it's pordered atween dui_.

It's like a kiss, good for nothing until it is divided between two.

_A cloudy sala often purabens to a fino divvus_.

A cloudy morning often changes to a fine day.

_Iuzhiou panni never jalled avree from a chickli tan_.

Clean water never came out from a dirty place.

_Sar mush must jal to the cangry, yeck divvus or the waver_.

Every man must go to the church (_i.e_., be buried) some day or other.

_Kek mush ever lelled adusta mongur_.

No man ever got money enough.

_Pale the wafri bak jals the kushti bak_.

Behind bad luck comes good luck.

_Saw mushis ain't got the sim kammoben as wavers_.

All men have not the same tastes.

_Lel the tacho pirro, an' it's pash kaired_.

Well begun is half done.

_Whilst tute's rakkerin the cheiruses jal_.

While you are talking the _times_ (hours) fly.

_Wafri bak in a boro ker_, _sim's adree a bitti her_.

There may be adversity in a large house as well as in a small one.

_The kushtiest covvas allers jal avree siggest_.

The best is soonest gone.

_To dick a puro pal is as cammoben as a kushti habben_.

To see an old friend is as agreeable as a good meal.

_When tuti's pals chinger yeck with a waver_, _don't tute jal adoi_.

When your brothers quarrel don't you meddle.

_Pet up with the rakkerin an' mor pen chichi_.

Endure the chattering and say nothing.

_When a mush dels tute a grai tute man dick 'dree lester's mui_.

When a man gives you a horse you must not look in his mouth.

_Man jal atut the puvius_.

Do not go across the field.  Intimating that one should travel in the
proper road.

_There's a kushti sovaben at the kunsus of a duro drum_.

There is a sweet sleep at the end of a long road.

_Kair the cammodearer_.

Make the best of it.

_Rikker dovo adree tute's see_.

Keep that a secret.

_The koomi foki the tacho_.

The more the merrier.

_The pishom kairs the gudlo_.

The bee makes the honey.  _Id est_, each does his own work.

_The pishom lels the gudlo avree the roozhers_.

The bee gets honey from flowers.  _Id est_, seeks it in the right place.

_Hatch till the dood wells apre_.

Wait till the moon rises.  A very characteristic Gipsy saying.

_Can't pen shukker atut lendy_.

You cannot say aught against them.

_He's boccalo ajaw to haw his chokkas_.

He's hungry enough to eat his shoes.

_The puro beng is a fino mush_!

The devil is a nice character.

_Mansha tu pal_!

Cheer up, brother.  Be a man!  Spoken to any one who seems dejected.  This
corresponds partially to the German Gipsy _Manuschwari_! which is,
however, rather an evil wish and a curse, meaning according to Dr Liebich
(_Die Zigeuner_) the gallows, dire need, and epilepsy.  Both in English
and German it is, however, derived from Manusch, a man.

_He's a hunnalo nakin mush_.

He is an avaricious man.  Literally, a spiteful nosed man.

_Tute can hair a covva ferridearer if you jal shukar_.

You can do a thing better if you go about it secretly.

_We're lullero adoi we don't jin the jib_.

We are dumb where we do not understand the language.

_Chucked_ (_chivved_) _saw the habben avree_.

He threw all the victuals about.  A melancholy proverb, meaning that
state of irritable intoxication when a man comes home and abuses his

_A myla that rikkers tute is kushtier to kistur than a grai that chivs
you apre_.

An ass that carries you is better than a horse that throws you off.

_The juva_, _that sikkers her burk will sikker her bull_.

"Free of her lips, free of her hips."

_He sims mandy dree the mui_--_like a puvengro_.

He resembles me--like a potato.

_Yeck hotchewitchi sims a waver as yeck bubby sims the waver_.

One hedgehog is as like another as two peas.

_He mored men dui_.

He killed both of us.  A sarcastic expression.

_I dicked their stadees an langis sherros_.

I saw their hats on their heads.  Apropos of amazement at some very
ordinary thing.

_When you've tatti panni and rikker tutes kokero pash matto you can jal
apre the wen sar a grai_.

When you have brandy (spirits), and keep yourself half drunk, you can go
through the winter like a horse.


Boro Duvel, or "Great God," an Old Gipsy term for Water--Bishnoo or
Vishnu, the Rain-God--The Rain, called God's Blood by Gipsies--The Snow,
"Angel's Feathers."--Mahadeva--Buddha--The Simurgh--The Pintni or
Mermaid--The Nag or Blind-Worm--Nagari and Niggering--The Nile--Nats and
Nautches, Naubat and Nobbet--A Puncher--Pitch, Piller and
Pivlibeebee--Quod--Kishmet or Destiny--The Koran in England--"Sass"--
Sherengro--Sarserin--Shali or Rice--The Shaster in England--The Evil
Eye--Sikhs--Stan, Hindostan, Iranistan--The true origin of Slang--Tat,
the Essence of Being--Bahar and Bar--The Origin of the Words Rom and
Romni.--Dom and Domni--The Hindi tem--Gipsy and Hindustani points of
the Compass--Salaam and Shulam--Sarisham!--The Cups--Women's treading
on objects--Horseflesh--English and Foreign Gipsies--Bohemian and

A learned Sclavonian--Michael von Kogalnitschan--has said of Rommany,
that he found it interesting to be able to study a Hindu dialect in the
heart of Europe.  He is quite right; but as mythology far surpasses any
philology in interest, as regards its relations to poetry, how much more
wonderful is it to find--to-day in England--traces of the tremendous
avatars, whose souls were gods, long ago in India.  And though these
traces be faint, it is still apparent enough that they really exist.

One day an old Gipsy, who is said to be more than usually "deep" in
Rommany, and to have had unusual opportunity for acquiring such knowledge
from Gipsies older and deeper than himself, sent word to me, to know if
"the rye" was aware that Boro Duvel, or the Great God, was an old Rommany
expression for water?  I thought that this was a singular message to come
from a tent at Battersea, and asked my special Gipsy _factotum_, why God
should be called water, or water, God?  And he replied in the following

"Panni is the Boro Duvel, and it is Bishnoo or Vishnoo, because it pells
alay from the Boro Duvel.  '_Vishnu is the Boro Duvel then_?'--Avali.
There can't be no stretch adoi--can there, rya?  Duvel is Duvel all the
world over--but by the right _formation_, Vishnoo is the Duvel's ratt.
I've shuned adovo but dusta cheiruses.  An' the snow is poris, that jals
from the angels' winguses.  And what I penned, that Bishnoo is the
Duvel's ratt, is puro Rommanis, and jinned by saw our foki." {110}

Now in India, Vishnu and Indra are the gods of the rain.

The learned, who insist that as there ought to be, so there must be, but
a single source of derivation for every word, ignoring the fact that a
dozen causes may aid in its formation, will at once declare that, as
Bishnoo or Vishnoo is derived from the old Gipsy Brishni or Brschindo,
and this from the Hindu Barish, and the Sanscrit Varish or Prish, there
can be "no rational ground" for connecting the English Gipsy word with
the Hindu god.  But who can tell what secret undercurrents of dim
tradition and vague association may have come down to the present day
from the olden time.  That rain should be often called God's blood, and
water bearing the name of Vishnu be termed God, and that this should be
regarded as a specially curious bit of Gipsy lore, is at any rate
remarkable enough.

As for the Gipsies in question ever having heard of Vishnu and other gods
(as a friend suggests to me), save in this dim tradition, I can only say,
that I doubt whether either of them ever heard even of the apostles; and
I satisfied myself that the one who brought the secret had never heard of
Joseph, was pitiably ignorant of Potiphar's wife, and only knew of
"Mozhus" or Moses, that he "once heerd he was on the bulrushes."

Mahadeva, or Mahadev, exists apparently in the mouth of every English
Gipsy in the phrase "Maduveleste!" or, God bless you.  This word Maduvel
is often changed to Mi--duvel, and is generally supposed to mean "My
God;" but I was once assured, that the _old_ and correct form was Ma,
meaning great, and that it only meant great in connection with Duvel.

A curious illustration of a lost word returning by chance to its original
source was given one day, when I asked a Gipsy if he knew such a word as
Buddha?  He promptly replied, "Yes; that a booderi or boodha mush was an
_old_ man;" and pointing to a Chinese image of Buddha, said: "That is a
Boohda."  He meant nothing more than that it represented an aged person,
but the coincidence was at least remarkable.  Budha in Hindustani really
signifies an old man.

The same Gipsy, observing on the chimney-piece a quaint image of a
Chinese griffin--a hideous little goblin with wings--informed me that the
Gipsy name for it was a Seemor or Seemorus, and further declared that the
same word meant a dolphin.  "But a dolphin has no wings," I remarked.
"Oh, hasn't it?" rejoined the Gipsy; "its _fins_ are its wings, if it
hadn't wings it could not be a Seemor."  I think I recognise in this
Seemor, the Simurgh or Griffin of Persian fable. {112}  I could learn
nothing more than this, that the Gipsy had always regarded a dolphin as
resembling a large-headed winged monster, which he called a Seemor.

NAG is a snake in Hindustani.  The English Gipsies still retain this
primaeval word, but apply it only to the blind-worm.  It is, however,
remarkable that the Nag, or blind-worm, is, in the opinion of the
Rommany, the most mysterious of creatures.  I have been told that "when a
nag mullers it's hardus as a kosh, and you can pogger it like a swagler's
toov," "When a blind-worm dies it is as hard as a stick, and you can
break it like a pipe-stem."  They also believe that the Nag is gifted, so
far as his will goes, with incredible malignity, and say of him--

   "If he could dick sim's he can shoon,
   He wouldn't mukk mush or grai jal an the drum."

"If he could see as well as he can hear, he would not allow man or horse
to go on the road."

The Hindi alphabet Deva Nagari, "the writing of the gods," is commonly
called Nagari.  A common English Gipsy word for writing is "niggering."
"He niggered sar he could pooker adree a chinamangree."  The resemblance
between _nagari_ and _nigger_ may, it is true, be merely accidental, but
the reader, who will ascertain by examination of the vocabulary the
proportion of Rommany words unquestionably Indian, will admit that the
terms have probably a common origin.

From Sanskrit to English Gipsy may be regarded as a descent "from the
Nile to a street-gutter," but it is amusing at least to find a passable
parallel for this simile.  _Nill_ in Gipsy is a rivulet, a river, or a
gutter.  Nala is in Hindustani a brook; nali, a kennel: and it has been
conjectured that the Indian word indicates that of the great river of

All of my readers have heard of the Nautch girls, the so-called
_bayaderes_ or dancing-girls of India; but very few, I suppose, are aware
that their generic name is remotely preserved in several English Gipsy
words.  Nachna in Hindustani means to dance, while the Nats, who are a
kind of Gipsies, are generally jugglers, dancers, and musicians.  A
_natua_ is one of these Nats, and in English Gipsy _nautering_ means
going about with music.  Other attractions may be added, but, as I have
heard a Gipsy say, "it always takes music to go _a-nauterin_' or

_Naubat_ in the language of the Hindu Nats signifies "time, turn, and
instruments of music sounding at the gate of a great man, at certain
intervals."  "Nobbet," which is a Gipsy word well known to all itinerant
negro minstrels, means to go about with music to get money.  "To nobbet
round the tem, bosherin'."  It also implies time or turn, as I inferred
from what I was told on inquiry.  "You can shoon dovo at the wellgooras
when yeck rakkers the waver, You jal and nobbet."  "You can hear that at
the fairs when one says to the other, You go and nobbet," meaning, "It is
your turn to play now."

_Nachna_, to dance (Hindustani), appears to be reflected in the English
Gipsy "nitchering," moving restlessly, fidgeting and dancing about.
Nobbeting, I was told, "_is_ nauterin'--it's all one, rya!"

_Paejama_ in India means very loose trousers; and it is worth noting that
Gipsies call loose leggings, trousers, or "overalls," peajamangris.  This
may be Anglo-Indian derived from the Gorgios.  Whether "pea-jacket"
belongs in part to this family, I will not attempt to decide.

Living constantly among the vulgar and uneducated, it is not to be
wondered at that the English Gipsies should have often given a vulgar
English and slangy term to many words originally Oriental.  I have found
that, without exception, there is a disposition among most people to
promptly declare that all these words were taken, "of course," from
English slang.  Thus, when I heard a Gipsy speak of his fist as a
"puncher," I naturally concluded that he did so because he regarded its
natural use to be to "punch" heads with.  But on asking him why he gave
it that name, he promptly replied, "Because it takes pange (five) fingers
to make a fist."  And since _panja_ means in Hindustani a hand with the
five fingers extended, it is no violent assumption to conclude that even
_puncher_ may owe quite as much to Hindustani as to English, though I
cheerfully admit that it would perhaps never have existed had it not been
for English associations.  Thus a Gipsy calls a pedlar a _packer_ or
_pack-mush_.  Now, how much of this word is due to the English word pack
or packer, and how much to _paikar_, meaning in Hindustani a pedlar?  I
believe that there has been as much of the one as of the other, and that
this doubly-formative influence, or _influence of continuation_, should
be seriously considered as regards all Rommany words which resemble in
sound others of the same meaning, either in Hindustani or in English.  It
should also be observed that the Gipsy, while he is to the last degree
inaccurate and a blunderer as regards _English_ words (a fact pointed out
long ago by the Rev. Mr Crabb), has, however, retained with great
persistence hundreds of Hindu terms.  Not being very familiar with
peasant English, I have generally found Gipsies more intelligible in
Rommany than in the language of their "stepfather-land," and have often
asked my principal informant to tell me in Gipsy what I could not
comprehend in "Anglo-Saxon."

"To pitch together" does not in English mean to stick together, although
_pitch_ sticks, but it does in Gipsy; and in Hindustani, _pichchi_ means
sticking or adhering.  I find in all cases of such resemblance that the
Gipsy word has invariably a closer affinity as regards meaning to the
Hindu than to the English, and that its tendencies are always rather
Oriental than Anglo-Saxon.  As an illustration, I may point out _piller_
(English Gipsy) to attack, having an affinity in _pilna_ (Hindustani),
with the same meaning.  Many readers will at once revert to _pill_,
_piller_, and _pillage_--all simply _implying_ attack, but really meaning
to _rob_, or robbery.  But _piller_ in English Gipsy also means, as in
Hindustani, to assault indecently; and this is almost conclusive as to
its Eastern origin.

It is remarkable that the Gipsies in England, or all the world over,
have, like the Hindus, a distinctly descriptive expression for every
degree of relationship.  Thus a _pivli beebee_ in English Gipsy, or
_pupheri bahim_ in Hindustani, is a father's sister's daughter.  This in
English, as in French or German, is simply a cousin.

_Quod_, imprisonment, is an old English cant and Gipsy word which Mr
Hotten attempts to derive from a college quadrangle; but when we find
that the Hindu _quaid_ also means confinement, the probability is that it
is to it we owe this singular term.

There are many words in which it is evident that the Hindu Gipsy meaning
has been shifted from a cognate subject.  Thus _putti_, the hub of a
wheel in Gipsy, means the felly of a wheel in Hindustani.  _Kaizy_, to
rub a horse down, or scrape him, in the original tongue signifies "to tie
up a horse's head by passing the bridle to his tail," to prevent his
kicking while being rubbed or 'scraped.  _Quasur_, or _kasur_, is in
Hindustani flame: in English Gipsy _kessur_ signifies smoke; but I have
heard a Gipsy more than once apply the same term to flame and smoke, just
as _miraben_ stands for both life and death.

Very Oriental is the word kismet, or destiny, as most of my readers are
probably aware.  It is also English Gipsy, and was explained to me as
follows: "A man's _kismut_ is what he's bound to kair--it's the kismut of
his see.  Some men's kismut is better'n wavers, 'cos they've got more
better chiv.  Some men's kismut's to bikin grais, and some to bikin
kanis; but saw foki has their kismut, an' they can't pen chichi elsus."
In English, "A man's destiny is what he is bound to do--it is the fate of
his soul (life).  Some men's destiny is better than others, because they
have more command of language.  Some are fated to sell horses, and others
to sell hens; but all people have their mission, and can do nothing

_Quran_ in the East means the Koran, and quran uthara to take an oath.  In
English Gipsy kurran, or kurraben, is also an oath, and it seems strange
that such a word from such a source should exist in England.  It is,
however, more interesting as indicating that the Gipsies did not leave
India until familiarised with Mohammedan rule.  "He kaired his kurran pre
the Duvel's Bavol that he would jal 'vree the tem for a besh."  "He swore
his oath upon God's Breath (the Bible) that he would leave the country
for a year."  Upon inquiring of the Gipsy who uttered this phrase why he
called the Bible "God's Breath," he replied naively, "It's sim to the
Duvel's jivaben, just the same as His breathus."  "It is like God's life,
just the same as His breath."

It is to be observed that _nearly all the words which Gipsies claim as
Gipsy_, _notwithstanding their resemblance to English_, _are to be found
in Hindustani_.  Thus _rutter_, to copulate, certainly resembles the
English _rut_, but it is quite as much allied to _rutana_ (Hindustani),
meaning the same thing.  "Sass," or sauce, meaning in Gipsy, bold,
forward impudence, is identical with the same English word, but it agrees
very well with the Hindu _sahas_, bold, and was perhaps born of the
latter term, although it has been brought up by the former.

Dr A. F. Pott remarks of the German Gipsy word _schetra_, or violin, that
he could nowhere find in Rommany a similar instrument with an Indian
name.  Surrhingee, or sarunghee, is the common Hindu word for a violin;
and the English Gipsies, on being asked if they knew it, promptly replied
that it was "an old word for the neck or head of a fiddle."  It is true
they also called it sarengro, surhingro, and shorengro, the latter word
indicating that it might have been derived from sherro-engro--_i.e_.,
"head-thing."  But after making proper allowance for the Gipsy tendency,
or rather passion, for perverting words towards possible derivations, it
seems very probable that the term is purely Hindu.

Zuhru, or Zohru, means in the East Venus, or the morning star; and it is
pleasant to find a reflection of the rosy goddess in the Gipsy _soor_,
signifying "early in the morning."  I have been told that there is a
Rommany word much resembling _soor_, meaning the early star, but my
informant could not give me its exact sound.  _Dood of the sala_ is the
common name for Venus.  Sunrise is indicated by the eccentric term of
"_kam-left the panni_" or sun-left the water.  "It wells from the waver
tem you jin," said my informant, in explanation.  "The sun comes from a
foreign country, and first leaves that land, and then leaves the sea,
before it gets here."

When a Gipsy is prowling for hens, or any other little waifs, and wishes
to leave a broken trail, so that his tracks may not be identified, he
will walk with the feet interlocked--one being placed outside the
other--making what in America is very naturally termed a snake-trail.
This he calls _sarserin_, and in Hindu _sarasana_ means to creep along
like a snake.

Supposing that the Hindu word for rice, _shali_, could hardly have been
lost, I asked a Gipsy if he knew it, and he at once replied, "_Shali giv_
is small grain-corn, werry little grainuses indeed."

_Shalita_ in Hindustani is a canvas sack in which a tent is carried.  The
English Gipsy has confused this word with _shelter_, and yet calls a
small or "shelter" tent a shelter _gunno_, or bag.  "For we rolls up the
big tent in the shelter tent, to carry it."  A tent cloth or canvas is in
Gipsy a _shummy_, evidently derived from the Hindu shumiyana, a canopy or

It is a very curious fact that the English Gipsies call the Scripture or
Bible the _Shaster_, and I record this with the more pleasure, since it
fully establishes Mr Borrow as the first discoverer of the word in
Rommany, and vindicates him from the suspicion with which his assertion
was received by Dr Pott.  On this subject the latter speaks as follows:--

"Eschastra de Moyses, l. ii. 22; [Greek text], M.; Sanskrit, castra;
Hind., shastr, m.  Hindu religious books, Hindu law, Scripture,
institutes of science (Shakespeare).  In proportion to the importance of
the real existence of this word among the Gipsies must be the suspicion
with which we regard it, when it depends, as in this instance, only on
Borrow's assertion, who, in case of need, to supply a non-existing word,
may have easily taken one from the Sanskrit."--_Die Zigeuner_, vol. ii.
p. 224.

The word _shaster_ was given to me very distinctly by a Gipsy, who
further volunteered the information, that it not only meant the
Scriptures, but also any written book whatever, and somewhat marred the
dignity of the sublime association of the Bible and Shaster, by adding
that "any feller's bettin'-book on the race-ground was a _shasterni lil_,
'cos it's written."

I have never heard of the evil eye among the lower orders of English, but
among Gipsies a belief in it is as common as among Hindus, and both
indicate it by the same word, _seer_ or _sihr_.  In India _sihr_, it is
true, is applied to enchantment or magic in general, but in this case the
whole may very well stand for a part.  I may add that my own
communications on the subject of the _jettatura_, and the proper means of
averting it by means of crab's claws, horns, and the usual sign of the
fore and little finger, were received by a Gipsy auditor with great faith
and interest.

To show, teach, or learn, is expressed in Gipsy by the word _sikker_,
_sig_, or _seek_.  The reader may not be aware that the Sikhs of India
derive their name from the same root, as appears from the following
extract from Dr Paspati's _etudes_: "_Sikava_, v. prim. 1 cl. 1 conj.
part, siklo', montrer, apprendre.  Sanskrit, s'iks', to learn, to acquire
science; siksaka, adj., a learner, a teacher.  Hindustani, seek'hna,
v.a., to learn, to acquire; seek'h, s.f., admonition."  I next inquired
why they were called Seeks, and they told me it was a word borrowed from
one of the commandments of their founder, which signifies 'learn thou,'
and that it was adopted to distinguish the sect soon after he
disappeared.  The word, as is well known, has the same import in the
Hindoovee" ("Asiatic Researches," vol. i. p. 293, and vol. ii. p. 200).
This was a noble word to give a name to a body of followers supposed to
be devoted to knowledge and truth.

The English Gipsy calls a mermaid a _pintni_; in Hindu it is _bint ool
buhr_, a maid of the sea.  Bero in Gipsy is the sea or a ship, but the
Rommany had reduced the term to the original _bint_, by which a girl is
known all over the East.

   "Ya bint' Eeskendereyeh."

_Stan_ is a word confounded by Gipsies with both _stand_, a place at the
races or a fair, and _tan_, a stopping-place, from which it was probably
derived.  But it agrees in sound and meaning with the Eastern _stan_, "a
place, station," and by application "country," so familiar to the reader
in Hindustan, Iranistan, Beloochistan, and many other names.  It is
curious to find in the Gipsy tan not only the root-word of a tent, but
also the "Alabama," or "here we rest," applied by the world's early
travellers to so many places in the Morning Land.

_Slang_ does _not_ mean, as Mr Hotten asserts, the secret language of the
Gipsies, but is applied by them to acting; to speaking theatrical
language, as in a play; to being an acrobat, or taking part in a show.  It
is a very old Gipsy word, and indicates plainly enough the origin of the
cant word "slang."  Using other men's words, and adopting a conventional
language, strikes a Gipsy as _artificial_; and many men not Gipsies
express this feeling by speaking of conventional stage language as
"theatrical slang."  Its antiquity and origin appear in the Hindu swangi,
an actor; swang, mockery, disguise, sham; and swang lena, to imitate.  As
regards the sound of the words, most English Gipsies would call swang
"slang" as faithfully as a Cockney would exchange _hat_ with '_at_.

Deepest among deep words in India is _tat_, an element, a principle, the
essence of being; but it is almost amusing to hear an English Gipsy say
"that's the tatto (or tat) of it," meaning thereby "the thing itself,"
the whole of it.  And thus the ultimate point of Brahma, and the infinite
depth of all transcendental philosophy, may reappear in a cheap,
portable, and convenient form, as a declaration that the real meaning of
some mysterious transaction was that it amounted to a sixpenny swindle at
thimble-rig; for to such base uses have the Shaster and the Vedas come in

It is, however, pleasant to find the Persian _bahar_, a garden, recalling
Bahar Danush, the garden of knowledge (Hindustani, bagh), reappearing in
the English Gipsy _bar_.  "She pirryed adree the bar lellin ruzhers."
"She walked in the garden plucking flowers."  And it is also like old
times and the Arabian Nights at home, to know that bazaar is a Gipsy
word, though it be now quite obsolete, and signifies no longer a public
street for shops, but an open field.

But of all words which identify the Gipsies with the East, and which
prove their Hindu origin, those by which they call themselves Rom and
Romni are most conclusive.  In India the Dom caste is one of the lowest,
whose business it is for the men to remove carcasses, while the Domni, or
female Dom, sings at weddings.  Everything known of the Dom identifies
them with Gipsies.  As for the sound of the word, any one need only ask
the first Gipsy whom he meets to pronounce the Hindu _d_ or the word Dom,
and he will find it at once converted into _l_ or _r_.  There are, it is
true, other castes and classes in India, such as Nats, the roving
Banjaree, Thugs, &c., all of which have left unmistakable traces on the
Gipsies, from which I conclude that at some time when these pariahs
became too numerous and dangerous there was a general expulsion of them
from India. {124}

I would call particular attention to my suggestion that the Corn of India
is the true parent of the Rom, because all that is known of the former
caste indicates an affinity between them.  The Dom pariahs of India who
carry out or touch dead bodies, also eat the bodies of animals that have
died a natural death, as do the Gipsies of England.  The occupation of
the Domni and Romni, dancing and making music at festivals, are
strikingly allied.  I was reminded of this at the last opera which I
witnessed at Covent Garden, on seeing stage Gipsies introduced as part of
the fete in "La Traviata."

A curious indication of the Indian origin of the Gipsies may be found in
the fact that they speak of every foreign country beyond sea as the Hindi
tem, Hindi being in Hindustani their own word for Indian.  Nothing was
more natural than that the Rommany on first coming to England should
speak of far-away regions as being the same as the land they had left,
and among such ignorant people the second generation could hardly fail to
extend the term and make it generic.  At present an Irishman is a _Hindi
tem mush_, or Hindu; and it is rather curious, by the way, that a few
years ago in America everything that was _anti_-Irish or native American
received the same appellation, in allusion to the exclusive system of

Although the Gipsies have sadly confounded the Hindu terms for the
"cardinal points," no one can deny that their own are of Indian origin.
Uttar is north in Hindustani, and Utar is west in Rommany.  As it was
explained to me, I was told that "Utar means west and wet too, because
the west wind is wet."  _Shimal_ is also north in Hindu; and on asking a
Gipsy what it meant, he promptly replied, "It's where the snow comes
from."  _Poorub_ is the east in Hindustani; in Gipsy it is changed to
porus, and means the west.

This confusion of terms is incidental to every rude race, and it must be
constantly borne in mind that it is very common in Gipsy.  Night suggests
day, or black white, to the most cultivated mind; but the Gipsy confuses
the name, and calls yesterday and to-morrow, or light and shadow, by the
same word.  More than this, he is prone to confuse almost all opposites
on all occasions, and wonders that you do not promptly accept and
understand what his own people comprehend.  This is not the case among
the Indians of North America, because oratory, involving the accurate use
of words, is among them the one great art; nor are the negroes, despite
their heedless ignorance, so deficient, since they are at least very fond
of elegant expressions and forcible preaching.  I am positive and
confident that it would be ten times easier to learn a language from the
wildest Indian on the North American continent than from any real English
Gipsy, although the latter may be inclined with all his heart and soul to
teach, even to the extent of passing his leisure days in "skirmishing"
about among the tents picking up old Rommany words.  Now the Gipsy has
passed his entire life in the busiest scenes of civilisation, and is
familiar with all its refined rascalities; yet notwithstanding this, I
have found by experience that the most untutored Kaw or Chippewa, as
ignorant of English as I was ignorant of his language, and with no means
of intelligence between us save signs, was a genius as regards ability to
teach language when compared to most Gipsies.

Everybody has heard of the Oriental _salaam_!  In English Gipsy _shulam_
means a greeting.  "Shulam to your kokero!" is another form of
_sarishan_! the common form of salutation.  The Hindu _sar i sham_
signifies "early in the evening," from which I infer that the Dom or Rom
was a nocturnal character like the Night-Cavalier of Quevedo, and who
sang when night fell, "Arouse ye, then, my merry men!" or who said "Good-
evening!" just as we say (or used to say) "Good-day!" {127}

A very curious point of affinity between the Gipsies and Hindus may be
found in a custom which was described to me by a Rom in the following

"When a mush mullers, an' the juvas adree his ker can't _kair habben_
because they feel so naflo 'bout the rom being gone, or the chavi or
juvalo mush, or whoever it may be, then their friends for trin divvuses
kairs their habben an' bitchers it a lende.  An' that's tacho Rommanis,
an' they wouldn't be dessen Rommany chuls that wouldn't kair dovo for
mushis in sig an' tukli."

"When a man dies, and the women in his house cannot prepare food
(literally, make food) as they feel so badly because the man is gone (or
the girl, or young man, or whoever it may be), then their friends for
three days prepare their food and send it to them.  And that is real
Rommany (custom), and they would not be decent Rommany fellows who would
not do that for people in sorrow and distress."

Precisely the same custom prevails in India, where it is characterised by
a phrase strikingly identical with the English Gipsy term for it.  In
England it is to _kair habben_, in Hindustani (Brice, Hin. Dict.)  "karwa
khana is the food that is sent for three days from relations to a family
in which one of the members has died."  The Hindu karwana, to make or to
cause to do, and kara, to do, are the origin of the English Gipsy _kair_
(to make or cook), while from khana, or 'hana, to eat, comes _haw_ and
_habben_, or food.

The reader who is familiar with the religious observances of India is
probably aware of the extraordinary regard in which the cup is held by
many sects.  In Germany, as Mr Liebich declares, drinking-cups are kept
by the Gipsies with superstitious regard, the utmost care being taken
that they never fall to the ground.  "Should this happen, the cup is
_never_ used again.  By touching the ground it becomes sacred, and should
no more be used.  When a Gipsy cares for nothing else, he keeps his
drinking-cup under every circumstance."  I have not been able to
ascertain whether this species of regard for the cup ever existed in
England, but I know of many who could not be induced to drink from a
white cup or bowl, the reason alleged being the very frivolous and
insufficient one, that it reminded them of a blood-basin.  It is almost
needless to say that this could never have been the origin of the
antipathy.  No such consideration deters English peasants from using
white crockery drinking-vessels.

In Germany, among the Gipsies, if a woman has trodden on any object, or
if the skirt of her dress has swept over or touched it, it is either
destroyed, or if of value, is disposed of or never used again.  I found
on inquiry that the same custom still prevails among the old Gipsy
families in England, and that if the object be a crockery plate or cup,
it is at once broken.  For this reason, even more than for convenience,
real Gipsies are accustomed to hang every cooking utensil, and all that
pertains to the table, high up in their waggons.  It is almost needless
to point out how closely these ideas agree with those of many Hindus.  The
Gipsy eats every and any thing except horseflesh.  Among themselves,
while talking Rommany, they will boast of having eaten _mullo baulors_,
or pigs that have died a natural death, and _hotchewitchi_, or hedgehog,
as did the belle of a Gipsy party to me at Walton-on-Thames in the summer
of 1872.  They can give no reason whatever for this inconsistent
abstinence.  But Mr Simson in his "History of the Gipsies" has adduced a
mass of curious facts, indicating a special superstitious regard for the
horse among the Rommany in Scotland, and identifying it with certain
customs in India.  It would be a curious matter of research could we
learn whether the missionaries of the Middle Ages, who made abstinence
from horse-flesh a point of salvation (when preaching in Germany and in
Scandinavia), derived their superstition, in common with the Gipsies,
from India.

There can be no doubt that in seeking for the Indian origin of many Gipsy
words we are often bewildered, and that no field in philology presents
such opportunity for pugnacious critics to either attack or defend the
validity of the proofs alleged.  The very word for "doubtful" or
"ambiguous," _dubeni_ or _dub'na_, is of this description.  Is it derived
from the Hindu _dhoobd'ha_, which every Gipsy would pronounce _doobna_,
or from the English _dubious_, which has been made to assume the Gipsy-
Indian termination _na_?  Of this word I was naively told, "If a juva's
bori (girl is big), that's _dub'ni_; and if she's shuvalo (swelled up),
_that's_ dubni: for it may pen (say) she's kaired a tikno (is
_enceinte_), and it may pen she hasn't."  But when we find that the
English Gipsy also employs the word _dukkeni_ for "doubtful," and compare
it with the Hindustani _dhokna_ or _dukna_, the true derivation becomes

Had Dr Pott or Dr Paspati had recourse to the plan which I adopted of
reading a copious Hindustani dictionary entirely through, word by word,
to a patient Gipsy, noting down all which he recognised, and his
renderings of them, it is very possible that these learned men would in
Germany and Turkey have collected a mass of overwhelming proof as to the
Indian origin of Rommany.  At present the dictionary which I intend shall
follow this work shows that, so far as the Rommany dialects have been
published, that of England contains a far greater number of almost
unchanged Hindu words than any other, a fact to which I would especially
call the attention of all who are interested in this curious language.
And what is more, I am certain that the supply is far from being
exhausted, and that by patient research among old Gipsies, the
Anglo-Rommany vocabulary might be increased to possibly five or six
thousand words.

It is very possible that when they first came from the East to Europe the
Gipsies had a very copious supply of words, for there were men among them
of superior intelligence.  But in Turkey, as in Germany, they have not
been brought into such close contact with the _Gorgios_ as in England:
they have not preserved their familiarity with so many ideas, and
consequently their vocabulary has diminished.  Most of the Continental
Gipsies are still wild, black wanderers, unfamiliar with many things for
which the English Gipsy has at least a name, and to which he has
continued to apply old Indian words.  Every one familiar with the subject
knows that the English Gipsies in America are far more intelligent than
their German Rommany cousins.  A few years ago a large party of the
latter appeared at an English racecourse, where they excited much
attention, but greatly disgusted the English Roms, not as rivals, but
simply from their habits.  "They couldn't do a thing but beg," said my
informant.  "They jinned (knew) nothing else: they were the dirtiest
Gipsies I ever saw; and when the juvas suckled the children, they
sikkered their burks (showed their breasts) as I never saw women do
before foki."  Such people would not, as a rule, know so many words as
those who looked down on them.

The conclusion which I have drawn from studying Anglo-Rommany, and
different works on India, is that the Gipsies are the descendants of a
vast number of Hindus, of the primitive tribes of Hindustan, who were
expelled or emigrated from that country early in the fourteenth century.
I believe they were chiefly of the primitive tribes, because evidence
which I have given indicates that they were identical with the two castes
of the Doms and Nats--the latter being, in fact, at the present day, the
real Gipsies of India.  Other low castes and outcasts were probably
included in the emigration, but I believe that future research will prove
that they were all of the old stock.  The first Pariahs of India may have
consisted entirely of those who refused to embrace the religion of their

It has been coolly asserted by a recent writer that Gipsies are not
proved to be of Hindu origin because "a few" Hindu words are to be found
in their language.  What the proportion of such words really is may be
ascertained from the dictionary which will follow this work.  But
throwing aside all the evidence afforded by language, traditions,
manners, and customs, one irrefutable proof still remains in the physical
resemblance between Gipsies all the world over and the natives of India.
Even in Egypt, the country claimed by the Gipsies themselves as their
remote great-grandfather-land, the native Gipsy is not Egyptian in his
appearance but Hindu.  The peculiar brilliancy of the eye and its
expression in the Indian is common to the Gipsy, but not to the Egyptian
or Arab; and every donkey-boy in Cairo knows the difference between the
_Rhagarin_ and the native as to personal appearance.  I have seen both
Hindus in Cairo and Gipsies, and the resemblance to each other is as
marked as their difference from Egyptians.

A few years ago an article on the Rommany language appeared in the
"Atlantic Magazine" (Boston, U.S., America), in which the writer declared
that Gipsy has very little affinity with Hindustani, but a great deal
with Bohemian or Chech--in fact, he maintained, if I remember right, that
a Chech and a Rom could understand one another in either of their
respective tongues.  I once devoted my time for several months to
unintermitted study of Chech, and consequently do not speak in entire
ignorance when I declare that true Rommany contains scores of Hindu words
to one of Bohemian. {133}


Gipsies and Cats.--"Christians."--Christians not "Hanimals."--Green, Red,
and Yellow.--The Evil Eye.--Models and Morals.--Punji and
Sponge-cake.--Troubles with a Gipsy Teacher.--Pilferin' and
Bilberin'.--Khapana and Hopper.--Hoppera-glasses.--The little wooden
Bear.--Huckeny Ponkee, Hanky Panky, Hocus-pocus, and Hokkeny
Baro.--Burning a Gipsy Witch alive in America.--Daniel in the Lions'
Den.--Gipsy Life in Summer.--The Gavengroes.--The Gipsy's Story of Pitch-
and-Toss.--"You didn't fight your Stockings off?"--The guileless and
venerable Gipsy.--The Gipsy Professor of Rommany and the Police.--His
Delicacy of Feeling.--The old Gipsy and the beautiful Italian Models.--The
Admired of the Police.--Honesty strangely illustrated.--Gipsies willing
or unwilling to communicate Rommany.--Romance and Eccentricity of Gipsy
Life and Manners.--The Gipsy Grandmother and her Family.--A fine Frolic
interrupted.--The Gipsy Gentleman from America.--No such Language as
Rommany.--Hedgehogs.--The Witch Element in Gipsy Life.--Jackdaws and
Dogs.--Their Uses.--Lurchers and Poachers.--A Gipsy Camp.--The Ancient
Henry.--I am mistaken for a Magistrate or Policeman.--Gipsies of Three
Grades.--The Slangs.--Jim and the Twigs.--Beer rained from
Heaven.--Fortune-telling.--A golden Opportunity to live at my
Ease.--Petulamengro.--I hear of a New York Friend.--The Professor's
Legend of the Olive-leaf and the Dove, "A wery tidy little Story."--The
Story of Samson as given by a Gipsy.--The great Prize-fighter who was
hocussed by a Fancy Girl.--The Judgment Day.--Passing away in Sleep or
Dream to God.--A Gipsy on Ghosts.--Dogs which can kill Ghosts.--Twisted-
legged Stealing.--How to keep Dogs away from a Place.--Gipsies avoid
Unions.--A Gipsy Advertisement in the "Times."--A Gipsy Poetess and a
Rommany Song.

It would be a difficult matter to decide whether the superstitions and
odd fancies entertained by the Gipsies in England are derived from the
English peasantry, were brought from India, or picked up on the way.  This
must be left for ethnologists more industrious and better informed than
myself to decide.  In any case, the possible common Aryan source will
tend to obscure the truth, just as it often does the derivation of
Rommany words.  But nothing can detract from the inexpressibly quaint
spirit of Gipsy originality in which these odd _credos_ are expressed, or
surpass the strangeness of the reasons given for them.  If the spirit of
the goblin and elfin lingers anywhere on earth, it is among the Rommany.

One day I questioned a Gipsy as to cats, and what his opinion was of
black ones, correctly surmising that he would have some peculiar ideas on
the subject, and he replied--

"Rommanys never lel kaulo matchers adree the ker, 'cause they're mullos,
and beng is covvas; and the puro beng, you jin, is kaulo, an' has shtor
herros an' dui mushis--an' a sherro.  But pauno matchers san kushto, for
they're sim to pauno ghosts of ranis."

Which means in English, "Gipsies never have black cats in the house,
because they are unearthly creatures, and things of the devil; and the
old devil, you know, is black, and has four legs and two arms--and a
head.  But white cats are good, for they are like the white ghosts of

It is in the extraordinary reason given for liking white cats that the
subtle Gipsyism of this cat-commentary consists.  Most people would
consider a resemblance to a white ghost rather repulsive.  But the Gipsy
lives by night a strange life, and the reader who peruses carefully the
stories which are given in this volume, will perceive in them a
familiarity with goblin-land and its denizens which has become rare among

But it may be that I do this droll old Gipsy great wrong in thus
apparently classing him with the heathen, since he one day manifested
clearly enough that he considered he had a right to be regarded as a true
believer--the only drawback being this, that he was apparently under the
conviction that all human beings were "Christians."  And the way in which
he declared it was as follows: I had given him the Hindustani word
_janwur_, and asked him if he knew such a term, and he answered--

"Do I jin sitch a lav (know such a word) as _janwur_ for a hanimal?  Avo
(yes); it's _jomper_--it's a toadus" (toad).

"But do you jin the lav (know the word) for an _animal_?"

"Didn't I just pooker tute (tell you) it was a jomper? for if a toad's a
hanimal, _jomper_ must be the lav for hanimal."

"But don't you jin kek lav (know a word) for sar the covvas that have
jivaben (all living things)--for jompers, and bitti matchers (mice), and
gryas (horses)?  You and I are animals."

"Kek, rya, kek (no, sir, no), we aren't hanimals.  _Hanimals_ is critters
that have something queer about 'em, such as the lions an' helephants at
the well-gooroos (fairs), or cows with five legs, or won'ful piebald
grais--_them's_ hanimals.  But Christins aint hanimals.  Them's _mushis_"

To return to cats: it is remarkable that the colour which makes a cat
desirable should render a bowl or cup objectionable to a true Gipsy, as I
have elsewhere observed in commenting on the fact that no old-fashioned
Rommany will drink, if possible, from white crockery.  But they have
peculiar fancies as to other colours.  Till within a few years in Great
Britain, as at the present day in Germany, their fondness for green coats
amounted to a passion.  In Germany a Gipsy who loses caste for any
offence is forbidden for a certain time to wear green, so that _ver non
semper viret_ may be truly applied to those among them who bloom too

The great love for red and yellow among the Gipsies was long ago pointed
out by a German writer as a proof of Indian origin, but the truth is, I
believe, that all dark people instinctively choose these hues as agreeing
with their complexion.  A brunette is fond of amber, as a blonde is of
light blue; and all true _kaulo_ or dark Rommany _chals_ delight in a
bright yellow _pongdishler_, or neckerchief, and a red waistcoat.  The
long red cloak of the old Gipsy fortune-teller is, however, truly dear to
her heart; she feels as if there were luck in it--that _bak_ which is
ever on Gipsy lips; for to the wanderers, whose home is the roads, and
whose living is precarious, Luck becomes a real deity.  I have known two
old fortune-telling sisters to expend on new red cloaks a sum which
seemed to a lady friend very considerable.

I have spoken in another chapter of the deeply-seated faith of the
English Gipsies in the evil eye.  Subsequent inquiry has convinced me
that they believe it to be peculiar to themselves.  One said in my
presence, "There was a kauli juva that dicked the evil yack ad mandy the
sala--my chavo's missis--an' a'ter dovo I shooned that my chavo was
naflo.  A bongo-yacki mush kairs wafro-luckus.  _Avali_, the Gorgios
don't jin it--it's saw Rommany."

_I.e_., "There was a dark woman that looked the evil eye at me this
morning--my son's wife--and after that I heard that my son was ill.  A
squint-eyed man makes bad-luck.  Yes, the Gorgios don't know it--it's all

The Gipsy is of an eminently social turn, always ready when occasion
occurs to take part in every conversation, and advance his views.  One
day my old Rom hearing an artist speak of having rejected some uncalled-
for advice relative to the employment of a certain model, burst out in a
tone of hearty approbation with--

"That's what _I_ say.  Every man his own juva (every man his own girl),
an' every painter his own _morals_."

If it was difficult in the beginning for me to accustom the Gipsy mind to
reply clearly and consistently to questions as to his language, the
trouble was tenfold increased when he began to see his way, as he
thought, to my object, and to take a real interest in aiding me.  For
instance, I once asked--

"Puro! do you know such a word as _punji_?  It's the Hindu for capital."

(Calmly.)   "Yes, rya; that's a wery good word for capital."

"But is it Rommany?"

(Decidedly.)   "It'll go first-rateus into Rommany."

"But can you make it out?  Prove it!"

(Fiercely.)   "Of course I can make it out.  _Kushto_.  Suppose a man
sells 'punge-cake, would'nt that be his capital?  _Punje_ must be

But this was nothing to what I endured after a vague fancy of the meaning
of seeking a derivation of words had dimly dawned on his mind, and he
vigorously attempted to aid me.  Possessed with the crude idea that it
was a success whenever two words could be forced into a resemblance of
any kind, he constantly endeavoured to Anglicise Gipsy words--often,
alas! an only too easy process, and could never understand why it was I
then rejected them.  By the former method I ran the risk of obtaining
false Hindustani Gipsy words, though I very much doubt whether I was ever
caught by it in a single instance; so strict were the tests which I
adopted, the commonest being that of submitting the words to other
Gipsies, or questioning him on them some days afterwards.  By the latter
"aid" I risked the loss of Rommany words altogether, and undoubtedly did
lose a great many.  Thus with the word _bilber_ (to entice or allure), he
would say, in illustration, that the girls _bilbered_ the gentleman into
the house to rob him, and then cast me into doubt by suggesting that the
word must be all right, "'cause it looked all the same as _pilferin_'."

One day I asked him if the Hindustani word khapana (pronounced almost
hopana) (to make away with) sounded naturally to his ears.

"Yes, rya; that must be _happer_, _habber_, or _huvver_.  To hopper
covvas away from the tan (_i.e_., to _hopper_ things from the place), is
when you rikker 'em awayus (carry them away, steal them), and gaverit
(hide _it_) tally your chuckko (under your coat).  An' I can pen you a
waver covva (I can tell you another thing) that's _hopper_--them's the
glasses that you look through--_hoppera_-glasses."

And here in bounding triumph he gave the little wooden bear a drink of
ale, as if it had uttered this chunk of solid wisdom, and then treated
himself to a good long pull.  But the glance of triumph which shot from
his black-basilisk eyes, and the joyous smile which followed these feats
of philology, were absolutely irresistible.  All that remained for me to
do was to yield in silence.

One day we spoke of _huckeny pokee_, or _huckeny ponkee_, as it is
sometimes called.  It means in Rommany "sleight of hand," and also the
adroit substitution of a bundle of lead or stones for another containing
money or valuables, as practised by Gipsy women.  The Gipsy woman goes to
a house, and after telling the simple-minded and credulous housewife that
there is a treasure buried in the cellar, persuades her that as "silver
draws silver," she must deposit all her money or jewels in a bag near the
place where the treasure lies.  This is done, and the Rommany _dye_
adroitly making up a parcel resembling the one laid down, steals the
latter, leaving the former.

Mr Barrow calls this _hokkeny baro_, the great swindle.  I may remark, by
the way, that among jugglers and "show-people" sleight of hand is called
_hanky panky_.  "Hocus-pocus" is attributed by several writers to the
Gipsies, a derivation which gains much force from the fact, which I have
never before seen pointed out, that _hoggu bazee_, which sounds very much
like it, means in Hindustani legerdemain.  English Gipsies have an
extraordinary fancy for adding the termination _us_ in a most irregular
manner to words both Rommany and English.  Thus _kettene_ (together) is
often changed to _kettenus_, and _side_ to _sidus_.  In like manner,
_hoggu_ (_hocku_ or _honku_) _bazee_ could not fail to become _hocus
bozus_, and the next change, for the sake of rhyme, would be to hocus-po-

I told my ancient rambler of an extraordinary case of "huckeny pokee"
which had recently occurred in the United States, somewhere in the west,
the details of which had been narrated to me by a lady who lived at the
time in the place where the event occurred.

"A Gipsy woman," I said, "came to a farmhouse and played huckeny pokee on
a farmer's wife, and got away all the poor woman's money."

"Did she indeed, rya?" replied my good old friend, with a smile of joy
flashing from his eyes, the unearthly Rommany light just glinting from
their gloom.

"Yes," I said impressively, as a mother might tell an affecting story to
a child.  "All the money that that poor woman had, that wicked Gipsy
woman took away, and utterly ruined her."

This was the culminating point; he burst into an irrepressible laugh; he
couldn't help it--the thing had been done too well.

"But you haven't heard all yet," I added.  "There's more covvas to well."

"Oh, I suppose the Rummany chi prastered avree (ran away), and got off
with the swag?"

"No, she didn't."

"Then they caught her, and sent her to starabun" (prison).

"No," I replied.

"And what did they do?"


His jaw fell; a glossy film came over his panther-eyes.  For a long time
he had spoken to me, had this good and virtuous man, of going to America.
Suddenly he broke out with this vehement answer--

"I won't go to that country--_s'up mi duvel_!  I'll never go to America."

It is told of a certain mother, that on showing her darling boy a picture
in the Bible representing Daniel in the lions' den, she said, "And there
is good Daniel, and there are those naughty lions, who are going to eat
him all up."  Whereupon the dear boy cried out, "O mother, look at that
poor little lion in the corner--he won't get any."

It is from this point of view that such affairs are naturally regarded by
the Rommany.

There is a strange goblinesque charm in Gipsydom--something of nature,
and green leaves, and silent nights--but it is ever strangely commingled
with the forbidden; and as among the Greeks of old with Mercury amid the
singing of leafy brooks, there is a tinkling of, at least, petty larceny.
Witness the following, which came forth one day from a Gipsy, in my
presence, as an entirely voluntary utterance.  He meant it for something
like poetry--it certainly was suggested by nothing, and as fast as he
spoke I wrote it down:--

"It's kushto in tattoben for the Rommany chals.  Then they can jal langs
the drum, and hatch their tan acai and odoi pre the tem.  We'll lel moro
habben acai, and jal andurer by-an'-byus, an' then jal by ratti, so's the
Gorgios won't dick us.  I jins a kushti puv for the graias; we'll hatch
'pre in the sala, before they latcher we've been odoi, an' jal an the
drum an' lel moro habben."

"It is pleasant for the Gipsies in the summer-time.  Then they can go
along the road, and pitch their tent here and there in the land.  We'll
take our food here, and go further on by-and-by, and then go by night, so
that the Gorgios won't see us.  I know a fine field for the horses; we'll
stop there in the morning, before they find we have been there, and go on
the road and eat our food."

"I suppose that you often have had trouble with the _gavengroes_ (police)
when you wished to pitch your tent?"

Now it was characteristic of this Gipsy, as of many others, that when
interested by a remark or a question, he would reply by bursting into
some picture of travel, drawn from memory.  So he answered by saying--

"They hunnelo'd the choro puro mush by pennin' him he mustn't hatch odoi.
'What's tute?' he pens to the prastramengro; 'I'll del you thrin bar to
lel your chuckko offus an' koor mandy.  You're a ratfully jucko an' a

_English_--They angered the poor old man by telling him he must not stop
there.  "What are you?" he said to the policeman, "I'll give you three
pounds to take your coat off and fight me.  You're a bloody dog and a
lie" (liar).

"I suppose you have often taken your coat off?"

"Once I lelled it avree an' never chivved it apre ajaw."

(_I.e_., "Once I took it off and never put it on again.")

"How was that?"

"Yeckorus when I was a tano mush, thirty besh kenna--rummed about pange
besh, but with kek chavis--I jalled to the prasters of the graias at
Brighton.  There was the paiass of wussin' the pasheros apre for wongur,
an' I got to the pyass, an' first cheirus I lelled a boro bittus--twelve
or thirteen bar.  Then I nashered my wongur, an' penned I wouldn't pyass
koomi, an' I'd latch what I had in my poachy.  Adoi I jalled from the
gudli 'dree the toss-ring for a pashora, when I dicked a waver mush, an'
he putched mandy, 'What bak?' and I penned pauli, 'Kek bak; but I've got
a bittus left.'  So I wussered with lester an' nashered saw my covvas--my
chukko, my gad, an' saw, barrin' my rokamyas.  Then I jalled kerri with
kek but my rokamyas an--I borried a chukko off my pen's chavo.

"And when my juva dickt'omandy pash-nango, she pens, 'Dovo's tute's
heesis?' an' I pookered her I'd been a-koorin'.  But she penned, 'Why,
you haven't got your hovalos an; you didn't koor tute's hovalos avree?'
'No,' I rakkered; 'I taddered em offus.  (The mush played me with a dui-
sherro poshero.)

"But dree the sala, when the mush welled to lel avree the jucko (for I'd
nashered dovo ajaw), I felt wafrodearer than when I'd nashered saw the
waver covvas.  An' my poor juva ruvved ajaw, for she had no chavo.  I had
in those divvuses as kushti coppas an' heesus as any young Gipsy in
Anglaterra--good chukkos, an' gads, an' pongdishlers.

"An' that mush kurried many a geero a'ter mandy, but he never lelled no
bak.  He'd chore from his own dadas; but he mullered wafro adree East

"Once when I was a young man, thirty years ago (now)--married about five
years, but with no children--I went to the races at Brighton.  There was
tossing halfpence for money, and I took part in the game, and at first
(first time) I took a good bit--twelve or thirteen pounds.  Then I lost
my money, and said I would play no more, and would keep what I had in my
pocket.  Then I went from the noise in the toss-ring for half an hour,
when I saw another man, and he asked me, 'What luck?' and I replied, 'No
luck; but I've a little left yet.'  So I tossed with him and lost all my
things--my coat, my shirt, and all, except my breeches.  Then I went home
with nothing but my breeches on--I borrowed a coat of my sister's boy.

"And when my wife saw me half-naked, she _says_, 'Where are your
clothes?' and I told her I had been fighting.  But she said, 'Why, you
have not your stockings on; you didn't fight your stockings off!'  'No,'
I said; 'I drew them off.'  (The man played me with a two-headed

"But in the morning when the man came to take away the dog (for I had
lost that too), I felt worse than when I lost all the other things.  And
my poor wife cried again, for she had no child.  I had in those days as
fine clothes as any young Gipsy in England--good coats, and shirts, and

"And that man hurt many a man after me, but he never had any luck.  He'd
steal from his own father; but he died miserably in East Kent."

It was characteristic of the venerable wanderer who had installed himself
as my permanent professor of Rommany, that although almost every phrase
which he employed to illustrate words expressed some act at variance with
law or the rights of property, he was never weary of descanting on the
spotlessness, beauty, and integrity of his own life and character.  These
little essays on his moral perfection were expressed with a touching
artlessness and child-like simplicity which would carry conviction to any
one whose heart had not been utterly hardened, or whose eye-teeth had not
been remarkably well cut, by contact with the world.  In his delightful
_naivete_ and simple earnestness, in his ready confidence in strangers
and freedom from all suspicion--in fact, in his whole deportment, this
Rommany elder reminded me continually of one--and of one man only--whom I
had known of old in America.  Need I say that I refer to the excellent ---

It happened for many days that the professor, being a man of early
habits, arrived at our rendezvous an hour in advance of the time
appointed.  As he resolutely resisted all invitation to occupy the room
alone until my arrival, declaring that he had never been guilty of such a
breach of etiquette, and as he was, moreover, according to his word, the
most courteous man of the world in it, and I did not wish to "contrary"
him, he was obliged to pass the time in the street, which he did by
planting himself on the front steps or expanding himself on the railings
of an elderly and lonely dame, who could not endure that even a mechanic
should linger at her door, and was in agony until the milkman and baker
had removed their feet from her steps.  Now, the appearance of the
professor (who always affected the old Gipsy style), in striped corduroy
coat, leather breeches and gaiters, red waistcoat, yellow
neck-handkerchief, and a frightfully-dilapidated old white hat, was not,
it must be admitted, entirely adapted to the exterior of a highly
respectable mansion.  "And he had such a vile way of looking, as if he
were a-waitin' for some friend to come out o' the 'ouse."  It is almost
needless to say that this apparition attracted the police from afar off
and all about, or that they gathered around him like buzzards near a
departed lamb.  I was told by a highly intelligent gentleman who
witnessed the interviews, that the professor's kindly reception of these
public characters--the infantile smile with which he courted their
acquaintance, and the good old grandfatherly air with which he listened
to their little tales--was indescribably delightful.  "In a quarter of an
hour any one of them would have lent him a shilling;" and it was soon
apparent that the entire force found a charm in his society.  The lone
lady herself made a sortie against him once; but one glance at the
amiable smile, "which was child-like and bland," disarmed her, and it was
reported that she subsequently sent him out half-a-pint of beer.

It is needless to point out to the reader accustomed to good society that
the professor's declining to sit in a room where valuable and small
objects abounded, in the absence of the owner, was dictated by the most
delicate feeling.  Not less remarkable than his strict politeness was the
mysterious charm which this antique nomad unquestionably exercised on the
entire female sex.  Ladies of the highest respectability and culture, old
or young, who had once seen him, invariably referred to him as "that
charming old Gipsy."

Nor was his sorcery less potent on those of low degree.  Never shall I
forget one morning when the two prettiest young Italian model-girls in
all London were poseeing to an artist friend while the professor sat and
imparted to me the lore of the Rommany.  The girls behaved like moral
statues till he appeared, and like quicksilver imps and devilettes for
the rest of the sitting.  Something of the wild and weird in the mountain
Italian life of these ex-contadine seemed to wake like unholy fire, and
answer sympathetically to the Gipsy wizard-spell.  Over mountain and sea,
and through dark forests with legends of _streghe_ and Zingari, these
semi-outlaws of society, the Neapolitan and Rommany, recognised each
other intuitively.  The handsomest young gentleman in England could not
have interested these handsome young sinners as the dark-brown,
grey-haired old vagabond did.  Their eyes stole to him.  Heaven knows
what they talked, for the girls knew no English, but they whispered; they
could not write little notes, so they kept passing different objects, to
which Gipsy and Italian promptly attached a meaning.  Scolding them
helped not.  It was "a pensive sight."

To impress me with a due sense of his honesty and high character, the
professor informed me one day that he was personally acquainted, as he
verily believed, with every policeman in England.  "You see, rya," he
remarked, "any man as is so well known couldn't never do nothing wrong
now,--could he?"

Innocent, unconscious, guileless air--and smile!  I shall never see its
equal.  I replied--

"Yes; I think I can see you, Puro, walking down between two lines of
hundreds of policemen--every one pointing after you and saying, 'There
goes that good honest --- the honestest man in England!'"

"Avo, rya," he cried, eagerly turning to me, as if delighted and
astonished that I had found out the truth.  "That's just what they all
pens of me, an' just what I seen 'em a-doin' every time."

"You know all the police," I remarked.  "Do you know any turnkeys?"

He reflected an instant, and then replied, artlessly--

"I don't jin many o' them.  But I can jist tell you a story.  Once at
Wimbledown, when the _kooroo-mengroes_ were _odoi_ (when the troopers
were there), I used to get a pound a week carryin' things.  One day, when
I had well on to two stun on my _dumo_ (back), the chief of police sees
me an' says, 'There's that old scoundrel again! that villain gives the
police more trouble than any other man in the country!'  'Thank you,
sir,' says I, wery respectable to him.  'I'm glad to see you're earnin' a
'onest livin' for once,' says he.  'How much do you get for carryin' that
there bundle?'  'A sixpence, rya!' says I.  'It's twice as much as you
ought to have,' says he; 'an' I'd be glad to carry it myself for the
money.'  'All right, sir,' says I, touchin' my hat and goin' off, for he
was a wery nice gentleman.  Rya," he exclaimed, with an air of placid
triumph, "do you think the head-police his selfus would a spoke in them
wery words to me if he hadn't a thought I was a good man?"

"Well, let's get to work, old Honesty.  What is the Rommanis for to

"To _gaverit_ is to hide anything, rya.  _Gaverit_."  And to illustrate
its application he continued--

"They penned mandy to gaver the gry, but I nashered to keravit, an' the
mush who lelled the gry welled alangus an' dicked it."

("They told me to hide the horse, but I forgot to do it, and the man who
_owned_ the horse came by and saw it.")

It is only a few hours since I heard of a gentleman who took incredible
pains to induce the Gipsies to teach him their language, but never
succeeded.  I must confess that I do not understand this.  When I have
met strange Gipsies, it has often greatly grieved me to find that they
spoke their ancient tongue very imperfectly, and were ignorant of certain
Rommany words which I myself, albeit a stranger, knew very well, and
would fain teach them.  But instead of accepting my instructions in a
docile spirit of ignorant humility, I have invariably found that they
were eagerly anxious to prove that they were not so ignorant as I
assumed, and in vindication of their intelligence proceeded to pour forth
dozens of words, of which I must admit many were really new to me, and
which I did not fail to remember.

The scouting, slippery night-life of the Gipsy; his familiarity with deep
ravine and lonely wood-path, moonlight and field-lairs; his use of a
secret language, and his constant habit of concealing everything from
everybody; his private superstitions, and his inordinate love of
humbugging and selling friend and foe, tend to produce in him that
goblin, elfin, boyish-mischievous, out-of-the-age state of mind which is
utterly indescribable to a prosaic modern-souled man, but which is
delightfully piquant to others.  Many a time among Gipsies I have felt, I
confess with pleasure, all the subtlest spirit of fun combined with
picture-memories of Hayraddin Maugrabin--witch-legends and the
"Egyptians;" for in their ignorance they are still an unconscious race,
and do not know what the world writes about them.  They are not
attractive from the outside to those who have no love for quaint
scholarship, odd humours, and rare fancies.  A lady who had been in a
camp had nothing to say of them to me save that they were "dirty--dirty,
and begged."  But I ever think, when I see them, of Tieck's Elves, and of
the Strange Valley, which was so grim and repulsive from without, but
which, once entered, was the gay forecourt of goblin-land.

The very fact that they hide as much as they can of their Gipsy life and
nature from the Gorgios would of itself indicate the depths of
singularity concealed beneath their apparent life--and this reminds me of
incidents in a Sunday which I once passed beneath a Gipsy roof.  I was,
_en voyage_, at a little cathedral town, when learning that some Gipsies
lived in a village eight miles distant, I hired a carriage and rode over
to see them.  I found my way to a neat cottage, and on entering it
discovered that I was truly enough among the Rommany.  By the fire sat a
well-dressed young man; near him was a handsome, very dark young woman,
and there presently entered a very old woman,--all gifted with the
unmistakable and peculiar expression of real Gipsies.

The old woman overwhelmed me with compliments and greetings.  She is a
local celebrity, and is constantly visited by the most respectable ladies
and gentlemen.  This much I had learned from my coachman.  But I kept a
steady silence, and sat as serious as Odin when he visited the Vala,
until the address ceased.  Then I said in Rommany--

"Mother, you don't know me.  I did not come here to listen to fortune-

To which came the prompt reply, "I don't know what the gentleman is
saying."  I answered always in Rommany.

"You know well enough what I am saying.  You needn't be afraid of me--I'm
the nicest gentleman you ever saw in all your life, and I can talk
Rommany as fast as ever you ran away from a policeman."

"What language is the gentleman talking?" cried the old dame, but
laughing heartily as she spoke.

   "Oh dye--miri dye,
   Don't tute jin a Rommany rye?
   Can't tu rakker Rommany jib,
   Tachipen and kek fib?"

"Avo, my rye; I can understand you well enough, but I never saw a Gipsy
gentleman before."

[Since I wrote that last line I went out for a walk, and on the other
side of Walton Bridge, which legend says marks the spot where Julius
Caesar crossed, I saw a tent and a waggon by the hedge, and knew by the
curling blue smoke that a Gipsy was near.  So I went over the bridge, and
sure enough there on the ground lay a full-grown Petulamengro, while his
brown _juva_ tended the pot.  And when I spoke to her in Rommany she
could only burst out into amazed laughter as each new sentence struck her
ear, and exclaim, "Well! well! that ever I should live to hear this!  Why,
the gentleman talks just like one of _us_!  '_Bien apropos_,' sayde ye

"Dye," quoth I to the old Gipsy dame, "don't be afraid.  I'm _tacho_.  And
shut that door if there are any Gorgios about, for I don't want them to
hear our _rakkerben_.  Let us take a drop of brandy--life is short, and
here's my bottle.  I'm not English--I'm a _waver temmeny mush_ (a
foreigner).  But I'm all right, and you can leave your spoons out.

      "The boshno an' kani
      The rye an' the rani;
   Welled acai 'pre the boro lun pani.
      Rinkeni juva hav acai!
      Del a choomer to the rye!"

"_Duveleste_!" said the old fortune-teller, "that ever I should live to
see a rye like you!  A boro rye rakkerin' Rommanis!  But you must have
some tea now, my son--good tea."

"I don't pi muttermengri dye ('drink tea,' but an equivoque).  It's
muttermengri with you and with us of the German jib."

"Ha! ha! but you must have food.  You won't go away like a Gorgio without
tasting anything?"

"I'll eat bread with you, but tea I haven't tasted this five-and-twenty

"Bread you shall have, rya."  And saying this, the daughter spread out a
clean white napkin, and placed on it excellent bread and butter, with
plate and knife.  I never tasted better, even in Philadelphia.  Everything
in the cottage was scrupulously neat--there was even an approach to
style.  The furniture and ornaments were superior to those found in
common peasant houses.  There was a large and beautifully-bound
photograph album.  I found that the family could read and write--the
daughter received and read a note, and one of the sons knew who and what
Mr Robert Browning was.

But behind it all, when the inner life came out, was the wild Rommany and
the witch-_aura_--the fierce spirit of social exile from the world in
which they lived (the true secret of all the witch-life of old), and the
joyous consciousness of a secret tongue and hidden ways.  To those who
walk in the darkness of the dream, let them go as deep and as windingly
as they will, and into the grimmest gloom of goblin-land, there will
never be wanting flashes of light, though they be gleams diavoline,
corpse-candlelights, elfin sparkles, and the unearthly blue lume of the
eyes of silent night-hags wandering slow.  In the forgotten grave of the
sorcerer burns steadily through long centuries the Rosicrucian lamp, and
even to him whose eyes are closed, sparkle, on pressure, phosphorescent
rings.  So there was Gipsy laughter; and the ancient _wicca_ and Vala
flashed out into that sky-rocketty joyousness and Catherine-wheel gaiety,
which at eighty or ninety, in a woman, vividly reminds one of the Sabbat
on the Brocken, of the ointment, and all things terrible and unearthly
and forbidden.

I do not suppose that there are many people who can feel or understand
that among the fearfully dirty dwellers in tents and caravans,
cock-shysters and dealers in dogs of doubtful character, there can be
anything strange, and quaint, and deeply tinged with the spirit of which
I have spoken.  As well might one attempt to persuade the twenty-stone
half-illiterate and wholly old-fashioned rural magistrate of the last
century that the poor devil of a hen-stealing Gipsy dragged before him
knew that which would send thrills of joy through the most learned
philologist in Europe, and cause the great band of scholars to sing for
joy.  Life, to most of us, is nothing without its humour; and to me a
whilome German student illustrating his military marauding by phrases
from Fichte, or my friend Pauno the Rommany urging me with words to be
found in the Mahabahrata and Hafiz to buy a terrier, is a charming

I believe that my imagination has neither been led nor driven, when it
has so invariably, in my conversing with Gipsy women, recalled Faust, and
all I have ever read in Wierus, Bodinus, Bekker, Mather, or Glanvil, of
the sorceress and _sortilega_.  And certainly on this earth I never met
with such a perfect _replica_ of Old Mother Baubo, the mother of all the
witches, as I once encountered at a certain race.  Swarthy, black-eyed,
stout, half-centuried, fiercely cunning, and immoderately sensual, her
first salutation was expressed in a phrase such as a Corinthian soul
might be greeted with on entering that portion of the after-world devoted
to the fastest of the fair.  With her came a tall, lithe, younger
sorceress; and verily the giant fat sow for her majesty, and the broom
for the attendant, were all that was wanting.

To return to the cottage.  Our mirth and fun grew fast and furious; the
family were delighted with my anecdotes of the Rommany in other
lands--German, Bohemian, and Spanish,--not to mention the _gili_.  And we
were just in the gayest centre of it all, "whin,--och, what a pity!--this
fine tay-party was suddenly broken up," as Patrick O'Flanegan remarked
when he was dancing with the chairs to the devil's fiddling, and his wife
entered.  For in rushed a Gipsy boy announcing that Gorgios (or, as I may
say, "wite trash") were near at hand, and evidently bent on entering.
That this irruption of the enemy gave a taci-turn to our riotry and
revelling will be believed.  I tossed the brandy in the cup into the
fire; it flashed up, and with it a quick memory of the spilt and blazing
witch-brew in "Faust."  I put the tourist-flask in my pocket, and in a
trice had changed my seat and assumed the air of a chance intruder.  In
they came, two ladies--one decidedly pretty--and three gentlemen, all of
the higher class, as they indicated by their manner and language.  They
were almost immediately followed by a Gipsy, the son of my hostess, who
had sent for him that he might see me.

He was a man of thirty, firmly set, and had a stern hard countenance, in
which shone two glittering black eyes, which were serpent-like even among
the Rommany.  Nor have I ever seen among his people a face so expressive
of self-control allied to wary suspicion.  He was neatly dressed, but in
a subdued Gipsy style, the principal indication being that of a pair of
"cords," which, however, any gentleman might have worn--in the field.  His
English was excellent--in fact, that of an educated man; his sum total
that of a very decided "character," and one who, if you wronged him,
might be a dangerous one.

We entered into conversation, and the Rommany rollicking seemed all at
once a vapoury thing of the dim past; it was the scene in a witch-revel
suddenly shifted to a drawing-room in May Fair.  We were all, and all at
once, so polite and gentle, and so readily acquainted and
cosmo-polite--quite beyond the average English standard; and not the
least charming part of the whole performance was the skill with which the
minor parts were filled up by the Gipsies, who with exquisite tact
followed our lead, seeming to be at once hosts and guests.  I have been
at many a play, but never saw anything better acted.

But under it all burnt a lurid though hidden flame; and there was a
delightful _diablerie_ of concealment kept up among the Rommany, which
was the more exquisite because I shared in it.  Reader, do you remember
the scene in George Borrow's "Gipsies in Spain," in which the woman
blesses the child in Spanish, and mutters curses on it meanwhile in
Zincali?  So it was that my dear old hostess blessed the sweet young
lady, and "prodigalled" compliments on her; but there was one instant
when her eye met mine, and a soft, quick-whispered, wicked Rommany
phrase, unheard by the ladies, came to my ear, and in the glance and word
there was a concentrated anathema.

The stern-eyed Gipsy conversed well, entertaining his guests with ease.
After he had spoken of the excellent behaviour and morals of his
tribe--and I believe that they have a very high character in these
respects--I put him a question.

"Can you tell me if there is really such a thing as a Gipsy language? one
hears such differing accounts, you know."

With the amiable smile of one who pitied my credulity, but who was
himself superior to all petty deception or vulgar mystery, he replied--

"That is another of the absurd tales which people have invented about
Gipsies.  As if we could have kept such a thing a secret!"

"It does, indeed, seem to me," I replied, "that if you _had_, some people
who were not Gipsies _must_ have learned it."

"Of course," resumed the Gipsy, philosophically, "all people who keep
together get to using a few peculiar terms.  Tailors and shoemakers have
their own words.  And there are common vagabonds who go up and down
talking thieves' slang, and imposing it on people for Gipsy.  But as for
any Gipsy tongue, I ought to know it" ("So I should think," I mentally
ejaculated, as I contemplated his brazen calmness); "and I don't know
three words of it."

And we, the Gorgios, all smiled approval.  At least that humbug was
settled; and the Rommany tongue was done for--dead and buried--if,
indeed, it ever existed.  Indeed, as I looked in the Gipsy's face, I
began to realise that a man might be talked out of a belief in his own
name, and felt a rudimentary sensation to the effect that the language of
the Black Wanderers was all a dream, and Pott's Zigeuner the mere
tinkling of a pot of brass, Paspati a jingling Turkish symbol, and all
Rommany a _praeterea nihil_ without the _vox_.  To dissipate the
delusion, I inquired of the Gipsy--

"You have been in America.  Did you ever hunt game in the west?"

"Yes; many a time.  On the plains."

"Of course--buffalo--antelope--jack rabbits.  And once" (I said this as
if forgetfully)--"I once ate a hedgehog--no, I don't mean a hedgehog, but
a porcupine."

A meaning glance shot from the Gipsy's eye.  I uttered a first-class
password, and if he had any doubt before as to who the Rommany rye might
be, there was none now.  But with a courteous smile he replied--

"It's quite the same, sir--porcupine or hedgehog.  I know perfectly well
what you mean."

"Porcupines," I resumed, "are very common in America.  The Chippeways
call them _hotchewitchi_."

This Rommany word was a plumper for the Gipsy, and the twinkle of his
eye--the smallest star of mirth in the darkest night of gravity I ever
beheld in my life--was lovely.  I had trumped his card at any rate with
as solemn gravity as his own; and the Gorgios thought our reminiscences
of America were very entertaining.

   "He had more tow upon his distaffe
   Than Gervais wot of."

But there was one in the party--and I think only one--who had her own
private share in the play.  That one was the pretty young lady.  Through
all the conversation, I observed from time to time her eyes fixed on my
face, as if surmising some unaccountable mystery.  I understood it at
once.  The bread and butter on the table, partly eaten, and the
snow-white napkin indicated to a feminine eye that some one not of the
household had been entertained, and that I was the guest.  Perhaps she
had seen the old woman's quick glance at me, but it was evident that she
felt a secret.  What she divined I do not know.  Should this work ever
fall into her hands, she will learn it all, and with it the fact that
Gipsies can talk double about as well as any human beings on the face of
the earth, and enjoy fun with as grave a face as any Ojib'wa of them all.

The habits of the Gipsy are pleasantly illustrated by the fact that the
collection of "animated books," which no Rommany gentleman's library
should be without, generally includes a jackdaw.  When the foot of the
Gorgio is heard near the tent, a loud "_wa-awk_" from the wary bird
(sounding very much like an alarm) at once proclaims the fact; and on
approaching, the stranger finds the entire party in all probability
asleep.  Sometimes a dog acts as sentinel, but it comes to the same
thing.  It is said you cannot catch a weasel asleep: I am tempted to add
that you can never find a Gipsy awake--but it means precisely the same

Gipsies are very much attached to their dogs, and in return the dogs are
very much attached to their masters--so much so that there are numerous
instances, perfectly authenticated, of the faithful animals having been
in the habit of ranging the country alone, at great distances from the
tent, and obtaining hares, rabbits, or other game, which they carefully
and secretly brought by night to their owners as a slight testimonial of
their regard and gratitude.  As the dogs have no moral appreciation of
the Game Laws, save as manifested in gamekeepers, no one can blame them.
Gipsies almost invariably prefer, as canine manifesters of devotion,
lurchers, a kind of dog which of all others can be most easily taught to
steal.  It is not long since a friend of mine, early one morning between
dark and dawn, saw a lurcher crossing the Thames with a rabbit in his
mouth.  Landing very quietly, the dog went to a Gipsy _tan_, deposited
his burden, and at once returned over the river.

Dogs once trained to such secret hunting become passionately fond of it,
and pursue it unweariedly with incredible secrecy and sagacity.  Even
cats learn it, and I have heard of one which is "good for three rabbits a
week."  Dogs, however, bring everything home, while puss feeds herself
luxuriously before thinking of her owner.  But whether dog or cat, cock
or jackdaw, all animals bred among Gipsies do unquestionably become
themselves Rommanised, and grow sharp, and shrewd, and mysterious.  A
writer in the _Daily News_ of October 19, 1872, speaks of having seen
parrots which spoke Rommany among the Gipsies of Epping Forest.  A Gipsy
dog is, if we study him, a true character.  Approach a camp: a black
hound, with sleepy eyes, lies by a tent; he does not bark at you or act
uncivilly, for that forms no part of his master's life or plans, but
wherever you go those eyes are fixed on you.  By-and-by he disappears--he
is sure to do so if there are no people about the _tan_--and then
reappears with some dark descendant of the Dom and Domni.  I have always
been under the impression that these dogs step out and mutter a few words
in Rommany--their deportment is, at any rate, Rommanesque to the highest
degree, indicating a transition from the barbarous silence of doghood to
Christianly intelligence.  You may persuade yourself that the Gipsies do
not mind your presence, but rest assured that though he may lie on his
side with his back turned, the cunning _jucko_ is carefully noting all
you do.  The abject and humble behaviour of a poor negro's dog in America
was once proverbial: the quaint shrewdness, the droll roguery, the demure
devilry of a real Gipsy dog are beyond all praise.

The most valuable dogs to the Gipsies are by no means remarkable for size
or beauty, or any of the properties which strike the eye; on the
contrary, an ugly, shirking, humble-looking, two-and-sixpenny-countenanced
cur, if he have but intellect, is much more their _affaire_.  Yesterday
morning, while sitting among the tents of "ye Egypcians," I overheard
a knot of men discussing the merits of a degraded-looking doglet, who
seemed as if he must have committed suicide, were he only gifted with
sense enough to know how idiotic he looked.  "Would you take seven pounds
for him?" asked one.  "Avo, I would take seven bar; but I wouldn't take
six, nor six an' a half neither."

The stranger who casts an inquisitive eye, though from afar off, into a
Gipsy camp, is at once noted; and if he can do this before the wolf--I
mean the Rom--sees him, he must possess the gift of fern-seed and walk
invisible, as was illustrated by the above-mentioned yesterday visit.
Passing over the bridge, I paused to admire the scene.  It was a fresh
sunny morning in October, the autumnal tints were beautiful in golden
brown or oak red, while here and there the horse-chestnuts spread their
saffron robes, waving in the embraces of the breeze like hetairae of the
forest.  Below me ran the silver Thames, and above a few silver
clouds--the belles of the air--were following its course, as if to watch
themselves in the watery winding mirror.  And near the reedy island, at
the shadowy point always haunted by three swans, whom I suspect of having
been there ever since the days of Odin-faith, was the usual punt, with
its elderly gentlemanly gudgeon-fishers.  But far below me, along the
dark line of the hedge, was a sight which completed the English character
of the scene--a real Gipsy camp.  Caravans, tents, waggons, asses,
smouldering fires; while among them the small forms of dark children
could be seen frolicking about.  One Gipsy youth was fishing in the
stream from the bank, and beyond him a knot of busy basketmakers were

I turned the bridge, adown the bank, and found myself near two young men
mending chairs.  They greeted me civilly; and when I spoke Rommany, they
answered me in the same language; but they did not speak it well, nor did
they, indeed, claim to be "Gipsies" at all, though their complexions had
the peculiar hue which indicates some other than Saxon admixture of
blood.  Half Rommany in their knowledge, and yet not regarded as such,
these "travellers" represented a very large class in England, which is as
yet but little understood by our writers, whether of fact or fiction.
They laughed while telling me anecdotes of gentlemen who had mistaken
them for real Rommany chals, and finally referred me to "Old Henry,"
further down, who "could talk with me."  This ancient I found a hundred
yards beyond, basketing in the sun at the door of his tent.  He greeted
me civilly enough, but worked away with his osiers most industriously,
while his comrades, less busy, employed themselves vigorously in looking
virtuous.  One nursed his infant with tender embraces, another began to
examine green sticks with a view to converting them into clothes-pegs--in
fact I was in a model community of wandering Shakers.

I regret to say that the instant I uttered a Rommany word, and was
recognised, this discipline of decorum was immediately relaxed.  It was
not complimentary to my moral character, but it at least showed
confidence.  The Ancient Henry, who bore, as I found, in several respects
a strong likeness to the Old Harry, had heard of me, and after a short
conversation confided the little fact, that from the moment in which I
had been seen watching them, they were sure I was a _gav-mush_, or police
or village authority, come to spy into their ways, and to at least order
them to move on.  But when they found that I was not as one having
authority, but, on the contrary, came talking Rommany with the firm
intention of imparting to them three pots of beer just at the thirstiest
hour of a warm day, a great change came over their faces.  A chair was
brought to me from a caravan at some distance, and I was told the latest
news of the road.

"Matty's got his slangs," observed Henry, as he inserted a _ranya_ or
osier-withy into his basket, and deftly twined it like a serpent to right
and left, and almost as rapidly.  Now a _slang_ means, among divers
things, a hawker's licence.

"I'm glad to hear it," I remarked.  There was deep sincerity in this
reply, as I had more than once contributed to the fees for the aforesaid
_slangs_, which somehow or other were invariably refused to the
applicant.  At last, however, the slangs came; and his two boys, provided
with them (at ten shillings per head), were now, in their sphere of life,
in the position of young men who had received an education or been amply
established in business, and were gifted with all that could be expected
from a doting father.  In its way this bit of intelligence meant as much
to the basketmaker as, "Have you heard that young Fitz-Grubber has just
got the double-first at Oxford?" or, "Do you know that old Cheshire has
managed that appointment in India for his boy?--splendid independence,
isn't it?"  And I was shrewdly suspected by my audience, as the question
implied, that I had had a hand in expanding this magnificent opening for
the two fortunate young men.

"_Dick adoi_!" cried one, pointing up the river.  "Look there at Jim!"

I looked and saw a young man far off, shirking along the path by the
river, close to the hedge.

"He thinks you're a _gav-mush_," observed Henry; "and he's got some
sticks, an' is tryin' to hide them 'cause he daren't throw 'em away.  Oh,
aint he scared?"

It was a pleasing spectacle to see the demi-Gipsy coming in with his poor
little green sticks, worth perhaps a halfpenny, and such as no living
farmer in all North America would have grudged a cartload of to anybody.
Droll as it really seemed, the sight touched me while I laughed.  Oh, if
charity covereth a multitude of sins, what should not poverty do?  I care
not through which door it comes--nay, be it by the very portal of Vice
herself--when sad and shivering poverty stands before me in humble form,
I can only forgive and forget.  And this child-theft was to obtain the
means of work after all.  And if you ask me why I did not at once proceed
to the next magistrate and denounce the criminal, I can only throw myself
for excuse on the illustrious example of George the Fourth, head of
Church and State, who once in society saw a pickpocket remove from a
gentleman's fob his gold watch, winking at the king as he did so.  "Of
course I couldn't say anything," remarked the good-natured monarch, "for
the rascal took me into his confidence."

Jim walked into camp amid mild chaff, to be greeted in Rommany by the
suspected policeman, and to accept a glass of the ale, which had rained
as it were from heaven into this happy family.  These basketmakers were
not real Gipsies, but _churdi_ or half-bloods, though they spoke with
scorn of the two chair-menders, who, working by themselves at the
extremity of the tented town (and excluded from a share in the beer),
seemed to be a sort of pariahs unto these higher casters.

I should mention, _en passant_, that when the beer-bearer of the camp
was sent for the three pots, he was told to "go over to Bill and borrow
his two-gallon jug--and be very careful not to let him find out what it
was for."  I must confess that I thought this was deeply unjust to the
imposed-upon and beerless William; but it was another case of confidence,
and he who sits among Gipsies by hedgerows green must not be
over-particular.  _Il faut heurler avec les loups_.  "Ain't it wrong to
steal dese here chickens?" asked a negro who was seized with scruples
while helping to rob a hen-roost.  "Dat, Cuff, am a great moral question,
an' we haint got time to discuss it--so jist hand down anoder pullet."

I found that Henry had much curious knowledge as to old Rommany ways,
though he spoke with little respect of the Gipsy of the olden time, who,
as he declared, thought all he needed in life was to get a row of silver
buttons on his coat, a pair of high boots on his feet, and
therewith--_basta_!  He had evidently met at one time with Mr George
Borrow, as appeared by his accurate description of that gentleman's
appearance, though he did not know his name.  "Ah! he could talk the jib
first-rateus," remarked my informant; "and he says to me, 'Bless you!
you've all of you forgotten the real Gipsy language, and don't know
anything about it at all.'  Do you know Old Frank?" he suddenly inquired.

"Avo," I replied.  "He's the man who has been twice in America."

"But d'ye know how rich he is?  He's got money in bank.  And when a man
gets money in bank, _I_ say there is somethin' in it.  An' how do you
suppose he made that money?" he inquired, with the air of one who is
about to "come down with a stunner."  "He did it _a-dukkerin_'." {171}
But he pronounced the word _durkerin_'; and I, detecting at once, as I
thought, an affinity with the German "turkewava," paused and stared, lost
in thought.  My pause was set down to amazement, and the Ancient Henry

"Fact.  By _durkerin_'.  I don't wonder you're astonished.  Tellin'
fortunes just like a woman.  It isn't every man who could do that.  But I
suppose you could," he continued, looking at me admiringly.  "You know
all the ways of the Gorgios, an' could talk to ladies, an' are up to high
life; ah, you could make no end of money.  Why don't you do it?"

Innocent Gipsy! was this thy idea of qualification for a seer and a
reader of dark lore?  What wouldst thou say could I pour into thy brain
the contents of the scores of works on "occult nonsense," from Agrippa to
Zadkiel, devoured with keen hunger in the days of my youth?  Yes, in
solemn sadness, out of the whole I have brought no powers of divination;
and in it all found nothing so strange as the wondrous tongue in which we
spoke.  In this mystery called Life many ways have been proposed to me of
alleviating its expenses; as, for instance, when the old professor
earnestly commended that we two should obtain (I trust honestly) a donkey
and a _rinkni juva_, who by telling fortunes should entirely contribute
to our maintenance, and so wander cost-free, and _kost-frei_ over merrie
England.  But I threw away the golden opportunity--ruthlessly rejected
it--thereby incurring the scorn of all scientific philologists (none of
whom, I trow, would have lost such a chance).  It was for doing the same
thing that Matthew Arnold immortalised a clerke of Oxenforde: though it
may be that "since Elizabeth" such exploits have lost their prestige, as
I knew of two students at the same university who a few years ago went
off on a six weeks' lark with two Gipsy girls; but who, far from desiring
to have the fact chronicled in immortal rhyme, were even much afraid lest
it should get into the county newspaper!

Leaving the basketmakers (among whom I subsequently found a
grand-daughter of the celebrated Gipsy Queen, Charlotte Stanley), I went
up the river, and there, above the bridge, found, as if withdrawn in
pride, two other tents, by one of which stood a very pretty little girl
of seven or eight years with a younger brother.  While talking to the
children, their father approached leading a horse.  I had never seen him
before, but he welcomed me politely in Rommany, saying that I had been
pointed out to him as the Rommany rye, and that his mother, who was
proficient in their language, was very desirous of meeting me.  He was
one of the smiths--a Petulengro or Petulamengro, or master of the horse-
shoe, a name familiar to all readers of Lavengro.

This man was a full Gipsy, but he spoke better English, as well as better
Rommany, than his neighbours, and had far more refinement of manner.  And
singularly enough, he appeared to be simpler hearted and more unaffected,
with less Gipsy trickery, and more of a disposition for honest labour.
His brother and uncle were, indeed, hard at work among the masons in a
new building not far off, though they lived like true Gipsies in a tent.
Petulamengro, as the name is commonly given at the present day, was
evidently very proud of his Rommany, and talked little else: but he could
not speak it nearly so well nor so fluently as his mother, who was of
"the old sort," and who was, I believe, sincerely delighted that her
skill was appreciated by me.  All Gipsies are quite aware that their
language is very old and curious, but they very seldom meet with Gorgios
who are familiar with the fact, and manifest an interest in it.

While engaged in conversation with this family, Petulamengro asked me if
I had ever met in America with Mr ---, adding, "He is a brother-in-law of

I confess that I was startled, for I had known the gentleman in question
very well for many years.  He is a man of considerable fortune, and
nothing in his appearance indicates in the slightest degree any affinity
with the Rommany.  He is not the only real or partial Gipsy whom I know
among the wealthy and highly cultivated, and it is with pleasure I
declare that I have found them all eminently kind-hearted and hospitable.

It may be worth while to state, in this connection, that Gipsy blood
intermingled with Anglo-Saxon when educated, generally results in
intellectual and physical vigour.  The English Gipsy has greatly changed
from the Hindoo in becoming courageous, in fact, his pugnacity and pluck
are too frequently carried to a fault.

My morning's call had brought me into contact with the three types of the
Gipsy of the roads.  Of the half-breeds, and especially of those who have
only a very slight trace of the dark blood or _kalo ratt_, there are in
Great Britain many thousands.  Of the true stock there are now only a few
hundreds.  But all are "Rommany," and all have among themselves an
"understanding" which separates them from the "Gorgios."

It is difficult to define what this understanding is--suffice it to say,
that it keeps them all in many respects "peculiar," and gives them a
feeling of free-masonry, and of guarding a social secret, long after they
leave the roads and become highly reputable members of society.  But they
have a secret, and no one can know them who has not penetrated it.

* * * * *

One day I mentioned to my old Rommany, what Mr Borrow has said, that no
English Gipsy knows the word for a leaf, or _patrin_.  He admitted that
it was true; but after considering the subject deeply, and dividing the
deliberations between his pipe and a little wooden bear on the table--his
regular oracle and friend--he suddenly burst forth in the following
beautiful illustration of philology by theology:--

"Rya, I pens you the purodirus lav for a leaf--an' that's a _holluf_.
(Don't you jin that the holluf was the firstus leaf? so holluf must be
the Rommany lav, sense Rommanis is the purodirest jib o' saw.)  For when
the first mush was kaired an' created in the tem adree--and that was the
boro Duvel himself, I expect--an' annered the tem apre, he was in the
bero, an' didn't jin if there was any puvius about, so he bitchered the
chillico avree.  An' the chillico was a dove, 'cause dove-us is like
Duvel, an' pash o' the Duvel an' Duvel's chillico.  So the dove mukkered
avree an' jalled round the tem till he latchered the puvius; for when he
dickered a tan an' lelled a holluf-leaf, he jinned there was a tem, an'
hatched the holluf apopli to his Duvel.  An' when yuv's Duvel jinned
there was a tem, he kaired bitti tiknos an' foki for the tem--an' I don't
jin no more of it.  Kekoomi.  An' that is a wery tidy little story of the
leaf, and it sikkers that the holluf was the first leaf.  Tacho."

"Sir, I will tell you the oldest word for a leaf--and that is an olive.
(Don't you know that the olive was the first leaf? so olive must be the
Rommany word, since Rommanis is the oldest language of all.)  For when
the first man was made and created in the world--and that was the great
God himself, I expect--and brought the land out, he was in the ship, and
didn't know if there was any earth about him, so he sent the bird out.
And the bird was a dove, because _dove_ is like _Duvel_ (God), and half
God and God's bird.  So the dove flew away and went around the world till
he found the earth; for when he saw a place and took an olive-leaf, he
knew there was a country (land), and took the olive-leaf back to his
Lord.  And when his Lord knew there was land, he made little children and
people for it--and I don't know anything more about it.  And that is a
very tidy little story of the leaf, and it shows that the olive was the
first leaf."

Being gratified at my noting down this original narrative from his own
lips, my excellent old friend informed me, with cheerfulness not
unmingled with the dignified pride characteristic of erudition, and of
the possession of deep and darksome lore, that he also knew the story of
Samson.  And thus spake he:--

"Samson was a boro mush, wery hunnalo an' tatto at koorin', so that he
nashered saw the mushis avree, an' they were atrash o' lester.  He was so
surrelo that yeckorus when he poggered avree a ker, an' it had a boro
sasterni wuder, he just pet it apre his dumo, an' hookered it avree, an'
jalled kerri an' bikin'd it.

"Yeck divvus he lelled some weshni juckals, an' pandered yagni-trushnees
to their poris and mukked 'em jal.  And they nashered avree like puro
bengis, sig in the sala, when sar the mushis were sutto, 'unsa parl the
giv puvius, and hotchered sar the giv.

"Then the krallis bitchered his mushis to lel Samson, but he koshered
'em, an' pash mored the tat of 'em; they couldn't kurry him, and he
sillered 'em to praster for their miraben.  An' 'cause they couldn't
serber him a koorin', they kaired it sidd pre the chingerben drum.  Now
Samson was a seehiatty mush, wery cammoben to the juvas, so they got a
wery rinkeni chi to kutter an' kuzzer him.  So yuv welled a laki to a
worretty tan, an' she hocussed him with drab till yuv was pilfry o'
sutto, an his sherro hungered hooper side a lacker; an' when yuv was
selvered, the mushis welled and chinned his ballos apre an' chivved him
adree the sturaben.

"An' yeck divvus the foki hitchered him avree the sturaben to kair pyass
for 'em.  And as they were gillerin' and huljerin' him, Samson chivved
his wasters kettenus the boro chongurs of the sturaben, and bongered his
kokerus adree, an sar the ker pet a lay with a boro gudli, an' sar the
pooro mushis were mullered an' the ker poggered to bitti cutters."

"Samson was a great man, very fierce and expert at fighting, so that he
drove all men away, and they were afraid of him.  He was so strong that
once when he broke into a house, and it had a great iron door, he just
put it on his back, and carried it away and went home and sold it.

"One day he caught some foxes, and tied firebrands to their tails and let
them go.  And they ran away like old devils, early in the morning, when
all the people were asleep, across the field, and burned all the wheat.

"Then the king sent his men to take Samson, but he hurt them, and half
killed the whole of them; they could not injure him, and he compelled
them to run for life.  And because they could not capture him by
fighting, they did it otherwise by an opposite way.  Now Samson was a man
full of life, very fond of the girls, so they got a very pretty woman to
cajole and coax him.  And he went with her to a lonely house, and she
'hocussed' him with poison till he was heavy with sleep, and his head
drooped by her side; and when he was poisoned, the people came and cut
his hair off and threw him into prison.

"And one day the people dragged him out of prison to make sport for them.
And as they were making fun of him and teasing him, Samson threw his
hands around the great pillars of the prison, and bowed himself in, and
all the house fell down with a great noise, and all the poor men were
killed and the house broken to small pieces.

"And so he died."

"Do you know what the judgment day is, Puro?"

"Avo, rya.  The judgment day is when you _soves alay_ (go in sleep, or
dream away) to the boro Duvel."

I reflected long on this reply of the untutored Rommany.  I had often
thought that the deepest and most beautiful phrase in all Tennyson's
poems was that in which the impassioned lover promised his mistress to
love her after death, ever on "into the dream beyond."  And here I had
the same thought as beautifully expressed by an old Gipsy, who, he
declared, for two months hadn't seen three nights when he wasn't as drunk
as four fiddlers.  And the same might have been said of Carolan, the
Irish bard, who lived in poetry and died in whisky.

The soul sleeping or dreaming away to God suggested an inquiry into the
Gipsy idea of the nature of spirits.

"You believe in _mullos_ (ghosts), Puro.  Can everybody see them, I

"Avo, rya, avo.  Every mush can dick mullos if it's their cammoben to be
dickdus.  But 'dusta critters can dick mullos whether the mullos kaum it
or kek.  There's grais an' mylas can dick mullos by the ratti; an'
yeckorus I had a grai that was trasher 'dree a tem langs the rikkorus of
a drum, pash a boro park where a mush had been mullered.  He prastered a
mee pauli, but pash a cheirus he welled apopli to the wardos.  A chinned
jucko or a wixen can hunt mullos.  Avali, they chase sperits just the sim
as anything 'dree the world--dan'r 'em, koor 'em, chinger 'em--'cause the
dogs can't be dukkered by mullos."

In English: "Yes, sir, yes.  Every man can see ghosts if it is their will
to be seen.  But many creatures can see ghosts whether the ghosts wish it
or not.  There are horses and asses (which) can see ghosts by the night;
and once I had a horse that was frightened in a place by the side of a
road, near a great park where a man had been murdered.  He ran a mile
behind, but after a while came back to the waggons.  A cut (castrated)
dog or a vixen can hunt ghosts.  Yes, they chase spirits just the same as
anything in the world--bite 'em, fight 'em, tear 'em--because dogs cannot
be hurt by ghosts."

"Dogs," I replied, "sometimes hunt men as well as ghosts."

"Avo; but men can fool the juckals avree, and men too, and mullos can't."

"How do they kair it?"

"If a choramengro kaums to chore a covva when the snow is apre the
puvius, he jals yeck piro, palewavescro.  If you chiv tutes piros pal-o-
the-waver--your kusto piro kaired bongo, jallin' with it a rikkorus, an'
the waver piro straightus--your patteran'll dick as if a bongo-herroed
mush had been apre the puvius.  (I jinned a mush yeckorus that had a dui
chokkas kaired with the dui tachabens kaired bongo, to jal a-chorin'
with.)  But if you're pallered by juckals, and pet lully dantymengro
adree the chokkas, it'll dukker the sunaben of the juckos.

"An' if you chiv lully dantymengro where juckos kair panny, a'ter they
soom it they won't jal adoi chichi no moreus, an' won't mutter in dovo
tan, and you can keep it cleanus."

That is, "If a thief wants to steal a thing when the snow is on the
ground, he goes with one foot behind the other.  If you put your feet one
behind the other--your right foot twisted, going with it to one side, and
the other foot straight--your trail will look as if a crooked-legged man
had been on the ground.  (I knew a man once that had a pair of shoes made
with the two heels reversed, to go a-thieving with.)  But if you are
followed by dogs, and put red pepper in your shoes, it will spoil the
scent of the dogs.

"And if you throw red pepper where dogs make water, they will not go
there any more after they smell it, and you can keep it clean."

"Well," I replied, "I see that a great many things can be learned from
the Gipsies.  Tell me, now, when you wanted a night's lodging did you
ever go to a union?"

"Kek, rya; the tramps that jal langs the drum an' mang at the unions are
kek Rommany chals.  The Rommany never kair dovo--they'd sooner besh in
the bavol puv firstus.  We'd putch the farming rye for mukkaben to hatch
the ratti adree the granja,but we'd sooner suv under the bor in the
bishnoo than jal adree the chuvveny-ker.  The Rommany chals aint sim to
tramps, for they've got a different drum into 'em."

In English: "No, sir; the tramps that go along the road and beg at the
unions are not Gipsies.  The Rommany never do that--they'd sooner stay in
the open field (literally, air-field).  We would ask the farmer for leave
to stop the night in the barn, but we'd sooner sleep under the hedge in
the rain than go in the poorhouse.  Gipsies are not like tramps, for they
have a different _way_."

The reader who will reflect on the extreme misery and suffering incident
upon sleeping in the open air, or in a very scanty tent, during the
winter in England, and in cold rains, will appreciate the amount of manly
pride necessary to sustain the Gipsies in thus avoiding the union.  That
the wandering Rommany can live at all is indeed wonderful, since not only
are all other human beings less exposed to suffering than many of them,
but even foxes and rabbits are better protected in their holes from
storms and frost.  The Indians of North America have, without exception,
better tents; in fact, one of the last Gipsy _tans_ which I visited was
merely a bit of ragged canvas, so small that it could only cover the
upper portion of the bodies of the man and his wife who slept in it.
Where and how they packed their two children I cannot understand.

The impunity with which any fact might be published in English Rommany,
with the certainty that hardly a soul in England not of the blood could
understand it, is curiously illustrated by an incident which came within
my knowledge.  The reader is probably aware that there appear
occasionally in the "Agony" column of the _Times_ (or in that devoted to
"personal" advertisements) certain sentences apparently written in some
very strange foreign tongue, but which the better informed are aware are
made by transposing letters according to the rules of cryptography or
secret writing.  Now it is estimated that there are in Great Britain at
least one thousand lovers of occult lore and quaint curiosa, decipherers
of rebuses and adorers of anagrams, who, when one of these delightful
puzzles appears in the _Times_, set themselves down and know no rest
until it is unpuzzled and made clear, being stimulated in the pursuit by
the delightful consciousness that they are exploring the path of
somebody's secret, which somebody would be very sorry to have made known.

Such an advertisement appeared one day, and a friend of mine, who had a
genius for that sort of thing, sat himself down early one Saturday
morning to decipher it.

First of all he ascertained which letter occurred most frequently in the
advertisement, for this must be the letter _e_ according to rules made
and provided by the great Edgar A. Poe, the American poet-cryptographer.
But to reveal the secret in full, I may as well say, dear reader, that
you must take printers' type in their cases, _and follow the proportions
according to the size of the boxes_.  By doing this you cannot fail to
unrip the seam of any of these transmutations.

But, alas! this cock would not fight--it was a dead bird in the pit.  My
friend at once apprehended that he had to deal with an old hand--one of
those aggravating fellows who are up to cryp--a man who can write a
sentence, and be capable of leaving the letter _e_ entirely out.  For
there _are_ people who will do this.

So he went to work afresh upon now hypotheses, and pleasantly the hours
fled by.  Quires of paper were exhausted; he worked all day and all the
evening with no result.  That it was not in a foreign language my friend
was well assured.

   "For well hee knows the Latine and the Dutche;
   Of Fraunce and Toscanie he hath a touche."

Russian is familiar to him, and Arabic would not have been an unknown
quantity.  So he began again with the next day, and had been breaking the
Sabbath until four o'clock in the afternoon, when I entered, and the
mystic advertisement was submitted to me.  I glanced at it, and at once
read it into English, though as I read the smile at my friend's lost
labour vanished in a sense of sympathy for what the writer must have
suffered.  It was as follows, omitting names:--

   "MANDY jins of --- ---.  Patsa mandy, te bitcha lav ki tu shan.  Opray
   minno lav, mandy'l kek pukka til tute muks a mandi.  Tute's di's see
   se welni poggado.  Shom atrash tuti dad'l jal divio.  Yov'l fordel
   sor.  For miduvel's kom, muk lesti shoon choomani."

In English: "I know of ---.  Trust me, and send word where you are.  On
my word, I will not tell till you give me leave.  Your mother's heart is
wellnigh broken.  I am afraid your father will go mad.  He will forgive
all.  For God's sake, let him know something."

This was sad enough, and the language in which it was written is good
English Rommany.  I would only state in addition, that I found that in
the very house in which I was living, and at the same time, a lady had
spent three days in vainly endeavouring to ascertain the meaning of these

It is possible that many Gipsies, be they of high or low degree, in
society or out of it, may not be pleased at my publishing a book of their
language, and revealing so much of what they fondly cherish as a secret.
They need be under no apprehension, since I doubt very much whether, even
with its aid, a dozen persons living will seriously undertake to study
it--and of this dozen there is not one who will not be a philologist; and
such students are generally aware that there are copious vocabularies of
all the other Gipsy dialects of Europe easy to obtain from any
bookseller.  Had my friend used the works of Pott or Paspati, Ascoli or
Grellman, he would have found it an easy thing to translate this
advertisement.  The truth simply is, that for _scholars_ there is not a
single secret or hidden word in English Gipsy or in any other Rommany
dialect, and none except scholars will take pains to acquire it.  Any man
who wished to learn sufficient Gipsy to maintain a conversation, and
thereby learn all the language, could easily have done so half a century
ago from the vocabularies published by Bright and other writers.  A
secret which has been for fifty years published in very practical detail
in fifty books, is indeed a _secret de Ponchinelle_.

I have been asked scores of times, "Have the Gipsies an alphabet of their
own? have they grammars of their language, dictionaries, or books?"  Of
course my answer was in the negative.  I have heard of vocabularies in
use among crypto-Rommanies, or those who having risen from the roads live
a secret life, so to speak, but I have never seen one.  But they have
songs; and one day I was told that in my neighbourhood there lived a
young Gipsy woman who was a poetess and made Rommany ballads.  "She can't
write," said my informant; "but her husband's a _Gorgio_, and he can.  If
you want them, I'll get you some."  The offer was of course accepted, and
the Gipsy dame, flattered by the request, sent me the following.  The
lyric is without rhyme, but, as sung, not without rhythm.


   "Die at the gargers (Gorgios),
   The gargers round mandy!
   Trying to lel my meripon,
   My meripon (meripen) away.

   I will care (kair) up to my chungs (chongs),
   Up to my chungs in Rat,
   All for my happy Racler (raklo).

   My mush is lelled to sturribon (staripen),
   To sturribon, to sturribon;
   Mymush is lelled to sturribon,
   To the Tan where mandy gins (jins)."


"Look at the Gorgios, the Gorgios around me! trying to take my life away.

"I will wade up to my knees in blood, all for my happy boy.

"My husband is taken to prison, to prison, to prison; my husband is taken
to prison, to the place of which I know."


Difficulty of obtaining Information.--The Khedive on the Gipsies.--Mr
Edward Elias.--Mahomet introduces me to the Gipsies.--They call
themselves Tataren.--The Rhagarin or Gipsies at Boulac.--Cophts.--Herr
Seetzen on Egyptian Gipsies.--The Gipsy with the Monkey in Cairo.--Street-
cries of the Gipsy Women in Egypt.  Captain Newbold on the Egyptian

Since writing the foregoing pages, and only a day or two after one of the
incidents therein described, I went to Egypt, passing the winter in Cairo
and on the Nile.  While waiting in the city for the friend with whom I
was to ascend the mysterious river, it naturally occurred to me, that as
I was in the country which many people still believe is the original land
of the Gipsies, it would be well worth my while to try to meet with some,
if any were to be found.

It is remarkable, that notwithstanding my inquiries from many gentlemen,
both native and foreign, including savans and beys, the only educated
person I ever met in Egypt who was able to give me any information on the
subject of its Gipsies was the Khedive or Viceroy himself, a fact which
will not seem strange to those who are aware of the really wonderful
extent of his knowledge of the country which he rules.  I had been but a
few days in Cairo when, at an interview with the Khedive, Mr Beardsley,
the American Consul, by whom I was presented, mentioned to his Highness
that I was interested in the subject of the Gipsies, upon which the
Khedive said that there were in Egypt many people known as "_Rhagarin_"
(Ghagarin), who were probably the same as the "Bohemiens" or Gipsies of
Europe.  His words were, as nearly as I can remember, as follows:--

"They are wanderers who live in tents, and are regarded with contempt
even by the peasantry.  Their women tell fortunes, tattoo, {189} and sell
small-wares; the men work in iron (_quincaillerie_).  They are all adroit
thieves, and noted as such.  The men may sometimes be seen going around
the country with monkeys; in fact, they appear to be in all respects the
same people as the Gipsies of Europe."

This was all that I could learn for several days; for though there were
Gipsies--or "Egypcians"--in Egypt, I had almost as much trouble to find
them as Eilert Sundt had to discover their brethren in Norway.  In
speaking of the subject to Mr Edward Elias, a gentleman well known in
Egypt, he most kindly undertook to secure the aid of the chief of police,
who in turn had recourse to the Shekh of the Gipsies.  But the Shekh I
was told was not himself a Gipsy, and there were none of his subjects in
Cairo.  After a few days, three wanderers, supposed to be Rommany, were
arrested; but on examination they proved to be ignorant of any language
except Arabic.  Their occupation was music and dancing "with a stick;" in
fact, they were performers in those curious and extremely ancient
Fescennine farces, or _Atellanae_, which are depicted on ancient vases,
and are still acted on the roads in Egypt as they were in Greece before
the days of Thespis.  Then I was informed that Gipsies were often
encamped near the Pyramids, but research in this direction was equally

Remembering what his Highness had told me, that Gipsies went about
exhibiting monkeys, I one day, on meeting a man bearing an ape,
endeavoured to enter into conversation with him.  Those who know Cairo
can imagine with what result!  In an instant we were surrounded by fifty
natives of the lower class, jabbering, jeering, screaming, and
begging--all intent, as it verily seemed, on defeating my object.  I gave
the monkey-bearer money; instead of thanking me, he simply clamoured for
more, while the mob became intolerable, so that I was glad to make my

At last I was successful.  I had frequently employed as donkey-driver an
intelligent and well-behaved man named Mahomet, who spoke English well,
and who was familiar with the byways of Cairo.  On asking him if he could
show me any Rhagarin, he replied that every Saturday there was a fair or
market held at Boulac, where I would be sure to meet with women of the
tribe.  The men, I was told, seldom ventured into the city, because they
were subject to much insult and ill-treatment from the common people.  On
the day appointed I rode to the market, which was extremely interesting.
There were thousands of blue-shirted and red-tarbouched or white-turbaned
Egyptians, buying or selling, or else merely amusing themselves; dealers
in sugar-cane, pipe-pedlars, and vendors of rosaries; jugglers and
minstrels.  At last we came to a middle-aged woman seated on the ground
behind a basket containing beads, glass armlets, and similar trinkets.
She was dressed like any Arab woman of the lower class, but was not
veiled, and on her chin blue lines were tattooed.  Her features and whole
expression were, however, evidently Gipsy.

I spoke to her in Rommany, using such words as would have been
intelligible to any of the race in England, Germany, or Turkey; but she
did not understand me, and declared that she could speak nothing but
Arabic.  At my request Mahomet explained to her that I had travelled from
a distant country in "Orobba," where there were many Rhagarin who
declared that their fathers came from Egypt, and that I wished to know if
any in the latter country could speak the old language.  She replied that
the Rhagarin of "Montesinos" could still speak it, but that her people in
Egypt had lost the tongue.  Mahomet declared that Montesinos meant Mount
Sinai or Syria.  I then asked her if the Rhagarin had no peculiar name
for themselves, and she replied, "Yes, we call ourselves Tataren."

This was at least satisfactory.  All over Southern Germany and in Norway
the Rommany are sailed Tataren; and though the word means Tartars, and is
simply a misapplied term, it indicates a common race.  The woman seemed
to be very much gratified at the interest I manifested in her people.  I
gave her a double piastre, and asked for its value in blue-glass armlets.
She gave me two pair, and as I turned to depart called me back, and with
a good-natured smile handed me four more as a present.  This generosity
was very Gipsy-like, and very unlike the usual behaviour of any common

While on the Nile, I inquired of people in different towns if they had
ever seen Gipsies where they lived, and was invariably answered in the
negative.  Remembering to have read in some book a statement that the
Ghawazi or dancing-girls formed a tribe by themselves, and spoke a
peculiar language, I asked an American who has lived for many years in
Egypt if he thought they could be Gipsies.  He replied that an English
lady of title, who had also been for a long time in the country, had
formed this opinion.  But when I questioned dancing-girls myself, I found
them quite ignorant of any language except Arabic, and knowing nothing
relating to the Rommany.  Two Ghawazi whom I saw had, indeed, the
peculiarly brilliant eyes and general expression of Gipsies.  The rest
appeared to be Egyptian-Arab; and I found on inquiry that one of the
latter had really been a peasant girl who till within seven months had
worked in the fields, while two others were occupied alternately with
field-work and dancing.

At the market in Boulac, Mahomet took me to a number of _Rhagarin_.  They
all resembled the one whom I have described, and were all occupied in
selling exactly the same class of articles.  They all differed slightly,
as I thought, from the ordinary Egyptians in their appearance, and were
decidedly unlike them, in being neither importunate for money nor
disagreeable in their manners.  But though they were certainly Gipsies,
none of them would speak Rommany, and I doubt very much if they could
have done so.

Bonaventura Vulcanius, who in 1597 first gave the world a specimen of
Rommany in his curious book "De Literis et Lingua Getarum" (which
specimen, by the way, on account of its rarity, I propose to republish in
another work), believed that the Gipsies were Nubians; and others,
following in his track, supposed they were really Cophtic Christians
(Pott, "Die Zigeuner," &c., Halle, 1844, p. 5).  And I must confess that
this recurred forcibly to my memory when, at Minieh, in Egypt, I asked a
Copht scribe if he were Muslim, and he replied, "_La_, _ana Gipti_" ("No,
I am a Copht"), pronouncing the word _Gipti_, or Copht, so that it might
readily be taken for "Gipsy."  And learning that _romi_ is the Cophtic
for a man, I was again startled; and when I found _tema_ (tem, land) and
other Rommany words in ancient Egyptian (_vide_ Brugsch, "Grammaire,"
&c.), it seemed as if there were still many mysteries to solve in this
strange language.

Other writers long before me attempted to investigate Egyptian Gipsy, but
with no satisfactory result.  A German named Seetzen ascertained that
there were Gipsies both in Egypt and Syria, and wrote (1806) on the
subject a MS., which Pott ("Die Zigeuner," &c.)  cites largely.  Of these
Roms he speaks as follows: "Gipsies are to be found in the entire Osmanli
realm, from the limits of Hungary into Egypt.  The Turks call them
Tschinganih; but the Syrians and Egyptians, as well as themselves,
_Nury_, in the plural _El Nauar_.  It was on the 24th November 1806 when
I visited a troop of them, encamped with their black tents in an olive
grove, to the west side of Naplos.  They were for the greater part of a
dirty yellow complexion, with black hair, which hung down on the side
from where it was parted in a short plait, and their lips are mulatto-
like."  (Seetzen subsequently remarks that their physiognomy is precisely
like that of the modern Egyptians.)  "The women had their under lips
coloured dark blue, like female Bedouins, and a few eaten-in points
around the mouth of like colour.  They, and the boys also, wore earrings.
They made sieves of horse-hair or of leather, iron nails, and similar
small ironware, or mended kettles.  They appear to be very poor, and the
men go almost naked, unless the cold compels them to put on warmer
clothing.  The little boys ran about naked.  Although both Christians and
Mahometans declared that they buried their dead in remote hill corners,
or burned them, they denied it, and declared they were good Mahometans,
and as such buried their dead in Mahometan cemeteries."  (This
corresponds to their custom in Great Britain in the past generation, and
the earnestness which they display at present to secure regular burial
like Christians.)  "But as their instruction is even more neglected than
that of the Bedouins, their religious information is so limited that one
may say of them, they have either no religion at all, or the simplest of
all.  As to wine, they are less strict than most Mahometans.  They
assured me that in Egypt there were many _Nury_."

The same writer obtained from one of these Syrian-Egyptian Gipsies a not
inconsiderable vocabulary of their language, and says: "I find many
Arabic, Turkish, and some Greek words in it; it appears to me, however,
that they have borrowed from a fourth language, which was perhaps their
mother-tongue, but which I cannot name, wanting dictionaries."  The words
which he gives appear to me to consist of Egyptian-Arabic, with its usual
admixture from other sources, simply made into a gibberish, and sometimes
with one word substituted for another to hide the meaning--the whole
probably obtained through a dragoman, as is seen, for instance, when he
gives the word _nisnaszeha_, a fox, and states that it is of unknown
origin.  The truth is, _nisnas_ means a monkey, and, like most of
Seetzen's "Nuri" words, is inflected with an _a_ final, as if one should
say "monkeyo."  I have no doubt the Nauar may talk such a jargon; but I
should not be astonished, either, if the Shekh who for a small pecuniary
consideration eagerly aided Seetzen to note it down, had "sold" him with
what certainly would appear to any Egyptian to be the real babble of the
nursery.  There are a very few Rommany words in this vocabulary, but then
it should be remembered that there are some Arabic words in Rommany.

The street-cry of the Gipsy women in Cairo is [ARABIC TEXT which cannot
be reproduced] "_Neduqq wanetahir_!"  "We tattoo and circumcise!" a
phrase which sufficiently indicates their calling.  In the "Deutscher
Dragoman" of Dr Philip Wolff, Leipzig, 1867, I find the following under
the word Zigeuner:--

"Gipsy--in Egypt, Gagri" (pronounced more nearly 'Rh'agri), "plural
_Gagar_; in Syria, _Newari_, plural _Nawar_.  When they go about with
monkeys, they are called _Kurudati_, from _kird_, ape.  The Gipsies of
Upper Egypt call themselves Saaideh--_i.e_., people from Said, or Upper
Egypt (_vide_ Kremer, i. 138-148).  According to Von Gobineau, they are
called in Syria Kurbati, [ARABIC TEXT which cannot be reproduced] (_vide_
'Zeitschrift der D. M. G.,' xi. 690)."

More than this of the Gipsies in Egypt the deponent sayeth not.  He has
interrogated the oracles, and they were dumb.  That there are Roms in the
land of Mizr his eyes have shown, but whether any of them can talk
Rommany is to him as yet unknown.

* * * * *

Since the foregoing was printed, I have found in the _Journal of the
Royal Asiatic Society_ (Vol. XVI., Part 2, 1856, p. 285), an article on
The Gipsies in Egypt, by the late Captain Newbold, F.R.S., which gives
much information on this mysterious subject.  The Egyptian Gipsies, as
Captain Newbold found, are extremely jealous and suspicious of any
inquiry into their habits and mode of life, so that he had great
difficulty in tracing them to their haunts, and inducing them to
unreserved communication.

These Gipsies are divided into three kinds, the Helebis, Ghagars
(Rhagarin), and Nuris or Nawer.  Of the Rhagars there are sixteen
thousand.  The Helebi are most prosperous of all these, and their women,
who are called Fehemis, are the only ones who practice fortune-telling
and sorcery.  The male Helebis are chiefly ostensible dealers in horses
and cattle, but have a bad character for honesty.  Some of them are to be
found in every official department in Egypt, though not known to be
Gipsies--(a statement which casts much light on the circumstance that
neither the chief of police himself nor the Shekh of the Rhagarin, with
all their alleged efforts, could find a single Gipsy for me).  The
Helebis look down on the Rhagarin, and do not suffer their daughters to
intermarry with them, though they themselves marry Rhagarin girls.  The
Fehemi, or Helebi women, are noted for their chastity; the Rhagarin are
not.  The men of the Rhagarin are tinkers and blacksmiths, and sell cheap
jewellery or instruments of iron and brass.  Many of them are athletes,
mountebanks, and monkey-exhibitors; the women are rope-dancers and
musicians.  They are divided into classes, bearing the names of Romani,
Meddahin, Ghurradin, Barmeki (Barmecides), Waled Abu Tenna, Beit er
Rafai, Hemmeli, &c.  The Helebis and Rhagarin are distinctly different in
their personal appearance from the other inhabitants of Egypt, having the
eyes and expression peculiar to all Gipsies.  Captain Newbold, in fact,
assumes that any person "who remains in Egypt longer than the ordinary
run of travellers, and roams about the streets and environs of the large
towns, can hardly fail to notice the strange appearance of certain
females, whose features at once distinguish them from the ordinary Fellah
Arabs and Cophts of the country."

"The Nuris or Nawers are hereditary thieves, but are now (1856) employed
as police and watchmen in the Pacha's country estates.  In Egypt they
intermarry with the Fellahin or Arabs of the soil, from whom, in physical
appearance and dress, they can hardly be distinguished.  Outwardly they
profess Mohammedanism, and have little intercourse with the Helebis and
Ghagars (or Rhagarin)."

Each of these tribes or classes speak a separate and distinct dialect or
jargon.  That of the Rhagarin most resembles the language spoken by the
Kurbats, or Gipsies of Syria.  "It seems to me probable," says Captain
Newbold, "that the whole of these tribes had one common origin in India,
or the adjacent countries on its Western frontier, and that the
difference in the jargons they now speak is owing to their sojourn in the
various countries through which they have passed.  _This is certain_,
_that the Gipsies are strangers in the land of Egypt_."

I am not astonished, on examining the specimens of these three dialects
given by Captain Newbold, with the important addition made by Mr W.
Burckhardt Barker, that I could not converse with the Rhagarin.  That of
the Nawers does not contain a single word which would be recognised as
Rommany, while those which occur in the other two jargons are, if not
positively either few and far between, strangely distorted from the
original.  A great number are ordinary vulgar Arabic.  It is very curious
that while in England such a remarkably large proportion of Hindustani
words have been preserved, they have been lost in the East, in countries
comparatively near the fatherland--India.

I would, in conclusion to this work, remark that numbers of Rommany
words, which are set down by philologists as belonging to Greek,
Slavonian, and other languages, were originally Hindu, and have only
changed their form a little because the wanderers found a resemblance to
the old word in a new one.  I am also satisfied that much may be learned
as to the origin of these words from a familiar acquaintance with the
vulgar dialects of Persia, and such words as are not put down in
dictionaries, owing to their provincial character.  I have found, on
questioning a Persian gentleman, that he knew the meaning of many Rommany
words from their resemblance to vulgar Persian, though they were not in
the Persian dictionary which I used.


The Gipsy to whom I was chiefly indebted for the material of this book
frequently narrated to me the _Gudli_ or small stories current among his
people, and being a man of active, though child-like imagination, often
invented others of a similar character.  Sometimes an incident or saying
would suggest to me the outline of a narrative, upon which he would
eagerly take it up, and readily complete the tale.  But if I helped him
sometimes to evolve from a hint, a phrase, or a fact, something like a
picture, it was always the Gipsy who gave it Rommany characteristics and
conferred colour.  It was often very difficult for him to distinctly
recall an old story or clearly develop anything of the kind, whether it
involved an effort of memory or of the imagination, and here he required
aid.  I have never in my life met with any man whose mind combined so
much simplicity, cunning, and grotesque fancy, with such an entire
incapacity to appreciate either humour or "poetry" as expressed in the
ordinary language of culture.  The metre and rhyme of the simplest ballad
made it unintelligible to him, and I was obliged to repeat such poetry
several times before he could comprehend it.  Yet he would, while I was
otherwise occupied than with him, address to his favourite wooden image
of a little bear on the chimneypiece, grotesque soliloquies which would
have delighted a Hoffman, or conduct with it dialogues which often
startled me.  With more education, he would have become a Rommany Bid-
pai; and since India is the fatherland of the fable, he may have derived
his peculiar faculty for turning morals and adorning tales legitimately
from that source.

I may state that those stories, which were made entirely; as a few were;
or in part, by my assistant and myself, were afterwards received with
approbation by ordinary Gipsies as being thoroughly Rommany.  As to the
_language_ of the stories, it is all literally and faithfully that of a
Gipsy, word by word, written down as he uttered it, when, after we had
got a _gudlo_ into shape, he told it finally over, which he invariably
did with great eagerness, ending with an improvised moral.


'Pre yeck divvus (or yeckorus) a Rommany chal was kairin' pyass with the
koshters, an' he wussered a kosh 'pre the hev of a boro ker an' poggered
it.  Welled the prastramengro and penned, "Tu must pooker (or pessur) for
the glass."  But when they jawed adree the ker, they lastered the kosh
had mullered a divio juckal that was jawan' to dant the chavo.  So the
rani del the Rommany chal a sonnakai ora an' a fino gry.

But yeck koshter that poggers a hev doesn't muller a juckal.


On a day (or once) a Gipsy was playing at cockshy, and he threw a stick
through the window of a great house and broke the glass.  Came the
policeman and said, "You must answer (or pay) for the glass."  But when
they went into the house, they found the stick had killed a mad dog that
was going to bite the child (boy).  So the lady gave the Gipsy a gold
watch and a good horse.

But every stick that breaks a window does not kill a dog.


'Pre yeck divvus a hotchewitchi dicked a chillico adree the puv, and the
chillico pukkered lesco, "Mor jal pauli by the kushto wastus, or the
hunters' graias will chiv tute adree the chick, mullo; an' if you jal the
waver rikk by the bongo wast, dovo's a Rommany tan adoi, and the Rommany
chals will haw tute."  Penned the hotchewitchi, "I'd rather jal with the
Rommany chals, an' be hawed by foki that kaum mandy, than be pirraben
apre by chals that dick kaulo apre mandy."

It's kushtier for a tacho Rom to be mullered by a Rommany pal than to be
nashered by the Gorgios.


On a day a hedgehog met a bird in the field, and the bird told him, "Do
not go around by the right hand, or the hunters' horses will trample you
dead in the dirt; and if you go around by the left hand, there's a Gipsy
tent, and the Gipsies will eat you."  Said the hedgehog, "I'd rather go
with the Gipsies, and be eaten by folk that like me, than be trampled on
by people that despise (literally, look black upon) me."

It is better for a real Gipsy to be killed by a Gipsy brother than to be
hung by Gorgios.


Yeckorus a tano Gorgio chivved apre a shubo an' jalled to a puri Rommany
dye to get dukkered.  And she pookered lester, "Tute'll rummorben a Fair
Man with kauli yakkas."  Then the raklo delled laki yeck shukkori an'
penned, "If this shukkori was as boro as the hockaben tute pukkered
mandy, tute might porder sar the bongo tem with rupp."  But, hatch a
wongish!--maybe in a divvus, maybe in a curricus, maybe a dood, maybe a
besh, maybe waver divvus, he rummorbend a rakli by the nav of Fair Man,
and her yakkas were as kaulo as miri juva's.

There's always dui rikk to a dukkerben.


Once a little Gorgio put on a woman's gown and went to an old Gipsy
mother to have his fortune told.  And she told him, "You'll marry a Fair
Man with black eyes."  Then the young man gave her a sixpence and said,
"If this sixpence were as big as the lie you told me, you could fill all
hell with silver."  But, stop a bit! after a while--maybe in a week,
maybe a month, maybe in a year, maybe the other day--he married a girl by
the name of Fair Man, and her eyes were as black as my sweetheart's.

There are always two sides to a prediction.


'Pre yeck divvus a Royston rookus jalled mongin the kaulo chiriclos, an'
they putched (pootschered) him, "Where did tute chore tiro pauno chukko?"
And yuv pookered, "Mandy chored it from a biksherro of a pigeon."  Then
he jalled a-men the pigeons an' penned, "Sarishan, pals?"  And they
putched lesti, "Where did tute lel akovo kauli rokamyas te byascros?"  And
yuv penned, "Mandy chored 'em from those wafri mushis the rookuses."

Pash-ratis pen their kokeros for Gorgios mongin Gorgios, and for Rommany
mongin Rommany chals.


On a day a Royston rook {206} went among the crows (black birds), and
they asked him, "Where did you steal your white coat?"  And he told
(them), "I stole it from a fool of a pigeon."  Then he went among the
pigeons and said, "How are you, brothers?"  And they asked him, "Where
did you get those black trousers and sleeves?"  And he said, "I stole 'em
from those wretches the rooks."

Half-breeds call themselves Gorgio among Gorgios, and Gipsy among


Once 'pre a chairus (or chyrus) a Gorgio penned to a Rommany chal, "Why
does tute always jal about the tem ajaw?  There's no kushtoben in what
don't hatch acai."  Penned the Rommany chal, "Sikker mandy tute's
wongur!"  And yuv sikkered him a cutter (cotter?), a bar, a pash-bar, a
pash-cutter, a pange-cullo (caulor?) bittus, a pash-krooner (korauna), a
dui-cullos bittus, a trin-mushi, a shuckori, a stor'oras, a trin'oras, a
dui'oras, a haura, a poshero, a lulli, a pash-lulli.  Penned the Rommany
chal, "Acovo's sar wafri wongur."  "Kek," penned the Gorgio; "se sar
kushto an' kirus.  Chiv it adree tute's wast and shoon it ringus."  "Avo,"
penned the Rommany chal.  "Tute pookered mandy that only wafri covvas
keep jallin', te 'covo wongur has jalled sar 'pre the 'tem adusta timei
(or timey)."

Sar mushis aren't all sim ta rukers (rukkers.)  Some must pirraben, and
can't besh't a lay.


Once upon a time a Gorgio said to a Gipsy, "Why do you always go about
the country so?  There is 'no good' in what does not rest (literally,
stop here)."  Said the Gipsy, "Show me your money!"  And he showed him a
guinea, a sovereign, a half-sovereign, a half-guinea, a five-shilling
piece, a half-crown, a two-shilling piece, a shilling, a sixpence, a
fourpenny piece, a threepence, a twopence, a penny, a halfpenny, a
farthing, a half-farthing.  Said the Gipsy, "This is all bad money."
"No," said the other man; "it is all good and sound.  Toss it in your
hand and hear it ring!"  "Yes," replied the Gipsy.  "You told me that
only bad things _keep going_, and this money has gone all over the
country many a time."

All men are not like trees.  Some must travel, and cannot keep still.


Once apre a chairus a Rommany chal chored a rani chillico (or chiriclo),
and then jalled atut a prastramengro 'pre the drum.  "Where did tute
chore adovo rani?" putchered the prastramengro.  "It's kek rani; it's a
pauno rani that I kinned 'dree the gav to del tute."  "Tacho," penned the
prastramengro, "it's the kushtiest pauno rani mandy ever dickdus.  Ki did
tute kin it?"

Avali, many's the chairus mandy's tippered a trinmushi to a prastramengro
ta mukk mandy hatch my tan with the chavvis.


Once on a time a Gipsy stole a turkey, and then met a policeman on the
road.  "Where did you steal that turkey?" asked the policeman.  "It's no
turkey; it's a goose that I bought in the town to give you."  "Fact,"
said the policeman, "it _is_ the finest goose I ever saw.  Where _did_
you buy it?"

Yes, many's the time I have given a shilling (three fourpence) to a
policeman to let me pitch my tent with the children. {209}


Yeckorus a choro mush besht a lay ta kair trin horras-worth o' peggi for
a masengro.  There jessed alang's a rye, who penned, "Tool my gry, an'
I'll del tute a shukori."  While he tooled the gry a rani pookered him,
"Rikker this trushni to my ker, an' I'll del tute a trin grushi."  So he
lelled a chavo to tool the gry, and pookered lester, "Tute shall get pash
the wongur."  Well, as yuv was rikkinin' the trushnee an' siggerin burry
ora bender the drum, he dicked a rye, who penned, "If tute'll jaw to the
ker and hatch minni's juckal ta mandy, mi'll del tute a pash-korauna."  So
he got a waver chavo to rikker the trushnee for pash the wongur, whilst
he jalled for the juckal.  Wellin' alangus, he dicked a barvelo givescro,
who penned, "'Avacai an' husker mandy to lel my guruvni (_gruvni_) avree
the ditch, and I'll del you pange cullos" (caulos).  So he lelled it.  But
at the kunsus of the divvus, sa yuv sus kennin apre sustis wongurs, he
penned, "How wafro it is mandy nashered the trinoras I might have lelled
for the mass-koshters!"

A mush must always pet the giv in the puv before he can chin the harvest.


Once a poor man sat down to make threepence-worth of skewers {210} for a
butcher.  There came along a gentleman, who said, "Hold my horse, and
I'll give you a sixpence."  While he held the horse a lady said to him,
"Carry this basket to my house, and I'll give you a shilling."  So he got
a boy to hold the horse, and said to him, "You shall have half the
money."  Well, as he was carrying the basket and hurrying along fast
across the road he saw a gentleman, who said, "If you'll go to the house
and bring my dog to me, I will give you half-a-crown."  So he got another
boy to carry the basket for half the money, while he went for the dog.
Going along, he saw a rich farmer, who said, "Come and help me here to
get my cow out of the ditch, and I'll give you five shillings."  So he
got it.  But at the end of the day, when he was counting his money, he
said, "What a pity it is I lost the threepence I might have got for the
skewers!" (literally, meat-woods.)

A man must always put the grain in the ground before he can cut the


'Pre yeck divvus a choro mush had a juckal that used to chore covvas and
hakker them to the ker for his mush--mass, wongur, horas, and rooys.  A
rye kinned the juckal, an' kaired boot dusta wongur by sikkerin' the
juckal at wellgooras.

Where barvelo mushis can kair wongur tacho, chori mushis have to loure.


On a day a poor man had a dog that used to steal things and carry them
home for his master--meat, money, watches, and spoons.  A gentleman
bought the dog, and made a great deal of money by showing him at fairs.

Where rich men can make money honestly, poor men have to steal.


'Pre yeck chairus a cooromengro was to coor, and a rye rakkered him,
"Will tute mukk your kokero be koored for twenty bar?"  Penned the
cooromengro, "Will tute mukk mandy pogger your herry for a hundred bar?"
"Kek," penned the rye; "for if I did, mandy'd never pirro kushto ajaw."
"And if I nashered a kooraben," penned the engro, "mandy'd never praster

Kammoben is kushtier than wongur.


On a time a prize-fighter was to fight, and a gentleman asked him, "Will
you sell the fight" (_i.e_., let yourself be beaten) "for twenty pounds?"
Said the prize-fighter, "Will you let me break your leg for a hundred
pounds?"  "No," said the gentleman; "for if I did, I should never walk
well again."  "And if I lost a fight," said the prize-fighter (literally,
master, doer), "I could never 'run' again."

Credit is better than money.


Pre yeck chairus a Rommany dye adree the wellgooro rakkered a rye to del
laker trin mushi for kushto bak.  An' he del it, an' putchered laki, "If
I bitcher my wongur a-mukkerin' 'pre the graias, ki'll manni's bak be?"
"My fino rye," she penned, "the bak'll be a collos-worth with mandy and
my chavvis."

Bak that's pessured for is saw (sar) adoi.


On a time a Gipsy mother at the fair asked a gentleman to give her a
shilling for luck.  And he gave it, and asked her, "If I lose my money a-
betting on the horses, where will my luck be?"  "My fine gentleman," she
said, "the luck will be a shilling's worth with me and my children."

Luck that is paid for is always somewhere (literally, there).


Yeckorus the matchka jalled to dick her kako's chavo the kanengro.  An'
there welled a huntingmush, an' the matchka taddied up the choomber, pre
durer, pre a rukk, an' odoi she lastered a chillico's nest.  But the
kanengro prastered alay the choomber, longodurus adree the tem.

   Wafri bak kairs
      A choro mush ta jal alay,
   But it mukks a boro mush
      To chiv his kokero apre. {213}


Once the cat went to see her cousin the hare.  And there came a hunter,
and the cat scrambled up the hill, further up, up a tree, and there she
found a bird's nest.  But the hare ran down the hill, far down into the

Bad luck sends a poor man further down, but it causes a great man to rise
still more.


Pre yeck chairus a chi jalled adree a waver tem, an' she rikkered a gunno
pre laki dumo with a baulo adree.  A rakli who was ladge of her tikno
chored the baulo avree the gunno and chivved the chavi adree.  Pasch a
waver hora the chi shooned the tikno rov (ruvving), and dicked adree the
gunno in boro toob, and penned, "If the baulos in akovo tem puraben into
chavos, sa do the chavos puraben adree?"


Once a woman went into a strange land, and she carried a bag on her back
with a pig in it.  A girl who was ashamed of her child stole the pig from
the bag and put the baby in (its place).  After an hour the woman heard
the child cry, and looked into the bag with great amazement, and said,
"If the pigs in this country change into children, into what do the
children change?"


'Pre yeck divvus a Rommany dye dukkered a rakli, and pookered laki that a
kaulo rye kaumed her.  But when the chi putchered her wongur, the rakli
penned, "Puri dye, I haven't got a poshero to del tute.  But pen mandy
the nav of the kaulo rye."  Then the dye shelled avree, very hunnalo,
"Beng is the nav of tute's pirryno, and yuv se kaulo adusta."

If you chore puri juvas tute'll lel the beng.


On a day a Gipsy mother told a girl's fortune, and said to her that a
dark (black) gentleman loved her.  But when the woman demanded her money,
the girl said, "Old mother, I haven't got a halfpenny to give you.  But
tell me the name of the dark gentleman."  Then the mother roared out,
very angry, "Devil is the name of your sweetheart, and he is black

If you cheat old women you will catch the devil.


Yeckorus a mush chored a gry and jalled him avree adree a waver tem, and
the gry and the mush jalled kushti bak kettenus.  Penned the gry to his
mush, "I kaums your covvas to wearus kushtier than mandy's, for there's
kek chucknee or mellicus (pusimigree) adree them."  "Kek," penned the
mush pauli; "the trash I lel when mandy jins of the prastramengro an' the
bitcherin' mush (krallis mush) is wafrier than any chucknee or busaha,
an' they'd kair mandy to praster my miramon (miraben) avree any divvus."


Once a man stole a horse and ran him away into another country, and the
horse and the man became very intimate.  Said the horse to the man, "I
like your things to wear better than I do mine, for there's no whip or
spur among them."  "No," replied the man; "the fear I have when I think
of the policeman and of the judge (sending or "transporting" man, or
king's man) is worse than any whip or spur, and they would make me run my
life away any day."


'Pre yeck divvus there was a mush a-piin' ma his Rommany chals adree a
kitchema, an' pauli a chairus he got pash matto.  An' he penned about
mullo baulors, that _he_ never hawed kek.  Kenna-sig his juvo welled
adree an' putched him to jal kerri, but yuv pookered her, "Kek--I won't
jal kenna."  Then she penned, "Well alang, the chavvis got kek habben."
So she putchered him ajaw an' ajaw, an' he always rakkered her pauli
"Kek."  So she lelled a mullo baulor ap her dumo and wussered it 'pre the
haumescro pre saw the foki, an' penned, "Lel the mullo baulor an' rummer
it, an' mandy'll dick pauli the chavos."


Once there was a man drinking with his Gipsy fellows in an alehouse, and
after a while he got half drunk.  And he said of pigs that had died a
natural death, _he_ never ate any.  By-and-by his wife came in and asked
him to go home, but he told her, "No--I won't go now."  Then she said,
"Come along, the children have no food."  So she entreated him again and
again, and he always answered "No."  So she took a pig that had died a
natural death, from her back and threw it on the table before all the
people, and said, "Take the dead pig for a wife, and I will look after
the children." {218}


My raia, the gudlo of the Seven Whistlers, you jin, is adree the
Scriptures--so they pookered mandy.

An' the Seven Whistlers (_Efta Shellengeri_) is seven spirits of ranis
that jal by the ratti, 'pre the bavol, parl the heb, like chillicos.  An'
it pookers 'dree the Bible that the Seven Whistlers shell wherever they
praster atut the bavol.  But aduro timeus yeck jalled avree an' got
nashered, and kenna there's only shove; but they pens 'em the Seven
Whistlers.  An' that sims the story tute pookered mandy of the Seven


Sir, the story of the Seven Whistlers, you know, is in the Scriptures--so
they told me.

An' the Seven Whistlers are seven spirits of ladies that go by the night,
through the air, over the heaven, like birds.  And it tells (us) in the
Bible that the Seven Whistlers whistle wherever they fly across the air.
But a long time ago one went away and got lost, and now there are only
six; but they call them the Seven Whistlers.  And that is like the story
you told me of the Seven Stars. {219}


A Rommany rakli yeckorus jalled to a ker a-dukkerin'.  A'ter she jalled
avree, the rakli of the ker missered a plachta, and pookered the rye that
the Rommany chi had chored it.  So the rye jalled aduro pauli the tem,
and latched the Rommany chals, and bitchered them to staruben.  Now this
was adree the puro chairus when they used to nasher mushis for any bitti
covvo.  And some of the Rommany chals were nashered, an' some pannied.
An' sar the gunnos, an' kavis, and covvas of the Rommanis were chivved
and pordered kettenus 'pre the bor adree the cangry-puv, an' kek mush
tooled 'em.  An' trin dood (or munti) pauli, the rakli was kairin' the
baulors' habben at the kokero ker, when she latched the plachta they
nashered trin dood adovo divvus.  So the rakli jalled with the plachta ta
laki rye, and penned, "Dick what I kaired on those chuvvenny, chori
Rommany chals that were nashered and pannied for adovo bitti covvo adoi!"

And when they jalled to dick at the Rommanis' covvas pauli the bor adree
the cangry-puv, the gunnos were pordo and chivved adree, chingered saw to
cut-engroes, and they latched 'em full o' ruppeny covvos--rooys an'
churls of sonnakai, an' oras, curros an' piimangris, that had longed o'
the Rommany chals that were nashered an' bitschered padel.


A Gipsy girl once went to a house to tell fortunes.  After she went away,
the girl of the house missed a pudding-bag (literally, _linen cloth_),
and told the master the Gipsy girl had stolen it.  So the master went far
about the country, and found the Gipsies, and sent them to prison.  Now
this was in the old time when they used to hang people for any little
thing.  And some of the Gipsies were hung, and some transported
(literally, _watered_).  And all the bags, and kettles, and things of the
Gipsies were thrown and piled together behind the hedge in the
churchyard, and no man touched them.  And three months after, the maid
was preparing the pigs' food at the same house, when she found the linen
cloth they lost three months (before) that day.  So the girl went with
the cloth to her master, and said, "See what I did to those poor, poor
Gipsies that were hung and transported for that trifle (there)!"

And when they went to look at the Gipsies' things behind the hedge in the
churchyard, the bags were full and burst, torn all to rags, and they
found them full of silver things--spoons and knives of gold, and watches,
cups and teapots, that had belonged to the Gipsies that were hung and
transported. {221a}


Did mandy ever jal to kangry?  Avali, dui koppas, and beshed a lay odoi.
I was adree the tale tem o' sar, an' a rye putched mandy to well to
kangry, an' I welled.  And sar the ryas an' ranis dicked at mandy as I
jalled adree. {221b}  So I beshed pukkenus mongin some geeros and dicked
upar again the chumure praller my sherro, and there was a deer and a
kanengro odoi chinned in the bar, an' kaired kushto.  I shooned the
rashai a-rakkerin'; and when the shunaben was kerro, I welled avree and
jalled alay the drum to the kitchema.

I latchered the raias mush adree the kitchema; so we got matto odoi, an'
were jallin' kerri alay the drum when we dicked the raias wardo
a-wellin'.  So we jalled sig 'dusta parl the bor, an' gavered our kokeros
odoi adree the puv till the rye had jessed avree.

I dicked adovo rye dree the sala, and he putched mandy what I'd kaired
the cauliko, pash kangry.  I pookered him I'd pii'd dui or trin curros
levinor and was pash matto.  An' he penned mandy, "My mush was matto sar
tute, and I nashered him."  I pookered him ajaw, "I hope not, rya, for
such a bitti covvo as dovo; an' he aint cammoben to piin' levinor, he's
only used to pabengro, that don't kair him matto."  But kek, the choro
mush had to jal avree.  An' that's sar I can rakker tute about my jallin'
to kangry.


Did I ever go to church?  Yes, twice, and sat down there.  I was in the
lower land of all (Cornwall), and a gentleman asked me to go to church,
and I went.  And all the ladies and gentlemen looked at me as I went in.
So I sat quietly among some men and looked up on the wall above my head,
and there were a deer and a rabbit cut in the stone, beautifully done.  I
heard the clergyman speaking; and when the sermon was ended (literally,
made), I came out and went down the road to the alehouse.

I found the gentleman's servant in the alehouse; so we got drunk there,
and were going home down the road when we saw the gentleman's carriage
coming.  So we went quickly enough over the hedge, and hid ourselves
there in the field until the gentleman was gone.

I saw the gentleman in the morning, and he asked me what I had done the
day before, after church.  I told him I'd drunk two or three cups of ale
and was half tipsy.  And he said, "My man was drunk as you, and I sent
him off."  I told him then, "I hope not, sir, for such a little thing as
that; and he is not used to drink ale, he's only accustomed to cider,
that don't intoxicate him."  But no, the poor man had to go away.  _And
that's all I can tell you about my going to church_.


Penned the tikni Rommani chavi laki pal, "More mor the pishom, 'cause
she's a Rommani, and kairs her jivaben jallin' parl the tem dukkerin' the
ruzhas and lellin' the gudlo avree 'em, sar moro dye dukkers the ranis.
An' ma wusser bars at the rookas, 'cause they're kaulos, an' kaulo ratt
is Rommany ratt.  An' maun pogger the bawris, for yuv rikkers his tan pre
the dumo, sar moro puro dadas, an' so yuv's Rommany."


Said the little Gipsy girl to her brother, "Don't kill the bee, because
she is a Gipsy, and makes her living going about the country telling
fortunes to the flowers and taking honey out of them, as our mother tells
fortunes to the ladies.  And don't throw stones at the rooks, because
they are dark, and dark blood is Gipsy blood.  And don't crush the snail,
for he carries his tent on his back, like our old father" (_i.e_.,
carries his home about, and so he too is Rommany).


I jinned a tano mush yeckorus that nashered sar his wongur 'dree the toss-
ring.  Then he jalled kerri to his dadas' kanyas and lelled pange bar
avree.  Paul' a bitti chairus he dicked his dadas an' pookered lester
he'd lelled pange bar avree his gunnas.  But yuv's dadas penned, "Jal an,
kair it ajaw and win some wongur againus!"  So he jalled apopli to the
toss-ring an' lelled sar his wongur pauli, an' pange bar ferridearer.  So
he jalled ajaw kerri to the tan, an' dicked his dadas beshtin' alay by
the rikk o' the tan, and his dadas penned, "Sa did you keravit, my
chavo?"  "Kushto, dadas.  I lelled sar my wongur pauli; and here's tute's
wongur acai, an' a bar for tute an' shtar bar for mi-kokero."

An' that's tacho as ever you tool that pen in tute's waster--an' dovo
mush was poor Charley Lee, that's mullo kenna.


I knew a little fellow once that lost all his money in the toss-ring
(_i.e_., at pitch-and-toss).  Then he went home to his father's sacks and
took five pounds out.  After a little while he saw his father and told
him he'd taken five pounds from his bags.  But his father said, "Go on,
spend it and win some more money!"  So he went again to the toss-ring and
got all his money back, and five pounds more.  And going home, he saw his
father sitting by the side of the tent, and his father said, "How did you
succeed (_i.e_., _do it_), my son?"  "Very well, father.  I got all _my_
money back; and here's _your_ money now, and a pound for you and four
pounds for myself."

And that's true as ever you hold that pen in your hand--and that man was
poor Charley Lee, that's dead now.


A petulamengro hatched yeck divvus at a givescro ker, where the rani del
him mass an' tood.  While he was hawin' he dicked a kekavi sar chicklo
an' bongo, pashall a boro hev adree, an' he putchered, "Del it a mandy
an' I'll lel it avree for chichi, 'cause you've been so kushto an'
kammoben to mandy."  So she del it a lester, an' he jalled avree for trin
cooricus, an' he keravit apre, an' kaired it pauno sar rupp.  Adovo he
welled akovo drum pauli, an' jessed to the same ker, an' penned, "Dick
acai at covi kushti kekavi!  I del shove trin mushis for it, an' tu shall
lel it for the same wongur, 'cause you've been so kushto a mandy."

Dovo mush was like boot 'dusta mushis--wery cammoben to his kokero.


A tinker stopped one day at a farmer's house, where the lady gave him
meat and milk.  While he was eating he saw a kettle all rusty and bent,
with a great hole in it, and he asked, "Give it to me and I will take it
away for nothing, because you have been so kind and obliging to me."  So
she gave it to him, and he went away for three weeks, and he repaired it
(the kettle), and made it as bright (white) as silver.  Then he went that
road again, to the same house, and said, "Look here at this fine kettle!
I gave six shillings for it, and you shall have it for the same money,
because you have been so good to me."

That man was like a great many men--very benevolent to himself.


If a Rommany chal gets nashered an' can't latch his drum i' the ratti, he
shells avree, "_Hup_, _hup_--_Rom-ma-ny_, _Rom-ma-ny jo-ter_!"  When the
chavvis can't latch the tan, it's the same gudlo, "_Rom-ma-ny jo-ter_!"
Joter pens kett'nus.

And yeck ratti my dadas, sixty besh kenna, was pirryin' par the weshes to
tan, an' he shooned a bitti gudlo like bitti ranis a rakkerin' puro tacho
Rommanis, and so he jalled from yeck boro rukk to the waver, and paul' a
cheirus he dicked a tani rani, and she was shellin' avree for her
miraben, "_Rom-ma-ny_, _Rom-ma-ny jo-ter_!"  So my dada shokkered ajaw,
"_Rom-ma-ny chal_, _ak-ai_!"  But as he shelled there welled a boro
bavol, and the bitti ranis an' sar prastered avree i' the heb like
chillicos adree a starmus, and all he shunned was a savvaben and "Rom-ma-
ny jo-ter!" shukaridir an' shukaridir, pash sar was kerro.

An' you can dick by dovo that the kukalos, an' fairies, an' mullos, and
chovihans all rakker puro tacho Rommanis, 'cause that's the old 'Gyptian
jib that was penned adree the Scripture tem.


If a Gipsy is lost and cannot find his way in the night, he cries out,
"Hup, hup--Rom-ma-ny, Rom-ma-ny jo-ter!"  When the children cannot find
the tent, it is the same cry, "_Rom-ma-ny jo-ter_!"  Joter means

And one night my father, sixty years ago (literally, _now_), was walking
through the woods to his tent, and he heard a little cry like little
ladies talking real old Gipsy, and so he went from one great tree to the
other (_i.e_., concealing himself), and after a while he saw a little
lady, and she was crying out as if for her life, "_Rom-ma-ny_, _Rom-ma-ny
jo-ter_!"  So my father cried again, "_Gipsy_, _here_!"  But as he
hallooed there came a great blast of wind, and the little ladies and all
flew away in the sky like birds in a storm, and all he heard was a
laughing and "_Rom-ma-ny jo-ter_!" softer and softer, till all was done.

And you can see by that that the goblins (dwarfs, mannikins), and
fairies, and ghosts, and witches, and all talk real old Gipsy, because
that is the old Egyptian language that was talked in the Scripture land.


Yeckorus a Rommany chal kaired adusta wongur, and was boot barvelo an' a
boro rye.  His chuckko was kashno, an' the crafnies 'pre lester chuckko
were o' sonnakai, and his graias solivaris an' guiders were sar ruppeny.
Yeck divvus this here Rommany rye was hawin' habben anerjal the krallis's
chavo, an' they hatched adree a weshni kanni that was kannelo, but saw
the mushis penned it was kushtidearer.  "Bless mi-Duvel!" rakkered the
Rommany rye shukar to his juvo, "tu and mandy have hawed mullo mass boot
'dusta cheiruses, mi-deari, but never soomed kek so wafro as dovo.  It
kauns worse than a mullo grai!"

Boro mushis an' bitti mushis sometimes kaum covvas that waver mushis
don't jin.


Once a Gipsy made much money, and was very rich and a great gentleman.
His coat was silk, and the buttons on his coat were of gold, and his
horse's bridle and reins were all silver.  One day this Gipsy gentleman
was eating (at table) opposite to the king's son, and they brought in a
pheasant that smelt badly, but all the people said it was excellent.
"Bless me, God!" said the Gipsy gentleman softly (whispering) to his
wife, "you and I have eaten dead meat (meat that died a natural death)
many a time, my dear, but never smelt anything so bad as that.  It stinks
worse than a dead horse!"

Great men and small men sometimes like (agree in liking things) that
which other people do not understand.


Yeckorus a choro Rommany chal dicked a rani hatch taller the wuder of a
boro ker an' mukked adovo a bitti lil.  Then he putched the rakli, when
the rani jessed avree, what the lil kaired.  Adoi the rakli pukkered
lesco it was for her rani ta jin kun'd welled a dick her.  "Avali!"
penned the Rommany chal; "_that's_ the way the Gorgios mukks their
patteran!  _We_ mukks char apre the drum."

The grai mukks his pirro apre the drum, an' the sap kairs his trail adree
the puv.


Once a poor Gipsy saw a lady stop before the door of a great house and
left there a card (little letter).  Then he asked the girl, when the lady
went away, what the card meant (literally, _did_).  Then (there) the girl
told him it was for her lady to know who had come to see her.  "Yes!"
said the Gipsy; "so that is the way the Gorgios leave their sign!  _We_
leave grass on the road."

The horse leaves his track on the road, and the snake makes his trail in
the dust.


When I was beshin' alay adree the wesh tale the bori rukkas, mandy
putched a tikno chillico to latch mandy a bitti moro, but it jalled avree
an' I never dicked it kekoomi.  Adoi I putched a boro chillico to latch
mandy a curro o' tatti panni, but it jalled avree paul' the waver.  Mandy
never putchered the rukk parl my sherro for kek, but when the bavol
welled it wussered a lay to mandy a hundred ripe kori.


When I was sitting down in the forest under the great trees, I asked a
little bird to bring (find) me a little bread, but it went away and I
never saw it again.  Then I asked a great bird to bring me a cup of
brandy, but it flew away after the other.  I never asked the tree over my
head for anything, but when the wind came it threw down to me a hundred
ripe nuts.


Yeckorus a tano mush was kellin' kushto pre the boshomengro, an' a kushti
dickin rani pookered him, "Tute's killaben is as sano as best-tood."  And
he rakkered ajaw, "Tute's mui's gudlo sar pishom, an' I'd cammoben to
puraben mi tood for tute's pishom."

Kushto pash kushto kairs ferridearer.


Once a young man was playing well upon the violin, and a beautiful lady
told him, "Your playing is as soft as cream."  And he answered, "Your
mouth (_i.e_., lips or words) is sweet as honey, and I would like to
exchange my cream for your honey."

Good with good makes better.


Yeckorus some plochto Rommany chals an' juvas were kellin' the
pash-divvus by dood tall' a boro ker, and yeck penned the waver, "I'd be
cammoben if dovo ker was mandy's."  And the rye o' the ker, kun sus
dickin' the kellaben, rakkered, "When tute kells a hev muscro the bar
you're hatchin' apre, mandy'll del tute the ker."  Adoi the Rom tarried
the bar apre, an' dicked it was hollow tale, and sar a curro 'pre the
waver rikk.  So he lelled dui sastern chokkas and kelled sar the ratti
'pre the bar, kairin' such a gudlo you could shoon him a mee avree; an'
adree the sala he had kaired a hev adree the bar as boro as lesters
sherro.  So the barvelo rye del him the fino ker, and sar the mushis got
matto, hallauter kettenus.

Many a cheirus I've shooned my puri dye pen that a bar with a hev adree
it kairs kammoben.


Once some jolly Gipsy men and girls were dancing in the evening by
moonlight before a great house, and one said to the other, "I'd be glad
if that house was mine."  And the gentleman of the house, who was looking
at the dancing, said, "When you dance a hole through (in the centre of)
the stone you are standing on, I'll give you the house."  Then the Gipsy
pulled the stone up, and saw it was hollow underneath, and like a cup on
the other side.  So he took two iron shoes and danced all night on the
stone, making such a noise you could hear him a mile off; and in the
morning he had made a hole in the stone as large as his head.  So the
rich gentleman gave him the fine house, and all the people got drunk, all

Many a time I've heard my old mother say that a stone with a hole in it
brings luck.


Yeckorus a boro rye wouldn't mukk a choro, pauvero, chovveny Rommany chal
hatch odoi 'pre his farm.  So the Rommany chal jalled on a puv apre the
waver rikk o' the drum, anerjal the ryas beshaben.  And dovo ratti the
ryas ker pelled alay; kek kash of it hatched apre, only the foki that
loddered adoi hullered their kokeros avree ma their miraben.  And the
ryas tikno chavo would a-mullered if a Rommany juva had not lelled it
avree their pauveri bitti tan.

An' dovo's sar _tacho like my dad_, an' to the divvus kenna they pens
that puv the Rommany Puv.


Once a great gentleman would not let a poor, poor, poor Gipsy stay on his
farm.  So the Gipsy went to a field on the other side of the way,
opposite the gentleman's residence.  And that night the gentleman's house
fell down; not a stick of it remained standing, only the people who
lodged there carried themselves out (_i.e_., escaped) with their lives.
And the gentleman's little babe would have died if a Gipsy woman had not
taken it into their poor little tent.

And that's all _true as my father_, and to this day they call that field
the Gipsy Field.


Yeck divvus a prastramengro prastered pauli a Rommany chal, an' the chal
jalled adree the panni, that was pordo o' boro bittis o' floatin' shill,
and there he hatched pall his men with only his sherro avree.  "Hav
avree," shelled a rye that was wafro in his see for the pooro rnush, "an'
we'll mukk you jal!"  "Kek," penned the Rom; "I shan't jal."  "Well
avree," penned the rye ajaw, "an' I'll del tute pange bar!"  "_Kek_,"
rakkered the Rom.  "Jal avree," shokkered the rye, "an' I'll del tute
pange bar an' a nevvi chukko!"  "Will you del mandy a walin o' tatto
panni too?" putched the Rommany chal.  "Avail, avail," penned the rye;
"but for Duveleste hav' avree the panni!"  "Kushto," penned the Rommany
chal, "for cammoben to tute, rya, I'll jal avree!" {235}


Once a policeman chased a Gipsy, and the Gipsy ran into the river, that
was full of great pieces of floating ice, and there he stood up to his
neck with only his head out.  "Come out," cried a gentleman that pitied
the poor man, "and we'll let you go!"  "No," said the Gipsy; "I won't
move."  "Come out," said the gentleman again, "and I'll give you five
pounds!"  "No," said the Gipsy.  "Come out," cried the gentleman, "and
I'll give you five pounds and a new coat!"  "Will you give me a glass of
brandy too?" asked the Gipsy.  "Yes, yes," said the gentleman; "but for
God's sake come out of the water!"  "Well," exclaimed the Gipsy, "to
oblige you, sir, I'll come out!"


"Savo's tute's rye?" putched a ryas mush of a Rommany chal.  "I've dui
ryas," pooked the Rommany chal: "Duvel's the yeck an' beng's the waver.
Mandy kairs booti for the beng till I've lelled my yeckora habben, an'
pallers mi Duvel pauli ajaw."


"Who is your master?" asked a gentleman's servant of a Gipsy.  "I've two
masters," said the Gipsy: "God is the one, and the devil is the other.  I
work for the devil till I have got my dinner (one-o'clock food), and
after that follow the Lord."


A bitti chavo jalled adree the boro gav pash his dadas, an' they hatched
taller the hev of a ruppenomengro's buddika sar pordo o' kushti-dickin
covvas.  "O dadas," shelled the tikno chavo, "what a boro choromengro
dovo mush must be to a' lelled so boot adusta rooys an' horas!"

A tacho covva often dicks sar a hokkeny (huckeny) covva; an dovo's sim of
a tacho mush, but a juva often dicks tacho when she isn't.


A little boy went to the great village (_i.e_., London) with his father,
and they stopped before the window of a silversmith's shop all full of
pretty things.  "O father," cried the small boy, "what a great thief that
man must be to have got so many spoons and watches!"

A true thing often looks like a false one; and the same is true (and
that's _same_) of a true man, but a girl often looks right when she is


Mandy sutto'd I was pirraben lang o' tute, an' I dicked mandy's pen odoi
'pre the choomber.  Then I was pirryin' ajaw parl the puvius, an' I
welled to the panni paul' the Beng's Choomber, an' adoi I dicked some
ranis, saw nango barrin' a pauno plachta 'pre lengis sherros, adree the
panni pash their bukkos.  An' I pookered lengis, "Mi-ranis, I putch
tute's cammoben; I didn't jin tute sus acai."  But yeck pre the wavers
penned mandy boot kushti cammoben, "Chichi, mor dukker your-kokero; we
just welled alay acai from the ker to lel a bitti bath."  An' she savvy'd
sa kushto, but they all jalled avree glan mandy sar the bavol, an' tute
was hatchin' pash a maudy sar the cheirus.

So it pens, "when you dick ranis sar dovo, you'll muller kushto."  Well,
if it's to be akovo, I kaum it'll be a booti cheirus a-wellin.'  Tacho!


I dreamed I was walking with you, and I saw my sister (a fortune-teller)
there upon the hill.  Then I (found myself) walking again over the field,
and I came to the water near the Devil's Dyke, and there I saw some
ladies, quite naked excepting a white cloth on their heads, in the water
to the waists.  And I said to them, "Ladies, I beg your pardon; I did not
know you were here."  But one among the rest said to me very kindly, "No
matter, don't trouble yourself; we just came down here from the house to
take a little bath."  And she smiled sweetly, but they all vanished
before me like the cloud (wind), and you were standing by me all the

So it means, "_when you see ladies like that, you will die happily_."
Well, if it's to be that, I hope it will be a long time coming.  Yes,


Yeckorus, boot hundred beshes the divvus acai, a juva was wellin' to
chore a yora.  "Mukk mandy hatch," penned the yora, "an' I'll sikker tute
ki tute can lel a tikno pappni."  So the juva lelled the tikno pappni,
and it pookered laki, "Mukk mandy jal an' I'll sikker tute ki tute can
chore a bori kani."  Then she chored the bori kani, an' it shelled avree,
"Mukk mandy jal an' I'll sikker tute ki you can loure a rani-chillico."
And when she lelled the rani-chillico, it penned, "Mukk mandy jal an'
I'll sikker tute odoi ki tute can lel a guruvni's tikno."  So she lelled
the guruvni's tikno, an' it shokkered and ruvved, an' rakkered, "Mukk
mandy jal an' I'll sikker tute where to lel a fino grai."  An' when she
loured the grai, it penned laki, "Mukk mandy jal an' I'll rikker tute to
a kushto-dick barvelo rye who kaums a pirreny."  So she lelled the kushto
tauno rye, an' she jivved with lester kushto yeck cooricus; but pash dovo
he pookered her to jal avree, he didn't kaum her kekoomi.  "Sa a wafro
mush is tute," ruvved the rakli, "to bitcher mandy avree!  For tute's
cammoben I delled avree a yora, a tikno pappni, a boro kani, a
rani-chillico, a guruvni's tikno, an' a fino grai."  "Is dovo tacho?"
putched the raklo.  "'Pre my mullo dadas!" sovahalled the rakli," I del
'em sar apre for tute, yeck paul the waver, an' kenna tu bitchers mandy
avree!"  "So 'p mi-Duvel!" penned the rye, "if tute nashered sar booti
covvas for mandy, I'll rummer tute."  So they were rummobend.

Avali, there's huckeny (hokkeny) tachobens and tacho huckabens.  You can
sovahall pre the lil adovo.


Once, many hundred years ago (to-day now), a girl was going to steal an
egg.  "Let me be," said the egg, "and I will show you where you can get a
duck."  So the girl got the duck, and it said (told) to her, "Let me go
and I will show you where you can get a goose" (large hen).  Then she
stole the goose, and it cried out, "Let me go and I'll show you where you
can steal a turkey" (lady-bird).  And when she took the turkey, it said,
"Let me go and I'll show you where you can get a calf."  So she got the
calf, and it bawled and wept, and cried, "Let me go and I'll show you
where to get a fine horse."  And when she stole the horse, it said to
her, "Let me go and I'll carry you to a handsome, rich gentleman who
wants a sweetheart."  So she got the nice young gentleman, and lived with
him pleasantly one week; but then he told her to go away, he did not want
her any more.  "What a bad man you are," wept the girl, "to send me away!
For your sake I gave away an egg, a duck, a goose, a turkey, a calf, and
a fine horse."  "Is that true?" asked the youth.  "By my dead father!"
swore the girl, "I gave them all up for you, one after the other, and now
you send me away!"  "So help me God!" said the gentleman, "if you lost so
many things for me, I'll marry you."  So they were married.

Yes, there are false truths and true lies.  You may kiss the book on


Does mandy jin the lav adree Rommanis for a Jack-o'-lantern--the dood
that prasters, and hatches, an' kells o' the ratti, parl the panni, adree
the puvs?  _Avali_; some pens 'em the Momeli Mullos, and some the Bitti
Mullos.  They're bitti geeros who rikker tute adree the gogemars, an'
sikker tute a dood till you're all jalled apre a wafro drum an nashered,
an' odoi they chiv their kokeros pauli an' savs at tute.  Mandy's dicked
their doods adusta cheiruses, an' kekoomi; but my pal dicked langis muis
pash mungwe yeck ratti.  He was jallin' langus an' dicked their doods,
and jinned it was the yag of lesters tan.  So he pallered 'em, an' they
tadered him dukker the drum, parl the bors, weshes, puvius, gogemars,
till they lelled him adree the panni, an then savvy'd avree.  And odoi he
dicked lender pre the waver rikk, ma lesters kokerus yakkis, an' they
were bitti mushis, bitti chovihanis, about dui peeras boro.  An' my pal
was bengis hunnalo, an' sovahalled pal' lengis, "If I lelled you acai,
you ratfolly juckos! if I nashered you, I'd chin tutes curros!"  An' he
jalled to tan ajaw an' pookered mandy saw dovo 'pre dovo rat.  "Kun sus
adovo?"  Avali, rya; dovo was pash Kaulo Panni--near Blackwater.


Do I know the word in Rommanis for a Jack-o'-lantern--the light that
runs, and stops, and dances by night, over the water, in the fields?  Yes;
some call them the Light Ghosts, and some the Little Ghosts.  They're
little men who lead you into the waste and swampy places, and show you a
light until you have gone astray and are lost, and then they turn
themselves around and laugh at you.  I have seen their lights many a
time, and nothing more; but my brother saw their faces close and opposite
to him (directly _vis-a-vis_) one night.  He was going along and saw
their lights, and thought it was the fire of his tent.  So he followed
them, and they drew him from the road over hedges, woods, fields, and
lonely marshes till they got him in the water, and then laughed out loud.
And there he saw them with his own eyes, on the opposite side, and they
were little fellows, little goblins, about two feet high.  And my brother
was devilish angry, and swore at them!  "If I had you here, you wretched
dogs! if I caught you, I'd cut your throats!"  And he went home and told
me all that that night.  "_Where was it_?"  Yes, sir; that was near


Yeckorus sar the matchis jalled an' suvved kettenescrus 'dree the panni.
And yeck penned as yuv was a boro mush, an' the waver rakkered ajaw sa
yuv was a borodiro mush, and sar pookered sigan ket'nus how lengis were
borodirer mushis.  Adoi the flounder shelled avree for his meriben
"Mandy's the krallis of you sar!" an' he shelled so surrelo he kaired his
mui bongo, all o' yeck rikkorus.  So to akovo divvus acai he's penned the
Krallis o' the Matchis, and rikkers his mui bongo sar o' yeck sidus.

Mushis shouldn't shell too shunaben apre lengis kokeros.


Once all the fish came and swam together in the water.  And one said that
he was a great person, and the other declared that he was a greater
person, and (at last) all cried out at once what great characters (men)
they all were.  Then the flounder shouted for his life, "I'm the king of
you all!" and he roared so violently he twisted his mouth all to one
side.  So to this day he is called the King of the Fishes, and bears his
face crooked all on one side.

Men should not boast too loudly of themselves.


Yeckorus kushti-dickin raklos were suvvin' 'dree the lun panni, and there
welled odoi some plochti raklis an' juvas who pooked the tano ryas to
hav' avree an' choomer 'em.  But the raklos wouldn't well avree, so the
ranis rikkered their rivabens avree an' pirried adree the panni paul'
lendy.  An' the ryas who were kandered alay, suvved andurer 'dree the
panni, an' the ranis pallered 'em far avree till they were saw latchered,
raklos and raklis.  So the tauno ryas were purabened into Barini Mushi
Matchis because they were too ladge (latcho) of the ranis that kaumed
'em, and the ranis were kaired adree Puri Rani Matchis and Tani Rani
Matchis because they were too tatti an' ruzli.

Raklos shouldn't be too ladge, nor raklis be too boro of their kokeros.


Once some handsome youths were swimming in the sea, and there came some
wanton women and girls who told the young men to come out and kiss them.
But the youths would not come out, so the ladies stripped themselves and
ran into the water after them.  And the gentles who were driven away swam
further into the water, and the ladies followed them far away till all
were lost, boys and girls.  So the young men were changed into Codfish
because they were too shy of the girls that loved them, and the ladies
were turned into Old Maids and Young Maids because they were too wanton
and bold.

Men should not be too modest, nor girls too forward.


I dicked Lord Coventry at the Worcester races.  He kistured lester noko
grai adree the steeple-chase for the ruppeny--kek,--a sonnakai tank I
think it was,--but he nashered.  It was dovo tano rye that yeck divvus in
his noko park dicked a Rommany chal's tan pash the rikk of a bor; and at
yeck leap he kistered apre the bor, and jalled right atut an' parl the
Rommany chal's tan.  "Ha, kun's acai?" he shelled, as he dicked the tikno
kaulos; "a Rommany chal's tan!"  And from dovo divvus he mukked akovo Rom
hatch his cammoben 'pre his puv.  Tacho.

Ruzlo mushis has boro sees.


I saw Lord Coventry at the Worcester races.  He rode his own horse in the
steeple-chase for the silver--no, it was a gold tankard, I think, but he

It was that young gentleman who one day in his own park saw a Gipsy tent
by the side of a hedge, and took a flying leap over tent, hedge, and all.
"Ha, what's here?" he cried, as he saw the little brown children; "a
Gipsy's tent!"  And from that day he let that Gipsy stay as much as he
pleased on his land.

Bold men have generous hearts.


Dovo's sim to what they pens of Mr Bartlett in Glo'stershire, who had a
fino tem pash Glo'ster an' Bristol, where he jivved adree a boro ker.  Kek
mush never dicked so booti weshni juckalos or weshni kannis as yuv
rikkered odoi.  They prastered atut saw the drumyas sim as kanyas.  Yeck
divvus he was kisterin' on a kushto grai, an' he dicked a Rommany chal
rikkerin' a truss of gib-puss 'pre lester dumo pral a bitti drum, an'
kistered 'pre the pooro mush, puss an' sar.  I jins that puro mush better
'n I jins tute, for I was a'ter yeck o' his raklis yeckorus; he had
kushti-dick raklis, an' he was old Knight Locke.  "Puro," pens the rye,
"did I kair you trash?"  "I mang tute's shunaben, rya," pens Locke pauli;
"I didn't jin tute sus wellin'!"  So puro Locke hatched odoi 'pre dovo
tem sar his miraben, an' that was a kushti covva for the puro Locke.


That is like what is told of Mr Bartlett in Gloucestershire, who had a
fine place near Gloucester and Bristol, where he lived in a great house.
No man ever saw so many foxes or pheasants as he kept there.  They ran
across all the paths like hens.  One day he was riding on a fine horse,
when he saw a Gipsy carrying a truss of wheat-straw on his back up a
little path, and leaped over the poor man, straw and all.  I knew that
old man better than I know you, for I was after one of his daughters
then; he had beautiful girls, and he was old Knight Locke.  "Old fellow,"
said the gentleman, "did I frighten you?"  "I beg your pardon, sir," said
Locke after him; "I didn't know you were coming!"  So old Locke stayed on
that land all his life, and that was a good thing for old Locke.


Yeckorus a Rommany chal jalled to a boro givescroker sa's the rye sus
hawin'.  And sikk's the Rom wan't a-dickin', the rye all-sido pordered a
kell-mallico pash kris, an' del it to the Rommany chal.  An' sa's the
kris dantered adree his gullo, he was pash tassered, an' the panni welled
in his yakkas.  Putched the rye, "Kun's tute ruvvin' ajaw for?"  An' he
rakkered pauli, "The kris lelled mandys bavol ajaw."  Penned the rye, "I
kaum the kris'll del tute kushti bak."  "Parraco, rya," penned the Rom
pauli; "I'll kommer it kairs dovo."  Sikk's the rye bitchered his sherro,
the Rommany chal loured the krissko-curro ma the ruppeny rooy, an' kek
dicked it.  The waver divvus anpauli, dovo Rom jalled to the ryas baulo-
tan, an' dicked odoi a boro rikkeno baulo, an' gillied, "I'll dick acai
if I can kair tute ruv a bitti."

Now, rya, you must jin if you del a baulor kris adree a pabo, he can't
shell avree or kair a gudlo for his miraben, an' you can rikker him
bissin', or chiv him apre a wardo, an' jal andurer an' kek jin it.  An'
dovo's what the Rommany chal kaired to the baulor, pash the sim kris; an'
as he bissered it avree an' pakkered it adree a gunno, he penned shukkar
adree the baulor's kan, "Calico tute's rye hatched my bavol, an' the
divvus I've hatched tute's; an' yeckorus your rye kaumed the kris would
del mandy kushti bak, and kenna it _has_ del mengy kushtier bak than ever
he jinned.

Ryes must be sig not to kair pyass an' trickis atop o' choro mushis.


Once a Gipsy went to a great farmhouse as the gentleman sat at table
eating.  And so soon as the Gipsy looked away, the gentleman very quietly
filled a cheese-cake with mustard and gave it to the Gipsy.  When the
mustard bit in his throat, he was half choked, and the tears came into
his eyes.  The gentleman asked him, "What are you weeping for now?"  And
he replied, "The mustard took my breath away."  The gentleman said, "I
hope the mustard will give you good luck!"  "Thank you, sir," answered
the Gipsy; "I'll take care it does" (that).  As soon as the gentleman
turned his head, the Gipsy stole the mustard-pot with the silver spoon,
and no one saw it.  The next day after, that Gipsy went to the
gentleman's pig-pen, and saw there a great fine-looking pig, and sang,
"I'll see now if I can make _you_ weep a bit."

Now, sir, you must know that if you give a pig mustard in an apple, he
can't cry out or squeal for his life, and you can carry him away, or
throw him on a waggon, and get away, and nobody will know it.  And that
is what the Gipsy did to the pig, with the same mustard; and as he ran it
away and put it in a bag, he whispered softly into the pig's ear,
"Yesterday your master stopped my breath, and to-day I've stopped yours;
and once your master hoped the mustard would give me good luck, and now
it _has_ given me better luck than he ever imagined."

Gentlemen must be careful not to make sport of and play tricks on poor


Trin or shtor beshes pauli kenna yeck o' the Petulengros dicked a boro
mullo baulor adree a bitti drum.  An' sig as he latched it, some Rommany
chals welled alay an' dicked this here Rommany chal.  So Petulengro he
shelled avree, "A fino baulor! saw tulloben! jal an the sala an' you
shall have pash."  And they welled apopli adree the sala and lelled pash
sar tacho.  And ever sense dovo divvus it's a rakkerben o' the Rommany
chals, "Sar tulloben; jal an the sala an' tute shall lel your pash."


Three or four years ago one of the Smiths found a great dead pig in a
lane.  And just as he found it, some Gipsies came by and saw this
Rommany.  So Smith bawled out to them, "A fine pig! all fat! come in the
morning and you shall have half."  And they returned in the morning and
got half, all right.  And ever since it has been a saying with the
Gipsies, "It's _all fat_; come in the morning and get your half."


Yeckorus a rye pookered a Rommany chal he might jal matchyin' 'dree his
panni, and he'd del lester the cammoben for trin mushi, if he'd only
matchy with a bongo sivv an' a punsy-ran.  So the Rom jalled with India-
drab kaired apre moro, an' he drabbered saw the matchas adree the panni,
and rikkered avree his wardo sar pordo.  A boro cheirus pauli dovo, the
rye dicked the Rommany chal, an' penned, "You choramengro, did tute lel
the matchas avree my panni with a hook?"  "Ayali, rya, with a hook,"
penned the Rom pale, werry sido.  "And what kind of a hook?"  "Rya,"
rakkered the Rom, "it was yeck o' the longi kind, what we pens in amandis
jib a hookaben" (_i.e_., huckaben or hoc'aben).

When you del a mush cammoben to lel matchyas avree tute's panni, you'd
better hatch adoi an' dick how he kairs it.


Once a gentleman told a Gipsy he might fish in his pond, and he would
give him permission to do so for a shilling, but that he must only fish
with a hook and a fishing-pole (literally, crooked needle).  So the Gipsy
went with India-drab (juice of the berries of _Indicus cocculus_) made up
with bread, and poisoned all the fish in the pond, and carried away his
waggonful.  A long time after, the gentleman met the Gipsy, and said,
"You thief, did you catch the fish in my pond with a hook?"  "Yes, sir,
with a hook," replied the Gipsy very quietly.  "And what kind of a hook?"
"Sir," said the Gipsy, "it was one of the long kind, what we call in our
language a hookaben" (_i.e_., _a lie or trick_).

When you give a man leave to fish in your pond, you had better be present
and see how he does it.


If you more the first sappa you dicks, tute'll more the first enemy
you've got.  That's what 'em pens, but I don't jin if it's tacho or
nettus.  And yeckorus there was a werry wafro mush that was allers
a-kairin' wafri covvabens.  An' yeck divvus he dicked a sap in the wesh,
an' he prastered paller it with a bori churi adree lester waster and
chinned her sherro apre.  An' then he rakkered to his kokerus, "Now that
I've mored the sap, I'll lel the jivaben of my wenomest enemy."  And just
as he penned dovo lav he delled his pirro atut the danyas of a rukk, an'
pet alay and chivved the churi adree his bukko.  An' as he was beshin'
alay a-mullerin' 'dree the weshes, he penned to his kokerus, "Avali, I
dicks kenna that dovo's tacho what they pookers about morin' a sappa; for
I never had kek worser ennemis than I've been to mandy's selfus, and what
wells of morin' innocen hanimals is kek kushtoben."


If you kill the first snake you see, you'll kill the first (principal)
enemy you have.  That is what they say, but I don't know whether it is
true or not.  And once there was a very bad man who was always doing bad
deeds.  And one day he saw a snake in the forest, and ran after it with a
great knife in his hand and cut her head off.  And then he said to
himself, "Now that I've killed the snake, I'll take the life of my most
vindictive (literally, most venomous) enemy."  And just as he spoke that
word he struck his foot against the roots of a tree, and fell down and
drove the knife into his own body (liver or heart).  And as he lay dying
in the forests, he said to himself, "Yes, I see now that it is true what
they told me as to killing a snake; for I never had any worse enemy than
I have been to myself, and what comes of killing innocent animals is
naught good."


Yeckorus there was a Rommany chal who was a boro koorin' mush, a surrelo
mush, a boro-wasteni mush, werry toonery an' hunnalo.  An' he penned
adusta cheiruses that kek geero an' kek covva 'pre the drumyas couldn't
trasher him.  But yeck divvus, as yuv was jallin' langs the drum with a
waver pal, chunderin' an' hookerin' an' lunterin', an' shorin' his kokero
how he could koor the puro bengis' selfus, they shooned a guro a-goorin'
an' googerin', an' the first covva they jinned he prastered like divius
at 'em, an' these here geeros prastered apre ye rukk, an' the boro
koorin' mush that was so flick o' his wasters chury'd first o' saw (sar),
an' hatched duri-dirus from the puv pre the limmers.  An' he beshed adoi
an' dicked ye bullus wusserin' an' chongerin' his trushnees sar aboutus,
an' kellin' pre lesters covvas, an' poggerin' to cutengroes saw he lelled
for lesters miraben.  An' whenever the bavol pudered he was atrash he'd
pelt-a-lay 'pre the shinger-ballos of the gooro (guro).  An' so they
beshed adoi till the sig of the sala, when the mush who dicked a'ter the
gruvnis welled a-pirryin' by an' dicked these here chals beshin' like
chillicos pre the rukk, an' patched lengis what they were kairin' dovo
for.  So they pookered him about the bullus, an' he hankered it avree;
an' they welled alay an' jalled andurer to the kitchema, for there never
was dui mushis in 'covo tem that kaumed a droppi levinor koomi than
lender.  But pale dovo divvus that trusheni mush never sookered he
couldn't be a trashni mush no moreus.  Tacho.


Once there was a Gipsy who was a great fighting man, a strong man, a
great boxer, very bold and fierce.  And he said many a time that no man
and no thing on the roads could frighten him.  But one day, as he was
going along the road with another man (his friend), exaggerating and
bragging and boasting, and praising himself that he could beat the old
devil himself, they heard a bull bellowing and growling, and the first
thing they knew he ran like mad at them; and these men hurried up a tree,
and the great fighting man that was so handy with his fists climbed first
of all, and got (placed) himself furtherest from the ground on the limbs.
And he sat there and saw the bull tossing and throwing his baskets all
about, and dancing on his things, and breaking to pieces all he had for
his living.  And whenever the wind blew he was afraid he would fall on
the horns of the bull.  And so they sat there till daybreak, when the man
who looked after the cows came walking by and saw these fellows sitting
like birds on the tree, and asked them what they were doing that for.  So
they told him about the bull, and he drove it away; and they came down
and went on to the alehouse, for there never were two men in this country
that wanted a drop of beer more than they.  But after that day that
thirsty man never boasted he could not be a frightened man.  True.


Yeckorus a tano mush kaired his cammoben ta trin juvas kett'nus an' kek
o' the trin jinned yuv sus a pirryin' ye waver dui.  An 'covo raklo
jivved adree a bitti tan pash the rikkorus side o' the boro lun panni,
an' yeck ratti sar the chais welled shikri kett'nus a lester, an' kek o'
the geeris jinned the wavers san lullerin adoi.  So they jalled sar-sigan
kett'nus, an' rakkered, "Sarshan!" ta yeck chairus.  An' dovo raklo
didn't jin what juva kaumed lester ferridirus, or kun yuv kaumed ye
ferridirus, so sar the shtor besht-a-lay sum, at the habbenescro, and yuv
del len habben an' levinor.  Yeck hawed booti, but ye waver dui wouldn't
haw kek, yeck pii'd, but ye waver dui wouldn't pi chommany, 'cause they
were sar hunnali, and sookeri an' kuried.  So the raklo penned lengis,
yuv sos atrash if yuv lelled a juva 'at couldn't haw, she wouldn't jiv,
so he rummored the rakli that hawed her habben.

All'ers haw sar the habben foki banders apre a tute, an' tute'll jal
sikker men dush an' tukli.


Once a young man courted three girls together, and none of the three knew
he was courting the two others.  And that youth lived in a little place
near the side of the great salt water, and one night all the girls came
at once together to him, and none of the girls knew the others were
coming there.  So they went all quick together, and said "Good evening,"
(sarishan means really "How are you?") at the same time.  And that youth
did not know which girl liked him best, or whom he loved best; so all the
four sat down together at the table, and he gave them food and beer.  One
ate plenty, but the other two would eat nothing; one drank, but the other
two would not drink something, because they were all angry, and grieved,
and worried.  So the youth told them he was afraid if he took a wife that
could not eat, she would not live, so he married the girl that ate her

Always eat all the food that people give you (literally share out to
you), and you will go readily (securely) through sorrow and trouble.


Yeckorus, most a hundred besh kenna, when mi dadas sus a chavo, yeck
ratti a booti Rommany chals san millerin kettenescrus pash the boro
panni, kun sar-sig the graias ankaired a-wickerin an' ludderin an'
nuckerin' an kairin a boro gudli, an' the Rommanis shuned a shellin, an'
dicked mushis prasterin and lullyin for lenders miraben, sa's seer-dush,
avree a boro hev.  An' when len san sar jalled lug, the Rommany chals
welled adoi an' latched adusta bitti barrels o' tatto-panni, an' fino
covvas, for dovo mushis were 'mugglers, and the Roms lelled sar they
mukked pali.  An' dovo sus a boro covva for the Rommany chals, an' they
pii'd sar graias, an' the raklis an' juvas jalled in kushni heezis for
booti divvuses.  An' dovo sus kerro pash Bo-Peep--a boro puvius adree
bori chumures, pash Hastings in Sussex.

When 'mugglers nasher an' Rommany chals latch, there's kek worser
cammoben for it.


Once almost a hundred years now, when my father was a boy, one night many
Gipsies were going together near the sea, when all at once the horses
began whinnying and kicking and neighing, and making a great noise, and
the Gipsies heard a crying out, and saw men running and rushing as if in
alarm, from a great cave.  And when they were all gone away together, the
Gipsies went there and found many little barrels of brandy, and
valuables, for those men were smugglers, and the Gipsies took all they
left behind.  And that was a great thing for the Gipsies, and they drank
like horses, and the girls and women went in silk clothes for many days.
And that was done near Bo-Peep, a great field in the hills, by Hastings
in Sussex.

When smugglers lose and Gipsies find, nobody is the worse for it.


{0a}  The reason why Gipsy words have been kept unchanged was fully
illustrated one day in a Gipsy camp in my hearing, when one man declaring
of a certain word that it was only _kennick_ or slang, and not
"Rommanis," added, "It can't be Rommanis, because everybody knows it.
When a word gets to be known to everybody, it's no longer Rommanis."

{1}  Lavengro and the Rommany Rye: London, John Murray.

{5}  To these I would add "Zelda's Fortune," now publishing in the
_Cornhill Magazine_.

{21}  Educated Chinese often exercise themselves in what they call
"handsome talkee," or "talkee leeson" (i.e., reason), by sitting down and
uttering, by way of assertion and rejoinder, all the learned and wise
sentences which they can recall.  In their conversation and on their
crockery, before every house and behind every counter, the elegant
formula makes its appearance, teaching people not merely _how_ to think,
but what should be thought, and when.

{24}  Probably from the modern Greek [Greek text], the sole of the foot,
_i.e_., a track.  Panth, a road, Hindustani.

{26}  Pott: "Die Zigeuner in Europa and Asien," vol. ii, p. 293.

{30}  Two hundred (shel) years growing, two hundred years losing his
coat, two hundred years before he dies, and then he loses all his blood
and is no longer good.

{32}  The words of the Gipsy, as I took them down from his own lips, were
as follows:--

"Bawris are kushto habben.  You can latcher adusta 'pre the bors.  When
they're pirraben pauli the puvius, or tale the koshters, they're kek
kushti habben.  The kushtiest are sovven sar the wen.  Lel'em and tove
'em and chiv 'em adree the kavi, with panny an' a bitti lun.  The
simmun's kushto for the yellow jaundice."

I would remind the reader that in _every instance_ where the original
Gipsy language is given, it was written down or _noted_ during
conversation, and subsequently written out and read to a Gipsy, by whom
it was corrected.  And I again beg the reader to remember, that every
Rommany phrase is followed by a translation into English.

{33}  Dr Pott intimates that _scharos_, a globe, may be identical with
_sherro_, a head.  When we find, however, that in German Rommany
_tscharo_ means goblet, pitcher, vessel, and in fact cup, it seems as if
the Gipsy had hit upon the correct derivation.

{34}  "Dovos yect o' the covvos that saw foki jins.  When you lel a wart
'pre tutes wasters you jal 'pre the drum or 'dree the puvius till you
latcher a kaulo bawris--yeck o' the boro kind with kek ker apre him, an'
del it apre the caro of a kaulo kosh in the bor, and ear the bawris
mullers, yeck divvus pauli the waver for shtar or pange divvuses the
wart'll kinner away-us.  'Dusta chairusses I've pukkered dovo to Gorgios,
an' Gorgios have kaired it, an' the warts have yuzhered avree their

{35}  Among certain tribes in North America, tobacco is both burned
before and smoked "unto" the Great Spirit.

{38}  This word palindrome, though Greek, is intelligible to every Gipsy.
In both languages it means "back on the road."

{53}  The Krallis's Gav, King's Village, a term also applied to Windsor.

{65}  Pronounced cuv-vas, like _covers_ without the _r_.

{70}  The Lord's Prayer in pure English Gipsy:--

"Moro Dad, savo djives oteh drey o charos, te caumen Gorgio ta Rommanny
chal tiro nav, te awel tiro tem, te kairen tiro lav aukko prey puv, sar
kairdios oteh drey o charos.  Dey men todivvus more divvuskoe moro, ta
for dey men pazorrhus tukey sar men for-denna len pazhorrus amande; ma
muck te petrenna drey caik temptaciones; ley men abri sor doschder.  Tiro
se o tem, mi-duvel, tiro o zoozlu vast, tiro sor koskopen drey sor
cheros.  Avali.  Tachipen."

Specimens of old English Gipsy, preserving grammatical forms, may be
found in Bright's Hungary (Appendix).  London, 1818.  I call attention to
the fact that all the specimens of the language which I give in this book
simply represent _the modern and greatly corrupted_ Rommany of the roads,
which has, however, assumed a peculiar form of its own.

{75}  In gipsy _chores_ would mean swindles.  In America it is applied to
small jobs.

{81}  Vide chapter x.

{83}  This should be _Bengo-tem_ or devil land, but the Gipsy who gave me
the word declared it was _bongo_.

{110}  In English: "Water is the Great God, and it is Bishnoo or Vishnoo
because it falls from God.  _Vishnu is then the Great God_?"  "Yes; there
can be no forced meaning there, can there, sir?  Duvel (God) is Duvel all
the world over; but correctly speaking, Vishnu is God's blood--I have
heard that many times.  And the snow is feathers that fall from the
angels' wings.  And what I said, that Bishnoo is God's Blood is old
Gipsy, and known by all our people."

{112}  "Simurgh--a fabulous bird, _a griffin_."--_Brice's Hindustani

{124}  Romi in Coptic signifies _a man_.

{127}  Since writing the above I have been told that among many Hindus
"(good) evening" is the common greeting at any time of the day.  And more
recently still, meeting a gentleman who during twelve years in India had
paid especial attention to all the dialects, I greeted him, as an
experiment, with "Sarisham!"  He replied, 'Why, that's more elegant than
common Hindu--it's Persian!"  "Sarisham" is, in fact, still in use in
India, as among the Gipsies.  And as the latter often corrupt it into
_sha'shan_, so the vulgar Hindus call it "shan!"  Sarishan means in
Gipsy, "How are you?" but its affinity with _sarisham_ is evident.

{133}  Miklosich ("Uber die Mundarten de der Zigeuner," Wien, 1872)
gives, it is true, 647 Rommany words of Slavonic origin, but many of
these are also Hindustani.  Moreover, Dr Miklosich treats as Gipsy words
numbers of Slavonian words which Gipsies in Slavonian lands have
Rommanised, but which are not generally Gipsy.

{171}  Fortune-telling.

{189}  In Egypt, as in Syria, every child is more or less marked by
tattooing.  Infants of the first families, even among Christians, are
thus stamped.

{206}  The Royston rook or crow has a greyish-white back, but is with
this exception entirely black.

{209}  The peacock and turkey are called lady-birds in Rommany, because,
as a Gipsy told me, "they spread out their clothes, and hold up their
heads and look fine, and walk proud, like great ladies."  I have heard a
swan called a pauno rani chillico--a white lady-bird.

{210}  To make skewers is a common employment among the poorer English

{213}  This rhyme and metre (such as they are) were purely accidental
with my narrator; but as they occurred _verb. et lit_., I set them down.

{218}  This story is well known to most "travellers."  It is also true,
the "hero" being a _pash-and-pash_, or half-blood Rommany chal, whose
name was told to me.

{219}  The reader will find in Lord Lytton's "Harold" mention of an Anglo-
Saxon superstition very similar to that embodied in the story of the
Seven Whistlers.  This story is, however, entirely Gipsy.

{221a}  This, which is a common story among the English Gipsies, and told
exactly in the words here given, is implicitly believed in by them.
Unfortunately, the terrible legends, but too well authenticated, of the
persecutions to which their ancestors were subjected, render it very
probable that it may have occurred as narrated.  When Gipsies were hung
and transported merely for _being_ Gipsies, it is not unlikely that a
persecution to death may have originated in even such a trifle as the
alleged theft of a dish-clout.

{221b}  Although they bear it with remarkable _apparent_ indifference,
Gipsies are in reality extremely susceptible to being looked at or
laughed at.

{235}  This story was told me in a Gipsy tent near Brighton, and
afterwards repeated by one of the auditors while I transcribed it.

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