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Title: A History of the Gipsies - with Specimens of the Gipsy Language
Author: Simson, Walter
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of the Gipsies - with Specimens of the Gipsy Language" ***

  |                       TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES                         |
  |                                                                   |
  | Typographical transcriptions:                                     |
  | italics in the original work are transcribed between underscores, |
  | as in _text_;                                                     |
  | small capitals in the original work have been transcribed in ALL  |
  | CAPITALS;                                                         |
  | breves and macrons are represented as [)x] and [=x], respectively,|
  | in which the x can represent any letter;                          |
  | the oe-ligature is transcribed as [oe].                           |
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  | Footnotes have been moved to underneath the paragraph they belong |
  | to, and indented to distinguish them from the main body of the    |
  | text.                                                             |
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  | The tables have been split or otherwise re-arranged to fit the    |
  | limited width.                                                    |
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  | More transcriber's notes may be found at the end of this text.    |

  Specimens of the Gipsy Language.




    "Hast thou not noted on the bye way-side,
    Where aged saughs lean o'er the lazy tide,
    A vagrant crew, far straggled through the glade,
    With trifles busied, or in slumber laid;
    Their children lolling round them on the grass,
    Or pestering with their sports the patient ass!
    The wrinkled beldame there you may espy,
    And ripe young maiden with the glossy eye;
    Men in their prime, and striplings dark and dun,
    Scathed by the storm and freckled with the sun;
    Their swarthy hue and mantle's flowing fold,
    Bespeak the remnant of a race of old.
    Strange are their annals--list! and mark them well--
    For thou hast much to hear and I to tell."--HOGG.




  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865,
  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
  the Southern District of New York.


  EDITOR'S PREFACE                                                 5

  EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION                                           27

  INTRODUCTION                                                    55

     I. CONTINENTAL GIPSIES                                       69

    II. ENGLISH GIPSIES                                           90

   III. SCOTTISH GIPSIES, DOWN TO THE YEAR 1715                   98

    IV. LINLITHGOWSHIRE GIPSIES                                  123

     V. FIFE AND STIRLINGSHIRE GIPSIES                           140

    VI. TWEED-DALE AND CLYDESDALE GIPSIES                        185

   VII. BORDER GIPSIES                                           236

  VIII. MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE CEREMONIES                          257

    IX. LANGUAGE                                                 281



  INDEX                                                          543

  [1] The Contents of these Chapters will be found detailed in the
  Index, forming an epitome of the work, for reference, or studying the
  subject of the Gipsies.

Ever since entering Great Britain, about the year 1506, the Gipsies have
been drawing into their body the blood of the ordinary inhabitants and
conforming to their ways; and so prolific has the race been, that there
cannot be less than 250,000 Gipsies of all castes, colours, characters,
occupations, degrees of education, culture, and position in life, in the
British Isles alone, and possibly double that number. There are many of
the same race in the United States of America. Indeed, there have been
Gipsies in America from nearly the first day of its settlement; for many
of the race were banished to the plantations, often for very trifling
offences, and sometimes merely for being by "habit and repute
Egyptians." But as the Gipsy race leaves the tent, and rises to
civilization, it hides its nationality from the rest of the world, so
great is the prejudice against the name of Gipsy. In Europe and America
together, there cannot be less than 4,000,000 Gipsies in existence. John
Bunyan, the author of the celebrated _Pilgrim's Progress_, was one of
this singular people, as will be conclusively shown in the present work.
The philosophy of the existence of the Jews, since the dispersion, will
also be discussed and established in it.

When the "wonderful story" of the Gipsies is told, as it ought to be
told, it constitutes a work of interest to many classes of readers,
being a subject unique, distinct from, and unknown to, the rest of the
human family. In the present work, the race has been treated of so fully
and elaborately, in all its aspects, as in a great measure to fill and
satisfy the mind, instead of being, as heretofore, little better than a
myth to the understanding of the most intelligent person.

The history of the Gipsies, when thus comprehensively treated, forms a
study for the most advanced and cultivated mind, as well as for the
youth whose intellectual and literary character is still to be formed;
and furnishes, among other things, a system of science not too abstract
in its nature, and having for its subject-matter the strongest of human
feelings and sympathies. The work also seeks to raise the name of Gipsy
out of the dust, where it now lies; while it has a very important
bearing on the conversion of the Jews, the advancement of Christianity
generally, and the development of historical and moral science.

  NEW YORK, _May 1st, 1866_.


This work should have been introduced to the world long ere now. The
proper time to have brought it forward would have been about twenty
years ago,[2] when the subject was nearly altogether new, and when
popular feeling, in Scotland especially, ran strongly toward the body it
treats of, owing to the celebrity of the writings of the great Scottish
novelist, in which were depicted, with great truthfulness, some real
characters of this wayward race. The inducements then to hazard a
publication of it were great; for by bringing it out at that time, the
author would have enjoyed, in some measure, the sunshine which the fame
of that great luminary cast around all who, in any way, illustrated a
subject on which he had written. But for Sir Walter Scott's advice--an
advice that can only be appreciated by those who are acquainted with the
vindictive disposition which the Gipsies entertain toward those whom
they imagine to have injured them--our author would have published a few
magazine articles on the subject, when the tribe would have taken alarm,
and an end would have been made to the investigation. The dread of
personal danger, there is no doubt, formed a considerable reason for the
work being so long withheld from the public: at the same time, our
author, being a timid and nervous man, not a little dreaded the spleen
of the party opposed to the literary society with which he identified
himself, and the idea of being made the subject of one of the slashing
criticisms so characteristic of the times. But now he has descended into
the tomb, with most of his generation, where the abuse of a reviewer or
the ire of a wandering Egyptian cannot reach him.

  [2] It has been brought down, however, to the present time.

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

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

It is almost unnecessary to give a reason why this work has been
introduced here, instead of the country in which it was written, and of
which, for the most part, it treats. Suffice it to say, that, having
come to this country, I have been led to bring it out here, where it may
receive, sooner or later, more attention from those at a distance from
the place and people it treats of, than from those accustomed to see and
hear of them daily, to many of whom they appear as mere vagabonds; it
being a common feature in the human mind, that that which comes
frequently under our observation is but little thought of, while that at
a distance, and unknown to us, forms the subject of our investigations
and desires.[3] In taking this view of the subject, the language of Dr.
Bright may be used, when he says: "The condition and circumstances of
the Gipsy nation throughout the whole of Europe, may truly be considered
amongst the most curious phenomena in the history of man." And although
this work, for the most part, treats of Scottish Gipsies, it illustrates
the history of the people all over Europe, and, it may be said, pretty
much over the world; and affords materials for reflection on so singular
a subject connected with the history of our common family, and so little
known to mankind in general. To the American reader generally, the work
will illustrate a phase of life and history with which it may be
reasonably assumed he is not much conversant; for, although he must have
some knowledge of the Gipsy race generally, there is no work, that I am
aware of, that treats of the body like the present. To all kinds of
readers the words of the celebrated Christopher North, as quoted in the
author's Introduction, may be addressed:

    "Few things more sweetly vary civil life
    Than a barbarian, savage Tinkler[4] tale."

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

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

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

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

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

The persecutions to which the Gipsies were exposed, merely for being
Gipsies, which their appearance would readily indicate, seem to have
induced the body to intermarry with our race, so as to disguise theirs.
That would be done by receiving and adopting males of our race, whom
they would marry to females of theirs, who would bring up the children
of such unions as members of their fraternity. They also adopted the
practice to give their race stamina, as well as numbers, to contend with
the people among whom they lived. The desire of having servants, (for
Gipsies, generally, have been too proud to do menial work for each
other,) led to many children being kidnapped, and reared among them;
many of whom, as is customary with Oriental people, rose to as high a
position in the tribe as any of themselves.[5]

  [5] Mr. Borrow labours under a very serious mistake when he asserts
  that "The unfounded idea, that Gipsies steal children, to bring them
  up as Gipsies, has been the besetting sin of authors, who have
  attempted to found works of fiction on the way of life of this most
  singular people." The only argument which he advances to refute this
  belief in regard to Gipsies, which is universal, is the following:
  "They have plenty of children of their own, whom they can scarcely
  support; and they would smile at the idea of encumbering themselves
  with the children of others." This is rather inconsistent with his own
  words, when he says, "I have dealt more in facts than in theories, of
  which I am, in general, no friend." As a matter of fact, children have
  been stolen and brought up as Gipsies, and incorporated with the

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

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

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

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

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

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

The origin of the Gipsies has given rise, in recent times, to many
speculations. The most plausible one, however, seems to be that they are
from Hindostan; an opinion our author supports so well, that we are
almost bound to acquiesce in it. In these controversies regarding the
origin of the Gipsies, very little regard seems to have been had to what
they say of themselves. It is curious that in every part of Europe they
have been called, and are now called, Egyptians. No trace can now be
found of any enquiry made as to their origin, if such there was made,
when they first appeared in Europe. They seem then to have been taken at
their word, and to have passed current as Egyptians. But in modern times
their country has been denied them, owing to a total dissimilarity
between their language and any of the dialects of modern Egypt. A very
intelligent Gipsy informed me that his race sprung from a body of men--a
cross between the Arabs and Egyptians--that left Egypt in the train of
the Jews.[6] In consulting the record of Moses, I find it said, in Ex.
xii. 38, "and a mixed multitude went up also with them" (the Jews, out
of Egypt). Very little is said of this mixed multitude. In Lev. xxiv.
10, mention is made of the son of an Israelitish woman, by an Egyptian,
being stoned to death for blasphemy, which would almost imply that a
marriage had taken place previous to leaving Egypt. After this
occurrence, it is said in Num. xi. 4, "and the mixed multitude that was
among them fell a lusting" for flesh. That would imply that they had not
amalgamated with the Jews, but were only among them. The Scriptures say
nothing of what became of this mixed multitude after the Jews separated
from them (Neh. xiii. 3), and leave us only to form a conjecture
relative to their destiny.

  [6] The intelligent reader will not differ with me as to the weight to
  be attached to the Gipsy's remark on this point.

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

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

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

This principle might even be urged further. If we consider the reception
which was given to the miracles of Christ as "a son over his own house,
and therefore worthy of more glory than Moses, who was but a servant,"
we will conclude that the miracles wrought by Moses, although personally
felt by the Egyptians, would have as little lasting effect upon them as
had those of the former upon the Jews themselves; they would naturally
lead to the Hebrews being allowed to depart, but would serve no purpose
of inducing the Egyptians to go with them. For if a veil was
mysteriously drawn over the eyes of the Jews at the advent of Christ,
which, in a negative sense, hid the Messiah from them (Mark iv. 11, 12;
Matt. xi. 25, 26; and John xii. 39, 40), how much more might it not be
said, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they
should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts," and
let the people of Israel go, "till they would thrust them out hence
altogether;" and particularly so when the object of Moses' mission was
to redeem the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, and spoil and smite
the Egyptians.

The only reasonable conclusion to which we can come, as regards a motive
for the "mixed multitude" leaving Egypt along with the Jews, is, that
being slaves like themselves, they took advantage of the opportunity,
and slipped out with them.[7]

  [7] Since the above was written, I have read Hengstenberg on the
  Pentateuch, who supposes that the "mixed multitude" were an inferior
  order of workmen, employed, like the Jews, as slaves, in the building
  of the pyramids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The discovery and history of barbarous races of men, besides affording
exquisite gratification to the general mind of civilized society, have
always been looked upon as important means toward a right understanding
of the history of our species, and the relation in which it stands
to natural and revealed theology; and in their prosecution have
produced, in latter times, many instances of the most indefatigable
disinterestedness and greatest efforts of true courage of which our
nature is capable; many, in the person of the traveller, philanthropist
and missionary, cheerfully renouncing in their pursuit every comfort of
civilized life, braving death itself in every variety of form, and
leaving their bones on the distant shore, or far away in the unknown
interior of the dreary continent, without a trace of their fate to
console those most dearly attached to them. The result of the
discoveries hitherto made has invariably confirmed the conclusions of a
few superior minds, formed without the assistance drawn from such a
source, that under whatever circumstances man is placed, and whatever
advantages he may enjoy, there is very little real difference between
the characters, intrinsically considered, of the savage and man in what
is considered a civilized community. There is this difference between
what may be called barbarism, not unfrequently to be met with in a
civilized community, springing from the depravity natural to man, and
what obtains in a barbarous tribe or nation as such, that, in the
former, it forms the exception; the brother, the father, or the son of
the person of it often exhibiting the most opposite nature and conduct;
while, in the latter, it forms the rule, and what the individual cannot,
in a sense, avoid. But, in making this distinction, is there nothing to
be found within the former sphere somewhat anomalous to the position
thus presented?

The subject of the following enquiry forms the exception, and from its
being the only instance to be met with in the history of Europe, it may
be said to merit the greatest consideration of the statesman, the
historian, the philosopher, and the Christian.

It does not appear possible, from the peculiar mould in which the
European mind has been cast, for it to have remained in that state of
immobility which, from the remotest antiquity, seems to have
characterized that of Asia; in which continent society has remained
torpid and inactive, contented with what it has inherited, without
making any effort at change or advancement. This peculiarity of
character, in connexion with the influences of the Christian religion,
seems to have had the effect of bringing about that thorough
amalgamation of races and ideas in the various countries of Europe in
which more than one people happened to occupy the same territory, or
come under the jurisdiction of the same government, when no material
difference in religion existed. In no country has such an amalgamation
been more happily consummated than in our own; if not altogether as to
blood, at least as to feeling, the more important thing of the two; the
physical differences, in occasional instances, appearing in some
localities, on the closest observation of those curious individuals who
make such a subject the object of their learned researches.

Notwithstanding what has been said, how does it happen that in Europe,
but especially in our own country, there exists, and has for four
hundred years existed, a pretty numerous body of men distinct in their
feelings from the general population, and some of them in a state of
barbarism nearly as great as when they made their appearance amongst us?
Such a thing would appear to us in no way remarkable in the stationary
condition so long prevalent in Asia; where, in the case of India, for
example, are to be found, inhabiting the same territory, a heterogeneous
population, made up of the remnants of many nations; where so many
languages are spoken, and religions or superstitions professed, and the
people divided into so many castes, which are separated from each other
on the most trivial, and, to Europeans, ridiculous and generally
incomprehensible points; some eating together, and others not; some
eating mutton, and others not; some beef and fowls, others vegetables,
milk, butter and eggs, but no flesh or fish; those going to sea not
associating with those remaining at home; some not following the
occupation of others; and all showing the most determined antipathy to
associate with each other;--where, from the numerous facilities so
essential toward the perpetuation of peculiar modes of life, and the
want of the powerful elements of assimilation and amalgamation so
prominent in our division of the human race, a people may continue in a
stereotyped state of mind and habits for an indefinite length of time.
But in a country that is generally looked upon as the bulwark of the
Reformation, and the stronghold of European civilization, how does it
happen that we find a people, resembling in their nature, though not in
the degree, the all but fabulous tribe that was lately to be found in
the dreary wastes of Newfoundland, flying from the approach, and
crossing the imagination of the fishermen like a spectre? Or like the
wild men of the jungle, in some of the oceanic parts of Asia, having no
homes, roaming during the dry season in the forests, and sleeping under
or on the branches of trees, and in the rainy season betaking themselves
to caves or sheltering beneath rocks, making their beds of leaves, and
living on what they can precariously find, such as roots and wild honey;
yet, under the influence of the missionary, many of them now raising
crops, building dwellings, erecting schoolhouses, keeping the Sabbath,
and praising God? But some of the Gipsies with us may be said to do few
of these things. They live among us, yet are not of us; they come in
daily contact with us, yet keep such distance from the community as a
wild fowl, that occasionally finds its way into the farm-yard, does in
shrinking from the close scrutiny of the husbandman. They cling like
bats to ruined houses, caves, and old lime-kilns; and pitch their tents
in dry water-courses, quarry-holes, or other sequestered places, by the
way-side, or on the open moor, and even on dung-heaps for the warmth to
be derived from them during the winter season, and live under the bare
boughs of the forest during the summer;--yet amid all this apparent
misery, through fair means or foul, they fare well, and lead what some
call a happy life; while everything connected with them is most
solicitously wrapt up in inscrutable mystery. These Gipsies exhibit to
the European mind the most inexplicable moral problem on record; in so
far as such phenomena are naturally expected to be found among a people
whom the rays of civilization have never reached; while, in the case of
the Gipsies, the first principles of nature would seem to be set at

    "And thus 'tis ever; what's within our ken,
    Owl-like, we blink at, and direct our search
    To fartherest Inde, in quest of novelties;
    Whilst here at home, upon our very thresholds,
    Ten thousand objects hurtle into view,
    Of interest wonderful."

But to give a fair description of the tented Gipsy life, I cannot employ
more appropriate language than that of Doctor Bright, when, in reference
to the English Gipsies, he says: "I am confident that we are apt to
appreciate much too lightly the actual happiness enjoyed by this class
of people, who, beneath their ragged tents, in the pure air of the
heath, may well excite the envy of many of the poor, though better
provided with domestic accommodation, in the unwholesome haunts of the
town. At the approach of night, they draw around their humble but often
abundant board, and then retiring to their tent, leave a faithful dog to
guard its entrance. With the first rays of morning, they again meet the
day, pursue their various occupations, or, rolling up their tents and
packing all their property on an ass, set forward to seek the delights
of some fresh heath, or the protection of some shaded copse. I leave it
to those who have visited the habitations of the poor, to draw a
comparison between the activity, the free condition, and the pure air
enjoyed by the Gipsy, and the idleness, the debauchery, and the filth in
which the majority of the poorer classes are enveloped."--"No sooner
does a stranger approach their fire on the heath, than a certain reserve
spreads itself through the little family. The women talk to him in
mystic language; they endeavour to amuse him with secrets of futurity;
they suspect him to be a spy upon their actions; and he generally
departs as little acquainted with their true character as he came. Let
this, however, wear away; let him gain their confidence, and he will
find them conversable, amusing, sensible and shrewd; civil, but without
servility; proud of their independence; and able to assign reasons for
preferring their present condition to any other in civilized society. He
will find them strongly attached to each other, and free from many cares
which too often render the married life a source of discontent."

In what direction may we look for the causes of such an anomaly in the
history of our common civilization? This question, however, will be
discussed by and by: in the meantime let us consider the fact itself.

In the early part of the fifteenth century there first appeared in
Europe large hordes of a people of singular complexion and hair, and
mode of life--apparently an Asiatic race--which, in spite of the
sanguinary efforts of the governments of the countries through which
they passed, continued to spread over the continent, and have existed in
large numbers to this day; many of them in the same condition, and
following the same modes of life, now as then; and preserving their
language, if not in its original purity, yet without its having lost its
character. This circumstance has given rise in recent times to several
researches, with no certain result, as to the country which they left on
entering Europe, and still less as to the place or the circumstances of
their origin. The latter is not to be wondered at, when it is considered
that, in the instances of even the most polished nations of antiquity,
nothing is to be found as to their origin beyond what is contained in
the myths and fables of their earliest poets and historians. But
considering the traces that have been left of the origin and early
history of the people and kingdoms of Europe, subsequent to the fall of
the Roman Empire, amid the barbarism and confusion attending their
establishment, and, in many respects, the darkness immediately and for a
long time following it, we would naturally think that, for an event
happening so recently as the fifteenth century, some reliable traces
would have been discovered and bequeathed to us on a subject that has
baffled the antiquarians of modern times.

If, however, there is any doubt as to the country which they left on
entering Europe, and their place of origin, there remains for us to
consider the people generally, and in an especial manner those who have
located themselves in Scotland; and give an account of their subsequent
history in its various aspects, and their present condition. But before
doing that, it would be well to take a general but cursory view of the
political as well as social condition of Europe at the time they made
their appearance in it, so as, in some measure, to account for the
circumstance of no trace being left of their previous history; form an
estimate of the relative position in which they have stood to its
general population since; and attempt to realize the feeling with which
they have always been regarded by our own people, so as to account for
that singular degree of dread and awe which have always been associated
with the mention of their name; the foundation of which has been laid in

That which most forcibly strikes the mind of the student, in reading the
history of the age in which the Gipsies entered Europe, is the political
turmoil in which nearly the whole of the continent seems to have been
embroiled for the greater part of a century. The desperate wars waged by
England against what has been termed her natural enemy, for the recovery
and retention of her ancient continental possessions, and the struggle
of the other for her bare existence; the long and bloody civil wars of
England, and the distracted state of France, torn with dissensions
within, and menaced at various points from without; the long and
fanatical struggle of religion and race, between the Spaniards and their
invaders, for the possession of the peninsula; the brave stand made by
the Swiss for that independence so much theirs by nature; the religious
wars of the Hussites, and the commotions throughout central Europe; the
perpetual internal feuds of the corrupt and turbulent southern
republics; the approaching dissolution of the dissolute Byzantine
empire; the appalling progress of that terrible power that had emerged
from the wilds of Asia, subdued the empire, and threatened Europe from
its vulnerable point; all these seem to have been enough to have
engrossed the mental energies of the various countries of Europe, and
prevented any notice being taken of the appearance of the race in

But over and above these convulsions, sufficient as they were to
exclusively engage the attention of the small amount of cultivated
intellect then in the world, there was one that was calculated even to
paralyze the clergy, to whom, in that age, fell the business of
recording passing events, and which seems to have prevented their even
taking notice of important matters in the history of that time. I mean
the schism that for so long rent the church into fragments, the greatest
schism, indeed, that the world ever saw, when, for so many years, two
and even three Popes reigned at once, each anathematizing and
excommunicating the other, for a schism which, after an infinity of
intrigues, was ultimately so happily patched up to the comfort of the
church. On the death of Urban V, Gregory XI became Pope, but soon after
died, and was succeeded by Urban VI; but the Cardinals, who were in the
French interest, after treating him as Pope for a short time, annulled
the whole proceedings, on the plea of having been constrained in the
election by the turbulence of the Roman populace, but really on account
of the extraordinary harshness with which he began his reign, and chose
one of themselves in his stead, under the name of Clement VII. The
former remained at Rome, and was supported by Italy, the Empire, England
and the North; while Clement proceeded to Avignon, and was acknowledged
by France, Spain, Scotland, and Sicily. Urban was respectively succeeded
by Boniface IX, Innocent VI, and Gregory XII; and Clement, at his death,
in 1394, by Benedict XIII, the most implacable spirit in prolonging the
schism, from whose authority France for a time withdrew, without
acknowledging any other head, but afterwards returned, at the same time
urging his resignation of the chair. At last the Cardinals, disgusted
with the unprincipled dissimulation of both, and at their wits' end in
devising a way to stay the scandal, and build up the influence of the
whole church, then so rapidly sinking in the estimation of the world,
amidst such unheard of calamities, deserted both, and summoned a
council, which met at Pisa, and in which both were deposed, and another,
in the person of Alexander V, elected to fill the chair. But in place of
proving a remedy, the step rendered the schism still more furious. After
that, John XXIII, successor to Alexander V, was reluctantly prevailed on
to call a council, which accordingly met at Constance, in 1414, but in
which he himself was deposed. Martin V being chosen, was succeeded by
Eugenius IV. But the Fathers of Basle elected Felix V, thus renewing the
schism, and dividing the church for some years, from France and the
Empire observing a neutrality, while England adhered to Eugenius, Aragon
and the smaller states to Felix; but the partisans of Felix gradually
losing their influence, Nicholas V, the successor of Eugenius, after
much cajolery, prevailed on him to resign his claim, and thus restored
peace to the world.

At that time the kinds of learning taught were, in the greater part of
Europe, confined to few, being almost entirely monopolised by the clergy
and a few laymen; by the former for the dogmatism of the schools and the
study of the canon law, and by the latter for civil jurisprudence and
medicine. Even the sons of nobles were generally wholly illiterate, one
of them, only, being educated, to act as the clerk of the family. We are
even told of a noble, when a conspiracy was detected, with the name of
his son attached to it, saying, "Thank God, none of my children were
ever taught to write." The great mass of the people, and especially
those of the lower classes, were as ignorant of direct educational
training as a tribe of semi-barbarians at the present day. Many of the
nobility, although as scantily educated as the lowest of our own people,
and having as much difficulty in inditing an epistle as some of these
would now have, would still admirably maintain their position in such a
state of society, by the influence which their high birth and breeding,
elevated bearing, superiority of character, and possession of domain,
gave them; and by the traditionary feudal awe that had sunk so deeply
into the feelings of their comparatively, and often absolutely, abject
dependents and followers, extending itself, when unaccompanied by overt
acts of oppression, to the inhabitants of the smaller towns, where so
many restraints surrounded their personal independence, from their
precarious modes of living, owing to all so much depending on each other
for a subsistence, and the endless jealousies prevailing among them.

At the same time all classes, although frequently possessing a
sufficiency, if not an abundance, of the rough necessaries of life,
enjoyed nothing of the comfort and elegancies of subsequent times. The
house of many a noble presented such a plainness in furnishing as a
person, in very moderate circumstances, would now be almost ashamed to
possess. The circumstances of the middle classes were much more lowly;
plain boards and wooden trenchers, few beds but many _shake-downs_,
rough stools and no chairs, with wonderfully few apartments relative to
the size of the family, and much sleeping on straw-heaps in the
_cock-loft_, marked the style of living of a class now deemed very
respectable. The huts of the poorest class were as often composed of
"sticks and dirt" as any other material, with _plenishing_ to
correspond. There was a marked exception to this state of comparative
barbarism to be found, however, in some of the cities of Italy, and
other parts of the Mediterranean, the seats of the flourishing republics
of the middle ages; arising not only from the affluence which follows in
the wake of extended commerce and manufactures, but also from the
feelings with which the wreck of a highly polished antiquity inspired a
people in whom the seeds of the former civilization had not died out;
heightened, as it must have been, by the influence of the once
celebrated, but then decaying, splendour which the court of the long
line of eastern emperors shed over the countries lying contiguous to it.
The inhabitants of the cities of the north, on the other hand, were
marked by a degree of substantial wealth and comfort, sense and ease,
civility and liberality, which were apt to distinguish a people situated
as they were, without the traditions and objects, meeting the eye at
every step in the south, of the greatest degree of culture in the polite
arts of life unto which a people can attain. But, with the exception of
the inhabitants of these cities, and some of those in a few of the
cities of western Europe, the clergy and some of the laity, the people,
as such, were sunk in deep ignorance and superstition, living in a state
of which, in our favoured times, we can form no adequate conception.
Then, life and property were held in little respect, and law trampled
upon, even if it existed under more than the shadow of its present form;
and no roads existed but such as were for the greater part of the year
impassable, and lay through forests, swamps and other uncultivated
wastes, the resorts of numerous banditti. Then, almost no intercourse
existed between the people of one part of a country and another, when
all were exceedingly sanguinary and rude.

What wonder, then, that, under such circumstances, the race in question
should have stolen into Europe unobserved, without leaving a trace of
the circumstances connected with the movement? The way by which they are
supposed to have entered Western Europe was by Transylvania, a
supposition which, if not true, is at least most likely. Although, when
first publicly taken notice of in Europe, they were found to move about
in large bands, it is unlikely that they would do that while entering,
but only after having experienced the degree of toleration and
hospitality which the representation of their condition called forth; at
least if we judge from the cunning which they have displayed in moving
about after their true character became known. Asia having been so long
their home, where from time immemorial they are supposed to have
wandered, they would have no misgiving, from their knowledge of its
inhabitants, in passing through any part of it. But in contemplating an
entry into Europe they must have paused, as one, without any experience
of his own or of others, would in entering on the discovery of an
unknown continent, and anxiously examined the merchants and travellers
visiting Europe, on the various particulars of the country most
essential to their prospects, and especially as to the characteristics
of the people. There seems no reason for thinking that they were
expelled from Asia against their will; and as little for supposing that
they fled rather than submit to a particular creed, if we judge from the
great readiness with which, in form, they have submitted to such in
Europe, when it would serve their purpose. The only conclusion, in
regard to their motive or migration, to which we can come, is, that
having, in the course of time, gradually found their way to the confines
of Western Asia, and most likely into parts of Northern Africa, and
there heard of the growing riches of modern Europe, they, with the
restlessness and unsettledness of their race, longed to reach the
Eldorado of their hopes--a country teeming with what they were in quest
of, where they would meet with no rivals of their own race to cross
their path. The step must have been long and earnestly debated, possibly
for generations, ere it was taken; spies after spies may have surveyed
and reported on the country, and the movement been made the subject of
many deliberations, till at last the influence, address, or resolution
of some chief may have precipitated them upon it, possibly at a time
when some accidental or unavoidable cause urged them to it. Nor would it
be long ere their example was followed by others of the tribe; some from
motives of friendship; others from jealousy at the idea of all the
imagined advantages being reaped by those going before them; and others
from the desire of revenging unsettled injuries, and jealousy combined.
After the die had been cast, their first step would be to choose leaders
to proceed before the horde, spy out the richness of the land, and
organize stations for those to follow; and then continue the migration
till all the horde had passed over. Considering that the representative
part of the Gipsies have retained their peculiarities almost
uncontaminated, it is in the highest degree probable, it may even be
assumed as certain, that this was the manner in which they entered
Europe: at first stragglers, with systematic relays of stations and
couriers, followed up by such small, yet numerous and closely following,
companies, as almost to escape the notice of the authorities of the
countries through which they passed; a mode of travelling which they
still pursue in Great Britain. But when any special obstacle was to be
encountered in their journey--such, for example, as the hostility of the
inhabitants of any particular place--they would concentrate their
strength, so as to force their way through. Their next step would be to
arrange among themselves the district of country each tribe was to
occupy. After their arrival, they seem to have appeared publicly in
large bands, growing emboldened by the generous reception which they met
with for some time after their appearance; and they seem to have had the
sagacity to know, that if they secured the favour of the great, that of
the small would necessarily follow.

But if the first appearance of the Gipsies in Europe had a different
complexion from what I have conjectured, there are other causes to which
may be attributed the fact of its not being known. Among these is to be
found the distracted state of the Eastern Empire in its struggles with
the Turks, which led to the capture of its capital, and the subversion
of the Greek rule in the East. The literary and other men of note,
scattered over the provinces, likely to chronicle such an event as the
appearance of the Gipsies, must necessarily have betaken themselves to
the capital, as each district submitted to the conquerors, and so lost
the opportunity of witnessing the migration, under such circumstances as
would have made it observable, assuming that the Gipsies travelled in
large companies, which, under all the circumstances of the case, was
not, on all occasions, likely. The surrounding countries having been the
theatre of so many changes in the history of the human family, and the
inhabitants having undergone so many changes of masters, leading to so
many distinct races, from the intellectual and cultivated Greek to the
barbarous Arab and dusky Moor, of so various hues and habits, many of
whom would be found in such a city as Constantinople, what peculiarity
was there about the Gipsies to attract the notice of the haughty Greek,
characterized as he was by all the feelings of disdain which his
ancestors displayed in not even naming the Jews and early Christians?
Then, if we consider the peculiar turn which the new-born literary
pursuits of learned men assumed during that age--how it was exclusively
confined to the restoration of the classics, and followed in Europe by
the influx of the Greeks during the troubles of their country, we will
find another reason for the manner of the first appearance of the
Gipsies not being known. Nor is it to be expected that any light would
be thrown on the subject by the memoirs of any of our own countrymen,
visiting the East at a time when so little intercourse existed between
the West and that part of the world; nothing perhaps beyond a commercial
or maritime adventurer, under the flag of another nation, or one whose
whole acquirements consisted in laying lance in rest and mounting the
breach in an assault; it being a rare thing even to see an English ship
in the Mediterranean during the whole of the fifteenth century.

That the Gipsies were a tribe of Hindoo _Sudras_, driven, by the cruelty
of Timour, to leave Hindostan, is not for a moment to be entertained;
for why should that conqueror have specially troubled himself with the
_lowest_ class of Hindoos? or why should they, in particular, have left
Hindostan? It would have been the _ruling_, or at least the _higher_,
classes of Hindoo society against which Timour would have exercised any
acts of cruelty; the _lowest_ would be pretty much beneath his notice.
Not only do we not read of such a people as the Hindoos ever having left
their country on any such account--for it is contrary to their genius
and feelings of caste to do so--but the opinion that the Gipsies left
India on Timour's account rests on no evidence whatever, beyond the
simple circumstance that they were first taken notice of in Europe
_about_ the time of his overrunning India. Mr. Borrow very justly
remarks: "It appears singular that if they left their native land to
escape from Timour, they should never have mentioned, in the western
world, the name of that scourge of the human race, nor detailed the
history of their flight and sufferings, which assuredly would have
procured them sympathy; the ravages of Timour being already but too well
known in Europe." Still, Mr. Borrow does not venture to give reasons for
the trustworthiness or untrustworthiness of a passage in Arabschah's
life of Timour, in which it is said that Gipsies were found in Samarcand
at a time before that conqueror had even directed his thoughts to the
invasion of India. The description given of these Zingari or Gipsies of
Samarcand is as applicable to the Gipsies as possibly can be; for in it
it is said, "Some were wrestlers, others gladiators, others pugilists.
These people were much at variance, so that hostilities and battling
were continually arising amongst them. Each band had its chief and
subordinate officers." How applicable this description is to the
Scottish Gipsies, down to so late a period as the end of last century!

If there is little reason for thinking that the Gipsies left India owing
to the cruelties of Timour, there is less for supposing, as Mr. Borrow
supposes, that their being called Egyptians originated, not with
themselves, but with others; for he says that the tale of their being
Egyptians "probably originated amongst the priests and learned men of
the east of Europe, who, startled by the sudden apparition of bands of
people foreign in appearance and language, skilled in divination and the
occult arts, endeavoured to find in Scripture a clue to such a
phenomenon; the result of which was that the Romas (Gipsies) of
Hindostan were suddenly transformed into Egyptian penitents, a title
which they have ever since borne in various parts of Europe." Why should
the priests and learned men of the east of Europe go to the Bible to
find the origin of such a people as the Gipsies? What did priests and
learned men know of the Bible at the beginning of the fifteenth century?
Did every priest, at that time, know there even was such a book as the
Bible in existence? The priests and learned men of the east of Europe
were more likely to turn to the eastern nations for the origin of the
Gipsies, than to Egypt, were the mere matter of the skill of the Gipsies
in divination and the occult arts to lead them to make any enquiry into
their history. But what could have induced the priests and learned men
to take any such particular interest in the Gipsies? When the Gipsies
entered Europe, they would feel under the necessity of saying who they
were. Having committed themselves to that point, how could they
afterwards call themselves by that name which Mr. Borrow supposes the
priests and learned men to have given them? Or, I should rather say,
how could the priests and learned men think of giving them a name after
they themselves had said who they were? And did the priests and learned
men invent the idea of the Gipsies being pilgrims, or bestow upon their
leaders the titles of dukes, earls, lords, counts and knights of Little
Egypt? Assuredly not; all these matters must have originated with the
Gipsies themselves. The truth is, Mr. Borrow has evidently had no
opportunities of learning, or, at least, has not duly appreciated, the
real mental acquirements of the early Gipsies, an idea of which will be
found in the history of the race on their first general arrival in
Scotland, about a hundred years after they were first taken notice of in
Europe, during which time they are not supposed to have made any great
progress in mental condition. I may venture to say that the prophecy of
Ezekiel,[8] in regard to the scattering of the Egyptians, does not apply
to the Gipsies, for this reason, that such of these Egyptians as were
_carried away captive_ would become lost among other nations, while the
"mixed multitude" which left Egypt with the Jews, travelled East, _their
own masters_, and became the origin of the Gipsy nation throughout the
world. If we could but find traces of an Egyptian origin among the
Gipsies of Asia, say Central and Western Asia, the question would be
beyond dispute. But that might be a matter of some trouble. I am
inclined to believe that the people in India corresponding to the
Gipsies in Europe, will be found among those tented tribes who perform
certain services to the British armies; at all events there is such a
tribe in India, who are called Gipsies by the Europeans who come in
contact with them. A short time ago, one of these people, who followed
the occupation of a camel driver in India, found his way to England,
and "pulled up" with some English Gipsies, whom he recognized as his own
people; at least he found that they had the ways and ceremonies of them.
But it would be unreasonable to suppose that such a tribe in India did
not follow various occupations. Bishop Heber, on several occasions,
speaks of certain tents of people whom he met in India, as Gipsies. But
I can conceive nothing more difficult than an attempt to elucidate the
history of any of the infinity of sects, castes, or tribes to be met
with in India.[9] What evidently leads Mr. Borrow and others astray, in
the matter of the origin of the Gipsies, is, that they conclude that,
because the language spoken by the Gipsies is apparently, or for the
most part, Hindostanee, therefore the people speaking it originated in
Hindostan; as just a conclusion as it would be to maintain that the
Negroes in Liberia originated in England because they speak the English

  [8] Ezek. xxix. 12,-14, and xxx. 10, 23, and 26.--The scattering of
  the Egyptians, here foretold, is a subject about which very little is
  known. Scott, in commenting on it, says: "History informs us that
  Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt, and carrying multitudes of prisoners
  hence, dispersed them in different parts of his dominions: and
  doubtless great numbers perished, or took shelter in other nations at
  the same time. But we are not sufficiently informed of the
  transactions of those ages, to show the exact fulfilment of this part
  of the prophecy, as has been done in other instances."

  The bulk of the Egyptians were doubtless restored to their country, as
  promised in Ezek. xxix. 13, 14, and it is not impossible that the
  Gipsies are the descendants of such as did not return to Egypt. The
  language which they now speak proves nothing to the contrary, as,
  since the time in question, they have had opportunities to learn and
  unlearn many languages.

  [9] Abbé Dubois says: "In every country of the Peninsula, great
  numbers of foreign families are to be found, whose ancestors had been
  obliged to emigrate thither, in times of trouble or famine, from their
  native land, and to establish themselves amongst strangers. This
  species of emigration is very common in all the countries of India;
  but what is most remarkable is, _that in a foreign land, these
  emigrants preserve, from generation to generation, their own language
  and national peculiarities_. Many instances might be pointed out of
  such foreign families, settled four or five hundred years in the
  district they now inhabit, without approximating in the least to the
  manners, fashions, or even to the language, of the nation where they
  have been for so many generations naturalized. They still preserve the
  remembrance of their origin, and keep up the ceremonies and usages of
  the land where their ancestors were born, without ever receiving any
  tincture of the particular habits of the countries where they
  live."--Preface xvii.

  At page 470, he gives an instance of a wandering tribe in the Mysore
  and Telinga country, originally employed in agriculture, who, a
  hundred and fifty years previously, took up their vagrant and
  wandering life, in consequence of the severe treatment which the
  governor of the province was going to inflict upon some of their
  favourite chiefs. To this kind of life they have grown so much
  accustomed, that it would be impossible to reclaim them to any fixed
  or sedentary habits; and they have never entertained a thought of
  resuming their ancient manners. They sojourn in the open fields, under
  small tents of bamboo, and wander from place to place as humour
  dictates. They amount to seven or eight thousand individuals, are
  divided into tribes, and are under the government of chiefs, and
  maintain a great respect for the property of others.

The leaders of the Gipsies, on the arrival of the body in Europe, and
for a long time afterwards, seem to have been a superior class to those
known as Gipsies to-day; although, if the more intelligent of the race
were observable to the general eye, they would, in many respects,
compare most favourably with many of our middle classes. If the leaders
of the Gipsies, at that time, fell behind some of even the nobility, in
the pittance of the education of letters which the latter possessed,
they made up for it in that practical sagacity, the acquisition of which
is almost unavoidable in the school in which, from infancy, they had
been educated--that of providing for the shifts and exigencies of which
their lives, as a whole, consisted; besides showing that superior
aptitude for many of the things of every-day life, so inseparable from
the success to which a special pursuit will lead. A Gipsy leader stood,
then, somewhat in the position towards a gentleman that a swell does
to-day; with this difference, that he was not apt to commit himself by
the display of that ignorance which unmasks the swell; an ignorance
which the gentleman, in spite of his little learning, no less shared in.
If the latter happened to be well educated, the Gipsy could still pass
muster, from being as well, or rather as ill, informed as many with whom
the gentleman associated. The Gipsy being alert, capable of playing many
characters, often a good musician, an excellent player at games of
hazard, famous at tale and repartee, clever at sleight of hand tricks,
ready with his weapon, at least in the boast of it, apt at field and
athletic sports, suspicious of everything and everybody around him, the
whole energies of his mind given to, and his life spent in,
circumventing and plundering those around him, while, in appearance,
"living in peaceable and catholic manner," and "doing a lawful
business," and having that thorough knowledge of men acquired by mixing
with all classes, in every part of the country--he became even more than
a match for the other, whose life was spent in occasional forays, field
sports and revellings, with so little to engage his intellectual nature,
from his limited education, the non-existence of books, and the forms of
government and social institutions, with those beautifully complicated
bearings and interests towards general society which the present age
displays. At such a time, conversation must have been confined to the
ordinary affairs of common life, the journal of much of which, beyond
one's own immediate neighbourhood, would be found in the conversation of
the accomplished Gipsy, who had the tact of ingratiating himself, in a
manner peculiar to himself, with all kinds of society, even sometimes
the very best. And it is remarkable that, when the Gipsies were
persecuted, it was seldom, if ever, at the instance of private
individuals, but almost always by those acting under authority. If they
were persecuted by a private individual, they would naturally leave for
another district, and place themselves, for a time, in the nominal
position of a clansman to such barons as would be always ready to
receive them. The people at large generally courted their friendship,
for the amusement which they afforded them, and the various services
which they rendered them, the most important of which was the safety of
property which followed from such an acquaintance. That being the case
even with people of influence, it may be judged what position the
Gipsies occupied towards the various classes downwards; the lowest of
which they have always despised, and delighted to tyrannize over. In
coming among them, the Gipsies, from the first, exhibited ways of life
and habits so dissimilar to those of the natives, and such tricks of
legerdemain so peculiar to Eastern nations, and such claims of seeing
into the future, as to cause many to believe them in league with the
evil one; a conclusion very easily arrived at, in the darkness in which
all were wrapped. Although the rabble of the Gipsies is said to have
presented, in point of accoutrements, a most lamentable appearance, that
could much more have been said of the same class of the natives, then,
and long after, if we judge of a Highland "tail," of a little more than
a century ago, as described by the author of Waverly; or even of the
most unwashed of what has been termed the "unwashed multitude" of
to-day. In point of adaptability to their respective modes of life, the
poorest of the Gipsies far excelled the others. To carry out the
character of pilgrims, the bulk of the Gipsies would go very poorly
dressed; it would only be the chiefs who would be well accoutred.

But the Gipsies that appear to the general eye have fallen much from
what they were. The superior class of Scottish Gipsies, possessing the
talents and policy necessary to accommodate themselves to the change of
circumstances around them, have adopted the modes of ordinary life to
such an extent, and so far given up their wandering habits, as to baffle
any chance of discovery by any one unacquainted with their history, and
who will not, like a bloodhound, follow them into the retreats in which
they and their descendants are now to be found. Such Gipsies are still a
restless race, and nourish that inveterate attachment to their blood
and language which is peculiar to all of them. When we consider the
change that has come over the face of society during the last hundred
years, or even during a much shorter time, we will find many causes that
have contributed to that which has come over the Gipsy character in its
more atrocious aspect. All classes of our own people, from the highest
to the lowest, have experienced the change; and nowhere to a greater
extent than in the Highlands, where, in little more than a hundred
years, a greater reformation has been effected, than took almost any
other part of the world perhaps three centuries to accomplish; and where
the people, as a body, have emerged, from a state of sanguinary
barbarism, into the most lawful and the most moral and religious
subjects of the British Empire. The Gipsies have likewise felt the
change. Even the wildest of them have had the more outrageous features
of their character subdued; but it is sometimes as an animal of prey,
sans teeth, sans claws, sans everything. Officials, in the zeal of their
callings, often greatly distress those that go about--compelling them,
in their wanderings, to "move on;" and look after them so closely, that
when they become obnoxious to the inhabitants, the offence has hardly
occurred, ere, to use an expression, they are snapped up before they
have had time to squeak. Amid such a state of things, it is difficult
for Gipsies to flourish in their glory; still, such of them as go about
in the olden form are deemed very annoying.

The dread which has always been entertained toward the Gipsies has been
carefully fostered by them, and has become the principal means
contributing to their toleration. They have always been combined in a
brotherhood of sentiment and interest, even when deadly feuds existed
among them; an injury toward one being generally taken up by others; and
have presented that union of sympathy, and lawless violence toward the
community, which show what a few audacious and desperate men, under such
circumstances, will sometimes do in a well regulated society. Sir Walter
Scott, relative to the original of one of his heroines, says: "She was
wont to say that she could bring, from the remotest parts of the island
friends, to revenge her quarrel, while she sat motionless in her
cottage; and frequently boasted that there was a time when she was of
still more considerable importance, when there were at her wedding
fifty saddled asses, and unsaddled asses without number." But of their
various crimes, none have had such terrors for the grown-up person as
those of fire-raising and child-stealing. The Gipsy could easily steal
into a well guarded but scattered premises, by night, and, in an
instant, spread devastation around him, and irretrievable ruin to the
rural inhabitant. But that which has, perhaps, contributed most to the
feeling in question, has been their habit of child-stealing, the terrors
of which have grown up with the people from infancy. This trait in the
Gipsy character has certainly not been so common, in latter times, as
some others; still, it has taken place. As an instance, it may be
mentioned that Adam Smith, the author of the great work called "An
Enquiry into the Causes of the Wealth of Nations," was actually carried
off by the Gipsies, when a child, and was some hours in their possession
before recovery. It is curious to think what might have been the
political state of so many nations, and of Great Britain in particular,
at the present time, if the father of political economy and free-trade,
as he is generally called, had had to pass his life in a Gipsy
encampment, and, like a white transferred to an Indian wigwam, under
similar circumstances, acquired all their habits, and become more
incorrigibly attached to them than the people themselves; tinkering
kettles, pots, pans and old metal, in place of separating the ore of a
beautiful science from the débris which had been for generations
accumulating around it, and working it up into one of the noblest
monuments of modern times.

When a child will become unruly, the father will often say, in the most
serious manner, "Mother, that canna be our bairn--the Tinklers must have
taken ours, and left theirs--are you sure that this is ours? Gie him
back to the Gipsies again, and get our ain." The other children will
look as bewildered, while the subject of remark will instantly stop
crying, and look around for sympathy; but meeting nothing but suspicion
in the faces of all, will instinctively flee to its mother, who as
instinctively clasps it to her bosom, quieting its terrors, as a mother
only can, with the lullaby,

    "Hush nae, hush nae, dinna fret ye;
    The black Tinkler winna get ye."[10]

  [10] The Gipsies frighten their children in the same manner, by saying
  that they will give them to the _Gorgio_.

And the result is, that it will remain a "good bairn" for a long time
after. This feeling, drawn into the juvenile mind, as food enters into
the growth of the body, acts like the influence of the stories of ghosts
and hobgoblins, often so inconsiderately told to children, but differs
from it in this respect, that what causes it is true, while its effects
are always more or less permanent. It has had this effect upon our
youth--in connection with the other habits of the people, so outlandish
when compared with the ways of our own--that should they happen to go a
little distance from home, on such expeditions as boys are given to, and
fall in with a Gipsy camp, a strange sensation of fear takes possession
of them. The camp is generally found to be pitched in some little dell
or nook, and so hidden from view as not to be noticed till the stranger
is almost precipitated into its midst ere he is aware of it. What with
the traditionary feeling toward the Gipsies, and the motley assemblage
of wild looking men, and perhaps still wilder looking women, ragged
little urchins, ferocious looking dogs, prepared for an assault with an
instinct drawn from the character of their masters, and the droll
appearance of so many _cuddies_ (asses,) startled in their
browsing--animals that generally appear singly, but, when driven by
Gipsies, come in battalions;--the boys, at first rivetted to the spot
with terror, will slip away as quietly as possible till a little way
off, and then run till they have either arrived at home, or come within
the reach of a neighbourhood or people likely to protect them, although,
it might be, the Gipsies had not even noticed them.[11] Curiosity is so
strong in our youth, in such cases, as often to induce them to return to
the spot, after being satisfied that the Gipsies have decamped for
another district. They will then examine the débris of the encampment
with a great degree of minuteness, wreaking their vengeance on what is
left, by turning up with their feet the refuse of almost everything
edible, particularly as regards the bones and feathers of fowl and game,
and, if it happened to be near the sea, crab, limpet, and whelk shells,
and heaps of tin clippings and horn scrapings. In after life, they will
often think of and visit the scenes of such adventures. At other times,
our youth, when rambling, will often make a detour of several miles, to
avoid falling in with the dreaded Gipsies. The report of Gipsies being
about acts as a salutary check upon the depredatory habits of the youth
of our country towns on neighbouring crops; for, as the farmers make up
their minds to lose something by the Gipsies, at any rate, the wholesome
dread they inspire, even in grown-up lads, is such as, by night
especially, to scare away the thieves from those villages, whose
plunderings are much greater, and more unwillingly submitted to, from
the closeness of residence of the offenders; so that the arrival of the
Gipsies, in some places, is welcomed, at certain times of the year, as
the lesser of two evils; and, to that extent, they have been termed the
"farmers' friends." And if a little encouragement is given them--such as
the matter of "dogs' payment," that is, what they can eat and drink, and
a mouthful of something for the _cuddy_, for the first day after their
arrival--the farmer can always enlist an admirable police, who will
guard his property against others, with a degree of faithfulness that
can hardly be surpassed. I heard of a Scottish farmer, very lately,
getting the Gipsies to take up their quarters every year on the corner
of a potato or turnip field, with the express purpose of using them, as
half constables half scare-crows, against the common rogues of the
neighbourhood. "Now," said he to the principal Gipsy, "I put you in
charge of this property. If you want anything for yourselves, come to
the barn." Whatever might have been the experience of farmers near by,
this farmer never missed anything while the Gipsies were on his

  [11] As children, have we not, at some time, run affrighted from a
  Gipsy?--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._

But a greater degree of awe is inspired by the females than the males of
the Gipsies. In their periodical wanderings, they will generally, with
their fortune-telling, turn the heads of the country girls in matters of
matrimony--setting them all agog on husbands; and render them, for the
time, of but little use to their employers. In teaching them the "art of
love," they will professedly so instruct them as to have as many lovers
at once as their hearts can desire. But if a country girl, with her many
admirers, has one to get quit of, who is "no' very weel faured, but a
clever fellow," or another, who is "no' very bright in the upper story,
but strapping enough to become the dish-clout," she will call in the
assistance of the strolling Gipsy; who, after carefully weighing the
circumstances of the case, will sometimes, after ordinary means have
failed, collect, unknown to her, a bucket full of everything odious
about a dwelling, wait at the back door the return of the rustic Adonis,
and, ere he is aware, dash it full in his face; then fold her arms
akimbo, and quietly remark, "That will cool your ears, and your courting
too, my man!" Such Gipsy women are peculiarly dreaded by the males of
our own people, who will much sooner encounter those of the other sex;
for, however much some of them may be satisfied, in their cooler
moments, that these Gipsy women will not attempt what they will
sometimes threaten, they generally deem them "unco uncanny," at any
time, and will flee when swearing that they will _gut_ or _skin alive_
all who may have anything to say to them.

To people unacquainted with the peculiarities of the Gipsies, it may
appear that this picture is overdrawn. But Sir Walter Scott, who is
universally allowed to be a true depicter of Scottish life, in every
form, says, in reference to the original of Meg Merrilies, in Guy
Mannering: "I remember to have seen one of her grand-daughters; that is,
as Dr. Johnson had a shadowy recollection of Queen Anne--a stately lady
in black, adorned with diamonds; so my memory is haunted by a solemn
remembrance of a woman, of more than female height, dressed in a long,
red cloak, who commenced acquaintance by giving me an apple, but whom,
nevertheless, I looked on with as much awe as the future Doctor could
look upon the Queen." And he approvingly quotes another writer, as to
her daughter, as follows: "Every week, she paid my father a visit for
her _awmons_, when I was a little boy, and I looked on her with no
common degree of awe and terror." The same feeling, somewhat modified, I
have heard expressed by Germans, Spaniards, and Italians. In England,
the people do not like to trouble the Gipsies, owing to their being so
"spiteful," as they express it. The feeling in question cannot well be
realized by people reared in towns, who have, perhaps, never seen
Gipsies, or heard much about them; but it is different with youths
brought up in the country. When the Gipsies, in their peregrinations,
will make their appearance at a farmer's house, especially if it is in
the pastoral districts, and the farmer be a man of information and
reflection, he will often treat them kindly, from the interest with
which their singular history inspires him; and others, not unkindly,
from other motives. The farmer's sons, who are young and hasty,
probably but recently returned from a town, where they have been jeered
at for their cowardice in being afraid to meddle with the Gipsies, will
show a disposition to use them roughly, on the cry arising in the house,
that "the Tinklers are coming." But the old father, cautious with the
teachings of years gone by, will become alarmed at such symptoms, and,
before the Gipsies have approached the premises, will urge his children
to treat them kindly. "Be canny now, bairns--be canny; for any sake
dinna anger them; gie them a' they want, and something more." With this,
a good fat sheep will sometimes be killed, and the band regaled with
_kail_, and its accompaniments; or, if they are very _nice gabbit_, it
will be served up to them in a roasted form. Thereafter, they will
retire to the barn, and start in the morning on something better than an
empty stomach.

And yet it is singular that, if the Gipsies are met in the streets of a
town, or any considerably frequented place, people will, in passing
them, edge off a little to the side, and look at them with a degree of
interest, which, on ordinary occasions, the Gipsies will but little
notice. But if a person of respectable appearance will scrutinize them
in an ominous way, they will observe it instantly; and, as a
swell-mobsman, on being stared at by a detective, on the mere suspicion
of his being such, generally turns the first cross street, and, in
turning, anxiously looks after his enemy, who, after calculating the
distance, has also turned to watch his movements, so the Gipsy will
become excited, soon turning round to watch the movements of the object
of his dread; a fear that will be heightened if any of his band has been
spoken to. And such is the masonic secrecy with which they keep their
language, that should they at the time have rested on the road-side, and
the stranger assume the most impressive tone, and say: "_Sallah, jaw
drom_"--(curse you, take the road), the effects upon them are at first
bewildering, and followed by a feeling of some dire calamity that is
about to befall them. When any of the poorest kind can be prevailed upon
to express a candid sentiment, and be asked how they really do get on,
they will reply, "It's only day and way we want, ye ken--what a farmer
body ne'er can miss; foreby selling a spoon, and tinkering a kettle now
and then."

In viewing the effects of civilization upon a barbarous race, we are
naturally led to confine our reflections to some of the instances in
which the civilized race has carried its influence abroad to those
beyond its pale, to the exclusion of those instances, from their
infrequency of occurrence, in which the barbarous race, of its own
accord or otherwise, has come within its circle. There are but two
instances, in modern times, in which the latter has happened, and they
are well worthy of our notice. The one is, the existence of the Gipsies,
in the very heart of civilization; the other, that of the Africans in
the various European settlements in the New World; and between these a
short comparison may be instituted, although at the risk of it being
deemed a digression.

The forcible introduction of barbarous men into the colonies of
civilized nations, in spite of the cruelties which many of them have
undergone, has greatly improved their condition--their moral and
intellectual nature--at the expense of the melancholy fact of it being
advanced as a reason of justification for that sad anomaly in the
history of our times. The African, it is admitted, was forcibly brought
under the influence of the refinement, religion, and morals of the
whites, whether as a domestic under the same roof, a field labourer, in
the immediate vicinity of the master, or in some other way under his
direct control and example. Not only was he, as it were, forced to
become what he is, but his obedient, light-hearted, and imitative
nature, even under many bodily sufferings, instinctively led him to
enter immediately into the spirit of a new life, presenting to his
barbarous imagination, so destitute of everything above the grossest of
animal wants and propensities, those wonderfully incessant and
complicated employments of a being, appearing to him as almost a god,
when compared with his own savage and unsophisticated nature. The
importations comprised Negroes of many dialects, which were distributed
on arrival in every direction. A large proportion would live singly with
the poorer classes of the colonists, as domestics; two or three would be
the limited number with many others, and the remainder would be disposed
of, in larger or smaller numbers, for the various services necessary in
civilized life. Single domestics would be under the necessity of
learning the language of the master; and, having none speaking their own
dialect to commune with, or only occasionally meeting such,
momentarily, they would soon forget it. When several of different
dialects lived together, they would naturally follow the same course, to
communicate with each other. All these circumstances, with the frequent
changes of masters and companions, and the general influence which the
whites exercised so supremely over them, have had the effect of almost
erasing every trace of the language, customs, and superstitions of
Africa, in parts of the United States of America, in little more than
one generation. The same may especially be said of what pertains to the
religious; for a race of men, in a state of nature, or but slightly
civilized, depending for such instruction on the adjunct of a superior
grade, in the person of a priest, would, on being deprived of such, soon
lose recollection of what had been taught them. Such an instance as to
language, and, I understand, to a great extent as to religion, is to be
found in St. Domingo; French and Spanish being spoken in the parts of
that island which belonged to these countries respectively. Still, such
traces are to be found in Cuba; but, were importations of Africans into
that island to cease, the same result would, in course of time, follow.
From such causes as those stated, the Negroes in the United States have,
to a very great extent, nay, as far as their advantages and
opportunities have gone, altogether, acquired the ways of civilized
life, and adopted the morals and religion of the white race; and their
history compares favourably with that of a portion of the Gipsy race,
which, being unique, and apparently incomprehensible, I will institute a
short enquiry into some of the causes of it.

While the language and common origin of the Gipsies hold them together
as a body, their mode of life has taken such a hold on the innate nature
of the representative part of them, as to render it difficult to wean
them from it. Like the North American Indians, they have been incapable
of being reduced to a state of servitude;[12] and, in their own peculiar
way, have been as much attached to a life of unrestricted freedom of
movement. Being an Oriental people, they have displayed the uniformity
of attachment to habit, that has characterized the people of that part
of the world. Like the maidens of Syria, wearing to-day the identical
kind of veil with which Rebecca covered herself when she met Isaac,
they have, with few exceptions, adhered to all that originally
distinguished them from those among whom they are found. In entering
Europe, they would meet with few customs which they would willingly
adopt in preference to their own. Their chiefs, being men of ambition,
and fond of a distinguished position in the tribe, would influence the
body to remain aloof from the people at large; and society being divided
between the nobles and their various grades of dependents, and the
restrained inhabitants of towns, with what part of the population could
the Gipsies have been incorporated? With the lowest classes only, and
become little better than serfs--a state to which it was almost
impossible for a Gipsy to submit. His habits rendered him unfit to till
the soil; the close and arbitrary laws of municipalities would debar him
from exercising almost any mechanical trade, in a way suitable to his
disposition; and, no matter what might have been his natural
propensities, he had almost no alternative left him but to wander,
peddle, tinker, tell fortunes, and "find things that nobody ever lost."
His natural disposition was to rove, and partake of whatever he took a
liking to; nothing coming so acceptably and so sweetly to him, as when
it required an exercise of ingenuity, and sometimes a degree of danger,
in its acquisition, and caused a corresponding chagrin to him from whom
it was taken, without affording him any trace of the purloiner. He must
also enjoy the sports of the river and lake, the field, hill and forest,
and the pleasure of his meal, cooked after his own fashion, in some
quiet spot, where he would pitch his tent, and quench his thirst at his
favourite springs. Then followed the persecution of his race; both by
law and society it was declared outcast, although, by a large part of
the latter, it was, from selfish motives, tolerated, and, in a measure,
courted. The Gipsy's mode of life; his predatory habits; his vindictive
disposition toward his enemies; his presumptuous bearing toward the
lower classes, who had purchased his friendship and protection; his
astuteness in doubling upon and escaping his pursuers; his audacity,
under various disguises and pretences, in bearding justice, and the
triumphant manner in which he would generally escape its toils; his
utter destitution of religious opinions, or sentiments; his being a
foreigner of such strongly marked appearance, under the legal and social
ban of proscription; and the hereditary name which has, in consequence,
attached to his race, have created those broad and deep-drawn lines of
isolation, fear and antipathy, which, in the popular mind, have
separated him from other men. To escape from the dreadful prejudice that
is, in consequence, entertained toward his race, the Gipsy will, if it
be possible, hide the fact of his being a Gipsy; and more especially
when he enters upon settled life, and mixes with his fellow-men in the

  [12] There is an exception, however, to this rule in the Danubian
  Principalities, to which I will again refer.

In the general history of Europe, we can find nothing to illustrate that
of the Gipsies. But if we take a glance at the history of the New World,
we will find, in a mild and harmless form, something that bears a slight
resemblance to it. In various parts of the eastern division of North
America are to be found remnants of tribes of Indians, living in the
hearts of the settlements, on reserves of lands granted to them for
their support; a race bearing somewhat the same resemblance to the
European settlers that the Gipsies, with their dark complexion, and
long, coarse, black hair, seem to have borne to the natives of Europe.
Few of these Indians, although in a manner civilized, and professing the
Christian religion, and possessing houses, schools and churches, have
betaken, or, if they support their numbers, will ever betake, themselves
to the ways of the other inhabitants. They will engage in many things to
make a living, and a bare living; in that respect very much resembling
some of the Gipsies. They will often leave their home, and build their
wigwams whenever and wherever they have a mind, and indulge in the
pleasures of hunting and laziness; and often make numerous small wares
for sale, with the proceeds of which, and of the timber growing on their
lots of land, they will manage to pass their lives in little better than
sloth, often accompanied by drunkenness. If it prove otherwise, it is
generally from the Indian, or rather half or quarter breed, having been
wholly or partly reared with whites, or otherwise brought up under their
immediate influence; or from the ambition of their chiefs to raise
themselves in the estimation of the white race, leading, from the
influence which they possess, to some of the lower grades of the tribes
following their example. It may be that the "poor Indian" has
voluntarily exiled himself, in a fit of melancholy, from the wreck of
his patrimony, to make a miserable shift for himself elsewhere, as he
best may. In this respect the resemblance fails: that the Indian in
America is aboriginal, the Gipsy in Europe foreign, to the soil; but
both are characterized by a nature that renders them almost impervious
to voluntary change. In this they resemble each other: that they are
left to live by themselves, and transmit to their descendants their
respective languages, and such of their habits as the change in their
outward circumstances will permit. But in this they differ: that these
Indians really do die out, while the Gipsies are very prolific, and
become invigorated by a mixture of the white blood; under the cover of
which they gradually leave the tent, and become scattered over and
through society, enter into the various pursuits common to the ordinary
natives, and become lost to the observation of the rest of the

The peculiar feeling that is entertained for what is popularly
understood to be a Gipsy, differs from that which is displayed toward
the Negro, in that it attaches to his traditional character and mode of
life alone. The general prejudice against the Negro is, to a certain
extent, natural, and what any one can realize. If the European has a
difficulty in appreciating the feeling which is exhibited by Americans
against the African, in their general intercourse of daily life, few
Americans can realize the feeling which is entertained toward the tented
Gipsy. Should such a Gipsy be permitted to enter the dwelling of a
native, the most he will let him come in contact with will be the chair
he will give him to sit on, and the dish and spoon out of which he will
feed him, all of which can again be cleaned. His guest will never weary
his patience, owing to the embodiment of restlessness which
characterizes his race; nor will his feelings ever be tried by his
asking him for a bed, for what the herb commonly called catnip is to the
animal somewhat corresponding to that word, a bundle of straw in an
out-house is to the tented Gipsy.


The new era which the series of splendid works, called the Waverly
Novels, created in literature, produced, among other effects, that of
directing attention to that singular anomaly in civilization--the
existence of a race of men scattered over the world, and known, wherever
the English language is spoken, as Gipsies; a class as distinct, in some
respects, from the people among whom they live, as the Jews at the
present day. The first of the series in which their singular characters,
habits, and modes of life were illustrated, was that of Guy Mannering;
proving one of the few happy instances in which a work of fiction has
been found to serve the end of specially stirring up the feelings of the
human mind, in its various phases, toward a subject with which it has a
common sympathy. The peasant and the farmer at once felt attracted by
it, from the dread of personal danger which they had always entertained
for the race, and the uncertainty under which they had lived, for the
safety of their property from fire and robbery, and the desire which
they had invariably shown to propitiate them by the payment of a species
of blackmail, under the form of kind treatment, and a manner of
hospitality when occasion called for it. The work at the same time
struck a chord in the religious and humane sentiments of others, and the
result, but a very tardily manifested one, was the springing up of
associations for their reformation; with comparatively little success,
however, for it was found, as a general thing, that while some of the
race allowed their children, very indifferently, even precariously, to
attend school, yet to cure them of their naturally wandering and other
peculiar dispositions, was nearly as hopeless as the converting of the
American Indians to some of the ways of civilized life. That general
class was also interested, which consist of the more or less educated,
moral, or refined, to whom anything exciting comes with relish. To the
historical student, the subject was fraught with matter for curious
investigation, owing to the race having been ignored, for a length of
time, as being in no respect different from a class to be found in all
countries; and, whatever their origin, as having had their nationality
extinguished in that general process which has been found to level every
distinction of race in our country. The antiquary and philologist, in
their respective pursuits, found also a sphere which they were unlikely
to leave unexplored, considering that they are often so untiring in
their researches in such matters as sometimes to draw upon themselves a
smile from the rest of mankind: and while the latter was thinking that
he had exhausted the languages of his native land, and was contemplating
others elsewhere, he struck accidentally upon a mine under his feet, and
at once turned up a specimen of virgin ore; coming all the more
acceptably to him, from those in possession of it keeping it as secret
as if their existence depended on its being concealed from others around
them. All, indeed, but especially those brought up in rural places, knew
from childhood more or less of the Gipsies, and dreaded them by day or
night, in frequented or in lonely places, knowing well that, if
insulted, they would threaten vengeance, if they could not execute it
then; which they in no way doubted, with the terror of doomed men.

Among others, I felt interested in the subject, from having been brought
up in the pastoral district of Tweed-dale, the resort of many Gipsies,
who were treated with great favour by the inhabitants, for many reasons,
the most important of which were the desire of securing their good-will,
for their own benefit, and the use which they were to them in selling
them articles in request, and the various mechanical turns which they
possessed; and often from the natural generosity of people so
circumstanced. My curiosity was excited, and having various sources of
information at command, I proceeded to write a few short articles for
Blackwood's Magazine, which were well received, as the following letters
from Mr. William Blackwood will show:

"I now send a proof of No. 2 Gipsy article. I hope you are pleased, and
will return it with your corrections on Monday or Tuesday. We shall be
glad to hear you are going on with the continuation, for I assure you
your former article has been as popular as anything almost we ever had
in the magazine."


"Your magazine was sent this morning by the coach, but I had not time to
write you last night. Mr. Walter Scott is quite delighted with the


"I am this moment favoured with your interesting packet. Your Gipsies,
from the slight glance I have given them, seem to be as amusing as

And again,

"It was not in my power to get your number sent off. It is a
very interesting one. You will be much pleased with Mr. Scott's
little article on Buckhaven, in which he pays you some very just

  [13] The following is the article alluded to: "The following enquiries
  are addressed to the author of the Gipsies in Fife, being suggested by
  the research and industry which he has displayed in collecting
  memorials of that vagrant race. They relate to a class of persons who,
  distinguished for honest industry in a laborious and dangerous
  calling, have only this in common with the Egyptian tribes, that they
  are not originally native of the country which they inhabit, and are
  supposed still to exhibit traces of a foreign origin. . . . . I mean
  the colony of fishermen in the village of Buckhaven, in Fife.
  . . . . .

  "I make no apology to your respectable correspondent for engaging him
  in so troublesome a research. The local antiquary, of all others,
  ought, in the zeal of his calling, to feel the force of what Spencer
  wrote and Burke quoted: 'Love esteems no office mean.'--'Entire
  affection scorneth nicer hands.' The curious collector who seeks for
  ancient reliques among the ruins of ancient Rome, often pays for
  permission to trench or dig over some particular piece of ground, in
  hopes to discover some remnant of antiquity. Sometimes he gets only
  his labour, and the ridicule of having wasted it, to pay for his
  pains; sometimes he finds but old bricks and shattered pot-sherds; but
  sometimes also his toil is rewarded by a valuable medal, cameo,
  bronze, or statue. And upon the same principle it is, by investigating
  and comparing popular customs, often trivial and foolish in
  themselves, that we often arrive at the means of establishing curious
  and material facts in history."

  This extract is given for the benefit of the latter part of it, which
  applies admirably to the present subject; yet falls as much short of
  it as the interest in the history of an Egyptian mummy falls short of
  that of a living and universally scattered race, that appears a riddle
  to our comprehension.

At the same time I was much encouraged, by the author of Guy Mannering,
to prosecute my enquiries, by receiving several communications from him,
and conversing with him at Abbotsford, on the subject.

I received a letter from Sir Walter, in which he says:

"This letter has been by me many weeks, waiting for a frank, and
besides, our mutual friend, Mr. Laidlaw, under whose charge my
agricultural operations are now proceeding in great style, gave me some
hope of seeing you in this part of the country. I should like much to
have asked you some questions about the Gipsies, and particularly that
great mystery--their language. I cannot determine, in my own mind,
whether it is likely to prove really a corrupt eastern dialect, or
whether it has degenerated into mere jargon."

About the same time I received the following letter from Mr. William
Laidlaw, the particular friend of Sir Walter Scott, and manager of his
estate at Abbotsford, as mentioned in the foregoing letter; the author
of "Lucy's Flittin," and a contributor to Blackwood:

"I was very seriously disappointed at not seeing you when you were in
this (part of the) country, and so was no less a person than the mighty
minstrel himself. He charged me to let him know whenever you arrived,
for he was very anxious to see you. What would it be to you to take the
coach, and three days before you, and again see your father and mother,
come here on an evening, and call on Mr. Scott next day? We would then
get you full information upon the science of defence in all its
departments. Quarterstaff is now little practised; but it was a sort of
legerdemain way of fighting that I never had _muckle broo of_, although
I know somewhat of the method. It was a most unfortunate and stupid
trick of the man to blow you up with your kittle acquaintances. I hope
they will forgive and forget. I am very much interested about the
language (Gipsy). Mr. Scott has repeatedly said, that whatever you hear
or see, you should _never let on to naebody_, no doubt excepting
himself. Be sure and come well provided with specimens of the vocables,
as he says he might perhaps have it in his power to assist you in your

Shortly after this, Sir Walter wrote me as follows:

"The inclosed letter has long been written. I only now send it to show
that I have not been ungrateful, though late in expressing my thanks.
The progress you have been able to make in the Gipsy language is most
extremely interesting. My acquaintance with most European languages, and
with slang words and expressions, enables me to say positively, that
the Gipsy words you have collected have no reference to either, with the
exception of three or four.[14] I have little doubt, from the sound and
appearance, that they are Oriental, probably Hindostanee. When I go to
Edinburgh, I shall endeavour to find a copy of Grellmann, to compare the
language of the German Gipsies with that of the Scottish tribes. As you
have already done so much, I pray you to proceed in your enquiries, but
by no means to make anything public, as it might spread a premature
alarm, and obstruct your future enquiries. It would be important to get
the same words from different individuals; and in order to verify the
collection, I would recommend you to set down the names of the persons
by whom they were communicated. It would be important to know whether
they have a real language, with the usual parts of speech, or whether
they have a collection of nouns, combined by our own language. I suspect
the former to be the case, from the specimens I have had. I should like
much to see the article you proposed for the magazine. I am not
squeamish about delicacies, where knowledge is to be sifted out and
acquired. I like Ebony's[15] idea of a history of the Gipsies very much,
and I wish you would undertake it. I gave all my scraps to the magazine
at its commencement, but I think myself entitled to say that you are
welcome to the use of them, should you choose to incorporate them into
such a work. Do not be in too great a hurry, but get as many materials
as you can."[16]

  [14] I sent him a specimen of forty-six words. [Many words used in
  Scotland, in every day life, are evidently derived from the Gipsy,
  owing, doubtless, to the singularity of the people who have used them,
  or the happy peculiarity of circumstances under which they have been
  uttered; the original cause of such passing current in a language, no
  less than that degree of personal authority which sometimes occasions
  them to be adopted. _Randy_, a disreputable word for a bold, scolding,
  and not over nicely worded woman, is evidently derived from the Gipsy
  _raunie_, the chief of a tribe of viragos; so that the exceptions
  spoken of are as likely to have been derived from the Gipsy as _vice

  [15] The name by which Mr. Blackwood was known in the celebrated
  Chaldee manuscript, published in his magazine.

  [16] Previous to this, Mr. Blackwood wrote me as follows: "I received
  your packet some days ago, and immediately gave it to the editor. He
  desires me to say that your No. 5, though very curious, would not
  answer, from the nature of the details, to be printed in the magazine.
  In a regular history of the Gipsies, they would, of course, find a
  place." This was what suggested the idea of the present work.

And again as follows:

"An authentic list of Gipsy words, as used in Scotland, especially if in
such numbers as may afford any reasonable or probable conjecture as to
the structure of the language, is a desideratum in Scottish literature
which would be very acceptable to the philologist, as well as an
addition to general history. I am not aware that any such exists, though
there is a German publication on the subject, which it would be very
necessary to consult.[17] That the language exists, I have no doubt,
though I should rather think the number to which it is known is somewhat
exaggerated. I need not point out to you the difference between the
_cant_ language, or _slang_, used by thieves or flash men in general,
and the peculiar dialect said to be spoken by the Gipsies.[18] The
difference ought to be very carefully noticed, to ascertain what sort of
language they exactly talk; whether it is an original tongue, having its
own mode of construction, or a speech made up of cant expressions,
having an English or Scotch ground-work, and only patched up so as to be
unintelligible to the common hearer. There is nothing else occurs to me
by which I can be of service to your enquiry. My own opinion leads me to
think that the Gipsies have a distinct and proper language, but I do not
consider it is extensive enough to form any settled conclusion. If there
occur any facts which I can be supposed to know, on which you desire
information, I will be willing to give them, in illustration of so
curious an enquiry. I have found them, in general, civil and amenable to
reason; I must, nevertheless, add that they are vindictive, and that, as
the knowledge of their language is the secret which their habits and
ignorance make them tenacious of, I think your researches, unless
conducted with great prudence, may possibly expose you to personal
danger. For the same reason, you ought to complete all the information
you can collect, before alarming them by a premature publication, as,
after you have published, there will be great obstructions to future
communications on the subject."

  [17] Grellmann. I am not aware that he ever compared the words I sent
  him with those in this publication, as he wrote he would do, in the
  previous letter quoted.

  [18] Throughout the whole of his works there does not appear, I
  believe, a single word of the proper Scottish Gipsy; although slang
  and cant expressions are to be found in considerable numbers. [Some of
  these are of Gipsy extraction.--ED.]

From what has been said, it will be seen that the following
investigation has had quite a different object than a description of the
manners and habits of the common vagrants of the country; for no
possible entertainment could have been derived from such an undignified
undertaking. And yet many of our youth, although otherwise well
informed, have never made this distinction; owing, no doubt, to the
encreased attention which those in power have, in late years, bestowed
on the internal affairs of the country, and the unseen, but no less
surely felt, pressure of the advancement of the general mass, and
especially of the lower classes of the community, forcing many of these
people into positions beyond the observation of those unacquainted with
their language and traits of character. When it is, therefore,
considered, that the body treated of, is originally an exotic,
comprising, I am satisfied, no less than five thousand souls in
Scotland,[19] speaking an original and peculiar language, which is
mysteriously used among themselves with great secrecy, and differing so
widely from the ordinary natives of the soil, it may well claim some
little portion of public attention. A further importance attaches to the
subject, when it is considered that a proportionate number is to be
found in the other divisions of the British Isles, and large hordes in
all parts of Europe, and more or less in every other part of the world;
in all places speaking the same language, with only a slight difference
in dialect, and manifesting the same peculiarities. In using the
language of Dr. Bright, it may be said, that the circumstance is the
most singular phenomenon in the history of man; much more striking,
indeed, than that of the Jews. For the Jews have been favoured with the
most splendid antecedents; a common parentage; a common history; a
special and exclusive revelation; a deeply rooted religious prejudice,
and antipathy; a common persecution; and whatever might appear necessary
to preserve their identity in the world, excepting an isolated
territorial and political existence.[20] The Gipsies, on the other
hand, have had none of these advantages. But it is certain that the
leaders of their bands, in addition to their piteous representations,
must have had something striking about them, to recommend them to the
favourable notice which they seem to have met with, at the hands of some
of the sovereigns of Europe, when they made their appearance there, and
spread over its surface. Still, their assumptions might, and in all
probability did, rest merely upon an amount of general superiority of
character, of a particular kind, without even the first elements of
education, which in that age would amount to something; a leading
feature of character which their chiefs have ever since maintained; and
yet, although everything has been left by them to tradition, the Gipsies
speak their language much better than the Jews.

  [19] There cannot be less then 100,000 Gipsies in Scotland. See
  Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

  [20] The following is a description of the Jews, throughout the world,
  as given by them, in their letters to Voltaire: "A Jew in London bears
  as little resemblance to a Jew at Constantinople, as this last
  resembles a Chinese Mandarin! A Portuguese Jew, of Bordeaux, and a
  German Jew, of Metz, appear two beings of a different nature! It is,
  therefore, impossible to speak of the manners of the Jews in general,
  without entering into a very long detail, and into particular
  distinctions. The Jew is a chamelion, that assumes all the colours of
  the different climates he inhabits, of the different people he
  frequents, and of the different governments under which he lives."

  These words are much more applicable to the Gipsy tribe, in
  consequence of their drawing into their body the blood of other

Gipsies and Jews have many things in common. They are both strangers and
sojourners, in a sense, wherever they are to be found; "dwelling in
tents," the one literally, the other figuratively. They have each
undergone many bloody persecutions; the one for his stubborn blindness
to the advent of the Messiah, the other for being a heathen, and worse
than a heathen--for being nothing at all, but linked with the evil one,
in all manner of witchcraft and sin. Each race has had many crimes
brought against it; the Gipsy, those of a positive, and the Jew, those
of a constructive and arbitrary nature. But in these respects they
differ: the Jew has been known and famed for doing almost anything for
money; and the Gipsy for the mere gratification of his most innate
nature--that of appropriating to himself, when he needs it, that which
is claimed by any out of the circle of his consanguinity. The one's soul
is given to accumulating, and, if it is in his power, he becomes rich;
the other more commonly aims at securing what meets his ordinary wants,
and, perhaps, some little thing additional; or, if he prove otherwise,
he liberally spends what he acquires. The Gipsy is humane to a stranger,
when he has been rightly appealed to; but when that circumstance is
wanting, he will never hesitate to rob him, unless when he stands
indebted to him, or, it may be, his immediate relations, for previous
acts of kindness. To indulge his hatred towards an enemy, a Jew will
oppress him, if he is his debtor, "exacting his bond;" or if he is not
his debtor, he will often endeavour to get him to become such, with the
same motive; or it may be, if his enemy stands in need of accommodation,
he will not supply his wants; at other times, if he is poor, he will
ostentatiously make a display of his wealth, to spite him; and, in
carrying out his vengeance, will sometimes display the malignity,
barring, perhaps, the shedding of blood, of almost every other race
combined. In such a case, a Gipsy will rob, burn, maltreat, maim, carry
off a child, and sometimes murder, but not often the two last at the
present day.[21] The two races are to be found side by side, in
countries characterized by almost every degree of climate and stage of
civilization, each displaying its peculiar type of feature, but
differing in this respect, that the Gipsies readily adopt others into
their tribe, at such a tender age as to secure an infallible attachment
to their race and habits. This circumstance has produced, in many
instances, a change in the colour of the hair and eyes of the
descendants of those adopted. In some such cases, it requires an
intimate knowledge of the body, to detect the peculiarity common to all,
and especially in those who have conformed to the ways of the other
inhabitants. In this they agree--that they despise and hate, and are
despised and hated by, those among whom they live. But in this they
differ--that the Jew entered Europe, as it were, singly and by stealth,
pursuing pretty much the avocations he yet follows; but the Gipsies, in
bands, and openly, although they were forced to betake themselves to
places of retreat, and break up into smaller bands. It is true that the
Jew was driven from his home eighteen centuries ago, and that it is not
yet five since the Gipsy appeared in Europe. We know who the Jew is, and
something of the providence and circumstances under which he suffers,
and what future awaits him; but who is this singular and unfortunate
exile, whose origin and cause of banishment none can comprehend--who is
this wandering Gipsy?

  [21] This, I need hardly say, is a description of what may be called a
  _wild_ Gipsy.--ED.

After the receipt of the second of Sir Walter Scott's letters, already
alluded to, I discontinued the few short articles I had written for
Blackwood, on the Fifeshire Gipsies; but I have incorporated the most
interesting part of them into the work, forming, however, only a small
part of the whole. Since it was written, I have seen Mr. Borrow on the
Gipsies in Spain, and the short report of the Rev. Mr. Baird, to the
Scottish Church Society; the latter printed in 1840, and the former in
1841. The _Gitanos_ in Spain and the _Tinklers_ in Scotland are, in
almost every particular, the same people, while the Yetholm Gipsy words
in Mr. Baird's report and those collected by me, for the most part,
between the years 1817 and 1831, are word for word the same.

In submitting this work to the public, I deem it necessary to say a word
or two as to the authorities upon which the facts contained in it rest.
My authorities for those under the heads of Fife and Linlithgowshire
Gipsies, were aged and creditable persons, who had been eye-witnesses to
the greater part of the transactions; in some cases, the particulars
were quite current in their time. The details under the head of Gipsies
who frequented Tweed-dale, Ettrick Forest, Annandale, and the upper ward
of Lanarkshire, were chiefly derived from the memories of some of my
relatives, and other individuals of credit, who had many opportunities
of observing the manners of these wanderers, in the South of Scotland,
the greater number being confirmed by the Gipsies, on being
interrogated. The particulars under the head of the ceremonies of
marriage and divorce, and the sacrifice of horses, were related by
Gipsies, and confirmed by other undoubted testimony, as will appear in
detail. Almost every recent occurrence and matter relative to the
present condition, employment, and number of the body, is the result of
my own personal enquiries and observations, while the whole specimens of
the language, and the facts immediately connected therewith, were
written down, with my own hand, from the mouths of the Gipsies
themselves, and confirmed, at intervals, by others. Indeed, my chief
object has been to produce facts from an original source, in Scotland,
as far as respects manners, customs, and language, for the purpose of
ascertaining the origin of this mysterious race, and the country from
which they have migrated; and the result, to my mind, is a complete
confirmation of Grellmann, Hoyland, and Bright, that they are from

In writing the history of any barbarous race, if history it can be
called, the field for our observation must necessarily be very limited.
This may especially be said of a people like the Gipsies; for, having,
as a people, neither literature, records, nor education,[22] all that
can be drawn together of their history, from themselves, must be
confined to that of the present, or of such time as the freshness of
their tradition may suffice to illustrate; unless it be a few precarious
notices of them, that may have been elicited from their having come, it
may be, in violent contact with their civilized neighbours around them.
In attempting such a work, in connection with so singular a people, the
difficulties in the way of succeeding in it are extraordinarily great,
as the reader may have perceived, from what has already been written,
and as the "blowing up," alluded to in Mr. Laidlaw's letter, will
illustrate, and which was as follows:

  [22] There are, comparatively speaking, few Gipsies in Scotland that
  have not some education, in common with the ordinary natives of the
  soil; but the same cannot be said of England.--ED.

I had obtained some of the Gipsy language from a principal family of the
tribe, on condition of not publishing names, or place of residence; and,
at many miles' distance, I had also obtained some particulars relative
to the customs and manners of the race, from a highly respectable
farmer, in the south of Scotland. At his farm, the family alluded to
always took up their quarters, in their periodical journeys through the
country. The farmer, without ever thinking of the consequences, told
them that I was collecting materials for a publication on the Tinklers,
in Scotland, and that everything relative to their tribe would be given
to the world. The aged chief of the family was thrown into the greatest
distress, at the idea of the name and residence of himself and family
being made public. I received a letter from the family, deeply lamenting
that they had ever communicated a word to me relative to their language,
and stating that the old man was like to break his heart, at his own
imprudence, being in agony at the thought of his language being
published to the world. I assured them, however, that they had no cause
for fear, as I had never so much as mentioned their names to their
friend, the farmer, and that I would strictly adhere to the promise I
had given them. This was one of the many instances in which I was
obstructed in my labours, for, however cautious I might personally be,
others, who became in some way or other acquainted with my object, were,
from inconsiderate meddling, the cause of many difficulties being thrown
in my way, and the consequent loss of much interesting information. But
for this unfortunate circumstance, I am sanguine, from the method I took
in managing the Gipsies, I would have been able to collect songs, and
sentences of their language, and much more information than what has
been procured, at whatever value the reader may estimate that; for the
Gipsies are always more or less in communication with each other, in
their various divisions of the country, especially when threatened with
anything deemed dangerous, which they circulate among themselves with
astonishing celerity.

Professor Wilson, in a poetical notice of Blackwood's Magazine, writes:

    "Few things more sweetly vary civil life
      Than a barbarian, savage Tinkler tale;
    Our friend, who on the Gipsies writes in Fife,
      We verily believe promotes our sale."

And, in revising his works, in 1831, Sir Walter Scott, in a note to
Quentin Durward, says, relative to the present work:

"It is natural to suppose, the band, (Gipsy), as it now exists, is much
mingled with Europeans; but most of these have been brought up from
childhood among them, and learned all their practices. . . . When they
are in closest contact with the ordinary peasants around them, they
still keep their language a mystery. There is little doubt, however,
that it is a dialect of the Hindostanee, from the specimens produced by
Grellmann, Hoyland, and others who have written on the subject. But the
author, (continues Sir Walter,) has, besides their authority, personal
occasion to know, that an individual, out of mere curiosity, and
availing himself, with patience and assiduity, of such opportunities as
offered, has made himself capable of conversing with any Gipsy whom he
meets, or can, like the royal Hal, drink with any tinker, in his own
language.[23] The astonishment excited among these vagrants, on finding
a stranger participant of their mystery, occasions very ludicrous
scenes. It is to be hoped this gentleman will publish the knowledge he
possesses on so singular a topic. There are prudential reasons for
postponing this disclosure at present, for, although much more
reconciled to society since they have been less the objects of legal
persecution, the Gipsies are still a ferocious and vindictive

  [23] Allowance must be made for the enthusiasm of the novelist.

  [24] Abbotsford, 1st Dec., 1831.



Before giving an account of the Gipsies in Scotland, I shall, by way of
introduction, briefly notice the periods of time at which they were
observed in the different states on the continent of Europe, and point
out the different periods at which their governments found it necessary
to expel them from their respective territories. I shall also add a few
facts illustrative of the manners of the continental tribes, for the
purpose of showing that those in Scotland, England, and Ireland, are all
branches of the same stock. I shall, likewise, add a few facts
illustrative of the tribe who found their way into England. I am
indebted for my information on the early history of the continental
Gipsies, chiefly to the works of Grellmann, Hoyland and Bright.

It appears that none of these wanderers had been seen in Christendom
before the year 1400.[25] But, in the beginning of the fifteenth
century, this people first attracted notice, and, within a few years
after their arrival, had spread themselves over the whole continent. The
earliest mention which is made of them, was in the years 1414 and 1417,
when they were observed in Germany. In 1418, they were found in
Switzerland; in 1422, in Italy; in 1427, they are mentioned as being in
the neighbourhood of Paris; and about the same time, in Spain.[26]

  [25] Sir Thomas Brown's vulgar errors.

  [26] Bright's travels in Hungary.

They seem to have received various appellations. In France, they were
called _Bohemians_; in Holland, _Heydens_--heathens; in some parts of
Germany, and in Sweden and Denmark, they were thought to be _Tartars_;
but over Germany, in general, they were called _Zigeuners_, a word which
means wanderers up and down. In Portugal, they received the name of
_Siganos_; in Spain, _Gitanos_; and in Italy, _Cingari_. They were also
called in Italy, Hungary, and Germany, _Tziganys_; and in Transylvania,
_Cyganis_. Among the Turks, and other eastern nations, they were
denominated _Tschingenes_; but the Moors and Arabians applied to them,
perhaps, the most just appellation of any--_Charami_, robbers.[27]

  [27] Hoyland's historical survey of the Gipsies.

"When they arrived at Paris, 17th August, 1427, nearly all of them had
their ears bored, with one or two silver rings in each, which, they
said, were esteemed ornaments in their country. The men were black,
their hair curled; the women remarkably black, and all their faces
scarred."[28] Dr. Hurd, in his account of the different religions of the
world, says, that the hair of these men was "frizzled," and that some of
the women were witches, and "had hair like a horse's tail." It is, I
think, to be inferred from this passage, that the men had designedly
curled their hair, and that the hair of the females was long and
coarse--not the short, woolly hair of the African. I have, myself, seen
English female Gipsies with hair as long, coarse, and thick as a black
horse's tail.

  [28] Ibid.

"At the time of the first appearance of the Gipsies, no certain
information seems to have been obtained as to the country from which
they came. It is, however, supposed that they entered Europe in the
south-east, probably through Transylvania. At first, they represented
themselves as Egyptian pilgrims, and, under that character, obtained
considerable respect during half a century; being favoured by different
potentates with passports, and letters of security. Gradually, however,
they really became, or were fancied, troublesome, and Italy, Sweden,
Denmark and Germany, successively attempted their expulsion, in the
sixteenth century."[29]

  [29] Bright.

With the exception of Hungary and Transylvania, it is believed that
every state in Europe attempted either their expulsion or extermination;
but, notwithstanding the dreadful severity of the numerous laws and
edicts promulgated against them, they remained in every part of Europe,
in defiance of every effort made by their respective governments to get
rid of their unwelcome guests.

"German writers say that King Ferdinand of Spain, who esteemed it a good
work to expatriate useful and profitable subjects--Jews, and even
Moorish families--could much less be guilty of an impropriety, in laying
hands on the mischievous progeny of Gipsies. The edict for their
extermination was published in the year 1492. But, instead of passing
the boundaries, they only slunk into hiding places, and shortly after
appeared in as great numbers as before. The Emperor, Charles V,
persecuted them afresh; as did Philip II. Since that time, they nestled
in again, and were threatened with another storm, but it blew over
without taking effect.

"In France, Francis I passed an edict for their expulsion, and at the
assembly of the states of Orleans, in 1561, all governors of cities
received orders to drive them out with fire and sword. Nevertheless, in
process of time, they collected again, and encreased to such a degree
that, in 1612, a new order came out for their extermination. In the year
1572, they were compelled to retire from the territories of Milan and
Parma; and, at a period somewhat earlier, they were chased beyond the
Venetian jurisdiction.

"They were not allowed the privilege of remaining in Denmark, as the
code of Danish law specifies: 'The Tartar Gipsies, who wander about
everywhere, doing great damage to the people, by their lies, thefts and
witchcraft, shall be taken into custody by every magistrate.' Sweden was
not more favourable, having attacked them at three different times. A
very sharp order for their expulsion came out in 1662. The diet of 1723
published a second; and that of 1727 repeated the foregoing, with
additional severity.

"They were excluded from the Netherlands, under the pain of death, by
Charles V, and afterwards, by the United States, in 1582. But the
greatest number of sentences of exile have been pronounced against them
in Germany. The beginning was made under Maximilian I, at the Augsburg
Diet, in 1500; and the same business occupied the attention of the Diet
in 1530, 1544, 1548, and 1551; and was also again enforced, in the
improved police regulations of Frankfort, in 1577."[30] The Germans
entertained the notion that the Gipsies were spies for the Turks. They
were not allowed to pass through, remain, or trade within the Empire.
They were ordered to quit entirely the German dominions, by a certain
day, and whoever injured them, after that period, was considered to have
committed no crime.

  [30] Hoyland.

"But a general extermination never did happen, for the law banishing
them passed in one state before it was thought of in the next, or when a
like order had long become obsolete, and sunk into oblivion. These
undesirable guests were, therefore, merely compelled to shift their
quarters to an adjoining state, where they remained till the government
began to clear them away, upon which the fugitives either retired whence
they came, or went on progressively to a third place--thus making a
continual circle."[31]

  [31] Grellmann.

That almost the whole of Christendom had been so provoked by the conduct
of the Gipsies as to have attempted their expulsion, or rather their
extermination, merely because they were jugglers, fortune-tellers,
astrologers, warlocks, witches and impostors, is a thing not for a
moment to be supposed. I am inclined to believe that the true cause of
the promulgation of the excessively sanguinary laws and edicts, for the
extermination of the whole Gipsy nation in Europe, must be looked for in
much more serious crimes than those mentioned; and that these greater
offences can be no other than theft and robbery, and living upon the
inhabitants of the countries through which they travelled, at free
quarters, or what we, in Scotland, call sorning.[32] But, on the other
hand, I am convinced that the Gipsies have committed few murders on
individuals _out_ of their own tribe. As far as our authorities go, the
general character of these people seems to have been the same, wherever
they have made their appearance on the face of the earth; and the chief
and leading feature of that extraordinary character appears to me to
have been, in general, an hereditary propensity to theft and robbery, in
men, women and children.

  [32] Dr. Hurd says, at page 785, "Our over credulous ancestors vainly
  imagined that those Gipsies or Bohemians were so many spies for the
  Turks; and that, in order to expiate the crimes which they had
  committed in their own country, they were condemned to steal from and
  rob the Christians."

  [Living at free quarters by force, or masterful begging, or "sorning,"
  is surely a trifling, though troublesome, offence for the original
  condition of a wandering tribe, which has so progressed as, at the
  present day, to fill some of the first positions in Scotland.--ED.]

In whatever country we find the Gipsies, their manners, habits, and cast
of features are uniformly the same. Their occupations are in every
respect the same. They were, on the continent, horse-dealers,
innkeepers, workers in iron, musicians, astrologers, jugglers, and
fortune-tellers by palmistry. They are also accused of cheating, lying,
and witchcraft, and, in general, charged with being thieves and robbers.
They roam up and down the country, without any fixed habitations, living
in tents, and hawking small trifles of merchandise for the use of the
people among whom they travel. The whole race were great frequenters of
fairs. They seldom formed matrimonial alliances out of their own
tribe.[33] It will be seen, in another part of this work, that the
language of the continental Gipsies is the same as that of those in
Scotland, England and Ireland. As to the religious opinions of the
continental Gipsies, they appear to have had none at all. It is said
they were "worse than heathens." "It is, in reality," says Twiss,
"almost absurd to talk of the religion of this set of people, whose
moral characters are so depraved as to make it evident they believe in
nothing capable of being a check to their passions." "Indeed," adds
Hoyland, "it is asserted that no Gipsy has any idea of submission to any
fixed profession of faith." It appears to me that, to secure to
themselves protection from the different governments, they only
conformed outwardly to the customs and religion of the country in which
they happened to reside at the time.

  [33] Hoyland.

Cantemir, according to Grellmann, says that the Gipsies are dispersed
all over Moldavia, where every baron has several families subject to
him. In Wallachia and the Sclavonian countries they are quite as
numerous. In Wallachia and Moldavia they are divided into two
classes--the princely and boyardish. The former, according to Sulzer,
amount to many thousands; but that is trifling in comparison with the
latter, as there is not a single Boyard in Wallachia who has not at
least three or four of them for slaves; the rich have often some
hundreds under their command,[34] Grellmann divides those in
Transylvania into four classes: 1st. city Gipsies, who are the most
civilized of all, and maintain themselves by music, smith-work, selling
old clothes, horse-dealing, &c.; 2d. gold-washers; 3d. tent Gipsies; and
4th. Egyptian Gipsies. These last are more filthy, and more addicted to
stealing than any of the others. Those who are gold-washers, in
Transylvania and the Banat, have no intercourse with others of their
nation; nor do they like to be called Gipsies. They sift gold sand in
summer, and in winter make trays and troughs, which they sell in an
honest way. They seldom beg, and more rarely steal. Dr. Clarke says of
the Wallachian Gipsies, that they are not an idle race; they ought
rather to be described as a laborious race; and the majority honestly
endeavour to earn a livelihood.

  [34] In the narrative of the Scottish Church Mission of Enquiry to the
  Jews, in 1839, are to be found the following remarks relative to the
  Gipsies of Wallachia:

  "They are almost all slaves, bought and sold at pleasure. One was
  lately sold for 200 piastres, but the general price is 500. Perhaps £3
  is the average price, and the female Gipsies are sold much cheaper.
  The sale is generally carried on by private bargain. The men are the
  best mechanics in the country; so that smiths and masons are taken
  from this class. The women are considered the best cooks, and
  therefore almost every wealthy family has a Gipsy cook. Their
  appearance is similar to that of the Gipsies in other countries; being
  all dark, with fine black eyes, and long black hair. They have a
  language peculiar to themselves, and though they seem to have no
  system of religion, yet are very superstitious in observing lucky and
  unlucky days. They are all fond of music, both vocal and instrumental,
  and excel in it. There is a class of them called the Turkish Gipsies,
  who have purchased their freedom from government; but these are few in
  number, and all from Turkey. Of these latter, there are twelve
  families in Galatz. The men are employed as horse-dealers, and the
  women in making bags, sacks, and such articles. In winter, they live
  in town, almost under ground; but in summer, they pitch their tents in
  the open air, for, though still within the bounds of the town, they
  would not live in their winter houses during summer."

  That these Gipsies should be in a state of slavery is, perhaps, a more
  marked exception to their race than the Indians in Spanish America
  were to those found in the territories colonised by the Anglo-Saxons.
  The Empress Maria Theresa could make nothing of the Gipsies in
  Hungary, where they are said to be almost as little looked after as
  the wolves of the forest; so that the slavery of the Gipsies in
  Wallachia must be of a very nominal or mild nature, or the subjects of
  it must be far in excess of the demand, if £3 is the average price of
  a good smith or mason, and less for a good female cook. These
  Wallachian Gipsies evidently prefer a master whose property they will
  consider as their own, and whose protection will relieve them from the
  interference and oppression of others. A slavery that is not absolute
  or oppressive must gratify the vanity of the owner, and be easily
  borne by a race that is semi-civilized and despised by others around

  Since the conclusion of the Russian war, the manumission of the
  Gipsies of the Principalities was debated and carried by a majority of
  something like thirteen against eleven; but I am not aware of its
  having been put in force. They are said to have been greatly attached
  to the late Sultan--calling him the "good father," for the interest he
  took in them. As spies, they rendered his generals efficient services,
  while contending with the Russians on the Danube.--ED.

"Bessarabia, all Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania swarm with
Gipsies; even in Constantinople they are innumerable. In Romania, a
large tract of Mount Hæmus, which they inhabit, has acquired from them
the name of _Tschenghe Valken_--Gipsy Mountain. This district extends
from the city of Aydos quite to Phillippopolis, and contains more
Gipsies than any other province in the Turkish empire.

"They were universally to be found in Italy, insomuch that even Sicily
and Sardinia were not free. But they were most numerous in the dominions
of the Church; probably because there was the worst police, with much
superstition. By the former, they were left undisturbed; and the latter
enticed them to deceive the ignorant, as it afforded them an opportunity
of obtaining a plentiful contribution by their fortune-telling and
enchanted amulets. There was a general law throughout Italy, that no
Gipsy should remain more than two nights in any one place. By this
regulation, it is true, no place retained its guests long; but no sooner
was one gone than another came in his room: it was a continual circle,
and quite as convenient to them as a perfect toleration would have been.
Italy rather suffered than benefited by this law; as, by keeping these
people in constant motion, they would do more mischief there, than in
places where they were permitted to remain stationary.

"In Poland and Lithuania, as well as in Courland, there are an amazing
number of Gipsies. A person may live many years in Upper Saxony, or in
the districts of Hanover and Brunswick, without seeing a single Gipsy.
When one happens to stray into a village or town, he occasions as much
disturbance as if the black gentleman with his cloven foot appeared; he
frightens children from their play, and draws the attention of the older
people, till the police get hold of him, and make him again invisible.
In some of the provinces of the Rhine, a Gipsy is a very common sight.
Some years ago, there were such numbers of them in the Duchy of
Wurtemberg, that they were seen lying about everywhere; but the
government ordered departments of soldiers to drive them from their
holes and lurking-places throughout the country, and then transported
the congregated swarm, in the same manner as they were treated by the
Duke of Deuxponts. In France, before the Revolution, there were but few
Gipsies, for the obvious reason that every Gipsy who could be
apprehended fell a sacrifice to the police."[35]

  [35] Grellmann.--I would suppose that these severe edicts of the
  French would drive the Gipsies to adopt the costume and manners of the
  other inhabitants. In this way they would disappear from the public
  eye. The officers of justice would of course direct their attention to
  what would be understood to be Gipsies--that is tented Gipsies, or
  those who professed the ways of Gipsies, such as fortune telling. I
  have met with a French Gipsy in the streets of New York, engaged as a
  dealer in candy.--ED.

As regards the Gipsies of Spain, Dr. Bright remarks: That the
disposition of the Gitano is more inclined to a fixed residence than
that of the Gipsy of other countries, is beyond doubt. The generality
are the settled inhabitants of considerable towns, and, although the
occupations of some necessarily lead them to a more vagrant life, the
proportion is small who do not consider some hovel in a suburb as a
home. 'Money is in the city--not in the country,' is a saying frequently
in their mouths. In the vilest quarters of every large town of the
southern provinces, there are Gitanos living together, sometimes
occupying whole barriers. But Seville is, perhaps, the spot in which the
largest proportion is found. Their principal occupation is the
manufacture and sale of articles of iron. Their quarters may always be
traced by the ring of the hammer and anvil, and many amass considerable
wealth. An inferior class have the exclusive trade in second-hand
articles, which they sell at the doors of their dwellings, or at benches
at the entrance of towns, or by the sides of frequented walks. A still
inferior order wander about, mending pots, and selling tongs and other
trifling articles. In Cadiz, they monopolize the trade of butchering,
and frequently amass wealth. Others, again, exclusively fill the office
of Matador of the Bull Plaza, while the Toreros are for the most part of
the same race. Others are employed as dressers of mules and asses; some
as figure-dancers, and many as performers in the theatre. Some gain a
livelihood by their musical talents. Dancing, singing, music and
fortune-telling are the only objects of general pursuit for the females.
Sometimes they dance in the inferior theatres, and sing and dance in the
streets. Palmistry is one of their most productive avocations. In
Seville, a few make and sell an inferior kind of mat. Besides these,
there is a class of Gipsies in Spain who lead a vagrant life
throughout--residing chiefly in the woods and mountains, and known as
mountaineers. These rarely visit towns, and live by fraud and pillage.
There are also others who wander about the country--such as tinkers,
dancers, singers, and jobbers in asses and mules.

Bishop Pocoke, prior to 1745, mentions having met with Gipsies in the
northern part of Syria, where he found them in great numbers, passing
for Mahommedans, living in tents or caravans, dealing in milch cows,
when near towns, manufacturing coarse carpets, and having a much better
character than their relations in Hungary or England. By the census of
the Crimea, in 1793, the population was set down at 157,125, of which
3,225 were Gipsies. Bishop Heber states that the Persian Gipsies are of
much better caste, and much richer than those of India, Russia or
England. In India, he says, the Gipsies are the same tall, fine-limbed,
bony, slender people, with the same large, black, brilliant eyes,
lowering forehead, and long hair, curled at the extremities, which are
to be met with on a common in England. He mentions, in his journal of
travels through Bengal, having met with a Gipsy camp on the Ganges. The
women and children followed him, begging, and had no clothes on them,
except a coarse kind of veil, thrown back from the shoulders, and a
ragged cloth, wrapped round their waists, like a petticoat. One of the
women was very pretty, and the forms of all the three were such as a
sculptor would have been glad to take as his models.

Besides those in Europe, it is stated by Grellmann that the Gipsies are
also scattered over Asia, and are to be found in the centre of Africa.
In Europe alone, he supposes (in 1782), their number will amount to
between seven and eight hundred thousand. So numerous did they become in
France, that the king, in 1545, sixteen years before they were expelled
from that kingdom, entertained an idea of embodying four thousand of
them, to act as pioneers in taking Boulogne, then in possession of
England. It is impossible to ascertain, at the present day, how many
Gipsies might be even in a parish; but, taking in the whole world, there
must be an immense number in existence.

About the time the Gipsies first appeared in Europe, their chiefs, under
the titles of dukes, earls, lords, counts, and knights of Little Egypt,
rode up and down the country on horseback, dressed in gay apparel, and
attended by a train of ragged and miserable inferiors, having, also,
hawks and hounds in their retinue. It appears to me, that the excessive
vanity of these chiefs had induced them, in imitation of the customs of
civilized society, to assume these high-sounding European titles of
honour. I have not observed, on record, any form of government, laws or
customs, by which the internal affairs of the tribe, on the Continent,
were regulated. On these important points, if I am not mistaken, all the
authors, with the exception of Grellmann, who have written on the
Gipsies, are silent. Grellmann says of the Hungarian Gipsies: "They
still continue the custom among themselves of dignifying certain
persons, whom they make heads over them, and call by the exalted
Sclavonian title of Waywode. To choose their Waywode, the Gipsies take
the opportunity, when a great number of them are assembled in one place,
commonly in the open field. The elected person is lifted up three times,
amidst the loudest acclamation, and confirmed in his dignity by
presents. His wife undergoes the same ceremony. When this solemnity is
performed, they separate with great conceit, imagining themselves people
of more consequence than electors returning from the choice of an
emperor. Every one who is of a family descended from a former Waywode is
eligible; but those who are best clothed, not very poor, of large
stature, and about the middle age, have generally the preference. The
particular distinguishing mark of dignity is a large whip, hanging over
the shoulder. His outward deportment, his walk and air, also plainly
show his head to be filled with notions of authority." According to the
same authority, the Waywode of the Gipsies in Courland is distinguished
from the principals of the hordes in other countries, being not only
much respected by his own people, but even by the Courland nobility. He
is esteemed a man of high rank, and is frequently to be met with at
entertainments, and card parties, in the first families, where he is
always a welcome guest. His dress is uncommonly rich, in comparison with
others of his tribe; generally silk in summer, and constantly velvet in

As a specimen of the manners and ferocious disposition of the German
Gipsies, so late as the year 1726, I shall here transcribe a few
extracts from an article published in Blackwood's Magazine, for January,
1818. This interesting article is partly an abridged translation, or
rather the substance, of a German work on the Gipsies, entitled "A
Circumstantial Account of the Famous Egyptian Band of Thieves, and
Robbers, and Murderers, whose Leaders were executed at Giessen, by Cord,
and Sword, and Wheel, on the 14th and 15th November, 1726, &c." It is
edited by Dr. John Benjamin Wiessenburch, an assessor of the criminal
tribunal by which these malefactors were condemned, and published at
Frankfort and Leipsic, in the year 1727. The translator of this work is
Sir Walter Scott, who obligingly offered me the use of his "scraps" on
this subject. The following are the details in his own words.

"A curious preliminary dissertation records some facts respecting the
German Gipsies, which are not uninteresting.

"From the authorities collected by Wiessenburch, it appears that these
wanderers first appeared in Germany during the reign of Sigismund. The
exact year has been disputed; but it is generally placed betwixt 1416
and 1420. They appeared in various bands, under chiefs, to whom they
acknowledged obedience, and who assumed the titles of dukes and earls.
These leaders originally affected a certain degree of consequence,
travelling well equipped, and on horseback, and bringing hawks and
hounds in their retinue. Like John Faw, 'Lord of Little Egypt,' they
sometimes succeeded in imposing upon the Germans the belief in their
very apocryphal dignity, which they assumed during their lives, and
recorded upon their tombs, as appears from three epitaphs, quoted by Dr.
Wiessenburch. One is in a convent at Steinbach, and records that on St.
Sebastians' eve, 1445, 'died the Lord Pannel, Duke of Little Egypt, and
Baron of Hirschhorn, in the same land.' A monumental inscription at
Bautmer, records the death of the 'Noble Earl Peter, of Lesser Egypt, in
1453;' and a third, at Pferz, as late as 1498, announces the death of
the 'high-born, Lord John, Earl of Little Egypt, to whose soul God be
gracious and merciful.'

"In describing the state of the German Gipsies, in 1726, the author whom
we are quoting gives the leading features proper to those in other
countries. Their disposition to wandering, to idleness, to theft, to
polygamy, or rather promiscuous licence, are all commemorated; nor are
the women's pretentions to fortune-telling, and their practice of
stealing children, omitted. Instead of travelling in very large bands,
as at their first arrival, they are described as forming small parties,
in which the females are far more numerous than the men, and which are
each under command of a leader, chosen rather from reputation than by
right of birth. The men, unless when engaged in robbery or theft, lead a
life of absolute idleness, and are supported by what the women can
procure by begging, stealing or telling fortunes. These resources are so
scanty that they often suffer the most severe extremities of hunger and
cold. Some of the Gipsies executed at Giessen pretended that they had
not eaten a morsel of bread for four days before they were apprehended;
yet are they so much attached to freedom, and licence of this wandering
life, that, notwithstanding its miseries, it has not only been found
impossible to reclaim the native Gipsies, who claim it by inheritance,
but even those who, not born in that state, have associated themselves
with their bands, and become so wedded to it, as to prefer it to all

  [36] The natives here alluded to were evidently Germans, married to
  Gipsy women, or Germans brought up from infancy with the Gipsies, or
  mixed Gipsies, taking after Germans in point of appearance.--ED.

"As an exception, Wiessenburch mentions some gangs, where the men, as in
Scotland, exercise the profession of travelling smiths, or tinkers, or
deal in pottery, or practise as musicians. Finally, he notices that in
Hungary the gangs assumed their names from the countries which they
chiefly traversed, as the band of Upper Saxony, of Brandenburg, and so
forth. They resented, to extremity, any attempt on the part of other
Gipsies to intrude on their province; and such interference often led to
battles, in which they shot each other with as little remorse as they
would have done to dogs.[37] By these acts of cruelty to each other,
they became gradually familiarized with blood, as well as with arms, to
which another cause contributed, in the beginning of the 18th century.

  [37] This is the only continental writer, that I am aware of, who
  mentions the circumstance of the Gipsies having districts to
  themselves, from which others of their race were excluded. This author
  also speaks of the German Gipsies stealing children. John Bunyan
  admits the same practice in England, when he compares his feelings, as
  a sinner, to those of a child carried off by Gipsies. He gives the
  Gipsy _women_ credit for this practice.--ED.

"In former times, these outcasts were not permitted to bear arms in the
service of any Christian power, but the long wars of Louis XIV had
abolished this point of delicacy; and both in the French army, and those
of the confederates, the stoutest and boldest of the Gipsies were
occasionally enlisted, by choice or compulsion. These men generally
tired soon of the rigour of military discipline, and escaping from their
regiments on the first opportunity, went back to their forests, with
some knowledge of arms, and habits bolder and more ferocious than those
of their predecessors. Such deserters soon become leaders among the
tribes, whose enterprises became, in proportion, more audacious and

"In Germany, as in most other kingdoms of Europe, severe laws had been
directed against this vagabond people, and the Landgraves of Hesse had
not been behind-hand in such denunciations. They were, on their arrest,
branded as vagabonds, punished with stripes, and banished from the
circle; and, in case of their return, were put to death without mercy.
These measures only served to make them desperate. Their bands became
more strong and more open in their depredations. They often marched as
strong as fifty or a hundred armed men; bade defiance to the ordinary
police, and plundered the villages in open day; wounded and slew the
peasants, who endeavoured to protect their property; and skirmished, in
some instances successfully, with parties of soldiers and militia,
dispatched against them. Their chiefs, on these occasions, were John La
Fortune, a determined villain, otherwise named Hemperla; another called
the Great Gallant; his brother, Antony Alexander, called the Little
Gallant; and others, entitled Lorries, Lampert, Gabriel, &c. Their
ferocity may be judged of from the following instances:

"On the 10th October, 1724, a land-lieutenant, or officer of police,
named Emerander, set off with two assistants to disperse a band of
Gipsies who had appeared near Hirzenhayn, in the territory of Stolberg.
He seized on two or three stragglers whom he found in the village, and
whom, females as well as males, he seems to have treated with much
severity. Some, however, escaped to a large band which lay in an
adjacent forest, who, under command of the Great Gallant, Hemperla,
Antony Alexander, and others, immediately put themselves in motion to
rescue their comrades, and avenge themselves of Emerander. The
land-lieutenant had the courage to ride out to meet them, with his two
attendants, at the passage of a bridge, where he fired his pistol at the
advancing gang, and called out 'charge,' as if he had been at the head
of a party of cavalry. The Gipsies, however, aware, from the report of
the fugitives, how weakly the officer was accompanied, continued to
advance to the end of the bridge, and ten or twelve, dropping each on
one knee, gave fire on Emerander, who was then obliged to turn his horse
and ride off, leaving his two assistants to the mercy of the banditti.
One of these men, called Hempel, was instantly beaten down, and
suffered, especially at the hands of the Gipsy women, much cruel and
abominable outrage. After stripping him of every rag of his clothes,
they were about to murder the wretch outright; but at the earnest
instance of the landlord of the inn, they contented themselves with
beating him dreadfully, and imposing on him an oath that he never more
would persecute any Gipsy, or save any _fleshman_, (dealer in human
flesh,) for so they called the officers of justice or police.[38]

  [38] Great allowance ought to be made for the conduct of these
  Gipsies. Even at the present day, a Gipsy, in many parts of Germany,
  is not allowed to enter a town; nor will the inhabitants permit him to
  live in the street in which they dwell. He has therefore to go
  somewhere, and live in some way or other. In speaking of the Gipsies,
  people never take these circumstances into account. The Gipsies
  alluded to in the text seem to have been very cruelly treated, in the
  first place, by the authorities.--ED.

"The other assistant of Emerander made his escape. But the principal was
not so fortunate. When the Gipsies had wrought their wicked pleasure on
Hempel, they compelled the landlord of the little inn to bring them a
flagon of brandy, in which they mingled a charge of gunpowder and three
pinches of salt; and each, partaking of this singular beverage, took a
solemn oath that they would stand by each other until they had cut
thongs, as they expressed it, out of the fleshman's hide. The Great
Gallant at the same time distributed to them, out of a little box,
billets, which each was directed to swallow, and which were supposed to
render them invulnerable.

"Thus inflamed and encouraged, the whole route, amounting to fifty well
armed men, besides women armed with clubs and axes, set off with horrid
screams to a neighbouring hamlet, called Glazhutte, in which the object
of their resentment sought refuge. They took military possession of the
streets, posting sentinels to prevent interruption or attack from the
alarmed inhabitants. Their leaders then presented themselves before the
inn, and demanded that Emerander should be delivered up to them. When
the innkeeper endeavoured to elude their demand, they forced their way
into the house, and finding the unhappy object of pursuit concealed in a
garret, Hemperla and others fired their muskets at him, then tore his
clothes from his body, and precipitated him down the staircase, where he
was dispatched with many wounds.

"Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the village began to take to arms; and
one of them attempted to ring the alarm-bell, but was prevented by an
armed Gipsy, stationed for that purpose. At length their bloody work
being ended, the Gipsies assembled and retreated out of the town, with
shouts of triumph, exclaiming that the fleshman was slain, displaying
their spoils and hands stained with blood, and headed by the Great
Gallant, riding on the horse of the murdered officer.

"I shall select from the volume another instance of this people's
cruelty still more detestable, since even vengeance or hostility could
not be alleged for its stimulating cause, as in the foregoing narrative.
A country clergyman, named Heinsius, the pastor of a village called
Dorsdorff, who had the misfortune to be accounted a man of some wealth,
was the subject of this tragedy.

"Hemperla, already mentioned, with a band of ten Gipsies, and a villain
named Essper George, who had joined himself with them, though not of
their nation by birth, beset the house of the unfortunate minister,
with a resolution to break in and possess themselves of his money;
and if interrupted by the peasants, to fire upon them, and repel
force by force. With this desperate intention, they surrounded the
parsonage-house at midnight; and their leader, Hemperla, having cut a
hole through the cover of the sink or gutter, endeavoured to creep into
the house through that passage, holding in his hand a lighted torch made
of straw. The daughter of the parson chanced, however, to be up, and in
the kitchen, at this late hour, by which fortunate circumstance she
escaped the fate of her father and mother. When the Gipsy saw there was
a person in the kitchen, he drew himself back out of the gutter, and
ordered his gang to force the door, regarding the noise which
accompanied this violence as little as if the place had been situated in
a wilderness, instead of a populous hamlet. Others of the gang were
posted at the windows of the house, to prevent the escape of the
inmates. Nevertheless, the young woman, already mentioned, let herself
down from a window which had escaped their notice, and ran to seek
assistance for her parents.

"In the meanwhile the Gipsies had burst open the outward door of the
house, with a beam of wood which chanced to be lying in the court-yard.
They next forced the door of the sitting apartment, and were met by the
poor clergyman, who prayed them at least to spare his life and that of
his wife. But he spoke to men who knew no mercy; Hemperla struck him on
the breast with a torch; and receiving the blow as a signal for death,
the poor man staggered back to the table, and sinking in a chair, leaned
his head on his hand, and expected the mortal blow. In this posture
Hemperla shot him dead with a pistol. The wife of the clergyman
endeavoured to fly, on witnessing the murder of her husband, but was
dragged back, and slain by a pistol-shot, fired either by Essper George,
or by a Gipsy called Christian. By a crime so dreadful those murderers
only gained four silver cups, fourteen silver spoons, some trifling
articles of apparel, and about twenty-two florins in money. They might
have made more important booty, but the sentinel, whom they left on the
outside, now intimated to them that the hamlet was alarmed, and that it
was time to retire, which they did accordingly, undisturbed and in

"The Gipsies committed many enormities similar to those above detailed,
and arrived at such a pitch of audacity as even to threaten the person
of the Landgrave himself; an enormity at which Dr. Wiessenburch, who
never introduces the name or titles of that prince without printing them
in letters of at least an inch long, expresses becoming horror. This was
too much to be endured. Strong detachments of troops and militia scoured
the country in different directions, and searched the woods and caverns
which served the banditti for places of retreat. These measures were for
some time attended with little effect. The Gipsies had the advantages of
a perfect knowledge of the country, and excellent intelligence. They
baffled the efforts of the officers detached against them, and, on one
or two occasions, even engaged them with advantage. And when some
females, unable to follow the retreat of the men, were made prisoners on
such an occasion, the leaders caused it to be intimated to the
authorities at Giessen that if their women were not set at liberty, they
would murder and rob on the high roads, and plunder and burn the
country. This state of warfare lasted from 1718 until 1726, during which
period the subjects of the Landgrave suffered the utmost hardships, as
no man was secure against nocturnal surprise of his property and person.

"At length, in the end of 1725, a heavy and continued storm of snow
compelled the Gipsy hordes to abandon the woods which had long served
them as a refuge, and to approach more near to the dwellings of men. As
their movements could be traced and observed, the land-lieutenant,
Krocker, who had been an assistant to the murdered Emerander, received
intelligence of a band of Gipsies having appeared in the district of
Sohnsassenheim, at a village called Fauerbach. Being aided by a party of
soldiers and volunteers, he had the luck to secure the whole gang, being
twelve men and women. Among these was the notorious Hemperla, who was
dragged by the heels from an oven in which he was attempting to conceal
himself. Others were taken in the same manner, and imprisoned at
Giessen, with a view to their trial.

"Numerous acts of theft, and robbery, and murder were laid to the charge
of these unfortunate wretches; and, according to the existing laws of
the empire, they were interrogated under torture. They were first
tormented by means of thumb-screws, which they did not seem greatly to
regard; the Spanish boots, or 'leg-vices,' were next applied, and seldom
failed to extort confession. Hemperla alone set both means at defiance,
which induced the judges to believe he was possessed of some spell
against these agonies. Having in vain searched his body for the supposed
charm, they caused his hair to be cut off; on which he himself observed
that, had they not done so, he could have stood the torture for some
time longer. As it was, his resolution gave way, and he made, under the
second application of the Spanish boots, a full confession, not only of
the murders of which he was accused, but of various other crimes. While
he was in this agony, the judges had the cruelty to introduce his
mother, a noted Gipsy woman, called the crone, into the torture-chamber;
who shrieked fearfully, and tore her face with her nails, on perceiving
the condition of her son, and still more on hearing him acknowledge his

"Evidence of the guilt of the other prisoners was also obtained from
their confessions, with or without torture, and from the testimony of
witnesses examined by the fiscal. Sentence was finally passed on them,
condemning four Gipsies, among whom were Hemperla and the Little
Gallant, to be broken on the wheel, nine others to be hanged, and
thirteen, of whom the greater part were women, to be beheaded. They
underwent their doom with great firmness, upon the 14th and 15th
November, 1726.

"The volume contains . . . . . . . some rude prints, representing the
murders committed by the Gipsies, and the manner of their execution.
There are also two prints representing the portraits of the principal
criminals, in which, though the execution be indifferent, the Gipsy
features may be clearly traced."

Leaving this view of the character of the continental Gipsies, we may
take the following as illustrative of one of its brighter aspects. So
late as the time of the celebrated Baron Trenck, it would appear that
Germany was still infested with prodigiously large bands of Gipsies. In
a forest near Ginnen, to which he had fled, to conceal himself from the
pursuit of his persecutors, the Baron says: "Here we fell in with a gang
of Gipsies, (or rather banditti,) amounting to four hundred men, who
dragged me to their camp. They were mostly French and Prussian
deserters, and, thinking me their equal, would force me to become one of
their band. But venturing to tell my story to their leader, he presented
me with a crown, gave us a small portion of bread and meat, and suffered
us to depart in peace, after having been four-and-twenty hours in their

  [39] Life of Baron Trenck, translated by Thomas Holcroft, Vol. I, page

I shall conclude the notices of the continental Gipsies by some extracts
from an article published in a French periodical work, for September,
1802, on the Gipsies of the Pyrenees; who resemble, in many points, the
inferior class of our Scottish Tinklers, about the beginning of the
French war, more, perhaps, than those of any other country in Europe.

"There exists, in the department of the Eastern Pyrenees, a people
distinct from the rest of the inhabitants, of a foreign origin, and
without any settled habits. It seems to have fixed its residence there
for a considerable time. It changes its situation, multiplies there, and
never connects itself by marriage with the other inhabitants. This
people are called Gitanos, a Spanish word which signifies Egyptians.
There are many Gitanos in Catalonia, who have similar habits to the
above-mentioned, but who are very strictly watched. They have all the
vices of those Egyptians, or Bohemians, who formerly used to wander over
the world, telling fortunes, and living at the expense of superstition
and credulity. These Gitanos, less idle and less wanderers than their
predecessors, are afraid of publicly professing the art of
fortune-tellers; but their manner of life is scarcely different.

"They scatter themselves among villages, and lonesome farms, where they
steal fruit, poultry, and often even cattle; in short, everything that
is portable. They are almost always abroad, incessantly watching an
opportunity to practise their thievery; they hide themselves with much
dexterity from the search of the police. Their women, in particular,
have an uncommon dexterity in pilfering. When they enter a shop, they
are watched with the utmost care; but with every precaution they are not
free from their rapines. They excel, above all, in hiding the pieces of
silver which are given in exchange for gold, which they never fail to
offer in payment, and they are so well hidden that they are often
obliged to be undressed before restitution can be obtained.

"The Gitanos affect, externally, a great attachment to the Catholic
religion; and if one was to judge from the number of reliques they carry
about with them, one would believe them exceedingly devout; but all who
have well observed them assure us they are as ignorant as hypocritical,
and that they practise secretly a religion of their own. It is not rare
to see their women, who have been lately brought to bed, have their
children baptized several times, in different places, in order to obtain
money from persons at their ease, whom they choose for godfathers.
Everything announces among them that moral degradation which must
necessarily attach to a miserable, insulated caste, as strangers to
society, which only suffers it through an excess of contempt.

"The Gitanos are disgustingly filthy, and almost all covered with rags.
They have neither tables, chairs, nor beds, but sit and eat on the
ground. They are crowded in huts, pell-mell, in straw; and their neglect
of the decorum of society, so dangerous to morals, must have the most
melancholy consequences on wretched vagabonds, abandoned to themselves.
They consequently are accused of giving themselves up to every disorder
of the most infamous debauchery, and to respect neither the ties of
blood nor the protecting laws of the virtues of families.

"They feed on rotten poultry and fish, dogs and stinking cats, which
they seek for with avidity; and when this resource fails them, they live
on the entrails of animals, or other aliments of the lowest price. They
leave their meat but a very few minutes on the fire, and the place where
they cook it exhales an infectious smell.

"They speak the Catalonian dialect, but they have, besides, a language
to themselves, unintelligible to the natives of the country, from whom
they are very careful to hide the knowledge of it.

"The Gitanos are tanned like the mulattoes, of a size above mediocrity,
well formed, active, robust, supporting all the changes of seasons, and
sleeping in the open fields, whenever their interest requires it. Their
features are irregular, and show them to belong to a transplanted race.
They have the mouth very wide, thick lips, and high cheek-bones.

"As the distrust they inspire causes them to be carefully watched, it is
not always possible for them to live by stealing: they then have
recourse to industry, and a trifling trade, which seems to have been
abandoned to them; they show animals, and attend the fairs and markets,
to sell or exchange mules and asses, which they know how to procure at a
cheap rate. They are commonly cast-off animals, which they have the art
to dress up, and they are satisfied, in appearance, with a moderate
profit, which, however, is always more than is supposed, because they
feed these animals at the expense of the farmers. They ramble all night,
in order to steal fodder; and whatever precautions may have been taken
against them, it is not possible to be always guarded against their

"Happily the Gitanos are not murderers. It would, without doubt, be
important to examine if it is to the natural goodness of their
disposition, to their frugality, and the few wants they feel in their
state of half savage, that is to be attributed the sentiment that repels
them from great crimes, or if this disposition arises from their
habitual state of alarm, or from that want of courage which must be a
necessary consequence of the infamy in which they are plunged."[40]

  [40] _Annales de Statistique, No. III, page 31-37._--What the writer
  of this article says of the aversion which the Gipsies have to the
  shedding of human blood, _not of their own fraternity_, appears to
  have been universal among the tribe; but, on the other hand, they seem
  to have had little or no hesitation in putting to death _those of
  their own tribe_. This writer also says, that the Gipsies of the
  Pyrenees have a religion of their own, which they practise _secretly_,
  without mentioning what this secret religion is. It is probable that
  his remark is applicable to the sacrifice of horses, as described in
  chapter viii.



The first arrival of the Gipsies in England appears to have been about
the year 1512,[41] but this does not seem to be quite certain. It is
probable they may have arrived there at an earlier period. The author
from which the fact is derived published his work in 1612, and states,
generally, that "this kind of people, about a hundred years ago, began
to gather an head, about the southern parts. And this, I am informed and
can gather, was their beginning: Certain Egyptians, banished their
country, (belike not for their good condition,) arrived here in England;
who, for quaint tricks and devices, not known here at that time among
us, were esteemed, and held in great admiration; insomuch that many of
our English loiterers joined with them, and in time learned their crafty

  [41] Hoyland.

"The speech which they used was the right Egyptian language, with whom
our Englishmen conversing at least learned their language. These people,
continuing about the country, and practising their cozening art,
purchased themselves great credit among the country people, and got much
by palmistry and telling of fortunes; insomuch that they pitifully
cozened poor country girls both of money, silver spoons, and the best of
their apparel, or any goods they could make."[42]

  [42] A quarto work by S. R., published to detect and expose the art of
  juggling and legerdemain, in 1612.

From this author it is collected they had a leader of the name of Giles
Hather, who was termed their king; and a woman of the name of Calot was
called queen. These, riding through the country on horseback, and in
strange attire, had a pretty train after them.[43]

  [43] Hoyland.

It appears, from this account, that the Gipsies had been observed on the
continent about a hundred years before they visited England. According
to Dr. Bright, they seemed to have roamed up and down the continent of
Europe, without molestation, for about half a century, before their true
character was perfectly known. If 1512 was really the year in which
these people first set foot in England, it would seem that the English
government had not been so easily nor so long imposed on as the kings of
Scotland, and the authorities of Europe generally. For we find that,
within about the space of ten years from this period, they are, by the
10th chapter of the 22d Henry VIII, denominated "an outlandish people,
calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise,
who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place
to place, in great company; and used great subtlety and crafty means to
deceive the people--bearing them in hand that they, by palmistry, could
tell men's and women's fortunes; and so, many times, by craft and
subtlety, have deceived the people for their money; and also have
committed many heinous felonies and robberies." As far back as the year
1549, they had become very troublesome in England, for, on the 22d June
of that year, according to Burnet's History of the Reformation, "there
was privy search made through all Sussex for all vagabonds, Gipsies,
conspirators, prophesiers, players, and such like."

The Gipsies in England still continued to commit numberless thefts and
robberies, in defiance of the existing statutes; so that each succeeding
law enacted against them became severer than the one which preceded it.
The following is an extract from the 27th Henry VIII: "Whereas, certain
outlandish people, who do not profess any craft or trade whereby to
maintain themselves, but go about in great numbers, from place to place,
using insidious means to impose on his majesty's subjects, making them
believe that they understand the art of foretelling to men and women
their good and evil fortunes, by looking in their hands, whereby they
frequently defraud people of their money; likewise are guilty of thefts
and highway robberies: It is hereby ordered that the said vagrants,
commonly called Egyptians, in case as thieves and rascals . . . . and on
the importation of any such Egyptians, he, the importer, shall forfeit
forty pounds for every trespass." So much had the conduct of the Gipsies
exasperated the government of Queen Elizabeth, that it was enacted,
during her reign, that "If any person, being fourteen years, whether
natural born subject or stranger, who had been seen in the fellowship of
such persons, or disguised like them, and remain with them one month at
once, or at several times, it should be felony without benefit of
clergy."[44] It would thus appear that, when the Gipsies first arrived
in England, they had not kept their language a secret, as is now the
case; for some of the Englishmen of that period had acquired it by
associating with them.[45]

  [44] English acts of Parliament.

  [45] This does not appear to be necessarily the case. These Englishmen
  may have married Gipsies, become Gipsies by adoption, and so learned
  the language, as happens at the present day.--ED.

In carrying out the foregoing extraordinary enactments, the public was
at the expense of exporting the Gipsies to the continent; and it may
reasonably be assumed that great numbers of these unhappy people were
executed under these sanguinary laws. A few years before the restoration
of Charles II, thirteen Gipsies were executed "at one Suffolk assize."
This appears to have been the last instance of inflicting the penalty of
death on these unfortunate people in England, merely because they were
Gipsies.[46] But although these laws of blood are now repealed, the
English Gipsies are liable, at the present day, to be proceeded against
under the Vagrant Act; as these statutes declare all those persons
"pretending to be Gipsies, or wandering in the habit and form of
Egyptians, shall be deemed rogues and vagabonds."

  [46] Hoyland.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was thought England contained above
10,000 Gipsies; and Mr. Hoyland, in his historical survey of these
people, supposes that there are 18,000 of the race in Britain at the
present day. A member of Parliament, it is reported, stated, in the
House of Commons, that there were not less than 36,000 Gipsies in Great
Britain. I am inclined to believe that the statement of the latter will
be nearest the truth; as I am convinced that the greater part of all
those persons who traverse England with earthenware, in carts and
waggons, are a superior class of Gipsies. Indeed, a Scottish Gipsy
informed me, that almost all those people are actually Gipsies. Now Mr.
Hoyland takes none of these potters into his account, when he estimates
the Gipsy population at only 18,000 souls. Besides, Gipsies have
informed me that Ireland contains a great many of the tribe; many of
whom are now finding their way into Scotland.[47]

  [47] The number of the British Gipsies mentioned here is greatly
  understated. See Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

I am inclined to think that the greater part of the English Gipsies live
more apart from the other inhabitants of the country, reside more in
tents, and exhibit a great deal more of their pristine manners, than
their brethren do in Scotland.[48]

  [48] In no part of the world is the Gipsy life more in accordance with
  the general idea that the Gipsy is like Cain--a wanderer on the face
  of the earth--than in England; for there, the covered cart and the
  little tent are the houses of the Gipsy; and he seldom remains more
  than three days in the same place. So conducive is the climate of
  England to beauty, that nowhere else is the appearance of the race so
  prepossessing as in that country. Their complexion is dark, but not
  disagreeably so; their faces are oval, their features regular, their
  foreheads rather low, and their hands and feet small. The men are
  taller than the English peasantry, and far more active. They all speak
  the English language with fluency, and in their gait and demeanour are
  easy and graceful; in both respects standing in striking contrast with
  the peasantry, who, in speech, are slow and uncouth, and, in manner,
  dogged and brutal.--_Borrow._--ED.

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

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

  [49] It does not follow, from what our author says about these two
  children, that they were stolen. I have seen some of the children of
  English Gipsies as fair as any Saxon. It sometimes happens that the
  flaxen hair of a Gipsy child will change into raven black before he
  reaches manhood.--ED.

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

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

The following anecdote will give some idea of the manner of life of the
Gipsies in England.

A man, whom I knew, happened to lose his way, one dark night, in
Cambridgeshire. After wandering up and down for some time, he observed a
light, at a considerable distance from him, within the skirts of a wood,
and, being overjoyed at the discovery, he directed his course toward it;
but, before reaching the fire, he was surprised at hearing a man, a
little way in advance, call out to him, in a loud voice, "Peace or not
peace?" The benighted traveller, glad at hearing the sound of a human
voice, immediately answered, "Peace; I am a poor Scotchman, and have
lost my way in the dark." "You can come forward then," rejoined the
sentinel. When the Scotchman advanced, he found a family of Gipsies,
with only one tent; but, on being conducted further into the wood, he
was introduced to a great company of Gipsies. They were busily employed
in roasting several whole sheep--turning their carcasses before large
fires, on long wooden poles, instead of iron spits. The racks on which
the spits turned were also made of wood, driven into the ground,
cross-ways, like the letter X. The Gipsies were exceedingly kind to the
stranger, causing him to partake of the victuals which they had prepared
for their feast. He remained with them the whole night, eating and
drinking, and dancing with his merry entertainers, as if he had been one
of themselves. When day dawned, the Scotchman counted twelve tents
within a short distance of each other. On examining his position, he
found himself a long way out of his road; but a party of the Gipsies
voluntarily offered their services, and went with him for several miles,
and, with great kindness, conducted him to the road from which he had

The crimes of some of the English Gipsies have greatly exceeded those of
the Scottish, such as the latter have been. The following details of
the history of an English Gipsy family are taken from a report on the
prisons in Northumberland. The writer of this report does not appear to
have been aware, however, of the family in question being Gipsies,
speaking an Oriental language, and that, according to the custom of
their tribe, a dexterous theft or robbery is one of the most meritorious
actions they can perform.

"_Crime in Families. William Winters' Family._

"William himself, and one of his sons, were hanged together for murder.
Another son committed an offence for which he was sent to the hulks,
and, soon after his release, was concerned in a murder, for which he was
hanged. Three of the daughters were convicted of various offences, and
the mother was a woman of notorious bad character. The family was a
terror to the neighbourhood, and, according to report, had been so for
generations. The father, with a woman with whom he cohabited, (himself a
married man,) was hanged for house-breaking. His first wife was a woman
of very bad character, and his second wife was transported. One of the
sons, a notorious thief, and two of the daughters, were hanged for
murder. Mr. Blake believes that the only member of the family that
turned out well was a girl, who was taken from the father when he was in
prison, previous to execution, and brought up apart from her brothers
and sisters. The grandfather was once in a lunatic asylum, as a madman.
The father had a quarrel with one of his sons, about the sale of some
property, and shot him dead. The mother co-habited with another man, and
was one morning found dead, with her throat cut. One of the sons, (not
already spoken of,) had a bastard child by one of his cousins, herself
of weak intellect, and, being under suspicion of having destroyed the
child, was arrested. While in prison, however, and before the trial came
on, he destroyed himself by cutting his throat."

This family, I believe, are the Winters noticed by Sir Walter Scott, in
Blackwood's Magazine, as follows:

"A gang (of Gipsies), of the name of Winters, long inhabited the wastes
of Northumberland, and committed many crimes; among others, a murder
upon a poor woman, with singular atrocity, for which one of them was
hung in chains near Tonpitt, in Reedsdale. The mortal reliques having
decayed, the lord of the manor has replaced them by a wooden effigy, and
still maintains the gibbet. The remnant of this gang came to Scotland,
about fifteen years ago, and assumed the Roxburghshire name of Wintirip,
as they found their own something odious. They settled at a cottage
within about four miles of Earlston, and became great plagues to the
country, until they were secured, after a tight battle, tried before the
circuit court at Jedburgh, and banished back to their native country of
England. The dalesmen of Reedwater showed great reluctance to receive
these returned emigrants. After the Sunday service at a little chapel
near Otterbourne, one of the squires rose, and, addressing the
congregation, told them they would be accounted no longer Reedsdale men,
but Reedsdale women, if they permitted this marked and atrocious family
to enter their district. The people answered that they would not permit
them to come that way; and the proscribed family, hearing of the
unanimous resolution to oppose their passage, went more southernly, by
the heads of the Tyne, and I never heard more of them, but I have little
doubt they are all hanged."[50]

  [50] It is but just to say that this family of Winters is, or at least
  was, the worst kind of English Gipsies. Their name is a by-word among
  the race in England. When they say, "It's a winter morning," they wish
  to express something very bad. It is difficult to get them to admit
  that the Winters belong to the tribe--ED.



That the Gipsies were in Scotland in the year 1506 is certain, as
appears by a letter of James IV, of Scotland, to the King of Denmark, in
favour of Anthonius Gawino, Earl of Little Egypt, a Gipsy chief. But
there is a tradition, recorded in Crawford's Peerage, that a company of
Gipsies, or Saracens, were committing depredations in Scotland before
the death of James II, which took place in 1460, being forty-six years
after the Gipsies were first observed on the continent of Europe, and it
is, therefore, probable that these wanderers were encamped on Scottish
ground before the year 1460, above mentioned. As I am not aware of
Saracens ever having set foot in Scotland, England, or Ireland, I am
disposed to think, if there is any truth in this tradition, it alludes
to the Gipsies.[51] The story relates to the estate and family of
McLellan of Bombie, in Galloway, and is as follows:

  [51] There is no reason to doubt that these were Gipsies. They were
  evidently a roving band, from some of the continental hordes, that had
  passed over into Scotland, to "prospect" and plunder. They would, very
  naturally, be called Saracens by the natives of Scotland, to whom any
  black people, at that time, would appear as Saracens. We may,
  therefore, assume that the Gipsies have been fully four hundred years
  in Scotland. I may mention, however, that Mediterranean corsairs
  occasionally landed and plundered on the British coast, to as late a
  period as the reign of Charles I.--ED.

In the reign of James II, the Barony of Bombie was again recovered by
the McLellans, (as the tradition goes,) after this manner: In the same
reign, says our author of small credit, (Sir George McKenzie, in his
baronage M.S.,) it happened that a company of Saracens or Gipsies, from
Ireland,[52] infested the county of Galloway, whereupon the king
intimated a proclamation, bearing, that whoever should disperse them,
and bring in their captain, dead or alive, should have the Barony of
Bombie for his reward. It chanced that a brave young gentleman, the
laird of Bombie's son, fortunated to kill the person for which the
reward was promised, and he brought his head on the point of his sword
to the king, and thereupon he was immediately seized in the Barony of
Bombie; and to perpetuate the memory of that brave and remarkable
action, he took for his crest a Moor's head, and 'Think on' for his

  [52] Almost all the Scottish Gipsies assert that their ancestors came
  by way of Ireland into Scotland.

  [This is extremely likely. On the publication of the edict of
  Ferdinand of Spain, in 1492, some of the Spanish Gipsies would likely
  pass over to the south of Ireland, and thence find their way
  into Scotland, before 1506. Anthonius Gawino, above referred to,
  would almost seem to be a Spanish name. We may, therefore, very
  safely assume that the Gipsies of Scotland are of Spanish Gipsy

  [53] Crawford's Peerage, page 238.

As armorial bearings were generally assumed to commemorate facts and
deeds of arms, it is likely that the crest of the McLellans is the head
of a _Gipsy_ chief. In the reign of James II, alluded to, we find "away
putting of _sorners_, (forcible obtruders,) fancied fools, vagabonds,
out-liers, masterful beggars, _bairds_, (strolling rhymers,) and such
like runners about," is more than once enforced by acts of

  [54] Glendook's Scots' acts of parliament.

But the earliest authentic notice which has yet been discovered of the
first appearance of the Gipsies in Scotland, is the letter of James IV,
to the King of Denmark, in 1506. At this period these vagrants
represented themselves as Egyptian pilgrims, and so far imposed on our
religious and melancholy monarch, as to procure from him a favourable
recommendation to his uncle of Denmark, in behalf of one of these
"Earls," and his "lamentable retinue." The following is a translation of
this curious epistle:

"Most illustrious, &c.--Anthonius Gawino, Earl of Little Egypt, and the
other afflicted and lamentable tribe of his retinue, whilst, through a
desire of travelling, and, by command of the Pope,[55] (as he says,)
pilgriming, over the Christian world, according to their custom, had
lately arrived on the frontiers of our kingdom, and implored us that we,
out of humanity, would allow him to approach our limits without damage,
and freely carry about all things, and the company he now has. He easily
obtains what the hard fortune wretched men require. Thus he has
sojourned here, (as we have been informed,) for several months, in
peaceable and catholic manner. King and uncle, he now proposes a voyage
to Denmark to thee. But, being about to cross the ocean, he hath
requested our letters, in which we would inform your Highness of these,
and at the same time commend the calamity of this tribe to your royal
munificence. But we believe that the fates, manners, and race of the
wandering Egyptians are better known to thee than us, because Egypt is
nearer thy kingdom, and a greater number of such men sojourn in thy
kingdom.--Most illustrious, &c."[56]

  [55] Mr. Hoyland makes some very judicious remarks upon the capacity
  of the Gipsies, when they first appeared in Europe. He says: "The
  first of this people who came into Europe must have been persons of
  discernment and discrimination, to have adapted their deceptions so
  exactly to the genius and habits of the different people they visited,
  as to ensure success in all countries. The stratagem to which they had
  recourse, on entering France, evinces consummate artifice of plan, and
  not a little adroitness and dexterity in the execution. The specious
  appearance of submission to Papal authority, in the penance of
  wandering seven years, without lying in a bed, contained three
  distinct objects. They could not have devised an expedient more likely
  to recommend them to the favour of the ecclesiastics, or better
  concerted for taking advantage of the superstitious credulity of the
  people, and, at the same time, for securing to themselves the
  gratification of their own nomadic propensities. So complete was the
  deception they practised, that we find they wandered up and down
  France, under the eye of the magistracy, not for seven years only, but
  for more than a hundred years, without molestation."

  Mr. Hoyland's remarks cover only half of the question, for, being
  "pilgrims," their chiefs must also assume very high titles, to give
  them consideration with the rulers of Europe--such as dukes, earls,
  lords, counts and knights. To carry out the character of pilgrims, the
  body would go very poorly clad; it would only be the chiefs who would
  be flashily accoutred. It is, therefore, by no means wonderful that
  the Gipsies should have succeeded so well, and so long, in obtaining
  an entrance, and a toleration, in every country of Europe.--ED.

  [56] Illustrissime, &c.--Anthonius Gawino, ex Parva Egypto comes, et
  cætera ejus comitatus, gens afflicta et miseranda, dum Christianam
  orbem peregrinationes studio. Apostolicæ sedis, (ut refert) jussu,
  suorum more peregrinans, fines nostri regni dudum advenerat, atque in
  sortis suæ, et miseriarum hujus populi, refugium, nos pro humanitate
  imploraverat ut nostros limites sibi impune adire, res cunctas, et
  quam habet societatem libere circumagere liceret. Impetrat facile quæ
  postulat miserorum hominum dura fortuna. Ita aliquot menses bene et
  catholice, (sic accepimus,) hic versatus, ad te, Rex et avuncule, in
  Daciam transitum paret. Sed oceanum transmissurus nostras literas
  exoravit; quibus celsitudinem tuam horum certiorum redderemus, simul
  et calamitatem ejus gentis Regiæ tuæ munificentiæ commendaremus.
  Ceterum errabundæ Egypti fata, moresque, et genus, eo tibe quam nobis
  credimus notiora, quo Egyptus tuo regno vicinior, et major hujusmodi
  hominum frequentia tuo diversatur imperio. Illustrissime, &c.

From 1506 to 1540, the 28th of the reign of James V, we find that the
true character of the Gipsies had not reached the Scottish court; for,
in 1540, the king of Scotland entered into a league or treaty with "John
Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt;" and a writ passed the Privy Seal,
the same year, in favour of this Prince or _Rajah_ of the Gipsies. As
the public edicts in favour of this race are extremely rare, I trust a
copy of this curious document, in this place, may not be unacceptable to
the reader.[57]

  [57] I have taken the liberty of translating the various extracts from
  the Scottish acts of parliament, quoted in this chapter, as the
  original language is not very intelligible to English or even Scottish
  readers. For doing this, I may be denounced as a Vandal by the ultra
  Scotch, for so treating such "rich old Doric," as the language of the
  period may be termed.--ED.

"James, by the grace of God, King of Scots: To our sheriffs of
Edinburgh, principal and within the constabulary of Haddington, Berwick,
Roxburgh, &c., &c.; provosts, aldermen, and baillies of our burghs and
cities of Edinburgh, &c., &c., greeting: Forasmuch as it is humbly meant
and shown to us, by our loved John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt,
that whereas he obtained our letter under our great seal, direct you all
and sundry our said sheriffs, stewarts, baillies, provosts, aldermen,
and baillies of burghs, and to all and sundry others having authority
within our realm, to assist him in execution of justice upon his company
and folk, conform to the laws of Egypt, and in punishing of all them
that rebel against him: nevertheless, as we are informed, Sebastiane
Lalow Egyptian, one of the said John's company, with his accomplices and
partakers under written, that is to say, Anteane Donea, Satona Fingo,
Nona Finco, Phillip Hatseyggaw, Towla Bailyow, Grasta Neyn, Geleyr
Bailyow, Bernard Beige, Demeo Matskalla (or Macskalla), Notfaw Lawlowr,
Martyn Femine, rebels and conspirators against the said John Faw, and
have removed them all utterly out of his company, and taken from him
divers sums of money, jewels, clothes and other goods, to the quantity
of a great sum of money; and on nowise will pass home with him, howbeit
he has bidden and remained of long time upon them, and is bound and
obliged to bring home with him all them of his company that are alive,
and a testimony of them that are dead: and as the said John has the
said Sebastiane's obligation, made in Dunfermline before our master
household, that he and his company should remain with him, and on nowise
depart from him, as the same bears: In contrary to the tenor of which,
the said Sebastiane, by sinister and wrong information, false relation,
circumvention of us, has purchased our writings, discharging him and the
remnant of the persons above written, his accomplices and partakers of
the said John's company, and with his goods taken by them from him;
causes certain our lieges assist them and their opinions, and to fortify
and take their part against the said John, their lord and master; so
that he on nowise can apprehend nor get them, to have them home again
within their own country, after the tenor of his said bond, to his heavy
damage and _skaith_ (hurt), and in great peril of losing his heritage,
and expressly against justice: Our will is, therefore, and we charge you
straightly and command that . . . . . . . . . . ye and every one of you
within the bounds of your offices, command and charge all our lieges,
that none of them take upon hand to reset, assist, fortify, supply,
maintain, defend, or take part with the said Sebastiane and his
accomplices above written, for no body's nor other way, against the said
John Faw, their lord and master; but that they and ye, in likewise, take
and lay hands upon them wherever they may be apprehended, and bring them
to him, to be punished for their demerits, conform to his laws; and help
and fortify him to punish and do justice upon them for their trespasses;
and to that effect lend him your prisons, stocks, fetters, and all other
things necessary thereto, as ye and each of you, and all other our
lieges, will answer to us thereupon, and under all highest pain and
charge that after may follow: So that the said John have no cause of
complaint thereupon in time coming, nor to resort again to us to that
effect, notwithstanding any our writings, sinisterly purchased or to be
purchased, by the said Sebastiane on the contrary: And also charge all
our lieges that none of them molest, vex, unquiet, or trouble the said
John Faw and his company, in doing their lawful business, or otherwise,
within our realm, and in their passing, remaining, or away-going forth
of the same, under the pain above written: And such-like that ye command
and charge all skippers, masters and mariners of all ships within our
realm, at all ports and havens where the said John and his company
shall happen to resort and come, to receive him and them therein, upon
their expenses, for furthering of them forth of our realm to the parts
beyond sea, as you and each of them such-like will answer to us
thereupon, and under the pain aforesaid. Subscribed with our hand, and
under our privy seal at Falkland, the fifteenth day of February, and of
our reign the 28th year."[58]

  [58] Ex. Registro Secreti Sigilli, Vol. XIV, fol. 59. Blackwood.
  Appendix to McLaurin's Criminal Trials.

  This document may well be termed the most curious and important record
  of the early history of the Gipsy race in Europe; and it is well
  worthy of consideration. The meaning of it is simply this: John Faw
  had evidently been importuned by the Scottish Court, (at which he
  appears to have been a man of no small consequence,) to bring his
  so-called "pilgrimage," which he had undertaken "by command of the
  Pope," to an end, so far, at least, as remaining in Scotland was
  concerned. Being pressed upon the point, he evidently, as a last
  resource, formed a plan with Sebastiane Lalow, and the other "rebels,"
  to leave him, and carry _off_, (as he said,) his property. To give the
  action an air of importance, and make it appear as a real rebellion,
  they brought the question into court. Then, John could turn round, and
  reply to the king: "May it please your majesty! I can't return to my
  own country. My company and folk have conspired, rebelled, robbed, and
  left me. I can't lay my hands upon them; I don't even know where to
  find them. I must take them home with me, or a testimony of them that
  are dead, under the great peril of losing my heritage, at the hands of
  my lord, the Duke of Egypt. However, if your majesty will help me to
  catch them, I will not be long in taking leave of _your_ kingdom, with
  all my company. In the meantime, your majesty will be pleased to issue
  your commands to all the shipowners and mariners in the kingdom, to be
  ready, _when I gather together my folk_(_!_) to further our passage to
  Egypt, for which I will pay them handsomely." The whole business may
  be termed a piece of "thimble-rigging," to prolong their stay--that
  is, enable them to remain permanently--in the country. Our author, I
  think, is quite in error in supposing this to have been a real quarrel
  among the Gipsies. If it had been a real quarrel, the Gipsies would
  soon have settled the question among themselves, by their own laws; it
  would have been the last thing, under all the circumstances of the
  case, they would have thought of, to have brought it before the
  Scottish court. The Gipsies, according to Grellmann, assigned the
  following reason for prolonging their stay in Europe: "They
  endeavoured to prolong the term (of their pilgrimage) by asserting
  that their return home was prevented by soldiers, stationed to
  intercept them; and by wishing to have it believed that new parties of
  pilgrims were to leave their country every year, otherwise their land
  would be rendered totally barren."

  The quarrel between the Faas and the Baillies, for the _Gipsy crown_,
  in after times, did not, in all probability, arise from this business,
  but most likely, as the English Gipsies believe, from some marriage
  between these families. The Scottish Gipsies, like the two Roses, have
  had, and for aught I know to the contrary, may have yet, two rival
  kings--Faa and Baillie, with their partisans--although the Faas, from
  the prominent position which they have always occupied in Scottish
  history, have been the only kings known to the Scottish public

  In perusing this work, the reader will be pleased to take the above
  mentioned document as the starting point of the history of the Gipsies
  in Scotland; and consider the Gipsies of that time as the progenitors
  of all those at present in Scotland, including the great encrease of
  the body, by the mixture of the white blood that has been brought
  within their community. He will also be pleased to divest himself of
  the childish prejudices, acquired in the nursery and in general
  literature, against the name of Gipsy; and consider that there are
  people in Scotland, occupying some of the highest positions in life,
  who are Gipsies; not indeed Gipsies in point of purity of blood, but
  people who have Gipsy blood in their veins, and who hold themselves to
  be Gipsies, in the manner which I have, to a certain extent, explained
  in the Preface, and will more fully illustrate in my Disquisition on
  the Gipsies.--ED.

This curious league of John Faw with the Scottish king, who acknowledges
the laws and customs of the Gipsies within his kingdom, was of very
short duration. Like that of many other favourites of princes, the
credit which the "Earl of Little Egypt" possessed at court was, the
succeeding year, completely annihilated, and that with a vengeance, as
will appear by the following order in council. The Gipsies, quarrelling
among themselves, and publicly bringing their matters of dispute before
the government, had, perhaps, contributed to produce an enquiry into the
real character and conduct of these foreigners; verifying the ancient
adage, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. But the
immediate cause assigned for the sudden change of mind in the king, so
unfortunate for the Gipsies, is handed down to us in the following
tradition, current in Fife:

King James V, as he was travelling through part of his dominions,
disguised under the character of the Gaberlunzie-man, or Guid-man of
Ballangiegh, prosecuting, as was his custom, his low and vague amours,
fell in with a band of Gipsies, in the midst of their carousals, in a
cave, near Wemyss, in Fifeshire. His majesty heartily joined in their
revels, but it was not long before a scuffle ensued, wherein the king
was very roughly handled, being in danger of his life.[59] The Gipsies,
perceiving at last that he was none of their people, and considering him
a spy, treated him with great indignity. Among other humiliating
insults, they compelled his royal majesty, as an humble servant of a
Tinkler, to carry their budgets and wallets on his back, for several
miles, until he was exhausted; and being unable to proceed a step
further, he sank under his load. He was then dismissed with scorn and
contempt by the merciless Gipsies. Being exasperated at their cruel and
contemptuous treatment of his sacred person, and having seen a fair
specimen of their licentious manner of life, the king caused an order in
council immediately to be issued, declaring that, if _three_ Gipsies
were found together, one of the three was instantly to be seized, and
forthwith hanged or shot, by any one of his majesty's subjects that
chose to put the order in execution.

  [59] The Gipsies assert that, on this occasion, the king attempted to
  take liberties with one of their women: and that one of the male
  Gipsies "came crack over his head with a bottle."--ED.

This tradition is noticed by the Rev. Andrew Small, in his antiquities
of Fife, in the following words. His book came into my hands after I had
written down my account of the tradition.

"But, surely, this would be the last tinker that ever he would dub (a
knight). If we may judge from what happened, one might imagine he,
(James V,) would be heartily sick of them, (tinkers,) being taken
prisoner by three of them, and compelled to stay with them several days,
so that his nobles lost all trace of him, and being also forced, not
only to lead their ass, but likewise to assist it in carrying part of
the panniers! At length he got an opportunity, when they were bousing in
a house at the east end of the village of Milnathort, where there is now
a new meeting-house built, when he was left on the green with the ass.
He contrived to write, some way, on a slip of paper, and gave a boy
half-a-crown to run with it to Falkland, and give it to his nobles,
intimating that the guid-man of Ballangiegh was in a state of captivity.
After they got it, and knew where he was, they were not long in being
with him, although it was fully ten miles they had to ride. Whenever he
got assistance, he caused two of the tinkers, that were most harsh and
severe to him, to be hanged immediately, and let the third one, that was
most favourable to him, go free. They were hanged a little south-west of
the village, at a place which, from the circumstance, is called the
Gallow-hill to this day. The two skeletons were lately found after the
division of the commonty that recently took place. He also, after this
time, made a law, that whenever three tinkers, or Gipsies, were found
going together, two of them should be hanged, and the third set at

  [60] Small's Roman Antiquities of Fife, pages 285 and 286. Small also
  records a song composed on James V dubbing a Tinker a knight.

The following order in council is, perhaps, the one to which this
tradition alludes:

"Act of the lords of council respecting John Faw, &c., June 6, 1541. The
which day anent the complaint given by John Faw and his brother, and
Sebastiane Lalow, Egyptians, to the King's grace, ilk ane plenizeand
. . . . upon other and divers faults and injuries; and that it is agreed
among them to pass home, and have the same decided before the Duke of
Egypt.[61] The lords of council, being advised with the points of the
said complaints, and understanding perfectly the great thefts and
_skaiths_ (hurts) done by the said Egyptians upon our sovereign lord's
lieges, wherever they come or resort, ordain letters to be directed to
the provosts and baillies of Edinburgh, St. Johnstown (Perth), Dundee,
Montrose, Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Elgin, Forres, and Inverness; and to
the sheriffs of Edinburgh, Fife, Perth, Forfar, Kincardine, Aberdeen,
Elgin and Forres, Banff, Cromarty, Inverness, and all other sheriffs,
stewarts, provosts and baillies, where it happens the said Egyptians to
resort.[62] To command and charge them, by open proclamation, at the
market crosses of the head burghs of the sheriffdoms, to depart forth of
this realm, with their wives, children, and companies, within xxx days
after they be charged thereto, under the pain of death; notwithstanding
any other letters or privileges granted to them by the king's grace,
because his grace, with the advice of the lords, has discharged the same
for the causes aforesaid: with certification that if they be found in
this realm, the said xxx days being past, they shall be taken and put to

  [61] It would seem that John Faw had become frightened at the mishap
  of one of his folk "coming crack over the king's head with a bottle,"
  and that, to pacify his majesty, he had at once gone before him, and
  informed him that he had prevailed on his "rebellious subjects" to
  _pass home_, and have the matter in dispute decided by the _Duke of
  Egypt_. This would, so far, satisfy the king; but to make sure of
  getting rid of his troublesome visitors, he issued his commands to
  the    various authorities to see that they really did leave the

  [62] It would appear, from the mention that is made here of the
  authorities of so many towns and counties, "where it happens the said
  Egyptians to resort," that the race was scattered over all Scotland at
  this time, and that it must have been numerous.--ED.

  [63] M. S. Act. Dom. Con. vol 15, fol. 155.--_Blackwood's Magazine._

This sharp order in council seems to have been the first edict banishing
the Gipsies as a whole people--men, women, and children--from Scotland.
But the king, whom, according to tradition, they had personally so
deeply offended, dying in the following year, (1542) a new reign brought
new prospects to the denounced wanderers.[64] They seem to have had the
address to recover their credit with the succeeding government; for, in
1553, the writ which passed the privy seal in 1540, forming a sort of
league with "John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt," was renewed by
Hamilton, Earl of Arran, then Regent during the minority of Queen Mary.
McLaurin, in his criminal trials, when speaking of John Faw, gravely
calls him "this peer." "There is a writ," says he, "of the same tenor in
favour of this peer from Queen Mary, same record, 25 April, 1553; and 8
April, 1554, he gets remission for the slaughter of Ninian Small." In
Blackwood's Magazine it is mentioned that "Andro Faw, Captain of the
Egyptians,[65] and twelve of his gang specified by name, obtained a
remission for the slaughter of Ninian Small, committed within the town
of Linton, in the month of March last by past upon suddenly." This
appears to be the slaughter to which McLaurin alludes. The following are
the names of these thirteen Gipsies: "Andro Faw, captain of the
Egyptians, George Faw, Robert Faw, and Anthony Faw, his sons, Johnne
Faw, Andrew George Nichoah, George Sebastiane Colyne, George Colyne,
Julie Colyne, Johnne Colyne, James Haw, Johnne Browne, and George
Browne, Egyptians."

  [64] It is perfectly evident that the severe decree of James V against
  the Gipsies arose from the personal insult alluded to, owing to the
  circumstance of its falling to the ground after his death, and the
  Gipsies recovering their position with his successor. Apart from what
  the Gipsies themselves say on this subject, the ordinary tradition may
  be assumed to be well founded. If the Gipsies were spoken to on the
  subject of the insult offered to the king, they would naturally reply,
  that they did not know, from his having been dressed like a beggar,
  that it was the king; an excuse which the court, knowing his majesty's
  vagabond habits, would probably receive. But it is very likely that
  John Faw would declare that the guilty parties were those rebels whom
  he was desirous to catch, and take home with him to Egypt! This Gipsy
  king seems to have been a master of diplomacy.--ED.

  [65] The Gipsy chiefs were partial to the title of Captain; arising, I
  suppose, from their being leaders of large bands of young men employed
  in theft and robbery. [In Spain, such Gipsy chiefs, according to Mr.
  Borrow, assumed the name of Counts.--ED.]

From the edict above mentioned, it is evident that the Gipsies in
Scotland, at that time, were allowed to punish the criminal members of
their own tribe, according to their own peculiar laws, customs and
usages, without molestation. And it cannot be supposed that the
ministers of three or four succeeding monarchs would have suffered their
sovereigns to be so much imposed on, as to allow them to put their names
to public documents, styling poor and miserable wretches, as we at the
present day imagine them to have been, "Lords and Earls of Little
Egypt." Judging from the accounts which tradition has handed down to us,
of the gay and fashionable appearance of the principal Gipsies, as late
as about the beginning of the eighteenth century, as will be seen in my
account of the Tweed-dale bands, I am disposed to believe that Anthonius
Gawino, in 1506, and John Faw, in 1540, would personally, as
individuals, that is, as Gipsy Rajahs,[66] have a very respectable and
imposing appearance in the eyes of the officers of the crown. And
besides, John Faw appears to have been possessed of "divers sums of
money, jewels, clothes and other goods, to the quantity of a great sum
of money;" and it would seem that some of the officers of high rank in
the household of our kings had fingered the cash of the Gipsy pilgrims.
If there is any truth in the popular and uniform tradition that, in the
seventeenth century, a Countess of Cassilis was seduced from her duty to
her lord, and carried off by a Gipsy, of the name of John Faa, and his
band, it cannot be imagined, that the seducer would be a poor, wretched,
beggarly Tinkler, such as many of the tribe are at this day. If a
handsome person, elegant apparel, a lively disposition, much mirth and
glee, and a constant boasting of extraordinary prowess, would in any way
contribute to make an impression on the heart of the frail countess,
these qualities, I am disposed to think, would not be wanting in the
"Gipsy Laddie." And, moreover, John Faw bore, on paper at least, as high
a title as her husband, Lord Cassilis, from whom she absconded. It is
said the individual who seduced the fair lady was a Sir John Faw, of
Dunbar, her former sweetheart, and not a Gipsy; but tradition gives no
account of a Sir John Faw, of Dunbar.[67] The Falls, merchants, at
Dunbar, were descended from the Gipsy Faas of Yetholm.

  [66] _Rajah_--The Scottish Gipsy word for a chief, governor, or

  [67] The author, (Mr. Finlay,) who claims a Sir John Faw, of Dunbar,
  to have been the person who carried off the Countess of Cassilis,
  gives no authority, as a writer in Blackwood says, in support of his
  assertion. Nor does he account for a person of that name being any
  other than a Gipsy. Indeed, this is but an instance of the ignorance
  and prejudice of people generally in regard to the Gipsies. The
  tradition of the hero being a Gipsy, I have met with among the English
  Gipsies, who even gave me the name of the lady. John Faw, in all
  probability the king of the Gipsies, who carried off the countess,
  might reasonably be assumed to have been, in point of education, on a
  par with her, who, in that respect, would not, in all probability,
  rise above the most humble Scotch cow-milker at the present day,
  whatever her personal bearing might have been.--ED.

It is pretty clear that the Gipsies remained in Scotland, with little
molestation, from 1506 till 1579--the year in which James VI took the
government into his own hands, being a period of about seventy-three
years, during which time these wanderers roamed up and down the kingdom,
without receiving any check of consequence, excepting the short
period--probably about one year--in which the severe order of James V
remained in force, and which, in all probability, expired with the

  [68] During these seventy-three years of peace, the Gipsies in
  Scotland must have multiplied prodigiously, and, in all probability,
  drawn much of the native blood into their body. Not being, at that
  time, a proscribed race, but, on the contrary, honoured by leagues and
  covenants with the king himself, the ignorant public generally would
  have few of those objections to intermarry with them, which they have
  had in subsequent times. The thieving habits of the Gipsies would
  prove no bar to such connections, as the Scottish people were
  accustomed to thieving of all kinds.--ED.

The civil and religious contests in which the nation had been long
engaged, particularly during the reign of Queen Mary, produced numerous
swarms of banditti, who committed outrages in every part of the country.
The slighter depredations of the Gipsy bands, in the midst of the fierce
and bloody quarrels of the different factions that generally prevailed
throughout the kingdom, would attract but little attention, and the
Gipsies would thereby escape the punishment which their actions merited.
But the government being more firmly established, by the union of the
different parties who distracted the country, and the king assuming the
supreme authority, which all acknowledged, vigorous measures were
adopted for suppressing the excess of strolling vagabonds of every
description. In the very year the king was placed at the head of
affairs, a law was passed, "For punishment of strong and idle beggars,
and relief of the poor and impotent."

Against the Gipsies this sweeping statute is particularly directed, for
they are named, and some of their practices pointed out, in the
following passage: "And that it may be known what manner of persons are
meant to be strong and idle beggars and vagabonds, and worthy of the
punishment before specified, it is declared that all idle persons going
about the country of this realm, using subtle, crafty and unlawful
plays--as jugglery, fast-and-loose, and such others, the idle people
calling themselves Egyptians, or any other that fancy themselves to have
knowledge of prophecy, charming, or other abused sciences, whereby they
persuade the people that they can tell their weirds, deaths, and
fortunes, and such other fantastical imaginations."[69] And the
following is the mode prescribed for punishing the Gipsies, and the
other offenders associated with them in this act of parliament: "That
such as make themselves fools and are _bairds_, (strolling rhymers,) or
other such like runners about, being apprehended, shall be put in the
king's ward, or irons, so long as they have any goods of their own to
live on, and if they have not whereupon to live of their own, that their
ears be nailed to the tron or other tree, and cut off, and (themselves)
banished the country; and if thereafter they be found again, that they
be hanged."[70]

  [69] In this act of parliament are denounced, along with the Gipsies,
  "all minstrels, songsters, and tale-tellers, not avowed by special
  licence of some of the lords of parliament or great barons, or by the
  high burghs and cities, for their common minstrels." "All _vagabond
  scholars_(_!_) of the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, and
  Aberdeen, not licenced by the rector and dean of faculty to _ask
  alms_." It would seem, from this last extract, that the Scottish
  Universities granted diplomas to their students to beg! The Gipsies
  were associated or classed with good company at this time. But beggar
  students, or student-beggars, were common in other parts of Europe
  during that age.--ED.

  [70] Glendook's Scots Acts, James VI, 6th Par. cap. 74--20th Oct.

This statute was ratified and confirmed in the 12th parliament of James
VI, cap. 147, 5th June, 1592, wherein the incorrigible Gipsies are again
referred to: "And for the better trial of common _sorners_ (forcible
obtruders,) vagabonds, and masterful beggars, fancied fools, and
counterfeit Egyptians, and to the effect that they may be still
preserved till they be compelled to settle at some certain dwelling, or
be expelled forth of the country, &c." The next law in which the Gipsies
are mentioned, with other vagabonds, was passed in the 15th parliament
of the same reign, 19th December, 1597, entitled, "Strong beggars,
vagabonds, and Egyptians should be punished." The statute itself reads
as follows: "Our sovereign lord and estates of parliament ratify and
approve the acts of parliament made before, against strong and idle
beggars, vagabonds, and Egyptians," with this addition: "That strong
beggars and their children be employed in common works, and their
service mentioned in the said act of parliament, in the year of God,
1579, to be prorogate in during their life times, &c."[71]

  [71] By the above, and subsequent statutes, in the reign of James VI,
  "Coal and salt-masters might apprehend, and put to labour, all
  vagabonds and sturdy beggars." The truth is, these kidnapped
  individuals and their children were made slaves of to these masters.
  The colliers were emancipated only within these fifty years. It has
  been stated to me that some of the colliers in the Lothians are of
  Gipsy extraction. [Our author might have said _Gipsies_; for being "of
  Gipsy extraction," and "Gipsies," are expressions quite synonymous,
  notwithstanding the application by the public of the latter term to
  the more original kind of Gipsies only.--ED.]

All the foregoing laws were again ratified and enforced by another act,
in the same reign, 15th November, 1600. The following extract will serve
to give some explanation how these statutes were neglected, and seldom
put in force: "And how the said acts have received little or no effect
or execution, by the oversight and negligence of the persons who were
nominated justices and commissioners, for putting of the said acts to
full and due execution, so that the strong and idle beggars, being for
the most part thieves, _bairds_, (strolling rhymers,) and counterfeit
_limmers_, (scoundrels,) living most insolently and ungodly, without
marriage or baptism, are suffered to _vaig_ and wander throughout the
whole country."[72] "But," says Baron Hume, "all ordinary means having
proved insufficient to restrain so numerous and so sturdy a crew, the
privy council at length, in June, 1603, were induced to venture on the
more effectual expedient, (recommended by the example of some other
realm,) of at once ordering the whole race to leave the kingdom by a
certain day, and never to return under the pain of death.[73] A few
years after, this proclamation was converted into perpetual law, by
statute 1609, cap. 13, with this farther convenient, but very severe,
provision toward the more effectual execution of the order, that it
should be lawful to condemn and execute them to the death, upon proof
made of the single fact 'that they are called, known, repute and holden
Egyptians'!" As this is the only statute exclusively relating to, and
denouncing, the Gipsies, I shall give it at length.

  [72] If Fletcher of Saltoun be correct, when he states that, in his
  time, which was about the end of the 17th century, there were two
  hundred thousand people, (about one-fifth of the whole population,)
  begging from door to door in Scotland, it would be a task of no little
  difficulty, for those in power, to put in force the laws against the
  Gipsies, and vagabonds generally. The editor of Dr. Pennicuick's
  history of Tweed-dale, thinks Fletcher's is an over-charged picture.
  Some are of opinion that, when he made his statement, he included the
  greater part of the inhabitants of the Scottish Border, and also those
  in the north of Scotland; for, he said, the Highlands "was an
  inexhaustible source of beggars," and wished these banditti
  transplanted to the low country, and to people the Highlands from

  [73] The records in which this order is contained are lost.

"13. Act anent the Egyptians. Our sovereign lord and estates of
parliament ratify, approve, and perpetually confirm the act of secret
council, made in the month of June or thereby, 1603 years, and
proclamation following thereupon, commanding the vagabonds, _sorners_
(forcible obtruders), and common thieves, commonly called Egyptians, to
pass forth of this kingdom, and remain perpetually forth thereof, and
never to return within the same, under pain of death; and that the same
have force and execution after the first day of August next to come.
After the which time, if any of the said vagabonds, called Egyptians, as
well women as men, shall be found within this kingdom, or any part
thereof, it shall be lawful to all his majesty's good subjects, or any
one of them, to cause take, apprehend, imprison, and execute to death
the said Egyptians, either men or women, as common, notorious, and
condemned thieves, by one assize only to be tried, that they are called,
known, repute and holden Egyptians: In the which cause, whosoever of the
assize happen to _clenge_ (exculpate) any of the aforesaid Egyptians
pannelled, as said is, shall be pursued, handled and censured as
committers of wilful error: And whoever shall, any time thereafter,
reset, receive, supply, or entertain any of the said Egyptians, either
men or women, shall lose their escheat, and be warded at the judge's
will: And that the sheriffs and magistrates, in whose bounds they shall
publicly and avowedly resort and remain, be called before the lords of
his highness' secret council, and severely censured and punished for
their negligence in execution of this act: Discharging all letters,
protections, and warrants whatsoever, purchased by the said Egyptians,
or any of them, from his majesty or lords of secret council, for their
remaining within this realm, as surreptitiously and deceitfully obtained
by their knowledge: Annulling also all warrants purchased, or hereafter
to be purchased, by any subject of whatsoever rank within this kingdom,
for their reset, entertaining, or doing any manner of favour to the
said Egyptians, at any time after the said first day of August next to
come, for now and ever."[74] In a subsequent enactment, in 1617,
appointing justices of the peace and constables, the destruction of the
proscribed Egyptians is particularly enjoined, in defining the different
duties of the magistrates and their peace officers.[75]

  [74] Glendook's Scots Act.

  [75] Ib.

But so little respected was the authority of the government, that in
1612, three years after the passing of the Gipsy act, his majesty was
under the humiliating necessity of entering into a contract with the
clan Scott, and their friends, by which the clan bound themselves "to
give up all bands of friendship, kindness, oversight, maintenance or
assurance, if any we have, with common thieves and broken clans, &c." It
is certain there would be many bonds of the same nature with other
turbulent clans throughout the kingdom. That Scotchmen of respectability
and influence protected the Gipsies, and afforded them shelter on their
lands, after the promulgation of the cruel statute of 1609, is manifest
from the following passages, which I extract from Blackwood's Magazine,
for 1817; the conductor of which seems to have been careful in examining
the public records for the documents quoted by him; having been guided
in his researches, I believe, by Sir Walter Scott.

"In February, 1615, we find a remission under the privy seal, granted to
William Auchterlony, of Cayrine, for resetting of John Faw and his
followers.[76] On the 14th July, 1616, the sheriff of Forfar is severely
reprimanded for delaying to execute some Gipsies, who had been taken
within his jurisdiction, and for troubling the council with petitions in
their behalf. In November following appears a proclamation against
Egyptians and their resetters. In December, 1619, we find another
proclamation against resetters of them; in April, 1620, another
proclamation of the same kind, and in July, 1620, a commission against
resetters, all with very severe penalties. The nature of these acts will
be better understood from the following extract from that of the 4th
July, 1616, which also very well explains the way in which the Gipsies
contrived to maintain their footing in the country, in defiance of all
the efforts of the legislature to extirpate them." "It is of truth that
the thieves and _limmers_ (scoundrels), aforesaid, having for some short
space after the said act of parliament, (1609,) . . . dispersed
themselves in certain secret and obscure places of the country . . .
they were not known to wander abroad in troops and companies, according
to their accustomed manner, yet, shortly thereafter, finding that the
said act of parliament was neglected, and that no enquiry nor . . . was
made for them, they began to take new breath and courage, and . . .
unite themselves in infamous companies and societies, under . . .
commanders, and continually since then have remained within the country,
committing as well open and avowed _rieffis_ (robberies) in all parts
. . . murders, . . . _pleine stouthe_ (common theft) and pickery, where
they may not be mastered; and they do shamefully and mischievously abuse
the simple and ignorant people, by telling fortunes, and using charms,
and a number of juggling tricks and falseties, unworthy to be heard of
in a country subject to religion, law, and justice; and they are
encouraged to remain within the country, and to continue in their
thievish and juggling tricks and falseties, not only through default of
the execution of the said act of parliament, but, what is worse, that
great numbers of his majesty's subjects, of whom some outwardly pretend
to be famous and unspotted gentlemen, have given and give open and
avowed protection, reset, supply and maintainance, upon their grounds
and lands, to the said vagabonds, _sorners_, (forcible obtruders,) and
condemned thieves and _limmers_, (scoundrels,) and suffer them to remain
days, weeks, and months together thereupon, without controulment, and
with connivance and oversight, &c." "So they do leave a foul, infamous,
and ignominious spot upon them, their houses, and posterity, that they
are patrons to thieves and _limmers_, (scoundrels,)" &c.[77]

  [76] The nature of this crime in Scotch law is fully explained in the
  following extract from the original, which also appears curious in
  other respects. The pardon is granted "pro receptione, supportatione,
  et detentione supra terra suas de Belmadie, et infra eius habitationis
  domium, aliaq. edificia eiusdem, _Joannis Fall_, _Ethiopis_, _lie
  Egiptian_, eiusq. uxoris, puerorum, servorum et associatorum; Necnon
  pro ministrando ipsis cibum, potum, pecunias, hospicium, aliaq.
  necessaria, quocunq. tempore vel occasione preterita, contra acta
  nostri Parliamenti vel secreti concilii, vel contra quecunq. leges,
  alia acta, aut constitutiones huius nostri regni Scotiæ in contrarium
  facta." Regist. secreti sigilli vol. lxxxiii, fol. 291, _Blackwood's

  [77] The same state of things existed in Spain. Charles II. passed a
  law on the 12th June, 1695, the 16th article of which, as given by Mr.
  Borrow, enacts: "And because we understand that the continuance of
  those who are called Gitanos has depended on the favour, protection,
  and assistance which they have experienced from persons of _different
  stations_, we do ordain that whosoever against whom shall be proved
  the fact of having, since the day of the publication hereof, favoured,
  received, or assisted the said Gitanos, in any manner whatever,
  whether _within their houses_ or without, _provided he is a noble_,
  shall be subjected to the fine of _six thousand ducats_, . . . . and
  _if a plebeian_, to a _punishment of ten years in the galleys_." Such
  an enactment would surely prove that the Gipsies in Spain were
  _greatly_ favoured by the Spanish people generally, even two centuries
  after they entered the country.

  The causes to which may be attributed this toleration, even
  encouragement, of the Gipsies, are various. Among these may be
  mentioned a fear of consequences to person and property, tinkering,
  trafficking and amusement, and corruption on the part of those in
  power. But in the character of the Gipsies itself may be found a
  general cause for their escaping the effects of the laws passed
  against them, viz., _wheedling_. The term Gitano has been variously
  modified in the Spanish language, thus:

  Gitano. _Gipsy_, _flatterer_; Gitanillo, _a little Gipsy_; Gitanismo,
  _the Gipsy tribe_; Gitanesco, _Gipsy-like_; Gitanear, _to flatter_,
  _entice_; Gitaneria, _wheedling_, _flattery_; Gitanamento, _in
  a sly, winning manner_; Gitanada, _blandishment_, _wheedling_,

From their first arrival in the country till 1579, the Gipsies, as
already mentioned, appear to have been treated as a separate people,
observing their own laws and customs. In the year 1587, such was the
state of society in Scotland, that laws were passed by James VI,
compelling all the baronial proprietors of lands, chiefs and captains of
clans, on the Borders and Highlands of Scotland, to find pledges and
securities for the peaceable conduct of their retainers, tenants,
clansmen, and other inhabitants of their respective estates and
districts.[78] In the same parliament another act was passed, allowing
vagabonds and broken and unpledged men to produce pledges and securities
for their good conduct. The Gipsies, under these statutes, would remain
unmolested, as they would readily find protection by becoming,
nominally, clansmen, and assuming the surnames, of those chieftains and
noblemen who were willing and able to afford them protection.[79]
Indeed, the act allowing vagabonds to find sureties would include the
Gipsy bands, for, about this period, they seem to have been only
classed with our own native vagabonds, moss-troopers, Border and
Highland thieves, broken clans and masterless men. It appears by the act
of 1609, that the Gipsies had even purchased their protection from the
government. The inhabitants of Scotland being at this period still
divided into clans, would greatly facilitate the escape of the Gipsies
from the laws passed against them. The clans on the Borders and
Highlands were in a state of almost constant warfare with one another;
and frequently several of the clans were united in opposition to the
regular government of the country, to whose mandates they paid little or
no regard. The Gipsies had no settled residence, but roamed from place
to place over the whole country; and when they found themselves in
danger in one place, they had no more to do but remove into the district
inhabited by a hostile clan, where they would immediately find
protection. Besides, the Borderers and Highlanders, themselves
plunderers and thieves, would not be very active in apprehending their
brother thieves, the Gipsies. Even, according to Holinshed, "the poison
of theft and robbery pervaded almost all classes of the Scottish
community about this period."

  [78] There were 17 clans on the Borders, and 34 clans in the
  Highlands, who appear to have had chiefs and captains over them. There
  were 22 baronial proprietors connected with the Borders, and 106
  connected with the Highlands, named in a roll, who were likewise
  ordered to find pledges.--_Glendook's Scots Acts._

  [79] It sometimes happened, when an internal quarrel took place in a
  clan, portions of the tribe left their chief, and united themselves to
  another, whose name they assumed and dropped their original one.

The excessive severity of the sanguinary statute of 1609, and the
unrelenting manner in which it was often carried into effect, were
calculated to produce a great outward change on the Scottish Gipsies.
Like stags selected from a herd of deer, and doomed to be hunted down by
dogs, these wanderers were now singled out, and separated from the
community, as objects to whom no mercy was to be shown.[80] The word
Egyptian would never be allowed to escape their lips; not a syllable of
their peculiar speech would be uttered, unless in the midst of their own
tribe. It is also highly probable that every part of their dress by
which their fraternity could be recognized, would be carefully
discontinued. To deceive the public, they would also conform
_externally_ to some of the religious rites, ceremonies, observances,
and other customs of the natives of Scotland. I am further inclined to
think that it would be about this period, and chiefly in consequence of
these bloody enactments, the Gipsies would, in general, assume the
ordinary christian and surnames common at that time in Scotland. And
their usual sagacity pointed out to them the advantages arising from
taking the cognomens of the most powerful families in the kingdom, whose
influence would afford them ample protection, as adopted members of
their respective clans. In support of my opinion of the origin of the
surnames of the Gipsies of the present day, we find that the most
prevailing names among them are those of the most influential of our
noble families of Scotland; such as Stewart, Gordon, Douglas, Graham,
Ruthven, Hamilton, Drummond, Kennedy, Cunningham, Montgomery, Kerr,
Campbell, Maxwell, Johnstone, Ogilvie, McDonald, Robertson, Grant,
Baillie, Shaw, Burnet, Brown, Keith, &c.[81] If, even at the present
day, you enquire at the Gipsies respecting their descent, the greater
part of them will tell you that they are sprung from a bastard son of
this or that noble family, or other person of rank and influence, of
their own surname.[82] This pretended connexion with families of high
rank and power has saved some of the tribe from the gallows even in our
own time. The names, however, of the two principal families, Faw, (now
Faa,) and Bailyow, (now Baillie,) appear not to have been changed since
the date of the order in council or league with James V, in the year
1540, as both of these names are inserted in that document.

  [80] The reader will see that the Gipsies, at this time, were not
  greater "vagabonds" than great numbers of native Scotch, if as great.
  But, being strangers in the country, sojourners according to their own
  account, the king would naturally enough banish them, as they seem
  always to have been saying that they were about leaving for "their own
  country." Their living in tents, a mode of life so different from that
  of the natives, would, of itself, make them obnoxious to the king

  [81] The English Gipsies say that native names were assumed by their
  race in consequence of the proscription to which it was subjected.
  German Gipsies, on arrival in America, change, at least modify, their
  names. There are many of them who go under the names of Smith, Miller,
  and Waggoner. Jews frequently bear names common to the natives of the
  countries in which they are to be found, and sometimes, at the present
  day, assume Christian ones. I knew two German Jews, of the name of
  Cohen, who settled in Scotland. One of them, who was a priest,
  retained the original name; but the other, who was a watchmaker,
  assumed the name of Cowan, which, singularly enough, the priest said,
  was a corruption of Cohen.--ED.

  [82] It is stated by Paget, in his Travels in Hungary, that the
  Gipsies in that country have a profound regard for aristocracy; and
  that they invariably follow that class in the matter of religious
  opinions. Grellmann says as much in regard to the Gipsy's desire of
  getting hold of a distinguished old coat to put on his person.--ED.

Baron Hume, on the criminal law of Scotland, gives the following
account of some of the trials and executions of the Gipsies:

"The statute (1609) annuls at the same time all protection and warrants
purchased by the Egyptians from his majesty's privy council, for their
remaining within the realm; as also all privileges purchased by any
person to reset, entertain, or do them any favour. It appears, indeed,
from a paper in the appendix to McLaurin's Cases, that even the king's
servants and great officers had not kept their hands entirely pure of
this sort of treaty with the Egyptian chiefs, from whom some supply of
money might in this way be occasionally obtained.

"The first Gipsies that were brought to trial on the statute, were four
persons of the name of Faa, who, on the 31st July, 1611, were sentenced
to be hanged. They had pleaded upon a special license from the privy
council, to abide within the country; but this appearing to be clogged
with a condition of finding surety for their appearance when called on,
and their surety being actually at the horn, for failure to present
themselves, they were held to have infringed the terms of their

"The next trial was on the 19th and 24th July, 1616, in the case of
other two Faas and a Baillie, (which seem to have been noted names among
the Gipsies;) and here was started that plea which has since been
repeated in almost every case, but has always been overruled, viz: that
the act and proclamation were temporary ordinances, and applicable only
to such Egyptians as were in the country at their date. These pannels,
upon conviction, were ordered by the privy council to find caution to
the extent of 1,000 merks, to leave Scotland and never to return; and
having failed to comply with this injunction, they were in consequence
condemned to die.

"In January, 1624, follows a still more severe example; no fewer than
eight men, among whom Captain John Faa and other five of the name of
Faa, being convicted, were doomed to death on the statute. Some days
after, there were brought to trial Helen Faa, relict of Captain Faa,
Lucretia Faa, and other women to the number of eleven; all of whom were
in like manner convicted, and condemned to be drowned! But, in the end,
their doom was commuted for banishment, (under pain of death,) to them
and all their race. The sentence was, however, executed on the male
convicts; and it appears that the terror of their fate had been of
material service; as, for the space of more than 50 years from that
time, there is no trial of an Egyptian."

But notwithstanding this statement of Baron Hume, of the Gipsy trials
having ceased for half a century, we find, twelve years after 1624, the
date of the above trials, the following order of the privy council:
"Anent some Egyptians. At Edinburgh, 10th November, 1636. Forasmuch as
Sir Arthur Douglas of Quhittinghame having lately taken and apprehended
some of the vagabond and counterfeit thieves and _limmers_,
(scoundrels,) called the Egyptians, he presented and delivered them to
the sheriff principal of the sheriffdom of Edinburgh, within the
constabulary of Haddington, where they have remained this month or
thereby: and whereas the keeping of them longer, within the said
tolbooth, is troublesome and burdensome to the town of Haddington, and
fosters the said thieves in an opinion of impunity, to the encouraging
of the rest of that infamous _byke_ (hive) of lawless _limmers_
(scoundrels) to continue in their thievish trade: Therefore the lords of
secret council ordain the sheriff of Haddington, or his deputies, to
pronounce doom and sentence of death against so many of these
counterfeit thieves as are men, and against so many of the women as want
children; ordaining the men to be hanged, and the women to be drowned;
and that such of the women as have children, to be scourged through the
burgh of Haddington, and burned in the cheek; and ordain and command the
provost and baillies of Haddington to cause this doom be executed upon
the said persons accordingly."[83]

  [83] Blackwood's Magazine.

"Towards the end of that century," continues Baron Hume, "the nuisance
seems to have again become troublesome. On the 13th of December, 1698,
John Baillie and six men more of the same name, along with the wife of
one of them, were indicted as Egyptians, and also for sundry special
misdeeds; and being convicted, (all but the woman,) they were ordered
for execution. But in this case it is to be remarked, that the court had
so far departed from the rigour of the statute as not to sustain a
relevancy on the habit and repute of being an Egyptian of itself, but
only 'along with one or other of the facts of picking and little
thieving;' thus requiring some proof of actual guilt in aid of the fame.
In the next trial, which was that of William Baillie, June 26th, 1699, a
still further indulgence was introduced; for the interlocutor required a
proof, not of _one_ only, but of _several_, of the facts of 'picking or
little thieving, or of several acts of beating and striking with
invasive weapons.' He was only convicted as an Egyptian, and of _one_
act of striking with an invasive weapon, and he escaped in consequence
with his life.

"This lenient course of dealing with the Gipsies was not taken, however,
from any opinion of it as a necessary thing, nor was there any purpose
of prescribing it as a rule for other times, or for further cases of the
kind where such an indulgence might seem improper, as appears from the
interlocutor of relevancy in the case of John Kerr, and Helen Yorkston,
and William Baillie and other seven; in both of which the simple fame
and character of being an Egyptian is again found _separatum_ relevant
to infer the pain of death, (10th and 11th August, 1714.) Kerr and
Yorkston had a verdict in their favour; Baillie and two of his
associates were condemned to die; but as far as concerns Baillie, (for
the others were executed,) his doom was afterwards mitigated into
transportation, under pain of death in case of return.

"As early as the month of August, 1715, the same man, (as I understand
it,) was again indicted, not only for being found in Britain, but for
continuing his former practices and course of life. Notwithstanding this
aggravation, the interlocutor is again framed on the indulgent plan, and
only infers the pain of death, from the fame and character of being
an Egyptian, joined with various acts of violence and sorning, to
the number of three, that are stated in the libel. Though convicted
nearly to the extent of the interlocutor, he again escaped with

  [84] This, and part of the preceding paragraph, will be quoted again,
  under the chapter of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale Gipsies.

"Nor have I observed that the court, in any later case, have thought it
necessary to proceed upon the repute alone, unavouched by evidence of,
at least, one act of theft or violence; so that, upon the whole,
according to the practice of later times, this sort of charge seems to
be reduced nearly to the level of the charge of being habit and repute a
thief at common law."

It is noticed by Baron Hume that the Faas and the Baillies were noted
names among the Gipsies. Indeed, the trials referred to by him are all
of persons bearing these two surnames, except two individuals only. The
truth is, the Faas and the Baillies were the two principal families
among the Gipsies; giving, according to their customs, kings and queens
to their countrymen in Scotland. They would be more bold, daring, and
presumptuous in their conduct than the most part of their followers;
and, being leaders of the banditti, government, in all probability,
would fix upon them as the most proper objects for destruction, as the
best and easiest method of overawing and dispersing the whole tribe in
the country, by cutting off their chiefs. As I have already mentioned,
these two principal clans of Faw and Bailyow appear to be the only Gipsy
families in Scotland who have retained the original surnames of their
ancestors, at least of those whose names are inserted in the treaty with
James V, in 1540.

It will be seen, under the head Tweed-dale and Clydesdale Gipsies, that
tradition has represented William Baillie, who was tried in 1714 and
1715, as a bastard son of the ancient family of Lamington, (his mother
being a Gipsy). It appears to me that the Gipsy policy of joining
themselves to some family of rank was, in Baillie's case, of very
important service, not only to himself but to the whole tribe in
Scotland.[85] The extraordinary lenity shown to him by the court, after
such repeated aggravation, cannot be accounted for in any other way than
that great interest had been used in his behalf, in some quarter or
other; and that, by creating a merciful precedent in his case, it was
afterwards followed in the trial of all others of the race in Scotland.

  [85] From the time of arrival of the Gipsies in the country, in 1506,
  till 1611, the date of the first trials of the tribe, as given by
  Baron Hume, a period of 105 years had elapsed; during which time there
  had doubtless been five generations of Gipsies added to the
  population, as Scottish subjects; to put whom to death, on the mere
  ground of being Egyptians, was contrary to every principle of natural
  justice. The cruelty exercised upon them was quite in keeping with
  that of reducing to slavery the individuals, and their descendants,
  who constituted the colliers, coal-bearers, and salters referred to in
  the following interesting note, to be found in "My Schools and
  Schoolmasters," of Hugh Miller.

  "The act for manumitting our Scotch colliers was passed in the year
  1775, forty-nine years prior to the date of my acquaintance with the
  class of Niddry. But though it was only such colliers of the village
  as were in their fiftieth year when I knew them, (with, of course, all
  the older ones,) who had been born slaves, even its men of thirty had
  actually, though not nominally, come into the world in a state of
  bondage, in consequence of certain penalties attached to the
  emancipation act, of which the poor ignorant workers under ground were
  both too improvident and too little ingenious to keep clear. They were
  set free, however, by a second act passed in 1799. The language of
  both these acts, regarded as British ones of the latter half of the
  last century, and as bearing reference to British subjects living
  within the limits of the island, strikes with startling effect.
  'Whereas,' says the preamble of the older act--that of 1775--'by the
  statute law of Scotland, as explained by the judges of the courts of
  law there, many colliers, and coal-bearers, and salters, are in a
  state of _slavery or bondage_, bound to the collieries or salt works,
  where they work _for life, transferable with the collieries or salt
  works_; and whereas, the emancipation,' &c., &c. A passage in the
  preamble of the act of 1799 is scarcely less striking: it declares
  that, notwithstanding the former act, 'many colliers and coal-bearers
  _still continue in a state of bondage_' in Scotland. The history of
  our Scotch colliers would be found a curious and instructive one.
  Their slavery seems not to have been derived from the ancient time of
  general serfship, but to have originated in comparatively modern acts
  of the Scottish Parliament, and in decisions of the Court of
  Session--in acts of Parliament in which the poor ignorant subterranean
  men of the country were, of course, wholly unrepresented, and in
  decisions of a court in which no agent of theirs ever made appearance
  in their behalf."

  What is here said of a history of Scotch colliers being "curious and
  instructive," is applicable in an infinitely greater degree to that of
  the Gipsies.--ED.



  [86] This and the following three chapters are illustrative of the
  Gipsies, in their wild state, previous to their gradual settlement and
  civilization, and are applicable to the same class in every part of
  the world. Chapter VI, on the Gipsies of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale,
  might have been taken the first in order, as descriptive of the tribe
  in its more primitive condition, but I have allowed it to remain where
  it stands. A description of the habits peculiar to the race will be
  found, more or less, in all of these chapters, where they can be
  consulted, for the better identification of the facts given.--ED.

The Gipsies who frequented the banks of the Forth, and the counties
northward, appear to have been more daring than those who visited some
other parts of Scotland.

Within these sixty years, a large horde, of very desperate character,
resided on the banks of the Avon, near the burgh of Linlithgow. At
first, they quartered higher up on the Stirling side of the stream, at a
place called Walkmilton; but latterly they took up their abode in some
old houses, on the Linlithgow side of the river, at or near the bridge
of Linlithgow.

These Gipsies displayed much sagacity in carrying on their trade, by
selecting the neighbourhood of Falkirk and Linlithgow for their
headquarters, as this was, perhaps, the most advantageous position in
all Scotland that a Gipsy band could occupy. The district was of itself
very populous, and a very considerable trade and bustle then existed at
the port of Bo'ness, in the vicinity. All the intercourse between
Edinburgh and Glasgow passed a few miles to the south of their quarters.
The traffic, by carts, between Glasgow and the west of Scotland, and the
shipping at Carron-shore, Elphingston-Pow and Airth, on the Forth,
before the canal was cut, was immense; all which traffic, as well as
that between Fife and the western districts, passed a few miles north
of their position. The road for travellers and cattle from the
Highlands, by way of Stirling, crossed the above-mentioned roads, and
led, through Falkirk and Linlithgow, to Edinburgh, the eastern and
southern counties of Scotland, and England.

The principal surnames of this Gipsy band were McDonald, Jamieson,
Wilson, Gordon and Lundie. Frequently the number that would assemble
together would amount to upwards of thirty souls, and it was often
observed that a great many females and children were seen loitering
about their common place of residence. No protection was given by them
to our native vagrants, nor were any of our common plunderers,
vagabonds, or outlaws suffered to remain among them. When at home, or
traversing the country, the trade and occupation of this band were
exactly the same as those of their friends in other parts of Scotland,
viz: making wool-cards, cast-iron soles for ploughs, smoothing-irons,
horn spoons, and repairing articles in the tinker line. The old females
told fortunes, while the women in general assisted their husbands in
their work, by blowing the bellows, scraping and polishing the spoons
with glass and charred wood, and otherwise completing their articles for
sale. Many of the males dealt in horses, with which they frequented
fairs--that great resort of the Gipsies; and these wanderers, in
general, were considered excellent judges of horses. Numbers of them
were fiddlers and pipers, and the tribe often amused themselves with
feasting and dancing.[87]

  [87] It appears that, at this period, James Wilson, town-piper, and
  John Livingston, hangman, of Linlithgow, were both Gipsies. [Formerly
  the Gipsies were exclusively employed in Hungary and Transylvania as
  hangmen and executioners. _Grellmann._--ED.]

Like their race generally, these Gipsies were extremely civil and
obliging to their immediate neighbours, and those who lived nearest to
their quarters, and had the most intercourse with them, in the ordinary
affairs of life, were the least afraid of them.[88] But the farmers and
others at a distance, who frequented the markets at Falkirk, and other
fairs in the neighbourhood, were always a plentiful harvest for the
plundering Tinklers. Their plunderings on such occasions spread a
general alarm over the country. But that good humour, mirth, and jocund
disposition, peculiar to many of the males of the Gipsies, seldom failed
to gain the good-will of those who deigned to converse with them with
familiarity, or treated them with kindness. They even formed strong
attachments to certain individuals of the community, and afforded them
protection on all occasions, giving them tokens to present to others of
their fraternity, while travelling under night. Notwithstanding the good
disposition which they always showed under these circumstances, the
fiery Tinklers often fell out among themselves, on dividing, at home,
the booty which they had collected at fairs, and excited feelings of
horror in the minds of their astonished neighbours, when they beheld the
hurricanes of wrath and fury exhibited by both sexes, and all ages, in
the heat of their battles.

  [88] This trait in the character of the Scottish Gipsies is well
  illustrated in the following anecdote, which appeared in Blackwood's
  Magazine. It was obtained by an individual who frequently heard the
  clergyman in question relate it.

  "The late Mr. Leek, minister of Yetholm, happened to be riding home
  one evening from a visit in Northumberland, when, finding himself
  likely to be benighted, for sake of a near cut, he struck into a wild,
  solitary track, or drove-road, across the fells, by a place called the
  Staw. In one of the derne places through which this path led him,
  there stood an old deserted shepherd's house, which, of course, was
  reputed to be haunted. The minister, though little apt to be alarmed
  by such reports, was, however, somewhat startled on observing, as he
  approached close to the cottage, a 'grim visage' staring out past a
  _window claith_, or sort of curtain, which had been fastened up to
  supply the place of a door, and also several 'dusky figures,' skulking
  among the bourtree-bushes that had once sheltered the shepherd's
  garden. Without leaving him any time for speculation, however, the
  knight of the curtain bolted forth upon him, and, seizing his horse by
  the bridle, demanded his money. Mr. Leek, though it was now dark, at
  once recognised the gruff voice, and the great, black, burly head of
  his next-door neighbour, _Gleid Neckit Will_, the Gipsy chief. 'Dear
  me, William,' said the minister, in his usual quiet manner,'can this
  be you? ye're surely no serious wi' me? ye wadna sae far wrang your
  character for a good neighbour, for the bit trifle I ha'e to gi'e,
  William?'--'Lord saif us, Mr. Leek!' said Will, quitting the rein, and
  lifting his hat, with great respect, 'Whae wad hae thought o' meeting
  you out owre here away? Ye needna gripe for ony siller to me--I wadna
  touch a plack o' your gear, nor a hair o' your head, for a' the gowd
  o' Tividale. I ken ye'll no do us an ill turn for this mistak--and
  I'll e'en see ye safe through the eirie Staw--it's no reckoned a very
  _canny bit_, mair ways nor ane; but I wat ye'll no be feared for the
  _dead_, and I'll tak care o' the _living_.' Will accordingly gave his
  reverend friend a safe convoy through the haunted pass, and,
  notwithstanding this ugly mistake, continued ever after an inoffensive
  and obliging neighbour to the minister, who, on his part, observed a
  prudent and inviolable secrecy on the subject of this rencounter,
  during the life time of _Gleid Nickit Will_."

  I understand this anecdote to apply to old Will Faa, mentioned in the
  Border Gipsies, under chapter VII.--ED.

The children of these Gipsies attended the principal school at
Linlithgow, and not an individual at the school dared to cast the
slightest reflection on, or speak a disrespectful word of, either them
or their parents, although their robberies were everywhere notorious,
yet always conducted in so artful a manner that no direct evidence could
ever be obtained of them. Such was the fear that the audacious conduct
of these Gipsies inspired, that the magistrates of the royal burgh of
Linlithgow stood in awe of them, and were deterred from discharging
their magisterial duties, when any matter relative to their conduct came
before their honours. The truth is, the magistrates would not interfere
with them at all, but stood nearly on the same terms with them that a
tribe of American Indians, who worshipped the devil--not from any
respect which they had for his Satanic majesty, but from being in
constant dread of his diabolical machinations. Not a justice of the
peace gave the horde the least annoyance, but, on the contrary, allowed
them to remain in peaceable possession of some old, uninhabited houses,
to which they had no right whatever. Instead of endeavouring to repress
the unlawful proceedings of the daring Tinklers, numbers of the most
respectable individuals in Linlithgowshire deigned to play at golf and
other games with the principal members of the body. The proficiency
which the Gipsies displayed on such occasions was always a source of
interest to the patrons and admirers of such games. At throwing the
sledge-hammer, casting the putting-stone, and all other athletic
exercises, not one was a match for these powerful Tinklers. They were
also remarkably dexterous at handling the cudgel, at which they were
constantly practising themselves.

The honourable magistrates, indeed, frequently admitted the presumptuous
Tinklers to share a social bowl with them at their entertainments and
dinner parties. Yet these friends and companions of the magistrates and
gentlemen of Linlithgowshire were no other than the occasional tenants
of kilns, or temporary occupiers of the ground floor of some ruinous,
half-roofed houses, without furniture, saving a few blankets and some
straw, to prevent their persons from resting upon the cold earth. But,
nevertheless, these Gipsies made themselves of considerable importance,
and possessed an influence over the minds of the community to an extent
hardly to be credited at the present day. It was well known that the
provost of Linlithgow, who was much exposed by riding at all times
through the country, in the way of his business as a brewer, had himself
received from the Gipsies assurance that he would not be molested by the
band, and that he was, therefore, at all times, and on all occasions,
perfectly safe from being plundered. Having in this manner rendered the
local authorities entirely passive, or rather neutral, from fear and
interest, the audacious Gipsies prosecuted their system of plunder and
robbery to an alarming extent.

Notwithstanding the fear which these Gipsies inspired in the mind of the
community, there were yet individuals of courage who would brave them,
if circumstances rendered a meeting with them unavoidable. None, indeed,
would dream of wantonly molesting them, but, if brought to the pinch,
some would not shrink from encountering them, when acting under the
influences of those feelings which call forth the latent courage of even
the most timid and considerate of people. Such a rencounter resulted in
the death of the chief of the Linlithgow band, of the name of McDonald,
to whom the others of the tribe gave the title of captain.

In a dark night, a gentleman of the name of H----, an officer in the
army, and a man of courage, while travelling on the high road, from the
eastward to Stirlingshire, to visit, as was said, his sweetheart, had
occasion to stop, for refreshment, at a public-house near the bridge of
Linlithgow. The landlord advised him to go no further that night, owing
to the road being "foul," meaning that the Tinklers had been seen
lurking in the direction in which he was travelling. Foul or not foul,
he would proceed; his particular engagement with the lady making him
reluctant to break his promise, and turn back. He called for a gill of
brandy, which he shared with the landlord, and deliberately loaded, in
his presence, a brace of pistols which he carried about his person. His
courage rose with the occasion, and he declared that whoever dared to
molest him should not go unpunished. He then mounted his horse and rode
forward. On arriving at a place called Sandy-ford-burn, a man, in the
dark, sprang out from the side of the road, and, laying hold of the
bridle of his horse, demanded his money. The horseman being on the
alert, and quite prepared for such a demand, with his spirits, moreover,
elevated by his dram of brandy, instantly replied by firing one of his
pistols at the robber, who fell to the ground. He, however, held fast
the bridle reins in his convulsive death grasp, and the horse, being
urged forward, dragged him a short distance along the ground. Hardly had
the shot been fired, ere a voice, close by, was heard to exclaim, "There
goes our captain," while a confused cry of vengeance was uttered on all
sides, against him by whom he had fallen. But the rider, clapping his
spurs to his horse, instantly galloped forward, yet made a narrow
escape, for several shots were fired at him, which were heard by the
landlord of the public-house which he had just left.

The Gipsies, in this awkward predicament, carried the body of their
chieftain home, and gave out to their neighbours, the country people,
the following morning, (Sunday,) that he had died very suddenly of iliac
passion. His lyke-wake was kept up in their usual manner, and great
feastings and drinkings were held by them while his body lay uninterred.
After several days of carousing, the remains of the robber were buried
in the church-yard of Linlithgow.[89] His funeral was very respectable,
having been attended by the magistrates of Linlithgow, and a number of
the most genteel persons in the neighbourhood. The real cause of the
sudden death of the Tinkler began to spread abroad, a short time after
the burial, but no enquiry was made into the matter. The individual who
had done the public a service, by taking off the chief of the banditti,
mentioned the circumstance afterwards to his friends, and was afraid of
the band for some time thereafter; although it was improbable that, in
the dark, they were able to make out, or afterwards ascertain, the
person who had made himself so obnoxious to them.

  [89] Some of the Gipsies only put a paper cap on the head, and paper
  round the feet, of their dead; leaving all the body bare, excepting
  that they place upon the breast, opposite the heart, a circle made of
  red and blue ribbons, in form something like the shape of the
  variegated cockade, worn in the hats of newly-enlisted recruits in the
  army. [In England it was customary with the Gipsies, at one time, to
  burn the dead, but now they only burn the clothes, and some of the
  effects of the deceased.--ED.]

Notwithstanding this prompt and well-merited chastisement which the
Gipsies received, in their leader being shot dead in his attempt at
highway robbery, in the immediate vicinity of their ordinary place of
rendezvous, they continued their depredations in their usual manner, but
generally took care, as is their custom, to give no molestation to
their nearest neighbours. The deceased captain was succeeded, in the
chieftainship of the tribe, by his son, Alexander McDonald, who also
assumed the title of captain. This man trod in the footsteps of his
father in every respect, and exercised his hereditary profession of
theft and robbery, with an activity and audacity unequalled by any among
his tribe in that part of Scotland. The very name of McDonald and his
gang appalled the boldest hearts of those who ventured to travel under
night with money in their pockets, in certain parts of the country. His
band appears to have been very numerous, as among them some held the
subordinate rank of lieutenants, as if they had been organized like a
regular military company. James Jamieson, his brother-in-law, was also
styled captain in this notorious band of Gipsies, who were connected
with similar bands in England and Ireland.

McDonald and his brother-in-law, Jamieson, were considered remarkably
stout, handsome, and fine-looking men. By constant training at all kinds
of athletic exercises, they brought themselves to perform feats of
bodily strength and agility which were almost incredible. They were
often elegantly dressed in the finest clothes of the first fashion, with
linen to correspond. At the same time they were perfect chameleons in
respect to their appearance and apparel. McDonald was frequently
observed in three or four different dresses in one market-day. At one
time of the day, he was seen completely attired in the best of tartan,
assuming the appearance and manners of a highland gentleman in full
costume. At another time, he appeared ruffled at hands and breast,
booted and spurred, on horseback, as if he had been a man of some
consideration. He would again be seen in a ragged coat, with a budget
and wallet on his back--a common travelling Tinkler. Both of these men
often dealt in horses, and were themselves frequently mounted on the
best of animals. The Arabians and Tartars are scarcely more partial to
horses than the Gipsies.

The pranks and tricks played by McDonald were numerous, and many a story
is yet remembered of his extraordinary exploits. He took great pains in
training and learning some of his horses various evolutions and tricks.
He had, at one time, a piebald horse so efficiently trained, and so
completely under his management, that it, in some respects, assisted
him in his depredations. By certain signals and motions, he could, when
he found it necessary, make it clap close to the ground, like a hare in
its furrow. It would crouch down in a hollow piece of ground, in a
ditch, or at the side of a hedge, so as to hide itself, when McDonald's
situation was like to expose him to detection. With the assistance of
one of these well trained-horses, this man, on one occasion, saved his
wife, Ann Jamieson, from prison, and perhaps from the gallows. Ann was
apprehended near Dunfermline for some of her unlawful practices. As the
officers of the law were conducting her to prison, McDonald rode up to
the party, and requested permission to speak with their prisoner, which
was readily granted, as, from McDonald's appearance, the officers
supposed he had something to say to the woman. He then drew her aside,
under the pretence of conversing with her in private, when, in an
instant, Ann, with his assistance, sprang upon the horse, behind him,
and bade good-bye to the messengers, who were amazed at the sudden and
unexpected escape of their prisoner. Ann was a little, handsome woman,
and was considered one of the most expert of the Scottish Gipsies at
conducting a plundering at a fair; and was, on that account, much
respected by her tribe.

McDonald and Jamieson, like others of the superior classes of Gipsies,
gave tokens of protection to their particular friends of the community
generally. The butchers of Linlithgow, when they went to the country,
with money to buy cattle, frequently procured these assurances from the
Gipsies. The shoemakers did likewise, when they had to go to distant
markets with their shoes. Linlithgow appears even to have been under the
special protection of these banditti. Mr. George Hart, and Mr. William
Baird, two of the most respectable merchants of Bo'ness, who had been
peddlers in their early years, scrupled not to say that, when travelling
through the country, they were seldom without tokens from the Gipsies.
But if the Gipsies were kind to those who kept on good terms with them,
they, on the other hand, vindictively tormented their enemies. They
would steal sheep, and put the blood and parts of the animal about the
premises of those they hated, that they might be suspected of the theft,
searched and affronted by the enquiries made about the stolen property.

When McDonald and Jamieson attacked individuals on the highway, or
elsewhere, and were satisfied that they had little or no money, they
were just as ready to supply their wants as to rob them. The idea of
plundering the wealthy, and giving the booty to the poor, gives the
Gipsies great satisfaction. The standard by which this people's conduct
can be measured, must be sought for among the robber tribes of Tartary,
Afghanistan, or Arabia. Many of our Scottish Gipsies have, indeed,
been as ready to give a purse as take one; and it cannot be said
that they have lacked in the display of a certain degree of honour
peculiar to themselves, as the following well-authenticated fact will

  [90] Instances have occurred in which an Afghan has received a
  stranger with all the rights of hospitality, and afterwards, meeting
  him in the open country, has robbed him. The same person, it is
  supposed, who would plunder a cloak from a traveller who had one,
  would give a cloak to one who had none.--_Hugh Murray's Asia, vol. 2,
  page 508._

A gentleman, whose name is not mentioned, while travelling, under night,
between Falkirk and Linlithgow, fell in, on the road, with a man whom he
did not know. During the conversation which ensued, he mentioned to the
stranger that he was afraid of being attacked, for many a one, he
observed, had been robbed on that road. He then urged that they should
return, as the safest plan for them both. The stranger, however, replied
that he had often travelled the road, yet had never been troubled by any
one. After some further conversation, he put his hand into his pocket,
and gave the traveller a knife, with which he was desired to proceed
without fear.[91] The traveller now perfectly understood the relation
that existed between them, and continued his journey with confidence;
but he had not proceeded far ere he was accosted by a foot-pad, to whom
he produced the knife. The pad looked at it carefully, said nothing, but
passed on, without giving the traveller the slightest annoyance. It is
needless to say that the mysterious stranger was no other than the
notorious Captain McDonald. The traveller, by his fears and the nature
of his conversation, had plainly informed McDonald of his being
possessed of money--a considerable quantity of which he had, indeed,
with him--and had the love of booty been the Gipsy's sole and constant
object, how easily could he, in this instance, have possessed himself of
it. But the stronger had put himself, in a measure, under the protection
of the robber, who disdained to take advantage of the confidence reposed
in him.

  [91] A pen-knife, a snuff-box, and a ring are some of the Gipsy
  pass-ports. It is what is marked upon them that protects the bearer
  from being disturbed by others of the tribe.

Another instance of a Gipsy's honour, generosity, or caprice, or by
whatever word the act may be expressed, occurred between McDonald and a
farmer of the name of Campbell, and exhibits a singular cast of
character, which has not been uncommon among the Scottish Gipsies. On
this occasion, it would appear, the Gipsy had been influenced rather by
a desire of enjoying the extraordinary surprise of the simple
countryman, than of obtaining booty. The occurrence will also give some
idea of the part which the cautious chiefs take in plundering at a fair.
The particulars are derived from a Mr. David McRitchie, of whom I shall
again make mention.

While Campbell was on his way to a market in Perth, he fell in with
Captain McDonald. Being unacquainted with the character of his
fellow-traveller, the unsuspecting man told him, among other things,
that he had just as much money in his pocket as would purchase one
horse, for his four-horse plough, having other three at home. McDonald
heard all this with patience till he came to a solitary part of the
road, when, all at once, he turned upon the astonished farmer, and
demanded his money. The poor man, having no alternative, immediately
produced his purse. But in parting, the robber desired him to call next
day at a certain house in Perth, where he would find a person who might
be of some service to him. Campbell promised to do as desired, and
called at the house appointed, and great was his surprise, when, on
being ushered into a room, he found himself face to face with the late
robber, sitting with a large bowl of smoking toddy before him. The
Gipsy, in a frank and hearty manner, invited his visitor to sit down and
share his toddy with him; a request which he readily complied with,
although bewildered with the idea of the probable fate of his purse, and
the result of his personal adventure. He had scarcely got time, however,
to swallow one glass, before he was relieved of his suspense, by the
Gipsy returning him every farthing of the money he had robbed him of the
day before. Being now pleased with his good fortune, and the Gipsy
pressing him to drink, Campbell was in no hurry to be gone, his spirits
having become elevated with his good cheer, and the confidence with
which his host's conduct had inspired him. But his suspicions returned
upon him, as he saw pocket-book after pocket-book brought in to his
entertainer, during the time he was enjoying his hospitality. The Gipsy
chief was, in fact, but following a very important branch of his
calling, and was, on that day, doing a considerable business, having a
number of youths ferreting for him in the market, and coming in and
going out constantly.

But this crafty Gipsy, and his brother-in-law, Jamieson, were at last
apprehended for house-breaking and robbery. Their trials took place at
Edinburgh, on the 9th and 13th of August, 1770, and "the fame of being
Egyptians" made part of the charge against them in the indictment; a
charge well founded, as both of them spoke the "right Egyptian
language." It was the last instance, I believe, that the fact of their
being "called, known, repute, and holden Egyptians," made part of the
indictment against any of the tribe in Scotland, under the sanguinary
statute of James VI, chap. 13, passed in 1609. So cunning are the
Gipsies, however, in committing crimes, that, in this instance, the
criminals, it was understood, would have escaped justice, for want of
sufficient proof, had not one of their own band, of the name of
Jamieson, a youth of about twenty-two years of age, turned king's
evidence against his associates. The two unhappy men were then found
guilty by the jury, and condemned to die. They were ordered to be
executed at Linlithgow bridge, near the very spot where their band had
their principal rendezvous, with the apparent object of daunting their
incorrigible race.

Immediately after the trial, a report was spread, and generally
believed, that the Gipsies would attempt a rescue of the criminals on
the way to execution, or even from under the gallows itself; and it was
particularly mentioned that thirty stout and desperate members of the
race had undertaken to set their chieftains free. Every precaution was
therefore taken, by the authorities, to prevent any such attempt being
made. A large proportion of the gentlemen and farmers of the shire of
Linlithgow were requested, with what arms they could procure, to attend,
on foot or horseback, the execution of the desperate Tinklers. Indeed,
every third man of all the fencible men of the county was called upon to
appear on the occasion; while a company of pensioners, with a
commissioned officer at their head, and a strong body of the military,
completed the force deemed necessary for the due execution of justice.
Besides guarding against the possibility of a rescue on the part of the
Gipsies, it was generally understood that the steps taken by the
authorities, in bringing together so large a body of men, had in view
the object of exhibiting to the people the ignominious death of two men
who had not only been allowed to remain among them, but, in many
instances, countenanced by some of the most respectable inhabitants of
the county; and that not only in out-door amusements, but even in some
of the special hospitalities of daily life, while in fact they were
nothing but the leaders of a band of notorious thieves and robbers.

These precautions being completed, the condemned Gipsies were bound hand
and foot, and conveyed, by the sheriff of Edinburgh and a company of the
military, to the boat-house bridge, on the river Almond--the boundary of
the two counties--and there handed over to the sheriff of Linlithgow;
under whose guard they were carried to the jail of the town of
Linlithgow, and securely bound in irons, to wait their execution on the
morrow.[92] As night approached, fires were kindled at the door of the
prison, and guards posted in the avenues leading to the building, while
all the entrances to the town were guarded, and all ingress and egress
prohibited, as if the burgh had been in a state of siege. So strictly
were these orders put in force, that many of the inhabitants of Bo'ness,
who had gone to Linlithgow, to view the bustle occasioned by the
assemblage of so great a number of armed men, were forced to remain in
the town over night; so alarmed were the authorities for the onset of
the resolute Gipsies. It was soon perceived, by some sagacious
individuals, that the fires would do more harm than good, as the light
would show the prison, expose the sentinels, and guide the Gipsy bands.
They were accordingly extinguished, and the guards placed in such
positions as would enable them, with the most advantage, to repel any
attack that might be attempted: yet the enemy that caused all this alarm
and precaution was nowhere visible.

  [92] "This morning, a little after nine o'clock, McDonald and Jamieson
  were transported from the Tolbooth here, (Edinburgh,) escorted by a
  party of the military, and attended by the sheriff-depute on
  horseback, with the officers of court, armed with broad-swords, amidst
  an innumerable crowd of spectators. They were securely pinioned to a
  cart, and are to be received by the sheriff-depute of Linlithgow, on
  the confines of this county, whither they are to be conveyed, in order
  to their execution to-morrow, near Linlithgow-bridge, pursuant to
  their sentence."--_Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine_, vol 9, page 384.

On the following morning, McDonald's wife requested permission to visit
her husband before being led to execution, with what particular object
can only be conjectured; a favour which was readily granted her, in the
company of a magistrate. On beholding the object of her affection, she
became overwhelmed with grief; she threw her arms around his neck, and
embraced him most tenderly; and after giving vent to her sorrow in sobs
and tears, she tore herself from him, and, turning to the magistrate,
exclaimed, with a bursting heart, "Is he not a pretty man? What a pity
it is to hang him!"

Arrangements were then made to carry the prisoners to the place of
execution, at the bridge of Linlithgow, which lay about a mile from the
town. The armed force was drawn up at the town-cross, and those who
carried muskets were ordered to load them with ball cartridge, and hold
themselves ready, at the word of command, upon the least appearance of
an attempt at rescue, to fire upon the aggressors. The whole scene
presented such an alarming and war-like appearance, that the people of
the town and surrounding country compared it to the bustle and military
parade which took place, twenty-five years before, when the rebel army
made its appearance in the neighbourhood. The judicious arrangements
adopted by the officers of the crown had the desired effect; for not the
slightest symptom of disturbance, not even a movement, was observed
among the Gipsies, either on the night before, or on the morning of the
execution. The formidable armed bands, ready to overwhelm the
presumptuous Gipsies, clearly showed them that they had not the shadow
of a chance for carrying out their intended rescue. All was peace and
silence throughout the immense crowd surrounding the gallows, patiently
waiting the appearance of the criminals. In due time the condemned made
their appearance, in a cart, accompanied by Charles and James Jamieson,
two youths, sitting beside their father and uncle, busily eating rolls,
and, to all appearance, totally indifferent to the fate of their
relatives, and the awful circumstances surrounding them.

On ascending the platform, Jamieson's demeanour was suitable to the
circumstances in which he found himself placed; but McDonald appeared
quite unconcerned. He was observed frequently to turn a quid of tobacco
in his mouth, and squirt the juice of it around him; it was even
evident, from his manner, that he expected to be delivered from the
gallows by his tribe; and more especially as he had been frequently
heard to say that the hemp was not grown that would hang him. He then
began to look frequently and wistfully around him for the expected aid,
yet none made its appearance; and his heart began to sink within him.
Indeed, the overwhelming force then surrounding him rendered a
deliverance impossible. Every hope having failed him, and seeing his end
at hand, McDonald resigned himself, with great firmness, to his fate,
and exclaimed: "I have neither friends on my right hand nor on my left;
I see I now must die." Jamieson, who appeared from the first never to
indulge in vain expectations of being rescued, exclaimed to his
fellow-sufferer: "Sandie, Sandie! it is all over with us, and I told you
so long ago." McDonald then turned to the executioner, whose name was
John Livingston, and dropping into his hand something, supposed to be
money, undauntedly said to him: "Now, John, don't bungle your job." Both
of the unhappy men were then launched into eternity. Ever afterwards,
the inhabitants of Linlithgow pestered the hangman, by calling to him:
"Now, John, don't bungle your job. What was it the Tinkler gave you,

  [93] "On Friday last, about three o'clock, McDonald and Jamieson were
  hanged, at the end of Linlithgow bridge. The latter appeared very
  penitent, but the former very little affected, and, as the saying is,
  _died hard_."--_Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine_, vol. 9, page 416.

McDonald's wife had stood by, a quiet spectator, among the promiscuous
crowd, of the melancholy scene displayed before her. But when she had
witnessed the closing act of an eventful life--the heroism and fortitude
which all she held as dear displayed in his last moments--and enjoyed
the satisfaction which it had given her, nature, which the odium of her
fellow-creatures, not of her blood, could not destroy, burst forth with
genuine expression. The silence attending the awful tragedy was abruptly
broken by the lamentable yells and heart-rending screams which she gave
vent to, as she beheld her husband turned off the scaffold. Two
gentlemen, who were present, informed me that she foamed at the mouth,
and tore her hair out of her head, and was so completely frantic with
grief and rage, that the spectators were afraid to go near her.

On the bodies being taken down from the scaffold, an attempt was made to
restore them to life, by opening a vein, but without effect. It is said
they were buried in the moor near Linlithgow, by the Gipsies, and that
the magistrates of the town ordered them to be taken up, and interred in
the east end of the church-yard of Linlithgow. However that may be, the
bodies were buried in the church-yard of Linlithgow; but the populace,
delivered from the terror with which these daring Gipsies inspired them,
treated with ignominy the remains of those whom they dared scarcely look
in the face when alive. They dug them out of the place of Christian
sepulture, and interred them in a solitary field in the neighbourhood. A
clump of trees, I believe, marks the spot, and the gloomy pine now
waves, in the winds of heaven, over the silent and peaceful graves of
the restless and lawless Gipsies.

McDonald, it would appear, was married, first of all, to a daughter of a
Gipsy of the name of Eppie Lundie, with whom he lived unhappy, and was
divorced from her over a horse sacrificed for the occasion, a ceremony
which I will describe in another chapter.[94] He was more fortunate in
his second matrimonial alliance, for, in Ann Jamieson, he found a wife
after his own heart in every way. Previous to his own execution, she had
witnessed the violent deaths of at least six of her own nearest
relatives. But, if anything could have influenced, in the slightest
degree, a reformation in her own character, it would have been the
melancholy scene attending his miserable end; yet, we find it had not
the slightest effect upon her after career, for she continued, to the
last, to follow the practices of her race, as an anecdote told of her
will show.

  [94] This Eppie Lundie lived to the advanced age of a hundred years,
  and was a terror wherever she travelled. Without the least hesitation
  or scruple, she frequently stripped defenceless individuals of their
  wearing apparel, leaving them sometimes naked in the open fields.

At the North Queensferry was a very respectable inn, kept by a Mr.
McRitchie, which was much frequented and patronized by the Gipsies. On
such occasions they did not visit the house in whole families or hordes,
fluttering in rags, but as well-dressed individuals, arriving from
different directions, as if by chance. In this house they were always
treated with consideration and kindness, for other reasons than that of
the liberal custom which they brought to it, and, as a natural
consequence, the landlord and his family became great favourites with
them. One of the members of the family, David McRitchie, my informant,
happened one day to purchase a horse, at a fair in Dunfermline, but in
feeling for his pocket-book, to pay for the animal, he found, to his
surprise and grief, that book and money were gone. The person from whom
he bought the horse commenced at once to abuse him as an impostor, for
he not only would not believe his tale, but would not trust him for a
moment. Under these distressing circumstances, he sought out Ann
Jamieson, or Annie McDonald, after her husband's name, for he knew well
enough where his money had gone to, and the sovereign influence which
Ann exercised over her tribe. Being well acquainted with her, from
having often met her in his father's house, he went up to her, and
putting his hand gently on her shoulder, in a kind and familiar manner,
and with a long face, told her of his misfortune, and begged her
friendly assistance to help him out of the difficulty, laying much
stress on the horse-dealer charging him with an attempt to impose on
him. "Some o' my laddies will hae seen it, Davie; I'll enquire," was her
immediate reply. She then took him to a public-house, called for brandy,
saw him seated, and desired him to drink. Taking the marks of the
pocket-book, she entered the fair, and, after various doublings and
windings among the crowd, proceeded to her temporary depot of stolen
goods. In about half an hour she returned, with the book and all its
contents. The cash, bills, and papers which it contained, were in the
same parts of the book in which the owner had placed them. This affair
was transacted in as cool and business-like a manner as if Annie and her
"laddies" had been following any of the honest callings in ordinary
life. Indeed, no example, however severe, no punishment, however awful,
seems to have had any beneficial effect upon the minds of these Gipsies,
or their friends who frequented the surrounding parts of the country,
for they continued to follow the ways of their race, in spite of the
sanguinary laws of the country. A continuation of their history, up to
a period, is little better than a melancholy narrative of a series of
imprisonments, banishments, and executions.

Ann Jamieson's two nephews, Charles and James Jamieson, who rode
alongside of their father and uncle to the place of their execution,
eating rolls, as if nothing unusual was about to befall them, and who
had witnessed their miserable end, in 1770, were themselves executed in
1786 for robbing the Kinross mail. It was their intention to have
committed the deed upon the highway, for, the night before the robbery,
their mother, Euphan Graham, to prevent detection, insisted upon the
post-boy being put to death, to which bloody proposition her sons would
not consent. It was then agreed that they should secure their prize in
the stable yard of an inn in the town, where the post-boy usually
stopped. The two highwaymen were traced to a small house near Stirling,
in which they made a desperate resistance. One of them attempted to
ascend the chimney, to effect his escape; but, failing in that, they
attacked the officers, and tore at them with their teeth, after having
struck furiously at them with a knife. But they were overpowered, and
secured in irons. Two females were in their company at the time, on whom
some of the money was found, most artfully concealed about their
persons. So illiterate were these two men that, in crossing the Forth at
Kincardine, they presented a twenty-pound note, to be changed, instead
of a twenty-shilling one. According to Baron Hume, the trial of these
two Gipsies took place on the 18th December, 1786. They were assisted in
the robbery by other members of their band, including women and
children. Their mother was said to have been transported for the part
which she took in the affair; while another member of the gang was below
the age at which criminals can be tried and punished in this country.
The two brothers, before they committed the crime, measured themselves
in a room in Kinross, kept by a Mary Barclay, and marked their heights
on the wall. The one stood six feet two inches, and the other five feet
four inches.[95]

  [95] Perhaps the author intended to say, six feet two inches, and six
  feet four inches. Still, it might have been as stated in the MS.; for
  with Gipsies of mixed blood, the individual, if he takes after the
  Gipsy, is apt to be short and thick-set. The mixture of the two people
  produces a strong race of men.--ED.



In this account of the Gipsies in Fife, the horde which at one period
resided at the village of Lochgellie are frequently referred to. But it
is proper to premise that this noted band were not the only Gipsies in
Fife. This populous county contained, at one time, a great number of
nomadic Gipsies. The Falkland hills and the Falkland fairs were greatly
frequented by them;[96] and, not far from St. Andrews, some of the tribe
had, within these fifty years, a small farm, containing about twenty
acres of waste land, on which they had a small foundry, which the
country people, on that account, called "Little Carron." As my materials
for this chapter are chiefly derived from the Lochgellie band, and their
immediate connexions in other districts not far from Fife, their manners
and customs are, on that account, brought more under review.

  [96] In Oliver and Boyd's Scottish Tourist, (1832), page 181, occurs
  the following passage: "A singular set of vagrants existed long in
  Falkland, called _Scrapies_, who had no other visible means of
  existence than a horse or a cow. Their ostensible employment was the
  carriage of commodities to the adjoining villages, and in the
  intervals of work they turned out their cattle to graze on the Lomond
  Hill. Their excursions at night were long and mysterious, for the
  pretended object of procuring coals, but they roamed with their little
  carts through the country-side, securing whatever they could lift, and
  plundering fields in autumn. Whenever any enquiry was addressed to a
  Falkland _Scrapie_ as to the support of his horse, the ready answer
  was, 'Ou, he gangs up the (Lomond) Hill, ye ken.' This is now
  prevented; the Lomond is enclosed, and the _Scrapies_ now manage their
  affairs on the road-sides."

  The people mentioned in this extract are doubtless those to whom our
  author alludes. The reader will notice some resemblance between them
  and the tribe in the Pyrenees, as described at page 87.--ED.

The village of Lochgellie was, at one time, a favourite resort of the
Gipsies. The grounds in its immediate vicinity are exactly of that
character upon which they seem to have fixed their permanent, or rather
winter's residence, in a great many parts of Scotland. By the
statistical account of the parish of Auchterderran, Lochgellie was
almost inaccessible for nearly six months in the year. The bleak and
heathy morasses, and rushy wastes, with which the village is surrounded,
have a gloomy and melancholy aspect. The scenery and face of the
adjoining country are very similar to those in the neighbourhood of
Biggar, in Lanarkshire, and Middleton, in Midlothian, which were also,
at that time, Gipsy stations. A little to the south of the spot where
the Linlithgow band, at one period, had their quarters, the country
becomes moory, bleak, and barren. The village of Kirk-Yetholm, at
present full of Gipsies, is also situated upon the confines of a wild,
pastoral tract, among the Cheviot hills.[97] The Gipsies, in general,
appear to have located themselves upon grounds of a flattish character,
between the cultivated and uncultivated districts; having, on one side,
a fertile and populous country, and, on the other, a heathy, boggy, and
barren waste, into which they could retire in times of danger.[98]

  [97] Yetholm lies in a valley which, surrounded on all sides by lofty
  mountains, seems completely sequestered from the rest of the
  world--alike inaccessible from without, and not to be left from
  within. The valley has, however, more than one outlet.--_Chambers'
  Gazetteer of Scotland._--ED.

  [98] In Hungary, their houses, which are always small, and poor in
  appearance, are commonly situated in the outskirts of the village,
  and, if possible, in the neighbourhood of some thicket or rough

In the statistical account of Auchterderran, just alluded to, is to be
found the following notice of the Lochgellie Gipsies: "There are a few
persons called _Tinkers_ and _Horners_, half resident and half
itinerant, who are feared and suspected by the community. Two of them
were banished within these six years." This horde, at one time,
consisted of four or five families of the names of Graham, Brown,
Robertson, &c. The Jamiesons and Wilsons were also often seen at
Lochgellie; but such were the numbers that were coming and going about
the village, that it was difficult to say who were residenters, and who
were not. Some of them had fens from the proprietor of the estate of
Lochgellie. They were dreaded for their depredations, and were well
known to the country people, all over the shires of Fife, Kinross,
Perth, Forfar, Kincardine and Aberdeen, by the name of the "Lochgellie
band." The chiefs of this band were the Grahams, at the head of which
was old Charles Graham, an uncommonly stout and fine-looking man. He was
banished the kingdom for his many crimes. Charlie had been often in
courts of justice, and on one occasion, when he appeared for some crime
or other, the judge, in a surly manner, demanded of him, what had
brought him there?--"The auld thing again, my lord, but nae proof," was
the Tinkler's immediate reply. Ann Brown, one of his wives, and the
chief female of the band, was also sentenced to banishment for fourteen
years; seven of which, however, she spent in the prison of Aberdeen. She
remained altogether nine years at Botany Bay, married a Gipsy abroad,
returned to Scotland, with more than a hundred pounds in cash, and now
sells earthenware at St. Andrews.[99] Being asked why she left Botany
Bay, while making so much money there, she said, "It was to let them see
I could come back again."

  [99] This woman is most probably dead, and the same may be said of
  some of the other characters mentioned in this and other

Young Charlie Graham, son and successor, as chief, to old Charlie, was
hanged at Perth, about thirty years ago, for horse-stealing. The
anecdotes which are told of this singular man are numerous. When he was
apprehended, a number of people assembled to look at him, as an object
of wonder; it being considered a thing almost impossible to take him.
His dog had discovered to the messengers the place of his concealment,
having barked at them as they came near the spot. His feelings became
irritated at the curiosity of the people, and he called out in great
bitterness to the officers: "Let me free, and gie me a stick three feet
lang, and I'll clear the knowe o' them." His feet and hands were so
handsome and small, in proportion to the other parts of his athletic
body, that neither irons nor hand-cuffs could be kept on his ankles or
wrists; without injury to his person the gyves and manacles always
slipped over his joints. He had a prepossessing countenance, an elegant
figure, and much generosity of heart; and, notwithstanding all his
tricks, was an extraordinary favourite with the public. Among the many
tricks he played, it is related that he once, unobserved, in a grass
park, converted a young colt into a gelding. He allowed the animal to
remain for some time in the possession of the owner, and then stole it.
He was immediately detected, and apprehended; but as the owner swore
positively to the description of his horse, and Charlie's being a
gelding, he got off clear. The man was amazed when he discovered the
trick that had been played upon him, but when, where, and by whom done,
he was entirely ignorant. Graham sold the animal to a third person,
again stole it, and replaced it in the park of the original owner. He
seemed to take great delight in stealing in this ingenious manner,
trying how dexterously he could carry off the property of the astonished
natives. He sometimes stole from wealthy individuals, and gave the booty
to the indigent, although they were not Gipsies; and so accustomed were
the people, in some places, to his bloodless robberies, that some only
put their spurs to their horses, calling out, as they passed him: "Ah
ha, Charlie lad, ye hae missed your mark to-night!" A widow, with a
large family, at whose house he had frequently been quartered, was in
great distress for want of money to pay her rent. Graham lent her the
amount required; but as the factor was returning home with it in his
pocket, Charlie robbed him, and, without loss of time, returned to the
woman, and gave her a full discharge for the sum she had just borrowed
from him.

He was asked, immediately before his execution, if he had ever performed
any good action during his life, to recommend him to the mercy of his
offended God. That of giving the widow and fatherless the money of which
he immediately afterwards robbed the factor, was the only instance he
adduced in his favour; thinking that thereby he had performed a virtuous
deed. In the morning of the day on which he was to suffer, he sent a
messenger to one of the magistrates, requesting a razor to take off his
beard; at the same time, in a calm manner, desiring the person to tell
the magistrate that, "unless his beard was shaven, he could appear
before neither God nor man." A short time before he was taken out to the
gallows, he was observed reclining very pensively and thoughtfully on a
seat. All at once he started up, exclaiming, in a mournful tone of
voice, "Oh, can ony o' ye read, sirs; will some o' ye read a psalm to
me?" at the same time regretting much that he had not been taught to
read. The fifty-first psalm was accordingly read to him, by a gentleman
present, which soothed his feelings exceedingly, and gave him much ease
and comfort. He was greatly agitated after ascending the platform--his
knees knocking against each other; but just before he was cast off, his
inveterate Gipsy feelings returned upon him with redoubled violence. He
kicked from his feet both of his shoes, in sight of the spectators--to
set at nought, as was supposed, some prophecy that he would die with
them on; and addressed the assembled crowd in the following words: "I am
this day to be married to the gallows-tree, by suffering in the manner
of many of my ancestors; and I am extremely glad to see such a number of
respectable people at my wedding." A number of the band attended his
execution, and, when his body was returned to them, they all kissed it
with great affection, and held the usual lyke-wake over it. His
sweetheart, or widow, I am uncertain which, of the name of Wilson, his
own cousin, put his corpse into hot lime, then buried it, and sat on his
grave, in a state of intoxication, till it was rendered unfit for the
use of the medical gentlemen; it having been reported that he was to be
taken out of his grave for the purpose of dissection. This man boasted
greatly, while under sentence of death, of never having spilled human
blood by committing murder.

Hugh Graham, brother to Charlie, above-mentioned, was stabbed with a
knife by his own cousin, John Young, in Aberdeenshire. These powerful
Gipsies never fell in with each other but a wrestling bout took place.
Young generally came off victorious, but Graham, although worsted, would
neither quit Young nor acknowledge his inferiority of strength. Young
frequently desired Graham to keep out of his way, as his obstinate
disposition would prove fatal to one of them some time or other. They,
however, met again, when a desperate struggle ensued. Graham was the
aggressor; he drew his knife to stab Young, who wrested it out of his
hand, and stabbing him in the upper part of the stomach, close to the
breast, laid his opponent dead at his feet.[100] In this battle the
Gipsy females, in their usual manner, took a conspicuous part, by
assisting the combatants on either side.

  [100] Young was chased for nearly thirty miles, by Highlanders, on
  foot, and General Gordon of Cairnfield, and others, on horseback; and,
  as he was frequently in view, the affair much resembled a fox-hunt.
  The hounds were most of them game-keepers--an active race of men; and
  so exhausted were they, before the Gipsy was caught, that they were
  seen lying by the springs, lapping water with their tongues, like
  dogs.--_Blackwood's Magazine._--ED.

Jenny Graham, sister of these Grahams, was kept by a gentleman as his
mistress; but, although treated with affection, such was her attachment
to her old wandering way of life, that she left her protector and his
wealth, and rejoined her erratic associates in the gang. She was a
remarkably handsome and good-looking woman, and, while she traversed the
country, she frequently rode upon an ass, which was saddled and bridled.
On these occasions, she was sometimes dressed in a blue riding-habit and
a black beaver hat. It was generally supposed that the stolen articles
of value belonging to the family were committed to the care of Jenny.
Margaret Graham, another sister, is still living, and is a woman of
uncommon bodily strength; so much so, that she is considered to be a
good deal stronger than the generality of men. She was married to
William Davidson, a Gipsy, at Wemyss. They have a large family, and sell
earthenware through the country.

John Young, who stabbed his cousin, Hugh Graham, was one of seven sons,
and though above five feet ten inches in height, his mother used to call
him "the dwarf o' a' my bairns." He was condemned and hanged at Aberdeen
for the murder. He wrote a good hand, and the country-people were far
from being displeased with his society, while he was employed in
repairing their pots and pans in the way of his calling. Sarah Graham,
his mother, was of the highest Tinkler mettle. She lost a forefinger in
a Gipsy fray. Peter Young, another son of Sarah's, was also hanged at
Edinburgh, after breaking a number of prisons in which he was confined.
He is spoken of as a singular man. Such was his generosity of character,
that he always exerted himself to the utmost to set his fellow-prisoners
free, although they happened not to be in the same apartment of the
prison. The life of this man was published about the time of his
execution. When any one asked old John Young where his sons were, his
reply was, "They are all hanged." They were seven in number, and it was
certainly a fearful end of a whole family. The following is an extract
of a letter addressed to Mr. Blackwood, from Aberdeen, relative to Peter
Young: "It is said, in your far-famed magazine, that Peter Young,
brother to John Young, the Gipsy, likewise suffered at _Aberdeen_. It is
true that he received sentence to die there, but the prison and all the
irons the persons were able to load him with, somehow or other, were
found insufficient to prevent him from making his escape. After he had
repeatedly broken loose, and had been as often retaken, the magistrates
at last resolved that he should be effectually secured; and, for that
purpose, ordered a great iron chain to be provided, and Peter to be fast
bound in it. As the jailer was making everything, as he thought, most
secure, Peter, with a sigh, gazed on him, and said, 'Ay, ay, I winna
come out now till I come out at the door;' making him believe that he
would not be able to make his escape again, nor come out till the day
fixed for his execution. But the great iron chain, bolts and bars, were
all alike unable to withstand his skill and strength: he came out,
within a few nights, at the 'door,' along with such of his
fellow-prisoners as were inclined to avail themselves of the 'catch;'
but he was afterwards taken, and conveyed to Edinburgh, and there made
to suffer the penalty which his crimes deserved.--D. C."[101]

  [101] Our author says that the Life of Peter Young was published. The
  following particulars, quoted in an account of the Gipsies, in the
  sixteenth volume of Chambers' Miscellany, are probably taken from that

  "Peter was Captain of a band well known in the north of Scotland,
  where his exploits are told to this day. Possessed of great strength
  of body, and very uncommon abilities, he was a fine specimen of his
  race, though he retained all their lawless propensities. He was proud,
  passionate, revengeful, a great poacher, and an absolute despot,
  although a tolerably just one, over his gang, maintaining his
  authority with an oak stick, the principal sufferers from which were
  his numerous wives."--"He esteemed himself to be a very honourable
  man, and the keepers of the different public-houses in the country
  seem to have thought that, to a certain extent, he was so. He never
  asked for trust as long as he had a half-penny in his pocket. At the
  different inns which he used to frequent, he was seldom or never
  denied anything. If he pledged his word that he would pay his bill the
  next time he came that way, he punctually performed his promise."

  "Peter's work was that of a very miscellaneous nature. It comprehended
  the profession of a blacksmith, in all its varieties, a tin-smith, and
  brazier. His original business was to mend pots, pans, kettles, &c.,
  of every description, and this he did with great neatness and
  ingenuity. Having an uncommon turn for mechanics, he at last cleaned
  and repaired clocks and watches. He could also engrave on wood or
  metal; so also could his brother John; but where they learned any of
  these arts I never heard. Peter was very handy about all sorts of
  carpenter work, and occasionally amused himself, when the fancy seized
  him, in executing some pieces of curious cabinet work that required
  neatness of hand. He was particularly famous in making fishing-rods,
  and in the art of fishing he was surpassed by few."

  Immediately before _one_ of the days fixed for his execution, he
  seized the jailer, and, upon the threat of instant death, compelled
  him to lay on his back, as one dead, till he had set at liberty every
  one in the prison, himself being the last to leave the building. After
  travelling twenty-four miles, he went to sleep in the snow, and was
  apprehended by a company of sportsmen, whose dogs had made a dead set
  at him. On being taken to the gallows, one of the crowd cried: "Peter,
  deny you are the man!"--which he did, declaring that his name was John
  Anderson, and wondered what the people wanted with him. And there
  being none present who could identify him, although he was well known
  in Aberdeen, he managed to get off clear.--ED.

Charles Brown, one of the principal members of the Lochgellie band, was
killed in a desperate fight at Raploch, near Stirling. A number of Gipsy
boys, belonging to several gangs in the south, obtained a considerable
quantity of plunder, at a fair in Perth, and had, in the division of the
spoil, somehow or another, imposed on the Lochgellie tribe, and their
associates. Charles Graham, already mentioned, and Charles Brown, went
south in pursuit of the young depredators, for the purpose of compelling
them to give up their ill-gotten booty to those to whom, by the Gipsy
regulations, it of right belonged. After an arduous chase, the boys were
overtaken near Stirling, when a furious battle immediately commenced.
Both parties were armed with bludgeons. After having fought for a
considerable time, with equal success on both sides, Graham, from some
unknown cause, fled, leaving his near relation, Brown, to contend alone
with the youths, in the best way he could. The boys now became the
assailants, and began to press hard upon Brown, who defended himself
long and manfully with his bludgeon, displaying much art in the use of
his weapon, in warding off the lighter blows of his opponents, which
came in upon him from all quarters. At length he was forced to give way,
although very few of the blows reached his person. On retreating, with
his front to his assailants, his foot struck upon an old feal dyke, when
he fell to the ground. The enraged youths now sprang in upon him, like
tigers, and, without showing him the least mercy, dispatched him on the
spot, by literally beating out his brains with their bludgeons. Brown's
coat was brought home to Lochgellie, by some of his wife's friends, with
the collar and shoulders besmeared all over with blood and brains, with
quantities of his hair sticking in the gore. It was preserved for some
time in this shocking condition by his wife, and exhibited as a proof
that her husband had not fled, as well as to arouse the clan to
vengeance. My informant, a man about fifty years of age, with others,
saw this dreadful relique of Brown, in the very state in which it is now

Alexander Brown, another member of the Lochgellie band, happened, on one
occasion, to be in need of butcher meat, for his tribe. He had observed,
grazing in a field, in the county of Linlithgow, a bullock that had, by
some accident, lost about three-fourths of its tail. He procured a tail
of a skin of the same colour as that of the animal, and, in an ingenious
manner, made it fast to the remaining part of its tail. Disguised in
this way, he drove off his booty; but after shipping the beast at the
Queens-ferry, on his way to the north, a servant, who had been
dispatched in quest of the depredator, overtook him as he was stepping
into the boat. An altercation immediately commenced about the ox. The
countryman said he could swear to the identity of the animal in Brown's
possession, were it not for its long tail; and was proceeding to examine
it narrowly, to satisfy himself on that particular, when the
ready-witted Gipsy, ever fertile in expedients to extricate himself from
difficulties, took his knife out of his pocket, and, in view of all
present, cut off the tail above the juncture, drawing blood instantly;
and, throwing it into the sea, called out to the pursuer, with some
warmth: "Swear to the ox now, and be ---- to ye." The countryman said
not another word, but returned home, while the Tinkler proceeded on his
journey with his prize.[102]

  [102] Besides getting themselves out of scrapes in such an adroit
  manner, the Scotch Gipsies have been known to serve a friend, when
  innocently placed in a position of danger. It happened once that Billy
  Marshall, the Gipsy chief in Gallowayshire, attacked and robbed the
  laird of Bargally, and in the tussle lost his cap. A respectable
  farmer, passing by, some time afterwards, picked up the cap, and put
  it on his head. The laird, with his mind confused by the robbery and
  the darkness combined, accused the farmer of the crime; and it would
  have gone hard with him at the trial, had not Billy come to his
  rescue. He seized the cap, in the open court, and, putting it on his
  head, addressed the laird: "Look at me, sir, and tell me, by the oath
  you have sworn, am not I the man that robbed you?"--"By heaven! you
  are the very man."--"You see what sort of memory this gentleman has,"
  exclaimed the Gipsy; "he swears to the bonnet, whatever features are
  under it. If you, yourself, my lord, will put it on your head, he will
  be willing to swear that your lordship was the person who robbed him."
  The farmer was unanimously acquitted.

  Notwithstanding Billy's courage in "taking care of the _living_," an
  anecdote is related of his having been frightened almost out of his
  wits, under very ludicrous circumstances. He and his gang had long
  held possession of a cavern in Gallowayshire, where they usually
  deposited their plunder, and sometimes resided, secure from the
  officers of the law. Two Highland pipers, strangers to the country,
  happened to enter it, to rest themselves during the night. They
  perceived, at once, the character of its absent inhabitants; and they
  were not long within it, before they were alarmed by the voices of a
  numerous band advancing to its entrance. The pipers, expecting nothing
  but death from the ruthless Gipsies, had the presence of mind to
  strike up a pibroch, with tremendous fury; at the terrific reception
  of which--the yelling of the bag-pipes issuing from the bowels of the
  earth--Billy and his gang precipitately fled, as before a blast from
  the infernal regions, and never afterwards dared to visit their
  favourite haunt. The pipers, as might naturally be expected, carried
  off, in the morning, the spoils of the redoubted Gipsies.--_Sir Walter

But this Gipsy was not always so fortunate as he was on this occasion.
Being once apprehended near Dumblane, it was the intention of the
messengers to carry him direct to Perth, but they were under the
necessity of lodging him in the nearest prison for the night. Brown was
no sooner in custody than he began to meditate his escape. He requested,
as a favour, that the officers would sit up all night with him, in a
public-house, instead of a prison, promising them as much meat and
drink, for their indulgence and trouble, as they should desire. His
request having been granted, four or five officers were placed in and
about the room in which he was confined, as a guard on his person, being
aware of the desperate character they had to deal with. He took care to
ply them well with the bottle; and early next morning, before setting
out, he desired one of them to put up the window a little, to cool the
apartment. After walking several times across the room, the Gipsy, all
at once, threw himself out of the window, which was a considerable
height from the ground. The hue and cry was at his heels in an instant;
and as some of the messengers were gaining on him, he boldly faced
about, drew forth, from below his coat, a dagger, which he brandished in
the air, and threatened death to the first who should approach him. He
was, on this occasion, suffered to make his escape, as none had the
courage to advance upon him.

When in full dress, Brown wore a hat richly ornamented and trimmed with
beautiful gold lace, which was then fashionable among the first ranks in
Scotland, particularly among the officers of the army. His coat was made
of superfine cloth, of a light green colour, long in the tails, and
having one row of buttons at the breast. His shirt, of the finest
quality, was ruffled at hands and breast, with a black stock and buckle
round the neck. He also wore a pair of handsome boots, with
silver-plated spurs, all in the fashion of the day. Below his garments
he carried a large knife, and in the shaft or butt-end of his large
whip, a small spear, or dagger, was concealed. His brother-in-law,
Wilson, was frequently dressed in a similar garb, and both rode the best
horses in the country. Having the appearance of gentlemen in their
habits, and assuming the manners of such, which they imitated to a
wonderful degree, few persons took these men for Gipsies. Like many of
their race, they are represented as having been very handsome, tall, and
stout-made men, with agreeable and manly countenances. Among the
numerous thefts and robberies which they committed in their day, they
were never known to have taken a sixpence from people of an inferior
class, but, on the contrary, rather to have assisted the poor classes in
their pecuniary matters, with a generous liberality, not at all to be
looked for from men of their singular habits and manner of life. The
following particulars are descriptive of the manner and style in which
some of the Gipsies of rank, at one time, traversed this country.

Within these forty-five years, Mr. McRitchie, already alluded to,
happened to be in a smithy, in the neighbourhood of Carlisle, getting
the shoes of his riding-horse roughened on a frosty day, to enable him
to proceed on his journey, when a gentleman called for a like purpose.
The animal on which he was mounted was a handsome blood-horse, which was
saddled and bridled in a superior manner. He was himself dressed in
superfine clothes, with a riding-whip in his hand; was booted and
spurred, with saddle-bags behind him; and had, altogether, man and
horse, the equipment and appearance of a smart English mercantile
traveller, riding in the way of his business. There being several horses
in the smithy, he, in a haughty and consequential manner, enquired of
the smith, very particularly, whose turn it was first: indicating a
strong desire to be first served, although he was the last that had
entered the smithy. This bold assurance made my acquaintance take a
steady look at the intrusive stranger, whom he surveyed from head to
foot. And what was his astonishment when he found the mighty gentleman
to be no other than Sandie Brown, the Tinkler's son, from the
neighbourhood of Crieff; whom he had often seen strolling through the
country in a troop of Gipsies, and frequently in his father's house, at
the North Queensferry. He could scarcely believe his eyes, so to prevent
any disagreeable mistake, politely asked the "gentleman" if his name was
not Brown; observing that he thought he had seen him somewhere before.
The surprised Tinkler hesitated considerably at the unexpected question,
and, after having put some queries on his part, answered that "he would
not deny himself--his name was really Brown." He had, in all likelihood,
been travelling under a borrowed name, a practice very common with the
Gipsies. When he found himself detected, yet seeing no danger to be
apprehended from the accidental meeting, he very shrewdly showed great
marks of kindness to his acquaintance. Being now quite free from
embarrassment, he, in a short time, began to display, as is the Gipsy
custom, extraordinary feats of bodily strength, by twisting with his
hands strong pieces of iron; taking bets regarding his power in these
practices, with those who would wager with him. Before parting with my
friend, Brown very kindly insisted upon treating him with a bottle of
any kind of liquor he would choose to drink. At some sequestered station
of his tribe, on his way home, the equestrian Tinkler would unmask
himself--dispose of his horse, pack up his fine clothes, and assume his
ragged coat, leathern apron, and budget--before he would venture among
the people of the country, who were acquainted with his real character.
Here we see a haughty, overbearing, highway robber, clothed in excellent
apparel, and mounted on a good steed, metamorphose himself, in an
instant, into a poor, wandering, beggarly, and pitiful Gipsy.

This Alexander Brown, and his brother-in-law, Wilson, carried on
conjointly a considerable trade in horse-stealing between Scotland and
England. The horses which were stolen in the South were brought to
Scotland, and sold there; those stolen in Scotland were, on the other
hand, disposed of in the South by English Gipsies. The crime of
horse-stealing has brought a great many of these wanderers to an
untimely end on the gallows. Brown was at last hanged at Edinburgh, to
expiate the many crimes he had, from time to time, committed. It is said
that his brother-in-law, Wilson, was hanged along with him on the same
day, having been also guilty of a number of crimes. Brown was taken in
a wood in Rannach, having been surprised and overpowered by a party of
Highlanders, raised for the purpose of apprehending him, and dispersing
his band, who lay in the wood in which he was captured. He thought to
evade them by clapping close to the ground, like a wild animal. Upon
being seized, a furious scuffle ensued; and during the violent tossing
and struggling which took place, while they were securing this sturdy
wanderer, he took hold of the bare thigh of one of the Highlanders, and
bit it most cruelly. Martha, the mother of Brown, and the mother-in-law
of Wilson, was apprehended in the act of stealing a pair of sheets while
attending their execution.

Charles, by some called William, a brother of Alexander Brown, was run
down by a party of the military and some messengers, near Dundee. He was
carried to Perth, where he was tried, condemned and executed, to atone
for the numerous crimes of which he was guilty. He was conveyed to Perth
by water, in consequence of it being reported that the Gipsies of Fife,
with the Grahams and Ogilvies at their head, were in motion to rescue
him. He, also, was a man of great personal strength; and regretting,
after being handcuffed, having allowed himself to be so easily taken,
he, in wrath, drove the messengers before him with his feet, as if they
had been children. While in the apartment of the prison called the
condemned cell, or the cage, he freed himself from his irons, and by
some means set on fire the damp straw on which he lay, with the design
of making his escape in the confusion. Surprised at the building being
on fire, and suspecting Brown to have been the cause of it, and that he
was free from his chains, ramping like a lion in his den, no one, in the
hurry, could be found with resolution enough to venture near him, till a
sergeant of the forty-second regiment volunteered his services. Before
he would face the Tinkler, however, he requested authority from the
magistrates to defend himself with his broad-sword, and, in case the
prisoner became desperate, to cut him down. This permission being
obtained, the sergeant drew his sword, and, assisted by the jailer's
daughter, unbarred the doors, till he came to the cage, whence the
prison was being filled with smoke. As he advanced to the door, he asked
with a loud voice, "Who is there?" "The devil," vociferated the Gipsy,
through fire and smoke. "I am also a devil, and of the black-watch,"
thundered back the intrepid Highlander. The resolute reply of the
soldier sounded like a death knell to the artful Tinkler--he knew his
man--it daunted him completely; for, after some threats from the
sergeant, he quietly allowed himself to be again loaded with irons, and
thoroughly secured in his cell, whence he did not stir till the day of
his execution.

Lizzy Brown, by some called Snippy, a member of the same family, was a
tall, stout woman, with features far from being disagreeable. She lost
her nose in a battle, fought in the shire of Angus. In this rencounter,
the Gipsies fought among themselves with highland dirks, exhibiting all
the fury of hostile tribes of Bedouin Arabs of the desert. When this
woman found that her nose was struck off, by the sweep of a dirk, she
put her hand to the wound, and, as if little had befallen her, called
out, in the heat of the scuffle, to those nearest her: "But, in the
middle o' the meantime, where is my nose?" Poor Lizzy's tall figure was
conspicuous among the tribe, owing to the want of that ornamental part
of her face.

The Grahams of Lochgellie, the Wilsons of Raploch, near Stirling, and
the Jamiesons, noticed under the head of Linlithgowshire Gipsies, were
all, by the female side, immediately descended from old Charles Stewart,
a Gipsy chief, at one period of no small consequence, among these
hordes.[103] When I enquired if the Robertsons, who lived, at one time,
at Menstry, were related to the Lochgellie band, the answer which I
received was: "The Tinklers are a' sib"--meaning that they are all
connected with one another by the ties of blood, and considered as one
family. This is a most powerful bond of union among these desperate
clans, which almost bids defiance to the breaking up of their strongly
cemented society. Old Charles Stewart was described to me as a stout,
good-looking man, with a fair complexion; and I was informed that he
lived to a great age. He affirmed, wherever he went, that he was a
descendant of the royal Stewarts of Scotland. His descendants still
assert that they are sprung from the royal race of Scotland. In support
of this pretension, Stewart, in the year 1774, at a wedding, in the
parish of Corstorphine, actually wore a large cocked hat, decorated with
a beautiful plume of white feathers, in imitation of the white cockade
of the Pretender. On this occasion, he wore a short coat, philabeg and
purse, and tartan hose. He sometimes wore a piece of brass, as a star,
on his left breast, with a cudgel in his hand. Such ridiculous attire
corresponds exactly with the taste and ideas of a Gipsy.[104] These
pretensions of Stewart are exactly of a piece with the usual Gipsy
policy of making the people believe that they are descended from
families of rank and influence in the country. At the same time, it
cannot be denied that some of our Scottish kings, especially James V,
the "Gaberlunzie-man,"[105] were far from being scrupulous or fastidious
in their vague amours. As old Charles Stewart was, on one occasion,
crossing the Forth, at Queensferry, chained to his son-in-law, Wilson,
in charge of messengers, he, with considerable shame in his countenance,
observed David McRitchie, whose father, as already mentioned, kept a
first-rate inn at the north-side, and in which the Tinkler had
frequently regaled himself with his merry companions. Stewart called
McRitchie to him, and, taking five shillings out of his pocket, said to
him, "Hae, Davie, there's five shillings to drink my health, man; I'll
laugh at them a'." He did laugh at them all, for nothing could be
proved against him and he was immediately set at liberty. It was, as
Charles Graham said--"The auld thing again, but nae proof."[106]

  [103] It is interesting to notice that the three criminals who gave
  occasion to the Porteous mob, in 1736, were named Stewart, Wilson and
  Robertson. They were doubtless Gipsies of the above mentioned clans.
  Their crimes and modes of escape were quite in keeping with the
  character of the Gipsies.--ED.

  [104] Grellmann, in giving an account of the attire of the poorer kind
  of Hungarian Gipsies, says: We are not to suppose however that they
  are indifferent about dress; on the contrary, they love fine clothes
  to an extravagant degree. Whenever an opportunity offers of acquiring
  a good coat, either by gift, purchase, or theft, the Gipsy immediately
  bestirs himself to become master of it. Possessed of the prize, he
  puts it on directly, without considering in the least whether it suits
  the rest of his apparel. If his dirty shirt had holes in it as big as
  a barn door, or his breeches so out of condition that any one might,
  at the first glance, perceive their antiquity; were he unprovided with
  shoes and stockings, or a covering for his head; none of these defects
  would prevent his strutting about in a laced coat, feeling himself of
  still greater consequence in case it happened to be a red one. They
  are particularly fond of clothes which have been worn by people of
  distinction, and will hardly ever deign to put on a boor's coat. They
  will rather go half naked, or wrap themselves up in a sack, than
  condescend to wear a foreign garb. Green is a favourite colour with
  the Gipsies, but scarlet is held in great esteem among them. It is the
  same with the Hungarian female Gipsies. In Spain, they hang all sorts
  of trumpery in their ears, and baubles around their necks.

  Mr. Borrow says of the Spanish Gipsies, that there is nothing in the
  dress of either sex differing from that of the other inhabitants. The
  same may be said of the Scottish tribes, and even of those in

  [105] _Gaberlunzie-man_--The beggar-man with the ragged apparel.

  [106] The unabashed hardihood of the Gipsies, in the face of
  suspicion, or even of open conviction, is not less characteristic than
  the facility with which they commit crimes, or their address in
  concealing them. A Gipsy of note, (known by the title of the "Earl of
  Hell") was, about twenty years ago, tried for a theft of a
  considerable sum of money at a Dalkeith market. The proof seemed to
  the judge fully sufficient, but the jury rendered a verdict of "not
  proven." On dismissing the prisoner from the bar, the judge informed
  him, in his own characteristic language, "That he had rubbit shouthers
  wi' the gallows that morning;" and warned him not again to appear
  there with a similar body of proof against him as it seemed scarcely
  possible he should meet with another jury who would construe it as
  favourably. His counsel tendered him a similar advice. The Gipsy,
  however, replied, to the great entertainment of all around, "That he
  was proven an innocent man, and that naebody had ony right to use
  siccan language to him."--_Blackwood's Magazine._--ED.

Another very singular Gipsy, of the name of Jamie Robertson, a near
relation of the Lochgellie tribe, resided at Menstry, at the foot of the
Ochil hills. James was an excellent musician, and was in great request
at fairs and country weddings. Although characterized by a dissoluteness
of manners, and professed roguery, this man, when trusted, was strictly
honest. A decent man in the neighbourhood, of the name of Robert Gray,
many a time lent him sums of money, to purchase large ox horns and other
articles, in the east of Fife, which he always repaid on the very day he
promised, with the greatest correctness and civility. The following
anecdote will show the zeal with which he would resent an insult which
he conceived to be offered to his friend: In one of his excursions
through Fife, he happened to be lying on the ground, basking himself in
the sun, while baiting his ass, on the roadside, when a countryman, an
entire stranger to him, came past, singing, in lightness of heart, the
song of "Auld Robin Gray," which, unfortunately for the man, Robertson
had never heard before. On the unconscious stranger coming to the words
"Auld Robin Gray was a kind man to me," the hot-blooded Gipsy started to
his feet, and, with a volley of oaths, felled him with his bludgeon to
the ground; repeating his blows in the most violent manner, and telling
him, "Auld Robin Gray was a kind man to him indeed, but it was not for
him to make a song on Robin for that." In short, he nearly put the
innocent man to death, in the heat of his passion, for satirizing, as
he thought, his friend in a scurrilous song. It was an invariable custom
with Robertson, whenever he passed Robert Gray's house, even were it at
the dead hour of night, to draw out his "bread winner," and give him a
few of his best airs, in gratitude for his kindness.

Robertson's wife, a daughter of Martha, whose son and son-in-law, Brown
and Wilson, were executed, as already mentioned, was sentenced to
transportation to Botany Bay; but, owing to her advanced years, it was
not thought worth the expense and trouble of sending her over seas, and
she was set at liberty. Her grandson, Joyce Robertson, would also have
been transported, if not hanged, but for the assistance of some of his
clan rescuing him from Stirling jail. So coolly and deliberately did he
go about his operations, in breaking out of the prison, that he took
along with him his oatmeal bag, and a favourite bird, in a cage, with
which he had amused himself during his solitary confinement. The
following anecdote of this audacious Gipsy, which was told to me by an
inhabitant of Stirling, who was well acquainted with the parties, is, I
believe, unequalled in the history of robberies: While Robertson was
lying in jail, an old man, for what purpose is not mentioned, went to
the prison window, to speak to him through the iron stauncheons. Joyce,
putting forth his hand, took hold of the unsuspecting man by the breast
of his coat, and drew him close up to the iron bars of the window; then
thrusting out his other hand, and pointing a glittering knife at his
heart, threatened him with instant death, if he did not deliver him the
money he had on him. The poor man, completely intimidated, handed into
the prison all the money he had; but had it returned, on the jailer
being informed of the extraordinary transaction.[107] After escaping
from confinement, this Gipsy stole a watch from a house at Alva, but had
hardly got it into his possession before he was discovered, and had the
inhabitants of the village in pursuit of him. A man, of the name of
Dawson, met him in his flight, and, astonished at seeing the crowd at
his heels, enquired, impatiently, what was the matter. "They are all
running after me, and you will soon run too," replied the Tinkler,
without shortening his step. He took to Tullibody plantations, but was
apprehended, and had the watch taken from him.

  [107] The "game" of such a Gipsy may be fitly compared to that of a
  sparrow-hawk. This bird has been known, while held in the hand, after
  being wounded, to seize, when presented to it, a sparrow with each
  claw, and a third with its beak.--ED.

I will notice another principal Gipsy, closely connected by blood with
the Fife bands, and of that rank that entitled him to issue tokens to
the members of his tribe. The name of this chief was Charles Wilson, and
his place of residence, at one time, was Raploch, close by Stirling
castle, where he possessed some heritable property in houses. He was a
stout, athletic, good-looking man, fully six feet in stature, and of a
fair complexion; and was, in general, handsomely dressed, frequently
displaying a gold watch, with many seals attached to its chain. In his
appearance he was respectable, very polite in his manners, and had,
altogether, little or nothing about him which, at first sight, or to the
general public, indicated him to be a Gipsy. But, nevertheless, I was
assured by one of the tribe, who was well acquainted with him, that he
spoke the language, and observed all the customs, and followed the
practices of the Gipsies.

He was a pretty extensive horse-dealer, having at times in his
possession numbers of the best bred horses in the country. He most
commonly bought and sold hunters, and such as were suitable for cavalry;
and for some of his horses he received upwards of a hundred guineas
apiece. In his dealings he always paid cash for his purchases, but
accepted bills from his customers of respectability. Many a one
purchased horses of him; and he was taken notice of by many respectable
people in the neighbourhood; but the community in general looked upon
him, and his people, with suspicion and fear, and were by no means fond
of quarrelling with any of his vindictive fraternity. When any of his
customers required a horse from him, and told him that the matter was
left wholly to himself, as regards price, but to provide an animal
suitable for the purpose required, no man in Scotland would act with
greater honour than Charles Wilson. He would then fit his employer
completely, and charge for the horse exactly what the price should be.
To this manner of dealing he was very averse, and endeavoured to avoid
it as much as possible. It is said he was never known to deceive any one
in his transactions, when entire confidence was placed in him. But, on
the other hand, when any tried to make a bargain with him, without any
reference to himself, but trusting wholly to their own judgment, he
would take three prices for his horses, if he could obtain them, and
cheat them, if it was in his power. It is said his people stole horses
in Ireland, and sent them to him, to dispose of in Scotland. On one
occasion his gang stole and sold in Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton a
grey stallion, three different times in one week. Wilson himself was
almost always mounted on a blood-horse of the highest mettle.

At one time, Charles Wilson travelled the country with a horse and cart,
vending articles which his gang plundered from shops in Glasgow and
other places. He had an associate who kept a regular shop, and when
Wilson happened to be questioned about his merchandise, he always had
fictitious bills of particulars, invoices and receipts, ready to show
that the goods were lawfully purchased from his merchant, who was no
other than his friend and associate. As Charles was chief of his tribe,
he received the title of captain, to distinguish him from the meaner
sort of his race. Like others of his rank among the Gipsies, he
generally had a numerous gang of youths in fairs, plundering for him in
all directions, among the heedless and unthinking crowd. But he always
managed matters with such art and address that, however much he might be
suspected, no evidence could ever be found to show that he acted a part
in such transactions. It was well understood, however, that Charlie, as
he was commonly called, divided the contents of many a purse with his
band; all the plundered articles being in fact brought to him for

This chief, as I have already mentioned, issued tokens to the members of
his own tribe; a part of the polity of the Gipsies which will be fully
described in the following chapter. But, besides these regular Gipsy
tokens, he, like many of his nation, gave tokens of protection to his
particular friends of the community at large. The following is one
instance, among many, of this curious practice among the Gipsies. I
received the particulars from the individual himself who obtained the
token or passport from Wilson. My informant, Mr. Buchanan, a retired
officer of the Excise, chanced, in his youth, to be in a fair at
Skirling, in Peebles-shire, when an acquaintance of his, of the name of
John Smith, of Carnwath Mill, received, in a tent, fifty pounds for
horses which he had sold in the market. Wilson, who was acquainted with
both parties, was in the tent at the time, and saw the latter receive
the money. On leaving the tent, Smith mentioned to his friend that he
was afraid of being robbed in going home, as Wilson knew he had money in
his possession. Mr. Buchanan, being well acquainted with Wilson, went to
him in the fair, and told him the plain facts; that Smith and himself
were to travel with money on their persons, and that they were
apprehensive of being robbed of it, on their way home. The Gipsy, after
hesitating for a moment, gave Buchanan a pen-knife, which he was to show
to the first person who should offer to molest them; at the same time
enjoining him to keep the affair quite private. After my informant and
his friend had travelled a considerable distance on their way home, they
observed, at a little distance before them, a number of Tinklers--men
and women--fighting together on the side of the road. One of the females
came forward to the travellers, and urged them vehemently to assist her
husband, who, she said, was like to be murdered by others who had fallen
upon him on the highway. My friend knew quite well that all the fighting
was a farce, got up for the purpose of robbing him and his companion,
the moment they interfered with the combatants in their feigned quarrel.
Instead of giving the woman the assistance she asked, he privately and
very quietly, as if he wished nobody to see it, showed her Wilson's
knife in his hand, when she immediately exclaimed, "You are our
friends," and called, at the same moment, to those engaged in the
scuffle, in words to the same effect. Both the travellers now passed on,
but, on looking behind them, they observed that the squabble had
entirely ceased. The pen-knife was returned to Wilson the day following.

I may give, in this place, another instance of these tokens being
granted by the Gipsies to their particular favourites of the community.
The particulars were given to me by the individual with whom the
incident occurred; and the Gipsy mentioned I have myself seen and spoken
to: A---- A----, a small farmer, who resided in the west of Fife,
happened to be at one of the Falkland fairs, where, in the evening, he
fell in with old Andrew Steedman, a Gipsy horse-dealer from Lochgellie,
with whom he was well acquainted. They entered a public-house in
Falkland to have a dram together, before leaving the fair, and after
some conversation had passed, on various subjects, Steedman observed to
his acquaintance that it would be late in the night before he could
reach his home, and that he might be exposed to some danger on the road;
but he would give him his snuff-box, to present and offer a snuff to the
first person who should offer to molest him. My informant, possessed of
the Gipsy's snuff-box, mounted his horse, and left his acquaintance and
Falkland behind for his home. He had not proceeded far on his journey,
before a man in the dark seized the bridle of his horse, and ordered him
to stop; without, however, enforcing his command to surrender in that
determined tone and manner common to highwaymen with those they intend
to rob. The farmer at once recognized the robber to be no other than
young Charles Graham, one of the Lochgellie Tinklers, whom he personally
knew. Instead of delivering him his purse, he held out to him the
snuff-box, as if nothing had happened, and, offering him a pinch, asked
him if he was going to Lochgellie to-night. A sort of parley now ensued,
the farmer feeling confident in the strength of his protection, and
Graham confounded at being recognized by an acquaintance whom he was
about to rob, and who, moreover, was in possession of a Gipsy token. At
first a dry conversation ensued, similar to that between persons
unacquainted with each other when they happen to meet; but Graham,
recovering his self-possession, soon became very frank and kind, and
insisted on the farmer accompanying him to a public-house on the
road-side, where he would treat him to a dram. The farmer, a stout,
athletic man, and no coward, complied with the Gipsy's invitation
without hesitation. While drinking their liquor, Graham took up the
snuff-box, and examined it all over very attentively, by the light of
the candle, and returned it, without making a single remark, relative
either to the untoward occurrence or the snuff-box itself. The farmer
was equally silent as to what had taken place; but he could not help
noticing the particular manner in which the Gipsy examined the token.
They drank a hearty dram together, and parted the best of friends; the
farmer for his home, and Graham, as he supposed, for the highway, to
exercise his calling. Graham, about this period, resided in a house
belonging to Steedman, in Lochgellie.

Instances occurred of individuals, who happened to be plundered,
applying to Charles Wilson for his assistance to recover their property.
The particulars of the following case are in the words of a friend who
gave me the anecdote: "A boy, having received his hard-earned fee, at
the end of a term, set out for Stirling to purchase some clothes for
himself. On the road he was accosted by two men, who conversed with and
accompanied him to Stirling. The lad proceeded accordingly to fit
himself in a shop with a new suit, but, to his utter disappointment and
grief, his small penny-fee was gone. The merchant questioned him about
the road he had come, and whether he had been in company with any one on
the way or otherwise. Upon the appearance of his companions being
described, the shop-keeper suspected they might have picked his pocket
unobserved. As a last resource, the boy was advised to call upon Charlie
Wilson, and relate to him the particulars of his misfortune; which he
accordingly did. Charles heard his story to the end, and desired him to
call next day, when he might be able to give him some information
relative to his loss. The young lad kept the appointment, and, to his
great joy, the Tinkler chief paid him down every farthing of his lost
money; but at the same time told him to ask no questions."

This Gipsy chief died within these thirty-five years in his own house,
on the castle-hill at Stirling, whither he had removed from Raploch. It
is stated that, for a considerable time before his death, he
relinquished his former practices, and died in full communion with the
church.[108] He was, about the latter end of his life, reduced to
considerable poverty, and was under the necessity of betaking himself to
his original occupation of making horn spoons for a subsistence. In the
days of his prosperity, Charles was considered a very kind-hearted and
generous man to the poor; and it seldom happened that poverty and
distress were not relieved by him, when application was made to him by
the needy. Although many of the more original kind of Gipsies have a
respectable appearance, and may possess a little money, during the prime
of life, yet the most of them, in their old age, are in a condition of
poverty and misery.

  [108] In the "Monthly Visitor" for February, 1856, will be found an
  account of the conversion of one of this Gipsy clan, of the name of
  Jeanie Wilson. The tract is very appropriately headed, "A lily among

Charles Wilson had a family of very handsome daughters, one of whom was
considered a perfect beauty. She did not travel the country, like the
rest of her family, but remained at home, and acted as her father's
housekeeper; and, when any of the tribe visited him, they always
addressed her by the title of "my lady," (_raunie_,) and otherwise
treated her with great respect. This beautiful girl was, about the year
1795, kept as a mistress by an adjutant of a Scotch regiment of fencible
cavalry. She was frequently seen as handsomely and fashionably attired
as the first females in Stirling; and some of the troopers were not
displeased to see their adjutant's mistress equal in appearance to the
highest dames in the town. But Wilson's daughters were all frequently
dressed in a very superior manner, and could not have been taken for

To suit their purposes of deception, in practising their pilfering
habits, the female Gipsies, as well as the males, often changed their
wearing apparel. Some of them have been seen in four different dresses
in one fair day, varying from the appearance of a sturdy female beggar
to that of a young, flirting wench, fantastically dressed, and throwing
herself, a perfect lure, in the way of the hearty, ranting,
half-intoxicated, and merry young farmers, for the sole purpose of
stripping them of their money.[109] The following is given as an
instance of this sort of female deception:--On a fair-day, in the town
of Kinross, a Brae-laird,[110] in the same county, fell in with a Gipsy
harpy of the above character, of the name of Wilson, one of Charles'
daughters, it was understood. She had a fine person, an agreeable and
prepossessing countenance, was handsomely dressed, and was, altogether,
what one would pronounce a pretty girl. Her charms made a very sudden
and deep impression on the susceptible laird; and as it was an easy
matter, in those times, to make up acquaintance at these large and
promiscuous gatherings, the enamoured rustic soon found means to
introduce himself to the stranger lady. He treated her in a gallant
manner, and engaged to pay his respects to her at her place of
residence. It happened, however, that a number of Tinklers were, that
very evening, apprehended in the fair, for picking pockets, and a great
many purses were found in their custody. Proclamation was made by the
authorities, that all those who had lost their money should appear at a
place named, and identify their property. The Brae-laird, among others,
missed his pocket-book and purse, and accordingly went to enquire after
them. His purse was produced to him; but greatly was he ashamed and
mortified when the thief was also shown to him, lying in prison--the
very person of his handsome and beautiful sweetheart, now metamorphosed
into a common Tinkler wench. Whether he now provoked the ire of his
dulcinea, by harsh treatment, is not mentioned; but the woman sent, as
it were, a dagger to his heart, by calling out before all present: "Ay,
laird, ye're no sae kind to me noo, lad, as when ye treated me wi' wine
in the forenoon." The man, confounded at his exposure, was glad to get
out of her presence, and, rather than bear the cutting taunts of the
Gipsy, fled from the place of investigation, leaving his money behind

  [109] An old woman, whom I found occupying the house of Charles
  Wilson, at Raploch, in 1845, informed me that she had seen his wife in
  _five_ different dresses, in one market-day. She was, at the time, a
  servant in a _blacksmith's_ family in Stirling, who were _great
  friends_ of Charles Wilson; and every time Mrs. Wilson came into the
  smith's house, from her plundering in the market, this servant girl,
  then nine years old, _cleaned her shoes_ for a fresh expedition in the
  crowd. When suspected, or even detected, in their practices, these
  female Gipsies, by such change of dress and character, easily escaped
  apprehension by the authorities.

  [110] There are a number of small landed proprietors in the hilly
  parts of Kinross-shire; hence the appellation of Brae-laird.

  [111] It is interesting to notice such rencounters between these
  pretty, genteel-looking Gipsies and the ordinary natives. The
  denouement, in this instance, might have been a marriage, and the
  plantation of a colony of Gipsies among the Braes of Kinross-shire.
  The same might have happened in the case of the other lady Wilson,
  with the adjutant at Stirling, or with one of his acquaintances.--ED.

It is almost needless to mention that the Stirlingshire Gipsies
contributed their full proportion to the list of victims to the offended
laws of the country. Although Charles Wilson, the chieftain of the
horde, dexterously eluded justice himself, two of his brothers were
executed within the memory of people still living. Another of his
relatives, of the name of Gordon, also underwent the last penalty of the
law, at Glasgow, where an acquaintance of mine saw him hanged. Wilson
had a son who carried a box of jewelry through the country, and was
suspected of having been concerned in robbing a bank, at, I believe,
Dunkeld. Some of the descendants of this Stirlingshire tribe still roam
up and down the kingdom, nearly in the old Gipsy manner; and several of
them have their residence, when not on the tramp, in the town of

The great distinguishing feature in the character of the Gipsies is an
incurable propensity for theft and robbery, and taking openly and
forcibly (sorning) whatever answers their purpose. A Gipsy, of about
twenty-one years of age, stated to me that his forefathers considered it
quite lawful, among themselves, to take from others, not of their own
fraternity, any article they stood in need of. Casting his eyes around
the inside of my house, he said: "For instance, were they to enter this
room, they would carry off anything that could be of service to them,
such as clothes, money, victuals, &c.:" "but," added he, "all this
proceeded from ignorance; they are now quite changed in their manners."
Another Gipsy, a man of about sixty years of age, informed me that the
tribe have a complete and thorough hatred of the whole community,
excepting those who shelter them, or treat them with kindness; and that
a dexterous theft or robbery, committed on any of the natives among whom
they travel, is looked upon as one of the most meritorious actions which
a Gipsy can possibly perform.

But the Gipsies are by no means the only nation in the world that have
considered theft reputable. In Sparta, under the celebrated law-giver
Lycurgus, theft was also reputable. In Hugh Murray's account of an
embassy from Portugal to the Emperor of Abyssinia, in 1620, we find the
following curious passage relative to thieves in that part of the world:
"As the embassy left the palace, a band of thieves carried off a number
of valuable articles, while a servant who attempted to defend them was
wounded in the leg. The ambassadors, enquiring the mode of obtaining
redress for this outrage, were assured that these thieves formed a
regular part of the court establishment, and that officers were
appointed who levied a proportion of the articles stolen, for behoof his
imperial majesty."[112] In another part of Africa, there is a horde of
Moors who go by the name of the tribe of thieves. This wandering,
vagabond horde do not blush at adopting this odious denomination. Their
chief is called chief of the tribe of thieves.[113] In Hugh Murray's
Asia, we have the following passage relative to the professed thieves in

  [112] Vol. ii., page 17.

  [113] Golbery's Travels, translated by Francis Blagden. Vol. i, page

"Nothing tends more to call in question the mildness of the Hindoo
disposition than the vast scale of the practice of decoity. This term,
though essentially synonymous with robbery, suggests, however, very
different ideas. With us, robbers are daring and desperate outlaws, who
hide themselves in the obscure corners of great cities, shunned and
detested by all society. In India, they are regular and reputable
persons, who have not only houses and families, but often landed
property, and have much influence in the villages where they reside.
This profession, like all others, is hereditary; and a father has been
heard, from the gallows, carefully admonishing his son not to be
deterred, by his fate, from following the calling of his ancestors. They
are very devout, and have placed themselves under the patronage of the
goddess Kali, revered in Bengal above all other deities, and who is
supposed to look with peculiar favour on achievements such as theirs.
They are even recognized by the old Hindoo laws, which contain
enactments for the protection of stolen goods, upon a due share being
given to the magistrate. They seldom, however, commit depredations in
their own village, or even in that immediately adjoining, but seek a
distant one, where they have no tie to the inhabitants. They are formed
into bands, with military organization, so that when a chief dies, there
is always another ready to succeed him. They calculate that they have
ten chances to one of never being brought to justice."

The old Hindoo law alluded to in the above passage is, I presume, the
following enactment in the Gentoo Code, translated by Nathaniel Brassey
Halhed, page 146: "The mode of shares among robbers is this: If any
thieves, by the command of the magistrate, and with his assistance, have
committed depredations upon, and brought any booty from, another
province, the magistrate shall receive a share of one-sixth of the
whole; if they receive no command or assistance from the magistrate,
they shall give the magistrate, in that case, one-tenth of his share;
and of the remainder, their chief shall receive four shares: and
whosoever among them is perfect master of his occupation, shall receive
three shares; also whichever of them is remarkably strong and stout,
shall receive two shares; and the rest shall receive each one share. If
any one of the community of thieves happens to be taken, and should be
released from the Cutchery, (court of justice), upon payment of a sum
of money, all the thieves shall make good that sum by equal
shares."--"In the Gentoo code containing this law, there are many severe
enactments against theft and robbery of every description; but these
laws refer to domestic disturbers of their own countrymen, or violators
of the first principles of society. The law which regulates these shares
of robbers, refers only to such bold and hardy adventurers as sally
forth to levy contributions in a foreign province."

Now our Gipsies are, in one point, exactly on a level with the
adventurers here mentioned. They look upon themselves as being in a
foreign land, and consider it fair game to rob, plunder, and cheat all
and every one of the "strangers" among whom they travel. I am disposed
to believe that there were also rules among the Gipsy bands for dividing
their booty, something like the old Hindoo law alluded to.[114]

  [114] What is said here is, of course, applicable to a class, only, of
  the Gipsies. Our author need not have gone so very far away from home,
  for instances of theft and robbery being, under certain circumstances,
  deemed honourable. Both were, at one time, followed in Scotland, when
  all practised

    "The good old rule, the simple plan,
    That they should take who have the power,
    And they should keep who can."

  See Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

We find the following curious particulars mentioned of a tribe among the
mountains in India, who are supposed to be the aborigines of Hindostan.
They are called Kookies or Lunctas. "Next to personal valour, the
accomplishment most esteemed in a warrior is superior address in
stealing; and if a thief can convey, undiscovered, to his own house, his
neighbour's property, it cannot afterwards be reclaimed; nor, if
detected in the act, is he otherwise punished than by exposure to the
ridicule of the Porah, and being obliged to restore what he may have
laid hold of." "It is a great recommendation in obtaining a wife, when a
Kookie can say that his house is full of stolen articles."[115] There
are several other tribes in the world among whom theft and robbery are
considered meritorious actions. It appears that among the Coords "no one
is allowed to marry a wife till he has committed some great act of
robbery or murder." In an account of Kamtschatka, it is mentioned that
"among all these barbarous nations, excepting the Kamtschadales, theft
is reputable, provided they do not steal in their own tribe, or if done
with such art as to prevent discovery: on the other hand, it is punished
very severely if discovered; not for the theft, but for the want of
address in the art of stealing. A Tschukotskoe girl cannot be married
before she has shown her dexterity in this way."[116]

  [115] Asiatic Researches, vol. vii., pages 189 and 193.

  [116] Dr. James Grieve's translation of a Russian account of
  Kamtschatka, page 323.

Halhed, in apologizing for the Hindoo magistrate participating in the
plunder of banditti, which applies equally well to the Gipsies, remarks
that, "unjust as this behaviour may appear in the eye of equity, it
bears the most genuine stamp of antiquity, and corresponds entirely with
the manners of the early Grecians, at or before the period of the Trojan
war, and of the western nations before their emersion from barbarism; a
practice still kept up among the piratic States of Barbary, to its
fullest extent by sea, and probably among many hordes of Tartars and
Arabian banditti by land." It is proper to mention that the Gipsies
seldom or never steal from one another; at least, I never could find out
an instance of a theft having been committed by a Gipsy on one of his
own tribe.

It will be seen, from the following details, that the sanguinary laws
which have been, from time to time, promulgated all over Europe against
the Gipsies, were not enacted to put down fanciful crimes, as an author
of the present day seems, in his travels, to insinuate. To plunder the
community with more safety to their persons, the Gipsies appear to have
had a system of theft peculiar to themselves. Those of Lochgellie
trained all their children to theft. Indeed, this has been the general
practice with the tribe all over Scotland. Several individuals have
mentioned to me that the Lochgellie band were exercised in the art of
thieving under the most rigid discipline. They had various ways of
making themselves expert thieves. They frequently practised themselves
by picking the pockets of each other. Sometimes a pair of breeches were
made fast to the end of a string, suspended from a high part of the
tent, kiln, or outhouse in which they happened to be encamped. The
children were set at work to try if they could, by sleight of hand,
abstract money from the pockets of the breeches hanging in this
position, without moving them. Sometimes they used bells in this
discipline. The children who were most expert in abstracting the money
in this manner, were rewarded with applause and presents; while, on the
other hand, those who proved awkward, by ringing the bell, or moving the
breeches, were severely chastised. After the youths were considered
perfect in this branch of their profession, a purse, or other small
object, was laid down in an exposed part of the tent or camp, in view of
all the family. While the ordinary business of the Gipsies was going
forward, the children again commenced their operations, by exerting
their ingenuity and exercising their patience, in trying to carry off
the purse without being perceived by any one present. If they were
detected, they were again beaten; but if they succeeded unnoticed, they
were caressed and liberally rewarded. As far as my information goes,
this systematic training of the Gipsy youth was performed by the chief
female of the bands. These women seem to have had great authority over
their children. Ann Brown, of the Lochgellie tribe, could, by a single
stamp of her foot, cause the children to crouch to the ground, like
trembling dogs under the lash of an angry master. The Gipsies, from
these constant trainings, became exceedingly dexterous at picking
pockets. The following instance of their extraordinary address in these
practices, will show the effects of their careful training, as well as
exhibit the natural ingenuity which they will display in compassing
their ends.

A principal male Gipsy, of a very respectable appearance, whose name it
is unnecessary to mention, happened, on a market day, to be drinking in
a public-house, with several farmers with whom he was well acquainted.
The party observed, from the window, a countryman purchase something at
a stand in the market, and, after paying for it, thrust his purse into
his watch-pocket, in the band of his breeches. One of the company
remarked that it would be a very difficult matter to rob the cautious
man of his purse, without being detected. The Gipsy immediately offered
to bet two bottles of wine that he would rob the man of his purse, in
the open and public market, without being perceived by him. The bet was
taken, and the Gipsy proceeded about the difficult and delicate
business. Going up to the unsuspecting man, he requested, as a
particular favour, if he would ease the stock about his neck, which
buckled behind--an article of dress at that time in fashion. The
countryman most readily agreed to oblige the stranger gentleman--as he
supposed him to be. The Gipsy, now stooping down, to allow his stock to
be adjusted, placed his head against the countryman's stomach, and,
pressing it forward a little, he reached down one hand, under the
pretence of adjusting his shoe, while the other was employed in
extracting the farmer's purse. The purse was immediately brought into
the company, and the cautious, unsuspecting countryman did not know of
his loss, till he was sent for, and had his property returned to him.

The Gipsy youth, trained from infancy to plunder, in the manner
described, were formed into companies or bands, with a captain at their
head. These captains were generally the grown-up sons of the old
chieftains, who, having been themselves leaders in their youth,
endeavoured, in their old age, to support, outwardly, a pretty fair
character, although under considerable suspicion. The captains were
generally well dressed, and could not be taken for Gipsies. The youths
varied in age from ten to thirty years. They travelled to fairs singly,
or at least never above two together, while their captains almost always
rode on horse-back, but never in company with any of their men.[117] The
band consisted of a great number of individuals, and in a fair several
of these companies would be present; each company acting independent of
the others, for behoof of its own members and chief. Each chief, on such
occasions, had his own headquarters, to which his men repaired with
their booty, as fast as they obtained it. Some of the chiefs, handsomely
dressed, pretended to be busily employed in buying and selling horses,
but were always ready to attend to the operations of their tribe,
employed in plundering in the market. The purses were brought to the
horse-dealer by the members of his band, who, to prevent being
discovered, pretended to be buying horses from him, while communicating
with him relative to their peculiar vocation. When a detection was
likely to take place, the chief mounted a good horse, and rode off to a
distant part of the country, previously made known to his men, with the
whole of the booty in his custody. To this place the band, when all was
quiet, repaired, and received their share of the plunder. They could
communicate information to one another by signs, to say nothing of their
language, which frequently enabled them to get the start of their
pursuers. Like the fox, the dog, and the _corbie_, they frequently
concealed their stolen articles in the earth. Parties of them would
frequently commence sham fights in markets, to facilitate the picking of
the pockets of the people, while crowded together to witness the

  [117] An old Gipsy told me that he had seen one of the principal
  chiefs, dressed like a gentleman, travelling in a post-chaise, for the
  purpose of attending fairs.

  [Vidocq, of the French secret police, thus writes of the Hungarian
  Gipsies, visiting the west of Europe: Raising my eyes towards a crowd
  in front of a menagerie, I perceived one of the _false jockeys_ taking
  the purse of a fat glazier, whom we saw the next moment seeking for it
  in his pocket; the _Bohemian_ then entered a jeweller's shop, where
  were already two of the _pretended Zealand peasants_, and my companion
  assured me that he would not come out until he had pilfered some of
  the jewels that were shown to him. In every part of the fair where
  there was a crowd, I met some of the lodgers of the Duchess, (the inn
  kept by a Gipsy woman in which he had spent the previous night.)--ED.]

Many of the male Gipsies used a piece of strong leather, like a
sailmaker's palm, having a short piece of sharp steel, like the point of
a surgeon's lancet, where the sailmaker has his thimble. The long
sleeves of their coats concealed the instrument, and when they wished to
cut a purse out of an arm-pocket, they stretched out the arm, and ran it
flatly and gently along the cloth of the coat, opposite the pocket of
the individual they wished to plunder. The female Gipsies wore, upon
their forefingers, rings of a peculiar construction, yet nothing unusual
in their appearance, excepting their very large size. On closing the
hand, the pressure upon a spring sent forth, through an aperture or slit
in the ring, a piece of sharp steel, something like the manner in which
a bee thrusts out and withdraws its sting. With these ingenious
instruments the female Gipsies cut the outside of the pockets of their
victims, exactly as a glazier runs his diamond over a sheet of glass.
The opening once made by the back of the forefinger, the hand,
following, was easily introduced into the pocket. In the midst of a
crowded fair, the dexterous Gipsies, with their nimble fingers, armed
with these invisible instruments, cut the pocket-books and purses of the
honest farmers, as if they had been robbed by magic. So skillful were
the wife and one of the sisters of Charles Wilson, in the art of
thieving, that although the loss of the pocket-book was, in some
instances, immediately discovered, nothing was ever found upon their
persons by which their guilt could be established. No instrument
appeared in their possession with which the clothes of the plundered
individuals could have been cut, as no one dreamt that the rings on
their fingers contained tools so admirably adapted for such purposes.

The Gipsy chiefs in Scotland appear, at one time, to have received a
share of the plundered articles in the same manner as those of the same
rank received from their inferiors in Hungary. Grellmann says: "Whenever
a complaint is made that any of their people have been guilty of theft,
the Waywode (chief) not only orders a general search to be made in every
tent or hut, and returns the stolen goods to the owner, if they can be
found; but he punishes the thief, in presence of the complainant, with
his whip. He does not, however, punish the aggressor from any regard to
justice, but rather to quiet the plaintiff, and at the same time to make
his people more wary in their thefts, as well as more dexterous in
concealing their prey. These very materially concern him, since, by
every discovery that is made, his income suffers, as the whole profit of
his office arises from his share of the articles that are stolen. Every
time any one brings in a booty, he is obliged to give information to the
Arch-gipsy of his successful enterprise, then render a just account of
what and how much he has stolen, in order that the proper division may
be made. This is the situation in which a Gipsy looks on himself as
bound to give a fair and true detail, though, in every other instance,
he does not hesitate to perjure himself."

A shrewd and active magistrate, in the west of Fife, knew our Scottish
Gipsy depredators so well, that he caused them all to be apprehended as
they entered the fairs held in the town in which he resided; and when
the market, which lasted for several days, was over, the Gipsies were
released from prison, with empty pockets and hungry bellies--most
effectually baffled in their designs.

Great numbers of these Gipsy plunderers, at one time, crossed the Forth
at the Queensferry, for the purpose of stealing and robbing at the fairs
in the north of Scotland. They all travelled singly or in pairs. Very
few persons knew whence they came, or with whom they were connected.
They were, in general, well dressed, and could not have been taken for
Gipsies. Every one put up at a public-house, at North Queensferry, kept
by a Mr. McRitchie, already mentioned, an inn well known in the
neighbourhood for its good fare, and much frequented by all classes of
society. In this house, on the morning after a fair in Dunfermline, when
_their business_ was all over, and themselves not alarmed by detection,
or other scaring incidents, no fewer than fourteen of these plunderers
have frequently been seen sitting at breakfast, with Captain Gordon,
their commander, at their head. The landlord's son informed me that they
ate and drank of the best in the house, and paid most handsomely for
everything they called for. I believe they were among the best customers
the landlord had. Gipsies, however, are by no means habitual drinkers,
or tiplers; but when they do sit down, it is, in the phraseology of the
sea, a complete _blow-out_. About this public-house, these Gipsies were
perfectly inoffensive, and remarkably civil to all connected with it.
They troubled or stole from none of the people about the inn, nor from
those who lodged in the house, while they were within doors, or in the
immediate neighbourhood. Anything could have been trusted with them on
these occasions. At these meetings, the landlord's son frequently heard
them talking in the Gipsy language. Gordon, at times, paid the reckoning
for the whole, and transacted any other business with the landlord; but,
when the Gipsy company was intermixed with females, which was commonly
the case, each individual paid his own share of the bill incurred. It
was sometimes the practice with the young bands to leave their reckoning
to be paid by their chiefs, who were not present, but who, perhaps next
day, came riding up, and paid the expenses incurred by their men. I am
informed that two chiefs, of the names of Wilson and Brown, often paid
the expenses of their bands in this way. When any of these principal
Gipsies happened to remain in the public-house all night, they behaved
very genteelly. They paid the chamber-maid, boots, and waiter with more
liberality than was the custom with mercantile travellers generally.
Captain Gordon, just mentioned, assumed very considerable consequence at
this place. Frequently he hired boats and visited the islands in the
Forth, and adjacent coasts, like a gentleman of pleasure. On one
occasion he paid no less than a guinea, with brandy and eatables _ad
libitum_, to be rowed over to Inch-colm, a distance of four miles.

The female Gipsies from the south, on visiting their friends at
Lochgellie, in the depth of winter, often hired horses at the North
Queensferry, and rode, with no small pomp and pride, to the village.
Sometimes two females would ride upon one horse. A very decent old man,
of the name of Thomas Chalmers, a small farmer, informed me that he
himself had rode to Lochgellie, with a female Gipsy behind him,
accompanied by other two, mounted on another of his horses, riding with
much spirit and glee by his side. Chalmers said that these women not
only paid more than the common hire, but treated the owners of the
horses with as much meat and drink as they could take. The male Gipsies
also hired horses at this Ferry, with which they rode to markets in the

The young Gipsies, male and female, of whom I have spoken, appear to
have been the flower of the different bands, collected and employed in a
general plundering at the fairs in the north. So well did they pay their
way at the village and passage alluded to, that the boatmen gave them
the kindly name of "our frien's." These wanderers were all known at the
village by the name of "Gillie Wheesels," or "Killie Wheesh," which, in
the west of Fife, signified "the lads that take the purses." Old Thomas
Chalmers informed me that he had frequently seen these sharks of boatmen
shake these Gipsy thieves heartily by the hand, and, with a significant
smile on their harsh, weather-beaten countenances, wish them a good
market, as they landed them on the north side of the Forth, on their way
to picking pockets at fairs.

As an incident in the lives of these Gipsies, I will give the following,
which was witnessed by Chalmers: A Gillie of a Gipsy horse-couper stole
a black colt, in the east of Fife, and carried it direct to a fair in
Perth, where he exchanged it for a white horse, belonging to a
Highlander wearing a green kilt. The Highlander, however, had not long
put the colt into the stable, before word was brought to him that it was
gone. Suspecting the Gipsy of the theft, the sturdy Gael proceeded in
search of him, and receiving positive information of the fact, he
pursued him, like a staunch hound on the warm foot of reynard, till he
overtook him in a house on the north side of Kinross. The Gipsy was
taking some refreshment in the same room with Chalmers, when the
Highlander, in a storm of broken English, burst into their presence.
The astute and polished Gipsy instantly sprang to his feet, and,
throwing his arms around the foaming Celt, embraced and hugged him in
the eastern manner, overpowering him with expressions of joy at seeing
him again. This quite exasperated the mountaineer: almost suffocated
with rage, he shook the Gipsy from his person, with the utmost disdain,
and demanded the colt he had stolen from him. Notwithstanding the
deceitful embraces and forced entreaties of the Gipsy, he was, with the
assistance of a messenger, at the back of the Highlander, safely lodged
in the jail of Cupar.

Considering the great aptitude which the Gipsies have always shown for
working in metals, it is not surprising that they should have resorted
to coining, among their many expedients for circumventing and plundering
the "strangers" among whom they sojourn. The following instance will
illustrate the singular audacity which they can display in this branch
of their profession: As an honest countryman, of much simplicity of
character, of the name of W---- O----, was journeying along the public
road, a travelling Tinkler, whom he did not know, chanced to come up to
him. After walking and conversing for some time, the courteous Gipsy, on
arriving at a public-house, invited him to step in, and have a
"tasting." They accordingly entered the house, and had no sooner
finished one half _mutchken_, than the liberal wanderer called for
another; but when the reckoning came to be thought of, the countryman
was surprised when his friend the Tinkler declared that he had not a
coin in his possession. Unfortunately, the honest man happened also to
be without a farthing in his pocket, and how they were to get out of the
house, without paying the landlord, whom neither of them knew, puzzled
him not a little. While meditating over their dilemma, the Gipsy, with
his eyes rolling about in every direction, as is their wont, espied a
pewter basin under a bed in the room. This was all he required. Bolting
the door of the apartment, he opened his budget, and, taking out a pair
of large shears, cut a piece from the side of the basin, and, putting it
into his crucible on the fire, in no time, with his coining instruments,
threw off several half-crowns, resembling good, sterling money. If the
simple countryman was troubled at not being able to pay his reckoning,
he was now terrified at being locked up with a man busily engaged in
coining base money from an article stolen in the very apartment in which
he was confined. He expected, every moment, some one to burst the door
open, and apprehend them, while the Tinkler had all his coining
apparatus about him. His companion, however, was not in the least
disturbed, but deliberately finished his coin in a superior manner, and
cutting the remainder of the basin into pieces, packed it into his
wallet. Unlocking the door, he rang the bell, and tendered one of his
half-crowns to his host, to pay his score, which was accepted without a
suspicion. The Tinkler then offered his fellow-traveller part of his
remaining coin; but the unsophisticated man, far from touching one of
them, was only too glad to rid himself of so dangerous an acquaintance.
The Gipsy, on his part, marched off, with his spirits elevated with
liquor, and his pockets replenished with money, smiling at the
simplicity and terror of the countryman.

However numerous the crimes which the Gipsies have committed, or the
murders they have perpetrated in their own tribe, yet, in justice to
them, I must say that only two instances have come to my knowledge of
their having put to death natives of Scotland who were not of their own
fraternity. One of these instances was that of a man of the name of Adam
Thomson, whom they murdered because he had encroached, it was said, upon
one of their supposed privileges--that of gathering rags through the
country. Amongst other acts of cruelty, they placed the poor man on a
fire, in his own house. Two Gipsies were tried for the murder, but
whether they were both executed, I do not know. The following
particulars connected with this deed will show how exactly the Gipsies
know the different routes and halting-places of each band, as they
travel through the country. Indeed, I have been informed that the track
which each horde is to take, the different stages, and the number of
days they are to remain at each place, are all marked out and fixed upon
in the spring, before they leave their winter residence. One of the
Gipsies concerned in the murder of Thomson lay in prison, in one of the
towns in the south of Scotland, for nearly twelve months, without having
had any communication with his tribe. There was not sufficient evidence
against him to justify his being brought to trial; nor would he give any
information regarding the transaction. At last he changed his mind, and
told the authorities they would find the murderer at a certain spot in
the Highlands, on a certain day and hour of that day; but if he could
not be found there, they were to proceed to another place, at twenty
miles' distance, where they would be sure to find him.

The murderer was found at the place, and on the day, mentioned by the
Gipsy. But, on entering the house, the constables could not discover
him, although they knew he had been within its walls a few minutes
before they approached it. A fire having been kindled in the house, a
noise was heard in the chimney, which attracted the notice of the
constables; and, on examination, they found the object of their search;
the heat and smoke having caused him to become restless in his place of
concealment. He was secured, and some of the country-people were called
upon to assist in carrying him to Edinburgh. The prisoner was bound into
a cart with ropes, to prevent him making his escape; the party in charge
of him being aware of the desperate character of the man. Nothing
particular occurred on the road, until after they had passed the town of
Linlithgow, when, to their astonishment, they found a woman in the pangs
of labour, in the open field. She called upon them either to bring her a
midwife, or take her to one; a claim that could not be resisted. She was
accordingly put into the cart, beside the prisoner, and driven with all
speed to a place where a midwife could be procured. On arriving opposite
a dell, full of trees and bushes, about the west-end of Kirkliston, the
guards were confounded at seeing their prisoner, all at once, spring out
of the cart, and, darting into the cover, vanish in an instant. Pursuit
was immediately given, and, in the excitement, the unfortunate woman was
left to her fate. In searching for the Gipsy, they met a gentleman
shooting in the neighbourhood, who had observed a man hide himself among
the bushes. On going to the spot, they found the criminal, lying like a
fox in his hole. The sportsman, presenting his gun, threatened to blow
out his brains, if he did not come out, and deliver himself up to the
constables. On returning with him to the cart, his captors, to their
astonishment, found that the woman in labour had also vanished. It is
needless to add that she was a Gipsy, who had feigned being in travail,
and, while in the cart, had cut the ropes with which the prisoner was
bound, to enable him to make his escape.

The female Gipsies have had recourse to many expedients in their
impositions on the public. The following is an instance, of a singular
nature, that took place a good many years ago. When it is considered
that the Gipsies, in their native country,[118] would not be encumbered
with much wearing-apparel, but would go about in a state little short of
nudity, the extreme indecency of such an action will appear somewhat
lessened. The inhabitants of Winchburgh and neighbourhood were one day
greatly astonished at beholding a female, with a child in her arms,
walking along the road, as naked as when she was born. She stated to the
country-people that she had just been plundered, and stripped of every
article of her wearing-apparel, by a band of Tinklers, to whom she
pointed, lying in a field hard by. She submitted her piteous condition
to the humanity of the inhabitants, and craved any sort of garment to
cover her nakedness. The state in which she was found left not the
slightest doubt on the minds of the spectators as to the truth of her
representations. Almost every female in the neighbourhood ran with some
description of clothing to the unfortunate woman; so that, in a short
time, she was not only comfortably clad, but had many articles of dress
to spare. Shortly after, she left the town, and proceeded on her
journey. But some one, observing her motions more closely than the rest,
was astonished at seeing her go straight to the very Tinklers who, she
said, had stripped her. Her appearance among her band convulsed them all
with laughter, at the dexterous trick she had played upon the simple

  [118] It is pretty certain that the Gipsies came from a warm country,
  for they have no words for frost or snow, as will be seen in my
  enquiry into the history of their language.

The following anecdote, related to me of one of the well-attired female
Gipsies, belonging to the Stirling horde, will illustrate the gratitude
which the Scottish Gipsies have, on all occasions, shown to those who
have rendered them acts of kindness and attention: A person, belonging
to Stirling, had rendered himself obnoxious to the Gipsies, by giving
information relative to one of the gang, of the name of Hamilton, whom
he had observed picking a man's pocket of forty pounds in a fair at
Doune. Hamilton was apprehended immediately after committing the theft,
but none of the money was found upon him. The informer, however, was
marked out for destruction by the band, for his officious conduct; and
they only waited a convenient opportunity to put their resolution into
execution. Some time afterwards, the proscribed individual had occasion
to go to a market at no great distance from Stirling, and while on his
way to it, he observed, on the road before him, a female, in the attire
of a lady, riding on horseback. On coming to a pond at the road-side,
the horse suddenly made for the water, and threw down its head to drink.
Not being prepared for the movement, the rider was thrown from her seat,
with considerable violence, to the ground. The proscribed individual,
observing the accident, ran forward to her assistance; but, being only
slightly stunned, she was, with his help, safely placed in her seat
again. She now thanked him for his kind and timely assistance, and
informed him of the conspiracy that had been formed against him. She
said it was particularly fortunate for him that such an accident had
befallen her under the circumstances; for, in consequence of the
information he had given about the pocket-picking at Doune, he was to
have been way-laid and murdered; that very night having been fixed upon
for carrying the resolution into effect. But, as he had shown her this
kindness, she would endeavour to procure, from her people, a pardon for
him, for the past. She then directed him to follow slowly, while she
would proceed on, at a quick pace, and overtake some of her people, to
whom she would relate her accident, and the circumstances attending it.
She then informed him that if she waved her _hand_, upon his coming in
sight of herself and her people, he was to retrace his steps homeward,
there being then no mercy for him; but if she waved her _handkerchief_,
he might advance without fear. To his heart-felt delight, on coming near
the party, the signal of peace was given, when he immediately hastened
forward to the spot. The band, who had been in deliberation upon his
fate, informed him that the lady's intercession had prevailed with them
to spare his life; and that now he might consider himself safe, provided
he would take an oath, there and then, never again to give evidence
against any of their people, or speak to any one about their practices,
should he discover them. The person in question deemed it prudent,
under all the circumstances of the case, to take the oath; after which,
nothing to his hurt, in either purse or person, ever followed.[119] The
lady, thus equipped, and possessed of so much influence, was the chief
female of the Gipsy band, to whom all the booty obtained at the fair was
brought, at the house where she put up at for the day. It would seem
that she was determined to save her friend at all events; for, had her
band not complied with her wishes, the waving of her hand--the signal
for him to make his escape--would have defeated their intentions for
that time.

  [119] Such interference with the Gipsies causes them much greater
  offence than if the informer was a principal in the transaction. To
  such people, their advice has always been: "Follow your nose, and let
  sleeping dogs lie." The following anecdote will illustrate the way in
  which they have revenged themselves, under circumstances different
  from the above:

  Old Will, of Phaup, at the head of Ettrick, was wont to shelter them
  for many years. They asked nothing but house-room, and grass for their
  horses; and, though they sometimes remained for several days, he could
  have left every chest and press about the house open, with the
  certainty that nothing would be missing; for, he said, "he aye ken'd
  fu' weel that the toad wad keep his ain hole clean." But it happened
  that he found one of the gang, through the trick of a neighbouring
  farmer, feeding six horses on the best piece of grass on his farm,
  which he was keeping for winter fodder. A desperate combat followed,
  and the Gipsy was thrashed to his heart's content, and hunted out of
  the neighbourhood. A warfare of five years' duration ensued between
  Will and the Gipsies. They nearly ruined him, and, at the end of that
  period, he was glad to make up matters with his old friends, and
  shelter them as formerly. He said he could have held his own with
  them, had it not been for their warlockry; for nothing could he keep
  from them--they once found his purse, though he had made his wife bury
  it in the garden.--_Blackwood's Magazine._ It is the afterclap that
  keeps the people off the Gipsies, and secures for them a sort of
  toleration wherever they go.--ED.

When occurrences of so grave and imposing a nature as the above are
taken into consideration, the fear and awe with which the Gipsies have
inspired the community are not to be wondered at.

The Gipsies at Lochgellie had a dance peculiar to themselves, during the
performance of which they sung a song, in the Gipsy language, which they
called a "croon." A Gipsy informed me that it was exactly like the one
old Charles Stewart, and other Gipsies, used to perform, and which I
will describe. At the wedding near Corstorphine, which Charles Stewart
attended, as already mentioned, there were five or six female Gipsies in
his train. On such occasions he did not allow males to accompany him.
At some distance from the people at the wedding, but within hearing of
the music, the females formed themselves into a ring, with Charles in
the centre. Here, in the midst of the circle, he danced and capered in
the most antic and ludicrous manner, sweeping his cudgel around his body
in all directions, and moving with much grace and agility. Sometimes he
danced round the outside of the circle. The females danced and
courtesied to him, as he faced about and bowed to them. When they
happened to go wrong, he put them to rights by a movement of his cudgel;
for it was by the cudgel that all the turns and figures of the dance
were regulated. A twirl dismissed the females; a cut recalled them; a
sweep made them squat on the ground; a twist again called them up, in an
instant, to the dance. In short, Stewart distinctly spoke to his female
dancers by means of his cudgel, commanding them to do whatever he
pleased, without opening his mouth to one of them.

George Drummond, a Gipsy chief of an inferior gang in Fife, danced with
his seraglio of females, amounting sometimes to half a dozen, in the
same manner as Stewart, without the slightest variation, excepting that
his gestures were, on some occasions, extremely lascivious. He threw
himself into almost every attitude in which the human body can be
placed, while his cudgel was flying about his person with great
violence. All the movements of the dance were regulated by the measures
of an indecent song, at the chorus of which the circular movements of
Drummond's cudgel ceased; when one of the females faced about to him,
and joined him with her voice, the gestures of both being exceedingly
obscene. Drummond's appearance, while dancing, has been described to me,
by a gentleman who has often seen him performing, as exactly like what
is called a "jumping-jack"--that is, a human figure, cut out of wood or
paste-board, with which children often amuse themselves, by regulating
its ludicrous movements by means of strings attached to various parts of

Dr. Clark, in his account of his travels through Russia, gives a
description of a Gipsy dance in Moscow, which is, in all respects, very
similar to that performed by Stewart and Drummond. These travels came
into my hands some time after I had taken notes of the Scottish Gipsy
dance. Napkins appear to have been used by the Russian Gipsies, where
sticks were employed by our Scottish tribes. No mention, however, is
made, by Dr. Clark, whether the females, in the dance at Moscow, were
guided by signs with the napkins, in the manner in which Stewart and
Drummond, by their cudgels, directed their women in their dances. The
eyes of the females were constantly fixed upon Stewart's cudgel. Dr.
Clark is of opinion that the national dance in Russia, called the
_barina_, is derived from the Gipsies; and thinks it probable that our
common hornpipe is taken from these wanderers.[120]

  [120] If I am not mistaken, Col. Todd is of opinion that the Gipsies
  originally came from Cabool, in Afghanistan. I will here give a
  description of an Afghan dance, very like the Gipsy dance in Scotland.
  "The western Afghans are fond of a particular dance called _Attum_, or
  _Ghoomboor_, in which from fourteen to twenty people move, in strange
  attitudes, with shouting, clapping of hands, and snapping of fingers,
  in a circle, round a single person, who plays on an instrument in the
  centre."--_Fraser's Library._

George Drummond was, in rank, quite inferior to the Lochgellie band, who
called him a "beggar Tinkler," and seemed to despise him. He always
travelled with a number of females in his company. These he married
after the custom of the Gipsies, and divorced some of them over the body
of a horse, sacrificed for the occasion; a description of both of which
ceremonies will be given in another chapter. He chastised his women with
his cudgel, without mercy, causing the blood to flow at every blow, and
frequently knocked them senseless to the ground; while he would call out
to them, "What the deevil are ye fighting at--can ye no' 'gree? I'm sure
there's no' sae mony o' ye!" although, perhaps, four would be engaged in
the scuffle. Such was this man's impudence and audacity, that he
sometimes carried off the flesh out of the kail-pots of the farmers; and
so terrified were some of the inhabitants of Fife, at some of the Gipsy
women who followed him, that, the moment they entered their doors, salt
was thrown into the fire, to set at defiance the witchcraft which they
believed they possessed. One female, called Dancing Tibby, was, in
particular, an object of apprehension and suspicion. In Drummond's
journeys through the country, when he came at night to a farmer's
premises, where he intended to lodge, and found his place occupied by
others of his gang, he, without hesitation, turned them out of their
quarters, and took possession of their warm beds himself; letting them
shift for themselves as they best might. This man lived till he was
ninety years of age, and was, from his youth, impressed with a belief
that he would die in the house in which he was born; although he had
travelled a great part of the continent, and, while in the army, had
been in various engagements. He fell sick when at some distance from the
place of his nativity, but he hired a conveyance, and drove with haste
to die on his favourite spot. To this house he was allowed admittance,
where he closed his earthly career, in about forty-eight hours after his
arrival. Like others of his tribe, Drummond, at times, gave tokens of
protection to some of his particular friends, outside of the circle of
his own fraternity.

James Robertson, a Gipsy closely related to the Lochgellie band, of whom
I have already made mention, frequently danced, with his wife and
numerous sisters, in a particular fashion, changing and regulating the
figures of the dance by means of a bonnet; being, I believe, the same
dance which I have attempted to describe as performed by others of the
tribe in Scotland. When his wife and sisters got intoxicated, which was
often the case, it was a wild and extravagant scene to behold those
light-footed damsels, with loose and flowing hair, dancing, with great
spirit, on the grass, in the open field, while James was, with all his
"might and main," like the devil playing to the witches, in "Tam o'
Shanter," keeping the bacchanalians in fierce and animated music. When
like to flag in his exertions to please them with his fiddle, they have
been heard calling loudly to him, like Maggy Lawder to Rob the Ranter,
"Play up, Jamie Robertson; if ever we do weel, it will be a wonder;"
being totally regardless of all sense of decorum and decency.

The Gipsies in Fife followed the same occupations, in all respects, as
those in other parts of Scotland, and were also dexterous at all
athletic exercises. They were exceedingly fond of cock-fighting, and,
when the season came round for that amusement, many a good cock was
missing from the farm-yards. The Lochgellie band considered begging a
disgrace to their tribe. At times they were handsomely dressed, wearing
silver buckles in their shoes, gold rings on their fingers, and gold and
silver brooches in the bosoms of their ruffled shirts. They killed, at
Martinmass, fat cattle for their winter's provisions, and lived on the
best victuals the country could produce. It is, I believe, the common
practice, among inferior Scotch traders, for those who receive money to
treat the payer, or return a trifle of the payment, called a luck-penny:
but, in opposition to this practice, the Lochgellie Gipsies always
treated those to whom they paid money for what they purchased of them.
They occasionally attended the church, and sometimes got their children
baptized; but when the clergyman refused them that privilege, they
baptized them themselves. At their baptisms, they had great feastings
and drinkings. Their favourite beverage, on such occasions, was oatmeal
and whiskey, mixed. When intoxicated, they were sometimes very fond of
arguing and expostulating with clergymen on points of morality. With
regard to the internal government of the Lochgellie Gipsies, I can only
find that they held consultations among themselves, relative to their
affairs, and that the females had votes as well as the males, but that
old Charles Graham had the casting vote; while, in his absence, his
wife, Ann Brown, managed their concerns.

There is a strict division of property among the Gipsies; community of
goods having no place among them. The heads of each family, although
travelling in one band, manufacture and vend their own articles of
merchandise, for the support of their own families. The following
particulars are illustrative of this fact among the Gipsies:--A farmer
in Fife, who would never allow them to kindle fires in his out-houses,
had a band of them, of about twenty-five persons, quartered one night on
his farm. Next morning, the chief female borrowed from the family a
large copper caldron, used for the purposes of the dairy, with which she
had requested permission to cook the breakfast of the horde upon the
kitchen fire. This having been granted, each family produced a small
linen bag, (not the beggar's wallet,) made of coarse materials,
containing oatmeal; of which at least four were brought into the
apartment. The female who prepared the repast went regularly over the
bags, taking out the meal in proportion to the members of the families
to which they respectively belonged, and repeated her visits in this
manner till the porridge was ready to be served up.

I shall conclude my account of the Gipsies in Fife by mentioning the
curious fact that, within these sixty years, a gentleman of
considerable landed property, between the Forth and the Tay, abandoned
his relatives, and travelled over the kingdom in the society of the
Gipsies. He married one of the tribe, of the name of Ogilvie, who had
two daughters to him. Sometimes he quartered, it is said, upon his own
estate, disguised, of course, among the gang, to the great annoyance of
his relatives, who were horrified at the idea of his becoming a Tinkler,
and alarmed at the claims which he occasionally made upon the estate.
His daughters travel the country, at the present day, as common



The county of Peebles, or Tweed-dale, appears to have been more
frequented by the Gipsies than, perhaps, any other part of Scotland. So
far back as the time of Henry Lord Darnley, when the Gipsies were
countenanced by the government, we find, according to Buchanan, that
this county was a favourite resort of banditti; so much so, that when
Darnley took up his residence in Peebles, for the purpose of shunning
the company of his wife, Queen Mary, he "found the place so cold, so
infested with thieves, and so destitute of provisions, that he was
driven from it, to avoid being fleeced and starved by rogues and
beggars." In the poems of Dr. Pennecuik, as well as in his history of
Peebles-shire, published in the year 1715, the Gipsy bands are
frequently taken notice of. But, notwithstanding the attachment which
the tribe had for the romantic glens of Tweed-dale, no evidence exists
of their ever having had a permanent habitation within the shire. They
appear to have resorted to that pastoral district during only the months
of spring, summer and autumn. Their partiality for this part of Scotland
may be attributed to three reasons.

The first reason is, Tweed-dale was part of the district in which, if
not the first, at least the second, Gipsy family in Scotland claimed, at
one time, a right to travel, as its own peculiar privilege. The chief of
this family was called Baillie, who claimed kindred, in the bastard
line, to one of the most ancient families in the kingdom, of the name of
Baillie, once Balliol.[121] In consequence of this alleged connexion,
this Gipsy family also claimed, as its right, to travel in the upper
ward of Lanarkshire, adjoining Tweed-dale, in which district the
Scottish family alluded to possessed estates; and one of the principal
places of the Gipsy rendezvous was an old ruin, among the hills, in the
upper part of the parish of Lamington, or rather Wanel in those days.

  [121] This claim appears doubtful, for there were Gipsies of the name
  of Baillie (Bailyow) as far back as 1540, as already mentioned.
  However, the particulars of the laird's intrigue with the beautiful
  Gipsy girl, are imprinted on the minds of the Gipsies of that name at
  the present day.

The second reason is, that the surface of Tweed-dale is much adapted to
the wandering disposition of the Gipsies. It is mountainous, but
everywhere intersected by foot-paths and bridle-roads, affording an easy
passage to the Gipsies, on foot or horseback. On its many hills are
plenty of game; and its infinite number of beautiful streams, including
about thirty-five miles of the highest part of the Tweed, abound with
trout of the finest quality. The Gipsies, being fond of game, and much
addicted to poaching and fishing, flocked to Tweed-dale and the
adjoining upland districts of a similar character, comprehending some of
the most remote and least frequented parts in the south of Scotland. All
these districts being covered with vast flocks of sheep, many of which
were frequently dying of various diseases, the Gipsies never wanted a
plentiful supply of that sort of food from the families of the

  [122] The Gipsies were not spared of _braxy_, of which they were fond.
  I have known natives of Tweed-dale and Ettrick Forest, who preferred
  _braxy_ to the best meat _killed by the hand of man_. It has a
  particular _sharp_ relish, which made them so fond of it.

  [Braxy is the flesh of sheep which have died of a certain disease.
  When the Gipsies are taunted with eating what some call carrion, they
  very wittily reply: "The flesh of a beast which God kills must be
  better than that of one killed by the hand of man." Such flesh,
  "killed by the hand of God," is often killed in this manner: They will
  administer to swine a drug affecting the brain only, which will cause
  speedy death; when they will call and obtain the carcass, without
  suspicion, and feast on the flesh, which has been in no way
  injured.--_Borrow._ They will also stuff wool down a sheep's throat,
  and direct the farmer's attention to it when near its last gasp, and
  obtain the carcass after being skinned.--ED.]

And the third reason is, that, in the pastoral districts in the upper
parts of the shires of Peebles, Selkirk, Dumfries, and Lanark, including
all that mountainous tract of land in which the rivers Tweed, Annan and
Clyde have their sources, the Gipsies were, in a great measure, secure
from the officers of the law, and enjoyed their favourite amusements
without molestation or hindrance.

Before, and long after, the year 1745, the male branches of the Baillies
traversed Scotland, mounted on the best horses to be found in the
country; themselves dressed in long coats, made of the finest scarlet
and green cloth, ruffled at hands and breast, booted and spurred; with
cocked hats on their heads, pistols in their belts, and broad-swords by
their sides: and at the heels of their horses followed greyhounds, and
other dogs of the chase, for their amusement. Some of them assumed the
manners and characters of gentlemen, which they supported with wonderful
art and propriety. The females attended fairs in the attire of ladies,
riding on ponies, with side-saddles, in the best style. On these
occasions, the children were left in charge of their servants, perhaps
in an old out-house or hut, in some wild, sequestered glen, in
Tweed-dale or Clydesdale.

The greater part of the tenantry were kind to the Gipsies, and many
encouraged them to frequent their premises. Tweed-dale being the
favourite resort of the principal horde, they generally abstained from
injuring the property of the greater part of the inhabitants. Indeed, I
have been informed, by eye-witnesses, that several of the farmers in
Tweed-dale and Clydesdale, at so late a period as about the year 1770,
accepted of entertainments from the principal Gipsies, dining with them
in the open fields, or in some old, unoccupied out-house, or kiln. Their
repast, on such occasions, was composed of the best viands the country
could produce. On one occasion, a band dined on the green-sward, near
Douglass-mill, when the Gipsies drank their wine, after dinner, as if
they had been the best in the land. Some of the landed proprietors,
however, introduced clauses in their leases prohibiting their tenants
from harbouring the Gipsies; and the Laird of Dolphington is mentioned
as one. The tribe, on hearing of the restriction, expressed great
indignation at the Laird's conduct in adopting so effectual a method of
banishing them from the district. But so strong were the attachments
which some of the Gipsies displayed towards the inhabitants, that the
chief of the Ruthvens actually wept like a child, whenever the
misfortunes of the ancient family of Murray, of Philliphaugh, were
mentioned to him.

In giving an account of the Gipsies who frequented Tweed-dale, and the
country adjacent, I have thought it proper to mention particularly the
family of Baillie; for this family produced kings and queens, or, in
their language, _baurie rajahs_ and _baurie raunies_, to the Scottish
Gipsies. At one period they seem to have exercised a sort of sovereign
authority in the tribe, over almost the whole of Scotland; and,
according to the ordinary practice of writing history of a great deal
more importance, they should, as the chief family of a tribe, be
particularly noticed.

The quarrels of the Gipsies frequently broke out in an instant, and
almost without a visible cause. A farmer's wife, with whom I was
acquainted, was one day sitting in the midst of a band of them, at work
in an old out-house, enquiring the news of the country of them, when, in
an instant, a shower of horns and hammers, open knives, files, and fiery
peats, were flying through the house, at one another's heads. The
good-wife took to her heels immediately, to get out of the fray. Some of
their conflicts were terrible in the extreme. Dr. Pennecuik, in his
history of Peebles-shire, already referred to, gives an account of a
sanguinary struggle that took place on his estate of Romanno, in
Tweed-dale. The following are the particulars in his own words:

"Upon the 1st of October, 1677, there happened at Romanno, on the very
spot where now the dove-cot is built, a remarkable polymachy betwixt two
clans of Gipsies, the Fawes and the Shawes, who had come from Haddington
fair, and were going to Harestanes, to meet two other clans of these
rogues, the Baillies and Browns, with a resolution to fight them. They
fell out, at Romanno, among themselves, about dividing the spoil they
had got at Haddington, and fought it manfully. Of the Fawes, there were
four brethren and a brother's son; of the Shawes, the father with three
sons; and several women on both sides. Old Sandie Fawe, a bold and
proper fellow,[123] with his wife, then with child, were both killed
dead upon the place; and his brother George very dangerously wounded. In
February, 1678, old Robin Shawe, the Gipsy, and his three sons, were
hanged at the Grass-market, for the above-mentioned murder, committed at
Romanno; and John Fawe was hanged, the Wednesday following, for another
murder. Sir Archibald Primrose was justice general at the time, and Sir
George McKenzie king's advocate." Contrasting the obstinate ferocity of
the Gipsy with the harmless and innocent nature of the dove, Dr.
Pennecuik erected on the spot a dove-cot; and, to commemorate the
battle, placed upon the lintel of the door the following inscription:

                 "A. D. 1683.

    The field of Gipsie blood, which here you see,
    A shelter for the harmless dove shall be."

  [123] It is interesting to notice that the Doctor calls this Gipsy a
  "bold and proper fellow." He was, in all probability, a fine specimen
  of physical manhood.--ED.

This Gipsy battle is also noticed by Lord Fountainhall, in the following
extract from his MS., now in the Advocate's Library:--"Sixth February,
1678.--Four Egyptians, of the name of Shaw, were this day hanged--the
father and three sons--for the slaughter committed by them on the Faws,
(another tribe of these vagabonds, worse than the mendicants validi,
mentioned in the code,) in a drunken squabble, made by them in a
rendezvous they had at Romanno, with a design to unite their forces
against the clans of Browns and Bailezies (Baillies), that were come
over from Ireland,[124] to chase them back again, that they might not
share in their labours; but, in their ramble, they discovered and
committed the foresaid murder; and sundry of them, of both sides, were
apprehended."--"The four being thrown into a hole dug for them in the
Greyfriars churchyard, with their clothes on, the next morning the body
of the youngest of the three sons, (who was scarce sixteen,) was missed.
Some thought that, being last thrown over the ladder, and first cut
down, and in full vigour, and not much earth placed upon him, and lying
uppermost, and so not so ready to smother, the fermentation of the
blood, and heat of the bodies under him, might cause him to rebound, and
throw off the earth, and recover ere the morning, and steal away. Which,
if true, he deserved his life, though the magistrates deserved a
reprimand. But others, more probably, thought his body was stolen away
by some chirurgeon, or his servant, to make an anatomical dissection

  [124] The Scottish Gipsies, as I have already said, have a tradition
  that their ancestors came into Scotland by way of Ireland.

  [The allusion to that circumstance by the Gipsies, on this occasion,
  was evidently to throw dust into the eyes of the Scottish authorities,
  by whom the whole tribe in Scotland were proscribed.--ED.]

About a century after this conflict, we find the nature of the Gipsies
still unchanged. The following details of one of their general
engagements will serve as a specimen of the obstinate and desperate
manner in which, to a late period, they fought among themselves. The
battle took place at the bridge of Hawick, in the spring of the year
1772, or 1773. The particulars are derived from the late Mr. Robert
Laidlaw, Tenant of Fanash, a gentleman of respectability, who was an
eye-witness to the scene of action. It was understood that this battle
originated in some encroachments of the one tribe upon the district
assigned to the other; a principal source of quarrels among these
wanderers. And it was agreed to, by the contending parties, that they
were to fight out their dispute the first time they should meet, which,
as just said, happened at Hawick.

On the one side, in this battle, was the celebrated Alexander Kennedy, a
handsome and athletic man, and head of his tribe. Next to him, in
consideration, was little Wull Ruthven, Kennedy's father-in-law. This
man was known, all over the country, by the extraordinary title of the
Earl of Hell;[125] and, although he was above five feet ten inches in
height, he got the appellation of Little Wull, to distinguish him from
Muckle William Ruthven, who was a man of uncommon stature and personal
strength.[126] The earl's son was also in the fray. These were the chief
men in Kennedy's band. Jean Ruthven, Kennedy's wife, was also present;
with a great number of inferior members of the clan, males as well as
females, of all ages, down to mere children. The opposite band consisted
of old Rob Tait, the chieftain of his horde, Jacob Tait, young Rob Tait,
and three of old Rob Tait's sons-in-law. These individuals, with Jean
Gordon, old Tait's wife, and a numerous train, of youths of both sexes
and various ages, composed the adherents of old Robert Tait. These
adverse tribes were all closely connected with one another by the ties
of blood. The Kennedys and Ruthvens were from the ancient burgh of

  [125] This seems a favourite title among the Tinklers. One, of the
  name of Young, bears it at the present time. But the Gipsies are not
  singular in these terrible titles. In the late Burmese war, we find
  his Burmese majesty creating one of his generals "King of Hell, Prince
  of Darkness."--See _Constable's Miscellany_.

  [126] A friend, in writing me, says: "I still think I see him, (Muckle
  Wull,) bruising the charred peat over the flame of his furnace, with
  hands equal to two pair of hands of the modern day; while his withered
  and hairy shackle-bones were more like the postern joints of a sorrel
  cart-horse than anything else."

The whole of the Gipsies in the field, females as well as males, were
armed with bludgeons, excepting some of the Taits, who carried
cutlasses, and pieces of iron hoops, notched and serrated on either
side, like a saw, and fixed to the end of sticks. The boldest of the
tribe were in front of their respective bands, with their children and
the other members of their clan in the rear, forming a long train behind
them. In this order both parties boldly advanced, with their weapons
uplifted above their heads. Both sides fought with extraordinary fury
and obstinacy. Sometimes the one band gave way, and sometimes the other;
but both, again and again, returned to the combat with fresh ardour. Not
a word was spoken during the struggle; nothing was heard but the
rattling of the cudgels and the strokes of the cutlasses. After a long
and doubtful contest, Jean Ruthven, big with child at the time, at last
received, among many other blows, a dreadful wound with a cutlass. She
was cut to the bone, above and below the breast, particularly on one
side. It was said the slashes were so large and deep that one of her
breasts was nearly severed from her body, and that the motions of her
lungs, while she breathed, were observed through the aperture between
her ribs. But, notwithstanding her dreadful condition, she would neither
quit the field nor yield, but continued to assist her husband as long as
she was able. Her father, the Earl of Hell, was also shockingly wounded;
the flesh being literally cut from the bone of one of his legs, and, in
the words of my informant, "hanging down over his ankles, like beef
steaks." The earl left the field to get his wounds dressed; but
observing his daughter, Kennedy's wife, so dangerously wounded, he lost
heart, and, with others of his party, fled, leaving Kennedy alone, to
defend himself against the whole of the clan of Tait.

Having now all the Taits, young and old, male and female, to contend
with, Kennedy, like an experienced warrior, took advantage of the local
situation of the place. Posting himself on the narrow bridge of Hawick,
he defended himself in the defile, with his bludgeon, against the whole
of his infuriated enemies. His handsome person, his undaunted bravery,
his extraordinary dexterity in handling his weapon, and his desperate
situation, (for it was evident to all that the Taits thirsted for his
blood, and were determined to despatch him on the spot,) excited a
general and lively interest in his favour, among the inhabitants of the
town, who were present, and had witnessed the conflict with amazement
and horror. In one dash to the front, and with one powerful sweep of his
cudgel, he disarmed two of the Taits, and cutting a third to the skull,
felled him to the ground. He sometimes daringly advanced upon his
assailants, and drove the whole band before him, pell-mell. When he
broke one cudgel on his enemies, by his powerful arm, the town's people
were ready to hand him another. Still, the vindictive Taits rallied, and
renewed the charge with unabated vigour; and every one present expected
that Kennedy would fall a sacrifice to their desperate fury. A party of
messengers and constables at last arrived to his relief, when the Taits
were all apprehended, and imprisoned; but, as none of the Gipsies were
actually slain in the fray, they were soon set at liberty.[127]

  [127] This Gipsy battle is alluded to by Sir Walter Scott, in a
  postscript to a letter to Captain Adam Ferguson, 16th April, 1819.

  "By the by, old Kennedy the tinker swam for his life at Jedburgh, and
  was only, by the sophisticated and timed evidence of a seceding
  doctor, who differed from all his brethren, saved from a well-deserved
  gibbet. He goes to botanize for fourteen years. Pray tell this to the
  Duke (of Buccleuch,) for he was an old soldier of the Duke, and the
  Duke's old soldier. Six of his brethren were, I am told, in the court,
  and kith and kin without end. I am sorry so many of the clan are left.
  The cause of the quarrel with the murdered man, was an old feud
  between two Gipsy clans, the Kennedys and Irvings, which, about forty
  years since, gave rise to a desperate quarrel and battle at
  Hawick-green, in which the grandfather of both Kennedy and the man
  whom he murdered were engaged."--_Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter
  Scott._ Alexander Kennedy was tried for murdering Irving, at

  [This Gipsy fray at Hawick is known among the English Gipsies as "the
  Battle of the Bridge."--ED.]

In this battle, it was said that every Gipsy, except Alexander Kennedy,
the brave chief, was severely wounded; and that the ground on which they
fought was wet with blood. Jean Gordon, however, stole, unobserved, from
her band, and, taking a circuitous road, came behind Kennedy, and struck
him on the head with her cudgel. What astonished the inhabitants of
Hawick the most of all, was the fierce and stubborn disposition of the
Gipsy females. It was remarked that, when they were knocked down
senseless to the ground, they rose again, with redoubled vigour and
energy, to the combat. This unconquerable obstinacy and courage of their
females is held in high estimation by the tribe. I once heard a Gipsy
sing a song, which celebrated one of their battles; and, in it, the
brave and determined manner in which the girls bore the blows of the
cudgel over their heads was particularly applauded.

The battle at Hawick was not decisive to either party. The hostile
bands, a short time afterwards, came in contact, in Ettrick Forest, at a
place, on the water of Teema, called Deephope. They did not, however,
engage here; but the females on both sides, at some distance from one
another, with a stream between them, scolded and cursed, and, clapping
their hands, urged the males again to fight. The men, however, more
cautious, only observed a sullen and gloomy silence at this meeting.
Probably both parties, from experience, were unwilling to renew the
fight, being aware of the consequences which would follow, should they
again close in battle. The two clans then separated, each taking
different roads, but both keeping possession of the disputed district.
In the course of a few days, they again met in Eskdale moor, when a
second desperate conflict ensued. The Taits were here completely routed,
and driven from the district, in which they had attempted to travel by

The country-people were horrified at the sight of the wounded Tinklers,
after these sanguinary engagements. Several of them, lame and exhausted,
in consequence of the severity of their numerous wounds, were, by the
assistance of their tribe, carried through the country on the backs of
asses; so much were they cut up in their persons. Some of them, it was
said, were slain outright, and never more heard of. Jean Ruthven,
however, who was so dreadfully slashed, recovered from her wounds, to
the surprise of all who had seen her mangled body, which was sewed in
different parts by her clan. These battles were talked of for thirty
miles around the country. I have heard old people speak of them, with
fear and wonder at the fierce, unyielding disposition of the willful and
vindictive Tinklers.[128]

  [128] Grellmann, on the Hungarian Gipsies, says: "They are loquacious
  and quarrelsome in the highest degree. In the public markets, and
  before ale-houses, where they are surrounded by spectators, they bawl,
  spit at each other, catch up sticks and cudgels, vapour and brandish
  them over their heads, throw dust and dirt; now run from each other,
  then back again, with furious gestures and threats. The women scream,
  drag their husbands by force from the scene of action; these break
  from them again, and return to it. The children, too, howl piteously."
  But I am at a loss to understand the object of such an affray, as
  given by this author, on any other theory than that of collecting
  crowds, in the places mentioned, to enable them the more easily to
  pick pockets. For Grellmann adds: "After a short time, without any
  persons interfering, when they have cried and make a noise till they
  are tired, and without either party having received any personal
  injury, the affair terminates, and they separate with as much
  ostentation as if they had performed the most heroic feat."--ED.

We have already seen that the female Gipsies are nearly as expert at
handling the cudgel, and fully as fierce and unyielding in their
quarrels and conflicts, as the males of their race. The following
particulars relative to a Gipsy scuffle, derived from an eye-witness,
will illustrate how a Gipsy woman, of the name of Rebecca Keith,
displayed no little dexterity in the effective use which she made of her

Two gangs of Gipsies, of different tribes, had taken up their quarters,
on a Saturday, the one at the town of Dumblane, the other at a
farm-steading on the estate of Cromlix, in the neighbourhood. On the
Sunday following, the Dumblane horde paid a visit to the others, at
their country quarters. The place set apart for their accommodation was
an old kiln, of which they had possession, where they were feasted with
abundance of savoury viands, and regaled with mountain dew, in copious
libations, of quality fit for a prince. The country squad were of the
Keith fraternity, and their queen, or head personage, at the time, was
Rebecca Keith, past the middle age, but of gigantic stature, and great
muscular power. In the course of their carousal, a quarrel ensued
between the two gangs, and a fierce battle followed. The Keiths were the
weaker party, but Becca, as she was called by the country people,
performed prodigies of valour, against fearful odds, with only the aid
of her strong, hard-worn shoe, which she wielded with the dexterity and
effect of an experienced cudgelist. She appeared, however, unable much
longer to contend against her too numerous opponents. Being a great
favourite with all, especially with the inmates of the farm which was
the scene of encounter, two young boys--the informant and the
herd-callant--who witnessed the engagement, and whose sympathy was
altogether on the side of the valourous Becca, exchanged a hurried and
whispering remark to each other that, "if she had the _soople_ of a
flail, they thought she would do gude wark." No sooner said than done.
The herd-boy went off at once to the barn, cut the thongs asunder, and
returned, in a twinkling, with the soople below his jacket, concealing
it from view, with the cunning of a thief. Edging up to Becca, and
uncovering the end of the weapon, it was seized upon by her with
avidity. She flourished it in the air, and plied it with such effect,
about the ears of her adversaries, that they were speedily driven off
the field, with "sarks full of sore bones." In this furious manner would
the friendly meetings of the Gipsies frequently terminate.[129]

  [129] It is astonishing how trifling a circumstance will sometimes set
  such Gipsies by the ears. In England, they will frequently "cast up"
  the history of their respective families on such occasions. "What was
  your father, I would like to know? He hadn't even an ass to carry his
  traps, and was a rogue at that, you ---- Gipsy. _My_ father was an
  honest man." "_Honest_ man?"--"Yes, honest man, and that's more than
  you can say of your kin." The other, having more of "the blood," will
  taunt his acquaintance with some such expression as "Gorgio like,"
  (like the white.)--"And what are you, you black trash? Will blood put
  money in your pocket? Blood, indeed! I'm a better Gipsy than you are,
  in spite of the black devil that every one sees in your face!" Then
  the fray commences.

  When Gipsies take up their quarters on the premises of country people,
  a very effectual way of sometimes getting rid of them is to stir up
  discord among them. For when it comes to "hammers and tongs," "tongs
  and hammers," they will scatter, uttering howls of vengeance, on some
  more appropriate occasion, against their most intimate friends, who
  have just incurred their wrath, yet who will be seen "cheek by jowl"
  with them, perhaps, the next day, or even before the sun has gone down
  upon them; so easily are they sometimes irritated, and so easily

So formidable were the numbers of the nomadic Gipsies, at one time, and
so alarming their desperate and sanguinary battles, in the upper parts
of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale, that the fencible men in their
neighbourhood, (the _country-side_ was the expression,) had sometimes to
turn out to quell and disperse them. A clergyman was, on one occasion,
under the necessity of dismissing his congregation, in the middle of
divine service, that they might quell one of these furious Gipsy
tumults, in the immediate vicinity of the church.[130]

  [130] A writer in Blackwood's Magazine mentions that the Gipsies, late
  in the seventeenth century, broke into the house of Pennicuik, when
  the greater part of the family were at church. Sir John Clerk, the
  proprietor, barricaded himself in his own apartment, where he
  sustained a sort of siege--firing from the windows upon the robbers,
  who fired upon him in return. One of them, while straying through the
  house in quest of booty, happened to ascend the stairs of a very
  narrow turret, but, slipping his foot, caught hold of the rope of the
  alarm bell, the ringing of which startled the congregation assembled
  in the parish church. They instantly came to the rescue of the Laird,
  and succeeded, it is said, in apprehending some of the Gipsies, who
  were executed. There is a written account of this daring assault kept
  in the records of the family.--ED.

About the year 1770, the mother of the Baillies received some personal
injury, or rather insult, at a fair at Biggar, from a gardener of the
name of John Cree. The insult was instantly resented by the Gipsies; but
Cree was luckily protected by his friends. In contempt and defiance of
the whole multitude in the market, four of the Baillies--Matthew, James,
William, and John--all brothers, appeared on horse-back, dressed in
scarlet, and armed with broad-swords, and, parading through the crowd,
threatened to be avenged of the gardener, and those who had assisted
him. Burning with revenge, they threw off their coats, rolled up the
sleeves of their shirts to the shoulder, like butchers when at work,
and, with their naked and brawny arms, and glittering swords in their
clenched hands, furiously rode up and down the fair, threatening death
to all who should oppose them. Their bare arms, naked weapons, and
resolute looks, showed that they were prepared to slaughter their
enemies without mercy. No one dared to interfere with them, till the
minister of the parish appeased their rage, and persuaded them to
deliver up their swords. It was found absolutely necessary, however, to
keep a watch upon the gardener's house, for six months after the
occurrence, to protect him and his family from the vengeance of the
vindictive Gipsies.

To bring into view and illustrate the character and practices of our
Scottish Gipsies, I will transcribe the following details, in the
original words, from a MS. which I received from the late Mr. Blackwood,
as a contribution towards a history of the Gipsies. Mr. Blackwood did
not say who the writer of the paper was, but some one mentioned to me
that he was a clergyman. I am satisfied that the statements it contains
are true, and that the William Baillie therein mentioned was, in his day
and generation, well known, over the greater part of Scotland, as chief
of his tribe within the kingdom. He was the grandfather of the four
Gipsies who, as just mentioned, set at defiance the whole multitude at
Biggar fair. It will be seen, by this MS., that while the principal
Gipsies, with their subordinates, were plundering the public, in all
directions, they sometimes performed acts of gratitude and great
kindness to their favourites of the community among whom they travelled.
In it will also be exhibited the cool and business-like manner in which
they delivered back stolen purses, when circumstances rendered such
restoration necessary.

"There was formerly a gang of Gipsies, or pick-pockets, who used to
frequent the fairs in Dumfries-shire, headed by a William Baillie, or
Will Baillie, as the country-people were accustomed to call him, of whom
the old men used to tell many stories.

"Before any considerable fair, if the gang were at a distance from the
place where it was to be held, whoever of them were appointed to go,
went singly, or, at most, never above two travelled together. A day or
so after, Mr. Baillie himself followed, mounted like a nobleman; and, as
journeys, in those days, were almost all performed on horseback, he
sometimes rode, for many miles, with gentlemen of the first
respectability in the country. And, as he could discourse readily and
fluently on almost any topic, he was often taken to be some country
gentleman of property, as his dress and manners seemed to indicate.

"Once, in a very crowded fair at Dumfries, an honest farmer, from the
parish of Hatton, in Annandale, had his pocket picked of a considerable
sum, in gold, with which he was going to buy cattle. On discovering his
loss, he immediately went and got a purse like the one he had lost, into
which he put a good number of small stones, and, going into a crowded
part of the fair, he kept a watchful eye on his pocket, and, in a little
while, he caught a fellow in the very act of picking it. The farmer, who
was a stout, athletic man, did not wish to make any noise, as he knew a
more ready way of recovering his money; but whispered to the fellow,
while he still kept fast hold of him, to come out of the throng a
little, as he wanted to speak to him. There he told him that he had lost
his money, and that, if he would get it to him again, he would let him
go; if not, he would have him put in jail immediately. The pick-pocket
desired him to come along with him, and he would see what could be done,
the farmer still keeping close to him, lest he should escape. They
entered an obscure house, in an unfrequented close, where they found Mr.
Baillie sitting. The farmer told his tale, concluding with a promise
that, as the loss of the money would hurt him very much, he would, if he
could get it back again, make no more ado about it. On which, Mr.
Baillie went to a concealment in the wall, and brought out the very
purse the farmer had lost, with the contents untouched, which he
returned to the farmer, who received it with much gratitude.

"The farmer, after doing his business in the fair, got a little
intoxicated in the evening; on which he thought he would call on Mr.
Baillie, and give him a treat, for his kindness in restoring his purse;
but on entering the house, the woman who kept it, a poor widow, fell on
him and abused him sadly, asking him what he had done to cause Mr.
Stewart, by which name she knew Mr. Baillie, to leave her house; and
saying she had lost the best friend that ever she had, for always when
he stayed a day or two in her house, (which he used to do twice a year,)
he gave her as much as paid her half-year's rent; but after he, (the
farmer,) called that day, Mr. Stewart, she said, left her house, telling
her he could not stay with her any longer; but before he went, she said,
he had given her what was to pay her half-year's rent, a resource, she
lamented, she would lose in future. About two years afterwards, the
farmer again had the curiosity to call on her, and ask her if her lodger
had ever returned. She said he never had, but that, ever since, a
stranger had called regularly, and given her money to pay her rent.

"In the parish of Kirkmichael, about eight miles from Dumfries, lived a
widow who occupied a small farm. As she had a number of young children,
and no man to assist her, she fell behind in paying her rent, and at
last got a summons of removal. She had a kiln that stood at a
considerable distance from the other houses, which was much frequented
by Baillie's people, when they came that way; and she gave them, at all
times, peaceable possession, as she had no person to contend with them,
or put them away, and she herself did not wish to differ with them.
They, on the other hand, never molested anything she had. One evening, a
number of them arrived rather late, and went into the kiln, as usual;
after which, one came into the house, to ask a few peats, to make a
fire. She gave the peats, saying she believed they would soon have to
shift their quarters, as she herself was warned to flit, and she did not
know if the next tenant would allow them such quiet possession, and she
did not know what would become of herself and her helpless family.
Nothing more was said, but, after having put her children to bed, as she
was sitting by the fire, in a disconsolate manner, she heard a gentle
tap at the door. On opening it, a genteel, well-dressed man entered, who
told her he just wished to speak with her for a few minutes, and,
sitting down, said he had heard she was warned to remove, and asked how
much she was behind. She told him exactly. On which, rising hastily, he
slipt a purse into her hand, and went out before she could say a single

"The widow, however, kept the farm, paid off all old debts, and brought
up her family decently; but still, it grieved her that she did not know
who was her benefactor. She never told any person till about ten years
afterwards, when she told a friend who came to see her, when she was
rather poorly in health. After hearing the story, he asked her what sort
of a man he was who gave her the money. She said their interview was so
short, and it was so long past, that she could recollect little of him,
but only remembered well that he had the scar of a cut across his nose.
On which, her friend immediately exclaimed, 'Then Will Baillie was the

"Before the year 1740, the roads were bad through all the country. Carts
were not then in use, and all the merchants' goods were conveyed in
packs, on horseback. Among others, the farmers on the water of Ae, in
Dumfries-shire, were almost all pack-carriers. As there was little
improvement of land then, they had little to do at home, and so they
made their rents mostly by carrying. Among others, there was an uncle of
my father, whose name was Robert McVitie, who used to be a great
carrier. This man, once, in returning from Edinburgh, stopt at
Broughton, and in coming out of the stable, he met a man, who asked him
if he knew him. Robert, after looking at him for a little, said: 'I
think you are Mr. Baillie.' He said, I am, and asked if Robert could
lend him two guineas, and it should be faithfully repaid. As there were
few people who wished to differ with Baillie, Robert told him he was
welcome to two guineas, or more if he wanted it. He said that would just
do; on which Robert gave them to him, and he put them into his pocket.
Baillie then asked, if ever he was molested by any person, when he was
travelling late with his packs. He said he never was, although he was
sometimes a little afraid. Baillie then gave him a kind of brass token,
about the size of a half-crown, with some marks upon it, which he
desired him to carry in his purse, and it might be of use to him some
time, as he was to show it, if any person offered to rob him. Baillie
then mounted his horse and rode off.

"Some considerable time after this, as Robert was one evening travelling
with his packs, between Elvanfoot and Moffat, two men came up to him,
whom he thought very suspicious-looking fellows. As he was a stout man
himself, and carried a good cudgel, he kept on the alert for a
considerable way, lest they should take him by surprise. At last, one of
them asked him if he was not afraid to travel alone, so late at night.
He said he was under a necessity to be out late, sometimes, on his
lawful business. But recollecting his token, he said a gentleman had
once given him a piece of brass, to show, if ever any person troubled
him. They desired him to show it, as it was moonlight. He gave it to
them. On seeing it, they looked at one another, and then, whispering a
few words, told him it was well for him he had the token, which they
returned; and they left him directly.

"After a lapse of nearly two years, when he had almost forgotten his two
guineas, as he was one morning loading his packs, at the door of a
public-house, near Gretna-green, he felt some person touch him behind,
and, on looking round, saw it was Mr. Baillie, who slipped something
into his hand, wrapped in paper, and left him, without speaking a single
word. On opening the paper, he found three guineas, which was his own
money, and a guinea for interest.

"There was another gang of Gipsies that stayed mostly in Annandale,
headed by a Jock Johnstone, as he was called in the country. These were
counted a kind of lower caste than Baillie's people, who would have
thought themselves degraded if they had associated with any of the
Johnstone gang. Johnstone confined his travels mostly to Dumfries-shire;
while Baillie went over all Scotland, and even made long excursions into
England. Johnstone kept a great many women about him,[131] several of
whom had children to him; and, in kilns and in barns, Johnstone always
slept in the middle of the whole gang. Baillie sometimes told his
select friends that he had a wife, but never any of them could find out
where she stayed; and as he used to disappear now and then, for a
considerable time together, it was supposed he was with her. He never
slept, in barn or kiln, with any of his people. Johnstone travelled all
day in the midst of a crowd of women and children, mounted on asses.
Baillie travelled always by himself, mounted on the best horse he could
get for money.

  [131] A great many of the inferior Gipsy chiefs travelled with a
  number of women in their company; such as George Drummond, Doctor
  Duds, John Lundie, and others.

"Some time in the year 1739, Johnstone, with a number of his women, came
to the house of one Margaret Farish, an old woman who sold ale at
Lonegate, six miles from Dumfries, on the Edinburgh road. After drinking
for a long time, some of Jock's wives and the old woman quarrelled. On
which he took up the pewter pint-stoup, with which she measured her ale,
and, giving her two or three severe blows on the head, killed her on the
spot. Next day he was apprehended near Lockerby, and brought into
Dumfries' jail. He had a favourite tame jack-daw that he took with him
in all his travels, and he desired it might be brought to stay with him
in the jail, which was done. When the lords were coming into the
circuit, as they passed the jail, the trumpeters gave a blast, on which
the jack-daw gave a flutter against the iron bars of the window, and
dropped down dead. When Jock saw that, he immediately exclaimed: 'Lord
have mercy on me, for I am gone.' He was accordingly tried and
condemned. When the day of execution came, he would not walk to the
scaffold, and so they were forced to carry him. The executioner, being
an old man, could not turn him over. Several of the constables refused
to touch him. At last, one of the burgh officers turned him off; but the
old people about Dumfries used to say that the officer never prospered
any more after that day."[132]

  [132] Dr. Alexander Carlyle, in a note to his autobiography, mentions
  having seen this Jock Johnstone hanged. The date given by him (1738),
  differs, however, from that mentioned above. According to him,
  Johnstone was but twenty years of age, but bold, and a great
  ringleader, and was condemned for robbery, and being accessory to a
  murder. The usual place of execution was a moor, adjoining the town;
  but, as it was strongly reported that the "thieves" were collecting
  from all quarters, to rescue the criminal from the gallows, the
  magistrates erected the scaffold in front of the prison, with a
  platform connecting, and surrounded it with about a hundred of the
  stoutest burgesses, armed with Lochaber axes. Jock made his
  appearance, surrounded by six officers. He was curly-haired, and
  fierce-looking, about five feet eight inches in height, and very
  strong of his size. At first he appeared astonished, but, looking
  around awhile, proceeded with a bold step. Psalms and prayers being
  over, and the rope fastened about his neck, he was ordered to mount a
  short ladder, attached to the gallows, in order to be thrown off; when
  he immediately seized the rope, and pulled so violently at it as to be
  in danger of bringing down the gallows--causing much emotion among the
  crowd, and fear among the magistrates. Jock, becoming furious, like a
  wild beast, struggled and roared, and defied the six officers to bind
  him; and, recovering the use of his arms, became more formidable. The
  magistrates then with difficulty prevailed on by far the strongest man
  in Dumfries, for the honour of the town, to come on the scaffold.
  Putting aside the six officers, this man seized the criminal, with as
  little difficulty as a nurse handles her child, and in a few minutes
  bound him hand and foot; and quietly laying him down on his face, near
  the edge of the scaffold, retired. Jock, the moment he felt his grasp,
  found himself subdued, and, becoming calm, resigned himself to his
  fate.--_Carlyle's Autobiography._--ED.

The extraordinary man Baillie, who is here so often mentioned, was well
known in Tweed-dale and Clydesdale; and my great-grandfather, who knew
him well, used to say that he was the handsomest, the best dressed, the
best looking, and the best bred man he ever saw. As I have already
mentioned, he generally rode one of the best horses the kingdom could
produce; himself attired in the finest scarlet, with his greyhounds
following him, as if he had been a man of the first rank. With the usual
Gipsy policy, he represented himself as a bastard son of one of the
Baillies of Lamington, his mother being a Gipsy. On this account,
considerable attention was paid to him by the country-people; indeed, he
was taken notice of by the first in the land. But, from his singular
habits, his real character at last became well known. He acted the
character of the gentleman, the robber, the sorner, and the tinker,
whenever it answered his purpose. He was considered, in his time, the
best swordsman in all Scotland. With this weapon in his hand, and his
back at a wall, he set almost everything, saving fire-arms, at defiance.
His sword is still preserved by his descendants, as a relic of their
powerful ancestor. The stories that are told of this splendid Gipsy are
numerous and interesting. I will relate only two well-authenticated
anecdotes of this _baurie rajah_, this king of the Scottish Gipsies; who
was, in all probability, a descendant of Towla Bailyow, who, with other
Gipsies, rebelled against, and plundered, John Faw, "Lord and Earl of
Little Egypt," in the reign of James V. The following transaction of his
has some resemblance to a custom among the Arabians.

William, with his numerous horde, happened to fall in with a travelling
packman, on a wild spot between Hawkshaw and Menzion, near the source of
the Tweed. The packman was immediately commanded to halt, and lay his
packs upon the ground. Baillie then unsheathed his broadsword, with
which he was always armed, and, with the point of the weapon, drew, on
the ground, a circle around the trembling packman and his wares. Within
this circle no one of the tribe was allowed by him to enter but
himself.[133] The poor man was now ordered to unbuckle his packs, and
exhibit his merchandise to the Gipsies. Baillie, without the least
ceremony, helped himself to some of the most valuable things in the
pack, and gave a great many to the members of his band. The unfortunate
merchant, well aware of the character of his customers, concluded
himself a ruined man; and, in place of making any resistance, handed
away his property to the Gipsies. But when they were satisfied, he was
most agreeably surprised by Baillie taking out his purse, and paying
him, on the spot, a great deal more than the value of every article he
had taken for himself and given to his band. The delighted packman
failed not to extol, wherever he went, the gentlemanly conduct and
extraordinary liberality of "Captain Baillie"--a title by which he was
known all over the country.

  [133] Bruce, in his travels, when speaking of the protection afforded
  by the Arabs to shipwrecked Christians, on the coasts of the Red Sea,
  says:--"The Arabian, with his lance, draws a circle large enough to
  hold you and yours. He then strikes his lance in the sand, and bids
  you abide within the circle. You are thus as safe, on the desert coast
  of Arabia, as in a citadel; there is no example or exception to the
  contrary that has ever been known."--_Bruce's Travels in Abyssinia._

The perilous situations in which Baillie was often placed did not
repress the merry jocularity and sarcastic wit which he, in common with
many of his tribe, possessed. He sometimes almost bearded and insulted
the judge while sitting on the bench. On one of these occasions, when he
was in court, the judge, provoked at seeing him so often at the bar,
observed to him that he would assuredly get his ears cut out of his
head, if he did not mend his manners, and abandon his way of life. "That
I defy you to do, my lord," replied the Tinkler. The judge, perceiving
that his ears had already been "nailed to the tron, and cut off," and
being displeased at the effrontery and levity of his conduct, told him
that he was certainly a great villain. "I am not such a villain as your
lordship," retorted Baillie. "What do you say?" rejoined the judge, in
great surprise at the bold manner of the criminal. "I say," continued
the Gipsy, "that I am not such a villain as your lordship ---- takes me
to be." "William," quoth the judge, "put your words closer together,
otherwise you shall have cause to repent of your insolence and

  [134] It might be supposed that the pride of a Gipsy would have the
  good effect of rendering him cautious not to be guilty of such crimes
  as subject him to public shame. But here his levity of character is
  rendered conspicuous; for he never looks to the right or to the left
  in his transactions; and though his conceit and pride are somewhat
  humbled, during the time of punishment, and while the consequent pain
  lasts; these being over, he no longer remembers his disgrace, but
  entertains quite as good an opinion of himself as before.--_Grellmann
  on the Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.

Tradition states that William Baillie's conduct involved him in numerous
scrapes. He was brought before the Justiciary Court, and had "his ears
nailed to the tron, or other tree, and cut off, and banished the
country," for his many crimes of "sorning, pickery, and little
thieving." It also appears, from popular tradition, that he is the same
William Baillie who is repeatedly noticed by Hume and McLaurin, in their
remarks on the criminal law of Scotland.

In June, 1699, William Baillie, for being an Egyptian, and for forging
and using a forged pass, was sentenced to be "hanged; but the privy
council commuted his sentence to banishment, but under the express
condition that, if ever he returned to this country, the former sentence
should be executed against him." William entered into a bond with the
privy council, under the penalty of 500 merks, to leave the kingdom, and
to "suffer the pains of death, in case of contravention thereof."

This Gipsy chief paid little regard to the terrible conditions of his
bond, in case of failure; for, on the 10th and 11th August, 1714,
"Baillie," says Hume, "and two of his associates, were convicted and
condemned to die; but as far as concerned Baillie, (for the others were
executed,) his doom was afterwards mitigated into transportation, under
pain of death in case of return." "The jury," says McLaurin, "brought in
a special verdict as to the sorning,[135] but said nothing at all as to
any other points; all they found proved was, that William, in March,
1713, had taken possession of a barn, without consent of the owner, and
that, during his abode in it, there was corn taken out of the barn, and
he went away without paying anything for his quarters, or for any corn
during his abode, which was for several days; and that he was habit and
repute an Egyptian, and did wear a pistol[136] and shable," (a kind of

  [135] _Sorn_, (Scottish and Irish:) an arbitrary exaction, by which a
  chieftain lived at pleasure, in free quarters, among his tenants: also
  one who obtrudes himself upon another, for bed and board, is said to

  [136] A great many of the Scottish Gipsies, in former times, carried
  arms. One of the Baillies once left his budget in a house, by mistake.
  A person, whom I knew, had the curiosity to examine it; and he found
  it to contain a pair of excellent pistols, loaded and ready for

"As early as the month of August, 1715, the same man, as I understand
it," says Baron Hume, "was again indicted, not only for being found in
Britain, but for continuing his former practices and course of life.
Notwithstanding this aggravation, the interlocutor is again framed on
the indulgent plan; and only infers the pain of death from the fame and
character of being an Egyptian, joined with various acts of violence and
sorning, to the number of three that are stated in the libel. Though
convicted nearly to the extent of the interlocutor, he again escaped
with transportation."

Baillie's policy in representing himself as a bastard son of an ancient
and honourable family had, as I have already observed, been of great
service to him; and in no way would it be more so than in his various
trials. It is almost certain, as in cases of more recent times, that
great interest would be used to save a bastard branch of an honourable
house from an ignominious death upon the scaffold, when his crimes
amounted only to "sorning, pickery, and little thieving, and habit and
repute an Egyptian."[137]

  [137] What our author says of "the usual Gipsy policy of making the
  people believe that they are descended from families of rank and
  influence in the country," (page 154,) and that "the greater part of
  them will tell you that they are sprung from a bastard son of this or
  that noble family, or other person of rank and influence, of their own
  surname," (117,) is doubtless true as a rule; but there were as likely
  cases of what the Gipsies assert, and that Gipsy women, "in some
  instances, bore children to some of the 'unspotted gentlemen'
  mentioned by act of parliament as having so greatly protected and
  entertained the tribe," (114,) and that Baillie was one of them, (121
  and 185.) If Baillie had been following the occupation, and bearing
  the reputation, of an ordinary native of Scotland, there would have
  been some chance "that great interest would be used to save a bastard
  branch of an honourable house from an ignominious death upon the
  scaffold," for almost any offence he had committed, but not for one
  who was guilty of "sorning, pickery, and little thieving, and habit
  and repute an Egyptian." There was doubtless a connexion, in _Gipsy_
  blood, between Baillie and his influential friends who saved him and
  his relatives so often from the gallows.--_See Baillies of Lamington
  and McLaurin's Criminal Trials, in the Index._--ED.

The descendants of William Baillie state that he was married to a woman
of the name of Rachel Johnstone; and that he was killed, in a scuffle,
by a Gipsy of the name of Pinkerton, in a quarrel among themselves.
Baillie being quite superior in personal strength to Pinkerton, his wife
took hold of him, for fear of his destroying his opponent, and, while he
was in her arms, Pinkerton ran him through with his sword. Upon his
death, his son, then a youth of thirteen years of age, took a solemn
oath, on the spot, that he would never rest until the blood of his
father should be avenged. And, true to his oath, his mother and himself
followed the track of the murderer over Scotland, England, and Ireland,
like staunch bloodhounds, and rested not, till Pinkerton was
apprehended, tried, and executed.

The following particulars, relative to the slaughter of William Baillie,
were published in Blackwood's Magazine, but apparently without any
knowledge, on the part of the writer, of that individual's history,
further than that he was a Gipsy.

"In a precognition, taken in March, 1725, by Sir James Stewart, of
Coltness, and Captain Lockhart, of Kirkton, two of his majesty's
justices of the peace for Lanarkshire, anent the murder of William
Baillie, brazier,[138] commonly called Gipsy, the following evidence is
adduced:--John Meikle, wright, declares, that, upon the twelfth of
November last, he, being in the house of Thomas Riddle, in Newarthill,
with some others, the deceased, William Baillie, James Kairns, and David
Pinkerton, were in another room, drinking, where, after some high words,
and a confused noise and squabble, the said three persons, above-named,
went all out; and the declarant, knowing them to be three of those idle
sorners that pass in the country under the name of Gipsies, in hopes
they were gone off, rose, and went to the door, to take the air; where,
to his surprise, he saw William Baillie standing, and Kairns and
Pinkerton on horseback, with drawn swords in their hands, who both
rushed upon the said William Baillie, and struck him with their swords;
whereupon, the said William Baillie fell down, crying out he was gone;
upon which, Kairns and Pinkerton rode off: That the declarant helped to
carry the said William Baillie into the house, where, upon search, he
was found to have a great cut or wound on his head, and a wound in his
body, just below the slot of his breast: And declares, he, the said
William Baillie, died some time after.

  [138] On some of the tombstones of the Gipsies, the word "brazier" is
  added to their names. [Brazier is a favourite name with the Gipsies,
  and sounds better than tinker. Southey, in his Life of Bunyan, says:
  "It is stated, in a history of Bedfordshire, that he was bred to the
  business of a brazier, and worked, as a journeyman, at Bedford."--ED.]

"Thomas Riddle, tenant and change-keeper in Newarthill, &c., declares,
that the deceased, William Baillie, James Kairns, and David Pinkerton,
all idle sorners, that are known in the country by the name of Gipsies,
came to the declarant's, about sun-setting, where, after some stay, _and
talking a jargon the declarant did not well understand_, they fell a
squabbling, when the declarant was in another room, with some other
company; upon the noise of which, the declarant ran in to them, where he
found the said James Kairns lying above the said William Baillie, whose
nose the said James Kairns had bitten with his teeth till it bled; upon
which, the declarant and his wife threatened to raise the town upon
them, and get a constable to carry them to prison; but Kairns and
Pinkerton called for their horses, William Baillie saying he would not
go with them: Declares that, after the said Kairns and Pinkerton had got
their horses, and mounted, they ordered the declarant to bring a chopin
of ale to the door to them, where William Baillie was standing, talking
to them: That, when the declarant had filled about the ale, and left
them, thinking they were going off, the declarant's wife went to the
door, where Kairns struck at her with a drawn sword, to fright her in;
upon which she ran in; and thereupon the declarant went to the door,
where he found the said William Baillie, lying with the wounds upon him,
mentioned in John Meikle's declaration."

By Hume's work on the criminal law, it appears that the trial of David
Pinkerton, with others of his tribe, took place on the 22nd August,
1726, for "sorning and robbery;" but no mention is made of the murder of
Baillie; yet it was Baillie's relatives that pursued Pinkerton to the
gallows. Probably sufficient evidence could not then be adduced to
substantiate the fact, being about twenty-one months after the murder
was committed; and, besides, Baillie was himself dead in law, having
either returned from banishment, or remained at large in the country,
and so forfeited his life, when he was killed by Pinkerton, in 1724. The
following is part of the interlocutor pronounced upon the indictment of
the prisoners: "Find the said David Pinkerton, alias Maxwell, John
Marshall, and Helen Baillie, alias Douglass, or any of them, their being
habit and repute Egyptians, sorners or masterful beggars, in conjunction
with said pannels, or any of them, their being, at the times and places
libelled, guilty, art and part, of the fact of violence, theft, robbery,
or attempts of robbery libelled, or any of the said facts relevant to
infer the pain of death and confiscation of moveables."

William Baillie was succeeded, in the chieftainship, by his son Matthew,
who married the celebrated Mary Yowston or Yorkston, and became the
leader of a powerful horde of Gipsies in the south of Scotland. He
frequently visited the farms of my grandfather, about the year 1770. It
appears that his courtship had been after the Tartar manner; for he used
to say that the toughest battle he ever fought was that of taking, by
force, his bride, then a very young girl, from her mother, at the hamlet
of Drummelzier.[139] This Matthew Baillie had, by Mary Yorkston, a son,
who was also named Matthew, and who married Margaret Campbell, and had
by her a family of remarkably handsome and pretty daughters. Of this
principal Gipsy family, I can trace, distinctly, six generations in
descent, and have myself seen the great-great-great-grand-children of
the celebrated William Baillie. Some of his descendants still travel the
country, in the manner of their ancestors, and at this moment speak the
Gipsy language with fluency. Some of them, however, are little better
than common beggars. There were, at one period, a captain and a
quarter-master in the army, belonging to the Baillie clan; and another
was a country surgeon.

  [139] The English Gipsies say that the old mode of getting a wife
  among the tribe was to _steal_ her. The intended bride was nothing
  loth, still it was necessary to steal her, while the tribe were on the
  watch to detect and prevent it.--ED.

Mary Yorkston, above mentioned, went under the appellations of "my
lady," and "the duchess," and bore the title of queen, among her tribe.
She presided at the celebration of their barbarous marriages, and
assisted at their equally singular ceremonies of divorce. What the
custom of this queen of the Gipsies was, when in full dress, in her
youth, on gala days, cannot now be easily known; but the following is a
description of her masculine figure, and _public_ travelling apparel,
when advanced in years. It was taken from the mouth of an aged and very
respectable gentleman, the late Mr. David Stoddart, at Bankhead, near
Queensferry, who had often seen her in his youth: She was fully six feet
in stature, stout made in her person, with very strongly-marked and
harsh features; and had, altogether, a very imposing aspect and manner.
She wore a large black beaver-hat, tied down over her ears with a
handkerchief, knotted below her chin, in the Gipsy fashion. Her upper
garment was a dark-blue short cloak, somewhat after the Spanish fashion,
made of substantial woollen cloth, approaching to superfine in quality.
The greater part of her other apparel was made of dark-blue camlet
cloth, with petticoats so short that they scarcely reached to the calves
of her well-set legs. [Indeed, all the females among the Baillies wore
petticoats of the same length.] Her stockings were of dark-blue worsted,
flowered and ornamented at the ankles with scarlet thread; and in her
shoes she displayed large, massy, silver buckles. The whole of her
habiliments were very substantial, with not a rag or rent to be seen
about her person. [She was sometimes dressed in a green gown, trimmed
with red ribbons.] Her outer petticoat was folded up round her haunches,
for a lap, with a large pocket dangling at each side; and below her
cloak she carried, between her shoulders, a small flat pack, or pad,
which contained her most valuable articles. About her person she
generally kept a large clasp-knife, with a long, broad blade, resembling
a dagger or carving-knife; and carried in her hand a long pole or
pike-staff, that reached about a foot above her head.

It was a common practice, about the middle of last century, for old
female Gipsies of authority to strip, without hesitation, defenceless
individuals of their wearing-apparel when they met them in sequestered
places. Mary Yorkston chanced, on one occasion, to meet a shepherd's
wife, among the wild hills in the parish of Stobo, and stripped her of
the whole of her clothes. The shepherd was horrified at beholding his
wife approaching his house in a state of perfect nakedness. A Jean
Gordon was once detected, by a shepherd, stripping a female of her
wearing-apparel. He at once assisted the helpless woman; but Jean drew
from below her garments a dagger, and threw it at him. Evading the blow,
the shepherd closed in upon her, and struck her over the head with his
staff, knocking her to the ground. Another Gipsy of the old fashion, of
the name of Esther Grant, was also celebrated for the practice of
stripping people of their clothing. The Arabian principle, expressed in
these words, on meeting a stranger in the desert, "Undress thyself--my
wife, (thy aunt,) is in want of a garment," is truly applicable to the
disposition of the old female Gipsies.

Nothing was more common, in the counties of Peebles and Lanark, when the
country-people lost their purses at fairs, than to have recourse to the
chief Gipsy females, to get their property returned to them. Mary
Yorkston, having a sovereign influence and power among her tribe, was
often applied to, in such cases of distress, of which the following is a
good specimen:--On one of these occasions, in a market in the South of
Scotland, a farmer lost his purse, containing a considerable sum of
money, which greatly perplexed and distressed him. He immediately went
to Mary Yorkston, to try if she would exert her wonderful influence to
recover his property. Being a favourite of Mary's, she, without the
least hesitation, took him along with her to the place in the fair where
her husband kept his temporary depôt, or rather his office, in which he
exercised his extraordinary calling during the continuance of the
market. The presence of Mary was a sufficient assurance that all was
right; and, upon the matter being explained, Matthew Baillie instantly
produced, and spread out before the astonished farmer, from twenty to
thirty purses, and desired him to pick out his own from amongst them.
The countryman soon recognized his own, and grasped at it without
ceremony. "Hold on," said Baillie, "let us count its contents first."
The Gipsy chief, with the greatest coolness and deliberation, as if he
had been an honest banker or money-changer, counted over the money in
the purse, when not a farthing was found wanting. "There is your purse,
sir," continued Baillie; "you see what it is, when honest people meet!"

The following incident, that occurred one night after a fair, in a barn
belonging to one of my relatives, will strikingly illustrate the
character of the Gipsies in the matter of stealing purses:--A band of
superior Gipsies were quartered in the barn, after several of them had
attended the fair, in their usual manner. The principal female, whom I
shall not name, had also been at the market; but the old chief had
thought proper to remain at home, in the barn. My relative, as was
sometimes his custom, chanced to take a turn about his premises that
night, when it was pretty late. He heard the voice of a female weeping
in the barn, and, being curious to know the cause of the disturbance
among the Tinklers, stepped softly up, close to the back of the door, to
listen to what they were doing, as the woman was crying bitterly. He was
greatly astonished at hearing, and never could forget, the following
expressions: "Oh, cruel man, to beat me in this way. I have had my hands
in as good as twenty pockets, but the honest people had it not to
themselves." The chieftain was, in fact, chastising his wife, in the
presence of his family, for her want of diligence or success, in not
obtaining enough of booty at the fair. And yet this individual bore,
among the country-people, the character of an honest man.

Another story is told of Mary Yorkston and the Goodman of Coulter-park.
It differs in its nature from the above anecdote, yet is very
characteristic of the Gipsies. Mary and her band were lurking one night
at a place in Clydesdale, called Raggingill. As a man on horseback
approached the spot where they were concealed, some of the tribe
immediately laid hold of the horse, and, without ceremony, commenced to
plunder the rider. But Mary, stepping forth to superintend the
operation, was astonished to find that the horseman was her particular
friend, the Goodman of Coulter-park. She instantly exclaimed, with all
her might: "It's Mr. Lindsay, the Gudeman o' Couter-park--let him
gang--let him gang--God bless him, honest man!" It is needless to add
that Mr. Lindsay had always given Mary and her horde the use of an
out-house when they required it.

Mary Yorkston despised to ask what is properly understood to be alms.
She sold horn spoons and other articles; and, when she made a bargain,
she would take, almost by force, what she called her "boontith," which
is a present of victuals, exclusive of the cash paid; a practice which
I will explain further on in the chapter.

Matthew Baillie had, by Mary Yorkston, among other children, a son,
named James Baillie, who, along with his brothers, as we have seen,
threatened with destruction the people assembled in Biggar fair, in
consequence of an affront offered to his mother by a gardener of that
town. He was condemned, in 1771, to be hung, for the murder of his wife,
by beating her with a horse-whip, and tumbling her over a steep; but he
"obtained a pardon from the king, on condition that he transported
himself beyond seas within a limited time, otherwise the pardon was to
have no effect." Baillie, paying little regard to the serious conditions
of this pardon, did not "transport himself beyond seas," but continued
his former practices, as appears by the following extract from the
Weekly Magazine of the 8th October, 1772:--"James Baillie, who was last
summer condemned for the murder of a woman, and afterwards obtained his
majesty's pardon, on condition of transporting himself to America, for
life, was lately apprehended at Falkirk, on suspicion of robbery. On the
1st October he was brought to town, and committed to the Tolbooth, by a
warrant of Lord Auchinleck. This warrant was granted upon the petition
of the procurator fiscal of Stirling, in which he set forth that, as
Baillie was a very daring fellow, and suspected of being concerned with
a gang equally so with himself, there was great reason to apprehend a
rescue might be attempted, by breaking the prison; and therefore praying
that he might be removed to Edinburgh, where a scheme of that nature
could not so easily be effected." On the 18th December, 1773, and 27th
February, 1774, the "Lords, in terms of the said former sentence, decree
and adjudge the said James Baillie to be hanged on the 30th March then
next." He thus appears to have remained in prison from October, 1772,
till March, 1774. "Soon after this sentence, he got another pardon," and
was again discharged from prison, in order to his transporting himself;
but he remained at home, and again relapsed into his former way of life.
He was, some time afterwards, committed to Newcastle gaol, but made his
escape. A short time after that, he was committed to Carlisle gaol, on
suspicion of having stolen some plate. On the 4th December, 1776, three
sheriff-officers set out from Edinburgh, to bring him hither; but
before they reached Carlisle, he had again broken prison and

  [140] Scot's Magazine, vol xxxviii., page 675.

During one of the periods of Baillie's imprisonment, he escaped from
jail, attired as a female; having been assisted by some of his tribe,
residing in the Grass-market of Edinburgh. Tradition states that the
then Mistress Baillie, of Lamington, and her family, used all their
interest in obtaining these pardons for James Baillie; who, like his
fathers before him, pretended to be a bastard relative of the family of
Lamington, and thereby escaped the punishment of death. McLaurin justly
remarks that "few cases have occurred in which there has been such an
expenditure of mercy."[141]

  [141] McLaurin's Trials, page 555. [See note at page 205.--ED.]

I have already mentioned how handsomely the superior order of Gipsies
dressed at the period of which we are speaking. The male head of the
Ruthvens--a man six feet some inches in height--who, according to the
newspapers of the day, lived to the advanced age of 115 years, when in
full dress, in his youth, wore a white wig, a ruffled shirt, a blue
Scottish bonnet, scarlet breeches and waistcoat, a long blue superfine
coat, white stockings, with silver buckles in his shoes. Others wore
silver brooches in their breasts, and gold rings on their fingers. The
male Gipsies in Scotland were often dressed in green coats, black
breeches, and leathern aprons. The females were very partial to green
clothes. At the same time, the following anecdote will show how artful
they were at all times, by means of dress and other equipments, to
transform themselves, like actors on the stage, into various characters,
whenever it suited their purposes.[142]

  [142] It appears, from Vidocq's memoirs, that the Gipsies on the
  continent changed their apparel, so as they could not again be
  recognized: "At break of day everybody was on foot, and the general
  toilet was made. But for their (the Gipsies') prominent features,
  their raven-black tresses, and oily and tanned skins, I should
  scarcely have recognized my companions of the preceding evening. The
  men, clad in rich jockey Holland vests, with leathern sashes like
  those worn by the men of Poirsy, and the women, covered with ornaments
  of gold and silver, assumed the costume of Zealand peasants; even the
  children, whom I had seen covered with rags, were neatly clothed, and
  had an entirely different appearance. All soon left the house, and
  took different directions, that they might not reach the market place
  together, where the country-people were assembled in crowds."--Vidocq
  had lodged all night in a ruinous house, with a band of Gipsies.

My father, when a young lad, noticed a large band of Gipsies taking up
their quarters one night in an old out-house on a farm occupied by his
father. The band had never been observed on the farm before, and seemed
all to be strangers, with, altogether, a very ragged and miserable
appearance. Next morning, a little after breakfast, as the band began to
pack up their baggage, and load their asses, preparatory to proceeding
on their journey, the youth, out of curiosity, went forward to see the
horde decamp. Among other articles of luggage, he observed a large and
heavy sack put upon one of the asses; and, as the Gipsies were fastening
it upon the back of the animal, the mouth of it burst open, and the
greater part of its contents fell upon the ground. He was not a little
surprised when he beheld a great many excellent cocked hats, suits of
fine green clothes, great-coats, &c.; with several handsome saddles and
bridles, tumble out of the bag. At this unexpected accident, the Gipsies
were much disconcerted. By some strange expressions and odd
man[oe]uvres, they endeavoured to drive the boy from their presence, and
otherwise engage his attention, to prevent him observing the singular
furniture contained in the unlucky sack. By thus carrying along with
them these superior articles, so unlike their ordinary wretched
habiliments, the ingenious Gipsies had it always in their power to
disguise themselves, whenever circumstances called for it. The following
anecdote will, in some measure, illustrate the "gallant guise" in which
these wanderers, at one time, rode through Scotland:

About the year 1768, early in the morning of the day of a fair, held
annually at Peebles, in the month of May, two gentlemen were observed
riding along the only road that led to my grandfather's farm. One of the
servant girls was immediately told to put the parlour in order, to
receive the strangers, as, from their respectable appearance, at a
distance, it was supposed they were friends, coming to breakfast, before
going to the market; a custom common enough in the country. This
preparation, however, proved unnecessary, as the strangers rode rapidly
past the dwelling-house, and alighted at the door of an old
smearing-house, nearly roofless, situated near some alder trees, about
three hundred yards further up a small mountain stream. In passing, they
were observed to be neatly dressed in long green coats, cocked hats,
riding-boots and spurs, armed with broad-swords, and mounted on
handsome grey ponies, saddled and bridled; everything, in short, in
style, and of the best quality. The people about the farm were extremely
curious to know who these handsomely-attired gentlemen could be, who,
without taking the least notice of any one, dismounted at the wretched
hovel of a sheep-smearing house, where nothing but a band of Tinklers
were quartered. Their curiosity, however, was soon satisfied, and not a
little mirth was excited, on it being ascertained that the gallant
horsemen were none other than James and William Baillie, sons of old
Matthew Baillie, who, with part of his tribe, were, at the moment, in
the old house, making horn spoons. But greater was their surprise, when
several of the female Gipsies set out, immediately afterwards, for the
fair, attired in very superior dresses, with the air of ladies in the
middle ranks of society.[143]

  [143] The females of this tribe also rode to the fairs at Moffat and
  Biggar, on horses, with side-saddles and bridles, the ladies
  themselves being very gaily dressed. The males wore scarlet cloaks,
  reaching to their knees, and resembling exactly the Spanish fashion of
  the present day.

Besides the large hordes that traversed the south of Scotland, parties
of twos and threes also passed through the country, apparently not at
all connected, nor in communication, at the time, with the large bands.
When a single Gipsy and his wife, or other female, were observed to take
up their quarters by themselves, it was supposed they had either fallen
out with their clan, or had the officers of the law in pursuit of them.
Sometimes the chiefs would enquire of the country people, if such and
such a one of their tribe had passed by, this or that day, lately. Under
any circumstances, the presence of a female does not excite so much
suspicion as a single male. In following their profession, as tinkers,
the Gipsies seldom, or never, travel without a female in their company,
and, I believe, they sometimes hire them to accompany them, to hawk
their wares through the country. The tinker keeps himself snug in an
out-house, at his work, while the female vends his articles of sale, and
forages for him, in the adjoining country.

One of these straggling Gipsies, of the name of William Keith, was
apprehended in an old smearing-house, on a farm occupied by my
grandfather, in Tweed-dale. William had been concerned, with his brother
Robert, in the murder of one of their clan, of the name of Charles
Anderson, at a small public-house among the Lammermoor hills, called
Lourie's Den. Robert Keith and Anderson had fallen out, and had followed
each other for some time, for the purpose of fighting out their quarrel.
They at last met at Lourie's Den, when a terrible combat ensued. The two
antagonists were brothers-in-law; Anderson being married to Keith's
sister. Anderson proved an over-match for Keith; and William Keith, to
save his brother, laid hold of Anderson; but Mage Greig, Robert's wife,
handed her husband a knife, and called on him to despatch him, while
unable to defend himself. Robert repeatedly struck with the knife, but
it rebounded from the ribs of the unhappy man, without much effect.
Impatient at the delay, Mage called out to him, "strike laigh, strike
laigh in;" and, following her directions, he stabbed Anderson to the
heart. The only remark made by any of the gang was this exclamation from
one of them: "Gude faith, Rob, ye have done for him noo!" But William
Keith was astonished when he found that Anderson was stabbed in his
arms, as his interference was only to save the life of his brother from
the overwhelming strength of Anderson. Robert Keith instantly fled, but
was immediately pursued by people armed with pitchforks and muskets. He
was apprehended in a braken-bush, in which he had concealed himself, and
was executed at Jedburgh, on the 24th November, 1772.

Sir Walter Scott, and the Ettrick Shepherd, slightly notice this murder
at Lourie's Den, in their communications to Blackwood's Magazine. One of
the individuals who assisted at the apprehension of Keith was the father
of Sir Walter Scott. The following notice of this bloody scene appeared
in one of the periodical publications at the time it occurred: "By a
letter from Lauder, we are informed of the following murder: On
Wednesday se'night, three men, with a boy, supposed to be tinkers, put
up at a little public-house near Soutra. From the after conduct of
two of the men, it would appear that a difference had subsisted
between them, before they came into the house, for they had drunk
but very little when the quarrel was renewed with great vehemence,
and, in the dispute, one of the fellows drew a knife, and stabbed the
other in the body no less than seven different times, of which wounds
he soon after expired. The gang then immediately made off; but upon the
country-people being alarmed, the murderer himself and one of the women
were apprehended."[144]

  [144] Weekly Magazine, 10th September, 1772, page 354.

Long after this battle took place, James Bartram and Robert Brydon,
messengers-at-arms in Peebles, were dispatched to apprehend William
Keith, in the ruinous house already mentioned. As they entered the
building, early in the morning, with cocked pistols in their hands,
Keith, a powerful man, rose up, half naked, from his _shake-down_, and,
holding out a pistol, dared them to advance. Bartram, the chief officer,
with the utmost coolness and bravery, advanced close up to the muzzle of
the Gipsy's pistol, and, clapping his own to the head of the desperate
Tinkler, threatened him with instant death if he did not surrender. A
Gipsy, who had informed against Keith, was with the officers, as their
guide; but the moment he saw Keith's pistol, he artfully threw himself,
upon his back, to the ground. He immediately rose to his feet, but, in
great terror, sprang, like a greyhound, over a _fauld dyke_, to escape
the shot which Keith threatened. The intrepid conduct of the officers
completely daunted the Gipsy. He yielded, and allowed himself to be
hand-cuffed, thinking that the messengers were strongly supported by the
servants on the farm; for, on perceiving only the two officers, he
became desperate, but he was now fast in irons. In great bitterness he
exclaimed, "Had I not, on Saturday night, observed five stout men on Mr.
Simson's turf-hill, ye wadna a' hae ta'en me." The five individuals were
all remarkably strong men. It was on Monday morning the Gipsy was
apprehended, and it would appear he had been reconnoitering on Saturday,
before risking to take up his quarters, which he did without asking
permission from any one. He imagined that the five turf-casters were
ready to assist the officers in the execution of their duty, and that it
would have been in vain for him to make any resistance. The frantic
Gipsy now leaped and tossed about in the most violent manner imaginable.
He struck with so much vigour, with his hands bound in irons, and kicked
so powerfully with his feet, that it was with the greatest difficulty
the officers could get him carried to the jail at Peebles. His wife came
into the kitchen of the farm-house, weeping and wailing excessively; and
on some of the servant-girls endeavouring to calm her grief, she, among
other bitter expressions, exclaimed, "Had a decent, honest man, like the
master, informed, I would not have cared; but for a blackguard like
ourselves to inform, is unsufferable." Keith was tried, condemned, and
banished to the plantations, for the part he acted at the slaughter at
Lourie's Den.

Here we have seen the melancholy fate of two, if not three, of the then
_Gipsy constabulary force_ in Peebles-shire; one murdered, another
hanged, and the third banished. However strange it may appear at the
present day, it is nevertheless true, that the magistrates of this
county, about this period, (1772,) actually appointed and employed a
number of the principal Gipsies as peace officers, constables, or
country-keepers, as they were called, of whom I will speak again in
another place.

The nomadic Gipsies in general, like the Baillies in particular, have
gradually declined in appearance, till, at the present day, the greater
part of them have become little better than beggars, when compared to
what they were in former times. Among those who frequented the south of
Scotland were to be found various grades of rank, as in all other
communities of men. There were then wretched and ruffian-looking gangs,
in whose company the superior Gipsies would not have been seen.

The reader will have observed the complete protection which William
Baillie's token afforded Robert McVitie, when two men were about to rob
him, while travelling with his packs, between Elvanfoot and Moffat. This
system of tokens made part of the general internal polity of the
Gipsies. These curious people stated to me that Scotland was at one time
divided into districts, and that each district was assigned to a
particular tribe. The chieftains of these tribes issued tokens to the
members of their respective hordes, "when they scattered themselves over
the face of the country." The token of a local chieftain protected its
bearer only while within his own district. If found without this token,
or detected travelling in a district for which the token was not issued,
the individual was liable to be plundered, beaten, and driven back into
his own proper territory, by those Gipsies on whose rights and
privileges he had infringed. These tokens were, at certain periods,
called in and renewed, to prevent any one from forging them. They were
generally made of tin, with certain characters impressed upon them; and
the token of each tribe had its own particular mark, and was well known
to all the Gipsies in Scotland. But while these passes of the provincial
chieftains were issued only for particular districts, a token of the
Baillie family protected its bearer throughout the kingdom of Scotland;
a fact which clearly proves the superiority of that ancient clan.
Several Gipsies have assured me that "a token from a Baillie was good
over all Scotland, and that kings and queens had come of that family."
And an old Gipsy also declared to me that the tribes would get into
utter confusion, were the country not divided into districts, under the
regulations of tokens. It sometimes happened, as in the case of Robert
McVitie and others, that the Gipsies gave passes or tokens to some of
their particular favourites who were not of their own race.

This system of Gipsy polity establishes a curious fact, namely, the
double division and occupation of the kingdom of Scotland; by ourselves
as a civilized people, and by a barbarous community existing in our
midst, each subject to its own customs, laws and government; and that,
while the Gipsies were preying upon the vitals of the civilized society
which harboured them, and were amenable to its laws, they were, at the
same time, governed by the customs of their own fraternity.

The surnames most common among the old Tweed-dale bands of Gipsies were
Baillie, Ruthven, Kennedy, Wilson, Keith, Anderson, Robertson, Stewart,
Tait, Geddes, Grey, Wilkie and Halliday. The three principal clans were
the Baillies, Ruthvens and Kennedys; but, as I have already mentioned,
the tribe of Baillie were superior to all others, in point of authority
as well as in external appearance.[145]

  [145] According to Hoyland, the most common names among the English
  tented Gipsies are Smith, Cooper, Draper, Taylor, Boswell, Lee, Lovel,
  Loversedge, Allen, Mansfield, Glover, Williams, Carew, Martin,
  Stanley, Berkley, Plunket, and Corrie. Mr. Borrow says: "The clans
  Young and Smith, or Curraple, still haunt two of the eastern counties.
  The name Curraple is a favourite among the English Gipsies. It means a
  smith--a name very appropriate to a Gipsy. The root is _Curaw_, to
  strike, hammer, &c." Among the English and Scottish Gipsies in
  America, I have found a great variety of surnames.--ED.

Besides the christian and surnames common to them in Scotland, the
Gipsies have names in their own language;[146] and, while travelling
through the country, assume new names every morning, before commencing
the day's journey, and retain them till money is received, in one way or
other, by each individual of the company; but if no money is received
before twelve o'clock, they all, at noon-tide, resume their permanent
Scottish names. They consider it unlucky to set out on a journey, in the
morning, under their own proper names; and if they are, by any chance,
called back, by any of their neighbours, they will not again stir from
home for that day. The Gipsies also frequently change their British
names when from home: in one part of the country they have one name, and
in another part they appear under a different one, and so on.

  [146] In the "Gipsies in Spain," Mr. Borrow says: "Every family in
  England has two names; one by which they are known to the Gentiles,
  and another which they use among themselves."--ED.

       *       *       *       *       *

I will now describe the appearance of the Gipsies in Tweed-dale during
the generation immediately following the one in which we have considered
them; and would make this remark, that this account applies to them of
late years, with this exception, that the numbers in which the nomadic
class are to be met with are greatly reduced, their condition greatly
fallen, and the circumstances attending their reception, countenance and
toleration, much modified, and in some instances totally changed.

Within the memories of my father and grandfather, which take in about
the last hundred years, none of the Gipsies who traversed Tweed-dale
carried tents with them for their accommodation. The whole of them
occupied the kilns and out-houses in the country; and so thoroughly did
they know the country, and where these were to be found, and the
disposition of the owners of them, that they were never at a loss for
shelter in their wanderings.

Some idea may be formed of the number of Gipsies who would sometimes be
collected together, from the following extract from the Clydesdale
Magazine, for May, 1818: "Mr. Steel, of Kilbucho Mill, bore a good name
among 'tanderal gangerals.' His kiln was commodious, and some hardwood
trees, which surrounded his house, bid defiance to the plough, and
formed a fine pasture-sward for the cuddies, on a green of considerable
extent. On a summer Saturday night, Mary came to the door, asking
quarters, pretty late. She had only a single ass, and a little boy
swung in the panniers. She got possession of the kiln, as usual, and the
ass was sent to graze on the green; but Mary was only the avant-garde.
Next morning, when the family rose, they counted no less than forty
cuddies on the grass, and a man for each of them in the kiln, besides
women and children." Considering the large families the Gipsies
generally have, and allowing at this meeting two asses for carrying the
infants and luggage of each family, there could not have been less than
one hundred Gipsies on the spot.

My parents recollect the Gipsies, about the year 1775, traversing the
county of Tweed-dale, and parts of the surrounding shires, in bands
varying in numbers from ten to upwards of thirty in each horde.
Sometimes ten or twelve horses and asses were attached to one large
horde, for the purpose of carrying the children, baggage, &c. In the
summer of 1784, forty Gipsies, in one band, requested permission of my
father to occupy one of his out-houses. It was good-humouredly observed
to them that, when such numbers of them came in one body, they should
send their quarter-master in advance, to mark out their camp. The
Gipsies only smiled at the remark. One half of them got the house
requested; the other half occupied an old, ruinous mill, a mile distant.
There were above seven of these large bands which frequented the farms
of my relatives in Tweed-dale down to about the year 1790. A few years
after this period, when a boy, I assisted to count from twenty-four to
thirty Gipsies who took up their quarters in an old smearing-house on
one of these farms. The children, and the young folks generally, were
running about the old house like bees flying about a hive. Their horses,
asses, dogs, cats, poultry, and tamed birds were numerous.

These bands did not repeat their visits above twice a year, but in many
instances the principal families remained for three or four weeks at a
time. From their manner and conduct generally, they seemed to think that
they had a right to receive, from the family on whose grounds they
halted, food gratis for twenty-four hours; for, at the end of that
period, they almost always provided victuals for themselves, however
long they might remain on the farm. The servants of my grandfather, when
these large bands arrived, frequently put on the kitchen fire the large
family _kail-pot_, of the capacity of thirty-two Scotch pints, or about
sixteen gallons, to cook victuals for these wanderers.

The first announcement of the approach of a Gipsy band was the chief
female, with, perhaps, a child on her back, and another walking at her
feet. The chieftain himself, with his asses and baggage, which he seldom
quits, is, perhaps, a mile and a half in the rear, baiting his beasts of
burden, near the side of the road, waiting the return and report of his
quarter-mistress. This chief female requests permission for her
_gude-man_ and _weary bairns_ to take up their quarters for the night,
in an old out-house. Knowing perfectly the disposition of the individual
from whom she asks lodgings, she is seldom refused. A farmer's wife,
whom I knew, on granting this indulgence to a female in advance of her
band, added, by way of caution, "but ye must not steal anything from me,
then." "We'll no' play ony tricks on you, mistress; but others will pay
for that," was the Gipsy's reply.

Instead, however, of the chief couple and a child or two, the out-house,
before nightfall, or next morning, will perhaps contain from twenty to
thirty individuals of all ages and sexes. The different members of the
horde are observed to arrive at head-quarters as single individuals, in
twos, and in threes; some of the females with baskets on their arms,
some of the males with fishing-rods in their hands, trout creels on
their backs, and large dogs at their heels. The same rule is observed
when the camp breaks up. The old chief and two or three of his family
generally take the van. The other members of the band linger about the
old house in which they have been quartered, for several days after the
chiefs are gone; they, however, move off, in small parties of twos or as
single individuals, on different days, till the whole horde gradually
disappear. Above three grown-up Gipsies are seldom seen travelling
together. In this manner have the Gipsies traversed the kingdom,
concealing their numbers from public observation, and only appearing in
large bands on the grounds of those individuals of the community who
were not disposed to molest them. On such occasions, when the chief
Gipsies continued encamped, they would be visited by small parties of
their friends, arriving and departing almost daily.

Excepting that of sometimes allowing their asses to go, under night,
into the barn-yard, as if it were by accident, to draw the stacks of
corn, it is but fair and just to state, that I am not aware of a single
Gipsy ever having injured the property of any of my relatives in
Tweed-dale, although their opportunities were many and tempting. My
ancestor's extensive business required him, almost daily, to travel, on
horseback, over the greater part of the south of Scotland; and he was
often under the necessity of exposing himself, by riding at night, yet
he never received the slightest molestation, to his knowledge, from the
Gipsies. They were as inoffensive and harmless as lambs to him, and to
every one connected with his family. Whenever they beheld him, every
head was uncovered, while they would exclaim, "There is Mr. Simson; God
bless him, honest man!" And woe would have been to that man who would
have dared to treat him badly, had these determined wanderers been

The Gipsies may be compared to the raven of the rock, as a complete
emblem of their disposition. Allow the _corbie_ shelter, and to build
her nest in your cliffs and wastes, and she will not touch your
property; but harass her, and destroy her brood, and she will
immediately avenge herself upon your young lambs, with terrible
fury.[147] Washings of clothes, of great value, were often left out in
the fields, under night, and were as safe as if they had been within the
dwelling-house, under lock and key, when the Gipsies happened to be
quartered on the premises. If any of their children had dared to lay its
hands upon the most trifling article, its parents would have given it a
severe beating. On one occasion, when a Gipsy was beating one of his
children, for some trifling offence it had committed, my relative
observed to him that the boy had done no harm. "If he has not been in
fault just now, sir, it will not be long till he be in one; so the
beating he has got will not be thrown away on him," was the Tinkler's

  [147] It is known that the rock-raven, or _corbie_, seldom preys upon
  the flocks around her nest; but the moment she is deprived of her
  young, she will, to the utmost of her power, wreak her vengeance on
  the young lambs in her immediate neighborhood. I have known the
  corbie, when bereaved of her brood, tear, with her beak, the very
  foggage from the earth, and toss it about; and before twenty-four
  hours elapsed, several lambs would fall a sacrifice to her fury. I
  have also observed that grouse, where the ground suits their breeding,
  are generally very plentiful close around the eyrie of the relentless

When the Gipsies took up their residence on the cold earthen floor of an
old out-house, the males and females of the different families had
always beds by themselves, made of straw and blankets, and called
shake-downs. The younger branches also slept by themselves, in separate
beds, the males apart from the females. When the band consisted of more
families than one, each family occupied a separate part of the floor of
the house, distinct from their neighbours; kindled a separate fire, at
which they cooked their victuals; and made horn spoons and other
articles for themselves, for sale in the way of their calling. They
formed, as it were, a camp on the ground-floor of the ruinous house, in
which would sometimes be observed five mothers of families, some of whom
would be such before they were seventeen years of age. The principal
Gipsies who, about this period, travelled Tweed-dale, were never known
to have had more than one wife at a time, or to have put away their
wives for trifling causes.

On such occasions, the chief and the grown-up males of the band seldom
or never set foot within the door of the farm-house, but generally kept
themselves quite aloof and retired; exposing themselves to observation
as little as possible. They employed themselves in repairing broken
china, utensils made of copper, brass and pewter, pots, pans and
kettles, and white-iron articles generally; and in making horn spoons,
smoothing-irons, and sole-clouts for ploughs. But working in horn is
considered by them as their favourite and most ancient occupation. It
would certainly be one of the first employments of man, at a very early
stage of human society--that of converting the horns of animals for the
use of the human race: and such has been the regard which the Gipsies
have had for it, that every clan knows the spoons which are made by
another. The females also assisted in polishing, and otherwise
finishing, the spoons. However early the farm-servants rose to their
ordinary employments, they always found the Tinklers at work.

A considerable portion of the time of the males was occupied in athletic
amusements. They were constantly exercising themselves in leaping,
cudgel-playing, throwing the hammer, casting the putting-stone, playing
at golf, quoits, and other games; and while they were much given, on
other occasions, to keep themselves from view, the extraordinary
ambition which they all possessed, of beating every one they met with,
at these exercises, brought them sometimes in contact with the men about
the farm, master as well as servants. They were fond of getting the
latter to engage with them, for the purpose of laughing at their
inferiority in these healthy and manly amusements; but when any of the
country-people chanced to beat them at these exercises, as was sometimes
the case, they could not conceal their indignation at the affront. Their
haughty scowl plainly told that they were ready to wipe out the insult
in a different and more serious manner. Indeed, they were always much
disposed to treat farm-servants with contempt, as quite their inferiors
in the scale of society; and always boasted of their own high birth, and
the antiquity of their family. They were extremely fond of the athletic
amusement of "o'erending the tree," which was performed in this way: The
end of a spar or beam, above six feet long, and of a considerable
thickness and weight, is placed upon the upper part of the right foot,
and held about the middle, in a perpendicular position, by the right
hand. Standing upon the left foot, and raising the right a little from
the ground, and drawing it as far back as possible, and then bringing
the foot forward quickly to the front, the spar is thrown forward into
the air, from off the foot, with great force. And he who "overends the
tree" the greatest number of times in the air, before it reaches the
ground, is considered the most expert, and the strongest man. A great
many of these Gipsies had a saucy military gesture in their walk, and
generally carried in their hands short, thick cudgels, about three feet
in length. While they travelled, they generally unbuttoned the knees of
their breeches, and rolled down the heads of their stockings, so as to
leave the joints of their knees bare, and unincumbered by their clothes.

During the periods they occupied the out-houses of the farms, the owners
of which were kind to them, the Gipsies were very orderly in their
deportment, and temperate in the use of spirituous liquors, being seldom
seen intoxicated; and were very courteous and polite to all the members
of the family. Their behaviour was altogether very orderly, peaceable,
quiet, and inoffensive. In gratitude for their free-quarters, they
frequently made, from old metal, smoothing-irons for the mistress, and
sole-clouts for the ploughs of the master, and spoons for the family,
from the horns of rams, or other horns that happened to be about the
house; for all of which they would take nothing. They, however, did not
attend the church, while encamped on the premises; at the same time,
they took especial care to give no molestation, or cause of offence, to
any about the farm, on Sunday; being, indeed, seldom seen on that day
out-side of the door of the house in which they were quartered, saving
an individual to look after their horses or asses, while grazing in the
neighbouring fields. Their religious sentiments were confined entirely
within their own breasts; and it was impossible to know what were their
real opinions on the score of religion. However, within the last ten
years, I enquired, very particularly, of an intelligent Gipsy, what
religion his forefathers professed, and his answer was, that "the
Gipsies had no religious sentiments at all; that they worshipped no sort
of thing whatever."

Many practised music; and the violin and bag-pipes were the instruments
they commonly used. This musical talent of the Gipsies delighted the
country-people; it operated like a charm upon their feelings, and
contributed much to procure the wanderers a night's quarters. Many of
the families of the farmers looked forward to the expected visits of the
merry Gipsies with pleasure, and regretted their departure. Some of the
old women sold salves and drugs, while some of the males had pretensions
to a little surgery. One of them, of the name of Campbell, well known by
the title of Dr. Duds, traversed the south of Scotland, accompanied by a
number of women. He prescribed, and sold medicines to the inhabitants;
and several odd stories are told of the very unusual, but successful,
cures performed by him.

As in arranging for, and taking up, their quarters, the principal female
Gipsy almost always negotiates the transactions which the horde have
with the farmer's family, during their abode on his premises. Indeed,
the females are the most active, if not the principal, members of the
tribe, in vending their articles of merchandise. The time at which, on
such occasions, they present these for sale, is the day after their
arrival on the farm, and immediately after the breakfast of the farmer's
family is over. When there are more families than one in the band, but
all of one horde, the chief female of the whole gets the first chance
of selling her wares; but every head female of the respective families
bargains for her own merchandise, for the behoof of her own family. When
the farmer's family is in want of any of their articles, an
extraordinary higgling and chaffering takes place in making the bargain.
Besides money, the Gipsy woman insists upon having what she calls her
"boontith"--that is, a present in victuals, as she is fond of bartering
her articles for provisions. If the mistress of the house agrees, and
goes to her larder or milk-house for the purpose of giving her this
boontith, the Gipsy is sure to follow close at her heels. Admitted into
the larder, the voracious Tinkler will have part of everything she
sees--flesh, meal, butter, cheese, &c., &c. Her fiery and penetrating
eye darts, with rapidity, from one object to another. She makes use of
every argument she can think of to induce the farmer's wife to comply
with her unreasonable demands. "I'm wi' bairn, mistress," she will say;
"I'm greenin'; God bless ye, gie me a wee bit flesh to taste my mouth,
if it should no' be the book o' a robin-red-breast."[148] If the
farmer's wife still disregards her importunities, the Gipsy will, in the
end, snatch up a piece of flesh, and put it into her lap, in a
twinkling; for out of the larder she will not go, without something or
other. The farmer's wife, ever on the alert, now takes hold of the
_sorner_, to wrest the flesh from her clutches, when a serious personal
struggle ensues. She will frequently be under the necessity of calling
for the assistance of her servants, to thrust the intruder out of the
apartment; but the cautious Gipsy takes care not to let matters go too
far: she yields the contest, and, laughing heartily at the good-wife
losing her temper, immediately assumes her ordinary polite manner. And
notwithstanding all that has taken place, both parties generally part on
good terms.

  [148] After recovery from child-birth, the Gipsy woman recommences her
  course of begging or stealing, with her child in her arms; and then
  she is more rapacious than at other times, taking whatever she can lay
  her hands upon. For she calculates upon escaping without a beating, by
  holding up her child to receive the blows aimed at her; which she
  knows will have the effect of making the aggrieved person desist, till
  she finds an opportunity of getting out of the way.--_Grellmann on the
  Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.

On one of these bargain-making occasions, as the wife of the farmer of
Glencotha, in Tweed-dale, went to give a boontith to Mary Yorkston, the
harpy thrust, unobserved, about four pounds weight of tallow into her
lap. On the return of the good-wife, the tallow was missed. She charged
Mary with the theft, but Mary, with much gravity of countenance,
exclaimed: "God bless ye, mistress, I wad steal from mony a one before I
wad steal from you." The good-wife, however, took hold of Mary, to
search her person. A struggle ensued, when the tallow fell out of Mary's
lap, on the kitchen-floor. At this exposure, in the very act of
stealing, the Gipsy burst into a fit of laughter, exclaiming: "The Lord
hae a care o' me, mistress; ye hae surely little to spare, whan ye winna
let a body take a bit tauch for a candle, to light her to bed." At
another time, this Gipsy gravely told the good-wife of Rachan-mill, that
she must give her a pound of butter for her boontith, that time, as it
would be the last she would ever give her. Astonished at the
extraordinary saying, the good-wife demanded, with impatience, what she
meant. "You will," rejoined the Gipsy, "be in eternity (by a certain
day, which she named,) and I will never see you again; and this will be
the last boontith you will ever give me." The good-wife of Rachan-mill,
however, survived the terrible prediction for several years.[149]

  [149] The following facts will show what a Scottish Tinkler, at the
  present day, will sometimes do in the way of "sorning," or masterful

  One of the race paid a visit to the house of a country ale-wife, and,
  in a crowded shop, vaulted the counter, and applied his bottle to her
  whiskey-tap. Immediately a cry, with up-lifted hands, was raised for
  the police, but the prudent ale-wife treated the circumstance with
  indifference, and exclaimed: "Hout, tout, tout! _let_ the deil tak' a
  wee drappie."

  On another occasion, a Gipsy woman entered a country public-house,
  leaving her partner at a short distance from the door. Espying a drawn
  bottle of porter, standing on a table, in a room in which were two
  females sitting, she, without the least ceremony, filled a glass, and
  drank it off; but before she could decant another, the other Gipsy,
  feeling sure of the luck of his mate, from her being admitted into the
  premises, immediately proceeded to share it with her. But he had
  hardly drank off the remainder of the porter, ere a son of the
  mistress of the house made his appearance, and demanded what was
  wanted. "Want--_want?_" replied the Gipsy, with a leering eye towards
  the empty bottle; "we want nothing--we've got all that we want!" On
  being ordered to "walk out of that," they left, with a smile of
  satisfaction playing on their weather-beaten countenances.

  Such displays of Gipsy impudence sometimes call forth only a hearty
  laugh from the people affected by them.--ED.

The female Gipsies also derived considerable profits from their trade of
fortune-telling. The art of telling fortunes was not, however, general
among the Gipsies; it was only certain old females who pretended to be
inspired with the gift of prophecy. The method which they adopted to
get at the information which often enabled them to tell, if not
fortunes, at least the history, and condition of mind, of individuals,
with great accuracy, was somewhat this:

The inferior Gipsies generally attended our large country
"penny-weddings", in former times, both as musicians and for the purpose
of receiving the fragments of the entertainments. At the wedding in the
parish of Corstorphine, to which I have alluded, under the chapter of
Fife and Stirlingshire Gipsies, Charles Stewart entered into familiar
conversation with individuals present; joking with them about their
sweet-hearts, and love-matters generally; telling them he had noticed
such a one at such a place; and observing to another that he had seen
him at such a fair, and so on. He always enquired about their masters,
and places of abode, with other particulars relative to their various
connections and circumstances in life. Here, the Gipsy character
displays itself; here, we see Stewart, while he seems a mere
merry-andrew, to the heedless, merry-making people at these weddings,
actually reading, with deep sagacity, their characters and dispositions;
and ascertaining the places of residence, and connexions, of many of the
individuals of the country through which he travelled. In this manner,
by continually roaming up and down the kingdom, now as individuals in
disguise, at other times in bands--not passing a house in their
route--observing everything taking place in partial assemblies, at large
weddings, and general gatherings of the people at fairs--scanning, with
the eye of a hawk, both males and females, for the purpose of robbing
them--did the Gipsies, with their great knowledge of human character,
become thoroughly acquainted with particular incidents concerning many
individuals of the population. Hence proceed, in a great measure, the
warlockry and fortune-telling abilities of the shrewd and sagacious

Or, suppose an old Gipsy female, who traverses the kingdom, has a
relative a lady's maid in a family of rank, and another a musician in a
band, playing to the first classes of society, in public or private
assemblies, the travelling _spae-wife_ would not be without materials
for carrying on her trade of fortune-telling. The observant handmaid,
and the acute, penetrating fiddler would, of course, communicate to
their wandering relative every incident and circumstance that came
under their notice, which would, at an after and suitable period, enable
the cunning fortune-teller to astonish some of the parties who had been
at these meetings, when in another part of the country, remote in time,
and distant in place, from the spot where the occurrences happened.

In order that they might not lessen the importance and value of their
art, these Gipsies pretended they could tell no one's fortune for
anything less than silver, or articles of wearing-apparel, or other
things of value. Besides telling fortunes by palmistry,[150] they
foretold destinies by divination of the cup, their method of doing which
appears to be nearly the same as that practised among the ancient
Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, perhaps, about the time of Joseph.
The Gipsy method was, and I may say is, this: The divining cup, which is
made of tin, or pewter, and about three inches in diameter, was filled
with water, and sometimes with spirits. Into the cup a certain quantity
of a melted substance, resembling tin, was dropped from a crucible,
which immediately formed itself, in the liquid, into curious figures,
resembling frost-work, seen on windows in winter. The compound was then
emptied into a trencher, and from the arrangements or constructions of
the figures, the destiny of the enquiring individual was predicted.[151]
While performing the ceremony, the Gipsies muttered, in their own
language, certain incantations, totally unintelligible to the spectator.
The following fact, however, will, more particularly, show the manner in
which these Gipsy sorceresses imposed on the credulous.

  [150] The Kamtachadales, says Dr. Grieve, in his translation of a
  Russian account of Kamtachatka, pretend to chiromancy, and tell a
  man's good or bad fortune by the lines of his hand; but the rules
  which they follow are kept a great secret. _Page 206._

  [151] Julius Serenus, says Stackhouse, tells us, that the method among
  the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians was to fill the cup with
  water, then throw into it thin plates of gold and silver, together
  with some precious stones, whereon were engraven certain characters,
  and, after that, the person who came to consult the oracle used
  certain forms of incantation, and, so calling upon the devil, were
  wont to receive their answer several ways: sometimes by particular
  sounds; sometimes by the characters which were in the cup rising upon
  the surface of the water, and by their arrangement forming the answer;
  and many times by the visible appearance of the persons themselves,
  about whom the oracle was consulted. Cornelius Agrippa (De Occult.
  Philos. LI, c. 57,) tells as, likewise, that the manner of some was to
  pour melted wax into the cup wherein was water; which wax would range
  itself in order, and so form answers, according to the questions
  proposed.--_Saurin's Dissertation, 38, and Heidegger's His. patriar.
  exercit. 20._

  Fortune-telling is punishable by the 9th Geo. II, chap. 5th. In June,
  1805, a woman, of the name of Maxwell, commonly called the Galloway
  sorceress, was tried for this offence, by a jury, before the Stewart
  of Kirkcudbright, and was sentenced to imprisonment and the
  pillory.--_Burnet on Criminal Law, page 178._

A relative of mine had several servant-girls who would, one day, have
their fortunes told. The old Gipsy took them, one at a time, into an
apartment of the house, and locked the door after her. My relative,
feeling a curiosity in the matter, observed their operations, and
overheard their conversation, through a chink in the partition of the
room. A bottle of whiskey, and a wine glass, were produced by the girl,
and the sorceress filled the glass, nearly full, with the spirits. Into
the liquor she dropped part of the white of a raw egg, and taking out of
her pocket something like chalk, scraped part of it into the mixture.
Certain figures now appeared in the glass, and, muttering some jargon,
unintelligible to the girl, she held it up between her eyes and the
window. "There is your sweetheart now--look at him--do you not see him?"
exclaimed the Gipsy to the trembling girl; and, after telling her a
number of events which were to befall her, in her journey through life,
she held out the glass, and told her to "cast that in her mouth"--"Me
drink that? The Lord forbid that I should drink a drap o't." "E'ens ye
like, my woman; I can tak' it mysel," quoth the Gipsy, and, suiting the
action to the word, "cast" the whiskey, eggs and chalk[152] down her
throat, in an instant. Knowing well that the idea of swallowing the
glass in which their future husbands were seen, and their own fortunes
told, in so mysterious a manner, would make the girls shudder, the
cunning Gipsy gave each of them, in succession, the order to drink, and,
the moment they refused, threw the contents of the "divining cup" into
her own mouth. In this manner did the Gipsy procure, at one time, no
less than four glasses of ardent spirits, and sixpence from each of the
credulous girls.

  [152] It is not unlikely that the "something like chalk," here
  mentioned, was nothing but a nutmeg, with which, and the eggs and
  whiskey, the Gipsy would make, what is called, "egg-nogg."--ED.

The country-girls, however, never could stand out the operations of
telling fortunes by the method of turning a corn-riddle, with scissors
attached, in a solitary out-house. Whenever the Gipsy commenced her
work, and, with her mysterious mutterings, called out: "Turn
riddle--turn--shears and all," the terrified girls fled to the house,
impressed with the belief that the devil himself would appear to them,
on the spot.

The Gipsies in Tweed-dale were never in want of the best of provisions,
having always an abundance of fish, flesh, and fowl. At the stages at
which they halted, in their progress through the country, it was
observed that the principal families, at one time, ate as good victuals,
and drank as good liquors, as any of the inhabitants of the country. A
lady of respectability informed me of her having seen, in her youth, a
band dine on the green-sward, near Douglass-mill, in Lanarkshire, when,
as I have already mentioned, the Gipsies handed about their wine, after
dinner, as if they had been as good a family as any in the land. Those
in Fifeshire, as we have already seen, were in the habit of purchasing
and killing fat cattle, for their winter's provisions. In a
communication to Blackwood's Magazine, to which I will again allude, the
illustrious author of "Waverley" mentions that his grandfather was, in
some respects, forced to accept a dinner from a party of Gipsies,
carousing on a moor, on the Scottish Border. The feast consisted of "all
the varieties of game, poultry, pigs, and so forth." And, according to
the same communication, it would appear that they were in the practice
of stewing game and all kinds of poultry into soup, which is considered
very rich and savoury, and is now termed "Pottage a la Meg Merrilies de
Derncleugh;" a name derived from the singular character in the
celebrated novel of Guy Mannering.

But the ancient method of cooking practised among the Scottish Gipsies,
and which, in all probability, they brought with them, when they arrived
in Europe, upwards of four hundred years ago, is, if I am not mistaken,
new to the world, never having as yet, that I am aware of, been
described.[153] It is very curious, and extremely primitive, and appears
to be of the highest antiquity. It is admirably adapted to the wants of
a rude and barbarous people, travelling over a wild and thinly-inhabited
country, in which cooking utensils could not be procured, or
conveniently carried with them. My facts are from the Gipsies
themselves, and are corroborated by people, not of the tribe, who have
witnessed some of their cooking operations.

  [153] I published the greater part of the Gipsy method of cooking, in
  the Fife Herald, of the 18th April, 1833.

The Gipsies, on such occasions, make use of neither pot, pan, spit, nor
oven, in cooking fowls. They twist a strong rope of straw, which they
wind very tightly around the fowl, just as it is killed, with the whole
of its feathers on, and its entrails untouched. It is then covered with
hot peat ashes, and a slow fire is kept up around and about the ashes,
till the fowl is sufficiently done. When taken out from beneath the
fire, it is stripped of its hull, or shell, of half-burned straw-rope
and feathers, and presents a very fine appearance. Those who have tasted
poultry, cooked by the Gipsies, in this manner, say that it is very
palatable and good. In this invisible way, these ingenious people could
cook stolen poultry, at the very moment, and in the very place, that a
search was going on for the pilfered article.

The art of cooking butcher-meat among the Gipsies is similar to that of
making ready fowls, except that linen and clay are substituted for
feathers and straw. The piece of flesh to be cooked is first carefully
wrapped up in a covering of cloth or linen rags, and covered over with
well wrought clay, and either frequently turned before a strong fire, or
covered over with hot ashes, till it is roasted, or rather stewed. The
covering or crust, of the shape of the article enclosed, and hard with
the fire, is broken, and the meat separated from its inner covering of
burned rags, which, with the juice of the meat, are reduced to a thick
sauce or gravy. Sometimes a little vinegar is poured upon the meat. The
tribe are high in their praise of flesh cooked in this manner, declaring
that it has a particularly fine flavour. These singular people, I am
informed, also boiled the flesh of sheep in the skins of the animals,
like the Scottish soldiers in their wars with the English nation, when
their camp-kettles were nothing but the hides of the oxen, suspended
from poles, driven into the ground.

The only mode of cooking butcher-meat, bearing any resemblance to that
of the Gipsies, is practised by some of the tribes of South America, who
wrap flesh in _leaves_, and, covering it over with clay, cook it like
the Gipsies. Some of the Indians of North America roast deer or a small
size in their skins, among hot ashes. An individual of great
respectability, who had tasted venison cooked in this fashion, said that
it was extremely juicy, and finely flavoured. In the Sandwich Islands,
pigs are baked on hot stones in pits, or in the leaves of the
bread-fruit tree, on hot stones, covered over with earth, during the
operation of cooking. It is probable that the Gipsy art of cooking would
be amongst the first modes of making ready animal food, in the first
stage of human society, in Asia--the cradle of the human race.[154]
Substitute linen rags for the leaves of trees, and what method of
cooking can be more primitive than that of our Scottish Gipsies?

  [154] Ponqueville considers the Gipsies contemporary of the first
  societies. _Paris_, 1830.

The Gipsy method of smelting iron, for sole-clout for ploughs, and
smoothing-irons, is also simple, rude, and primitive.[155] The tribe
erect, on the open field, a small circle, built of stone, turf, and
clay, for a furnace, of about three feet in height, and eighteen inches
in diameter, and plastered, closely round on the outside, up to the top,
with mortar made of clay. The circle is deepened by part of the earth
being scooped out from the inside. It is then filled with coal or
charred peat; and the iron to be smelted is placed in small pieces upon
the top. Below the fuel an aperture is left open, on one side, for
admitting a large iron ladle, lined inside with clay. The materials in
the furnace are powerfully heated, by the blasts of a large
hand-bellows, (generally wrought by females,) admitted at a small hole,
a little from the ground. When the metal comes to a state of fusion, it
finds its way down to the ladle, and, after being skimmed of its
cinders, is poured into the different sand moulds ready to receive it.

  [155] According to Grellmann, working in iron is the most usual
  occupation of the Gipsies. In Hungary it is so common, as to have
  given rise to the proverb, "So many Gipsies, so many smiths." The same
  may be said of those in Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia, and all
  Turkey in Europe; at least, Gipsies following that occupation are very
  numerous in those countries.

  This occupation seems to have been a favourite one with them, from the
  most distant period. Uladislaus, King of Hungary, in the year 1496,
  ordered: "That every officer and subject, of whatever rank or
  condition, do allow Thomas Polgar, leader of twenty-five tents of
  wandering Gipsies, free residence everywhere, and on no account to
  molest either him or his people, because they prepared musket balls
  and other military stores, for the Bishop Sigismund, at Fünf-kirchen."
  In the year 1565, when Mustapa, Turkish Regent of Bosnia, besieged
  Crupa, the Turks having expended their powder and cannon balls, the
  Gipsies were employed to make the latter, part of iron, the rest of
  stone, cased with lead.

  Observe the Gipsies at whatever employment you may, there always
  appear sparks of genius. We cannot, indeed, help wondering, when we
  consider the skill they display in preparing and bringing their work
  to perfection, from the scarcity of proper tools and
  materials.--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.



It would be an unpardonable omission were I to overlook the descendants
of John Faw, "Lord and Earl of Little Egypt," in this history of the
Gipsies in Scotland. But to enter into details relative to many of the
members of this ancient clan, would be merely a repetition of actions,
similar in character to those already related of some of the other bands
in Scotland.

It would appear that the district in which the Faw tribe commonly
travelled, comprehended East Lothian, Berwickshire and Roxburghshire;
and that Northumberland was also part of their walk. I can find no
traces of Gipsies, of that surname, having, in families, traversed the
midland or western parts of the south of Scotland, for nearly the last
seventy years; and almost all the few ancient public documents relative
to this clan seem to imply that they occupied the counties above

I am inclined to believe that the Faws and the Baillies, the two
principal Gipsy clans in Scotland, had frequently lived in a state of
hostility with one another. These two tribes quarrelled in the reign of
James V, when they brought their dispute before the king in council; and
from the renewal of the order in council, in the reign of Queen Mary, it
appears their animosities had then existed. In the year 1677, the Faws
and the Shaws, as already noticed, advanced into Tweed-dale, to fight
the Baillies and the Browns, as mentioned by Dr. Pennecuik, in his
history of Tweed-dale. At the present day, the Baillies consider
themselves quite superior in rank to the Faas; and, on the other hand,
the Faas and their friends speak with great bitterness and contempt of
the Baillies, calling them "a parcel of thieves and vagabonds."[156]

  [156] This long standing feud between the Baillies and the Faas is
  notorious. In paying a visit to a family of English Gipsies in the
  United States, the head of the family said to me: "You must really
  excuse us to-day. It's the Faas and Baillies over again; it will be
  all I can do to keep them from coming to blows." The noise inside of
  the house was frightful. There had been a "difficulty" between two
  families in consequence of some gossip about one of the parties before
  marriage, which the families were sifting to the bottom.

  The Faas and their partisans, on reading this work, will not overwell
  relish the prominence given to the Baillie clan.--ED.

In Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine, of the 4th August, 1774, the following
notice is taken of this tribe, which shows the fear which persons of
respectability entertained for them: "The descendants of this Lord of
Little Egypt continued to travel about in Scotland till the beginning of
this century, mostly about the southern Border; and I am most credibly
informed that one, Henry Faa, was received, and ate at the tables of
people in public office, and that men of considerable fortune paid him a
gratuity, called blackmail, in order to have their goods protected from

One of the Faas rose to great eminence in the mercantile world, and was
connected by marriage with Scotch families of the rank of baronets. This
family was the highly respectable one of Fall, now extinct, general
merchants in Dunbar, who were originally members of the Gipsy family at
Yetholm. So far back as about the year 1670, one of the baillies of
Dunbar was of the surname of Faa, spelled exactly as the Gipsy name, as
appears by the Rev. J. Blackadder's Memoirs. On the 18th of May, 1734,
Captain James Fall, of Dunbar, was elected member of parliament for the
Dunbar district of burghs. On the 28th of May, 1741, Captain Fall was
again elected member for the same burghs; but, there being a double
return, Sir Hew Dalrymple ousted him. The family of Fall gave Dunbar
provosts and baillies, and ruled the political interests of that burgh
for many years. When hearty over their cups, they often mentioned their
origin; and, to perpetuate the memory of their descent from the family
of Faa, at Yetholm, the late Mrs. Fall, of Dunbar, whose husband was
provost of the town, had the whole family, with their asses, &c., &c.,
as they took their departure from Yetholm, represented, by herself, in
needle-work, or tapestry.[157] The particulars, or details, of this
family group were derived from her husband, who had the facts from his
grandfather, one of the individuals represented in the piece. A
respectable aged gentleman, yet living in Dunbar, has often seen this
family piece of the Falls, and had its details pointed out and explained
to him by Mrs. Fall herself.[158]

  [157] "He will be pleased to learn that there is, in the house of
  Provost Whyte, of Kirkaldy, a piece of needle-work, or tapestry, on
  which is depicted, by the hands of Mrs. Fall, the principal events in
  the life of the founder of her family, from the day the Gipsy child
  came to Dunbar in its mother's creel, until the same Gipsy child had
  become, by its own honourable exertions, the head of the first
  mercantile establishment then existing in Scotland." [This seems to be
  an extract from a letter. The authority has been omitted in the

  [158] "There are," says a correspondent, "several gentlemen in this
  town and neighbourhood who have heard declare, that the Falls
  themselves had often acknowledged to them their descent from the Gipsy
  Faas. I am told by an old Berwickshire gentlemen, who had the account
  from his mother, that the Falls, on their departure from Yetholm,
  stopped some little time at a country village-hamlet called Hume, in
  Berwickshire, where they had some female relations; and after a few
  days spent there, they set out for Dunbar, taking their female friends
  along with them.

  "Latterly, the late Robert and Charles Fall, who were cousins, kept
  separate establishments. Robert possessed the dwelling house now
  occupied by Lord Lauderdale; and Charles possessed one at the shore,
  (now the custom-house.) built on the spot where some old houses
  formerly stood, and was called 'Lousy Law.' It was in these old
  cot-houses that the Falls first took up their residence on coming to
  Dunbar. It appears the mother of the first of the Falls who came to
  Dunbar was a woman of much spirit and great activity. Old William Faa,
  the chief of the Gipsies at Yetholm, when in Lothian, never failed to
  visit the Dunbar family, as his relations. The Dunbar Falls were
  connected, by marriage, with the Anstruthers, Footies, of Balgonie,
  Coutts, now bankers, and with Collector Whyte, of the customs, at
  Kirkaldy, and Collector Melville, of the customs, at Dunbar."

The mercantile house of the Falls, at Dunbar, was so extensive as to
have many connexions in the ports of the Baltic and Mediterranean, and
supported so high a character that several of the best families in
Scotland sent their sons to it, to be initiated in the mysteries of
commerce. Amongst others who were bred merchants by the Falls, were Sir
Francis Kinloch, and two sons of Sir John Anstruther. It appears that
the Falls were most honourable men in all their transactions; and that
the cause of the ruin of their eminent firm was the failure of some
considerable mercantile houses who were deeply indebted to them.

One of the Misses Fall was married to Sir John Anstruther, of Elie,
baronet. It appears that this alliance with the family of Fall was not
relished by the friends of Sir John, of his own class in society. The
consequence was that Lady Anstruther was not so much respected, and did
not receive those attentions from her neighbours, to which her rank, as
Sir John's wife, gave her a title. The tradition of her Gipsy descent
was fresh in the memories of those in the vicinity of her residence; and
she frequently got no other name, or title, when spoken of, than "Jenny
Faa." She was, however, a woman of great spirit and activity. Her
likeness was taken, and, I believe, is still preserved by the family of

  [159] Speaking of a gentlemen in his autobiography, Dr. Alexander
  Carlyle, in 1744. says: "He had the celebrated Jenny Fall, (afterwards
  Lady Anstruther,) a coquette and a beauty, for months together in the
  house with him; and as his person and manners drew the marked
  attention of the ladies, he derived considerable improvement from the
  constant intercourse with this young lady and her companions, for she
  was lively and clever, no less than beautiful."--ED.

At a contested election, for a member of parliament, for the burghs in
the east of Fife, in which Sir John was a candidate, his opponents
thought to annoy him, and his active lady, by reference to the Gipsy
origin of the latter. Whenever Lady Anstruther entered the burghs,
during the canvass, the streets resounded with the old song of the
"Gipsy Laddie." A female stepped up to her ladyship, and expressed her
sorrow at the rabble singing the song in her presence. "Oh, never mind
them," replied Lady Anstruther; "they are only repeating what they hear
from their parents."[160] The following is the song alluded to:


    The Gipsies came to my Lord Cassilis' yett,
      And oh! but they sang bonnie;
    They sang sae sweet, and sae complete,
      That down came our fair ladie.

    She came tripping down the stair,
      And all her maids before her;
    As soon as they saw her weel-far'd face
      They coost their glamourie owre her.

    She gave to them the good wheat bread,
      And they gave her the ginger;
    But she gave them a far better thing,
      The gold ring off her finger.

    "Will ye go wi' me, my hinny and my heart,
      Will ye go wi' me, my dearie;
    And I will swear, by the staff of my spear,
      That thy lord shall nae mair come near thee."

    "Gar take from me my silk manteel,
      And bring to me a plaidie;
    For I will travel the world owre,
      Along with the Gipsy laddie.

    "I could sail the seas with my Jockie Faa,
      I could sail the seas with my dearie;
    I could sail the seas with my Jockie Faa,
      And with pleasure could drown with my dearie."

    They wandered high, they wandered low,
      They wandered late and early,
    Until they came to an old tenant's barn,
      And by this time she was weary.

    "Last night I lay in a weel-made bed,
      And my noble lord beside me;
    And now I must lie in an old tenant's barn,
      And the black crew glowring owre me."

    "O hold your tongue, my hinny and my heart,
      O hold your tongue, my dearie;
    For I will swear by the moon and the stars
      That thy lord shall nae mair come near thee."

    They wandered high, they wandered low,
      They wandered late and early,
    Until they came to that wan water,
      And by this time she was weary.

    "Aften I have rode that wan water,
      And my Lord Cassilis beside me;
    And now I must set in my white feet, and wade,
      And carry the Gipsy laddie."

    By-and-by came home this noble lord,
      And asking for his ladie;
    The one did cry, the other did reply,
      "She is gone with the Gipsy laddie."

    "Go, saddle me the black," he says,
      "The brown rides never so speedie;
    And I will neither eat nor drink
      Till I bring home my ladie."

    He wandered high, he wandered low,
      He wandered late and early,
    Until he came to that wan water,
      And there he spied his ladie.

    "O wilt thou go home, my hinny and my heart,
      O wilt thou go home, my dearie;
    And I will close thee in a close room
      Where no man shall come near thee."

    "I will not go home, my hinny and heart,
      I will not come, my dearie;
    If I have brewn good beer, I will drink of the same,
      And my lord shall nae mair come near me.

    "But I will swear by the moon and the stars,
      And the sun that shines sae clearly,
    That I am as free of the Gipsy gang
      As the hour my mother did bear me."

    They were fifteen valiant men,
      Black, but very bonny,
    And they all lost their lives for one,
      The Earl of Cassilis' ladie.

  [160] I beg the reader to take particular notice of this circumstance.
  A Scotch rabble is the lowest and meanest of all rabbles, at such work
  as this. In their eyes, it was unpardonable that Lady Anstruther, or
  "Jenny Faa," should have been of Gipsy origin; but it would have
  horrified them, had they known the meaning of her ladyship "being of
  Gipsy origin," and that she doubtless "chattered Gipsy," like others
  of her tribe.--ED.

Tradition states that John Faa, the leader of a band of Gipsies, seizing
the opportunity of the Earl of Cassilis' absence, on a deputation to the
Assembly of divines at Westminster, in 1643, to ratify the solemn league
and covenant, carried off the lady. The Earl was considered a sullen and
ill-tempered man, and perhaps not a very agreeable companion to his

  [161] See page 108.--ED.

Before proceeding to give an account of the modern Gipsies on the
Scottish Border, I shall transcribe an interesting note which Sir Walter
Scott gave to the public, in explaining the origin of that singular
character Meg Merrilies, in the novel Guy Mannering. The illustrious
author kindly offered me the "scraps" which he had already given to
Blackwood's Magazine, to incorporate them, if I chose, in my history of
the Gipsies; but I prefer giving them in his own words.

"My father," says Sir Walter, "remembered Jean Gordon of Yetholm, who
had a great sway among her tribe. She was quite a Meg Merrilies, and
possessed the savage virtue of fidelity in the same perfection. Having
been hospitably received at the farm-house of Lochside, near Yetholm,
she had carefully abstained from committing any depredations on the
farmer's property. But her sons, (nine in number,) had not, it seems,
the same delicacy, and stole a brood-sow from their kind entertainer.
Jean was so much mortified at this ungrateful conduct, and so much
ashamed of it, that she absented herself from Lochside for several
years. At length, in consequence of some temporary pecuniary necessity,
the good-man of Lochside was obliged to go to Newcastle, to get some
money to pay his rent. Returning through the mountains of Cheviot, he
was benighted, and lost his way. A light, glimmering through the window
of a large waste-barn, which had survived the farm-house to which it had
once belonged, guided him to a place of shelter; and when he knocked at
the door, it was opened by Jean Gordon. Her very remarkable figure, for
she was nearly six feet high, and her equally remarkable features and
dress, rendered it impossible to mistake her for a moment; and to meet
with such a character, in so solitary a place, and probably at no great
distance from her clan, was a terrible surprise to the poor man, whose
rent, (to lose which would have been ruin to him,) was about his person.
Jean set up a loud shout of joyful recognition. 'Eh, sirs! the winsome
gude-man of Lochside! Light down, light down; for ye manna gang farther
the night, and a friend's house sae near!' The farmer was obliged to
dismount, and accept of the Gipsy's offer of supper and a bed. There was
plenty of meat in the barn, however it might be come by, and
preparations were going on for a plentiful supper, which the farmer, to
the great encrease of his anxiety, observed was calculated for ten or
twelve guests of the same description, no doubt, with his landlady. Jean
left him in no doubt on the subject. She brought up the story of the
stolen sow, and noticed how much pain and vexation it had given her.
Like other philosophers, she remarked that the world grows worse daily,
and, like other parents, that the bairns got out of her guiding, and
neglected the old Gipsy regulations which commanded them to respect, in
their depredations, the property of their benefactors. The end of all
this was an enquiry what money the farmer had about him, and an urgent
request that he would make her his purse-keeper, as the bairns, as she
called her sons, would be soon home. The poor farmer made a virtue of
necessity, told his story, and surrendered his gold to Jean's custody.
She made him put a few shillings in his pocket; observing it would
excite suspicion should he be found travelling altogether penniless.
This arrangement being made, the farmer lay down on a sort of
_shake-down_, as the Scotch call it, upon some straw; but, as is easily
to be believed, slept not. About midnight the gang returned with various
articles of plunder, and talked over their exploits, in language which
made the farmer tremble. They were not long in discovering their guest,
and demanded of Jean whom she had got there. 'E'en the winsome gude-man
of Lochside, poor boy,' replied Jean; 'he's been at Newcastle, seeking
siller to pay his rent, honest man, but deil-be-licket he's been able to
gather in; and sae he's gaun e'en hame wi' a toom purse and a sair
heart.' 'That may be, Jean,' replied one of the banditti, 'but we maun
ripe his pouches a bit, and see if it be true or no.' Jean set up her
throat in exclamation against this breach of hospitality, but without
producing any change of their determination. The farmer soon heard their
stifled whispers and light steps by his bed-side, and understood they
were rummaging his clothes. When they found the money which the prudence
of Jean Gordon had made him retain, they held a consultation if they
should take it or not; but the smallness of the booty, and the vehemence
of Jean's remonstrances, determined them on the negative. They caroused,
and went to rest. So soon as day dawned, Jean roused her guest, produced
his horse, which she had accommodated behind the _hallan_, and guided
him for some miles, till he was on the high-road to Lochside. She then
restored his whole property, nor could his earnest entreaties prevail on
her to accept so much as a single guinea.

"I have heard the old people at Jedburgh say that all Jean's sons were
condemned to die there on the same day. It is said the jury were equally
divided, but that a friend of justice, who had slept during the whole
discussion, waked suddenly, and gave his vote for condemnation, in the
emphatic words: 'Hang them a'.' Jean was present, and only said, 'The
Lord help the innocent in a day like this.' Her own death was
accompanied with circumstances of brutal outrage, of which poor Jean
was, in many respects, wholly undeserving. Jean had, among other
demerits, or merits, as you may choose to rank it, that of being a
staunch Jacobite. She chanced to be at Carlisle, upon a fair or market
day, soon after the year 1746, where she gave vent to her political
partiality, to the great offence of the rabble in that city. Being
zealous in their loyalty when there was no danger, in proportion to the
tameness with which they had surrendered to the Highlanders, in 1745,
they inflicted upon poor Jean Gordon no slighter penalty than that of
ducking her to death in the Eden. It was an operation of some time, for
Jean was a stout woman, and, struggling with her murderers, often got
her head above water; and, while she had voice left, continued to
exclaim, at such intervals, 'Charlie yet! Charlie yet!'

"When a child, and among the scenes which she frequented, I have often
heard these stories, and cried piteously for poor Jean Gordon.

"Before quitting the Border Gipsies, I may mention that my grandfather,
riding over Charter-house moor, then a very extensive common, fell
suddenly among a large band of them, who were carousing in a hollow of
the moor, surrounded by bushes. They instantly seized on his horse's
bridle, with many shouts of welcome, exclaiming, (for he was well known
to most of them,) that they had often dined at his expense, and he must
now stay, and share their good-cheer. My ancestor was a little alarmed,
for, like the good man of Lochside, he had more money about his person
than he cared to venture with into such society. However, being a bold,
lively man, he entered into the humour of the thing, and sate down to
the feast, which consisted of all the different varieties of game,
poultry, pigs, and so forth, that could be collected by a wide and
indiscriminate system of plunder. The feast was a very merry one, but my
relative got a hint, from some of the elder Gipsies, to retire just when
'The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;' and, mounting his horse,
accordingly, he took French leave of his entertainers, but without
experiencing the least breach of hospitality. I believe Jean Gordon was
at this festival.

"The principal settlements of the Gipsies, in my time, have been the
two villages of Easter and Wester Gordon, and what is called

    Making good the proverb odd,
    Near the church and far from God."

In giving an account of the modern Gipsies on the Scottish Border, I
shall transcribe, at full length, the faithful and interesting report of
Baillie Smith, of Kelso, which was published in Hoyland's "Historical
Survey of the Gipsies."

"A considerable time," says Mr. Smith, "having elapsed since I had an
opportunity or occasion to attend to the situation of the colony of
Gipsies in our neighbourhood, I was obliged to delay my answer to your
enquiries, until I could obtain more information respecting their
present numbers.

"The great bar to the benevolent intentions of improving their
situation, will be the impossibility to convince them that there either
is, or can be, a mode of life preferable, or even equal, to their own.

"A strong spirit of independence, or what they would distinguish by the
name of liberty, runs through the whole tribe. It is, no doubt, a very
licentious liberty, but entirely to their taste. Some kind of honour
peculiar to themselves seems to prevail in their community. They reckon
it a disgrace to steal near their homes, or even at a distance, if
detected. I must always except that petty theft of feeding their
_shelties_ and asses, on the farmer's grass and corn, which they will
do, whether at home or abroad.

"When avowedly trusted, even in money matters, they never deceived me,
nor forfeited their promise. I am sorry to say, however, that when
checked in their licentious appropriations, &c., they are very much
addicted both to threaten and to execute revenge.

"Having so far premised with respect to their general conduct and
character, I shall proceed to answer, as far as I am able, the four
queries subjoined to the circular which you sent me; and then subjoin,
in notes, some instances of their conduct in particular cases, which may
perhaps elucidate their general disposition and character.

"_Query 1st._ What number of Gipsies in the county?

"_Answer._ I know of none except the colony of Yetholm, and one family
who lately removed from that place to Kelso. Yetholm consists of two
towns, or large villages, called Town-Yetholm and Kirk-Yetholm. The
first is in the estate of Mr. Wauchope, of Niddry; the latter in that of
the Marquis of Tweed-dale. The number of the Gipsy colony at present in
Kirk-Yetholm amounts to, at least, 109 men, women and children; and
perhaps two or three may have escaped notice. They marry early in life;
in general have many children; and their number seems to be encreasing.

"_Query 2d._ In what do the men and women mostly employ themselves?

"_Answer._ I have known the colony between forty and fifty years. At my
first remembrance of them, they were called the _Tinklers_ (Tinkers) of
Yetholm, from the males being chiefly then employed in mending pots and
other culinary utensils, especially in their peregrinations through the
hilly and less frequented parts of the country. Sometimes they were
called _Horners_, from their occupation in making and selling
horn-spoons, called _cutties_. Now, their common appellation is that of
_Muggers_, or, what pleases them better, _Potters_. They purchase, at a
cheap rate, the cast or faulty articles from the different manufacturers
of earthenware, which they carry for sale all over the country;
consisting of groups of six, ten, and sometimes twelve or fourteen
persons, male and female, young and old, provided with a horse and cart,
to transport the pottery, besides shelties and asses, to carry the
youngest of the children, and such baggage as they find necessary. A few
of the colony also employ themselves, occasionally, in making besoms,
foot-basses, &c., from heath, broom, and bent, and sell them at Kelso
and the neighbouring towns. After all, their employment can be
considered little better than an apology for idleness and vagrancy. I do
not see that the women are otherwise employed than attending the young
children, and assisting to sell the pottery when carried through the

"They are, in general, great adepts in hunting, shooting and fishing; in
which last they use the net and spear, as well as the rod; and often
supply themselves with a hearty meal by their dexterity. They have no
notion of being limited in their field sports, either in time, place, or
mode of destruction. In the country, they sleep in barns and byres, or
other out-houses; and when they cannot find that accommodation, they
take the canvas covering from the pottery cart and squat below it, like
a covey of partridges in the snow.

"_Query 3d._ Have they any settled abode in winter, and where?

"_Answer._ Their residence, with the exception of a single family, who,
some years ago, came to Kelso, is at Kirk-Yetholm, and chiefly confined
to one row of houses, or street, of that town, which goes by the name of
the _Tinkler Row_. Most of them have leases of their possessions,
granted for a term of nineteen times nineteen years, for payment of a
small sum yearly, something of the nature of a quit-rent. There is no
tradition in the neighbourhood concerning the time when the Gipsies
first took up their residence at that place, nor whence they came. Most
of their leases, I believe, were granted by the family of the Bennets,
of Grubit, the last of whom was Sir David Bennet, who died about sixty
years ago. The late Mr. Nisbet, of Dirlton, then succeeded to the
estate, comprehending the baronies of Kirk-Yetholm and Grubit. He died
about the year 1783; and long after, the property was acquired by the
late Lord Tweed-dale's trustees. During the latter part of the life of
the late Mr. Nisbet, he was less frequently at his estate in
Roxburghshire than formerly. He was a great favourite of the Gipsies,
and was in use to call them his body-guards, and often gave them money,

"On the other hand, both the late and present Mr. Wauchope were of
opinion that the example of these people had a bad effect upon the
morals and industry of the neighbourhood; and seeing no prospect of
their removal, and as little of their reformation, considered it as a
duty to the public to prevent the evil encreasing; and never would
consent to any of the colony taking up their residence in _Town_

"They mostly remain at home during winter, but as soon as the weather
becomes tolerably mild, in spring, most of them, men, women and
children, set out on their peregrinations over the country; and live in
a state of vagrancy, until driven into their habitations by the approach
of winter.

"Seeming to pride themselves as a separate tribe, they very seldom
intermarry out of the colony; and, in rare instances, when that happens,
the Gipsy, whether male or female, by influence and example, always
induces the stranger husband, or wife, to adopt the manners of the
colony; so that no improvement is ever obtained in that way. The
progeny of such alliances have almost universally the tawny complexion,
and fine black eyes, of the Gipsy parent, whether father or mother. So
strongly remarkable is the Gipsy cast of countenance, that even a
description of them to a stranger, who has had no opportunity of
formerly seeing them, will enable him to know them whenever he meets
them. Some individuals, but very rarely, separate from the colony
altogether; and when they do so, early in life, and go to a distance,
such as London, or even Edinburgh, their acquaintances in the country
get favourable accounts of them. A few betake themselves to regular and
constant employments at home, but soon tire, and return to their old way
of life.

"When any of them, especially a leader, or man of influence, dies, they
have full meetings, not only of the colony, but of the Gipsies from a
distance; and those meetings, or _late-wakes_, are by no means conducted
with sobriety or decency.

"_Query 4th._ Are any of their children taught to read, and what portion
of them? With any anecdotes respecting their customs and conduct.

"_Answer._ Education being obtained at a cheaper rate, the Gipsies, in
general, give their male children as good a one as is bestowed on those
of the labouring people, and farm servants, in the neighbourhood; such
as reading, writing, and the first principles of arithmetic. They all
apply to the clergyman of the parish for baptism to their children; and
a strong, superstitious notion universally prevails with them, that it
is unlucky to have an unchristened child in the house. Only a very few
ever attend divine service, and those as seldom as they can, just to
prevent being refused as sponsors at their children's baptism.

"They are, in general, active and lively, particularly when engaged in
field sports, or in such temporary pursuits as are agreeable to their
habits and dispositions; but are destitute of the perseverance necessary
for a settled occupation, or even for finishing what a moderate degree
of continued labour would enable them to accomplish in a few weeks.

"I remember that, about 45 years ago, being then apprenticed to a
writer, who was in use to receive the rents and the small duties of
Kirk-Yetholm, he sent me there with a list of names, and a statement of
what was due, recommending me apply to the landlord of the
public-house, in the village, for any information or assistance which I
might need.

"After waiting a long time, and receiving payment from most of the
feuers, or rentalers, I observed to him, that none of the persons of the
names of Faa, Young, Blythe, Fluckie, &c., who stood at the bottom of
the list, for small sums, had come to meet me, according to the notice
given by the baron-officer, and proposed sending to inform them that
they were detaining me, and to request their immediate attendance.

"The landlord, with a grave face, enquired whether my master had desired
me to ask money from those men. I said, not particularly; but they stood
on the list. 'So I see,' said the landlord; 'but had your master been
here himself, he did not dare to ask money from them, either as rent or
feu duty. He knows that it is as good as if it were in his pocket. They
will pay when their own time comes, but do not like to pay at a set
time, with the rest of the barony, and still less to be craved.'

"I accordingly returned without their money, and reported progress. I
found that the landlord was right: my master said, with a smile, that it
was unnecessary to send to them, after the previous notice from the
baron-officer; it was enough if I had received the money, if offered.
Their rent and feu duty was brought to the office in a few weeks. I need
scarcely add that those persons all belonged to the tribe.

"Another instance of their licentious, independent spirit occurs to me.
The family of Niddry always gave a decent annual remuneration to a
baron-baillie, for the purpose of keeping good order within the barony
of Town-Yetholm. The person whom I remember first in possession of that
office was an old man, called Doctor Walker, from his being also the
village surgeon; and from him I had the following anecdote:

"Between Yetholm and the Border farms, in Northumberland, there were
formerly, as in most Border situations, some uncultivated lands, called
the Plea-lands, or Debatable-lands, the pasturage of which was generally
eaten up by the sorners and vagabonds, on both sides of the marches.
Many years ago, Lord Tankerville and some others of the English
Borderers made their request to Sir David Bennet, and the late Mr.
Wauchope, of Niddry, that they would accompany them at a riding of the
Plea-lands, who readily complied with their request. They were induced
to this, as they understood that the Gipsies had taken offence, on the
supposition that they might be circumscribed in the pasturage for their
shelties and asses, which they had held a long time, partly by stealth,
and partly by violence.

"Both threats and entreaties were employed to keep them away; and, at
last, Sir David obtained a promise from some of the heads of the gang,
that none of them should show their faces on the occasion. They,
however, got upon the hills, at a little distance, whence they could see
everything that passed. At first they were very quiet. But when they saw
the English court-book spread out, on a cushion, before the clerk, and
apparently him taking in a line of direction, interfering with what they
considered to be their privileged ground, it was with great difficulty
that the most moderate of them could restrain the rest from running down
and taking vengeance, even in sight of their own lord of the manor.

"They only abstained for a short time; and no sooner had Sir David and
the other gentlemen taken leave of each other, in the most polite and
friendly manner, as Border chiefs were wont to do, since Border feuds
ceased, and had departed to a sufficient distance, than the clan, armed
with bludgeons, pitchforks, and such other hostile weapons as they could
find, rushed down in a body, and before the chiefs on either side had
reached their home, there was neither English tenant, horse, cow nor
sheep left upon the premises.

"Meeting at Kelso, with Mr. Walter Scott, whose discriminating habits
and just observations I had occasion to know, from his youth, and, at
the same time, seeing one of my Yetholm friends in the horse-market, I
said to Mr. Scott, 'Try to get before that man with the long drab coat,
look at him on your return, and tell me whether you ever saw him, and
what you think of him.' He was as good as to indulge me; and, rejoining
me, he said, without hesitation: 'I never saw the man that I know of;
but he is one of the Gipsies of Yetholm, that you told me of, several
years ago.' I need scarcely say that he was perfectly correct.

"When first I knew anything about the colony, old Will Faa was king, or
leader; and had held the sovereignty for many years. The descendants of
Faa now take the name of Fall, from the Messrs. Fall, of Dunbar, who,
they pride themselves in saying, are of the same stock and lineage. When
old Will Faa was upwards of eighty years of age, he called on me, at
Kelso, on his way to Edinburgh, telling me that he was going to see the
laird, the late Mr. Nisbet, of Dirlton, as he understood that he was
very unwell; and he himself being now old, and not so stout as he had
been, he wished to see him once more before he died. He set out by the
nearest road, which was by no means his common practice. Next
market-day, some of the farmers informed me that they had been in
Edinburgh, and seen Will Faa, upon the bridge, (the south bridge was not
then built;) that he was tossing about his old brown hat, and huzzaing,
with great vociferation, that he had seen the laird before he died.
Indeed, Will himself had no time to lose; for, having set his face
homewards, by the way of the sea-coast, to vary his route, as is the
general custom of the gang, he only got the length of Coldingham, when
he was taken ill and died.

"His death being notified to his friends at Yetholm, they and their
acquaintances at Berwick, Spittal, Horncliff, &c., met to pay the last
honours to their old leader. His obsequies were continued three
successive days and nights, and afterwards repeated at Yetholm, whither
he was brought. I cannot say that the funeral rites were celebrated with
decency and sobriety, for that was by no means the case. This happened
in the year 1783, or 1784, and the late Mr. Nisbet did not long

  [162] When Mr. Hoyland commenced making enquiries into the condition
  of the Gipsies, he addressed circulars to the sheriffs, for
  information. No less than thirteen Scotch sheriffs reported, "No
  Gipsies within the county." A report of this kind was nearly as good
  as would be that of a cockney, as to there being no _foxes_ in the
  country; because, while riding through it, on the stage, he did not
  _see_ any! Baillie Smith's report, although graphic, is superficial.
  He states that the Gipsies "marry early in life, and in general have
  many children;" yet "that their number _seems_ to be encreasing."--ED.

In addition to the above graphic report of Baillie Smith, I will now
give a few details from a MS., given to me by Mr. Blackwood, towards the
elucidation of the history of the Gipsies. This MS. bears the initials
of A. W., and appears to have been written by a gentleman who had ample
opportunities of observing the manners of the Border Gipsies.

"I am a native of Yetholm parish, and a residenter in it, with a little
exception, for upwards of fifty years. I well remember Kirk-Yetholm,
when the Faas and Youngs alone had a footing in it.[163] The Taits came
next, and latterly, at various periods, the Douglasses, Blyths,
Montgomerys, &c. Old William Faa, (with whom I was well acquainted, and
saw him married to his third wife,[164]) constantly claimed kindred with
the Falls of Dunbar; and persisted, to the last, that he himself was the
male descendant, in a direct line, from the Earl of Little Egypt. For
many years before his death, Mr. Nisbet of Dirlton, (the then laird of
Kirk-Yetholm,) gave him the charge of his house, at Marlfield, and all
its furniture, although he resided six miles distant from it. The key of
the principal door was regularly delivered to him, at the laird's
departure. I remember a sale of wood at Cherry-trees, belonging to the
late Sheriff Murray. William Faa was a purchaser at the roup, and the
sheriff proclaimed aloud to the clerk, that he would be Mr. Faa's
cautioner. All the Tinklers in the village, and even strangers resorting
thither, considered William Faa as the head and leader of the whole. His
corpse was escorted betwixt Coldstream and Yetholm by above three
hundred asses.

  [163] The tribe of Young have preserved the following tradition
  respecting their first settlement in Yetholm: At a siege of the city
  of Namur, (date unknown,) the laird of Kirk-Yetholm, of the ancient
  family of Bennets, of Grubit and Marlfield, in attempting to mount a
  breach, at the head of his company, was struck to the ground, and all
  his followers killed, or put to flight, except a Gipsy, the ancestor
  of the Youngs, who resolutely defended his master till he recovered
  his feet, and then, springing past him upon the rampart, seized a flag
  which he put into his leader's hand. The besieged were struck with
  panic--the assailants rushed again to the breach--Namur was taken, and
  Captain Bennet had the glory of the capture. On returning to Scotland,
  the laird, out of gratitude to his faithful follower, settled him and
  his family, (who had formerly been travelling tinkers and
  heckle-makers,) in Kirk-Yetholm; and conferred upon them, and the
  Faas, a fen of their cottages, for the space of nineteen times
  nineteen years; which they still hold from the Marquis of Tweed-dale,
  the present proprietor of the estate.--_Blackwood's Magazine._--ED.

  [164] On solemn occasions, Will Faa assumed, in his way, all the
  stately deportment of sovereignty. He had twenty-four children, and at
  each of their christenings he appeared, dressed in his original
  wedding-robes. These christenings were celebrated with no small
  parade. Twelve young handmaidens were always present, as part of the
  family retinue, and for the purpose of waiting on the numerous guests,
  who assembled to witness the ceremony, or partake of the subsequent
  festivities. Besides Will's Gipsy associates, several of the
  neighbouring farmers and lairds, with whom he was on terms of friendly
  intercourse, (among others, the Murrays, of Cherry-trees,) used to
  attend these christenings.--_Blackwood's Magazine._--ED.

"He was succeeded by his eldest son William, one of the cleverest
fellows upon the Border. For agility of person, and dexterity in every
athletic exercise, he had rarely met with a competitor. He had a younger
brother impressed, when almost a boy. He deserted from his ship, in
India; enlisted as a soldier, and, by dint of merit, acquired a
commission in a regular regiment of foot, and died a lieutenant, within
these thirty years, at London. He was an officer under Governor Wall, at
Goree, when he committed the crime for which he suffered, twenty years
after, in England.

"It was the present William Faa that the 'Earl of Hell' contended with;
not for sovereignty, but to revenge some ancient animosity.[165] His
lordship lives at New Coldstream, and was the only person in
Berwickshire that durst encounter, in single combat, the renowned
Bully-More. Young fought three successive battles with Faa, and one
desperate engagement with More, midway between Dunse and Coldstream; and
was defeated in all of them. He is a younger son of William Young, of
Yetholm, the cotemporary chieftain of old William Faa. It was still a
younger brother that migrated to Kelso, where he supported a good
character till he died. Charles Young, the eldest brother, is still
alive, and chief of the name. The following anecdote of him will serve
to establish his activity.

  [165] This is in contradiction to the assertion, in Blackwood's
  Magazine, that, on the death of his father, a sort of civil war broke
  out among the Yetholm Gipsies; and that the usurper of the regal
  office was dispossessed, after a battle, by the subjects who adhered
  to the legitimate heir.--ED.

"Mr. Walker, of Thirkstane, the only residing heritor in Yetholm parish,
missed a valuable mare, upon a Sunday morning. After many fruitless
enquiries, at the adjacent kirks and neighbourhood, he dispatched a
servant for Charles, in the evening. He privately communicated to him
his loss, and added, that he was fully persuaded he could be the means
of recovering the mare. Charles boldly answered, 'If she was betwixt the
Tyne and the Forth, she should be restored.' On the Thursday after, at
sunrise, the mare was found standing at the stable door, much jaded, and
very warm.

"When the Kirk-Yetholm families differed among themselves, (and
terrible conflicts at times they had,) this same Mr. Walker was often
chosen sole arbitrator, to decide their differences. He has often been
locked up in their houses for twenty-four hours together, but carefully
concealed their secrets.[166]

  [166] There would appear to be something remarkable in the position
  which this Mr. Walker held with the Gipsies. I know, from the best of
  authority, that most of the people living in and about Yetholm are
  Gipsies, settled or unsettled, civilized or uncivilized, educated or
  uneducated; and of one in particular, who went under the title of
  "Lord Mayor of Yetholm." He is now dead. The above mentioned Mr.
  Walker was probably a relation of Dr. Walker, mentioned by Baillie
  Smith, as the baron-baillie of Yetholm. I notice in Blackwood's
  Magazine, that one William Walker, a Gipsy, in company with various
  Yetholm Gipsies, was indicted at Jedburgh, in 1714, for fire-raising,
  but was acquitted. The Walkers alluded to in the text are very
  probably of the same family, settled, and raised in the world. As I
  have just said, most of the people in and about Yetholm are Gipsies.
  Gipsydom has even eaten its way in among the population round about
  Yetholm. The Rev. Mr. Baird, in conducting the Scottish Church Mission
  among the _travelling_ Gipsies, hailing from Yetholm, doubtless
  encountered many of them incog. But all this will be better understood
  by the reader after he peruses the Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

"The Yetholm Tinklers keep up an intercourse with their friends at
Horncliff, Spittal, Rothbury, Hexam, and Harbottle. They go frequently
to Newcastle, and even to Staffordshire, for earthenware, and the whole
family embark in every expedition.

"I was at school with most of the present generation of Tinklers. I mean
the males; for, to speak truth, I never heard of a female Gipsy being
educated at all.

"None of this colony have been either impeached or tried for a crime for
fifty years past. Two Tinklers have been executed at Jedburgh, in my
remembrance, named Keith and Clark, for murder and horse-stealing. They
were strangers, from a distance."

When I visited Yetholm, I fell in with a gentleman who resided at that
time in Town-Yetholm. I chanced to mention to him that I was sure all
the Gipsies had a method of their own in handling the cudgel, but he
would not believe it. At my request, he took me into some of their
houses, and, observing an old, rusty sword lying upon the joists of an
apartment in which we were sitting, I took it down, and, under pretence
of handling it, in their fashion, gave some of the guards of the
Hungarian sword-exercise. An old Gipsy, of the name of Blyth, shook his
head, and observed: "Ay, that is an art easily carried about with you;
it may be of service to you some day." My friend was then convinced of
his mistake.

William Faa, when I was in his house, showed me the mark of a stroke of
a sword on his right wrist, by which he had nearly lost his hand. With
others of his clan, he had been engaged in a smuggling speculation, on
the coast of Northumberland, when they were overtaken by a party of
dragoons, one of whom singled out and attempted to take Faa prisoner.
William was armed with a stick only, but, with his stick in his
dexterous hand, he, for a long time, set the dragoon, with all his arms,
at defiance. The horseman, now galloping round and round him, attempting
to capture him, became exasperated at the resistance of a man on foot,
armed with a cudgel only, and struck with such vigour that the cudgel
became shattered, and cut in pieces, till nothing but a few inches of it
remained. Still holding up the stump, to meet the stroke of his
antagonist's sword, William was cut to the bone, and compelled to yield
himself a prisoner. A person, present at the scuffle, informed me that
the only remark the brave Tinkler made to the dragoon was, "Ye've
spoiled a good fiddler."

William Faa, the lineal descendant of John Faw, "Lord and Earl of Little
Egypt," when I saw him, appeared about sixty years of age, and was tall
and genteel-looking, with grey hair, and dark eyes. He is the individual
who fought the three battles with Young, between Dunse and Coldstream.
The following notice of his death I have extracted from the "Scotsman"
newspaper, of the 20th October, 1847:


"The Deceased King of Little Egypt.

    "The daisy has faded, the yellow leaf drops;
    The cold sky looks grey o'er the shrivelled tree-tops;
    And many around us, since Summer's glad birth,
    Have dropt, like the old leaves, into the cold earth.
    And one worth remembering hath gone to the home
    Where the king and the kaiser must both at last come,
    The King of the Gipsies--the last of a name[167]
    Which in Scotland's old story is rung on by fame.
    The cold clod ne'er pressed down a manlier breast
    Than that of the old man now gone to his rest.

    "It is meet we remember him; never again
    Will such foot as old Will's kick a ball o'er the plain,
    Or such hand as his, warm with the warmth of the soul,
    Bid us welcome to Yetholm, to bicker and bowl.
    Oh, the voice that could make the air tremble and ring
    With the great-hearted gladness becoming a king,
    Is silent, is silent; oh, wail for the day
    When Death took the Border King, brave Willie Faa.

    "No dark Jeddart prison e'er closed upon him,
    The last lord of Egypt ne'er wore gyve on limb.
    Though his grey locks were crownless, the light of his eye
    Was kingly--his bearing majestic and high.
    Though his hand held no sceptre, the stranger can tell
    That the full bowl of welcome became it as well;
    The fisher or rambler, by river or brae,
    Ne'er from old Willie's hallan went empty away.

    "In the old house of Yetholm we've sat at the board,
    The guest, highly honoured, of Egypt's old lord,
    And mark'd his eye glisten as oft as he told
    Of his feats on the Border, his prowess of old.
    It is meet, when that dark eye in death hath grown dim,
    That we sing a last strain in remembrance of him.
    The fame of the Gipsy hath faded away
    With the breath from the brave heart of gallant Will Faa."

  [167] Will Faa had a brother, a house-carpenter, in New York, who
  survived him a few years. He was considered a fine old man by those
  who knew him. He left a family in an humble, but respectable, way of
  doing. The Scottish Gipsy throne was occupied by another family of
  Gipsies, in consequence of this family being "forth of Scotland."
  There are a great many Faas, under one name or other, scattered over
  the world.--ED.



The Gipsies in Scotland are all married at a very early age. I do not
recollect ever having seen or heard of them, male or female, being
unmarried, after they were twenty years old. There are few instances of
bastard children among them; indeed, they declare that their children
are all born in wedlock.[168] I know, however, of one instance to the
contrary; and of the Gipsy being dreadfully punished for seducing a
young girl of his own tribe.

  [168] There is one word in the Gipsy language to which is attached
  more importance than to any other thing whatever--_Lácha_--the
  corporeal chastity of woman; the loss of which she is, from childhood,
  taught to dread. To ensure its preservation, the mother will have
  occasion to the _Diclé_--a kind of drapery which she ties around the
  daughter; and which is never removed, but continually inspected, till
  the day of marriage; but not for fear of the "stranger" or the "white
  blood." A girl is generally betrothed at fourteen, and never married
  till two years afterward. Betrothal is invariable. But the parties are
  never permitted, previous to marriage, to have any intimate
  associations together.--_Borrow on the Spanish Gipsies._--ED.

The brother of the female, who was pregnant, took upon himself the task
of chastising the offender. With a knife in his hand, and at the dead
hour of night, he went to the house of the seducer. The first thing he
did was deliberately to sharpen his knife upon the stone posts of the
door of the man's house; and then, in a gentle manner, tap at the door,
to bring out his victim. The unsuspecting man came to the door, in his
shirt, to see what was wanted; but the salutation he received was the
knife thrust into his body, and the stabs repeated several times. The
avenger of his sister's wrongs fled for a short while; the wounded
Tinkler recovered, and, to repair the injury he had done, made the girl
his wife. The occurrence took place in Mid-Lothian, about twenty years
ago. The name of the woman was Baillie, and her husband, Tait.

I have not been able to discover any peculiarity in the manner of Gipsy
courtships, except that a man, above sixty years of age, affirmed to me
that it was the universal custom, among the tribe, not to give away in
marriage the younger daughter before the elder. In order to have this
information confirmed, I enquired of a female, herself one of eleven
sisters,[169] if this custom really existed among her people. She was,
at first, averse, evidently from fear, to answer my question directly,
and even wished to conceal her descent. But, at last, seeing nothing to
apprehend from speaking more freely, she said such was once the custom;
and that it had been the cause of many unhappy marriages. She said she
had often heard the old people speaking about the law of not allowing
the younger sister to be married before the elder. She, however, would
not admit of the existence of the custom at the present day, but
appeared quite well acquainted with it, and could have informed me
fully of it, had she been disposed to speak on the subject.


  |   Births    | Mar-  | Births of|  |
  |of Children. |riages.|  Grand-  |  |
  |             |       | children.| 1|
  |1822, Oct. 1.|  1842 |1843, Jul.| 1| 2|
  |             |       |          |  +--+--+
  |1824, Jan. 1.|  1844 |1844, Oct.| 1| 1| 3|
  |             |       |          |  |  +--+--+
  |1825, Apl. 1.|  1845 |1846, Jan.| 1| 1| 1| 4|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1826, Jul. 1.|  1846 |1847, Ap. | 1| 1| 1| 1| 5|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1827, Oct. 1.|  1847 |1848, Jul | 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 6|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1829, Jan. 1.|  1849 |1849, Oct.| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 7|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1830, Apl. 1.|  1850 |1851, Jan.| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 8|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1831, Jul. 1.|  1851 |1852, Ap. | 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 9|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1832, Oct. 1.|  1852 |1853, Jul.| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1|10|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1834, Jan. 1.|  1854 |1854, Oct.| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1|11|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+--+
  |1835, Apl. 1.|  1855 |1856, Jan.| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1| 1|12|
  |             |       |          |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  +--+
  |1836, Jul. 1.|  1856 |          |  |..|..|..|..|..|..|..|..|..|..|..|Total.
  |           12|       |          |11|10| 9| 8| 7| 6| 5| 4| 3| 2| 1| 0| 78  |

  The above table will give a general idea of the natural encrease of
  the Gipsies. The reader can make what allowances he pleases, for ages
  at time of marriage, intervals between births, twins, deaths, or
  numbers of children born. By this table, the Gipsy, by marrying at
  twenty years of age, would, when 54 years old, have a "following" of
  no less than 78 souls. "There is one of the divine laws," said I to a
  Gipsy, "which the Gipsies obey more than any other people." "What is
  that?" replied he, with great gravity. "The command to 'Be fruitful,
  and multiply, and replenish (but not subdue) the earth.'" Even five
  generations can be obtained from the male, and six from the female
  Gipsy, in a century, counting from first-born to first-born. The
  reader will notice how large are the Gipsy families incidentally
  mentioned by our author.--ED.

The exact parallel to this custom is to be found in the Gentoo code of
laws, translated by Halhed; wherein it is made criminal for "a man to
marry while his elder brother remains unmarried; or when a man marries
his daughter to such a person; or where a man gives the younger sister
in marriage while the elder sister remains unmarried."[170] The learned
translator of the code considers this custom of the Gentoos of the
remotest antiquity, and compares it with that passage in the Book of
Genesis, where Laban excuses himself to Jacob for having substituted
Leah for Rachel, in these words, "It must not be so done in our country,
to give the younger before the first-born."

  [170] Major Archer says that this law is still in force.

The nuptial ceremony of the Gipsies is undoubtedly of the highest
antiquity, and would, probably, be one of the first marriage ceremonies
observed by mankind, in the very first stages of human society. When we
consider the extraordinary length of time the Gipsies have preserved
their speech, as a secret among themselves, in the midst of civilized
society, all over Europe, while their persons were proscribed and hunted
down in every country, like beasts of the chase, we are not at all
surprised at their retaining some of their ancient customs; for these,
as distinguished from their language, are of easy preservation, under
any circumstances in which they may have been placed. That may much more
be said of this ceremony, as there would be an occasion for its almost
daily observance. It was wrapped up with their very existence--the
choice of their wives, and the love of their offspring--the most
important and interesting transactions of their lives; and would, on
that account, be one of the longest observed, the least easily
forgotten, of their ancient usages.

The nuptial rites of the Scottish Gipsies are, perhaps, unequalled in
the history of marriages. At least, I have neither seen nor heard of any
marriage ceremony that has the slightest resemblance to it, except the
extraordinary benediction which our countryman, Mungo Park, received
from the bride at the Moorish wedding in Ali's camp, at Benown; and that
of a certain custom practised by the Mandingoes, at Kamalia, in Africa,
also mentioned by Park.[171] This custom with the Mandingoes and the
Gipsies is nearly the same as that observed by the ancient Hebrews, in
the days of Moses, mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy. When we have
the manners and customs of every savage tribe hitherto discovered,
including even the Hottentots and Abyssinians, described, in grave
publications, by adventurous travellers, I can see no reason why there
should not be preserved, and exhibited for the inspection of the public,
the manners and customs of a barbarous race that have lived so long at
our own doors--one more interesting, in some respects, than any yet
discovered; and more particularly as marriage is a very important,
indeed the most important, institution among the inhabitants of any
country, whether civilized or in a state of barbarism. How much would
not our antiquarians now value authenticated specimens of the language,
manners, and customs of the ancient Pictish nation that once inhabited

  [171] "I was soon tired," says Park, "and had retired into my tent.
  When I was sitting, almost asleep, an old woman entered with a wooden
  bowl in her hand, and signified that she had brought me a present from
  the bride. Before I could recover from the surprise which this message
  created, the woman discharged the contents of the bowl full in my
  face. Finding that it was the same sort of holy water with which,
  among the Hottentots, a priest is said to sprinkle a new-married
  couple, I began to suspect that the lady was actuated by mischief or
  malice; but she gave me seriously to understand that it was a nuptial
  benediction from the bride's own person; and which, on such occasions,
  is always received by the young unmarried Moors, as a mark of
  distinguished favour. This being the case, I wiped my face, and sent
  my acknowledgment to the lady."--_Park's Travels, pages 205 and 206._

In describing the marriage ceremony of the Scottish Gipsies, it is
scarcely possible to clothe the curious facts in language fit to be
perused by every reader. But I must adopt the sentiment of Sir Walter
Scott, as given in the Introduction, and "not be squeamish about
delicacies, where knowledge is to be sifted out and acquired."[172]

  [172] Whatever prudes and snobs may think of this chapter, I believe
  that the sensible and intelligent reader will agree with me in saying,
  that the marriage and divorce ceremonies of the Gipsies are historical
  gems of the most antique and purest water.--ED.

A marriage cup, or bowl, made out of solid wood, and of a capacity to
contain about two Scotch pints, or about one gallon, is made use of at
the ceremony. After the wedding-party is assembled, and everything
prepared for the occasion, the priest takes the bowl and gives it to
the bride, who passes urine into it; it is then handed, for a similar
purpose, to the bridegroom. After this, the priest takes a quantity of
earth from the ground, and throws it into the bowl, adding sometimes a
quantity of brandy to the mixture. He then stirs the whole together,
with a spoon made of a ram's horn, and sometimes with a large ram's horn
itself, which he wears suspended from his neck by a string. He then
presents the bowl, with its contents, first to the bride, and then to
the bridegroom; calling at the same time upon each to separate the
mixture in the bowl, if they can. The young couple are then ordered to
join hands over the bowl containing the earth, urine, and spirits; when
the priest, in an audible voice, and in the Gipsy language, pronounces
the parties to be husband and wife; and as none can separate the mixture
in the bowl, so they, in their persons, cannot be separated till death
dissolves their union.

As soon as that part of the ceremony is performed, the couple undress,
and repair to their nuptial couch. After remaining there for a
considerable time, some of the most confidential relatives of the
married couple are admitted to the apartment, as witnesses to the
virginity of the bride; certain tokens being produced to the examining
friends, at this stage of the ceremony. If all the parties concerned are
satisfied, the bride receives a handsome present from the friends, as a
mark of their respect for her remaining chaste till the hour of her
marriage. This present is, in some instances, a box of a particular

  [173] On their return from church, the bride is seated at one
  extremity of a room, with the unmarried girls by her; the bridegroom
  on the right, and the father and mother, or those who perform their
  office, on the left. The male part of the company stand in the
  corners, singing, and playing on the guitar. About one o'clock, the
  oldest matron, accompanied by others advanced in years, conducts the
  bride into the bed-room, which, according to the custom of Spain, is
  usually a small chamber, without a window, opening into the general
  apartment. _Tune vetula, manu sud sponsæ naturalibus admota membranam,
  vulvæ ori oppositam unguibus scindit et cruorem à plagâ fusum linteolo
  excipit._ The Gitanos without make a loud noise with their whistles,
  and the girls, striking the door, sing the following couplets, or some
  other like them:

    "Abra viñd la puerta Snr. Joaquin
    Que le voy à viñd à poner un pañuelito
    En las manos que tienen que llorar
    Toditas las callis."

  The bride then returns from the chamber, accompanied by the matrons,
  and the new-married couple are placed upon a table, where the bride
  dances, _et coram astantibus linteolum, internerati pudoris indicium
  explicat_; whilst the company, throwing down their presents of
  sweetmeats, &c., dance and cry, "Viva la honra."--_Bright, on the
  Spanish Gipsy marriage._

  Before the marriage festival begins, four matrons--relations of the
  contracting parties--are appointed to scrutinize the bride; in which a
  handkerchief, of the finest French cambric, takes a leading part.
  Should she prove frail, she will likely be made away with, in a way
  that will leave no trace behind. In carrying out some marriage
  festivals, a procession will take place, led by some vile-looking
  fellow, bearing, on the end of a long pole, the _diclé_ and unspotted
  handkerchief; followed by the betrothed and their nearest friends, and
  a rabble of Gipsies, shouting and firing, and barking of dogs. On
  arriving at the church, the pole, with its triumphant colours, is
  stuck into the ground, with a loud huzza; while the train defile, on
  either side, into the church. On returning home, the same takes place.
  Then follows the most ludicrous and wasteful kind of revelling, which
  often leaves the bridegroom a beggar for life.--_Borrow, on the
  Spanish Gipsy marriage._--ED.

These matters being settled on the spot, the wedded pair rise from the
marriage-bed, again dress themselves in their finest apparel, and again
join the wedding-party. The joy and happiness on all sides is now
excessive. There is nothing to be heard or seen but fiddling and piping,
dancing, feasting and drinking, which are kept up, with the utmost
spirit and hilarity imaginable, for many hours together.[174]

  [174] The part of the marriage ceremony of the Gipsies which relates
  to the chastity of the bride has a great resemblance to a part of the
  nuptial rites of the Russians, and the Christians of St. John, in
  Mesopotamia and Chaldea. Dr. Hurd says: "When a new-married couple in
  Russia retire to the nuptial bed, an old domestic servant stands
  sentinel at the chamber-door. Some travellers tell us that this old
  servant, as soon as it is proper, attends nearer the bedside, to be
  informed of what happens. Upon the husband's declaration of his
  success and satisfaction, the kettle-drums and trumpets proclaim the
  joyful news." Among the Christians of St. John, as soon as the
  marriage is consummated, "both parties wait upon the bishop, and the
  husband deposes before him that he found his wife a virgin; and then
  the bishop marries them, puts several rings on their fingers, and
  baptizes them again. . . . A marriage with one who is discovered to
  have lost her honour beforehand but very seldom, if ever, holds good."

  When speaking of the marriages of the Mandingoes, at Kamalia, about
  500 miles in the interior of Africa, Park says: "The new-married
  couple are always disturbed toward morning by the women, who assemble
  to inspect the nuptial sheet, (according to the manners of the ancient
  Hebrews, as recorded in Scripture,) and dance around it. This ceremony
  is thought indispensably necessary, nor is the marriage considered
  valid without it." _Park's Travels, page 399._

  By the laws of Menu, the Hindoo could reject his bride, if he found
  her not a virgin.--_Sir William Jones._

  [The reader will observe that the marriage ceremony of the Gipsies,
  though barbarous, is very figurative and emphatic, and certainly moral
  enough. To show that the Gipsies, as a people, have not been addicted
  to the most barbarous customs, in regard to marriage, I note the
  following very singular form of the Scottish Highlanders, which,
  according to Skene, continued in use _until a very late period_. "This
  custom was termed _hand-fasting_, and consisted in a species of
  contract between two chiefs, by which it was agreed that the heir of
  one should live with the daughter of the other, as her husband, for
  twelve months and a day. If, in that time, the lady became a mother,
  or proved to be with child, the marriage became good in law, even
  although no priest had performed the marriage in due form; but should
  there not have occurred any appearance of issue, the contract was
  considered at an end, and each party was at liberty to marry, or
  _hand-fast, with any other_." Which fact shows that Highland chiefs,
  at one time, would have annulled any, or all, of the laws of God,
  whenever it would have served their purposes.--ED.]

The nuptial mixture is carefully bottled up, and the bottle marked with
the Roman character, M. In this state, it is buried in the earth, or
kept in their houses or tents, and is carefully preserved, as evidence
of the marriage of the parties. When it is buried in the fields, the
husband and wife to whom it belongs frequently repair to the spot, and
look at it, for the purpose of keeping them in remembrance of their
nuptial vows. Small quantities of the compound are also given to
individuals of the tribe, to be used for certain rare purposes, such,
perhaps, as pieces of the bride's cake are used for dreaming-bread,
among the natives of Scotland, at the present day.

What is meant by employing earth, water, spirits, and, of course, air,
in this ceremony, cannot be conjectured; unless these ingredients may
have some reference to the four elements of nature--fire, air, earth,
and water. That of using a ram's horn, in performing the nuptial rites,
has also its meaning, could information be obtained concerning that part
of the ceremony.

This marriage ceremony is observed by the Gipsies in Scotland at the
present day. A man, of the name of James Robertson, and a girl, of the
name of Margaret Graham, were married, at Lochgellie, exactly in the
manner described. Besides the testimony of the Gipsies themselves, it is
a popular tradition, wherever these people have resided in Scotland,
that they were all married by mixing of earth and urine together in a
wooden bowl. I know of a girl, of about sixteen years of age, having
been married in the Gipsy fashion, in a kiln, at Appindull, in
Perthshire. A Gipsy informed me that he was at a wedding of a couple on
a moor near Lochgellie, and that they were married in the ancient Gipsy
manner described. Shortly after this, a pair were married near Stirling,
after the custom of their ancestors. In this instance, a screen, made of
an old blanket, was put up in the open field, to prevent the parties
seeing each other, while furnishing the bowl with what was necessary to
lawfully constitute their marriage.[175] The last-named Gipsy further
stated to me, that when two young folks of the tribe agree to be
married, the father of the bridegroom sleeps with the bride's mother,
for three or four nights immediately previous to the celebration of the

  [175] On reading the above ceremony to an intelligent native of Fife,
  he said he had himself heard a Gipsy, of the name of Thomas Ogilvie,
  say that the Tinklers were married in the way mentioned. On one
  occasion, when a couple of respectable individuals were married, in
  the usual Scottish Presbyterian manner, at Elie, in Fife, Ogilvie,
  Gipsy-like, laughed at such a wedding ceremony, as being, in his
  estimation, no way binding on the parties. He at the same time
  observed that, if they would come to him, he would marry them in the
  Tinkler manner, which would make it a difficult matter to separate
  them again.

Having endeavoured to describe the ancient nuptial ceremony of the
Scottish Gipsies, I have considered it proper to give some account of an
individual who acted as priest on such occasions. The name of a famous
celebrator of Gipsy marriages, in Fifeshire, was Peter Robertson, well
known, towards the latter end of his days, by the name of Blind Pate.
Peter was a tall, lean, dark man, and wore a large cocked hat, of the
olden fashion, with a long staff in his hand. By all accounts, he must
have been a hundred years of age when he died. He was frequently seen at
the head of from twenty to forty Gipsies, and often travelled in the
midst of a crowd of women. Whenever a marriage was determined on, among
the Lochgellie horde, or their immediate connexions, Peter was
immediately sent for, however far distant he happened to be at the time
from the parties requiring his assistance, to join them in wedlock: for
he was the oldest member of the tribe at the time, and head of the
Tinklers in the district, and, as the oldest member, it was his
prerogative to officiate, as priest, on such occasions. A friend, who
obligingly sent me some anecdotes of this Gipsy priest, communicated to
me the following facts regarding him:

"At the wedding of a favourite Brae-laird, in the shire of Kinross,
Peter Robertson appeared at the head of a numerous band of Tinklers,
attended by twenty-four asses. He was always chief and spokesman for the
band. At the wedding of a William Low, a multerer, at Kinross, Peter,
for the last time, was seen, with upwards of twenty-three asses in his
retinue. He had certain immunities and privileges allowed him by his
tribe. For one thing, he had the sole profits arising from the sale of
keel, used in marking sheep, in the neighbouring upland districts; and
one of the asses belonging to the band was always laden with this
article alone. Peter was also notorious as a physician, and administered
to his favourites medicines of his own preparation, and numbers of
extraordinary cures were ascribed to his superior skill. He was
possessed of a number of wise sayings, a great many of which are still
current in the country. Peter Robertson was, altogether, a very shrewd
and sensible man, and no acts of theft were ever laid to his charge,
that I know of. He had, however, in his band, several females who told
fortunes. The ceremony of marriage which he performed was the same you
mentioned to me. The whole contents of the bowl were stirred about with
a large ram's horn, which was suspended from a string round his neck, as
a badge, I suppose, of his priestly office.[176] He attended all the
fairs and weddings for many miles round. The Braes of Kinross were his
favourite haunt; so much so that, in making his settlement, and
portioning his children, he allowed them all districts, in the country
round about, to travel in; but he reserved the Braes of Kinross as his
own pendicle, and hence our favourite toast in the shire of Kinross,
'The lasses of Blind Pate's Pendicle.' Besides the Braes of Kinross,
this Gipsy, in his sweeping verbal testament, reserved the town of
Dunfermline, also, to himself, 'because,' said he, 'Dunfermline was in
cash, what Lochleven was in water--it never ran dry.'" A great deal of
booty was obtained by the Tinklers, at the large and long-continued
fairs which were frequently held in this populous manufacturing town, in
the olden times.

  [176] Two ram's horns and two spoons, crossed, are sculptured on the
  tombstone of William Marshall, a Gipsy chief, who, according to a
  writer in Blackwood's Magazine, died at the age of 120 years, and
  whose remains are deposited in the church-yard of Kirkcudbright.

  A horn is the hieroglyphic of authority, power, and dignity, and is a
  metaphor often made use of in the Scriptures. The Jews held ram's
  horns in great veneration, on account, it is thought, of that animal
  having been caught in a bush by the horns, and used as a substitute,
  when Isaac was about to be sacrificed by his father; or, perhaps, on
  account of this animal being first used in sacrifice. So much were
  ram's horns esteemed by the Israelites, that their Priests and Levites
  used them as trumpets, particularly at the taking of Jericho. The
  modern Jews, when they confess their sins, in our month of September,
  announce the ceremony by blowing a ram's horn, the sound of which,
  they say, drives away the Devil. In ancient Egypt, and other parts of
  Africa, Jupiter Ammon was worshipped under the figure of a ram, and to
  this deity one of these animals was sacrificed annually. A ram seems
  to have been an emblem of power in the East, from the remotest ages.
  It would, therefore, appear that the practice of the Gipsy priest
  "wearing a ram's horn, suspended from a string, around his neck," must
  be derived from the highest antiquity.

This Gipsy priest was uncommonly fond of a bottle of good ale. Like many
other celebrators of marriages, he derived considerable emoluments from
his office. A Gipsy informed me that Robertson, on these occasions,
always received presents, such as a pair of candlesticks, or basins and
platters, made of pewter, and such like articles. The disobedient and
refractory members of his clan were chastised by him at all times, on
the spot, by the blows of his cudgel, without regard to age or sex, or
manner of striking. When any serious scuffle arose among his people, in
which he was like to meet with resistance, he would, with vehemence,
call to his particular friends, "Set my back to the wa';" and, being
thus defended in the rear, he, with his cudgel, made his assailants in
front smart for their rebellion. Although he could not see, his daughter
would give him the word of command. She would call to him, "Strike
down"--"Strike laigh" (low)--"Strike amawn" (athwart,)--"Strike
haunch-ways,"--"Strike shoulder-ways," &c. In these, we see nearly all
the cuts or strokes of the Hungarian sword-exercise. As I have
frequently mentioned, all the Gipsies were regularly trained to a
peculiar method of their own in handling the cudgel, in their battles. I
am inclined to think that part of the Hungarian sword-exercise, at
present practised in our cavalry, is founded upon the Gipsy manner of
attack and defence, including even the direct thrust to the front, which
the Gipsies perform with the cudgel.

Notwithstanding all that has been said of the licentious manners of the
Scottish Gipsies, I am convinced that the slightest infidelity, on the
part of their wives, would be punished with the utmost severity. I am
assured that nothing can put a Gipsy into so complete a rage as to
impute incontinence to his wife. In India, the Gipsy men "are extremely
jealous of their wives, who are kept in strict subservance, and are in
danger of corporeal punishment, or absolute dismissal, if they happen to
displease them."[177] The Gipsies are complete Tartars in matters of
this kind.[178]

  [177] Edinburgh Encyclopædia, vol, x.

  [178] Mr. Borrow bears very positive testimony to the _personal_
  virtue of Gipsy females. I have heard natives of Hungary speak lightly
  of them in that respect; but I conclude that they alluded to
  exceptions to the general rule among the race.--ED.

But in the best-regulated society--in the most virtuous of families--the
sundering of the marriage-tie is often unavoidable, even under the most
heinous of circumstances. And it is not to be expected that the Gipsies
should be exempted from the lot common to humanity, under whatever
circumstances it may be placed. The separation of husband and wife is,
with them, a very serious and melancholy affair--an event greatly to be
lamented, while the ceremony is attended with much grief and mourning,
blood having to be shed, and life taken, on the occasion.

It would be a conclusion naturally to be drawn from the circumstance of
the Gipsies having so singular a marriage ceremony, that they should
have its concomitant in as singular a ceremony of divorce. The first
recourse to which a savage would naturally resort, in giving vent to his
indignation, and obtaining satisfaction for the infidelity of the
female, (assuming that savages are always susceptible of such a
feeling,) would be to despatch her on the spot. But the principle of
expiation, in the person of a dumb creature, for offences committed
against the Deity, has, from the very creation of the world, been so
universal among mankind, that it would not be wondered at if it should
have been applied for the atonement of offences committed against each
other, and nowhere so much so as in the East--the land of figure and
allegory. The practice obtains with the Gipsies in the matter of
divorce, for they lay upon the head of that noble animal, the horse, the
sins of their offending sister, and generally let her go free. But, it
may be asked, how has this sacrifice of the horse never been mentioned
in Scotland before? The same question applies equally well to their
language, and marriage ceremony, yet we know that both of these exist at
the present day. The fact is, the Gipsies have hitherto been so
completely despised, and held in such thorough contempt, that few ever
thought of, or would venture to make enquiries of them relative to,
their ancient customs and manners; and that, when any of their
ceremonies were actually observed by the people at large, they were
looked upon as the mere frolics, the unmeaning and extravagant
practices, of a race of beggarly thieves and vagabonds, unworthy of the
slightest attention or credit.[179] In whatever country the Gipsies have
appeared, they have always been remarkable for an extraordinary
attachment to the horse. The use which they make of this animal, in
sacrifice, will sufficiently account, in one way at least, for this
peculiar feature in their character. Many of the horses which have been
stolen by them, since their arrival in Europe, I am convinced, have been
used in parting with their wives, an important religious ceremony--or at
least a custom--which they would long remember and practise.[180]

  [179] What our author says, relative to the sacrifice of the horse, by
  the Gipsies, not being known to the people of Scotland at large, is
  equally applicable to the entire subject of the tribe. And we see here
  how admirably the passions--in this case, the prejudice and
  incredulity--of mankind are calculated to blind them to facts, perhaps
  to facts the most obvious and incontestible. What is stated of the
  Gipsies in this work, generally, should be no matter of wonder; the
  real wonder, if wonder there should be, is that it should not have
  been known to the world before.--ED.

  [180] Grellmann says, of the Hungarian Gipsies, "The greatest luxury
  to them is when they can procure a roast of cattle that have died of
  any distemper, whether it be sheep, pig, cow, or other beast, _a horse
  only excepted_."--ED.

It is the general opinion, founded chiefly upon the affinity of
language, that this singular people migrated from Hindostan. None of the
authors on the Gipsies, however, that I am aware of, have, in their
researches, been able to discover, among the tribe, any customs of a
religious nature, by which their religious notions and ceremonies, at
the time they entered Europe, could be ascertained. Indeed, the learned
and industrious Grellmann expressly states that the Gipsies did not
bring any particular religion with them, from their native country, by
which they could be distinguished from other people. The Gipsy sacrifice
of the horse, at parting with their wives, however, appears to be a
remnant of the great Hindoo religious sacrifice of the _Aswamedha_, or
_Assummeed Jugg_, observed by all the four principal castes in India,
enumerated in the Gentoo code of laws, translated from the Persian copy,
by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, and is proof, besides the similarity of
language, that the Gipsies are from Hindostan. Before the Gentoo code
of laws came into my hands, I was inclined to believe that this ceremony
of sacrificing horses might be a Tartar custom, as the ancient Pagan
tribes of Tartary also sacrificed horses, on certain occasions; and my
conjectures were countenanced by the Gipsy and Tartar ceremonies being
somewhat similar in their details. Indeed, in Sweden and Denmark, and in
some parts of Germany, the Gipsies, as I have already stated, obtained
the name of Tartars. "They were not allowed the privilege of remaining
unmolested in Denmark, as the code of Danish laws specifies: The Tartar
Gipsies, who wander about everywhere, doing great damage to the people,
by their lies, thefts, and witchcraft, shall be taken into custody by
every magistrate." And it also appears, according to Grellmann, that the
Gipsies sometimes called themselves Tartars. If it was observed, on the
continent, that they sacrificed horses, a custom very common at one time
among the Tartars, their supposed Tartar origin would appear to have had
some foundation. The Tartar princes seem to have ratified and confirmed
their military leagues by sacrificing horses and drinking of a running
stream; and we find our Scottish Gipsies dissolving their matrimonial
alliances by the solemn sacrifice of the same animal, while some Gipsies
state that horses were also, at one time, sacrificed at their marriage
ceremonies. At these sacrifices of the Scottish Gipsies, no Deity--no
invisible agency--appears, as far as I am informed, to have been invoked
by the sacrificers.

I have alluded to this custom of the Tartars, more particularly, to show
that the Gipsies are not the only people who have sacrificed horses. The
ancient Hindoos, as already stated, sacrificed horses. The Greeks did
the same to Neptune; the ancient Scandinavians to their god, Assa-Thor,
the representative of the sun; and the Persians, likewise, to the
sun.[181] But I am inclined to believe that the Gipsy sacrifice of the
horse is the remains of the great _Assummeed Jugg_ of the Hindoos,
observed by tribes of greater antiquity than the modern nations of
India, as appears by the Gentoo code of laws already referred to.

  [181] It appears that the Jews, when they lapsed into the grossest
  idolatry, dedicated horses to the sun. "And he (Josiah) took away the
  horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering
  in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech, the
  chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burnt the chariots of the
  sun with fire." II Kings, xxiii. 11.

The sacrificing of horses is a curious as well as a leading and
important fact in the history of the Gipsies, and, as far as I know, is
new to the world. I shall, in establishing its existence among the
Scottish Gipsies, produce my authorities with my details.

In the first place, it was, and I believe it still is, a general
tradition, over almost all Scotland, that, when the Tinklers parted from
their wives, the act of separation took place over the carcass of a dead
horse. In respect to McDonald's case, alluded to under the head of
Linlithgowshire Gipsies, my informant, Mr. Alexander Ramsay, late an
officer of the Excise, a very respectable man, who died in 1819, at the
age of 74 years, stated to me that he saw McDonald and his wife
separated over the body of a dead horse, on a moor, at Shieldhill, near
Falkirk, either in the year 1758 or 1760, he was uncertain which. The
horse was laying stretched out on the heath. The parties took hold of
each other by the hand, and, commencing at the head of the dead animal,
walked--the husband on one side, and the wife on the other--till they
came to the tail, when, without speaking a word to each other, they
parted, in opposite directions, as if proceeding on a journey. Mr.
Ramsay said he never could forget the violent swing which McDonald gave
his wife at parting. The time of the day was a little after day-break.
My informant, at the time, was going, with others, to Shieldhill for
coals, and happened to be passing over a piece of rising ground, when
they came close upon the Gipsies, in a hollow, quite unexpectedly to
both parties.

Another aged man of credibility, of the name of James Wilson, at North
Queensferry, also informed me that it was within his own knowledge, that
a Gipsy, of the name of John Lundie, divorced four wives over dead
horses, in the manner described. Wilson further mentioned that, when
Gipsies were once regularly separated over a dead horse, they could
never again be united in wedlock; and that, unless they were divorced in
this manner, all the children which the female might have, subsequently
to any other mode of separation, the husband was obliged to support. In
fact, the transaction was not legal, according to the Gipsy usages,
without the horse. The facts of Lundie, and another Gipsy, of the name
of Drummond, having divorced many wives over dead horses, have been
confirmed to me by several aged individuals who knew them personally.
One intelligent gentleman, Mr. Richard Baird, informed me that, in his
youth, he actually saw John Lundie separated from one of his wives over
a dead horse, in the parish of Carriden, near Bo'ness. My father, who
died in 1837, at the age of nearly 83 years, also stated that it was
quite current, in Tweed-dale, that Mary Yorkston, wife of Matthew
Baillie, the Gipsy chief, parted married couples of her tribe over dead

About ten years after receiving the above information, Malcolm's
Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London came into my hands;
wherein I found the following quotations, from a work published in 1674,
describing the different classes of impostors at that period in England:
"Patricos," says this old author, "are strolling priests; every hedge is
their parish, and every wandering rogue their parishioner. The service,
he saith, is the marrying of couples, without the Gospels or Book of
Common Prayer; the solemnity whereof is this: The parties to be married
find out a dead horse, or other beast; standing, one on the one side,
and the other on the other, the Patrico bids them live together till
death part them; so, shaking hands, the wedding is ended." Now the
parties here described seem to have been no other than Gipsies. But it
also appears that the ceremony alluded to is that of dissolving a
marriage, and not that of celebrating it. It is proper, however, to
mention, as I have already done, that horses, at one time, were
sacrificed at their marriages, as well as at their divorces.

Feeling now quite satisfied that Gipsies were, at one time, actually
separated over the bodies of dead horses, and horses only, (for I could
find no other animal named but horses,) I proceeded to have the fact
confirmed by the direct testimony of the people themselves. And whether
these horses were sacrificed expressly for such purposes, or whether the
rites were performed over horses accidentally found dead, I could not
discover till the year 1828. It occurred to me that the using of dead
horses, in separating man and wife, was a remnant of some ancient
ceremony, which induced me to persevere in my enquiries, for the purpose
of ascertaining, if not the origin, at least the particulars, of so
extraordinary a custom. In the year mentioned, and in the year
following, I examined a Gipsy on the subject; a man of about sixty years
of age, who, a few years before, had given me a specimen of his
language. He said that he himself had witnessed the sacrifices and
ceremonies attending the separation of husband and wife. From this man I
received the following curious particulars relative to the sacrifice of
horses and ceremony of divorce; which I think may be depended on, as I
was very careful in observing that his statements, taken down at four
different times, agreed with each other.

When the parties can no longer live together as husband and wife, and a
separation for ever is finally determined on, a horse, without blemish,
and in no manner of way lame, is led forth to the spot for performing
the ceremony of divorce. The hour at which the rites must be performed
is, if possible, twelve o'clock at noon, "when the sun is at his
height."[182] The Gipsies present cast lots for the individual who is to
sacrifice the animal, and whom they call the priest, for the time. The
priest, with a long pole or staff in his hand,[183] walks round and
round the animal several times; repeating the names of all the persons
in whose possession it has been, and extolling and expatiating on the
rare qualities of so useful an animal. It is now let loose, and driven
from their presence, to do whatever it pleases. The horse, perfect and
free, is put in the room of the woman who is to be divorced; and by its
different movements is the degree of her guilt ascertained. Some of the
Gipsies now set off in pursuit of it, and endeavour to catch it. If it
is wild and intractable, kicks, leaps dykes and ditches, scampers about,
and will not allow itself to be easily taken hold of, the crimes and
guilt of the woman are looked upon as numerous and heinous. If the horse
is tame and docile, when it is pursued, and suffers itself to be taken
without much trouble, and without exhibiting many capers, the guilt of
the woman is not considered so deep and aggravated; and it is then
sacrificed in her stead. But if it is extremely wild and vicious, and
cannot be taken without infinite trouble, her crimes are considered
exceedingly wicked and atrocious; and my informant said instances
occurred in which both horse and woman were sacrificed at the same time;
the death of the horse, alone, being then considered insufficient to
atone for her excessive guilt. The individuals who catch the horse bring
it before the priest. They repeat to him all the faults and tricks it
had committed; laying the whole of the crimes of which the woman is
supposed to have been guilty to its charge; and upbraiding and scolding
the dumb creature, in an angry manner, for its conduct. They bring, as
it were, an accusation against it, and plead for its condemnation. When
this part of the trial is finished, the priest takes a large knife and
thrusts it into the heart of the horse; and its blood is allowed to flow
upon the ground till life is extinct. The dead animal is now stretched
out upon the ground. The husband then takes his stand on one side of it,
and the wife on the other; and, holding each other by the hand, repeat
certain appropriate sentences in the Gipsy language. They then quit hold
of each other, and walk three times round the body of the horse,
contrariwise, passing and crossing each other, at certain points, as
they proceed in opposite directions. At certain parts of the animal,
(the _corners_ of the horse, was the Gipsy's expression,) such as the
hind and fore feet, the shoulders and haunches, the head and tail, the
parties halt, and face each other; and again repeat sentences, in their
own speech, at each time they halt. The two last stops they make, in
their circuit round the sacrifice, are at the head and tail. At the
head, they again face each other, and speak; and lastly, at the tail,
they again confront each other, utter some more Gipsy expressions, shake
hands, and finally part, the one going north, the other south, never
again to be united in this life.[184] Immediately after the separation
takes place, the woman receives a token, which is made of cast-iron,
about an inch and a half square, with a mark upon it resembling the
Roman character, T. After the marriage has been dissolved, and the woman
dismissed from the sacrifice, the heart of the horse is taken out and
roasted with fire, then sprinkled with vinegar, or brandy, and eaten by
the husband and his friends then present; the female not being allowed
to join in this part of the ceremony. The body of the horse, skin and
everything about it, except the heart, is buried on the spot; and years
after the ceremony has taken place, the husband and his friends visit
the grave of the animal, to see whether it has been disturbed. At these
visits, they walk round about the grave, with much grief and mourning.

  [182] This Gipsy mentioned one particular instance of having seen a
  couple separated in this way, on a wild moor, near Huntly, about the
  year 1805. He particularly stated that a horse found dead would not do
  for a separation, but that one must be killed for the express purpose;
  and that "the sun must be at his height" before the horse could be
  properly sacrificed. From the fact of Ramsay stumbling upon the
  Gipsies "a little after day-break," it would seem that circumstances
  had compelled them to change the time, or adjourn the completion, of
  the sacrifice; or that the extreme wildness of the victim had
  prevented its being caught, and so led to the "violent swing which
  McDonald gave his wife at parting." And it might be that Ramsay had
  come upon them when McDonald and his wife were performing the last
  part of the ceremony, or had caused them to finish it abruptly; as the
  old Gipsy stated that not only are none but Gipsies allowed to be
  present on such occasions, but that the greatest secrecy is observed,
  to prevent discovery by those who are not of the tribe.

  [183] It appears all the Gipsies, male as well as female, who perform
  ceremonies for their tribe, carry long staffs. In the Institutes of
  Menu, page 28, it is written: "The staff of a priest must be of such
  length as to reach his hair; that of a soldier to reach his forehead;
  and that of a merchant to reach the nose."

  [184] That I might distinctly understand the Gipsy, when he described
  the manner of crossing and wheeling round the corners of the horse, a
  common sitting-chair was placed on its side between us, which
  represented the animal lying on the ground.

The husband may take another wife whenever he pleases, but the female is
never permitted to marry again.[185] The token, or rather bill of
divorce, which she receives, must never be from about her person. If she
loses it, or attempts to pass herself off as a woman never before
married, she becomes liable to the punishment of death. In the event of
her breaking this law, a council of the chiefs is held upon her conduct,
and her fate is decided by a majority of the members; and, if she is to
suffer death, her sentence must be confirmed by the king, or principal
leader. The culprit is then tied to a stake, with an iron chain, and
there cudgelled to death. The executioners do not extinguish life at one
beating, but leave the unhappy woman for a little while, and return to
her, and at last complete their work by despatching her on the spot.

  [185] Bright, on the Spanish Gipsies, says: "Widows never marry again,
  are distinguished by mourning-veils, and black shoes made like those
  of a man; no slight mortification, in a country where the females are
  so remarkable for the beauty of their feet." It is most likely that
  _divorced female Gipsies_ are confounded here with _widows_.--ED.

I have been informed of an instance of a Gipsy falling out with his
wife, and, in the heat of his passion, shooting his own horse dead on
the spot with his pistol, and forthwith performing the ceremony of
divorce over the animal, without allowing himself a moment's time for
reflection on the subject. Some of the country-people observed the
transaction, and were horrified at so extraordinary a proceeding. It was
considered by them as merely a mad frolic of an enraged Tinkler. It took
place many years ago, in a wild, sequestered spot between Galloway and

This sacrifice of the horse is also observed by the Gipsies of the
Russian Empire. In the year 1830, a Russian gentleman of observation and
intelligence, proprietor of estates on the banks of the Don, stated to
me that the Gipsies in the neighbourhood of Moscow, and on the Don,
several hundred versts from the sea of Asoph, sacrificed horses, and ate
part of their flesh, in the performance of some very ancient ceremony of
idolatry. They sacrifice them under night, in the woods, as the practice
is prohibited by the Russian Government. The police are often detecting
the Gipsies in these sacrifices, and the ceremony is kept as secret as
possible. My informant could not go into the particulars of the Gipsy
sacrifice in Russia; but there is little doubt that it is the same which
the tribe performed in Scotland. In Russia, the Gipsies, like those in
this country, have a language peculiar to themselves, which they retain
as a secret among their own fraternity.

As regards the sacrificing of horses by the Gipsies of Scotland, at the
present day, all that I can say is that I do not know of its taking
place; nor has it been denied to me. The only conclusion to which I can
come, in regard to the question, is that it is in the highest degree
probable that, like their language and ceremony of marriage, it is still
practised when it can be done. In carrying out this ceremony, there is
an obstacle to be overcome which does not lay in the way of that of
marriage, and it is this: Where are many of the Tinklers to find a
horse, over which they can obtain a divorce? The difficulty with them is
as great as it is with the people of England, who must, at a frightful
expense, go to no less than the House of Lords to obtain an act to
separate legally from their unfaithful partners.[186] The Gipsies,
besides being generally unable or unwilling to bear the expense of what
will procure them a release in their own way, find it a difficult
matter, in these days, to steal, carry off, and dispose of such a bulky
article as a horse, in the sacrifice of which they will find a new wife.
I am not aware how they get quit of this solemn and serious difficulty,
beyond this, that a Gipsy, a native of Yetholm, informed me that some of
his brethren in that colony knock down their _asses_, for the purpose of
parting with their wives, at the present day.[187]

  [186] This difficulty has been removed by recent legislation.--ED.

  [187] "An ass is sometimes sacrificed by religious mendicants, as an
  atonement for some fault by which they had forfeited their rank as
  devotees."--_Account of the Hindoos._

As the code of the ancient laws of Hindostan is not in the hands of
every one, I shall here transcribe from the work the account of the
Gentoo Institution of the _Aswamedha_ or the _Assummeed Jugg_,[188]
that the reader may compare it with the Gipsy sacrifice of horses; for
which, owing to its length, I must crave his indulgence. It is under
the chapter of evidence, and is as follows:

"An _Assummeed Jugg_ is when a person, having commenced a Jugg, writes
various articles upon a scroll of paper on a horse's neck, and dismisses
the horse, sending, along with the horse, a stout and valiant person,
equipped with the best necessaries and accoutrements, to accompany the
horse day and night, whithersoever he shall choose to go; and if any
creature, either man, genius or dragon, should seize the horse, that man
opposes such attempt, and, having gained the victory, upon a battle,
again gives the horse his freedom. If any one in this world, or in
heaven, or beneath the earth, would seize this horse, and the horse of
himself comes to the house of the celebrator of the _Jugg_, upon killing
that horse, he must throw the flesh of him upon the fire of the _Juk_,
and utter the prayers of his Deity; such a _Jugg_ is called a _Jugg
Assummeed_, and the merit of it, as a religious work, is infinite."
_Page 127._

  [188] Jugg, in Hindostanee, is a word which signifies a religious
  ceremony; hence the well-known temple Juggernaut.

In another part of the same chapter of the Hindoo code of laws, are
the following particulars relative to horses, which show the great
respect in which these animals were held among the ancient natives
of Hindostan. "In an affair concerning a horse: if any person gives
false evidence, his guilt is as great as the guilt of murdering one
hundred persons." _Page 128._ In the Asiatic Researches, the
sacrifice of the horse is frequently noticed; and in Sir William
Jones' Institutes of Menu, chapter viii., page 202, it is said: "A
false witness, in the case of a horse, kills, or incurs the guilt of
killing, one hundred kinsmen." "The _Aswamedha_, or sacrifice of the
horse: Considerable difficulties usually attend that ceremony; for
the consecrated horse was to be set at liberty for a certain time,
and followed at a distance by the owner, or his champion, who was
usually one of his near kinsmen; and if any person should attempt to
stop it in its rambles, a battle must inevitably ensue; besides, as
the performer of an hundred _Aswamedhas_ became equal to the god of
the firmaments." (_Asiatic Researches, vol._ iii., _page 216_.) "The
inauguration of _Indra_, (the Indian God of the firmaments,) it
appears, was performed by sacrificing an hundred horses. It is
imagined that this celebration becomes a cause of obtaining great
power and universal monarchy; and many of the kings in ancient
India performed this sacrifice at their inauguration, similar
to that of Indra's." "These monarchs were consecrated by these great
sacrifices, with a view to become universal conquerors." (_Asiatic
Researches._) It appears, by the Hindoo mythology, that _Indra_ was
at one time a mere mortal, but by sacrificing an hundred horses, he
became sovereign of the firmament; and that should any Indian
monarch succeed in immolating an hundred horses, he would displace

The above are literal and simple facts, which took place in performing
the sacrifice; but the following is the explanation of the mystic
signification contained in the ceremony.

"The _Assummeed Jugg_ does not merely consist in the performance of that
ceremony which is open to the inspection of the world, namely, in
bringing a horse, and sacrificing him; but _Assummeed_ is to be taken in
a mystic signification, as implying that the sacrificer must look upon
himself to be typified in that horse, such as he shall be described;
because the religious duty of the _Assummeed Jugg_ comprehends all those
other religious duties, to the performance of which all the wise and
holy direct all their actions; and by which all the sincere professors
of every different faith aim at perfection. The mystic signification
thereof is as follows: The head of that unblemished horse is the symbol
of the morning; his eyes are the sun; his breath the wind; his
wide-opening mouth is the _Bishw[=a]ner_, or that innate warmth which
invigorates all the world; his body typifies one entire year; his back,
paradise; his belly, the plains; his hoof, this earth; his sides, the
four quarters of the heavens; the bones thereof, the intermediate spaces
between the four quarters; the rest of his limbs represent all distinct
matter; the places where those limbs meet, or his joints, imply the
months, and halves of the months, which are called _P[)e]ch[)e]_ (or
fortnights); his feet signify night and day; and night and day are of
four kinds; first, the night and day of Brihma; second, the night and
day of angels; third, the night and day of the world of the spirits of
deceased ancestors; fourth, the night and day of mortals. These four
kinds are typified in his four feet. The rest of his bones are the
constellations of the fixed stars, which are the twenty-eight stages of
the moon's course, called the lunar year; his flesh is the clouds; his
food the sand; his tendons the rivers; his spleen and liver the
mountains; the hair of his body the vegetables, and his long hair the
trees. The fore part of his body typifies the first half of the day, and
the hinder part the latter half; his yawning is the flash of the
lightning, and his turning himself is the thunder of the cloud; his
urine represents the rain; and his mental reflection is his only speech.

"The golden vessels, which are prepared before the horse is let loose,
are the light of the day; and the place where these vessels are kept is
a type of the ocean of the East; the silver vessels, which are prepared
after the horse is let loose, are the light of the night; and the place
where those vessels are kept is a type of the ocean of the West. These
two sorts of vessels are always before and after the horse. The Arabian
horse, which, on account of his swiftness, is called _Hy_, is the
performer of the journeys of angels; the _T[=a]jee_, which is of the
race of Persian horses, is the performer of the journeys of the
_Kundherps_ (or the good spirits); the _W[=a]zb[=a]_, which is of the
race of the deformed _T[=a]jee_ horses, is the performer of the journeys
of _Jins_ (or demons); and the _Ashoo_, which is of the race of Turkish
horses, is the performer of the journeys of mankind. This one horse
which performs these several services, on account of his four different
sorts of riders, obtains the four different appellations. The place
where this horse remains is the great ocean, which signifies the
great spirit of _Perm-atm[=a]_, or the universal soul, which proceeds
also from that _Perm-atm[=a]_, and is comprehended in the same

"The intent of this sacrifice is, that a man should consider himself to
be in the place of that horse, and look upon all these articles as
typified in himself; and conceiving the _Atm[=a]_ (or divine soul) to be
an ocean, should let all thought of self be absorbed in that _Atm[=a]_."
_Page 19._

Mr. Halhed, the translator, justly observes: "This is the very acme and
enthusiasm of allegory, and wonderfully displays the picturesque powers
of fancy in an Asiatic genius; yet, unnatural as the account there
stands, it is seriously credited by the Hindoos of all denominations."
On the other hand, he thinks there is a great resemblance between this
very ancient Hindoo ceremony and the sacrifice of the scape-goat, in the
Bible, described in the 21st and 22d verses of the 16th chapter of
Leviticus, viz.: "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of
the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children
of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins, putting them
upon the head of the goat; and shall send him away, by the hand of a fit
man, into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their
iniquities into a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat into
the wilderness." _Page 17._ In the same manner, all the iniquities of
the sacrificer, in the Gentoo ceremony, are laid upon the horse, which
is let loose, and attended by a stout and valiant person. The same is
done in the Gipsy sacrifice, as typifying the woman to be divorced.

The resemblance between the Gipsy and the Hindoo sacrifice is close and
striking in their general bearings. The Hindoo sacrificer is typified in
the horse, and his sins are ascertained and described by the motions or
movements of the animal; for if the horse is very docile and tame, and
of its own accord comes to the Hindoo celebrator of the sacrifice, his
merits are then infinite, and extremely acceptable to the Deity
worshipped. In the Gipsy sacrifice, if the horse is in like manner
quiet, and easily caught, the woman, whom it represents, is then
comparatively innocent. In India, part of the _flesh_ of the horse was
eaten: among the Gipsies, the _heart_ is eaten. The Hindoos sacrificed
their _enemies_, by substituting for them a _buffalo_, &c.: the Gipsies
sacrifice their _unfaithful wives_, by the substitute of a _horse_. In
the Hindoo sacrifice, particular parts of the horse allegorically
represent certain parts of the earth: at certain parts of the horse,
(the _corners_, as the Gipsies call them,) the Gipsies, in their circuit
round the animal, halt, and utter particular sentences in their own
language, as if these parts were of more importance, and had more
influence, than the other parts. And it is probable that, in these
sentences, some invisible agency was addressed and invoked by the

As the _Aswamedha_, or sacrifice of the horse, was the most important of
all the religious ceremonies of every caste of Hindoos, in ancient
India, so it would be the last to be forgotten by the wandering Gipsies.
And as both sacrificed at twelve o'clock, noon, I am inclined to believe
that both offered their sacrifice to the sun, the animating soul of
universal nature. As already stated, the Gipsies, while travelling,
assume new names every morning before setting out; but when noon-tide
arrives, they resume their permanent English ones. This custom is
practised daily, and has undoubtedly also some reference to the sun. By
the account of the Gipsy already mentioned, the horse must, if possible,
be killed at noon. According to Southey, in his curse of Kehamah, the
sacrifice of the horse in India was performed at the same time. Colonel
Tod, in his history of India, says: "The sacrifice of the horse is the
most imposing, and the earliest, heathenish rite on record, and was
dedicated to the sun, anciently, in India." According to the same
author, the horse in India must be milk-white, with particular marks
upon it. The Gipsy's horse to be sacrificed must be sound, and without
blemish; but no particular colour is mentioned. According to Halhed, the
horse sacrificed in India was also without blemish.

I have, perhaps, been too minute and tedious in describing these rites
and ceremonies of the Gentoos; but the singular fact that our Scottish
Tinklers yet--at least till very lately--retained the important
fragments of the ancient mythology of the Pagan tribes of Hindostan, is
offered as an apology to the curious reader for the trouble of perusing
the details. I shall only add, that there appears to be nearly as great
a resemblance between the sacrifices of the Gipsies and the ancient
Hindoos, as there is affinity between modern Hindostanee and the
language of the Gipsies in Scotland, at the present day, as will be seen
in the following chapter.



The Scottish Gipsies appear to be extremely tenacious of retaining their
language, as their principal secret, among themselves, and seem, from
what I have read on the subject, to be much less communicative, on this
and other matters relative to their history, than those of England and
other countries. On speaking to them of their speech, they exhibit an
extraordinary degree of fear, caution, reluctance, distrust, and
suspicion; and, rather than give any information on the subject, will
submit to any self-denial. It has been so well retained among
themselves, that I believe it is scarcely credited, even by individuals
of the greatest intelligence, that it exists at all, at the present day,
but as slang, used by common thieves, house-breakers and beggars, and by
those denominated flash and family men.[189]

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

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

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

  Of the Spanish Gipsies, Mr. Borrow writes: "It is only by listening
  attentively to the speech of the Gitanos, whilst discoursing among
  themselves, that an acquaintance with their dialect can be formed, and
  by seizing upon all unknown words, as they fall in succession from
  their lips. Nothing can be more useless and hopeless than the attempt
  to obtain possession of their vocabulary, by enquiring of them how
  particular objects and ideas are styled in the same; for, with the
  exception of the names of the most common things, they are totally
  incapable, as a Spanish writer has observed, of yielding the required
  information; owing to their great ignorance, the shortness of their
  memories, or, rather, the state of bewilderment to which their minds
  are brought by any question which tends to bring their reasoning
  faculties into action; though, not unfrequently, the very words which
  have been in vain required of them will, a minute subsequently,
  proceed inadvertently from their mouths."

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

Among the causes contributing to this state of things among the Scottish
Gipsies, and what are called Tinklers or Tinkers, for they are the same
people, may be mentioned the following: The traditional accounts of the
numerous imprisonments, banishments, and executions, which many of the
race underwent, for merely being "by habit and repute Gipsies," under
the severe laws passed against them, are still fresh in the memories of
the present generation. They still entertain the idea that they are a
persecuted race, and liable, if known to be Gipsies, to all the
penalties of the statutes framed for the extirpation of the whole
people. But, apart from this view of the question, it may be asked, how
is it that the Gipsies in Scotland are more reserved, (they are
generally altogether silent,) in respect to themselves, than their
brethren in other countries seem to be? It may be answered, that our
Scottish tribes are, in general, much more civilized, their bands more
broken up, and the individuals more mixed with, and scattered through,
the general population of the country, than the Gipsies of other
nations; and it therefore appears to me that the more their blood gets
mixed with that of the ordinary natives, and the more they approach to
civilization, the more determinedly will they conceal every particular
relative to their tribe, to prevent their neighbours ascertaining their
origin and nationality. The slightest taunting allusion to the
forefathers of half-civilized Scottish Tinklers kindles up in their
breasts a storm of wrath and fury: for they are extremely sensitive to
the feeling which is entertained toward their tribe by the other
inhabitants of the country.[190] "I have," said one of them to me,
"wrought all my life in a shop with fellow-tradesmen, and not one of
them ever discovered that I knew a single Gipsy word." A Gipsy woman
also informed me that herself and sister had nearly lost their lives, on
account of their language. The following are the particulars: The two
sisters chanced to be in a public-house near Alloa, when a number of
colliers, belonging to the coal-works at Sauchie, were present. The one
sister, in a low tone of voice, and in the Gipsy language, desired the
other, among other things, to make ready some broth for their repast.
The colliers took hold of the two Gipsy words, _shaucha_ and _blawkie_,
which signify broth and pot; thinking the Tinkler women were calling
them _Sauchie Blackies_, in derision and contempt of their dark,
subterraneous calling. The consequence was, that the savage colliers
attacked the innocent Tinklers, calling out that they would "grind them
to powder," for calling them _Sauchie Blackies_. But the determined
Gipsies would rather perish than explain the meaning of the words in
English, to appease the enraged colliers; "for," said they, "it would
have exposed our tribe, and made ourselves odious to the world." The two
defenceless females might have been murdered by their brutal assailants,
had not the master of the house fortunately come to their assistance.
The poor Gipsies felt the effects of the beating they had received, for
many months thereafter; and my informant had not recovered from her
bruises at the time she mentioned the circumstances to me.[191]

  [190] This opinion is confirmed by the fact that the Gipsies whom the
  Rev. Mr. Crabbe has civilized will not now be seen among the others of
  the tribe, at his annual festival, at Southampton. We have already
  seen, under the head of Continental Gipsies, that "those who are
  gold-washers in Transylvania and the Banat have no intercourse with
  others of their nation; nor do they like to be called Gipsies."

  [191] On the whole, however, our Scottish peasantry, in some
  districts, do not greatly despise the Tinklers; at least not to the
  same extent as the inhabitants of some other countries seem to do.
  When not involved in quarrels with the Gipsies, our country people,
  with the exception of a considerable portion of the land-owners, were,
  and are even yet, rather fond of the _superior_ families of the
  _nomadic_ class of these people, than otherwise.

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

For seven years, a woman, of the name of Baillie, about fifty years of
age, and the mother of a family, called regularly at my house, twice a
year, while on her peregrinations through the country, selling spoons
and other articles made from horn. Every time I saw her, I endeavoured
to prevail upon her to give me some of her secret speech, as I was
certain she was acquainted with the Gipsy tongue. But, not to alarm her
by calling it by that name, I always said to her, in a jocular manner,
that it was the _mason_ word I wished her to teach me. She, however, as
regularly and firmly declared that she knew of no such language among
the Tinklers. I always treated her kindly, and desired her to continue
her visits. I gave her, each time she called, a glass of spirits, a
piece of flesh, and such articles; and generally purchased some trifle
from her, for which I intentionally paid her more than its value. She so
far yielded to my importunities, that, for the last three years she
called, she went the length of saying that she would tell me "something"
the next time she came back. But when she returned, she guardedly evaded
all my questions, by constantly repeating nearly the same answer, such
as, "I will speak to you the next time I come back, sir." After having
been put off for _seven_ years in this manner, I was determined to put
her to the usual test, should she never enter my door again, and, as
she was walking out of the gate of my garden, I called to her, in the
Gipsy language, "_Jaw vree, managie!_"--(go away, woman.) She
immediately turned round, and, laughing, replied, "I will _jaw_ with you
when I come back, _gaugie_"--(I will go or speak with you, when I come
back, man.) She returned, as usual, in December following. I again
requested her to give me some of her words, assuring her that she would
be in no danger from me on that account. I further told her it was of no
use to conceal her speech from me, having, the last time she was in my
house, shown her that I was acquainted with it. After considerable
hesitation and reluctance, she consented; but then, she said, she would
not allow any one in the house to hear her speak to me but my wife. I
took her at once into my parlour, and, on being desired, she, without
the least hesitation or embarrassment, took the seat next the fire.
Observing the door of the room a little open, she desired it to be shut,
in case of her being overheard, again mentioning that she had no
objections to my wife being present, and gravely observing that
"husbands and wives were one, and should know all one another's
secrets." She stated that the public would look upon her with horror and
contempt, were it known she could speak the Gipsy language. She was
extremely civil and intelligent, yet placed me upon a familiar equality
with herself, when she found I knew of the existence of her speech, and
could repeat some of the words of it. Her nature, to appearance, seemed
changed. Her bold and fiery disposition was softened and subdued. She
was very frank and polite; retained her self-possession, and spoke with
great propriety.[192] The words which I got on this occasion will be
found in another part of the chapter.

  [192] Their (the female's) speech is as fluent, and their eyes as
  unabashed, in the presence of royalty, as before those from whom they
  have nothing to hope or fear; the result of which is, that most minds
  quail before them.--_Borrow on the Spanish Gipsies._--ED.

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

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

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

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

When I spoke in a sharp manner to some of the old women, on the
high-road, by way of testing them, they would quicken their paces, look
over their shoulders, and call out, in much bitterness of spirit, "You
are no gentleman, sir, otherwise you would not insult us in that way."
On one occasion, I observed a woman with her son, who appeared about
twelve years of age, lingering near a house at which they had no
business, and I desired her, rather sharply, to leave the place, telling
her that I was afraid her chauvie was a _chor_--(that her son was a
thief). I used these two words merely to see what effect they would have
upon her, as I did not really think she was a Gipsy. She instantly flew
into a dreadful passion, telling me that I had been among thieves and
robbers myself, otherwise I could not speak to her in such words as
these. She threatened to go to Edinburgh, to inform the police that I
was the head and captain of a band of thieves,[193] and that she would
have me immediately apprehended as such. Four sailors who were present
with me were astonished at the sudden wrath and insolence of the woman,
as they could not perceive any provocation she had received from
me--being ignorant of the meaning of the words _chauvie_ and _chor_,
which I applied to her boy.

  [193] This woman evidently mistook our author for a Gipsy _gent_, such
  as he is described at page 169.--ED.

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

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

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

I was advised by Sir Walter Scott, as mentioned in the Introduction, to
"get the same words from different individuals; and, to verify the
collection, to set down the names of the persons by whom they were
communicated;" which I have done. For this reason, the words now
furnished will appear as the confessions of so many individuals, rather
than a vocabulary drawn up in the manner in which such is usually done;
and which will be more satisfactory to the general reader, as well as
the philologist, than if I had presented the words by themselves,
without any positive or circumstantial evidence of their genuineness. To
the general reader, as distinguished from the philologist, the anecdotes
connected with the collection may prove interesting, if the words
themselves have no attraction for him; while they will satisfy the
latter, as far as they go, as to the existence of a language which has
almost always been denied, yet which is known, at the present day, to a
greater number of the population of the country than could at first have
been imagined; this part of it having been drawn from a variety of
individuals, at different and widely-separated times and places. On this
account, I hope that the minuteness of the details of the present
enquiry may not appear tedious, but, on the contrary, interesting, to my
readers generally; inasmuch as the present collection is the first, as
far as I know, of the Scottish Gipsy language that has ever been made;
although the people themselves have lived amongst us for three hundred
and fifty years, and talked it every hour of the day, but hardly ever in
the hearing of the other inhabitants, excepting, occasionally, a word of
it now and then, to disguise their discourse from those around them;
which, on being questioned, they have always passed off for _cant_, to
prevent the law taking hold of them, and punishing them for being
Gipsies. These details will also show that our Scottish Tinklers, or
Gipsies, are sprung from the common stock from which are descended those
that are to be found in the other parts of Europe, as well as those that
are scattered over the world generally; what secrecy they observe in all
matters relative to their affairs; what an extraordinary degree of
reluctance and fear they evince in answering questions tending to
develop their history; and, consequently, how difficult it is to learn
anything satisfactory about them.[194]

  [194] It would be well for the reader to consider what a _Gipsy is_,
  irrespective of the _language which he speaks_; for the _race_ comes
  _before_ the _speech_ which it uses. That will be done fully in my
  Disquisition on the Gipsies. The language, considered in itself,
  however interesting it may be, is a secondary consideration; it may
  ultimately disappear, while the people who now speak it will

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Managie_, woman.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Grye-femler_, horse-dealer.
  _Roys_, spoons.

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Managie_, woman.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Jucal_, dog.

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Riah_, gentleman.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Lowa_, silver.
  _Chor_, thief.
  _Staurdie_, prison.
  _Bing_, the devil.

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

Some years since, a female, of the name of Ruthven, was in the habit of
calling at a farm occupied by one of my brothers. My mother, being
interested about the Gipsies, began, on one occasion, to question this
female Tinkler, relative to her tribe, and, among other things, asked if
she was a Gipsy. "Yes," replied Ruthven, "I am a Gipsy, and a
desperate, murdering race we are. I will let you hear me speak our
language, but what the better will you be of that?" She accordingly
uttered a few sentences, and then said, "Now, are you any the wiser of
what you have heard? But that infant," pointing to her child of about
five years of age, "understands every word I speak." "I know," continued
the Tinkler, "that the public are trying to find out the secrets of the
Gipsies, but it is in vain." This woman further stated that her tribe
would be exceedingly displeased, were it known that any of their
fraternity taught their language to "strangers."[195] She also mentioned
that the Gipsies believe that the laws which were enacted for their
extirpation were yet in full force against them. I may mention, however,
that she could put confidence in the family in whose house she made
these confessions.

  [195] The Gipsies are always afraid to say what they would do in such
  cases. Perhaps they don't know, but have only a general impression
  that the individual would "catch it;" or there may be some old law on
  the subject. What Ruthven said of her's being a desperate race is true
  enough, and murderous too, among themselves as distinguished from the
  inhabitants generally. Her remark was evidently part of that
  _frightening_ policy which keeps the natives from molesting the tribe.
  See page 44.--ED.

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Gourie_, man.
  _Managie_, woman.
  _Chauvie_, a person of either sex.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Been gaugie_, gentleman.
  _Been gourie_, gentleman.
  _Rajah_, a chief, governor.
  _Baurie rajah_, the king.
  _Greham_, horse.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Seefer_, ass.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Mufler_, cat.
  _Sloof_, sheep.
  _Bashanie_, cock.
  _Caunie_, hen.
  _Borlan_, sun.
  _Mang_, moon.
  _Goff_, fire.
  _Garlan_, ship.
  _Heefie_, spoon.
  _Keechan_, knife.
  _Chowrie_, knife.
  _Seaf_, hat.
  _Mass_, flesh.
  _Mass_, hand.
  _Bar_, money.
  _Lowie_, coin or money.
  _Roug_, silver.
  _Neel_, shilling.
  _Deek_, to listen.
  _Chee_, tongue.
  _Chee chee_, hold your tongue.
  _Chor_, thief.
  _Choar_, to steal.
  _Quad_, prison.
  _Moolie_, death.
  _Moolie_, I'll kill you.
  _Bing_, the devil.
  _Bing feck_, devil take you.
  _Bing feck eelreelee_, devil take your soul.
  _Choar a chauvie_, rob that person.
  _Choar a gaugie_, steal from that man.
  _Cheeteromanie_, a dram of whiskey.
  _Glowie a lowa_, pay him the  money.

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Chauvie_, child.
  _Mort_, wife.
  _Shan mort_, bad wife.
  _Blawkie_, pot.
  _Roys_, spoons.
  _Snypers_, shears.
  _Fluff_, tobacco-pipe.
  _Baurie mort_, good wife.
  _Nais mort_, grandmother.
  _Nais gaugie_, grandfather.
  _Been riah_, gentleman.
  _Been raunie_, gentlewoman.
  _Dill_, servant-maid.
  _Loudnie_, whore.
  _Chor_, thief.
  _Gawvers_, pickpockets.
  _Nawkens_, Tinklers.
  _Rachlin_, hanged man.
  _Klistie_, soldier.
  _Paunie-col_, sailor.
  _Femmel_, hand.
  _Yak_, eye.
  _Sherro_, head.
  _Mooie_, mouth.
  _Chatters_, teeth.
  _Rat_, blood.
  _Rat_, night.
  _Moolie_, death, to die, kill.
  _Shucha_, coat.
  _Teeyakas_, shoes.
  _Gawd_, shirt.
  _Olivers_, stockings.
  _Wiper_, napkin.
  _Coories_, blankets.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Routler_, cow.
  _Bakra_, sheep.
  _Kair_, house.
  _Blinker_, window.
  _Kep_, bed.
  _Fluffan_, tobacco.
  _Lowie_, money.
  _Roug_, silver.
  _Leel_, bank notes.
  _Casties_, trees.
  _Quad_, prison.
  _Harro_, sword.
  _Chourie_, bayonet-knife.
  _Mass_, meat, flesh.
  _Guffie_, swine's flesh.
  _Flatrins_, fish.
  _Habben_, bread.
  _Blaw_, meal.
  _Neddies_, potatoes.
  _Thood_, milk.
  _Smout_, butter.
  _Chizcazin_, cheese.
  _Bobies_, peas.
  _Pooklie_, pot-barley.
  _Shaucha_, broth.
  _Geeve_, corn, wheat, grain.
  _Faizim_, hay.
  _Stramel_, straw.
  _Paunie_, water.
  _Yak_, coal.
  _Mouds_, peats.
  _Shan drom_, bad road.
  _Beenlightment_, daylight.
  _Jaw vree_, go away.
  _Aucheer mangan_, hold your tongue.
  _Bing lee ma_, devil miss me.
  _Ruffie feck ma_, devil take me.
  _Ruffie lee ma_, devil miss me.

I observed to this woman that her language would, in course of time, be
lost. She replied, with great seriousness, "It will never be forgotten,
sir; it is in our hearts, and as long as a single Tinkler exists, it
will be remembered." I further enquired of her, how many of her tribe
were in Scotland. Her answer was, "There are several thousand; and there
are many respectable shop-keepers and house-holders in Scotland that are
Gipsies." I requested of this woman the Gipsy word for God.[196] She
said they had no corresponding word for God in their speech; adding,
that she thought "it as well, as it prevented them having their Maker's
name often unnecessarily and sinfully in their mouths." She acknowledged
the justice, and highly approved of the punishment of death for murder;
but she condemned, most bitterly, the law that took away the lives of
human beings for stealing. She dwelt on the advantages which her secret
speech gave her tribe in transacting business in markets. She said that
she was descended from the first Gipsy family in Scotland. I was
satisfied that she was sprung from the second, if not the first, family.
I could make out, with tolerable certainty, the links of her descent for
four generations of Gipsies. I have already described the splendid style
in which her ancestors travelled in Tweed-dale. Her mother, above eighty
years of age, also called at my house. Both were fortune-tellers. It was
evident, from this woman's manner, that she knew much she would not
communicate. Like the Gipsy chief, in presence of Dr. Bright, at Csurgo,
in Hungary, she, in a short time, became impatient; and, apparently,
when a certain hour arrived, she insisted upon being allowed to depart.
She would not submit to be questioned any longer.

  [196] Ponqueville, in his travels, says that the Gipsies in the Levant
  have no words in their language to express either God or the soul. Of
  ten words of the Greek Gipsy, given by him, five of them are in use in
  Scotland.--_Paris_, 1820.

  [The Gipsy for God, according to Grellmann, is _Dewe_, _Dewel_,
  _Dewol_, _Dewla_.]--ED.

Owing to the nature of my enquiries, and more particularly the fears of
the tribe, I could seldom venture to question the Gipsies regarding
their speech, or their ancient customs, with any hope of receiving
satisfactory answers, when a third party was present. The following,
however, is an instance to the contrary; and the facts witnessed by the
gentleman who was with me at the time, are, besides the testimony of the
Gipsies themselves, convincing proofs that these people, at the present
day, in Scotland, can converse among themselves, on any ordinary
subject, in their own language, without making use of a single word of
the English tongue.[197]

  [197] Had a German listened a whole day to a Gipsy conversation, he
  would not have understood a single expression.--_Grellmann._

  The dialect of the English Gipsies, though mixed with English, is
  tolerably pure, from the fact of its being intelligible to the race in
  the centre of Russia.--_Borrow._--ED.

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Riah_, gentleman.
  _Raunie_, lady.
  _Vast_, hand.
  _Sonnakie_, gold.
  _Sonnakie vanister_, gold ring.
  _Roug_, silver.
  _Lowie_, money.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Matchka_, cat.
  _Baurie_, great.
  _Vile_, village.
  _Baurie vile_, large village.
  _Nawken_, Gipsy.
  _Davies_, day.
  _Beenship davies_, _Nawken_, good-day, Gipsy.
  _Pen yer naam?_ what is your name?
  _Shucha_, coat.
  _Calshes_, breeches.
  _Gogle_, hat.
  _Coories_, blankets.
  _Roys_, spoons.
  _Skews_, platters.
  _Habben kairer_, baker of bread.

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

In confirmation of these facts, I shall transcribe a letter addressed to
me by the gentleman who was present on the occasion.[198]

  [198] This letter is interesting to the extent that it illustrates the
  amount of knowledge possessed by the Scottish community, generally,
  regarding the subject of the Gipsies.--ED.

    INVERKEITHING, _25th May, 1829._


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

    _Deputy Compt. of Customs, Inverkeithing._

    _Supt. of Quarantine, Inverkeithing_."[199]

  [199] Sir Walter Scott was disposed to think that our Gipsy population
  was rather exaggerated at five thousand souls; but when families such
  as the above mentioned are taken into account--leaving alone those who
  may be classed as settled Gipsies--I am convinced that their number is
  not over-estimated.

  [Not being in possession of sufficient information on the subject of
  the Gipsies, the opinion of Sir Walter Scott, on the point in
  question, amounted to nothing. See the Index, for Sir Walter Scott's
  ideas of the Scottish Gipsy population.--ED.]

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

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

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

This species of Gipsy-hunting, I believe, I had exclusively to myself. I
had none of the difficulties to contend with, which would be implied in
the field of it having been gone over by others before me. That kind of
Gipsy-hunting which implied imprisonment, banishment, and hanging, was a
thing of which the Gipsies had had sad experience; if not in their own
persons, at least in that which the traditions of their tribe had so
carefully handed down to them. Besides this, the experience of the daily
life of the members of their tribe afforded an excellent school of
training, for acquiring a host of expedients for escaping every danger
and difficulty to which their habits exposed them. But so thoroughly had
they preserved their secrets, and especially the grand one--their
language--that they came to their wits' end how to understand, and how
to act in, the new sphere of danger into which they were now thrown, or
even to comprehend its nature. Such was the advantage which education
and enlightenment had given their civilized neighbour over them. How
could _they_ imagine that the commencement of my knowledge of their
language had been drawn from _books_? What did some of them know of
_books_, beyond, perhaps, a youth sent to school, where, owing to his
restless and unsettled good-for-nothingness, he would advance little
beyond his alphabet?[200] For we know that some Gipsies are so
intensely vain as to send a child to school, merely to brag before their
civilized neighbours that their children have been educated. How could
_they_ comprehend that _their_ language had found, or could find, its
way into _books_? The thing to them was impossible; the idea of it could
not, by any exertion of their own, even enter into their imagination.
The danger to arise from such a quarter was altogether beyond their
capacity of comprehension. Knowing, however, that there was danger of
some singular nature surrounding them, yet being unable to comprehend
it, they flickered about it, like moths about a candle; till at last
they did come to comprehend, if not its origin, or extent, at least its
tendency, and the consequences to which it would lead.

  [200] In speaking of the more original kind of Gipsy, Grellmann says:
  "No Gipsy has ever signalized himself in literature, notwithstanding
  many of them have partaken of the instruction to be obtained at public
  schools. Their volatile disposition and unsteadiness will not allow
  them to complete anything which requires perseverance or application.
  In the midst of his career of learning, the recollection of his origin
  seizes him; he desires to return to what he thinks a more happy manner
  of life; this solicitude encreases; he gives up all at once, turns
  back again, and consigns over his knowledge to oblivion."

  There are too many circumstances surrounding such a Gipsy to remind
  him of his origin, and arrest him in his career of learning: for his
  race never having been tolerated--that is, no position ever having
  been assigned it, he feels as if he were a vagabond, if known or
  openly avowed to the public as a member of the tribe. And this, in
  itself, is sufficient to discourage such a Gipsy in every effort
  towards improvement.--ED.

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

  _Slaps_, tea.
  _Moozies_, porridge.
  _Mass_, flesh.
  _Shaucha_, broth.
  _Mumlie_, candle.
  _Stramel_, straw.
  _Parnie_, wheat.
  _Duff_, smoke.
  _Yak_, fire.
  _Wuther_, door.
  _Glue_, window.
  _Kair_, house.
  _Shucha_, coat.
  _Shuch-hamie_, waistcoat.
  _Castie_, stick.
  _Coories_, blankets.
  _Eegees_, bed-clothes.
  _Wautheriz_, bed.
  _Suchira_, sixpence.
  _Sye-boord_, sixpence.
  _Chinda_, shilling.
  _Chinda ochindies_, twelve shillings.
  _Trin chindies_, three shillings.
  _Baurie_, grand, great, good.
  _Shan_, bad.
  _Davies-pagrin_, daybreak.
  _Baurie davies_, good day.
  _Shan davies_, bad day.
  _Paunie davies_, wet day.
  _Sheelra davies_, frosty or cold day.
  _Sneepa davies_, snowy or white day.
  _Baurie forest_, the chief city.
  _Baurie paunie_, the sea, ocean, grand water.
  _Bing_, the devil.
  _Ruffie_, the devil.
  _Feck_, take.
  _Chauvies wautheriz_, the children's bed-clothes.
  _Sherro_, head.
  _Carlie_, neck.
  _Lears_, ears.
  _Chatters_, teeth.
  _Yak_, eye.
  _Nak_, nose.
  _Mooie_, mouth.
  _Vast_, hand.
  _Jaur_, leg.
  _Nek_, knee.
  _Peerie_, foot.
  _Bar_, stone.
  _Drom_, the earth.
  _Cang-geerie_, church.
  _Sonnakie_, gold.
  _Sonnakie vanister_, gold ring.
  _Callo_, black.
  _Callo gaugie_, black man.
  _Leehgh callo_, blue.
  _Sneepa_, white, snow.
  _Sheelra_, cold, frost.
  _Lon_, salt.
  _Lon paunie_, the sea, salt water.
  _Rat_, night.
  _Rat_, blood.
  _Habben kairer_, baker of bread.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Gournie_, cow.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Paupeenie_, goose.
  _Caunie_, hen.
  _Boord_, penny.
  _Curdie_, half-penny.
  _Lee_, miss.
  _Ruffie feck ma_, devil take me.
  _Ruffie lee ma_, devil miss me.
  _Feck a bar and mar the gaugie_, lift a stone and fell the man.
  _Chee, chee_, silence, hold your tongue.
  _Auvie_, come here.
  _Jaw vree_, go away.
  _Jaw wree wautheriz_, go away to your bed.
  _Baish doun_, sit down.
  _Baish doun bettiment_, sit down on the chair.
  _Howie been baishen?_ how are you?
  _Riah_, gentleman.
  _Raunie_, gentlewoman.
  _Baurie riah_, king.
  _Baurie raunie_, queen.
  _Praw_, son.
  _Prawl_, daughter.
  _Yaggers_, colliers.
  _Nawken_, Tinkler, Gipsy.
  _Cam_, the moon.
  _Quad_, prison.
  _Staurdie_, prison.
  _Yaik_, one.
  _Duie_, two.
  _Trin_, three.
  _Tor_, four.
  _Fo_, five.
  _Shaigh_, six.
  _Naivairn_, seven.
  _Naigh_, eight.
  _Line_, nine.
  _Nay_, ten.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "Here, Johnie Armstrang, take thou my sword,
      That is made o' the metal sae fine;
    And when thou comest to the English side,
      Remember the death of Hughie the Græme."[201]

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

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

  [202] See pages 58 and 65.--ED.

One of the greatest fairs in Scotland is held, annually, on the 18th day
of July, at St. Boswell's Green, in Roxburghshire. I paid a visit to
this fair, for the purpose of taking a view of the Gipsies. An
acquaintance, whom I met at the fair, observed to me, that he was sure
if any one could give me information regarding the Tinklers, it would be
old ----, the horner, at ----. To ensure a kind reception from the
Gipsies, it was agreed upon, between us, that I should introduce myself
by mentioning who my ancestors were, on whose numerous farms, (sixteen,
rented by my grandfather, in 1781,[203]) their forefathers had received
many a night's quarters, in their out-houses. We soon found out the old
chieftain, sitting in a tent, in the midst of about a dozen of his
tribe, all nearly related to him. The moment I made myself known to
them, the whole of the old persons immediately expressed their gratitude
for the humane treatment they, and their forefathers, had received at
the farms of my relatives. They were extremely glad to see me; and "God
bless you," was repeated by several of the old females. "Ay," said they,
"those days are gone. Christian charity has now left the land. We know
the people are growing more hard and uncharitable every year." I found
the old man shrewd, sensible, and intelligent; far beyond what could
have been expected from a person of his caste and station in life. He,
besides, possessed all that merriness and jocularity which I have often
observed among a number of the males of his race. After some
conversation with this chief, who appeared about eighty years of age, I
enquired if his people, who, in large bands, about sixty years ago,
traversed the south of Scotland, had not an ancient language, peculiar
to themselves. He hesitated a little, and then readily replied, that the
Tinklers had no language of their own, except a few cant words. I
observed to him that he knew better--that the Tinklers had, beyond
dispute, a language of their own; and that I had some knowledge of its
existence at the present day. He, however, declared that they had no
such language, and that I was wrongly informed. In the hearing of all
the Gipsies in the tent, I repeated to him four or five Gipsy words and
expressions. At this he appeared amazed; and on my adding some
particulars relative to some of the ancestors of the tribe then present,
enumerating, I think, three generations of their clan, one of the old
females exclaimed, "Preserve me, he kens a' about us!" The old chief
immediately took hold of my right hand, below the table, with a grasp as
if he were going to shake it: and, in a low and subdued tone of voice,
so as none might near but myself, requested me to say not another word
in the place where we were sitting, but to call on him, at the town of
----, and he would converse with me on that subject. I considered it
imprudent to put any more questions to him relative to his speech, on
this occasion, and agreed to meet him at the place he appointed.

  [203] These sixteen farms embraced about 25,000 acres of mountainous
  land, maintained 13,000 sheep, 100 goats, 250 cattle, 50 horses, 20
  draught-oxen, and 60 dogs; 29 shepherds, 26 other servants, and 15
  cotters, making, with their families, 228 souls, supported by my
  ancestor's property, as that of a Scotch gentleman-farmer. On the
  farms mentioned, which lay in Mid-Lothian, Tweed-dale, and
  Selkirkshire, the Gipsies were allowed to remain as long as they
  pleased; and no loss was ever sustained by the indulgence.

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

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

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

  [204] I am convinced the Gipsies have a method of communicating with
  one another by their hands and fingers, and it is likely this man
  tried me, in that way, both at the fair and in his own house. I know a
  man who has seen the Gipsies communicating their thoughts to each
  other in this way.

  "Bargains among the Indians are conducted in the most profound
  silence, and by merely touching each other's hands. If the seller
  takes the whole hand, it implies a thousand rupees or pagodas; five
  fingers import five hundred; one finger, one hundred; half a finger,
  fifty; a single joint only ten. In this manner, they will often, in a
  crowded room, conclude the most important transactions, without the
  company suspecting that anything whatever was doing."--_Historical
  Account of Travels in Asia, by Hugh Murray._

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

I had now no hope of obtaining any information from this man, regarding
his peculiar language. I had scarcely, however, proceeded a hundred
yards down the street, from the house, when I was overtaken by a young
female, who requested me to return, to speak with her father. I
immediately complied. On reaching the door, with the girl, I met one of
the old man's sons, who said that he had overheard what passed between
his father and me, in the house. He assured me that his father _was
ashamed to give me his language_; but that, if I would promise not to
publish their names, or place of residence, he would himself give me
some of their speech, if his father still persevered in his refusal. I
accordingly agreed not to make public the names, and place of residence,
of the family. I again entered the little factory of horn spoons.
Matters were now, to all appearance, quite changed. The old man was very
cheerful, and seemed full of mirth. "Come away," said he; "what is this
you are asking after? I would advise you to go to Mr. Stewart, at
Hawick, and he will tell you everything about our language." "Father,"
said the son, who had resumed his place behind the partition before
mentioned, "you know that Mr. Stewart will give our speech to nobody."
The old chief again hesitated and considered, but, being urged by his
son and myself, he, at last, said, "Come away, then; I will tell you
whatever you think proper to ask me. I gave you my oath, at the fair, to
do so. Get out your paper, pen and ink, and begin." He gave me no other
oath, at the fair, than his word, and taking me by the hand, that he
would converse with me regarding the speech of the Tinklers. But, I
believe, joining hands is considered an oath in some countries of the
Eastern world. I was fully convinced, however, that he was _ashamed to
give me his speech_, and that it was with the greatest reluctance he
spoke one word on the subject. The following are the words and sentences
which I collected from him:[205]

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

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

  _Pagrie_, to break.
  _Humf_, give me.
  _Mar_, to strike.
  _Mang_, to speak.
  _Kair_, house.
  _Drom_, street or road.
  _Vile_, village.
  _Gave_, village.
  _Jaw drom_, take the road, get off quickly.
  _Hatch here_, come here.
  _Bing_, the devil.
  _Bing lee_, devil miss me.
  _Moolie_, death.
  _Moolie_, I'll kill you.
  _Mooled_, murdered.
  _Moolie a gaugie_, kill the man.
  _Powiskie_, gun or pistol.
  _Harro_, sword.
  _Shammel_, sword.
  _Chourie_, knife.
  _Rachlin_, hanged.
  _Sallah_[206], to curse.
  _Klistie_, soldier.
  _Nash_, deserter.
  _Grye-femler_, horse-dealer.
  _Staurdie_, prison.
  _Nak_, nose.
  _Yak_, eye.
  _Yaka_, eyes.
  _Mooie_, mouth.
  _Vast_, hand.
  _Sherro_, head.
  _Femmel_, hand.
  _Lowie_, coin or money.
  _Lowa_, silver.
  _Curdie_, half-penny.
  _Bar_, five shillings.
  _Size_, six.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Greham_, horse.
  _Prancie_, horse.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Jucal_, dog.
  _Routler_, cow.
  _Bakra_, sheep.
  _Matchka_, cat.
  _Bashanie_, cock.
  _Caunie_, hen.
  _Thood_, milk.
  _Molzie_, wine.
  _Bulliment_, loaf of bread.
  _Neddie_, potato.
  _Shaucha_, broth.
  _Mass_, flesh.
  _Habben_, bread.
  _Pauplers_, pottage.
  _Paunie_, water.
  _Paurie_, water.
  _Mumlie_, candle.
  _Blinkie_, candle.
  _Flatrin_, fish.
  _Chizcazin_, cheese.
  _Romanie_, whiskey.
  _Casties_, wood.
  _Filsh_, tree.
  _Lodlie_, quarters.
  _Choar_, to steal.
  _Chor_, a thief.
  _Bumie_, to drink.
  _Jaw vree_, go away.
  _Graunzie_, barn.
  _Graunagie_, barn.
  _Clack_, stone.
  _Yak_, fire.
  _Peerie_, pot.
  _Treepie_, pot-lid.
  _Roy_, spoon.
  _Skew_, platter.
  _Swag_, sack.
  _Ingrims_, pincers.
  _Yog-ingrims_, fire-irons.
  _Sauster_, iron.
  _Mashlam_, brass or metal.
  _Fizam_, grass.
  _Penam_, hay.
  _Geeve_, corn.
  _Greenam_, corn.
  _Beerie_, ship.
  _Outhrie_, window.
  _Nab_, horn.
  _Shucha_, coat.
  _Scaf_, hat.
  _Gogle_, hat.
  _Cockle_, hat.
  _Calshes_, breeches.
  _Teeyakas_, shoes.
  _Olivers_, stockings.
  _Beenship_, good.
  _Baurie_, good.
  _Shan_, bad.
  _Rauge_, mad.
  _Riah_, _Rajah_, chief, governor.
  _Been riah_, the king.
  _Been mort_, the queen.
  _Been gaugie_, gentleman.
  _Been riah_, gentleman.
  _Been mort_, lady.
  _Yagger_, collier.
  _Nawken_,[207] Tinkler, Gipsy.
  _Davies_, day.
  _Rat_, night.
  _Beenship mashlam_, good metal.
  _Beenship-rat_, good-night.
  _Beenlightment_, Sabbath-day.
  _Shan drom_, bad road.
  _Shan davies_, bad day.
  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Managie_, woman.
  _Mort_, wife.
  _Chavo_, son.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Praw_, son.
  _Prawl_, daughter.
  _Nais-gaugie_, grandfather.
  _Nais-mort_, grandmother.
  _Aukaman_, marriage.
  _Carie_, penis.
  _Bight_, pudenda.
  _Sjair_, to ease nature.
  _Jair dah_, a woman's apron.

  [206] _Sallah_, in the Scottish Gipsy speech, properly signifies
  accursed, or detested. It is one of the most abusive expressions that
  can be used towards your fellow creatures. Nothing terrifies a young
  Gipsy so much as to bawl out to him, "_Sallah, jaw drom_," which, in
  plain English, nearly means, "You accursed, take the road."

  It appears that, in Hindostanee, _Salla_ is a word of the highest
  reproach, and that nothing can provoke a Hindoo so much as the
  applying of it to him. When cursing and swearing, by what would appear
  to be the Deity, the Gipsies make use of the word _Sallahen_.

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

I was desirous to learn, from this Gipsy, if there were any traditions
among the Scottish Gipsies, as to their origin, and the country from
which they came. He stated that the language of which he had given me a
specimen was an Ethiopian dialect, used by a tribe of thieves and
robbers; and that the Gipsies were originally from Ethiopia, although
now called Gipsies.[208] He now spoke of himself and his tribe by the
name of Gipsies, without hesitation or alarm. "Our Gipsy language,"
added he, "is softer than your harsh Gaelic." He was at considerable
pains to give me the proper sound of the words. The letter _a_ is
pronounced broad in their language, like _aw_ in paw, or _a_ in water;
and _ie_, or _ee_, in the last syllable of a great many words, are
sounded short and quick; and _ch_ soft, as in church. Their speech
appears to be copious, for, said he, they have a great many words and
expressions for one thing. He further stated that the Gipsy language has
no alphabet, or character, by which it can be learned, or its
grammatical construction ascertained. He never saw any of it written. I
observed to him that it would, in course of time, be lost. He replied,
that "so long as there existed two Gipsies in Scotland, it would never
be lost." He informed me that every one of the Yetholm Tinklers spoke
the language; and that almost all those persons who were selling
earthen-ware at St. Boswell's fair were Gipsies. I counted myself
twenty-four families, with earthen-ware, and nine female heads of
families, selling articles made of horn. These thirty-three families,
together with a great many single Gipsies scattered through the fair,
would amount to above three hundred Gipsies on the spot. He further
mentioned that none of the Yetholm Gipsies were at the market. The old
man also informed me that a great number of our horse-dealers are
Gipsies. "Listen attentively," said he, "to our horse-coupers, in a
market, and you will hear them speaking in the Gipsy tongue." I enquired
how many there were in Scotland acquainted with the language. He
answered, "There are several thousand." I further enquired, if he
thought the Gipsy population would amount to five thousand souls. He
replied he was sure there were fully five thousand of his tribe in
Scotland. It was further stated to me, by this family, that the Gipsies
are at great pains in teaching their children, from their very infancy,
their own language; and that they embrace every opportunity, when by
themselves, of conversing in it, about their ordinary affairs. They also
pride themselves very much in being in possession of a speech peculiar
to themselves--quite unknown to the public.

  [208] The tradition among the Scottish Gipsies of being Ethiopians,
  whatever weight the reader may attach to it, dates as far back, at
  least, as the year 1615; for it is mentioned in the remission under
  the privy seal, granted to William Auchterlony, of Cayrine, for
  resetting John Faa and his followers. _See page 113._--ED.

I then sent for some spirits wherewith to treat the old chief; but I was
cautioned, by one of the family, not to press him to drink much, as,
from his advanced age and infirmities, little did him harm. The
moment you speak to an intelligent Gipsy chief, in a familiar and
kindly manner, putting yourself, as it were, on a level with him, you
find him entirely free from all embarrassment in his manners. He speaks
to you, at once, in a free, independent, confident, emphatic tone,
without any rudeness in his way of addressing you. He never loses his
self-possession. The old chieftain sang part of a Gipsy song, in his own
language, but he would not allow me to write it down.[209] Indeed, by
his manner, he seemed frequently to hesitate whether he would proceed
any further in giving me information, and appeared to regret that he had
gone so far as he had done. I now and then stopped him in his song, and
asked him the meaning of some of the expressions. It was, however,
intermixed with a few English words; perhaps every fifth word was
English. The Gipsy words, _graunzie_ (barn), _caunies_ (chickens),
_molzie_ (wine), _staurdie_ (prison), _mort_ and _chauvies_ (wife and
children), were often repeated. In short, the subject of the song was
that of a Gipsy, lying in chains in prison, lamenting that he could not
support his wife and children by plunder and robbery. The Gipsy was
represented as mourning over his hard fate, deprived of his liberty,
confined in a dungeon, and expressing the happiness and delight which he
had when free, and would have were he lying in a barn, or out-house,
living upon poultry, and drinking wine with his tribe.[210]

  [209] The Scottish Gipsies have doubtless an oral literature, like
  their brethren in other countries. It would be strange indeed if they
  did not rank as high, in that respect, as many of the barbarous tribes
  in the world. People so situated, with no written language, are
  wonderfully apt at picking up, and retaining, any composition that
  contains poetry and music, to which oral literature is chiefly
  confined. In that respect, their faculties, like those of the blind,
  are sharpened by the wants which others do not experience in indulging
  a feeling common to all mankind.

  A striking instance of a people, unacquainted with the art of writing,
  possessing a literature, is said to have been found in Hawaii; and to
  such an extent, as to "possess a force and compass that, at the
  beginning of the study of it, would not have been credited."--ED.

  [210] A song which a female Gipsy sang to Mr. Borrow, at Moscow,
  commenced in this way, "Her head is aching with grief, as if she had
  tasted wine;" and ended thus, "That she may depart in quest of the
  lord of her bosom, and share his joys and pleasures."--ED.

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

Publish their language! Give to the world that which they had kept to
themselves, with so much solicitude, so much tenacity, so much fidelity,
for three hundred and fifty years! A parallel to such a phenomenon
cannot be found within the whole range of history.[211] What will the
Tinklers, the "poor things," as Sir Walter Scott so feelingly called
them--what will they think of me, after the publication of the present

  [211] Smith, in his "Hebrew people," writes: "The Jews had almost
  lost, in the _seventy_ years' captivity, their original language; that
  was now become dead; and they spoke a jargon made up of their own
  language and that of the Chaldeans, and other nations with whom they
  had mingled. Formerly, preachers had only explained subjects; now,
  they were obliged to explain words; words which, in the sacred code,
  were become obsolete, equivocal, dead."--ED.

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

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

A Gipsy informed me that almost all our thimble-riggers, or
"thimble-men," as they are sometimes called, are a superior class of
Gipsies, and converse in the Gipsy language. In the summer of 1836, an
opportunity presented itself to me to verify the truth of this
information. On a by-road, between Edinburgh and Newhaven, I fell in
with a band of these thimble-riggers, employed at their nefarious
occupation. The band consisted of six individuals, all personating
different characters of the community. Some had the appearance of
mercantile clerks, and others represented young farmers, or dealers in
cattle, of inferior appearance. The man in charge of the board and
thimbles looked like a journeyman blacksmith or plumber. They all
pretended to be strangers to each other. Some were betting and playing,
and others looking on, and acting as decoys. None besides themselves
were present, except myself, a young lad, and a respectable-looking
elderly female. I stood and looked at the band for a little; but as
nobody was playing but themselves, the man with the thimbles, to lead me
on, urged me to bet with him, and try my fortune at his board. I said I
did not intend to play, and was only looking at them. I took a steady
look at the faces of each of the six villains; but, whenever their eyes
caught mine, they looked away, or down to the ground, verifying the
saying that a rogue cannot look you in the face. The man at the board
again urged me to play, and, with much vapouring and insolence, took out
a handful of notes, and said he had many hundreds a year; that I was a
poor, shabby fellow, and had no money on me, and, therefore, could not
bet with him. I desired him to let me alone, otherwise I would let them
see I was not to be insulted, and that I knew more about them than they
were aware of. "Who the devil are you, sir, to speak to us in that
manner," was the answer I received. I again replied, that, if they
continued their insolence, I would show them who I was. This only
provoked them the more, and encreased their violent behaviour. High
words then arose, and the female alluded to, thinking I was in danger,
kindly entreated me to leave them. I now thought it time to try what
effect my Gipsy words would produce upon them. In an authoritative tone
of voice, I called out to them, "_Chee, chee!_" which, in the Scottish
Gipsy language, signifies "Hold your tongue," "be silent," or
"silence."[213] The surprised thimble-men were instantly silent. They
spoke not a word, but looked at one another. Only, one of them whispered
to his companions, "He is not to be meddled with." They immediately took
up their board, thimbles and all, and left the place, apparently in
considerable alarm, some taking one direction and some another. The
female in question was also surprised at seeing their insolent conduct
repressed, in a moment, by a single expression. "But, sir," said she,
"what was that you said to them, for they seem afraid?" I was myself
afraid to say another word to them, and took care they did not see me go
to my dwelling-house.[214]

  [213] A lady, who had been seventeen years in India, told me that
  "_Chee_, _chee_" was, in Hindostanee, an expression of reproof,
  corresponding exactly with our "Fie, shame!" "Oh fie, shame!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

On another occasion, I fell in with another band of these vagabond
thimble-men, on the Dalkeith road, near Craigmiller Castle. I asked the
fellow with the thimbles, "Is that _gaugie a nawken_?" pointing to one
of the gang who had just left him. The question, in plain English, was,
"Is that man a Gipsy?" The thimbler flew at once into a great passion,
and bawled out, "Ask himself, sir." He then fell upon me, and a
gentleman who was with me, in most abusive language, applying to us the
most insulting epithets he could think of. It was evident to my friend
that the thimble-man perfectly understood my Gipsy question. So enraged
was he, that we were afraid he would follow us, and do us some harm. My
friend did not consider himself safe till he was in the middle of
Edinburgh, for many a look did he cast behind him, to see whether the
Gipsy was not in pursuit of us.[215]

  [215] There is a Gipsy belonging to one of these bands, known by the
  soubriquet of the "winged duck," from having lost an arm, of whom I
  have often heard our author speak. He is what may be called the
  captain of the company. A description of him, and his way of life, may
  be interesting, inasmuch as it illustrates a class of Scottish Gipsies
  at the present day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Managie_, woman.
  _Chauvies_, children.
  _Riah_, magistrate.
  _Chor_, thief.
  _Yaka_, eyes.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Roys_, spoons.
  _Skews_, platters.
  _Mashlam_, metal.

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

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

  _Yaik_, one.
  _Duie_, two.
  _Trin_, three.
  _Punch_, five.
  _Saus_, six.
  _Luften_, eight.
  _Sonnakie_, gold.
  _Roug_, silver.
  _Vanister_, ring.
  _Rat_, night.
  _Cham_, the moon.
  _Borlan_, the sun.
  _Yak_, fire.
  _Chowrie_, knife.
  _Bar_, stone.
  _Shuha_, coat.
  _Roy_, spoon.
  _Chauvie_, child.
  _Gaugie_, man.
  _Mort and kinshen_, wife and child.
  _Klistie_, soldier.
  _Ruffie lee ma_, devil miss me.
  _Nasher_, deserter.
  _Daw-douglars_, hand-cuffs.
  _Staurdie_, prison.
  _Lodie_, lodgings.
  _Vile_, town.
  _Yak_, eye.
  _Deekers_, eyes.
  _Shir_, head.
  _Test_, head.
  _Nak_, nose.
  _Mooie_, mouth.
  _Meffemel_, hand.
  _Grye_, horse.
  _Aizel_, ass.
  _Dugal_, dog.
  _Bakra_, sheep.
  _Ruffie_, devil.
  _Bing_, devil.
  _Feck_, take.
  _Ruffie feck ma_, devil take me.
  _Nawken_, Tinkler.
  _Baurie-dews, Nawken_, good-day, Tinkler.

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

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

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

"The following is an article to be found in the Vienna Gazette, from a
Captain Szekely, who was thinking of searching for (the origin of) the
Gipsies, and their language, in the East Indies: In the year 1763, on
the 6th of November, a printer, whose name was Stephen Pap Szathmar
Nemethi, came to see me. Talking upon various subjects, we at last fell
upon that of the Gipsies; and my guest related to me the following
anecdote, from the mouth of a preacher of the Reformed Church, Stephen
Vali, at Almasch. When the said Vali studied at the University of
Leyden, he was intimately acquainted with some young Malabars, of whom
three are obliged constantly to study there; nor can they return home
till relieved by three others. Having observed that their native
language bore a great affinity to that spoken by the Gipsies, he availed
himself of the opportunity to note down from themselves upwards of one
thousand words, together with their significations. After Vali was
returned from the University, he informed himself of the Raber Gipsies,
concerning the meaning of his Malabar words, which they explained
without trouble or hesitation."[216]

  [216] "The opinion, that the Gipsies came originally from India, seems
  to have been very early entertained, although it was again soon
  forgotten, or silently relinquished. Hieronymus Foroliviensis, in the
  nineteenth volume of Muratori, says, that on the 7th day of August, A.
  D. 1422, 200 of the Cingari came to his native town, and remained
  there two days, on their way to Rome, and that some of them said that
  they came from India, '_et ut audivi aliqui dicebant quod erant de
  Indiâ_;' and the account which Munster gives of what he gathered from
  one of the Cingari, in 1524, seems to prove that an impression existed
  amongst them of their having come from that country."--_Bright._--ED.

None of the Scottish Gipsy words have as yet, I believe, been collated
with the Hindostanee, the supposed mother tongue of the Gipsies.[217] I
showed my list to a gentleman lately from India, who, at first sight,
pointed out, from among several hundred words and sentences scattered
through these pages, about thirty-nine which very closely resembled
Hindostanee. But in ascertaining the origin of the Gipsies, the
traveller, Dr. Bright, thinks it would be desirable to procure some of
the speech of the lowest classes in India, and compare it with the
Gipsy, as spoken in Europe; for the purpose of showing, more correctly,
the affinity of the two languages. He supposes, as I understand him,
that the terms used by the despised and unlettered Gipsies would
probably resemble more closely the vulgar idiom of the lowest castes in
India, than the Hindostanee spoken by the higher ranks, or that which is
to be found in books. The following facts show that Dr. Bright's
conjectures are not far from the truth.

  [217] Mr. Baird's Missionary Report contained a collation of the
  Scottish Gipsy with Hindostanee, but that appeared considerably after
  what our author has said was written.--ED.

I had occasion at one time to be on board of a vessel lying in the
harbour of Limekilns, Fifeshire, where I observed a black man, acting as
cook, of the name of John Lobbs, about twenty-five years of age, and a
native of Bombay, who could neither read nor write any language
whatever. He stated that he was now a Christian, and had been baptized
by the name of John. He had been absent from India three years, as cabin
boy, in several British vessels, and spoke English well. He appeared to
be of a low caste in his native land, but sharpened by his contact with
Europeans. Recollecting Dr. Bright's hint, it occurred to me that this
Hindoo's vulgar dialect might resemble the language of our Scottish
Gipsies. I repeated to him about one hundred and eighty Gipsy words and
expressions. The greater part were familiar to his ear, but many of them
that meant one thing in Gipsy, had quite a different signification in
his speech. I shall, however, give the following Gipsy words, with the
corresponding words of Lobb's language, and the English opposite.[218]

  [218] Meeting a Bengalee at Peebles, begging money to pay his passage
  back to India, I repeated to him, from memory, a few of the Gipsy
  words I had collected a week before. After listening attentively, he
  answered that it was the Moor's language I had got, and gave me the
  English of _paunie_, water, and _davies_, day. I took the first
  opportunity of mentioning this interview to the Gipsies, observing it
  was the general opinion that their forefathers came from India. They,
  however, persisted in their own tradition, that they were a tribe of
  Ethiopians, which is believed by all the Scottish Gipsies. [See pages
  113 and 315.--ED.]


  _Baurie_, great,
  grand, rich.           _Bura_,              Grand, good, great, rich.
  _Been_, great, grand,
  rich.                  _Beenie_,            Grand, good, great, rich.
  _Callo_,               _Kala_,              Black.
  _Lon_,                 _Loon_,              Salt.
  _Gourie_, a man.       _Gowra_,             White man.
  _Gaugie_, a man.       _Gaugie_, or         Rich man.
  _Mort_, a wife.        _Murgia_,            Dead wife.
  _Chavo_,               _Chokna_,            A boy, a son.
  _Praw_,                _Praw_,              Son.
  _Prawl_,               _Prawl_,             Daughter.
  _Nais-gaugie_, grand-
  father.                _Nais gaugie_,       Old man.
  _Nais-mort_, grand-
  mother.                _Nais mort_,         Old woman.
  _Riah_,                _Riah_,              A chief, a gentleman.
  _Rajah_, a chief,
  governor,              _Rajah_,             A chief, a lord.
  _Raunie_, lady, wife
  of a gentleman.        _Raunie_,            The wife of a prince.
  _Been riah_,           _Beenie riah_,       The king.
  _Been raunie_,         _Beenie raunie_,     The queen.
  _Been gourie_,         _Beenie gourie_,     A gentleman.
  _Bauree rajah_,        _Bura rajah_,        The king.
  _Baurie raunie_,       _Bura raunie_,       The queen.
  _Baurie forest_,       _Bura frost_, _bura  Great town.
  _Baurie paunie_,       _Bura paunie_,       The sea, the great water.
  _Lon paunie_,          _Loon paunie_,       Salt water, the ocean.
  _Grye_,                _Ghora_,             Horse.
  _Prancie_, a horse.    _Prawncie_,          A gentleman's carriage.
  _Gournie_,             _Goroo_,             A cow.
  _Backra_,              _Buckra_,            A sheep.
  _Sherro_,              _Sir_,               Head.
  _Yak_,                 _Aukh_,              Eye.
  _Yaka_,                _Aukha_,             Eyes.
  _Nak_,                 _Nak_,               Nose.
  _Mooie_,               _Mooih_,             Mouth.
  _Chee_,                _Jeebh_,             The tongue.
  _Chee chee_,           _Choopra_,           Hold your tongue.
  _Femmel_, hand.        _Fingal_,            Ends of the fingers.
  _Vast_,                _Wast_,              The hand.
  _Peerie_,              _Peir_,              The foot.
  _Gave_,                _Gaw_,               Village.
  _Kair_,                _Gur_,               A house.
  _Wautheriz_,           _Waudrie_,           A bed.
  _Outhrie_, a window.   _Outrie_, _Durvaja_, A door.
  _Eegees_, bed clothes. _Eegees_,            Bed curtains.
  _Shuch-hamie_,         _Shuamie_,           A waistcoat.
  _Jair-dah_,            _Jairda_,            Woman's apron.
  _Gawd_,                _Dowglaw_,           A man's shirt.
  _Teeyakas_,            _Teeyaka_,           Shoes.
  _Scaf_, a hat.         _Scaf_, a small piece of cloth tied around the
                         head, like a fillet.
  _Skews_,               _Skows_,             Platters, jugs.
  _Chowrie_,             _Choree_,            Knife.
  _Harro_,               _Dhoro_,             Sword.
  _Sauster_, iron.       _Sauspoon_,          Iron pot-lid, iron.
  _Mass_,                _Mass_,              Flesh.
  _Thood_,               _Doodh_,             Milk.
  _Chizcazin_, cheese.   _Chizcaizim_,        Cheese-knife.
  _Blaw_, meal.          _Blaw_,              Indian corn.
  _Flatrin_,             _Flatrin_,           Fish of any kind.
  _Shaucha_, broth       _Shoorwa_,           Soup.
  _Molzie_,              _Mool_,              Wine.
  _Romanie_, whiskey.    _Rominie_,           Spirits, liquor.
  _Mumlie_, a candle.    _Membootie_,         Candles.
  _Fluffan_,             _Floofan_,           Smoking tobacco.
  _Yak_,                 _Ag_,                Fire.
  _Paunie_,              _Paunie_,            Water.
  _Casties_,             _Cashtes_,           Fruit trees.
  _Bar_,                 _Dunbar_,            A stone.
  _Sonnakie_,            _Sona_,              Gold.
  _Roug_,                _Roopa_,             Silver.
  _Chinda_, silver.      _Chindee_,           Silver, tin.
  _Geeve_,               _Guing_,             Wheat.
  _Mang_,                _Chan_, _Jung_,      The moon.
  _Bumie_,               _Boomie_,            To drink.
  _Mar_,                 _Marna_,             To strike.
  _Rauge_,               _Rawd_,              Mad.
  _Choar_,               _Chorna_,            To steal.
  _Chor_,                _Chor_,              Thief.
  _Humff_,               _Huff_,              Give me.
  _Moolie_, death,
  to die, dead.          _Moola_,             Dead.
  _Quad_,                _Quid_,              Prison.
  _Staurdie_, prison.    _Staurdee_,          A prison, to confine, hold.
  _Jaw vree_,            _Jowa_,              Go away.
  _Auvie_,               _Aow_,               Coming, come here.
  _Davies_,              _Din_,               Day.
  _Rat_,                 _Raut_,              Night.
  _Pagrin_,              _Pawgrin_,           To break.
  _Davies-pagrin_,       _Dawis-pawgrin_,     Day-break, the morning.
  _Klistie_, a soldier.  _Kleestie_,          Black soldier, Sepoy.
  _Nash_, deserter.      _Natch_,             To run away.
  _Loudnie_,             _Loonie_,            A bad woman.[219]

  [219] A lady who resided seventeen years in India, already alluded to,
  mentioned to me that the pronunciation of the Hindoos is broad, like
  that of the Scotch, particularly where the letter a occurs; and that
  the Scotch learn Hindostanee sooner, and more correctly, than the
  natives of other countries. For this reason, I am inclined to think
  that the Scottish Gipsy will have a greater resemblance to Hindostanee
  than the Gipsy of some other countries.

My informant understood, he said, two of the dialects of Hindostan, the
one called the Hindoo, and the other the Moors' language. The former, he
said, the English in India generally spoke, but understood little of
the latter; and that he himself did not know a word of the language of
the Brahmins. When he failed to produce, in the Moors' language, the
word corresponding to the Gipsy one, he frequently found it in what he
called the Hindoo speech. The greater part of the Gipsy words, as I have
already mentioned, were familiar to his ear; but many of them that
signified one thing in his speech, meant quite another in Gipsy. For
example, the word _Graunagie_, in Gipsy, signifies a _barn_; with Lobbs,
it meant an _old rich man_. _Coories_, bed clothes or blankets,
signified, in Lobbs' dialect, _ornaments for the ears_. _Dill_, a
servant maid, according to Lobbs, was a _church_. _Shan davies_, a bad
day, was the Hindostanee for _holiday_. _Managie_, a woman, signifies
the _name of a person_, such as John or James. _Chavo_, a son, meant a
_female child_; and _Pooklie_, hulled barley, _anything fine_. The two
Gipsy words _Callo_ and _Rat_ are black and night; but, according to
Lobbs, _Callorat_ is simply anything dark.[220]

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

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

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

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


  _Gaugie_,               _Gadgé_,            Man.
  _Managie_,              _Manishee_,         Woman.
  _Mort_,                                     Wife.
  _Chavo_, (_chauvies_,   _Shavies_,
  children,)              children,           Son.
  _Praw_,                 _Gouré_ a boy,      Son.
  _Prawl_,                _Racklé_, a girl,   Daughter.
  _Riah_,                 _Rai_, a gentleman, A chief.
  _Rajah_,                                    Governor.
  _Baurie_,               _Baré_,             Good.
  _Sherro_,               _Shero_,            Head.
  _Yak_,                  _Yack_,             Eye.
  _Yaka_,                                     Eyes.
  _Nak_,                  _Nak_,              Nose.
  _Mooie_,                _Moi_,              Mouth.
  _Vast_,                 _Vastie_,           Hand.
  _Grye_,                 _Gr[=a][=i]_,       Horse.
  _Bashanie_,             _Basné_,            Cock.
  _Caunie_,               _Kanné_,            Hen.
  _Drom_,                 _Drone_,            Road.
  _Gave_,                 _Gaave_,            Village.
  _Graunagie_,                                Barn.
  _Graunzie_,             _Gransé_,           Barn.
  _Kair_,                 _Keir_,             House.
  _Outhrie_,                                  Window.
  _Yag_,                  _Yag_,              Fire.
  _Thood_,                _Thud_,             Milk.
  _Mass_,                 _Mass_,             Flesh.
  _Peerie_, (or
  _blawkie_,)             _Blakie_,           Pot.
  _Paunie_,               _Pawné_,            Water.
  _Paurie_,                                   Water.
  _Molzie_,               _Mul_,              Wine.
  _Roy_,                  _Roy_,              Spoon.
  _Nab_,                                      Horn.
  _Chorie_,                                   Knife.
  _Chowrie_,              _Chouré_,           Knife.
  _Shuha_,                _Shohé_,            Coat.
  _Scaf_, (or _gogle_,)   _Gogel_,            Hat.
  _Harro_,                                    Sword.
  _Beerie_,                                   Ship.
  _Bumie_,                _Peevan_, drinking, To drink.
  _Choar_,                                    To steal.
  _Chor_,                 _Tschor_,           Thief.
  _Staurdie_,             _Stardé_, a jail,   Prison.
  _Moolie_,               _Moulian_, dying,   Death.
  _Moolie_,               _Moulé_, to kill,   I'll kill you.
  _Bing_,                 _Bing_,             The devil.

The following Scottish Gipsy words appear to have some relation to the


  _Yag_,                  _Agnish_,           Fire.
  _Paurie_,               _Varni_,            Water.
  _Casties_,              _Cashth_,           Wood.
  _Duff_,                 _Dhupah_,           Smoke.
  _Sneepa_,               _Sweta_,            White.
  _Callo_,                _Cala_,             Black.
  _Sherro_,               _Sira_,             The head.
  _Rajah_,                _Rajah_,            Lord.
  _Vast_,                 _Hastah_,           The hand.
  _Praw_,                 _Putra_,            Son.
  _Gave_, or _Gan_,       _Gramam_,           A village.
  _Mar_,                  _Mar_,              To strike.
  _Loudnie_,              _Lodha_, loved,     A whore.

In order to show the relationship of the language of the Gipsies in
Scotland, England, Germany, Hungary, Spain, and Turkey, and the affinity
between it and the Persian, Hindostanee, Sanscrit, Pali, and Kawi, I
append a table containing the first ten numerals in all these tongues:


  ||      || Scottish  |English | German     |Hunga- |Hunga-  |Turkish|
  ||      ||  Gipsy.   | Gipsy. |  Gipsy.    | rian  | rian   | Gipsy.|
  || Eng- ||           |        |            | Gipsy.| Gipsy. |       |
  ||lish. ++-----------+--------+------------+-------+--------+-------+
  ||      ||   W. S.   |HOYLAND.|GRELLMANN.  |BRIGHT.|BORROW. |HOYL'D.|
  ||      ||           |        |            |       |        |       |
  ||One   ||Yaik       |Aick    |Ick, Ek     |Jeg    |Jek     |Yeck   |
  ||Two   ||Duie       |Dooce   |Duj, Doj    |Dui    |Dui     |Duy    |
  ||Three ||Trin       |Trin    |Trin, Tri   |Tri    |Trin    |Trin   |
  ||Four  ||Tor        |{Shtar, |Schtar, Star|Stah   |Schtar  |Shtiar |
  ||      ||           |{Staur  |            |       |        |       |
  ||Five  ||Punch, Fo  |Panji   | {Pantsch,  |Paunch |Pansch  |Panch  |
  ||      ||           |        | {Pansch    |       |        |       |
  ||Six   ||Shaigh     |Shove   |{Tschowe,   |Schof  |Tschov  |Shove  |
  ||      ||           |        |{Schow, Sof |       |        |       |
  ||Seven ||Naivairn   |Heftan  |Efta        |Epta   |Efta    |Efta   |
  ||      ||[221]      |        |            |       |        |       |
  ||Eight ||{Naigh,    |. . .   |Ochto       |Opto   |Ochto   |Okto   |
  ||      ||{Luften    |        |            |       |        |       |
  ||Nine  ||Line       |Henya   |Enja, Eija  |Ennia  |Enija   |Enia   |
  ||Ten   ||Nay        |Desh    |Desch, Des  |Desh   |D[=o]sch|Desh   |

  ||      ||Spanish |Persian.|Vulgar |Sanscrit.|Sanscrit.| Pali. | Kawi. ||
  ||      || Gipsy. |        | Hindo-|         |         |       |       ||
  || Eng- ||        |        |stanee.|         |         |       |       ||
  ||lish. ++--------+--------+-------+---------+---------+-------+-------+|
  ||      ||        |        |LOBBS. |         |         |       |       ||
  ||One   ||Yeque   |Ek      |Yek    |Eka      |Ega      |Ekka   |Eka    ||
  ||Two   ||Dui     |Du      |Doh    |Dui      |Dvaya    |Di     |Dui    ||
  ||Three ||Trin    |Se      |Tin    |Tri      |Treya    |Tri    |Tri    ||
  ||Four  ||Estar   |Chehar  |Char   |Chater   |Tschatvar|Chatwa |Chator ||
  ||      ||        |        |       |         |         |       |       ||
  ||Five  ||Pansche |Pansch  |Paunsh |Pancha   |Pantscha |Pancha |Pancha ||
  ||      ||        |        |       |         |         |       |       ||
  ||Six   ||Job, Zoi|Schesche|Shaiah |Shat     |Schasda  |Cho    |Sat    ||
  ||      ||        |        |       |         |         |       |       ||
  ||Seven ||Hefta   |Heft    |Saut   |Sapta    |Sapta    |Sap    |Sapta  ||
  ||      ||        |        |       |         |         |       |       ||
  ||Eight ||Otor    |Hescht  |Aut    |Ashta    |Aschta   |At-tha |Asta   ||
  ||      ||        |        |       |         |         |       |       ||
  ||Nine  ||Esnia   |Nu      |Nong   |Nava     |Nava     |Nowa   |Nawa   ||
  ||Ten   ||Deque   |De      |Dest   |Dasa     |Dascha   |Thotsa |Dasa   ||

  [221] The four last of these numerals, in the Scottish Gipsy language,
  differ very considerably from the corresponding ones in the Table. I
  leave the matter to be settled by philologists.

That the Gipsy language, in Scotland, is intermixed with cant, or slang,
and other words, is certain, as will appear by the specimens I have
exhibited.[222] I am inclined to believe, however, that were the cant
and slang used by our flash men and others carefully examined, much of
it would turn out to be corrupted Hindostanee, picked up from the
Gipsies. I have, after considerable trouble, produced, and, I may
venture to say, faithfully recorded, the raw materials as I found them:
to separate the other words from the original and genuine Gipsy, is a
task I leave to the learned philologist. I shall only observe, that the
way in which the Gipsy language has been corrupted is this: That
whenever the Gipsies find words not understood by the people among whom
they travel, they commit such to memory, and use them in their
conversation, for the purpose of concealment. In the Lowlands of
Scotland, for example, they make use of Gaelic,[223] Welsh, Irish, and
French words. These picked-up words and terms have, in the end, become
part of their own peculiar tongue; yet some of the Gipsies are able to
point out a number of these foreign words, as distinguished from their
own. In this manner do the Gipsies carry along with them part of the
language of every country through which they pass.[224]

  [222] It is remarkable, considering how much the habits and
  occupations of the Gipsies bring them in contact with beggars,
  thieves, and other bad and disorderly characters, how few of the slang
  words used by such persons have been adopted by them.--_Rev. Mr.
  Baird's Missionary Report to the Scottish Church, 1840._--ED.

  [223] Of the Highland Gipsies, I had the following account from a
  person of observation, and highly worthy of credit: There are many
  settled in Kintyre, who travel through the Highlands and Lowlands
  annually. They certainly speak, among themselves, a language totally
  distinct from either Gaelic or Lowland Scotch.--_Blackwood's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Every author who has written on the subject of the Gipsies has, I
believe, represented them as all having remarkably dark hair, black
eyes, and swarthy complexions. This notion has been carried to such an
extent, that Hume, on the criminal laws of Scotland, thinks the black
eyes should make part of the evidence in proving an individual to be of
the Gipsy race. The Gipsies, in Scotland, of the last century, were of
all complexions, varying from light flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and
corresponding complexions, to hair of raven black, dark eyes, and
swarthy countenances. Many of them had deep-red and light-yellow hair,
with very fair complexions. I am convinced that one-half of the Gipsies
in Scotland, at the present day, have blue eyes, instead of black ones.
According to the statistical account of the parish of Borthwick,
Mid-Lothian, (1839,) the Baillies, Wilsons, and Taits, at Middleton, the
descendants of the old Tweed-dale Gipsies, are described as, "in
general, of a colour rather cadaverous, or of a darkish pale; their
cheek-bones high; their eyes small, and light coloured; their hair of a
dingy white or red colour, and wiry; and their skin, drier and of a
tougher texture than that of the people of this country." This question
of colour has been illustrated in my enquiry into the history of the
Gipsy language; for the language is the only satisfactory thing by which
to test a Gipsy, let his colour be what it may.

In other countries, besides Scotland, the Gipsies are not all of one
uniform swarthy hue. A Russian gentleman stated to me that many of the
Gipsies in Finland have light hair, and fair complexions. I am also
informed there are Gipsies in Arabia with fair hair.

Among many other mal-practices, the Gipsies have, in all countries, been
accused of stealing children; but what became of these kidnapped
infants, no one appears to have given any account, that I am aware of.
To satisfy myself on this trait of their character, I enquired of a
Gipsy the reasons which induced his tribe to steal children. He candidly
acknowledged the practice, and said that the stolen children were
adopted as members of the tribe, and instructed in the language, and all
the mysteries of the body. They became, he said, equally hardy, clever,
and expert in all the practices of the fraternity. The male Gipsies were
very fond of marrying the stolen females. Some of the kidnapped children
were made servants, or, rather, a sort of slaves, to the tribe. They
considered that the occasional introduction of another race into their
own, and mixing the Gipsy blood, in that manner, invigorated and
strengthened their race. In this manner would the Gipsies alter the
complexion of their race, by the introduction of foreign blood among

  [225] An objection is perhaps started, that these incorporated
  individuals are not Gipsies. They have been brought into the body at
  such an age as to leave no trace of past recollections, leaving alone
  past associations. There was no occasion for such children being
  either "squalling infants," or of such an age as was likely to lead
  them to "betray the Gipsies," as Mr. Borrow supposes would be the
  case, when he says that Gipsies have never stolen children, to bring
  them up as Gipsies. How are they to discover their origin, when so
  many of the body around them have the same colour of hair and
  complexion? If the idea has ever entered into their imaginations, it
  has led to a greater antipathy towards their own race, and attachment
  to the tribe, from the special education which they have received to
  those ends. So far as the matter of blood is concerned, they are not
  what may be physiologically called Gipsies; and, by being married to
  Gipsies, they become doubly attached to the body. What has been said
  of children introduced among the Gipsies, in the way described,
  applies with infinitely greater force to those born of one of such

  Suppose, for instance, that the Spanish race was originally of an
  exclusively _dark_ hair and complexion: should we therefore say that a
  _fair_ Spaniard, at the present day, was no Spaniard? Or that the
  Turks of Constantinople, on account of the mixture of their blood,
  were not Turks? In the same manner are Gipsies with white blood in
  their veins Gipsies. They may be half-breed, but it would be improper
  to call them half-caste, Gipsies. But what are full-blood Gipsies, to
  commence with? The idea itself is intangible; for, by adopting, more
  or less, wherever they have been, others into their body, during their
  singular history, a pure Gipsy, like the pure Gipsy language, is
  doubtless nowhere to be found.

  An English Gipsy acquaintance, of perfect European appearance, who,
  for love of race and language, may be termed "a Gipsy of the Gipsies,"
  admitted that he was only one-eighth Gipsy; his father, a full-blood
  white, having married a quadroon Gipsy. He spoke Gipsy with great
  fluency. He married a seven-eighths Gipsy. Were his descendants to
  marry what are supposed to be pure Gipsies, the result would be as
  follows: the first generation, (his children,) would be one-half
  Gipsy; the second, three-fourths; the third, seven-eighths; the
  fourth, fifteen-sixteenths; the fifth, thirty-one thirty-seconds; and
  the sixth, sixty-three sixty-fourths. If this were to go on _ad
  infinitum_, the issue would always lack the one part to make the full
  blood. But the Gipsies do not calculate their vulgar fractions so
  closely as that; the division of the blood doubtless bothers them, so
  that they "lump" the question. What has been said, is breeding _up_.
  Sometimes they breed _down_, and sometimes _across_. Mixing the blood,
  in this way, is quite a peculiarity among the English Gipsies. I asked
  my friend, if he was sure his wife was a pure Gipsy. He said she was
  considered such, (I have put her down at seven-eighths,) but that one
  of her forefathers was a fair-haired French Gipsy. According to a
  well-admitted principle in physiology, a fair-haired Gipsy, of almost
  full blood, is by no means so _rara avis in terris_ as a white crow.
  Some of the children of my acquaintance took after himself, and had
  blue eyes; and others after the mother, and had black ones. But the
  English Gipsies, (the tented ones at least,) are much purer, in point
  of blood, than their brethren in Scotland. Many of the Irish Gipsies
  have very red hair--fiery and shaggy in the extreme. Indeed, they seem
  to be pretty much all of a fairish kind.--ED.

Before going into details to show the condition in which the Gipsies are
at the present day, I will consider, shortly, the causes which have
contributed to the change that has come over their outward
circumstances, and driven so many of them, as it were, "to cover," in
consequence of the unfortunate times on which they had fallen; a state
of things which, however unfortunate to them, in their peculiar way of
thinking, has been of so much benefit to civilization, and society at

About the commencement of the American war of independence, in 1775, the
Gipsies, in Scotland, occupied a very singular position in society.
Instead of being the proscribed, and, as they thought, persecuted,
members of the community, many of them then became the _preservers_ of
the peace and good order of the country. The country, as appears by the
periodical publications of the day, was, about this time, greatly
pestered by rogues and vagabonds. The Gipsies had art enough to get a
number of their chiefs appointed constables, peace-officers, and
_country-keepers_, in several counties in Scotland. These public
officers were to clear the country of all idle vagrants, vagabonds, and
disturbers of the peace. This was, sure enough, a very extraordinary
employment for the Gipsies. The situation of country-keeper was, of all
others, the office in society the most completely to their liking. It
gave them authority over every rogue in the country, and they certainly
followed out their instructions to the very letter. They hunted down,
with the utmost vigilance, every delinquent who was not of their tribe;
but, on the other hand, they took especial care to protect every
individual of their own fraternity, excepting those that were obnoxious
to themselves. When it agreed with their inclinations, these Gipsy
country-keepers sometimes caused stolen property to be returned to the
owners, as if it had been done by magic. It is needless to observe that
they were themselves the very chiefs of the depredators, but had
generally the dexterity never to be seen in the transactions.[226]

  [226] The following extract from the Fife Herald, for the 18th June,
  1829, will give the reader an idea of a Scotch "country-keeper," at
  the time alluded to: "A Gipsy chief, of the name of Pat Gillespie, was
  keeper for the county of Fife. He rode on horse-back, armed with a
  sword and pistols attended by four men, on foot, carrying staves and
  batons. He appears to have been a sort of travelling justice of the
  peace. The practice seems to have been general. About the commencement
  of the late French war, a man, of the name of Robert Scott, (Rob the
  Laird,) was keeper for the counties of Peebles, Selkirk, and

A Gipsy country-keeper was at the height of his vanity and glory, when
he got an unfortunate individual of the community into his clutches. In
the presence of his captive, he would draw his sword, flourish it in the
air, and swear a terrible oath, that he would, at a blow, cut the head
from his body, if he made the least attempt at escape.

The public services of the Gipsies were in a short time discontinued, as
their conduct only made matters a great deal worse. A friend of
mine[227] saw those Gipsy constables, for Peebles-shire, sworn into
office, at the town of Peebles, when they were first appointed. He said
he never saw such a set of gloomy, strange-looking fellows, in his life;
and expressed his surprise at the conduct of the county magistrates, for
employing such banditti as conservators of the public peace. The most
extraordinary circumstance attending their appointment, he said, was,
that not one of them had a permanent residence within the county.

  [227] The late Mr. Charles Alexander, tenant of Happrew.

During the American war, however, the tide of fortune again completely
turned against the Gipsies. The Government was in need of soldiers and
sailors; the Gipsies were a proscribed race; their peculiar habits were
continually involving them in serious scrapes and difficulties; the
consequence was, that the Tinklers were apprehended all over the
country, and forced into our fleets and armies then serving in America.
All the aged persons of intelligence with whom I have conversed on this
subject, agree in representing that the kidnapping system at that period
was the means of greatly breaking up and dispersing the Gipsy bands in
Scotland. From this blow these unruly vagrants have never recovered
their former position in the country.[228]

  [228] We may very readily believe that almost all of the Gipsies would
  desert the army, on landing in America, and marry Gipsy women in the
  colonies, or bring others out from home, or marry with common natives,
  or return home. Indeed, native-born American Gipsies say that many of
  the British Gipsies voluntarily accepted the bounty, and a passage to
  the colonies, during the war of the Revolution, and deserted the army
  on landing. This would lead to a migration of the tribe generally to

The war in America had been concluded only a few years before that with
France broke out. Our army and navy were, of necessity, again augmented
to an extent beyond precedent. It was not difficult to find pretences
for renewing the chase of the Gipsies, and apprehending them, under the
name of vagrants and disorderly persons. They were again compelled to
enlist into our regiments, and embark on board our ships of war, as
sailors and marines. An individual stated to me that, about the
commencement of this war, he had seen English Gipsies sent, in scores at
a time, on board of men-of-war, in the Downs.

But, rather than be forced into a service so much against their
inclinations, numerous instances occurred of Gipsies voluntarily
mutilating themselves. In the very custody of press-gangs, and other
hardened kidnappers, the determined Gipsies have, with hatchets, razors,
and other sharp instruments, struck from their hands a thumb, or finger
or two, to render them unfit for a military life. Several instances have
come to my knowledge of these resolute acts of the Scottish Gipsies. I
have myself seen several of the tribe without fingers; and, on enquiry,
I found that they themselves had struck them from their hands, in
consequence of their aversion to become soldiers and sailors. One man,
of the name of Graham, during the last war, laid his hand upon a block
of wood, and, in a twinkling, struck, with a hatchet, his thumb from one
of his hands. Another, of the name of Gordon, struck two of his fingers
from one of his hands with a razor. Such, indeed, was the aversion
which the whole Gipsy race had to a military life, that even mothers
sometimes mutilated their infants, by cutting off certain fingers, to
render them, when they became men, entirely incapable of serving in
either the army or navy.[229]

  [229] "When Paris was garrisoned by the allied troops, in the year
  1815, I was walking with a British officer, near a post held by the
  Prussian troops. He happened, at the time, to smoke a cigar, and was
  about, while passing the sentinel, to take it out of his mouth, in
  compliance with a general regulation to that effect; when, greatly to
  the astonishment of the passengers, the soldier addressed him in these
  words; 'Rauchen Sie immer fort; verdamt sey der Preussische Dienst;'
  that is: 'Smoke away; may the Prussian service be d----d.' Upon
  looking closer at the man, he seemed plainly to be a _Zigeuner_, or
  Gipsy, who took this method of expressing his detestation of the duty
  imposed on him. When the risk he ran, by doing so, is considered, it
  will be found to argue a deep degree of dislike which could make him
  commit himself so unwarily. If he had been overheard by a sergeant or
  corporal, the _prugel_ would have been the slightest instrument of
  punishment employed."--_Sir Walter Scott: Note to Quentin Durward._

  Mutilation was also very common among the English Gipsies, during the
  French war. Strange as it may appear, the same took place among them,
  at the commencement of the late Russian war; from which we may
  conclude, that they had suffered severely during the previous war, or
  they would not have resorted to so extreme a measure for escaping
  military duty, when a press-gang was not even thought of. An English
  Gipsy, at the latter time, laid two of his fingers on a block of wood,
  and, handing his broom-knife to his neighbour, said, "Now, take off
  these fingers, or I'll take off your head with this other hand!"

  During the French war, Gipsies again and again accepted the bounty for
  recruits, but took "French leave" of the service. The idea is finely
  illustrated in Burns' "Jolly Beggars:"

    "TUNE--_Clout the caudron_.

    "My bonny lass, I work in brass,
      A Tinkler is my station:
    I've travell'd round all Christian ground,
      In this my occupation.
    I've ta'en the gold, an' been enroll'd
      In many a noble squadron:
    But vain they searched when off I march'd
      To go and clout the caudron."

  Poosie Nancie and her reputed daughter, Racer Jess, were very probably
  Gipsies, who kept a poor "Tinkler Howff" at Mauchline.

  Gipsies sometimes voluntarily join the navy, as musicians. Here their
  vanity will have a field for conspicuous display; for a good fifer, on
  board of a man-of-war, in accompanying certain work with his music, is
  equal to the services of ten men. There were some Gipsy musicians in
  the fleet at Sebastopol. But, generally speaking, Gipsies are like
  cats--not very fond of the water.--ED.

Such causes as these, taken in connection with the improved internal
administration of the country, and the progression of the age, have cast
a complexion over the outward aspect of the bulk of the Scottish Gipsy
race, entirely different from what it was before they came into

Many of the Gipsies now keep shops of earthen-ware, china, and crystal.
Some of them, I am informed on the best authority, have from one to
eight thousand pounds invested in this line of business.[230] I am
disposed to think that few of these shops were established prior to the
commencement of the French war; as I find that several of their owners
travelled the country in their early years. Perhaps the fear of being
apprehended as vagrants, and compelled to enter the army or navy, forced
some of the better sort to settle in towns.[231] Like their tribe in
other countries, numbers of our Scottish Gipsies deal in horses; others
keep public-houses; and some of them, as innkeepers, will, in heritable
and moveable property, possess, perhaps, two or three thousand pounds.
These innkeepers and stone-ware merchants are scarcely to be
distinguished as Gipsies; yet they all retain the language, and converse
in it, among themselves. The females, as is their custom, are
particularly active in managing the affairs of their respective

  [230] Mr. Borrow mentions having observed, at a fair in Spain, a
  family of Gipsies, richly dressed, after the fashion of their nation.
  They had come a distance of upwards of a hundred leagues. Some
  merchants, to whom he was recommended, informed him, that they had a
  credit on their house, to the amount of twenty thousand dollars.--ED.

  [231] In his enquiry into the present condition of the Gipsies, our
  author has apparently confined his remarks exclusively to the body in
  its present wandering state, and such part of it as left the tent
  subsequently to the commencement of the French war. In the
  Disquisition on the Gipsies, the subject will be fully reviewed, from
  the date of arrival of the race in the country.--ED.

Many of them have betaken themselves to some of the regular occupations
of the country, such as coopers, shoemakers, and plumbers; some are
masons--an occupation to which they seem to have a partiality. Some of
them are members of masons' lodges. There are many of them itinerant
bell-hangers, and umbrella-menders. Among them there are tin-smiths,
braziers, and cutlers, in great numbers; and the tribe also furnish a
proportion of chimney-sweeps. I recollect of a Gipsy, who travelled the
country, selling earthen-ware, becoming, in the end, a master-sweep.
Several were, and I believe are, constables; and I am inclined to think
that the police establishments, in large as well as small towns, contain
some of the fraternity.[232] Individuals of the female Gipsies are
employed as servants, in the families of respectable persons, in town
and country. Some of them have been ladies' maids, and even
house-keepers to clergymen and farmers.[233] I heard of one, in a very
respectable family, who was constantly boasting of her ancient and high
descent; her father being a Baillie, and her mother a Faa--the two
principal families in Scotland. Some of those persons who sell
gingerbread at fairs, or what the country-people call _rowly-powly-men_,
are also of the Gipsy race. Almost all these individuals hawking
earthen-ware through the country, with carts, and a large proportion of
those hawking japan and white-iron goods, are Gipsies.

  [232] This is quite common. An English mixed Gipsy spontaneously
  informed me that he had been a constable In L----, and that he had a
  cousin who was lately a _runner_ in the police establishment of M----.
  Among other motives for the Gipsies joining the police is the
  following: that such is their dislike for the people among whom they
  live, owing to the prejudice which is entertained against them, that
  nothing gives them greater satisfaction than being the instruments of
  affronting and punishing their hereditary enemies. Besides this, the
  lounging and idle kind of life, coupled with the activity, of a
  constable, is pretty much to their natural disposition. An intelligent
  mixed Gipsy is calculated to make a first-rate constable and
  thief-catcher. Of course, he will not be very hard on those of his own
  race who come in his way.--ED.

  [233] Our author frequently spoke of a dissenting Scottish clergyman
  having been married to a Gipsy, but was not aware, as far as I know,
  of the circumstances under which the marriage took place. The
  clergyman was not, in all probability, aware that he was taking a
  Gipsy to his bosom; and as little did the public generally; but it was
  well known to the initiated that both her father and mother had cut
  and divided many a purse. The unquestionable character and standing of
  the father, and the prudent conduct of the mother, protected the
  children. One of the daughters married another dissenting clergyman,
  which fairly disarmed those not of the Gipsy race of any prejudice
  towards the grand-children. The issue of these marriages would pass
  into Gipsydom, as explained in the Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

Some of the itinerant venders of inferior sorts of jewelry, part of
which they also manufacture, and carry about in boxes on their
shoulders, are of the tribe; and some of them even carry these articles
in small, handsome, light-made carts. I had frequently observed, in my
neighbourhood, a very smart-looking and well-dressed man, who, with his
wife and family, and a servant to take care of his children, travelled
the country, in a neat, light cart, selling jewelry. All the family were
well dressed. I was curious to know the origin of this man, and, upon
enquiring of one of the tribe, but of a different clan, I found that he
was a Gipsy, of the name of Robertson, descended from the old _horners_
who traversed the kingdom, about half a century ago. He still retained
the speech, peculiar dance, and manner of handling the cudgel, the
practices and roguish tricks of his ancestors. I believe he also
practised chain-dropping. To show the line of life which some of the
descendants of the old style of Gipsies are now pursuing, in Scotland, I
will give the following anecdote, which I witnessed, relative to this
Gipsy jeweller.

I happened to be conversing, about twenty years ago, with four or five
individuals, on a public quay in Fifeshire, when a smart, well-dressed
sailor, apparently of the rank of a mate, obtruded himself on our
company. He said he was "a sailor, and had spent all his money in a
frolic, as many thoughtless sailors had done;" and, pulling out a watch,
he continued, "he would give his gold watch for a mere trifle, to supply
his immediate wants." One of the company at once thought he was an
impostor, and told him his watch was not gold at all, and worth very
little money. "Not worth much money!" he exclaimed; "why, I paid not
less than ten francs for it, in France, the other day!" At this
assertion, all present burst out a laughing at the impostor's ignorance
in exposing his own trick. "Why, friend," said a ship-master, who was
one of the company, "a franc is only worth tenpence; so you have paid
just eight and fourpence for this valuable watch of yours. Do not
attempt to cheat us in this manner." At finding himself so completely
exposed, the villain became furious, and stepping close up to the
ship-master, with abusive language, _chucked_ him under the chin, to
provoke him to fight. I at once perceived that the feigned sailor was a
professional boxer and cudgelist, and entreated the ship-master not to
touch him, notwithstanding his insolence. The "sailor," now disappointed
on all hands, brandished his bludgeon, and retreated backwards, dancing
in the Gipsy manner, and twirling his weapon before him, till he got his
back to a wall. Here he set all at defiance, with a design that some
one should strike at him, that he might avenge the affront he had
received. But he was allowed to go away without interruption. This man
was, in short, Robertson, the Gipsy travelling jeweller, disguised as a
sailor, and a well-known prize-fighter.

Almost all those cheats called thimble-riggers, who infest
thoroughfares, highways and byways, are also Gipsies, of a superior
class. I have tried them by the language, and found they understood it,
as has been seen in my account of the Gipsy language.

I need scarcely say, that all those females who travel the country in
families, selling articles made from horn, while the males practise the
mysteries of the tinker, are that portion of the Gipsies who adhere more
strictly to their ancient customs and manner of life. Some of the
principal families of these nomadic horner bands have yet districts on
which none others of the tribe dare encroach. This division of the
Gipsies are, by superficial observers, considered the only Gipsies in
existence in Scotland; which is a great mistake. The author of Guy
Mannering, himself, seems to have had this class of Gipsies, only, in
view, when he says, "There are not now above five hundred of the tribe
in Scotland." Those who deal in earthen-ware, and work at the tinsmith
business, call these horners Gipsies; and nothing can give greater
offence to these Gipsy potters and smiths than to ask them if they ever
_made horn spoons_; for, by asking them this question, you indirectly
call them Gipsies, an appellation that alarms them exceedingly.[234]

  [234] It is only within these forty years that spoon-making from horn
  became a regular trade. It would seem the Gipsies had a monopoly of
  the business; for I am informed that the first man in Scotland who
  served a regular apprenticeship to it was alive, in Glasgow, in 1836.
  [There is nothing in this remark to imply that the manufacturing of
  spoons, and other articles, from horn, may not be monopolized by the
  Gipsies yet, whatever the way in which it may be carried on.--ED.]

Since the termination of the long-protracted French war, the Gipsies
have, to some extent, resumed their ancient manners; and many of them
are to be seen encamped in the open fields. There are six tents to be
observed at present, for one during the war. To substantiate what I have
said of the numbers and manners of the nomadic Gipsies since the peace,
I will give the two following paragraphs, taken from the Caledonian
Mercury newspaper:

"_Tinklers and vagabonds_: The country has been much infested, of late
years, by wandering hordes of vagabonds, who, under pretence of
following the serviceable calling of tinkers, assume the name and
appearance of such, merely to extort contributions of victuals, and
other articles of value, from the country-people, particularly in lonely
districts. The evil has encreased rapidly of late, and calls loudly for
redress upon those in whose charge the police of the country districts
is placed. They generally travel in bands, varying in number from ten to
thirty; and wherever they pitch their camp, the neighbours are certain
of suffering loss of cattle or poultry, unless they submit to pay a
species of black-mail, to save themselves from heavier and more
irregular contributions. These bands possess all the vices peculiar to
the regular Gipsies, without any of the extenuating qualities which
distinguish these foreign tribes. Unlike the latter, they do not settle
in one place sufficiently long to attach themselves to the soil, or to
particular families; and seem possessed of no industrious habits, but
those of plunder, knavery, and riot. The chief headquarters of the
hordes are at the caves of Auchmithie, on the east coast of Forfarshire;
from which, to the wilds of Argyleshire, seems to be the usual route of
their bands; small detachments being sent off, at intermediate places,
to extend the scene of their plunder. Their numbers have been calculated
by one who lives on the direct line of their passage, through the braes
of Perthshire, and who has had frequent opportunities for observation;
and he estimates them at several hundred."--_22d August, 1829._

"A horde of Gipsies and vagabonds encamped, last week, in a quarry, on
the back of the hill opposite Cherry-bank. Their number amounted to
about thirty. The inhabitants in that quarter became alarmed; and
Provost Ross, whose mansion is in the vicinity of the new settlers,
ordered out a strong posse of officers from Perth, to dislodge them;
which they effected. The country is now kept in continual terror by
these vagabonds, and it will really be imperative on the landed
proprietors to adopt some decided measure for the suppression of this
growing evil."--_3d October, 1829._[235]

  [235] From the numerous enquiries I have made, I am fully satisfied
  that the greater part of the vagrants mentioned in these notices are
  Gipsies; at least most of them speak the Gipsy language. [It matters
  not whether the people mentioned are wholly or only partly of Gipsy
  blood; it is sufficient if they have been reared as Gipsies. There are
  enough of the tribe in the country to follow the kind of life
  mentioned, to the extent the people can afford to submit to, without
  having their prerogatives infringed upon by ordinary natives. Where
  will we find any of the latter, who would betake themselves to the
  tent, and follow such a mode of life? Besides, the Gipsies, with their
  organization, would not tolerate it; and far less would they allow any
  common natives, of the lowest class, to travel in their

A gentleman informed me that, in the same year, he counted, in
Aberdeenshire, thirty-five men, women, and children, in one band, with
six asses and two carts, for carrying their luggage and articles of
merchandise. Another individual stated to me, that upwards of three
hundred of the Gipsies attended the funeral of one of their old females,
who died near the bridge of Earn. So late as 1841, the sheriff of East
Lothian addressed a representation to the justices of the peace of
Mid-Lothian, recommending a new law for the suppression of the numerous
Gipsy tents in the Lothians. I have, myself, during a walk of two hours,
counted, in Edinburgh and its suburbs, upwards of fifty of these
vagrants, strolling about.[236]

  [236] Owing to such causes as these, many of the Gipsies have been
  again driven into their holes. It is amusing to notice the tricks
  which some of them resort to, in evading the letter of the Vagrant
  Act. They generally encamp on the borders of two counties, which they
  will cross--passing over into the other--to avoid being taken up: for
  county officers have no jurisdiction over them, beyond the boundaries
  of their respective shires.--ED.

When I visited St. Boswell's, I felt convinced, as mentioned in the last
chapter, that there were upwards of three hundred Gipsies in the fair
held at that place. Part of them formed their carts, laden with
earthen-ware, into two lines, leaving a space between them, like a
street. In the rear of the carts were a few small tents, in which were
Gipsies, sleeping in the midst of the noise and bustle of the market;
and numbers of children, horses, asses, and dogs, hanging around them.
There were also kettles, suspended from triangles, in which victuals
were cooking; and many of the Gipsies enjoyed a warm meal, while others
at the market had to content themselves with a cold repast. In the midst
of the throng of this large and crowded fair, I noticed, without the
least discomposure on their part, some of the male Gipsies changing
their dirty, greasy-looking shirts for clean ones, leaving no covering
on their tawny persons, but their breeches; and some of the old females,
with bare shoulders and breasts, combing their dark locks, like black
horses' tails, mixed with grey. "Ae whow! look at that," exclaimed a
countryman to his companion; and, without waiting for his friend's
reply, he gravely added: "Everything after its kind." The Gipsies were,
in short, dressing themselves for the fair, in the midst of the crowd,
regardless of everything passing around them.

On my return from the English Border, I passed over the field where the
fair had been held, two days before, and found, to my surprise, the
Gipsies occupying their original encampment. They, alone, were in
possession of St. Boswell's Green. I counted twenty-four carts, thirty
horses, twenty asses, and about thirty dogs; and I thought there were
upwards of a hundred men, women, and children, on the spot. The
horses were, in general, complete rosinantes--as lean, worn-out,
wretched-looking animals, as possibly could be imagined. The field
trampled almost to mortar, by the multitude of horses, cattle, and
sheep, and human beings, at the fair; the lean, jaded and lame horses,
braying asses, and surly-looking dogs; the groups of miserable
furniture, ragged children, and gloomy-looking parents; a fire, here and
there, smoking before as many miserable tents--when contrasted with the
gaily-dressed multitude, of both sexes, on the spot, two days
before--presented a scene unequalled for its wretched, squalid and
desolate appearance. Any one desirous of viewing an Asiatic encampment,
in Scotland, should visit St. Boswell's Green, a day or two after the

  [237] St. Boswell's fair "is the resort of many salesmen of goods,
  and, in particular, of _tinkers_. Bands of these very peculiar people,
  the direct descendants of the original Gipsies, who so much annoyed
  the country in the fifteenth century, haunt the fair, for the disposal
  of earthen-ware, horn spoons, and tin culinary utensils. They possess,
  in general, horses and carts, and they form their temporary camp by
  each _whomling_ his cart upside down, and forming a lodgement with
  straw and bedding beneath. Cooking is performed outside the
  _craal_, in Gipsy fashion. There could not, perhaps, be witnessed,
  at the present day, in Britain, a more amusing and interesting
  scene, illustrative of a rude period, than is here annually
  exhibited."--_Chambers' Gazetteer of Scotland._ [This writer is in
  error as to the Gipsies annoying the country in the _fifteenth_
  century: that occurred during the three following centuries.--ED.]

The following may be said to be about the condition in which the present
race of Scottish _tinkering_ Gipsies are to be found: I visited, at one
time, a horde of Gipsy tinsmiths, bivouacked by the side of a small
streamlet, about half a mile from the town of Inverkeithing. It
consisted of three married couples, the heads of as many families, one
grown-up, unmarried female, and six half-clad children below six years
of age. Including the more grown-up members, scattered about in the
neighbourhood, begging victuals, there must have been above twenty souls
belonging to this band. The tinsmiths had two horses and one ass, for
carrying their luggage, and several dogs. They remained, during three
cold and frosty nights, encamped in the open fields, with no tents or
covering, for twenty individuals, but two pairs of old blankets.[238]
Some of the youngest children, however, were pretty comfortably lodged
at night. The band had several boxes, or rather old chests, each about
four feet long, two broad, and two deep, in which they carried their
white-iron plates, working tools, and some of their infants, on the
backs of their horses. In these chests the children passed the night,
the lids being raised a little, to prevent suffocation. The stock of
working tools, for each family, consisted of two or three files, as many
small hammers, a pair of bellows, a wooden mallet, a pair of pincers, a
pair of large shears, a crucible, a soldering-iron or two, and a small
anvil, of a long shape, which was stuck into the ground.

  [238] The Gipsies' supreme luxury is to lie, day and night, so near
  the fire as to be in danger of burning. At the same time, they can
  bear to travel in the severest cold, bare-headed, with no other
  covering than a torn shirt, or some old rags carelessly thrown over
  them, without fear of catching cold, cough, or any other disorder.
  They are a people blessed with an iron constitution. Neither wet nor
  dry weather, heat nor cold, let the extremes follow each other ever so
  close, seems to have any effect upon them.--_Grellmann on the
  Hungarian Gipsies._

  Their power of resisting cold is truly wonderful, as it is not
  uncommon to find them encamped, in the midst of the snow, in light
  canvas tents, when the temperature is 25 or 30 degrees below freezing
  point, according to Raumer.--_Borrow on the Russian Gipsies._

  It is no uncommon thing to see a poor Scottish Gipsy wrap himself and
  wife in a thin, torn blanket, and pass the night, in the cold of
  December, in the open air, by the wayside. On rising up in the
  morning, they will shake themselves in their rags, as birds of prey,
  in coming off their perch, do their feathers; make for the nearest
  public-house, with, perhaps, their last copper, for a gill; and, like
  the ravens, go in search of a breakfast, wherever and whenever
  Providence may send it to them.--ED.

The females as well as the males of this horde of Gipsies were busily
employed in manufacturing white-iron into household utensils, and the
clink of their hammers was heard from daybreak till dark.[239] The
males formed the plates into the shapes of the different utensils
required, and the females soldered and otherwise completed them, while
the younger branches of the families presented them for sale in the
neighbourhood. The breakfast of the band consisted of potatoes and
herrings, which the females and children had collected in the immediate
neighbourhood by begging. I noticed that each family ate their meals by
themselves, wrought at their calling by themselves, and sold their goods
for themselves. The name of the chief of the gang was Williamson, who
said he travelled in the counties of Fife and Perth. When I turned to
leave them, they heaped upon me the most fulsome praises, and so loud,
that I might distinctly hear them, exactly in the manner as those in
Spain, mentioned by Dr. Bright.

  [239] Some of the itinerant Gipsies, doubtless, use their trades, in a
  great measure, as a cover for living by means such as society deems
  very objectionable. Many of them work hard while they are at it,
  as in the above instance, when "the clink of their hammers was
  heard from daybreak till dark;" and as has been said of those in
  Tweed-dale--"however early the farm servants rose to their ordinary
  employments, they always found the Tinklers at work."--ED.

I have, for many months running, counted above twenty Gipsies depart out
of the town of Inverkeithing, about ten o'clock in the forenoon, every
day, on their way to various parts of the country; and I have been
informed that from twenty to thirty vagrants lodged in this small burgh
nightly. Some of the bakers declared that the persons who were the worst
to please with hot rolls for breakfast, were the beggars, or rather
Gipsies, who frequented the place. On one occasion, I observed twelve
females, without a single male among them, decamp out of the town, all
travelling in and around a cart, drawn by a shagged pony. The whole
party were neatly attired, some of the young girls having trowsers, with
frills about their ankles; and very few would have taken them for
Gipsies. A large proportion of those miserable-looking females, who are
accompanied by a number of ragged children, and scatter themselves
through the streets, and beg from door to door, are Gipsies. I do not
recollect, distressing as the times ever have been, of having seen
reduced Scotch tradesmen _begging in families_. I remember once seeing a
man with a white apron wrapped around his waist, his coat off, an infant
in his arms, and two others at his feet, accompanied by a dark-looking
fellow of about twenty, singing through the town mentioned. They
represented themselves as broken-down tradesmen, and had the appearance
of having just left their looms, to sing for bread; and many half-pence
they received. Suspecting them to be impostors, I observed their
motions, and soon saw them join other vagrants, outside of the town,
among whom were females. The poor tradesmen were now dressed in very
substantial drab surtouts. They were nothing but a family of Tinklers.
They were proceeding, with great speed, to the next town, to practise
their impositions on the inhabitants; and I learned that they had, in
this manner, traversed several counties in Scotland. At a subsequent
period, I fell in with another family, consisting of five children and
their parents, driving an ass and its colt, near the South Queensferry.
Upon the back of the ass were two stone-hammers, and two reaping-hooks,
placed in such a manner as any one, in passing, might observe them. I
enquired where they had been. "We have been in England, sir, seeking
work, but could find none." Few would have taken them for anything but
country labourers; but the truth was, they were a family of Gipsies, of
the well-known name of Marshall, from about Stranraer. Their implements
of industry, so conspicuously exhibited on the back of their ass, was
all deception.

It is only about twenty-five years since the Irish Gipsies, in bands,
made their appearance in Scotland. Many severe conflicts they had with
our Scottish tribes, before they obtained a footing in the country. But
there is a new swarm of Irish Gipsies at present scattered, in bands,
over Scotland, all acquainted with the Gipsy language. They are a set of
the most wretched creatures on the face of the earth. A horde of them,
consisting of several families, encamped, at one time, at Port Edgar, on
the banks of the Forth, near South Queensferry. They had three small
tents, two horses, and four asses, and trafficked in an inferior sort of
earthen-ware. On the outside of one of the tents, in the open air, with
nothing but the canopy of heaven above her, and the greensward beneath
her, one of the females, like the deer in the forest, brought forth a
child, without either the infant or mother receiving the slightest
injury.[240] The woman, however, was attended by a midwife from
Queensferry, who said that these Irish Gipsies were so completely
covered with filth and vermin, that she durst not enter one of their
tents, to assist the female in labour. Several individuals were
attracted to the spot, by the novelty of such an occurrence, in so
unusual a place as the open fields. Immediately after the child was
born, it was handed about to every one of the band, that they might look
at the "young donkey," as they called it. In about two days after the
accouchement, the horde proceeded on their journey, as if nothing had

  [240] I know another instance of a Gipsy having a child in the open
  fields. It took place among the rushes on Stanhope-hangh, on the banks
  of the Tweed. In the forenoon, she was delivered of her child, without
  the assistance of a midwife, and in the afternoon the hardy Gipsy
  resumed her journey. The infant was a daughter, named Mary Baillie.

  [When a Gipsy woman is confined, it is either in a miserable hut or in
  the open air, but always easily and fortunately. True Gipsy-like, for
  want of some vessel, a hole is dug in the ground, which is filled with
  cold water, and the new-born child is washed in it--_Grellmann, on the
  Hungarian Gipsies._ We may readily believe that a child coming into
  the world under the circumstances mentioned, would have some of the
  peculiarities of a wild duck. Mr. Hoyland says that "on the first
  introduction of a Gipsy child to school, he flew like a bird against
  the sides of its cage; but by a steady care, and the influence of the
  example of the other children, he soon became settled, and fell into
  the ranks." It pleases the Gipsies to know that their ancestors came
  into the world "like the deer in the forest," and, when put to school,
  "flew like a bird against the sides of its cage."--ED.]

  [241] This invasion of Scotland by Irish Gipsies has, of late years,
  greatly altered the condition of the nomadic Scottish tribes; for this
  reason, that as Scotland, no less than any other country, can support
  only a certain number of such people who "live on the road," so many
  of the Scottish Gipsies have been forced to betake themselves to other
  modes of making a living. To such an extent has this been the case,
  that Gipsies, speaking the Scottish dialect, are in some districts
  comparatively rarely to be met with, where they were formerly
  numerous. The same cause may even lead to the extinction of the
  Scottish Gipsies as wanderers; but as the descendants of the Irish
  Gipsies will acquire the Scottish vernacular in the second generation,
  (a remarkably short period among the Gipsies,) what will then pass for
  Scottish Gipsies will be Irish by descent. The Irish Gipsies are
  allowed, by their English brethren, to speak good Gipsy, but with a
  broad and vulgar accent; so that the language in Scotland will have a
  still better chance of being preserved.

  England has likewise been invaded by these Irish swarms. The English
  Gipsies complain bitterly of them. "They have no law among them," they
  say; "they have fairly destroyed Scotland as a country to travel in;
  if they get a loan of anything from the country-people, to wrap
  themselves in, in the barn, at night, they will decamp with it in the
  morning. They have brought a disgrace upon the very name of Gipsy, in
  Scotland, and are heartily disliked by both English and Scotch."
  "There is a family of Irish Gipsies living across the road there, whom
  I would not be seen speaking to," said a superior English Gipsy; "I
  hate a Jew, and I dislike an Irish Gipsy." But English and Scottish
  Gipsies pull well together; and are on very friendly terms in America,
  and frequently visit each other. The English sympathise with the
  Scottish, under the wrongs they have experienced at the hands of the
  Irish, as well as on account of the persecutions they experienced in
  Scotland, so long after such had ceased in England.

  Twenty-five years ago, there were many Gipsies to be found between
  Londonderry and Belfast, following the style of life described under
  the chapter of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale Gipsies. Their names were
  Docherty, McCurdy, McCloskey, McGuire, McKay, Holmes, Dinsmore,
  Morrow, Allan, Stewart, Lindsay, Cochrane, and Williamson. Some of
  these seem to have migrated from Scotland and the North of

But there are Irish Gipsies of a class much superior to the above, in
Scotland. In 1836, a very respectable and wealthy master-tradesman
informed me that the whole of the individuals employed in his
manufactory, in Edinburgh, were Irish Gipsies.[242]

  [242] In England, some of the Irish Gipsies send their children to
  learn trades. There are many of such Irish mechanic Gipsies in
  America. A short time ago, a company of them landed in New York, and
  proceeded on to Chicago. Their occupations, among others, were those
  of hatters and tailors.--ED.

The Gipsies do not appear to have been altogether free from the crime of
destroying their offspring, when, by infirmities, they could not be
carried along with them in their wanderings, and thereby became an
encumbrance to them. It has, indeed, been often noticed that few, or no,
deformed or sickly individuals are to be found among them.[243] The
following appears to be an instance of something like the practice in
question. A family of Gipsies were in the habit of calling periodically,
in their peregrinations over the country, at the house of a lady in
Argyleshire. They frequently brought with them a daughter, who was
ailing of some lingering disorder. The lady noticed the sickly child,
and often spoke kindly to her parents about her condition. On one
occasion, when the family arrived on her premises, she missed the child,
and enquired what had become of her, and whether she had recovered. The
father said his daughter was "a poor sickly thing, not worth carrying
about with them," and that he had "made away with her." Whether any
notice was taken of this murder, by the authorities, is not mentioned.
The Gipsies, however, are generally noted for a remarkable attachment to
their children.[244]

  [243] They are neither overgrown giants nor diminutive dwarfs; and
  their limbs are formed in the justest proportions. Large bellies are
  as uncommon among them as humpbacks, blindness, or other corporeal
  defects.--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.

  [244] The _Ross-shire Advertiser_, for April, 1842, says: "Gipsy
  Recklessness.--Last week, two Gipsy women, who were begging through
  the country, each with a child on her back, having got intoxicated,
  took up their lodgings, for the night, in an old sawpit, in the parish
  of Logie-Easter. It is supposed that they forgot to take the children
  off their backs, when going to rest; for, in the morning, they were
  found to be both dead, having been smothered by their miserable
  mothers lying upon them through the night. One of the women, upon
  awakening in the morning, called to the other, 'that her baby was
  dead,' to which the reply was, 'that it could not be helped.' Having
  dug a hole, they procured some straw, rolled up the children in it,
  put them in the hole, and then filled it up with the earth."

Several authors have brought a general charge of cowardice against the
Gipsies, in some of the countries of Europe; but I never saw or heard of
any grounds for bringing such a charge against the Scottish Gipsies. On
the contrary, I always considered our Tinklers the very reverse of
cowards. Heron, in his journey through part of Scotland, before the year
1793, when speaking of the Gipsies in general, says: "They make
excellent soldiers, whenever the habit of military discipline can be
sufficiently impressed upon them." Several of our Scottish Gipsies have
even enjoyed commissions, as has already been noticed.[245] But the
military is not a life to their taste, as we have already seen; for,
rather than enter it, they will submit to even personal mutilation.
There is even danger in employing them in our regiments at the seat of
war; as I am convinced that, if there are any Gipsies in the ranks of
the enemy, an improper intercourse will exist between them in both
armies. During the last rebellion in Ireland, the Gipsy soldiers in our
regiments kept up an intimate and friendly correspondence with their
brethren among the Irish rebels.[246]

  [245] Though Gipsies everywhere, they differ, in some respects, in the
  various countries which they inhabit. For example, an English Gipsy,
  of pugilistic tendencies, will, in a vapouring way, engage to _thrash_
  a dozen of his Hungarian brethren. The following is the substance of
  what Grellmann says on this feature of their character:

  Sulzer says a Gipsy requires to have been a long time in the army
  before he can meet an enemy's balls with decent soldiers' resolution.
  They have often been employed in military expeditions, but never as
  regular soldiers. In the thirty years' war, the Swedes had a body of
  them in the army; and the Danes had three companies of them at the
  siege of Hamburg, in 1686. They were chiefly employed in flying
  parties, to burn, plunder, or lay waste the enemy's country.

  In two Hungarian regiments, nearly every eighth man is a Gipsy. In
  order to prevent either them(!) or any others from remembering their
  descent, it is ordered, by the Government, that as soon as a Gipsy
  joins the regiment, he is no longer to be called by that appellation.
  Here he is placed promiscuously with other men. But whether he would
  be adequate to a soldier's station--unmixed with strangers, in the
  company of his equals only--is very doubtful. He has every outward
  essential for a soldier, yet his innate properties, his levity, and
  want of foresight, render him incompatible for the services of one, as
  an instance may illustrate. Francis von Perenyi, who commanded at the
  siege of Nagy Ida, being short of men, was obliged to have recourse to
  the Gipsies, of whom he collected a thousand. These he stationed
  behind the entrenchments, while he reserved his own men to garrison
  the citadel. The Gipsies supported the attack with so much resolution,
  and returned the fire of the enemy with such alacrity, that the
  assailants--little suspecting who were the defendants--were compelled
  to retreat. But the Gipsies, elated with victory, immediately crept
  out of their holes, and cried after them, "Go, and be hanged, you
  rascals! and thank God that we had no more powder and shot, or we
  would have played the devil with you!" "What!" they exclaimed, bearing
  in mind the proverb, "You can drive fifty Gipsies before you with a
  wet rag," "What! are _you_ the heroes?" and, so saying, the besiegers
  immediately wheeled about, and, sword in hand, drove the black crew
  back to their works, entered them along with them, and in a few
  minutes totally routed them.--ED.

  [246] A Gipsy possesses all the properties requisite to render him a
  fit agent to be employed in traitorous undertakings. Being
  necessitous, he is easily corrupted; and his misconceived ambition and
  pride persuade him that he thus becomes a person of consequence. He
  is, at the same time, too inconsiderate to reflect on danger; and,
  artful to the greatest decree, he works his way under the most
  difficult circumstances. Gipsies have not only served much in the
  capacity of spies, but their garb and manner of life have been assumed
  by military and other men for the same purpose.--_Grellmann on the
  Hungarian Gipsies._

  Mr. Borrow gives a very interesting description of a meeting of two
  Gipsies, in a battle between the French and Spaniards, in the
  Peninsula, in Bonaparte's time. In the midst of a desperate
  battle--when everything was in confusion--sword to sword and bayonet
  to bayonet--a French soldier singled out one of the enemy, and, after
  a severe personal contest, got his knee on his breast, and was about
  to run his bayonet through him. His cap at this moment fell off, when
  his intended victim, catching his eye, cried, "_Zincali, Zincali!_" at
  which the other shuddered, relaxed his grasp, smote his forehead, and
  wept. He produced his flask, and poured wine into his brother Gipsy's
  mouth; and they both sat down on a knoll, while all were fighting
  around. "Let the dogs fight, and tear each other's throats, till they
  are all destroyed: what matters it to us? They are not of our blood,
  and shall that be shed for them?"

  What our author says of there being danger in employing Gipsies in
  time of war has little or no foundation; for the associations between
  those in the opposite ranks would be merely those of interest,
  friendship, assistance, and scenes like the one depicted by Mr.
  Borrow. The objection to Gipsies, on such occasions, is as applicable
  to Jews and Freemasons.--ED.

The Scottish Gipsies have ever been distinguished for their gratitude to
those who treated them with civility and kindness, during their progress
through the country. The particulars of the following instance of a
Gipsy's gratitude are derived from a respectable farmer, to whom one of
the tribe offered assistance in his pecuniary distress. I was well
acquainted with both of them. The occurrence, which took place only
about ten years ago, will show that gratitude is still a prominent
feature in the character of the Scottish Gipsy.

The farmer became embarrassed in his circumstances, in the spring of the
year, when an ill-natured creditor, for a small sum, put him in jail,
with a design to extort payment of the debt from his relatives. The
farmer had always allowed a Gipsy chief, of the name of ----, with his
family, to take up his quarters on his premises, whenever the horde came
to the neighbourhood. The Gipsy's horse received the same provender as
the farmer's horses, and himself and family the same victuals as the
farmer's servants. So sure was the Gipsy of his lodgings, that he seldom
needed to ask permission to stay all night on the farm, when he arrived.
On learning that the farmer was in jail, he immediately went to see him.
When he called, the jailer laughed at him, and, for long, would not
intimate to the farmer that he wished to see him. With tears in his
eyes, the Gipsy then told him he "would be into the jail, and see the
honest man, whether he would or not." At last, an hour was fixed when he
would be allowed to enter the prison. When the time arrived, the Gipsy
made his appearance, with a quantity of liquor in his hand, for his
friend the farmer. "Weel, man," said he to the turnkey, "is this your
hour, now?" being displeased at the delay which had taken place. The
jailer again said to him that he was surely joking, and still refused
him admittance. "Joking, man?" exclaimed the Gipsy, with the tears again
glistening in his dark eyes, "I am not joking, for into this prison I
shall be; and if it is not by the door, it shall be by another way."
Observing the determined Gipsy quite serious, the jailer at last allowed
him to see the object of his search. The moment he saw the farmer, he
took hold of both his hands, and, immediately throwing his arms around
him, burst into tears, and was for some time so overcome by grief, that
he could not give utterance to his feelings. Recovering himself, he
enquired if it was the laird that had put him in prison; but on being
told it was a writer, one of his creditors, the Gipsy exclaimed, "They
are a d----d crew, thae writers,[247] and the lairds are little better."
With much feeling, he now said to his friend, "Your father, honest man,
was aye good to my horse, and your mother, poor body, was aye kind to
me, when I came to the farm. I was aye treated like one of their own
household, and I can never forget their kindness. Many a night's
quarters I received from them, when others would not suffer me to
approach their doors." The grateful Gipsy now offered the farmer fifty
pounds, to relieve him from prison. "We are," said he, "not so poor as
folk think we are;" and, putting his hand into his pocket, he added,
"Here is part of the money, which you will accept; and if fifty pounds
will not do, I will sell all that I have in the world, horses and all,
to get you out of this place." "Oh, my bonnie man," continued the Gipsy,
"had I you in my camp, at the back of the dyke, I would be a happy man.
You would be far better there than in this hole." The farmer thanked him
for his kind offer, but declined to accept it. "We are," resumed the
Gipsy, "looked upon as savages, but we have our feelings, like other
people, and never forget our friends and benefactors. Kind, indeed, have
your relatives been to me, and all I have in this world is at your
service." When the Gipsy found that his offer was not accepted, he
insisted that the farmer would allow him to supply him, from time to
time, with pocket money, in case he should, during his confinement, be
in want of the necessaries of life. Before leaving the prison, the
farmer asked the Gipsy to take a cup of tea with him; but long the Gipsy
modestly refused to eat with him, saying, "I am a black thief-looking
deevil, to sit down and eat in your company; but I will do it, this day,
for your sake, since you ask it of me." The Gipsy's wife, with all her
family, also insisted upon being allowed to see the farmer in

  [247] A _writer_ in Scotland corresponds with an _attorney_ in
  England. It is interesting to notice the opinion which the Gipsy
  entertained of the writers. Possibly he had been a good deal worried
  by them, in connection with the conduct of some of his folk.--ED.

  [248] There is something singularly inconsistent in the mind of the
  Gipsies. They pride themselves, to an extraordinary degree, in their
  race and language; at the same time, they are extremely sensitive to
  the prejudice that exists against them. "We feel," say they, "that
  every other creature despises us, and would crush us out of existence,
  if it could be done. No doubt, there are things which many of the
  Gipsies do not hold to be a shame, that others do; but, on the other
  hand, they hold some things to be a shame which others do not. They
  have many good points. They are kind to their own people, and will
  feed and clothe them, if it is in their power; and they will not
  molest others who treat them civilly. They are somewhat like the wild
  American Indians: they even go so far as to despise their own people
  who will willingly conform to the ways of the people among whom they
  live, even to putting their heads under a roof. But, alas! a hard
  necessity renders it unavoidable; a necessity of two kinds--that of
  making a living under the circumstances in which they find themselves
  placed, and the impossibility of enforcing their laws among
  themselves. Let them do what they may, live as they may, believe what
  they may, they are looked upon as everything that is bad. Yet they are
  a people, an ancient and mysterious people, that have been scattered
  by the will of Providence over the whole earth."

  It is to escape this dreadful prejudice that all Gipsies, excepting
  those who avowedly live and profess themselves Gipsies, will hide
  their race, if they can, and particularly so, in the case of those who
  fairly leave the tent, conform to the ordinary ways of society, and
  engage in any of its various callings. While being convoyed by the son
  of an English Gipsy, whose family I had been visiting, at their house,
  where I had heard them freely speak of themselves as Gipsies, and
  converse in Gipsy, I said, in quite a pleasant tone, "Ah, my little
  man, and you are a young Gipsy?--Eh, what's the matter?" "I don't wish
  to be known to the people as a Gipsy." His father, on another
  occasion, said, "We are not ashamed to say to a friend that we are
  Gipsies; but my children don't like people to be crying after them,
  'Look at the Gipsies!'" And yet this family, like all Gipsies, were
  strongly attached to their race and language. It was pitiful to think
  that there was so much reason for them to make such a complaint. On
  one occasion, I was asked, "If you would not deem it presumptuous,
  might we ask you to take a bite with us?" "Eat with you? Why not?" I
  replied. "What will your people think, if they knew that you had been
  eating with us? You will lose caste." This was said in a serious
  manner, but slightly tinged with irony. Bless me, I thought, are all
  our Scottish Gipsies, of high and low degree, afraid that the ordinary
  natives would not even eat with them, if they knew them to be

This interview took place in presence of several persons, who were
surprised at the gratitude and manner of the determined Gipsy. It is
proper to mention that he is considered a very honest man, and is a
protection to the property of the country-people, wherever he is
quartered. He sells earthen-ware, through the country, and has,
sometimes, several horses in his possession, more for pleasure than
profit, some of which the farmers graze for nothing, as he is a great
favourite with those who are intimately acquainted with him. He is about
fifty years of age, about six feet in height, is spare made, has small
black eyes, and a swarthy complexion. He is styled King of the Gipsies,
but the country-people call him "Terrible," for a by-name. It was said
his mother was a witch, and many of the simple, ignorant people, in the
country, actually believed she was one. That her son believed she
possessed supernatural power, will appear from the following fact: As
some one was lamenting the hard case of the farmer remaining in prison,
the Gipsy gravely said, "Had my mother been able to go to the jail, to
see the honest man, she possessed the power to set him free."

That numbers of our Gipsies attend the church, and publicly profess
Christianity, and get their children baptized, is certain; and that many
of the male heads of principal families have the appearance and
reputation of great honesty of character, is also certain. Yet their
wives and other members of their families are, in general, little better
than professed thieves; and are secretly countenanced and encouraged in
their practices by many of those very chief males, who designedly keep
up an outward show of integrity, for the purpose of deception, and of
affording their plundering friends protection. When the head of the
family is believed to be an honest man, it excites a feeling of sympathy
for his tribe on his account, and it enables him to step forward, with
more freedom, to protect his kindred, when they happen to get into
scrapes. I am convinced, could the fact be ascertained, that many of the
offenders who are daily brought before our courts of justice are
Gipsies, though their external appearance does not indicate them to be
of that race.

With regard to the education of our Scottish Gipsies, I am convinced
that very few of them receive any education at all; except some of those
among the superior classes, who have property in houses, and permanent
residences. A Gipsy, of some property, who gave one of her sons a good
education, declared that the young man was entirely spoiled.[249] It
appears, however, that the males of the Yetholm colony received such an
education as is commonly given to the working classes; but it is
supposed there is scarcely such a thing as a female Gipsy who has been
educated. There are, however, instances to the contrary; and I know one
female at least, who can handle her pen with some dexterity.[250]

  [249] It it well to notice the fact, that by giving a Gipsy child a
  good education, it became "entirely spoiled." It would be well if we
  could "spoil" all the Gipsies. A thoroughly spoiled Gipsy makes a very
  good man, but leaves him a Gipsy notwithstanding. A "thorough Gipsy"
  has two meanings; one strongly attached to the tribe, and its
  _original habits_, or one without these original habits. There are a
  good many "spoiled" Gipsies, male and female, in Scotland.--ED.

  [250] The education and acquirements of the Spanish Gipsies, according
  to Mr. Borrow, are, on the whole, not inferior to those of the lower
  classes of the Spaniards; some of the young _men_ being able to read
  and write in a manner by no means contemptible; but such never occurs
  among the females. Neglecting females, in the matter of education, is
  quite in keeping with the Oriental origin of the Gipsies. The same
  feature is observable among the Jews; and the Talmud bears heavily
  upon Jewish women. Every Jew says, in his morning prayer, "Blessed art
  thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who hast not made me a
  woman!" And the woman returns thanks for having been "created
  according to God's will."--ED.

As to their religious sentiments, I am inclined to think that the
greater part of the Scottish Gipsies are quite indifferent on the
subject. Numbers of them certainly attend church, occasionally, when at
home, in their winter quarters; but not one of them will enter its door
when travelling through the country.[251] On Sundays, while resting
themselves by the side of the public roads, the females employ
themselves in washing and sewing their apparel, without any regard for
that sacred day. It appears to me that a large proportion of them comply
with our customs and forms of worship, more for the purpose of
concealing their tribe and practices, than from any serious belief in
the doctrines of Christianity. I recollect, however, of once conversing
with an aged man who professed much apparent zeal in religious matters;
and I mind well that he stoutly maintained, in opposition to Calvin's
ideas on the subject of free grace, that everything depended upon our
own works. "By my works in this life," said he, "I must stand, or fall,
in the world to come." This very man acknowledged to me that the Gipsies
were a tribe of thieves. But almost all the Gipsies, when the subject of
religion is mentioned to them, affect to be very pious; speak of the
goodness of God to them, with much apparent sincerity; lament the want
of education; and reprobate, in strong terms, every act of immorality.
This, I am sorry to say, is, in general, all hypocrisy and deception.
There is not a better test, in a general way, for discovering who are
Gipsies, than the expression of "God bless you," which is constantly in
the mouth of every female.[252]

  [251] The ostensible reason which the Gipsy gives for not attending
  church, when travelling, is to prevent himself being ridiculed by the
  people. If he enters a place of worship, he makes the old people
  stare, and frightens the children. On returning from church, a child
  will exclaim, "Mother, mother, there was a Tinkler at the kirk,
  to-day."--"A what? a _Tinkler_ at the kirk? What could have possessed
  _him_ to go there?"

  Gipsies are extremely sensitive to the feeling in question. A short
  time ago, one of them entered ----, in the State of ----, with a
  "shears to grind," having a small bell attached. Some bar-room gentry
  assembled around him, and saluted him with, "Oh, oh, a Gipsy in a new
  rig!" So keenly did he feel the insult, that he at once left the

  [252] According to Grellmann, the Gipsies did not bring any particular
  religion with them from their own country, but have regulated it
  according to those of the countries in which they have lived. They
  suffer themselves to be baptized among Christians, and circumcised
  among Mahommedans. They are Greeks with Greeks, Catholics with
  Catholics, Protestants with Protestants, and as inconstant in their
  creed as their place of residence. They suffer their children to be
  several times baptised. To-day, they receive the sacrament as a
  Lutheran; next Sunday, as a Catholic; and, perhaps before the end of
  the week, in the Reformed Church. The greater part of them do not go
  so far as this, but live without any religion at all, and worse than
  heathens. So thoroughly indifferent are they in this respect, as to
  have given rise to the adage, "The Gipsy's church was built of bacon,
  and the dogs ate it." So perfectly convinced are the Turks of the
  insincerity of the Gipsy in matters of religion, that, although a Jew,
  by becoming a Mahommedan, is freed from the payment of the poll-tax, a
  Gipsy--at least in the neighbourhood of Constantinople--is not, even
  although his ancestors, for centuries, had been Mahommedans, or he
  himself should actually have made a pilgrimage to Mecca. His only
  privilege is to wear a white turban, which is denied to unbelieving
  Jews and Gipsies.

  Mr. Borrow says, that when the female Gipsies, who sing in the choirs
  of Moscow, were questioned, in their own language, about their
  externally professing the Greek religion, they laughed, and said it
  was only to please the Russians.

  The same author mentions an instance in which he preached to them;
  taking, for his text, the situation of the Hebrews in Egypt, and
  drawing a comparison between it and theirs in Spain. Warming with his
  subject, he spoke of the power of God in preserving both, as a
  distinct people, in the world to this day. On concluding, he looked
  around to see what impression he had made upon them, but the only
  response he got from them all was--a squint of the eye!--ED.

With regard to the general politics of the Scottish Gipsies, if they
entertain any political sentiments at all, I am convinced they are
monarchical; and that, were any revolutionary convulsion to loosen the
bonds of society, and separate the lower from the higher classes, they
would take to the side of the superior portion of the community. They
have, at all times, heartily despised the peasantry, and been disposed
to treat menials with great contempt, though, at the very moment, they
were begging at the doors of their masters. In the few instances which
have come to my knowledge, of Scottish Gipsies forming matrimonial
connexions with individuals of the community, those individuals were
not of the working or lower classes of society.[253]

  [253] What our author says of the politics of the Gipsies is rather
  more applicable to their ideas of their social position. Being a small
  body in comparison with the general population of the country, they
  entertain a very exclusive and, consequently, a very aristocratic idea
  of themselves, whatever others may think of them; and therefore scorn
  the prejudice of the very lowest order of the common natives.--ED.

I believe there are Gipsies, in more or less numbers, in almost every
town in Scotland, permanent as well as periodical residenters. In many
of the villages there are also Gipsy inhabitants. In Mid-Lothian there
are great numbers of them, who have houses, in which they reside
permanently, but a portion of them travel in other districts, during the
summer season. I have been at no ordinary pains and trouble in making
enquiries regarding the number of the Gipsies, and the result of my
numerous investigations induces me to believe that there are about five
thousand of them in Scotland, at the present day. Indeed, some of the
Gipsies themselves entertain the same opinion, and they must certainly
be allowed to have some idea of the number of their own fraternity.[254]

  [254] Before the reformation of our criminal law, many of the male
  Gipsies perished on the gallows, but now, the greatest punishment they
  meet with is banishment, or a short imprisonment, for "sorning,
  pickery, and little thieving." Few of them are now "married to the
  gallows tree," in the manner of Graham, as described under the head of
  Fifeshire Gipsies. Owing to their, (the more original kind
  especially,) all marrying very young, and having very large families,
  their number cannot fail to encrease, under the present laws, in a
  ratio far beyond that of our own population. Instead of there being
  only 5,000 Gipsies in Scotland, there are, as I have already said,
  nearer 100,000, for reasons to be given in my Disquisition on the

It appears to me that the civilization and improvement of the body,
generally, would be a work of great difficulty. I would be apt to give
nearly the same answer which a Hungarian nobleman gave to Dr. Bright,
when that traveller asked him if he could not devise a plan for
bettering the condition of the race in Hungary. The nobleman said he
knew of no manner of improving the Gipsies.[255] The best plan yet
proposed for improving the race appears to be the one suggested by the
Rev. James Crabb, of Southampton, and the Rev. John Baird, of
Yetholm.[256] One of the first steps, however, should be a complete
publicity to their language, if that was possible; and encouragement
held out to them to speak it openly, without fear or reproach. Their
secret speech is a strong bond of union among them, and forms, as it
were, a wall of separation between them and the other inhabitants of the

  [255] Speaking of the attempted civilization of the Gipsies, by the
  Empress Maria Theresa, Grellmann says, "A boy, (for you must leave the
  old stock alone,) would frequently seem in the most promising train to
  civilization; on a sudden, his wild nature would appear, a relapse
  follow, and he become a perfect Gipsy again."

  "_Curate._--Could you not, by degrees, bring yourself to a more
  settled mode of life?

  "_Gipsy._--I would not tell you a lie, sir; I really think I could
  not, having been brought up to it from a child."--_Hoyland on the
  English Gipsies._

  The restless desire which the more original kind of Gipsies, and those
  more recently from the tent, have for moving about, is generally
  gratified in some way or other. The poorer class will send their wives
  and young ones to the "grass," in company with the nomadic portion, or
  to the streets in towns. In either case, they have no great occasion
  to feel uneasy about their support; for she would be a poor wife
  indeed, if she could not forage for herself and "weary bairns." Among
  other things, she can hire herself to assist in disposing of the wares
  made by another Gipsy. Her husband will then work at his calling, or
  go on the _tramp_, like some of our ordinary mechanics.

  The feeling which mankind in general have for the sweets of the
  country, and the longing which so many of us have to end our days in
  the midst of them, amount almost to a mania with these Gipsies.
  Frequently will Gipsies, in England, after spending the best part of
  their lives in a settled occupation, again take to the tent; while
  others of them, on arrival in America, will buy themselves places, and
  live on them till seized with the travelling epidemic, communicated by
  a roving company of their tribe accidentally arriving in their
  neighbourhood. Some of the more recently settled class of Gipsies,
  whose occupations do not easily admit of their enjoying the pleasure
  of a country or travelling life, show a great partiality to their
  wandering brethren, however poor, with whom they are on terms of
  intimacy, and especially if they happen to be related. Their children,
  from hearing their parents speak of the "good old times"--the "golden
  age" of the Gipsies--when they could wander hither and thither, with
  little molestation, and live, in a measure, at free-quarters, wherever
  they went, grow impatient under the restraint which society has thrown
  around them; and vent their feelings in abusing that same society, and
  all the members thereof. They envy the lot of these "country cousins."
  Meetings of that kind render these Gipsies, (old as well as young,)
  irritable, discontented, and gloomy: they feel like "birds in a cage,"
  as a Gipsy expressed it. Not unfrequently will a young town Gipsy
  travel in the company of these country relatives, dressed _a la
  Tinklaire_, as a relief to the discontentment which a restrained and
  pent-up life creates within him. At other times, his parents will know
  nothing of his movements, beyond his coming home to "roost" at night.

  The nomadic class take to winter-quarters in some village, towards the
  close of the year, and fret themselves all day long, till, on the
  return of spring, they can say, "To your tents, O Gipsies!" There is
  as little direct relation existing between the tent and the
  long-settled Gipsies, as there is between it and ordinary Scotch
  people. But there is that tribal or national association connected
  with it, that is inseparable from the feelings of a Gipsy, however
  high may be the position in life to which he may have risen.--ED.

  [256] The Fourteenth Annual Festival of the Rev. James Crabb's
  Association, for civilizing and teaching the principles of
  Christianity to the Gipsies in England, was held on the 25th December,
  1841. At that time, twenty Gipsy youths were attending his school. He
  was very sanguine of ultimately ameliorating the condition of the
  British Gipsies.

  At Yetholm, in the same year, after the Rev. John Baird's school had
  been in existence about two years, there were about forty Gipsy
  children receiving instruction. When they were educated, they were
  hired as servants to families, or bound apprentices to different

  [I will offer some remarks on the improvement of the Gipsies, in the
  Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.]

Many of the Gipsies, following the various occupations enumerated, are
not now to be distinguished from others of the community, except by the
most minute observation; yet they appear a distinct and separate people;
seldom contracting marriage out of their own tribe.[257] A tradesman of
Gipsy blood will sooner give his hand to a lady's maid of his own race,
than marry the highest female in the land; while the Gipsy lady's maid
will take a Gipsy shoemaker, in preference to any one out of her tribe.
A Gipsy woman will far rather prefer, in marriage, a man of her own
blood who has escaped the gallows, to the most industrious and
best-behaved tradesman in the kingdom. Like the Jews, almost all those
in good circumstances marry among themselves, and, I believe, employ
their poorer brethren as servants. I have known Gipsies most solemnly
declare, that no consideration would induce them to marry out of their
own tribe; and I am informed, and convinced, that almost every one of
them marries in that way. One of them stated to me that, let them be in
whatever situation of life they may, they all "stick to each other."

  [257] It is a difficult matter to tell some of the settled Scottish
  Gipsies. In searching for them, some regard must be had to the
  employment of the individual, his associations, and his isolation from
  the community generally, beyond what is necessary in following his
  calling and out-door relations, as contrasted with his hospitality to
  strangers from a distance; a close scrutiny of the habits of himself
  and his numerous motley visitors; the rough-and-tumble way in which he
  sometimes lives; his attachment to animals, such as horses, asses,
  dogs, cats, birds, or pets of any kind; these, and other relative
  circumstances, go a great way to enable one to pounce upon some of
  them. But the use of their language, and the effect it has upon them,
  (barring their responding to it,) is, at the present stage of their
  history, the only satisfactory test. Scottish Gipsy families will
  generally be found to be all dark in their appearance, or all very
  fair or reddish, or partly very fair, and partly very dark, and
  sometimes dark or fair nondescript. Many of the residentary class of
  mechanic Gipsies are difficult of detection; so are the better
  classes, generally, if it is long since their ancestors left the


"There is nothing hid that shall not be revealed."

In giving an account of the Gipsies, the subject would be very
incomplete, were not something said about the manner in which they have
drawn into their body the blood of other people, and the way in which
the race is perpetuated; and a description given of their present
condition, and future prospects, particularly as our author has
overlooked some important points connected with their history, which I
will endeavour to furnish. One of these important points is, that he has
confined his description of the present generation of settled Gipsies to
the descendants of those who left the tent subsequently to the
commencement of the French war, to the exclusion of those who settled
long anterior to that time. It is also necessary to treat the subject
abstractly--to throw it into principles, to give the philosophy of
it--to ensure the better understanding, and perpetuate the knowledge of
it, amid the shifting objects that present themselves to the eye of the
world, and even of the people described.

Gipsydom may, in a word, be said to be literally a sealed book, a _terra
incognita_, to mankind in general. The Gipsies arrived in Europe a
strange race; strange in their origin, appearance, habits and
disposition. Supposing that their habits had never led them to interfere
with the property of others, or obtain money by any objectionable way,
but that they had confined their calling to tinkering, making and
selling wares, trading, and such like, they would, in all probability,
still have remained a caste in the community, with a strong feeling of
sympathy for those living in other countries, in consequence of the
singularity of their origin and development, as distinguished from those
of the other inhabitants, their language and that degree of prejudice
which most nations have for foreigners settling among them and
particularly so in the case of a people so different in their appearance
and mode of life as were the Gipsies from those among whom they settled.
That may especially be said of tented Gipsies, and even of those who,
from time to time, would be forced to leave the tent, and settle in
towns, or live as _tramps_, as distinguished from tented Gipsies. The
simple idea of their origin and descent, tribe and language, transmitted
from generation to generation, being so different from those of the
people among whom they lived, was, in itself, perfectly sufficient to
retain them members of Gipsydom, although, in cases of intermarriages
with the natives, the mixed breeds might have gone over to the white
race, and been lost to the general body. But in most of such cases that
would hardly have taken place; for between the two races, the difference
of feeling, were it only a slight jealousy, would have led the smaller
and more exclusive and bigoted to bring the issue of such intermarriages
within its influence. In Great Britain, the Gipsies are entitled, in one
respect at least, to be called Englishmen, Scotchmen, or Irishmen; for
their general ideas as men, as distinguished from their being Gipsies,
and their language, indicate them, at once, to be such, nearly as much
as the common natives of these countries. A half or mixed breed might
more especially be termed or pass for a native; so that, by clinging to
the Gipsies, and hiding his Gipsy descent and affiliation from the
native race, he would lose nothing of the outward character of an
ordinary inhabitant; while any benefit arising from his being a Gipsy
would, at the same time, be enjoyed by him.

But the subject assumes a totally different aspect when, instead of a
slight jealousy existing between the two races, the difference in
feeling is such as if a gulf had been placed between them. The effect of
a marriage between a white and a Gipsy, especially if he or she is known
to be a Gipsy, is such, that the white instinctively withdraws from any
connexion with his own race, and casts his lot with the Gipsies. The
children born of such unions become ultra Gipsies. A very fine
illustration of this principle of half-breed ultra Gipsyism is given by
Mr. Borrow, in his "Gipsies in Spain," in the case of an officer in the
Spanish army adopting a young female Gipsy child, whose parents had
been executed, and educating and marrying her. A son of this marriage,
who rose to be a captain in the service of Donna Isabel, hated the white
race so intensely, as, when a child, to tell his father that he wished
he (his father) was dead. At whose door must the cause of such a feeling
be laid? One would naturally suppose that the child would have left,
perhaps despised, his mother's people, and clung to those whom the world
deemed respectable. But the case was different. Suppose the mother had
not been prompted by some of her own race, while growing up, and the
son, in his turn, not prompted by the mother, all that was necessary to
stir up his hatred toward the white race was simply to know who he was,
as I will illustrate.[258]

  [258] This Spanish Gipsy is reported by Mr. Borrow to have said: "She,
  however, remembered her blood, and hated my father, and taught me to
  hate him likewise. When a boy, I used to stroll about the plain, that
  I might not see my father; and my father would follow me, and beg me
  to look upon him, and would ask me what I wanted; and I would reply,
  'Father, the only thing I want is to see you dead!'"

  This is certainly an extreme instance of the result of the prejudice
  against the Gipsy race; and no opinion can be formed upon it, without
  knowing some of the circumstances connected with the feelings of the
  father, or his relations, toward the mother and the Gipsy race
  generally. This Gipsy woman seems to have been well brought up by her
  protector and husband; for she _taught her child Gipsy from a MS._,
  and procured a teacher to instruct him in Latin. There are many
  reflections to be drawn from the circumstances connected with this
  Spanish Gipsy family, but they do not seem to have occurred to Mr.

Suppose that a great iron-master should fancy a Cinderella, living by
scraping pieces of iron from the refuse of his furnaces, educate her,
and marry her, as great iron-masters have done. Being both of the same
race, a complete amalgamation would take place at once: perhaps the wife
was the best person of the two. Silly people might sneer at such a
marriage; but if no objection attached to the personal character of the
woman, she might be received into society at once, and admired by some,
and envied by others, particularly if she had no "low relations" living
near her. She might even boast of having been a Cinderella, if it
happened to be well known; in which case she might be deemed free of
pride, and consequently a very sensible, amiable woman, and worthy of
every admiration.

But who ever heard of such a thing taking place with a Gipsy? Suppose a
Gipsy elevated to such a position as that spoken of; she would not, she
dare not, mention her descent to any one not of her own race, and far
less would she give an _exposé_ of Gipsydom; for she instinctively
perceives, or at least believes, that, such is the prejudice against her
race, people would avoid her as something horridly frightful, although
she might be the finest woman in the world. Who ever heard of a
civilized Gipsy, before Mr. Borrow mentioned those having attained to
such an eminent position in society at Moscow? Are there none such
elsewhere than in Moscow? There are many in Scotland. It is this
unfortunate prejudice against the name that forces all our Gipsies, the
moment they leave the tent, (which they almost invariably do with their
blood diluted with the white,) to hide from the public their being
Gipsies; for they are morbidly sensitive of the odium which attaches to
the name and race being applied to them. It is quite time enough to
discover the great secret of Nature, when it is unavoidable to enter

    "The undiscovered country from whose bourne
    No traveller returns."

As little disposition is manifested by these Gipsies to "show their
hands:" the uncertainty of such an experiment makes the very idea
dreadful to them. Hence it is that the constant aim of settled Gipsies
is to hide the fact of their being Gipsies from other people.

It is a very common idea that Gipsies do not mix their blood with that
of other people. Now, what is the fact? I may, indeed, venture to
assert, that there is not a full-blooded Gipsy in Scotland;[259] and,
most positively, that in England, where the race is held to be so pure,
all that can be said of _some_ families is, that they have not been
crossed, _as far as is known_; but that, with these exceptions, the body
is much mixed: "dreadfully mixed" is the Gipsies' description, as, in
many instances, my own eyes have witnessed. This brings me to an issue
with a writer in the Edinburgh Review, who, in October, 1841, when
reviewing the "Gipsies in Spain," by Mr. Borrow, says, "Their descent is
purity itself; no mixture of European blood has contaminated theirs.
. . . . . They, (the stranger and Gipsy,) may live together; the
European vagrant is often to be found in the tents of the Gipsies; they
may join in the fellowship of sport, the pursuit of plunder, the
management of their low trades, but they can never fraternize." A writer
in Blackwood's Magazine, on the same occasion, says, "Their care to
preserve the purity of their race might, in itself, have confuted the
unfounded charge, so often brought against them, of stealing children,
and bringing them up as Gipsies." More unfounded ideas than those put
forth by these two writers are scarcely possible to be imagined.[260]

  [259] It is claimed, by some Scottish Gipsies, that there are
  full-blood Gipsies at Yetholm, but I do not believe it. This, I may
  venture to say, that there can be no certainty, but, on the contrary,
  great doubt, on the subject. But, after all, what is a pure Gipsy? Was
  the race pure when it entered Scotland, or even Europe? The idea is
  perfectly arbitrary.

  [260] It would be interesting to know where these writers got such
  ideas about the purity of the Gipsy blood. It certainly was not from
  Mr. Borrow's account of the Gipsies in Spain, whatever they may have
  inferred from that work.

This mixture of "the blood" is notorious. Many a full or nearly
full-blood Gipsy will say that Gipsies do not mix their blood with that
of the stranger. In such a case he only shuffles; for he whispers to
himself two words, in his own language, which contradict what he says;
which words I forget, but they mean "I belie it;" that is, he belies
what he has just said. Besides, it lets the Gipsies down in their
imagination, and, they think, in the imagination of others, to allow
that the blood of their race is mixed. It is also a secret which they
would rather hide from the world.[261] I am intimate with English Gipsy
families, in none of whom is full blood; the most that can be said of
them is, that they range from nearly full, say from seven-eighths, down
to one-eighth, and perhaps less. Suppose that a fair-haired common
native marries a full-blood Gipsy: the issue of such an union will show
some of the children, in point of external appearance, perfectly
European, like the father, and others, Gipsies, like the mother. If two
such European-like Gipsies marry, some of their children will take after
the Gipsy, and be pretty, even very, dark, and others after the white
race. In crossing a second time with full white blood, the issue will
take still more after the white race. Still, the Gipsy cannot be crossed
altogether out; he will come up, but of course in a modified form.
Should the white blood be of a dark complexion and hair, and have no
tendency, from its ancestry, to turn to fair, in its descent, then the
issue between it and the Gipsy will always be dusky. I have seen all
this, and had it fully explained by the Gipsies themselves.

  [261] An instance of this kind of shuffling is given by Mr. Borrow, in
  the tenth chapter of the "Romany Rye," in the person of Ursula, a full
  or nearly full-blood Gipsy. She confines the crossing of the blood to
  such instances as when a Gipsy dies and leaves his children to be
  provided for by "_gorgios_, trampers, and basket-makers, who live in
  caravans;" but she says, "I hate to talk of the matter." When Mr.
  Borrow asked her, if a Gipsy woman, unless compelled by hard
  necessity, would have anything to do with a _gorgio_, she replied, "We
  are not over-fond of _gorgios_, and we hate basket-makers and folks
  that live in caravans." Here she makes a very important distinction
  between _gorgios_, (native English,) and _basket-makers and folks that
  live in caravans_, (mixed Gipsies.) She does not deny that a Gipsy
  woman will intermarry with a native under certain circumstances. A
  pretty-pure Gipsy, when angry, will very readily call a mixed Gipsy a
  _gorgio_, or, indeed, by any other name.

The result of this mixture of the Gipsy and European blood is founded,
not only on the ordinary principles of physiology, but on common sense
itself; for why should not such issue take after the European, in
preference to the Gipsy? If a residence in Europe of 450 years has had
no effect upon the appearance of what may be termed pure Gipsies, (a
point which, at least, is questionable,) the length of time, the effects
of climate, and the influence of mind, should, at least, predispose it
to merge, by mixture, into something bearing a resemblance to the
ordinary European; which, by a continued crossing, it does. Indeed, it
soon disappears to the common eye: to a stranger it is not observable,
unless the mixture happens to be met with in a tent, or under such
circumstances as one expects to meet with Gipsies. In paying a visit to
an English Gipsy family, I was invited to call again, on such a day,
when I would meet with some Welsh Gipsies. The principal Welsh Gipsy I
found to be a very quiet man, with fair hair, and quite like an ordinary
Englishman; who was admitted by his English brethren to "speak deep
Gipsy." He had just arrived from Wales, where he had been employed in an
iron work. Unless I am misinformed, the issue of a fair-haired European
and an ordinary Hindoo woman, in India, sometimes shows the same result
as I have stated of the Gipsies; but it ought to be much more so in the
case of the Gipsy in Europe, on account of the race having been so long
acclimated there. Indeed, it is generally believed, that the population
of Europe contains a large part of Asiatic blood, from that continent
having at one time been overrun by Asiatics, who mixed their blood with
an indigenous race which they met with there.

Of the mixed Spanish Gipsy, to whom I have alluded, Mr. Borrow says,
that "he had _flaxen hair_; his eyes small, and, like ferrets, red and
fiery; and his complexion like a brick, or dull red, chequered with
spots of purple." This description, with, perhaps, the exception of the
red eyes, and spots of purple, is quite in keeping with that of many of
the mixed Gipsies. The race seems even to have given a preference to
fair or red hair, in the case of such children and grown-up natives as
they have adopted into their body. I have met with a young Spaniard from
Corunna, who is so much acquainted with the Gipsies in Spain, that I
took him to be a mixed Gipsy himself; and he says that mixtures among
the Spanish Gipsies are very common; the white man, in such cases,
always casting his lot with the Gipsies. None of the French, German, or
Hungarian Gipsies whom I have met with in America are full blood, or
anything like it; but I am told there are such, and very black too, as
the English Gipsies assert. Indeed, considering how "dreadfully mixed"
the Gipsies are in Great Britain and Ireland, I cannot but conclude that
they are more or less so all over the world.[262]

  [262] Grellmann evidently alludes to Gipsies of mixed blood, when he
  writes in the following manner: "Experience shows that the dark colour
  of the Gipsies, which is continued from generation to generation, is
  more the effect of education and manner of life than descent. Among
  those who profess music in Hungary, or serve in the imperial army,
  where they have learned to pay more attention to order and
  cleanliness, there are many to be found whose extraction is not at all
  discernible in their colour." For my part, I cannot say that such
  language is applicable to full-blood Gipsies. Still, the change from
  tented to settled and tidy Gipsydom is apt to show its effects in
  modifying the complexion of such Gipsies, and to a much greater degree
  in their descendants.

The blood once mixed, there is nothing to prevent a little more being
added, and a little more, and so on. There are English Gipsy girls who
have gone to work in factories in the Eastern States, and picked up
husbands among the ordinary youths of these establishments. And what
difference does it make? Is not the game in the Gipsy woman's own hands?
Will she not bring up her children Gipsies, initiate them in all the
mysteries of Gipsydom, and teach them the language? There is another
married to an American farmer "down east." All that she has to do is
simply to "tell her wonderful story," as the Gipsies express it.
Jonathan must think that he has caged a queer kind of a bird in the
English Gipsy woman. But will he say to his friends, or neighbours, that
his wife is a Gipsy? Will the children tell that their mother, and,
consequently, they themselves are Gipsies? No, indeed. Jonathan,
however, will find her a very active, managing woman, who will always be
a-stirring, and will not allow her "old man" to kindle the fires of a
morning, milk his cows, or clean his boots, and, as far as she is
concerned, will bring him lots of _chabos_.

Gipsies, however, do not like such marriages; still they take place.
They are more apt to occur when they have attained to that degree of
security in a community where no one knows them to be Gipsies, or when
they have settled in a neighbourhood to which they had come strangers.
The parents exercise more constraint over their sons than daughters;
they cannot bear the idea of a son taking a strange woman for a wife;
for a strange woman is a snare unto the Gipsies. If a Scottish Gipsy lad
shows a hankering after a stranger lass, the mother will soon "cut his
comb," by asking him, "What would she say if she knew you to be a loon
of a Gipsy? Take such or such a one (Gipsies) for a wife, if you want
one." But it is different with the girls. If a Gipsy lass is determined
to have the stranger for a husband, she has only to say, "Never mind,
mother; it makes no earthly difference; I'll turn that fellow round my
little finger; I'll take care of the children when I get them." I do not
know how the settled Scottish Gipsies broach the subject of being
Gipsies to the stranger son-in-law when he is introduced among them. I
can imagine the girl, during the courtship, saying to herself, with
reference to her intended, "I'll lead you captive, my pretty fellow!"
And captive she does lead him, in more senses than one. Perhaps the
subject is not broached to him till after she has borne him children;
or, if he is any way soft, the mother, with a leering eye, will say to
him at once, "Ah ha, lad, ye're among Gipsies now!" In such a case, the
young man will be perfectly bewildered to know what it all means, so
utterly ignorant is he about Gipsies; when, however, he comes to learn
all about it, it will be _mum_ with him, as if his wife's friends had
_burked_ him, or some "old Gipsy" had come along, and sworn him in on
the point of a drawn dirk. It may be that the Gipsy never mentions the
subject to her husband at all, for fear he should "take her life;" she
can, at all events, trust her secret with her children.

Why should there be any hard feelings towards a Gipsy for "taking in and
burking" a native in this way? She does not propose--she only disposes
of herself. She has no business to tell the other that she is a Gipsy.
She does not consider herself a worse woman than he is a man, but, on
the contrary, a better. She would rather prefer a _chabo_, but, somehow
or other, she sacrifices her feelings, and takes the _gorgio_, "for
better or worse." Or there may be considerable advantages to be derived
from the connexion, so that she spreads her snares to secure them. Being
a Gipsy, she has the whip-hand of the husband, for no consideration will
induce him to divulge to any one the fact that his wife is a
Gipsy--should she have told him; in which case she has such a hold upon
him, as to have "turned him round her little finger" most effectually.
"Married a Gipsy! it's no' possible!" "Ay, it is possible. There!" she
will say, chattering her words, and, with her fingers, showing him the
signs. He soon gets reconciled to the "better or worse" which _he_ has
taken to his bosom, as well as to her "folk," and becomes strongly
attached to them. The least thing that the Gipsy can then do is to tell
her "wonderful story" to her children. It is not teaching them any
damnable creed; it is only telling them who they are; so that they may
acknowledge herself, her people, her blood, and the blood of the
children themselves.

And how does the Gipsy woman bring up her children in regard to her own
race? She tells them her "wonderful story"--informs them who they are,
and of the dreadful prejudice that exists against them, simply for being
Gipsies. She then tells them about Pharaoh and Joseph in Egypt, terming
her people, "Pharaoh's folk." In short, she dazzles the imagination of
the children, from the moment they can comprehend the simplest idea.
Then she teaches them her words, or language, as the "real Egyptian,"
and frightens and bewilders the youthful mind by telling them that they
are subject to be hanged if they are known to be Gipsies, or to speak
these words, or will be looked upon as wild beasts by those around them.
She then informs the children how long the Gipsies have been in the
country; how they lived in tents; how they were persecuted, banished,
and hanged, merely for being Gipsies. She then tells them of her people
being in every part of the world, whom they can recognize by the
language and signs which she is teaching them; and that her race will
everywhere be ready to shed their blood for them. She then dilates upon
the benefits that arise from being a Gipsy--benefits negative as well as
positive; for should they ever be set upon--garroted, for example--all
that they will have to do will be to cry out some such expression as
"_Biené raté, calo chabo_," (good-night, Gipsy, or black fellow,) when,
if there is a Gipsy near them, he will protect them. The children will
be fondled by her relatives, handed about and hugged as "little ducks of
Gipsies." The granny, while sitting at the fireside, like a witch,
performs no small part in the education of the children, making them
fairly dance with excitement. In this manner do the children of Gipsies
have the Gipsy soul literally breathed into them.[263]

  [263] Mr. Offor, editor of a late edition of Bunyan's works, writes,
  in "Notes and Queries," thus: "I have avoided much intercourse with
  this class, fearing the fate of Mr. Hoyland, who, being a Quaker, was
  shot by one of Cupid's darts from a black-eyed Gipsy girl; and _J. S.
  may do well to be cautious_." Mr. Offor is not far wrong. A Gipsy girl
  can sometimes fascinate a "white fellow," as a snake can a bird--make
  him flutter, and particularly so, should the "little Gipsy" be met
  with in some such dress as black silks and a white polka. This much
  can be said of Gipsy women, which cannot be said of all women, that
  they know their places, and are not apt to _usurp_ the rights of the
  _rajahs_; they will even "work the nails off their fingers" to make
  them feel comfortable.

  I should conclude, from what Mr. Offor says, that the Quaker married
  the Gipsy girl. If children were born of the union, they will be
  Gipsy-Quakers, or Quaker-Gipsies, whichever expression we choose to

In such a way--what with the supreme influence which the mother has
exercised over the mind of the child from its very infancy; the manner
in which its imagination has been dazzled; and the dreadful prejudice
towards the Gipsies, which they all apply, directly or indirectly, to
themselves--does the Gipsy adhere to his race. When he comes to be a
youth, he naturally enough endeavours to find his way to a tent, to have
a look at the "old thing." He does not, however, think much of it as a
reality; but it presents something very poetical and imaginative to his
mind, when he contemplates it as the state from which his mysterious
forefathers have sprung.[264] It makes very little difference, in the
case to which I have alluded, whether the father be a Gipsy or not; the
children all go with the mother, for they inherit the blood through her.
What with the blood, the education, the words, and the signs, they are
simply Gipsies, and will be such, as long as they retain a consciousness
of who they are, and any peculiarities exclusively Gipsy. As it
sometimes happens that the father, only, is a Gipsy, the attachment may
not be so strong, on the part of the children, as if the blood had come
through the mother; still, it likewise attaches them to the body. A
great deal of jealousy is shown by the Gipsies, when a son marries a
strange woman. A greater ado is not made by some Catholics, to bring up
their children Catholics, under such circumstances, than is exhibited by
Gipsies for their children knowing their secret--that is, the "wonderful
story;" which has the effect of leading them, in their turn, to marry
with Gipsies. The race is very jealous of "the blood" being lost; or
that their "wonderful story" should become known to those who are not

  [264] I have picked up quite a number of Scottish Gipsies of
  respectable character, from their having gone in their youth, to look
  at the "old thing." It is the most natural thing in the world for them
  to do. What is it to look back to the time of James V., in 1540, when
  John Faw was lord-paramount over the Gipsies in Scotland? Imagine,
  then, the natural curiosity of a young Gipsy, brought up in a town, to
  look at something like the original condition of his ancestors. Such a
  Gipsy will leave Edinburgh, for example, and travel over the south of
  Scotland, "casting his sign," as he passes through the villages, in
  every one of which he will find Gipsies. Some of these villages are
  almost entirely occupied by Gipsies. James Hogg is reported, in
  Blackwood's Magazine, to say, that Lochmaben is "stocked" with them.

There are people who cannot imagine how a man can be a Gipsy and have
fair hair. They think that, from his having fair hair, he cannot have
the same feelings of what they imagine to be a true Gipsy, that is, a
black-haired one. One naturally asks, what effect can the matter of
colour of _hair_ have upon the _mind_ of a member of any community or
clan, whether the hair be black, brown, red, fair, or white, or the
person have no hair at all? Let us imagine a Gipsy with fair hair. How
long is it since the white blood was introduced among his ancestors?
Perhaps three hundred and fifty years. The race of which he comes has
been, more or less, mixing and crossing ever since, but always retaining
the issue within its own community. Is he fair-haired? Then he may be
half a Gipsy; he may be three-fourths Gipsy, and perhaps even more. At
the present day, the "points" of such a Gipsy are altogether arbitrary;
some profess to know their points, but it is a thing altogether
uncertain. All that they know and adhere to is, that they are Gipsies,
and nothing else. In this manner are the British Gipsies, (with the
exception of some English families, about whom there is no certainty,)
members of the Gipsy community, or nation, as such--each having some of
the blood; and not Gipsies of an ideal purity of race. What they know
is, that their parents and relatives are Gipsies; that Gipsies separate
them from the eternity that is past; and, consequently, that they are
Gipsies. They, indeed, accept their descent, blood, and nationality as
instinctively as they accept the very sex which God has given them.
Which of the two knows most of Gipsydom--the fair-haired or black?
Almost invariably the fair.[265]

  [265] Among the English Gipsies, fair-haired ones are looked upon by
  the purer sort, or even by those taking after the Gipsy, as "small
  potatoes." The consequence is they have to make up for their want of
  blood, by smartness, knowledge of the language, or something that will
  go to balance the deficiency of blood. They generally lay claim to the
  _intellect_, while they yield the _blood_ to the others. A full or
  nearly full-blood young English Gipsy looks upon herself with all the
  pride of a little duchess, while in the company of young male mixed
  Gipsies. A mixed Gipsy may reasonably be assumed to be more
  intelligent than one of the old stock, were it only for this reason,
  that the mixture softens down the natural conceit and bigotry of the
  Gipsy; while, as regards his personal appearance, it puts him in a
  more improvable position. Still, a full-blood Gipsy looks up to a
  mixed Gipsy, if he is anything of a superior man, and freely
  acknowledges the blood. Indeed, the two kinds will readily marry, if
  circumstances bring them together. To a couple of such Gipsies I said:
  "What difference does it make, if the person _has the blood, and has
  his heart in the right place_?" "That's the idea; that's exactly the
  idea," they both replied.

We naturally ask, what effect has this difference in appearance upon two
such members of one family--the one with European, the other with Gipsy,
features and colour? and the answer is this: The first will hide the
fact of his being a Gipsy from strangers; indeed, he is ashamed to let
it be known that he is a Gipsy; and he is afraid that people, not
knowing how it came about, would laugh at him. "What!" they would ask,
"_you_ a Gipsy? The idea is absurd." Besides, it facilitates his getting
on in the world, to prevent it being known that he is a Gipsy. The other
member cannot deny that he is a Gipsy, because any one can see it. Such
are the Gipsies who are more apt to cling to the tent, or the more
original ways of the old stock. They are very proud of their
appearance; but it is a pride accompanied with disadvantages, and even
pain. For, after all, the beauty and pleasure in being a Gipsy is to
have the other cast of features and colour; he has as much of the blood
and language as the other, while he can go into any kind of company--a
sort of Jack-the-Giant-Killer in his invisible coat. The nearer the
Gipsy comes to the original colour of his race, the less chance is there
of improving him. He knows what he is like; and well does he know the
feeling that people entertain for him. In fact, he feels that there is
no use in being anything but what people call a Gipsy. But it is
different with those of European countenance and colour, or when these
have been modified or diluted by a mixture of white blood. They can,
then, enter upon any sphere of employment to which they have a mind, and
their personal advantages and outward circumstances will admit of.[266]

  [266] To thoroughly understand how a Gipsy, with fair hair and blue
  eyes, can be as much a Gipsy as one with black, may be termed "passing
  the _pons assinorum_ of the Gipsy question." Once over the bridge, and
  there are no difficulties to be encountered on the journey, unless it
  be to understand that a Gipsy can be a Gipsy without living in a tent
  or being a rogue.

Let us now consider the destiny of such European-like Gipsies. Suppose a
female of this description marries a native in settled life, which both
of them follow. She brings the children up as Gipsies, in the way
described. The children are apt to become ultra Gipsies. If they, in
their turn, marry natives, they do the same with their children; so
that, if the same system were always followed, they would continue
Gipsies forever. For all that is necessary to perpetuate the tribe, is
simply for the Gipsies to know who they are, and the prejudice that
exists toward the race of which they are a part; to say nothing of the
innate associations connected with their origin and descent. Such a
phenomenon may be fitly compared to the action of an auger; with this
difference, that the auger may lose its edge, but the Gipsy will drill
his way through generations of the ordinary natives, and, at the end,
come out as sharp as ever; all the circumstances attending the two races
being exactly the same at the end as at the beginning. In this way, let
their blood be mixed as it may, let even their blood-relationship
outside of their body be what it may, the Gipsies still remain, in their
private associations, a distinct people, into whatever sphere of human
action they may enter; although, in point of blood, appearance,
occupation, character, and religion, they may have drifted the breadth
of a hemisphere from the stakes and tent of the original Gipsy.

There can surely be no great difficulty in comprehending so simple an
idea as this. Here we have a foreign race introduced amongst us, which
has been proscribed, legally as well as socially. To escape the effects
of this double proscription, the people have hidden the fact of their
belonging to the race, although they have clung to it with an ardour
worthy of universal admiration. The proscription is toward the name and
race as such, that is, the blood; and is not general, but absolute; none
having ever been received into society as Gipsies. For this reason,
every Gipsy, every one who has Gipsy blood in his veins, applies the
proscription to himself. On the other hand, he has his own descent--the
Gipsy descent; and, as I have already said, he has naturally as little
desire to wish a different descent, as he has to have a different sex.
As Finns do not wish to have been born Englishmen, or Englishmen Finns,
so Gipsies are perfectly satisfied with their descent, nay, extremely
proud of it. They would not change it, if they could, for any
consideration. When Gipsies, therefore, marry natives, they do not only
willingly bring up their children as Gipsies, but by every moral
influence they are forced to do it, and cling to each other. In this way
has the race been absolutely cut off from that of the ordinary natives;
all intercourse between the two, unless on the part of the _bush_ Gipsy,
in the way of dealings, having been of a clandestine nature, on the side
of the Gipsy, or, in other words, _incog._ How melancholy it is to think
that such a state of things exists in the British Islands!

The Gipsy, born of a Gipsy mother and a native father, does, therefore,
most naturally, and, I may say, invariably, follow the Gipsy connexion;
the simplest impulse of manhood compels him to do it. Being born, or
becoming a member of settled society, he joins in the ordinary
amusements or occupations of his fellow-creatures of both races; which
he does the more readily when he feels conscious of the incognito which
he bears. But he has been brought up from his mother's knee a Gipsy; he
knows nothing else; his associations with his relatives have been Gipsy;
and he has in his veins that which the white damns, and, he doubts not,
would damn in him, were he to know of it. He has, moreover, the words
and signs of the Gipsy race; he is brought in contact with the Gipsy
race; he perceives that his feelings are reciprocated by them, and that
both have the same reserve and timidity for "outsiders." He does not
reason abstractly what he is _not_, but instinctively holds that he is
"one of them;" that he has in his mind, his heart, and his blood, that
which the common native has not, and which makes him a _chabo_, that is,
a Gipsy.

The mother, in the case mentioned, is certainly not a full-blood Gipsy,
nor anything like it; she does not know her real "points;" all that she
knows is, that she is a "Gipsy:" so that, if the youth's father is an
ordinary native, the youth holds himself to be a half-and-half,
nominally, though he does not know what he really is, as regards blood.
Imagine, then, that he takes such a half-and-half Gipsy for a wife, and
that both tell their children that they are "Gipsies:" the children,
perhaps, knowing nothing of the real origin of their parents, take up
the "wonderful story," and hand it down to their children, initiating
them, in their turn, in the "mysteries." These children never doubt that
_they_ are "Gipsies," although _their_ Gipsyism may, as I have already
said, have "drifted the breadth of a hemisphere from the stakes and tent
of the original Gipsy." In this manner is Gipsydom kept alive, by its
turning round and round in a perpetual circle. And in this manner does
it happen, that a native finds his own children Gipsies, from having, in
seeking for a wife, stumbled upon an Egyptian woman. Gipsydom is,
therefore, the aggregate of Gipsies, wherever, or under whatever
circumstances, they are to be found. It is, in two respects, an absolute
question; absolute as to blood, and absolute as to those teachings,
feelings, and associations, that, by a moral necessity, accompany the
possession of the blood.

This brings me to an issue with Mr. Borrow. Speaking of the destination
of the Spanish Gipsies, he says: "If the Gitanos are abandoned to
themselves, by which we mean, no arbitrary laws are again enacted for
their extinction, the sect will eventually cease to be, and its members
become confounded with the residue of the population." I can well
understand that such procedure, on the part of the Spanish Government,
was calculated to soften the ferocious disposition of the Gipsies; but
did it bring them a point nearer to an amalgamation with the people than
before? Mr. Borrow continues: "The position which they occupy is the
lowest. . . . . The outcast of the prison and the _presidio_, who calls
himself Spaniard, would feel insulted by being termed Gitano, and would
thank God that he is not." He continues: "It is, of course, by
intermarriage, alone, that the two races will ever commingle; and before
that event is brought about, much modification must take place amongst
the Gitanos, in their manners, in their habits, in their affections and
their dislikes, and perhaps _even in their physical peculiarities_, (yet
'no washing,' as Mr. Borrow approvingly quotes, 'will turn the Gipsy
white;') much must be forgotten on both sides, and everything is
forgotten in course of time." So great, indeed, was the prejudice
against the Gipsies, that the law of Charles III, in 1783, forbade the
people calling them Gitanos, under the penalty of being punished for
_slander!_ because, his majesty said: "I declare that those who go by
the name of Gitanos are not so by origin or nature; nor do they proceed
from any infected root(!)" What regard would the native Spaniards pay to
the injunction, that they would be punished for "slander," for calling
the Gipsies _Gitanos_, in place of _Spaniards_? We may well believe that
such a law would be a dead letter in Spain; where, according to Mr.
Borrow, "justice has invariably been a mockery; a thing to be bought and
sold, terrible only to the feeble and innocent, and an instrument of
cruelty and avarice."

Mr. Borrow leaves the question where he found it. Even remove the
prejudice that exists against the Gipsies, as regards their colour,
habits, and history; what then? Would they, as a people cease to be?
Would they amalgamate with the natives, _so as to be lost_? Assuredly
not. They may mix their blood, but they preserve their mental identity
in the world; even although, in point of physical appearance, habits,
manners, occupation, character, and creed, they might "become confounded
with the residue of the population." In that respect, they are the most
exclusive people of almost any to be found in the world. We have only to
consider what Freemasonry is, and we can form an idea of what Gipsyism
is, in one of its aspects. It rests upon the broadest of all
bases--flesh and blood, a common and mysterious origin, a common
language, a common history, a common persecution, and a common odium, in
every part of the world. Remove the prejudice against the Gipsies, make
it as respectable to be Gipsies, as the world, with its ignorance of
many of the race, deem it desreputable; what then? Some of them might
come out with their "tents and encampments," and banners and mottoes:
the "cuddy and the creel, the hammer and tongs, the tent and the tin
kettle" forever. People need not sneer at the "cuddy and the creel." The
idea conveys a world of poetry to the mind of a Gipsy. Mrs. Fall, of
Dunbar, thought it so poetical, that she had it, as we have seen, worked
in tapestry; and it is doubtless carefully preserved, as an heir-loom,
among her collateral descendants.[267]

  [267] There is a considerable resemblance between Gipsyism, in its
  harmless aspect, and Freemasonry; with this difference, that the
  former is a general, while the latter is a special, society; that is
  to say, the Gipsies have the language, or some of the words, and the
  signs, peculiar to the whole race, which each individual or class will
  use for different purposes. The race does not necessarily, and does
  not in fact, have intercourse with every other member of it; in that
  respect, they resemble any ordinary community of men. Masonry, as my
  reader may be aware, is a society of what may be termed "a mixed
  multitude of good fellows, who are all pledged to befriend and help
  each other." The radical elements of Masonry may be termed a "rope of
  sand," which the vows of the Order work into the most closely and
  strongly formed coil of any to be found in the world. But it is
  altogether of an artificial nature; while Gipsyism is
  natural--something that, when separated from objectionable habits, one
  might almost call divine; for it is founded upon a question of race--a
  question of blood. The cement of a creed is weak, in comparison with
  that which binds the Gipsies together; for a people, like an
  individual, may have one creed to-day, and another to-morrow; it may
  be continually travelling round the circle of every form of faith; but
  blood, under certain circumstances, is absolute and immutable.

  There are many Gipsies Freemasons; indeed, they are the very people to
  push their way into a Mason's lodge; for they have secrets of their
  own, and are naturally anxious to pry into those of others, by which
  they may be benefited. I was told of a Gipsy who died lately, the
  Master of a Masons' Lodge. A friend, a Mason, told me, the other day,
  of his having entered a house in Yetholm, where were five Gipsies, all
  of whom responded to his Masonic signs. Masons should therefore
  interest themselves in, and befriend, the Gipsies.

Mr. Borrow speaks of the Gipsies "declining" in Spain. Ask a Scotchman
about the Scottish Gipsies, and he will answer: "The Scotch Gipsies have
pretty much died out." "Died out?" I ask; "that is impossible; for who
are more prolific than Gipsies?" "Oh, then, they have become settled,
and civilized." "And _ceased to be Gipsies_?" I continue. "Exactly so,"
he replies. What idea can be more ridiculous than that of saying, that
if a Gipsy leaves the tent, settles in a town, and attends church, he
ceases to be a Gipsy; and that, if he takes to the tent again, he
becomes a Gipsy again? What has a man's occupation, habits, or
character, to do with his clan, tribe, or nationality? Does education,
does religion, remove from his mind a knowledge of who he is, or change
his blood? Are not our own Borderers and Highlanders as much Borderers
and Highlanders as ever they were? Are not Spanish Gipsies still Spanish
Gipsies, although a change may have come over the characters and
circumstances of some of them? It would be absurd to deny it.[268]

  [268] The principle, or rather fact, here involved, simple as it is in
  itself, is evidently very difficult of comprehension by the native
  Scottish mind. Any person understands perfectly well how a Highlander,
  at the present day, is still a Highlander, notwithstanding the great
  change that has come over the character of his race. But our Scottish
  _literati_ seem to have been altogether at sea, in comprehending the
  same principle as applicable to the Gipsies. They might naturally have
  asked themselves, whether _Gipsies_ could have procreated _Jews_; and,
  if not Jews, how they could have procreated _gorgios_, (as English
  Gipsies term natives.) A writer in Blackwood's Magazine says, in
  reference to Billy Marshall, a Gipsy chief, to whom allusion has
  already been made: "Who were his descendants I cannot tell; I am sure
  he could not do it himself, if he were living. It is known that they
  were prodigiously numerous; I dare say numberless." And yet this
  writer gravely says that "the _race_ is in some risk of becoming
  extinct(!)" Another writer in Blackwood says: "Their numbers may
  perhaps have since been diminished, in particular States, by _the
  progress of civilization_(_!_)" We would naturally pronounce any
  person crazy who would maintain that there were no Highlanders in
  Scotland, owing to their having "changed their habits." We could, with
  as much reason, say the same of those who will maintain this opinion
  in regard to the Gipsies. There has been a great deal of what is
  called genius expended upon the Gipsies, but wonderfully little common

  As the Jews, during their pilgrimage in the Wilderness, were protected
  from their enemies by a cloud, so have the Gipsies, in their encrease
  and development, been shielded from theirs, by a mist of ignorance,
  which, it would seem, requires no little trouble to dispel.

Mr. Borrow has not sufficiently examined into Spanish Gipsyism to pass a
reliable opinion upon it. He says: "One thing is certain, in the history
of the Gitanos; that the sect flourished and encreased, so long as the
law recommended and enjoined measures the most harsh and severe for its
suppression. . . . The caste of the Gitanos still exists, but is neither so
extensive, nor so formidable, as a century ago, when the law, in
denouncing Gitanismo, proposed to the Gitanos the alternatives of death
for persisting in their profession, or slavery for abandoning it." These
are very singular alternatives. The latter is certainly not to be found
in any of the Spanish laws quoted by Mr. Borrow. I am at a loss to
perceive the point of his reasoning. There can be no difficulty in
believing that Gipsies would rather _encrease_ in a state of peace, than
if they were hunted from place to place, like wild beasts; and
consequently, having renounced their former mode or life, they would, in
Mr. Borrow's own words, "cease to play a distinct part in the history of
Spain, and the _law_ would no longer speak of them as a distinct
people." And the same might, to a certain extent, be said of the Spanish
_people_. Mr. Borrow again says: "That the Gitanos are not so numerous
as in former times, witness those _barrios_, in various towns, still
denominated _Gitanerias_, but from whence the Gitanos have disappeared,
even like the Moors from the _Morerias_." But Mr. Borrow himself, in the
same work, gives a good reason for the disappearance of the Gipsies from
these _Gitanerias_; for he says: "The _Gitanerias_ were soon considered
as public nuisances, on which account the Gitanos were forbidden to live
together in particular parts of the town, to hold meetings, and even to
intermarry with each other." If the disappearance of the Gipsies from
Spain was like that of the Moors, it would appear that they had left, or
been expelled from, the country; a theory which Mr. Borrow does not
advance. The Gipsies, to a certain extent, may have left these barriers,
or been expelled from them, and settled, as tradesmen, mechanics, and
what not, in other parts of the same or other towns; so as to be in a
position the more able to get on in the world. Still, many of them are
in the colonies. In Cuba there are many, as soldiers and musicians,
dealers in mules and red pepper, which businesses they almost
monopolize, and jobbers and dealers in various wares; and doubtless
there are some of them innkeepers, and others following other
occupations. In Mexico there are not a few. I know of a Gitano who has a
fine wholesale and retail cigar store in Virginia.[269]

  [269] In Olmstead's "Journey in the Seaboard Slave States" it is
  stated, that in Alexandria, Louisiana, when under the Spanish rule,
  there were "French and Spanish, _Egyptians_ and Indians, Mulattoes and
  Negroes." This author reports a conversation which he had with a
  planter, by which it appears that these Egyptians came from "some of
  the Northern Islands;" that they spoke a language among themselves,
  but could talk French and Spanish too; that they were black, but not
  very black, and as good citizens as any, and passed for white folk.
  The planter believed they married mostly with mulattoes, and that a
  good many of the mulattoes had Egyptian blood in them too. He believed
  these Egyptians had disappeared since the State became part of the
  Union. Mr. Olmstead remarks: "The Egyptians were probably Spanish
  Gipsies, though I have never heard of any of them being in America in
  any other way."

Mr. Borrow concludes, in regard to the Spanish Gipsies, thus: "We have
already expressed our belief that the caste has diminished of latter
years; whether this diminution was the result of one or many causes
combined; of a _partial change of habits_, of pestilence or sickness, of
war or famine, or of a _freer intercourse with the Spanish population_,
we have no means of determining, and shall abstain from offering
conjectures on the subject." In this way does he leave the question just
where he found it. Is there any reason to doubt that Gipsydom is
essentially the same in Spain as in Great Britain; or that its future
will be guided by any other principles than those which regulate that of
the British Gipsies? Indeed, I am astonished that Mr. Borrow should
advance the idea that Gipsies should _decrease_ by "changing their
habits;" they might not _encrease so fast_, in a settled life, as when
more exposed to the air, and not molested by the Spanish Government. I
am no less astonished that he should think they would decrease by "a
freer intercourse with the Spanish population;" when, in fact, such
mixtures are well known to go with the Gipsies; the mixture being, in
the estimation of the British Gipsies, calculated to strengthen and
invigorate the race itself. Had Mr. Borrow kept in mind the case of the
half-blood Gipsy captain, he could have had no difficulty in learning
what became of mixed Gipsies.[270]

  [270] Mr. Borrow surely cannot mean that a Gipsy ceases to be a Gipsy,
  when he settles down, and "turns over a new leaf;" and that this
  "change of habits" changes his descent, blood, appearance, language
  and nationality! What, then, does he mean, when he says that the
  Spanish Gipsies have decreased by "a partial change of habits?"

  And does an infusion of Spanish blood, implied in a "freer intercourse
  with the Spanish population," lead to the Gipsy element being wiped
  out; or does it lead to the Spanish feeling being lost in Gipsydom?
  Which is the element to be operated upon--the Spanish or the Gipsy?
  Which is the _leaven_? The Spanish element is the _passive_, the Gipsy
  the _active_. As a question of philosophy, the most simple of
  comprehension, and, above all, as a matter of fact, the foreign
  element introduced, _in detail_, into the _body_ of Gipsydom, goes
  with that body, and, in feeling, becomes incorporated with it,
  although, in physical appearance, it changes the Gipsy race, so that
  it becomes "confounded with the residue of the population," but
  remains Gipsy, as before. A Spanish Gipsy is a Spaniard as he stands,
  and it would be hard to say what we should ask him to do, to become
  more a Spaniard than he is already.

It doubtless holds in Spain, as in Great Britain, that as the Gipsy
enters into settled life, and engages in a respectable calling, he hides
his descent, and even mixes his blood with that of the country, and
becomes ashamed of the name before the public; but is as much, at heart,
a Gipsy, as any others of his race. And this theory is borne out by Mr.
Borrow himself, when he speaks of "the unwillingness of the Spanish
Gipsies to utter, when speaking of themselves, the detested expression
Gitano; a word which seldom escapes their mouths." We might therefore
conclude, that the Spanish Gipsies, with the exception of the more
original and bigoted stock, would _hide their nationality_ from the
common Spaniards, and so escape their notice. It is not at all likely
that the half-pay Gipsy captain would mention to the public that he was
a Gipsy, although he admitted it to Mr. Borrow, under the peculiar
circumstances in which he met him. My Spanish acquaintance informs me
that the Gitanos, generally, hide their nationality from the rest of the

Such a case is evidently told by Mr. Borrow, in the vagabond Gipsy,
Antonio, at Badajoz, who termed a rich Gipsy, living in the same town, a
hog, because he evidently would not countenance him. Antonio may
possibly have been kicked out of his house, in attempting to enter it.
He accused him of having married a Spaniard, and of fain attempting to
pass himself for a Spaniard. As regards the wife, she might have been a
Gipsy with very little of "the blood" in her veins; or a Spaniard,
reared by Gipsies; or an ordinary Spanish maiden, to whom the Gipsy
would teach his language, as sometimes happens among the English
Gipsies. His wishing to pass for a Spaniard had nothing to do with his
being, but not wishing to be known as, a Gipsy. The same is done by
almost all our Scottish Gipsies. In England, those who do not follow the
tent--I mean the more mixed and better-class--are even afraid of each
other. "Afraid of what?" said I, to such an English Gipsy; "ashamed of
being Gipsies?" "No, sir," (with great emphasis;) "not ashamed of being
Gipsies, but of being _known to other people as Gipsies_." "A world of
difference," I replied. What does the world hold to be a _Gipsy_, and
what does it hold to be the _feelings of a man_? If we consider these
two questions, we can have little difficulty in understanding the wish
of such Gipsies to disguise themselves. It is in this way, and in the
mixing of the blood, that this so-called "dying out of the Gipsies" is
to be accounted for.[271]

  [271] Mr. Borrow mentions, in the twenty-second chapter of the "Bible
  in Spain," having met several cavalry soldiers from Granada, Gipsies
  _incog._ who were surprised at being discovered to be Gipsies. They
  had been impressed, but carried on a trade in horses, in league with
  the captain of their company. They said: "We have been to the wars,
  but not to fight; we left that to the Busné. We have kept together,
  and like true Caloré, have stood back to back. We have made money in
  the wars."

It is singular that Mr. Borrow should attribute the change which has
come over the Spanish Gipsies, so much to the law passed by Charles III.
in 1783; and that he should characterize it as an enlightened, wise, and
liberal law; distinguished by justice and clemency; and as being
calculated to exert considerable influence over the destiny of the race;
nay, as being the principal, if not the only, cause for the "decline" of
it in Spain. It was headed: "Rules for _repressing_ and _chastising_ the
vagrant mode of life, and other excesses, of those who are called
Gitanos." Article II. forbids, under penalties, the Gipsies "using their
_language_, dress, or vagrant kind of life, which they had hitherto
followed." Article XI. prohibits them from "wandering about the roads
and uninhabited places, even with the pretext of _visiting markets and
fairs_." Article IX. reads thus: "Those _who have abandoned the dress,
name, language or jargon, associations and manners of Gitanos_, and
shall have, moreover, chosen and established a domicile, but shall not
have devoted themselves to any office or employment, though it be only
that of day-labourer, shall be _proceeded against as common vagrants_."
Articles XVI. and XVII. enact, that "the children, and young people of
both sexes, who are not above sixteen years of age, shall be separated
from their parents, _who wander about and have no employment_, [which
was forbidden by the law itself,] and shall be destined to learn
something, or shall be placed out in hospices or houses of instruction."
Article XX. _dooms to death, without remission, Gipsies who, for the
second time, relapse into their old habits_.

I cannot agree with Mr. Borrow, when he says, that this law "differs in
_character_" from any which had hitherto been enacted, in connection
with the body in Spain, if I take those preceding it, as given by
himself. The only difference between it and some of the previous laws
is, that it allowed the Gipsy to be admitted to whatever office or
employment _to which he might apply himself_, and likewise to any guilds
or communities; but it prohibited him from settling in the capital, or
any of the royal residences; and forbade him, _on pain of death_, to
publicly profess what he was--that is, a Gipsy. With the trifling
exceptions mentioned, the law of Charles III. was as foolish a one as
ever was passed against the Gipsies. These very exceptions show what the
letter, whatever the execution, of previous laws must have been. Nor can
we form any opinion as to the effects the law in question had upon the
Gipsies, unless we know how it was carried out. The law of the Empress
Maria Theresa produced no effect upon the Gipsies in Hungary. "In
Hungary," says Mr. Borrow, "two classes are free to do what they
please--the nobility and the Gipsies--the one above the law, the other
below it." And what did Mr. Borrow find the Gipsies in Hungary? In
England, the last instances of condemnation, under the old sanguinary
laws, happened a few years before the Restoration, although these were
not repealed till 23d Geo. III., c. 54. The Gipsies in England can
follow any employment, common to the ordinary natives, they please: and
how has Mr. Borrow described them there? In Scotland, the tribe have
been allowed to do nothing, not even acknowledge their existence, as
Gipsies: and this work describes what they are in that country.

Instead of the law of Charles III. exercising any great beneficial
influence over the character of the Spanish Gipsies, I would attribute
the change in question to what Mr. Borrow himself says: "It must be
remembered that during the last seventy years, a revolution has been
progressing in Spain, slowly it is true; and such a revolution may have
affected the Gitanos." The Spanish Gipsy proverb, "Money is to be found
in the town, not in the country," has had its influence on bringing the
race to settle in towns. And by residing in towns, and not being
persecuted, they have, in Mr. Borrow's own words, "insensibly become
more civilized than their ancestors, and their habits and manners less
ferocious." The only good which the law of Charles III. seems to have
done to the Spanish Gipsies was, as already said, to permit them to
follow any occupation, and be admitted to any guilds, or communities,
(barring the capital, and royal residences,) they pleased; but only on
the condition, and that _on the pain of death_, that they _renounced
every imaginable thing connected with their tribe_; which, we may
reasonably assume, no Gipsy submitted to, however much in appearance he
might have done so.

But it is doubtful if the law of Charles III. was anything but the one
which it was customary for every Spanish monarch to issue against the
tribe. Mr. Borrow says: "Perhaps there is no country in which more laws
have been framed, having in view the suppression and extinction of the
Gipsy name, race, and manner of life, than Spain. Every monarch, during
a period of three hundred years, appears, at his accession to the
throne, to have considered that one of his first and most imperative
duties consisted in suppressing and checking the robberies, frauds, and
other enormities of the Gitanos, with which the whole country seems to
have resounded since the time of their first appearance." The fact of so
many laws being passed against the Gipsies, is, to my mind, ample proof,
as I shall afterwards explain, that few, if any, of them were put, to
any extent, in force; and that the act in question, viewed in itself, as
distinct from the laws previously in existence, was little more than a
form. It contains a flourish of liberality, implied in the Gitanos being
allowed to enter, if they pleased, any guilds, (which they were not
likely to do,) or communities, (where they were doubtless already;) but
it debars, (that is, expels,) them from the king's presence, at the
capital or any of the royal residences. Moreover, it allowed the Gitano
to be "admitted to whatever office or employment to which he might apply
himself," (against which, there probably was, or should have been, no
law in existence.) His majesty must also impose his pragmatical conceit
upon his loyal subjects, by telling them, that "Gitanos are _not_
Gitanos"--that they "do _not_ proceed from any infected root;" and
threaten them, that if they maintain the contrary, and call them
Gitanos, he will have them punished for slander!

The Gipsies, after a residence of 350 years in the country, would have
comparatively little notice taken of them, under this law, except when
they made themselves really obnoxious, or gave an official an occasion
to display his authority, or his zeal for the public service.[272]
Whatever may have been the treatment which the Gipsies experienced at
the hands of the _civil_ authorities, the _church_ does not seem to have
disturbed, and far less distressed, them. Mr. Borrow represents a priest
of Cordova, formerly an Inquisitor, saying to him: "I am not aware of
one case of a Gitano having been tried or punished by the Inquisition.
The Inquisition always looked upon them with too much contempt, to give
itself the slightest trouble concerning them; for, as no danger, either
to the State or to the Church of Rome, could proceed from the Gitanos,
it was a matter of perfect indifference to the holy office whether they
lived without religion or not. The holy office has always reserved its
anger for people very different; the Gitano having, at all times, been
_Gente barrata y despreciable_."

  [272] It would seem that the law in Spain, in regard to the Gipsies,
  stands pretty much where it did--that is, the people are, in a sense,
  tolerated, but that the use of their language is prohibited, as may be
  gathered from an incident mentioned in the ninth chapter of the "Bible
  in Spain," by Mr. Borrow.

Should the Spanish Gipsies not now assist each other, to the extent they
did when banditti, under the special proscription of the Government, it
would be absurd to say that they were therefore not as much Gipsies as
ever they were. The change in this respect arose, to some extent, from
the toleration extended to them, as a people and as individuals, whether
by the law, or society in general. Such Gipsies as Mr. Borrow seems to
have associated with, in Spain, were not likely to be very reliable
authority on the questions at issue; for he has described them as "being
endowed with a kind of instinct, (in lieu of reason,) which assists them
to a very limited extent, and no further."

Might it not be in Spain as in Great Britain? Even in England, those
that pass for Gipsies are few in number, compared to the mixed Gipsies,
following various occupations; for a large part of the Gipsy blood in
England has, as it were, been spread over a large surface of the white.
In Scotland it is almost altogether so. There seems considerable reason
for believing that Gipsydom is, perhaps, as much mixed in Spain as in
Great Britain, although Mr. Borrow has taken no notice of it. We have
seen, (page 92.) how severe an enactment was passed by Queen Elizabeth,
against "any person, whether natural born or _stranger_, to be seen in
the fellowship of the Gipsies, or disguised like them." In the law of
Ferdinand and Isabella, the first passed against the Gipsies, in Spain,
a class of people is mentioned, in conjunction with them, but
distinguished from them, by the name of "foreign tinkers." Philip III.,
at Belan, in Portugal, in 1619, commands all Gipsies to quit the kingdom
within six months. "Those who should wish to remain are to establish
themselves in cities, and are not to be allowed to use the dress, name,
and language, in order, that forasmuch as they are not such by
nation,(!) this name, and manner of life, may be for evermore confounded
and forgotten(!)" Philip IV., on the 8th May, 1633, declares "that they
are not Gipsies by origin or nature, but have adopted this form of
life(!)" This idea of "Gitanos _not_ being Gitanos, and _not_ proceeding
from any infected root," was not original with Charles III., in 1783;
his proclamation having been in formal keeping with previous ones,
whether of his own country, or, as in Scotland, in 1603, "recommended by
the example of some other realm," (page 111.) There had evidently been a
great curiosity to know who some of the "not Gipsies by origin and
nature," (evidently judging from their appearance,) could be; for Philip
IV. enacts, "that they shall, within two months, leave the quarters
where now they _live with the denomination of Gitanos_, and that they
shall _separate from each other_, and _mingle with the other
inhabitants_: that the ministers of justice are to observe, _with
particular diligence_, whether they _hold communication with each
other_, or _marry among themselves_."

The "foreign tinkers" mentioned in the Act of Ferdinand and Isabella,
and the individuals distinguished from the Gipsies in that of Queen
Elizabeth, were doubtless _mixed_ Gipsies; whose relationship with the
Gipsies proper, and isolation from the common natives, are very
distinctly pointed out in the above extract from the law of Philip IV.
Mr. Borrow expresses a great difficulty to understand who these people
could be, _if not Gipsies_. How easy it is to get quit of the
difficulty, by concluding that they were Gipsies whose blood, perhaps
for the most part, was native; and who had been brought into the body in
the manner explained in the Preface to this work, and more fully
illustrated in this Disquisition. If Mr. Borrow found in Spain a
half-pay captain, in the service of Donna Isabel, with _flaxen_ hair, a
_thorough Gipsy_, who spoke Gipsy and Latin, with great fluency, and his
cousin, Jara, in all probability another Gipsy, what difficulty can
there be in believing, that the "foreign tinkers," or tinkers of any
kind, now to be met with in Spain, are, like the same class in Great
Britain and Ireland, Gipsies of mixed blood? Indeed, the young Spaniard,
to whom I have alluded, informs me that the Gipsies in Spain are very
much mixed. Mr. Borrow himself admits that the Gipsy blood in Spain has
been mixed; for, in speaking of the old Gipsy counts, he says: "It was
the counts who determined what individuals were to be admitted into the
fellowship and privileges of the Gitanos. . . . . They (the Gipsies)
were not to teach the language to any but those who, by birth or
_inauguration_, belonged to that sect." And he gives a case in point, in
the bookseller of Logrono, who was married to the only daughter of a
Gitano count; upon whose death, the daughter and son-in-law succeeded to
the authority which he had exercised in the tribe. If the Gipsies in
Spain were not mixed in point of blood, why should they have taken Mr.
Borrow for a Gipsy, as he said they did? The persecutions to which the
race in Spain were subjected were calculated to lead to a mixture of the
blood, as in Scotland, for the reasons given in the Preface; but,
perhaps, not to the same extent; as the Spanish Acts seem to have given
the tribe an opportunity of escape, under the condition of settling,
&c., &c., which would probably be complied with, nominally, for the time
being; while the face of part of the country would afford a refuge till
the storm had blown over. (See pages 71 and 114.)

It is very likely that the following people, described by Paget, in his
travels in Central Europe, are mixed Gipsies. He says: "In almost every
part of the Austrian dominions are to be found a kind of wandering
tinkers, wire-workers, and menders of crockery, whose language appears
to be that of the Sclaves, who travel about, and, at certain seasons,
return to their own settlements, where the women and children remain
during their absence." The wandering Rothwelsh, perhaps the same
mentioned by Paget, may be mixed Gipsies. In the Encyclopædia Britannica
they are spoken of as "a vagabond people, in the south of Germany, who
have sometimes been confounded with the Gipsies." The _appearance_ of
such persons has nothing to do with their being, or not being, members
of Gipsydom.[273]

  [273] Paget says these tinkers leave their women and children at home
  when on their travels. That is not customary with the tribe, although
  it may be their habit in the Austrian dominions.

I will now consider the present condition of the Scottish Gipsies. But,
to commence with, what is the native capacity of a Gipsy? It is good.
Take a common tinkering Gipsy, without a particle of education, and
compare him with a common native, without a particle of education, and
the tinker, in point of smartness, is worth, perhaps, a dozen of the
other. If not a learned, he is at least a travelled, Athenian,
considerably rubbed up by his intercourse with the world. This is the
proper way by which to judge of the capacity of a Gipsy. It will differ
somewhat according to the countries and circumstances in which he is
found. Grellmann, about the year 1780, says, of evidently the more
original kind of Hungarian Gipsies: "Imagine a people of childish
thoughts, whose minds are filled with raw, undigested conceptions,
guided more by sense than reason, and using understanding and reflection
only so far as they promote the gratification of any particular
appetite; and you have a perfect sketch of the general character of the
Gipsies." "They are lively, uncommonly loquacious, fickle to an extreme;
consequently, inconstant in their pursuits." Bischoff, in speaking of
the German Gipsies, in 1827, says: "They have a good understanding, an
excellent memory, are quick of comprehension, lively and talkative." Mr.
Borrow, in evident allusion to the very lowest, and most ignorant, class
of the Spanish Gipsies, says: "They seem to hunt for their bread, as if
they were not of the human, but rather of the animal, species, and, in
lieu of reason, were endowed with a kind of instinct, which assists them
to a very limited extent, and no further." I admit that this class of
Gipsies may have as little intellect as there is in an ant-catcher's
nose, but the remark can apply to them exclusively.

Without taking into account any opinion expressed by other writers on
the Gipsies, Mr. Borrow says: "Should it be urged that certain
individuals have found them very different from what they are
represented in these volumes, ('The Gipsies in Spain,') he would frankly
say that he yields no credit to the presumed fact." And he refers his
readers to his Spanish-Gipsy vocabulary for the words _hoax_ and
_hocus_, as a reason for such an opinion! He himself gives descriptions
of quite a different caste. For example, he speaks of a rich Gipsy
appearing in a fair, at Leon, in Spain, with a twenty thousand dollar
credit in his pocket. And of another Gipsy, a native of Constantinople,
who had visited the most remote and remarkable portions of the world,
"passing over it like a cloud;" and who spoke several dialects of the
Malay, and understood the original language of Java. This Gipsy, he
says, dealt in precious stones and poisons; and that there is scarcely a
bey or satrap in Persia, or Turkey, whom he has not supplied with both.
In Moscow, he says, "There are not a few who inhabit stately houses, go
abroad in elegant equipages, and are behind the higher orders of the
Russians, neither in appearance nor mental acquirements." From these
specimens, one might naturally conclude that there was some room for
discrimination among different classes of Gipsies, instead of rating
them as having the intellect of ant-catchers.

When the Gipsies appeared in Scotland, the natives themselves, as I have
already said, were nearly wholly uneducated. Many of the Gipsies, then,
and long afterwards, being smart, presumptuous, overbearing, audacious
fellows, seem to have assumed great importance, and been looked upon as
no small people by the authorities and the inhabitants of the country.
In every country in which they have settled, they seem to have
instinctively and very readily appreciated the ways and spirit of the
people, while, at the same time, they preserved what belonged
particularly to themselves--their Gipsyism. Gipsydom being, in its very
essence, a "working in among other people," "a people within a people,"
it followed, that marriages between adopted Gipsies, and even Gipsies
themselves, and the ordinary natives, would be encouraged, were it only
to contribute to their existence in the country. The issue of such
marriages, go where they might, would become centres of little Gipsy
circles, which, in their turn, would throw off members that would become
the centres of other little Gipsy circles; the leaven of Gipsydom
leavening into a lamp everything that proceeded out of itself. To such
an extent has this been followed, that, at the present day, the Scottish
Gipsies--at least the generality of them--have every outward
characteristic of Scotchmen. But the secret of being Gipsies, which they
carry in their bosoms, makes them appear a little queer to others; they
have a something about them that makes them look somewhat odd to the
other Scotchman, who is not "one of them," although he does not know the
cause of it.

Upon, or shortly after, their arrival, they seem to have divided the
country among themselves; each tribe exercising its rights over its own
territory, to the exclusion of others, just as a native lord would have
done against other natives; with a system of passes, regulated by
councils of local or provincial chieftains, and a king, over all. The
Scottish Gipsies, from the very first, seem to have been thoroughly
versed in their vocation, from having had about a hundred years'
experience, in some other part of Europe, before they settled in
Scotland; although stragglers of their race evidently had made their
appearance in the country many years before. What might have been the
number of Gipsies then in Scotland, it is impossible to conjecture; it
must have been considerable, if we judge from what is said in Wraxall's
History of France, vol. 2, page 32, when, in reference to the Act of
Queen Elizabeth, in 1563, he states, that, in her reign, the Gipsies
throughout England were supposed to exceed ten thousand. The employments
of the original Gipsies, within their respective districts, seem to have
been what is described under the head of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale
Gipsies; that is, tinkering, making spoons and other wares, petty
trading, telling fortunes, living as much as possible at free-quarters,
dealing in horses, and visiting fairs. It is extremely likely that those
who travelled Tweed-dale, for example, always averaged about the same
number, down to the time of the American Revolution, (except in times of
civil commotion, when they would have the country pretty much to
themselves,) and were confined to such of the families of the respective
tribes, or the members of these families, in whom the right was
hereditary. The consequence seems to have been, that perhaps the younger
members of the family had to betake themselves to towns and villages,
and engage in whatever they could possibly turn their hands to. Some
would, of course, take to the highway, and kindred fields of industry.
Admitting that the circumstances attending the Gipsies in Scotland, at
that time, and subsequently, were the same, as regards the manner of
making a living, which attend those in England, at the present day,
(with this difference, that they could more easily roam at large then
than now,) and we can have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion how
the surplus of the tented Gipsy population was disposed of. Among the
English Gipsies of to-day, taking year with year, and tent with tent,
there is, yearly, a continual moving out of the tent; a kind of Gipsy
crop is annually gathered from tented Gipsydom; and some of these
gradually find themselves drawn into almost every kind of mechanical or
manual labour, even to working in coal-mines and iron-works; others
become peddlers, itinerant auctioneers, and _tramps_ of almost every
imaginable kind; not to speak of those who visit fairs, in various
capacities, or engage in various settled traffic.

Put a Gipsy to any occupation you like, and he shows a capability and
handiness that is astonishing, if he can only muster up steadiness in
his new vocation. But it is difficult to break him off the tent; he will
return, and lounge, for weeks together, about that of his father, or
some other relative. But get him fairly out of the tent, married, and,
in a degree, settled to some occupation, in a town where there are not
too many of his own race in close proximity to him, but where he gets
mixed up, in his daily avocation, with the common natives, and he sooner
or later falls into the ranks. Still, his intimate associations are
always with Gipsies; for his ardent attachment to his people, and a
corresponding resentment of the prejudice that exists against it, keep
him aloof from any intimate intercourse with the ordinary inhabitants;
his associations with them hardly ever extending beyond the commons or
the public-house. If he experiences an attack from his old habits, he
will take to the tramp, from town to town, working at his mechanical
occupation; leaving his wife and children at home. But it is not long
before he returns. His children, having been born and reared in a town,
become habituated to a settled life, like other people.

There is a vast amount of ambition about every Gipsy, which is
displayed, among the humble classes, in all kinds of athletic
exercises.[274] The same peculiarity is discernible among the educated
Scottish Gipsies. Carrying about with them the secret of being Gipsies,
which they assume would be a terrible imputation cast upon them by the
ordinary natives, if they knew of it, they, as it were, fly up, like
game-cocks, and show a disposition to surpass the others in one way or
other; particularly as they consider themselves better than the common
inhabitants. They must always be "cock of the company," master of
ceremonies, or stand at the top of the tree, if possible. The reader may
ask, how do they consider themselves better than the ordinary natives?
And I answer, that, from having been so long in Scotland, they are
Scotchmen, (as indeed they are, for the most part, in point of blood,)
and consider themselves as good as the others--nay, smarter than others
in the same sphere, which, generally speaking, they are; and, in
addition to that, being Gipsies, a great deal better. They pique
themselves on their descent, and on being in possession of secrets which
are peculiarly and exclusively theirs, and which they imagine no other
knows, or will ever know. They feel that they are part and parcel of
those mysterious beings who are an enigma to others, no less than to
themselves. Besides this vanity, which is peculiar to the Gipsy
everywhere, the Scottish Gipsies have chimed in with all the native
Scotch ideas of clanism, kith, kin, and consequence, as regards family,
descent, and so forth; and applied them so peculiarly to themselves, as
to render their opinion of their body as something of no small
importance. Some of them, whose descent leads them more directly back to
the tented stock, speak of their families having possessed this district
or the other district of the country, as much, almost, as we would
expect to hear from some native Scottish chieftain.

  [274] "I was one of these verminous ones, one of these great
  sin-breeders; I infected all the youth of the town where I was born
  with all manner of youthful vanities. The neighbours counted me so; my
  practice proved me so: wherefore Christ Jesus took me first, and
  taking me first, the contagion was much allayed all the town

As regards the various phases of history through which many of the
Scottish Gipsies have passed, we can only form an estimate from what has
been observed in recent times. The further back, however, we go, the
greater were their facilities to rise to a position in society; for this
reason, that a very little education, joined to good natural talents,
were all that was necessary, in a mixed Gipsy, to raise himself in the
world, at the time to which I allude. He could leave the district in
which, when a youth, he had travelled, with his parents; settle in a
town where he was not personally known; commence some traffic, and, by
his industry, gradually raise himself up, and acquire wealth. He would
not lack a proper degree of innate manners, or personal dignity, to
deport himself with propriety in any ordinary company into which he
might enter. Even at the present day, in Scotland, a poor Gipsy will
commence life with a wheelbarrow, then get a donkey-cart, and, in a few
years, have a very respectable crockery-shop. I am intimate with an
English mixed Gipsy family, the father of which commenced life as a
basket-maker, was afterwards a constable, and now occasionally travels
with the tent. His son is an M. D., for I have seen his diploma; and is
a smart, intelligent fellow, and quite an adept at chemistry. To
illustrate the change that has taken place among some of the Scottish
Gipsies, within the last fifty years, I may mention that the
grand-children of a prominent Gipsy, mentioned in chapter V., follow, at
the present day, the medical, the legal, and the mercantile professions.
Such occurrences have been frequent in Scotland. There are the cases
mentioned by our author; such as one of the Faas rising to such eminence
in the mercantile world, at Dunbar; and another who rose to the rank of
lieutenant in the East India Company's service; and the Baillie family,
which furnished a captain and a quarter-master to the army, and a
country surgeon. These are but instances of many others, if they were
but known. Some may object, that these were not full-blood Gipsies.
That, I readily admit. But the objection is more nominal than real. 'If
a white were to proceed to the interior of the American continent, and
cast his lot with a tribe of Indians, his children would, of course, be
expected to be superior, in some respects, to the children of the native
blood exclusively, owing to what the father might be supposed to teach
them. But it is different in the case of a white marrying a Scottish
Gipsy woman, born and reared in the same community with himself; for the
white, in general cases, brings only his blood, which enables the
children, if they take after himself, in appearance, to enter such
places as the black Gipsies would not enter, or might not be allowed to
enter. The white father, in such a case, might not even be so
intelligent as the Gipsy mother. Be that as it may, the individuals to
whom I have alluded were nothing but Gipsies; possibly they did not know
when, or through whom, the white blood was introduced among them; they
knew, at least, that they were Gipsies, and that the links which
connected them with the past were substantially Gipsy links. Besides the
Scottish Gipsies rising to respectable positions in life, by their own
exertions, I can well believe that Gipsydom has been well brought up
through the female line; especially at a time when females, and
particularly country females, were rude and all but uneducated. Who more
capable of doing that than the lady Baillies, of Tweed-dale, and the
lady Wilsons, of Stirlingshire? Such Gipsy girls could "turn natives
round their little fingers" and act, in a way, the lady at once; "turn
over a new leaf," and "pin it down;" and conduct themselves with great

Upon a superior Scottish Gipsy settling in a town, and especially a
small town, and wishing to appear respectable, he would naturally take a
pew in the church, and attend public worship, were it only, as our
author asserts, to hide the fact of his being a Gipsy. Because, among
the Scotch, there is that prying inquisitiveness into their neighbours'
affairs, that compels a person to be very circumspect, in all his
actions, movements, and expressions, if he wishes to be thought anything
of, at all. The habit of attending church would then become as regular,
in the Gipsy's family, as in the families of the ordinary natives, and,
in a great measure, proceed from as legitimate a motive. The family
would be very polite, indeed, extra polite, to their neighbours. After
they had lulled to sleep every suspicion of what they were, or, by their
really good conduct, had, according to the popular idea, "ceased to be
Gipsies," they would naturally encourage a formal acquaintance with
respectable (and nothing but respectable,) people in the place. The
Gipsy himself, a really good fellow at heart, honourable in his
dealings, but fond of a bargain, when he could drive a bargain, and,
moreover, a jovial fellow, would naturally make plenty of business and
out-door friends, at least. Rising in circumstances and the public
esteem, he makes up his mind that his children ought to be something
better than himself, at all events; in short, that they ought not to be
behind those of his respectable neighbours. Some of them he, therefore,
educates for a liberal profession. The Gipsy himself becomes more and
more ambitious: besides attending church, he must become an elder of the
church; or it may be that the grace of God takes hold of him, and brings
him into the fold. He and his wife conduct themselves with much
propriety; but some of the boys are rather wild; the girls, however,
behave well. Altogether, the whole family is very much thought of. Such
is a Scottish Gipsy family, (the parents of which are now dead,) that I
have in my mind at the present moment. No suspicion existed in regard to
the father, but there was a breath of suspicion in regard to the mother.
But what difference did that make? What knowledge had the public of the
nature of Gipsydom?

Consider, then, that the process which I have attempted to describe has
been going on, more or less, for at least the last three hundred and
fifty years; and I may well ask, where might we _not_ expect to meet
with Gipsies, in Scotland, at the present day? And I reply, that we will
meet with them in every sphere of Scottish life, not excepting, perhaps,
the very highest. There are Gipsies among the very best Edinburgh
families. I am well acquainted with Scotchmen, youths and men of middle
age, of education and character, and who follow very respectable
occupations, that are Gipsies, and who admit that they are Gipsies. But,
apart from my own knowledge, I ask, is it not a fact, that, a few years
ago, a pillar of the Scottish church, at Edinburgh, upon the occasion of
founding a society for the reformation of the poor class of Scottish
Gipsies, and frequently thereafter, said that he himself was a Gipsy? I
ask, again, is not that a fact? It is a fact. And such a man! Such
prayers! Such deep-toned, sonorous piety! Such candour! Such judgment!
Such amiability of manners! How much respected! How worthy of respect!
The good, the godly, the saintly doctor! When will we meet his like

  [275] "Grand was the repose of his lofty brow, dark eye, and aspect of
  soft and melancholy meaning. It was a face from which every evil and
  earthly passion seemed purged. A deep gravity lay upon his
  countenance, which had the solemnity, without the sternness, of one of
  our old reformers. You could almost fancy a halo completing its
  apostolic character."

This leads me to speak of a high-class Scottish Gipsy family--the Falls,
who settled at Dunbar, as merchants, alluded to under the chapter on
Border Gipsies.[276] Who can doubt that they were Gipsies to the last?
How could they avoid being Gipsies? The Gipsies were their people; their
blood was Gipsy blood. How could they get rid of their blood and
descent? Could they throw either off, as they would an old coat? Could
medical science rid them of either? Assuredly not. They admitted their
descent, _over their cups_. But being _descendants of Gipsies_, and yet
_not Gipsies_, is a contradiction in terms. The principles which
regulate the descent of other Gipsy families applied equally to theirs.
The fact that Mrs. Fall had the history of her people, in the act of
leaving Yetholm, represented in tapestry, may be taken as but a straw
that indicated how the wind blew. Was not old Will Faa, the Gipsy king,
down to his death, at the end of the first American war, admitted to
their hospitality as a relative? And do not the Scottish Gipsies, at
the present day, claim them to have been Gipsies? Why might not the
Falls glory in being Egyptians among themselves, but not to others? Were
not their ancestors _kings_? "Wee kings," no doubt, but still kings; one
of them being the "loved John Faw," of James V., whom all the tribe
consider as a great man, (which, doubtless, he was, in that barbarous
age,) and the principal of the thirteen patriarchs of Scottish
Gipsydom. Was not a Gipsy king, (themselves being Gipsies,) an ancestor
of far more respect, in their eyes, than the founder of a native
family, in their neighbourhood; who, in the reign of Charles II.,
was a common country _snip_, and most likely commenced life with
"whipping the cat" around the country, for fivepence a day, and
victuals and clippings?[277]

  [276] Burns alludes to this family, thus: "Passed through the most
  glorious corn country I ever saw, till I reached Dunbar, a neat little
  town. Dine with Provost Fall, an eminent merchant, and most
  respectable character, but indescribable, as he exhibits no marked
  traits. Mrs. Fall, a genius in painting; fully more clever in the fine
  arts and sciences than my friend Lady Wauchope, without her consummate
  assurance of her own abilities."--_Life of Burns, by Robert Chambers._

  The crest of the Falls, of Dunbar, was _three_ boars' heads, couped;
  that of Baillie, of Lamington, is _one_ boar's head, couped. In the
  Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835,) appears the following notice
  of this family: "A family, of the name of Fall, established themselves
  at Dunbar, and became, during the last century, the most extensive
  merchants in Scotland. They were long the chief magistrates of the
  burgh, and preferred the public good to their own profit. They have
  left no one to bear their name, _not even a stone to tell where they
  lie_; but they will long be remembered for their enterprise and public
  spirit." There is apparently a reason for "not even a stone being left
  to tell where they lie;" for in Hoyland's "Survey of the Gipsies"
  appeared the account of Baillie Smith, in which it is said: "The
  descendants of Faa now take the name of Fall, from the Messrs. Fall,
  of Dunbar, who, they pride themselves in saying, _are of the same
  stock and lineage_;" which seems to have frightened their connexions
  at being known to be Gipsies.

  Let all that has been said of the Falls be considered as their
  monument and epitaph; so that their memories may be preserved as long
  as this work exists.

  It would be interesting to know who the Captain Fall was, who visited
  Dunbar, with an American ship-of-war, during the time of Paul Jones.
  He might have been a descendant of a Gipsy, sent to the plantations,
  in the olden times. There are, as I have said before, a great many
  scions of Gipsy Faas, under one name or other, scattered over the

  [277] _Whipping the cat_: Tailoring from house to house. The _cat_ is
  _whipped_ by females, as well as males, in America, in some parts of
  which the expression is current.

The truth of the matter is, these Falls must have considered themselves
a world better than other people, merely on account of their being
Gipsies, as all Gipsies do, arising, in part, from that antagonistic
spirit of opposition which the prejudice of their fellow-creatures is so
much calculated to stir up in their minds. Saying, over their cups, that
they were descended from the Faws, the historical Gipsy name in
Scotland, did not divulge very much to the public. For what idea had the
public of the _working of Gipsydom_--what idea of the Gipsy language?
Did the public know of the existence of a Gipsy language in Scotland? In
all probability, it generally did not. If the public heard a Tinkler use
a strange word, all that it would think of it would be, that it was
_cant_, confined to vagabonds strolling the country. Would it ever dream
that what the vagabonds used was carefully preserved and spoken among
the great Falls, of Dunbar, within the sanctity of their own dwellings,
as it assuredly must have been? Would the public believe in such a
thing, if even its own ears were made the witnesses to it? Was the love
which the Falls had for their Yetholm connexion confined to a mere group
of their ancestors worked in tapestry? Where was the Gipsy language,
during all this time? Assuredly it was well preserved in their family.
If it showed the least symptoms of falling off, how easily could the
mothers bring into the family, as servants, other Gipsies, who would
teach it to the children! For, besides the dazzling hold which the Gipsy
language takes of the mind of a Gipsy, as the language of those black,
mysterious heroes from whom he is descended, the keeping of it up forms
the foundation of that self-respect which a Gipsy has for himself,
amidst the prejudice of the world; from which, at the bottom of his
heart, whatever his position in life, or character, or associations, may
be, he considers himself separated. I am decidedly of opinion that all
the domestics about this Fall family were Gipsies of one caste, colour,
condition, or what not.

Then, we are told that Miss Fall, who married Sir John Anstruther, of
Elie, baronet, was looked down upon by her husband's friends, and
received no other name than Jenny Faa; and that she was indirectly
twitted with being a Gipsy, by the rabble, while attending an election
in which Sir John was a candidate. What real satisfaction could Jenny,
or any other Gipsy, have for ordinary natives of the country, when she
was conscious of being what she was, and how she was spoken of, by her
husband's relatives and the public generally? She would take comfort in
telling her "wonderful story" to her children, (for I presume she would
have children,) who would sympathize with her; and in conversing with
such of her own race as were near her, were it only her trusty
domestics. It is the Gipsy woman who feels the prejudice that exists
towards her race the most acutely; for she has the rearing of the
children, and broods more over the history of her people. As the needle
turns to the pole, so does the mind of the Gipsy woman to Gipsydom.

We are likewise told that this eminent Gipsy family were connected, by
marriage, with the Footies, of Balgonie; the Coutts, afterwards bankers;
Collector Whyte, of Kirkaldy, and Collector Melville, of Dunbar. We may
assume, as a mathematical certainty, that Gipsydom, in a refined form,
is in existence in the descendants of these families, particularly in
such of them as were connected with this Gipsy family by the female

  [278] Of the Gipsies at Moscow, the following is the substance of what
  Mr. Borrow says: "Those who have been accustomed to consider the Gipsy
  as a wandering outcast . . . . . . will be surprised to learn that,
  amongst the Gipsies of Moscow, there are not a few who inhabit stately
  houses, go abroad in elegant equipages, and are behind the higher
  order of Russians neither in appearance nor mental acquirements.
  . . . . The sums obtained by the Gipsy females, by the exercise of
  their art (singing in the choirs of Moscow,) enable them to support
  their relatives in affluence and luxury. Some are married to Russians;
  and no one who has visited Russia can but be aware that a lovely and
  accomplished countess, of the noble and numerous family of Tolstoy is,
  by birth, a Zigana, and was originally one of the principal
  attractions of a Romany choir at Moscow."

  This short notice appears unsatisfactory, considering, as Mr. Borrow
  says, that one of his principal motives for visiting Moscow was to
  hold communication with the Gipsies. It might have occurred to him to
  enquire what relation the children of such marriages would bear to
  Gipsydom generally; that is, would they be initiated in the mysteries,
  and taught the language, and hold themselves to be Gipsies? It is
  evident, however, that the Gipsy-drilling process is going on among
  the Russian nobility.

A person who has never considered this subject, or any other cognate to
it, may imagine that a Gipsy reproaches himself with his own blood.
Pshaw! Where will you find a man, or a tribe of men, under the heavens,
that will do that? It is not in human nature to do it. All men venerate
their ancestors, whoever they have been. A Gipsy is, to an extraordinary
degree, proud of his blood. "I have very little of the blood, myself,"
said one of them, "but just come and see my wife!" But people may say
that the ancestors of the Falls were thieves. And were not all the
Borderers, in their way, the worst kind of thieves? They might not have
stolen from their nearest relatives; but, with that exception, did they
not steal from each other? Now, Gipsies never, or hardly ever, steal
from each other. Were not all the Elliots and Armstrongs thieves of the
first water? Were not the Scotts and the Kers thieves, long after the
Gipsies entered Scotland? When the servants of Scott of Harden drove out
his last cow, and said, "There goes Harden's cow," did not the old
cow-stealer say, "It will soon be Harden's _kye_"--meaning, that he
would set out on a cow-stealing expedition? In fact, he lived upon
spoil. Was it not his lady's custom, on the last bullock being killed,
to place on the table a dish, which, on being uncovered, was found to
contain a pair of clean spurs--a hint, to her husband and his followers,
that they must shift for their next meal? The descendants of these
Scotts, and the Scottish public generally, look, with the utmost
complacency and pride, upon the history of such families; yet would be
very apt to make a great ado, if the ancestress of a Gipsy should, in
such a predicament, have hung out a cock's tail at the mouth of her
tent, as a hint to her "laddies" to look after poultry. Common sense
tells us, that, for one excuse to be offered for such conduct, on the
part of the _landed-gentry_ of the country, a hundred can be found for
the ancestor of a Gipsy--an unfortunate wanderer on the face of the
earth, who was hunted about, like a wolf of the forest.[279]

  [279] On his return with his gallant prey, he passed a very large
  hay-stack. It occurred to the provident laird that this would be
  extremely convenient to fodder his new stock of cattle; but, as no
  means of transporting it were obvious, he was fain to take leave of
  it, with the apostrophe, now become proverbial, "_By my saul, had ye
  but four feet, ye should not stand lang there._" In short, as
  Froissart says of a similar class of feudal robbers. "Nothing came
  amiss to them that was not _too heavy_ or _too hot_." Sir Walter Scott
  speaks, in the most jocular manner, of an ancestress who had a
  _curious hand at pickling the beef which her husband stole_; and that
  there was not a stain upon his escutcheon, barring Border theft and
  high treason.--_Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott._

  We should never forget that a "hawk's a hawk," whether it is a falcon
  or a mosquito hawk, which is the smallest of all hawks.

And what shall we say of our Highland thieves? Highlanders may be more
touchy on this point, for their ancestors were the last of the British
race to give up that kind of life. Talk of the laws passed against the
Gipsies! Various of our Scottish monarchs issued decrees against "the
wicked thieves and limmers of the clans and surnames, inhabiting the
Highlands and Isles," accusing "the chieftains principal of the branches
worthy to be esteemed the very authors, fosterers, and maintainers, of
the wicked deeds of the vagabonds of their clans and surnames." Indeed,
the doweries of the chiefs' daughters were made up by a share of the
booty collected on their expeditions. The Highlands were, at one time,
little better than a nest of thieves; thieving from each other, and more
particularly from their southern neighbours. It is notorious that
robbery, in the Highlands, was "held to be a calling not merely
innocent, but honourable;" and that a high-born Highland warrior was
"much more becomingly employed, in plundering the lands of others, than
in tilling his own." At stated times of the year, such as at Candlemas,
regular bands of Highlanders, the sons of gentlemen and what not,
proceeded south in quest of booty, as part of their winter's provisions.
The Highlanders might even have been compared, at one time, to as many
tribes of Afghans. Mr. Skene, the historian of the Highlands, and
himself a Highlander, says that the Highlanders believed that they _had
a right_ to plunder the people of the low country, _whenever it was in
their power_. We naturally ask, how did the Highlanders _acquire_ this
right of plunder? Were they ever proscribed? Were any of them hung,
merely for being Highlanders? No. What plea, then, did the Highlanders
set up, in justification of this wholesale robbery?--"They believed,
_from tradition_, that the Lowlands, _in old times_, were the
possessions of their ancestors." (_Skene._) But that was no excuse for
their plundering each other.[280]

  [280] Sir Walter Scott makes Fitz-James, in the "Lady of the Lake,"
  say to Roderick Dhu:

    "But then, thy chieftain's robber life!--
    Winning mean prey by causeless strife,
    Wrenching from ruined Lowland swain
    His herds and harvests reared in vain--
    Methinks a soul like thine should scorn
    The spoils from such foul foray borne.

    The Gael beheld him, grim the while,
    And answered with disdainful smile,--

           *       *       *       *       *

    'Where live the mountain chiefs, who hold
    That plundering Lowland field and fold
    Is aught but retribution true?
    Seek other cause 'gainst Roderick Dhu!'"

The Gipsy's ordinary pilfering was confined to such petty things as
"hens and peats at pleasure," "cutting a bit lamb's throat," and "a
mouthfu' o' grass and a pickle corn, for the cuddy"--"things that a
farmer body ne'er could miss." But your Highlanders did not content
themselves with such "needles and pins;" they must have "horned cattle."
If the coast was clear, they would table their drawn dirks, and commence
their _spulzie_, by making their victims furnish them with what was
necessary to fill their bellies; upon the strength of which, they would
"lift" whatever they could carry and drive, or take its equivalent in

What an effort is made by our McGregors, at the present day, to scrape
up kin with this or the other bandit McGregor; and yet how apt the
McGregor is to turn up his nose--just as Punch, only, could make him
turn it up--if a Gipsy were to step out, and say, that he was a
descendant, and could speak the language, of Will Baillie, mentioned
under the head of Tweed-dale and Clydesdale Gipsies: a Gipsy, described
by my ancestor, (and he could judge,) to have been "the handsomest, the
best dressed, the best looking, and the best bred, man he ever saw; and
the best swordsman in Scotland, for, with his weapon in his hand, and
his back at a wall, he could set almost everything, saving fire-arms, at
defiance; a man who could act the gentleman, the robber, the sorner, and
the tinker, whenever it answered his purpose."[281] And yet, some of
this man's descendants will doubtless be found among our medical
doctors, and even the clergy. I recollect our author pointing out a
clergyman of the Scottish Church, who, he was pretty sure, was "one of
them." What name could have stood lower, at one time, than McGregor?
Both by legal and social proscription, it was looked upon as vagabond;
and doubtless the clan brought it, primarily and principally, upon
themselves; but as for the rapine they practised upon their neighbours,
and the helpless southerners, they were, at first, no worse, in that
respect, than others of their nation. Are the McGregors sure that there
are no Gipsies among them? There are plenty of Gipsies of, at least, the
name of McGregor, known to both the Scottish and English Gipsies. What
more likely than some of the McGregors, when "out," and leading their
vagabond lives, getting mixed up with the better kind of mixed Gipsies?
They were both leading a wild life, and it is not unlikely that some of
the McGregors, of even no small consequence, might have been led captive
by such Gipsy girls as the lady Baillies, of Tweed-dale. Let a Gipsy
once be grafted upon a native family, and she rises with it; leavens the
little circle of which she is the centre, and leaves it, and its
descendants, for all time coming, Gipsies.

  [281] See page 202.

I now come to ask, what constitutes a Gipsy at the present day? And
common sense replies: the simple fact or knowing from whom he is
descended, that is, who he is, in connection with having the Gipsy words
and signs, although these are not absolutely necessary. It requires no
argument to show that there is no tribe or nation but finds something
that leads it to cling to its origin and descent, and not despise the
blood that runs in its own veins, although it may despise the condition
or conduct of some of its members. Where shall we find an exception to
this rule? The Gipsy race is no exception to it. Civilize a Gipsy, and
you make him a civilized Gipsy; educate him, and you make him an
educated Gipsy; bring him up to any profession you like, Christianize
him as much as you may, and he still remains a Gipsy; because he is of
the Gipsy race, and all the influences of nature and revelation do not
affect the questions of blood, tribe, and nationality. Take all the
Gipsies that ever came out of the tent, or their descendants, including
those brought into the body through the male and female line; and what
are they now? Still Gipsies. They even pass into the other world
Gipsies. "But they will forget that they are Gipsies," say, perhaps,
some of my readers. Forget that they are Gipsies! Will we hear, some of
these days, that Scotch people, themselves, will get up of a morning,
toss about their night-caps, and forget that they are Scotch? We may
then see the same happen with the Gipsies. What I have said, of the
Gipsy always being a Gipsy, is self-evident; but it has a wide
difference of meaning from that contained in the quotation given by Mr.
Borrow, in which it is said: "For that which is unclean by nature thou
canst entertain no hope; no washing will turn the Gipsy white."[282]
But, taking the world all over, there will doubtless be Gipsies, in
larger or smaller numbers, who will always be found following the
original ways of their race.

  [282] In expatiating on the subject of the Gipsy race always being the
  Gipsy race, I have had it remarked to me: "Suppose Gipsies should not
  mention to their children the fact of their being Gipsies." In that
  case, I replied, the children, especially if, for the most part, of
  white blood, would simply not be Gipsies; they would, of course, have
  some of "the blood," but they would not be Gipsies if they had no
  knowledge of the fact. But to suppose that Gipsies should not learn
  that they are Gipsies, on account of their parents not telling them of
  it, is to presume that they had no other relatives. Their being
  Gipsies is constantly talked of among themselves; so that, if Gipsy
  children should not hear their "wonderful story" from their parents,
  they would readily enough hear it from their other relatives. This is
  assuming, however, that the Gipsy mind can act otherwise than the
  Gipsy mind; which it cannot.

  It sometimes hap